Fornel, on 11 July, 1743, landed at a point near present Rigolet, planted two crosses, raised the French flag and took possession “au nom du Roy, Et de la nation francoise.”1 The positions of the crosses are indicated on Fornel's 1743 chart. Comparison with a modern chart shows that they were erected 4 and 6 miles, respectively, east of present Rigolet.
1743, Fornel left two Frenchmen, Jean Pilote and his son, with instructions to winter in the region, and to “reconnoître Le fond la d'e baye St. Louis, comme aussy pour aller decouvrir Les deux bras de la d'e de Rivière St. Louis” (present Hamilton river and the Northwest or Naskaupi river). The Pilotes were supplied with a canoe, provisions, arms, ammunition, trade goods, etc. and five or six Indian families were left with them.2
That the Pilotes explored present lake Melville is demonstrated by the
charts which Fornel submitted in 1744 and 1748, and which are now in the
French Archives. These charts show present lake Melville and the Hamilton,
Northwest (Naskaupi) and Kenamu rivers. Fornel gives no information
respecting the operations of the Pilotes, the position of their wintering post nor the inland route they followed when returning to Quebec in 1744. These data, however, are contained in the memoirs submitted by Cugnet, his
competitor for the concession of Baye-des-Esquimaux and lessee of the Domaine du Roy. These memoirs, written in 1743, 1744 and 1746, urging
that the Baye-des-Esquimaux concession be granted to Cugnet, are extant, also a memoir, written in 1749, subsequent to the granting of Baye-des-Esquimaux to the widow of Fornel.3
1743, Beaubassin and Hocquart state that Fornel had despatched a ship
during the last days of the navigation season of 1743, but that it had been
wrecked “a la Coste de Terre neuve.” They also state that another vessel despatched by Fornel in the spring of 1744, had returned with 400 or 500 lbs. of whalebone which had been traded with the Eskimo.4
Cugnet, in his memoir of 30 October, 1743, states that a short time prior to the date of his writing, Fornel had despatched a vessel to Baye-des-Esquimaux ; that the Pilotes had with them seven or eight families of Indians from Baye-Phelypeau, 4 Indians from Mingan and 3 from Seven Islands, or about 30 persons in all. He also states that Fornel did not intend to establish a fishery but really designed to divert the Indian trade, not only of the Domaine du Roy, but also of Mingan, Baye-Phelypeau, St. Augustine, St. Modet, Baye-des-Chateaux, Cap-Charles and other posts ; that Jean Pilote had been employed by Fornel because Pilote had been, for several years, “dans les Traittées du Domaine en qualité d'Engagé” and was thus better qualified than anyone else to divert to his post the trade of the Indians of lakes Naskapis, Ashuanipi, Manikuagan, Mistassini and Ashuapmuchnan and that, on the vessel recently despatched. Fornel had loaded a larger quantity of goods than was being sent to Mingan and Seven Islands, combined, thus demonstrating that he designed to carry on a fur trade with the natives under cover of his declared intention to establish a fishery.5
In the following year, 1744, Cugnet and his associate, Estèbe, submitted
to the Governor and Intendant a new memoir which contains some definite
information which they had evidently obtained following the return of the
Pilotes. This information refers to the operations of the Pilotes during
1743-44 and the position of the post they had established.1
It is to be noted that Cugnet and Estèbe state in this memoir that there
is an advantageous site for a trading post “ a quarante lieues dans la
profondeur de la Baie de Kitchechatsou sur un rivière venant du Nord Ouest” and at its mouth. This establishment would be “ a quarante lieues dans la profondeur des Terres” and thus be out of reach of the Eskimo.
This statement is notable because it is the first definite reference to the
name of the present Northwest (or Naskaupi) river and is the first evidence
that the site coveted by Cugnet and his associate was the site of the present
Northwest River post. To complete the evidence upon which this statement
has been based it is summarized below, though its introduction at this point
breaks the chronological sequence of the memorandum.
1746, Fornel having died in 1745, Cugnet, in the following year, again
presented a request for a grant of Baye-des-Esquimaux. Again, Cugnet points out that there is an advantageous site for a post “a quarante lieues dans la profondeur . . . sur une Riviere venant du Nord Ouest” which would attract not only the Indians who deal with the French but also those who go to Hudson bay.2
1749, a memoir, which, though unsigned, contains internal evidence that
it was written by Cugnet, was addressed to Beauharnois and Maurepas,
following the concession of Baye-des-Esquimaux to the widow Fornel.
Cugnet now states definitely that, in 1743, the Pilotes had built their
winter post “sur la Riviere a quarante lieues dans la profondeur de la Baie St. Louis” and that this was the post for the establishment of which Fornel despatched again in 1744 the same vessel that had reached there the previous year.3
Finally, in 1785, Joseph Goupille affirmed, in an affidavit, that he had
seen one Dumontier and his partners “dans la Riviere du Nord-Ouest.”4 Charles Trahan, in an affidavit, affirmed that Marcoux's post was “a quarante lieues dans la Profondeur de la Baie” of “Kitchichachoux.”5
Other evidence demonstrates that Dumontier's post was a quarter-league
from the site of present North West River post at the mouth of the Nord-Ouest (or Northwest or Naskaupi) river.
The foregoing quotations, taken together, constitute the strongest kind
of presumptive proof that :—
(1) In 1743, the Pilotes established their post at the mouth of the Nord-Ouest (Northwest or Naskaupi) river.
(2) That this post had been operated continuously up to 1749 and thereafter.
In addition, there is the further fact that an examination of the map
immediately discloses that the site at the mouth of the Nord-Ouest (North-
west or Naskaupi) river possesses intrinsic strategic advantages of position as compared with any other site in the drainage basin of lake Melville. It commands the mouths of the three large rivers which fall into lake Melville, namely, the Hamilton, the Northwest and the Kenamu; it is only a short distance east of the Indian village shown on Fornel's charts and is only a comparatively short distance west of the island upon which Fornel says that the Eskimo habitually wintered ; it has important climatic advantages as compared with Rigolet and is a sandy peninsula, whereas the site of Rigolet is bare and rocky. Until the trade at Northwest River post decreased—owing to its diversion to the posts on the gulf of St. Lawrence and to the decrease of the Indian population—it was a much more important post than Rigolet or any other post in the district.
Cugnet, in 1749, also states that the Pilotes returned overland to the
gulf of St. Lawrence and that they brought out the marten skins but left
the beaver skins at the post.1 It is highly probable that the Pilotes reached the St. Lawrence in 1744 by way of the Kenamu and St. Augustin rivers though Fornel does not indicate on his chart any portion of these rivers except the mouth of the Kenamu, doubtless because he did not desire to publish information that would be of assistance to his competitors.
Prior to the establishment of Fornel's post in 1743, the lessees of the Domaine du Roy and the French concessionaires of the gulf of St. Lawrence and strait of Belleisle had practically monopolised the Indian trade of the upper
portions of the Hamilton, Rupert, Kaniapiskau and other rivers. They had also
established posts on the upper waters of the Hamilton and Rupert rivers.
The contention by Cugnet that the establishment of a post at the mouth
of the Nord-Ouest (Northwest or Naskaupi) river would attract many Indians from this area and thus be detrimental to the traders of the Gulf,
unquestionably, was well founded and is strong evidence of the geographical
homogeneity of the peninsula. That it was well founded is demonstrated by
the following : First, because the canoe routes from the interior via the Hamilton and North-west rivers to lake Melville were much easier than the Romaine-St. John, the Moisie or the Manikuagan routes to the gulf of St. Lawrence ; Secondly, because the new post would have the element of novelty both as regards the route thereto and the personnel of the traders ; Thirdly, after having obtained goods on credit from the traders on the St. Lawrence, the Indians could sell their furs at the new post, where they owed nothing.
As to the Eskimo of Hamilton inlet, Cugnet states that Augustin Raby (or Araby) and Charles Le Cour had traded with them before 1744.2
1744, Cugnet and Estèbe applied for a lease of the Domaine du Roy from 1747 to 1756, the lease to include the whole of the basin draining into Hamilton inlet and all the unconceded lands from the eastern entrance of the
strait of Belleisle to Hudson bay, for a rental of 4,500 livres, the lessees
offering to form during the first year a permanent trading establishment at
the mouth of the Riviere Nord-ouest and also to establish sedentary fisheries in Hamilton inlet for whales, seals and porpoises.
1749, Jonquière and Bigot granted to the widow Fornel the Baye-des-
Esquimaux concession extending from cap St. Gilles, situated to the north
of baye des Esquimaux (Hamilton inlet), southward to the rivière des Sables
(Eagle river), both inclusive, together with the river Kessessakiou (Hamilton),to have and to hold for twelve years 1749-1761. The concession included the islands opposite and granted the exclusive right to take seals, to hunt and to trade with the natives and the right to take cod in common with other French subjects.1
In the same year, Veuve Fornel et Cie. despatched a vessel to their concession and, presumably, to their post at North West river.2
1750, this vessel sailed from North West River with the furs obtained by
the Company's employees. Another vessel was despatched from Quebec in
the autumn of 1750.2
1750, the grant of Baye-des-Esquimaux was ratified for 12 years
(1750 to 1762) with the exclusive right to take seals and to hunt and trade
with the natives.3 The Domaine du Roy was also leased to the widow
Fornel in 1749.4
The Baye-des-Esquimaux concession included not only the basins of the
Nord-Ouest (Northwest or Naskaupi), Hamilton and Kenamu rivers, but also the basins of the Eagle and other rivers which fall into Sandwich bay.
Following the outbreak of war between France and Britain in 1755, it is
probable that the concessionaires were forced temporarily to cease operations. That the Baye-des-Esquimaux concession had been effectively developed there can be little doubt. Cartwright says that William Phippard, who, in 1777-78 and 1778-79, had wintered at Ivucktoke Bay (a general name for Hamilton Inlet and Lake Melville district), “had found the ruins of three French settlements.”5 They were, probably, the ruins of posts constructed by Veuve Fornel and Company at North West River, Rigolet and one other place.
Fornel's chart shows that there was an Indian village opposite present
North West River post and that the Eskimo wintered on Henrietta Island in
the eastern portion of present lake Melville.
In or before 1773, Canadians from Quebec appear to have re-established the trading posts in the Indian country on the shores of lake Melville which Fornel & Company had abandoned on the outbreak of the Seven Years' War. A deed of sale of the Esquimaux Bay properties by Jean Olivier Brunet to William Lampson, dated 3 February, 1829, recites an earlier transfer of those properties by deed dated 9 September, 1823, from one Claude Denechaux, Curator of the vacant succession of the late Jacob Pozer, in his life-time a merchant at Quebec, to Flavien Dufresne of Quebec. It is further recited that the “said premises were enjoyed by the said Jacob Pozer and
the ancestors of the said Jacob Pozer by titles and have been in their actual
possession and enjoyed by them for and during the last fifty years and
upwards.' From 1773, or earlier, these posts were continuously operated
by Canadians until 1837 when they were acquired by the Hudson's Bay
Company. Cartwright's reference to William Phippard's operations at lake
Melville during the winters of 1777-78 and 1778-79 has already been noted. W. H. A. Davies, sometime officer in charge of Esquimaux Bay district for the Hudson's Bay Company, while observing that “the French . . . . were the first who gave the bay [des Esquimaux] its present name, and resorted to it for trade,” states that, “it was only in 1777, that the first Englishman [i.e . English-speaking] wintered in the Bay—his son was still living there a year ago—he found the remains of the old French establishments in many parts.”1
1784, two associations of traders from Quebec, established themselves at the mouth of Northwest river.2
One association, represented by Pierre Marco and Louis Marchand, obtained from Governor Haldimand, a license empowering them to trade at
“Esquimaux Bay” with “any Indians or others His Majesty's Subjects living under His Majesty's Protection.3
It is endorsed thus : “This licence is granted conditionally that the said
Marcoux & Marchand do not interfere with any of the Posts in the King's
Domain.” This endorsation recognises the geographical homogeneity of the peninsula.
An affidavit by Jean Lebrun, an employee of Marcoux and associates,
discloses that Baptiste Dumontier, George Plante, Jean Beliveau and Raphael
Dorval, members of the other association, had founded a post and were trading
on the west bank of Northwest River at least as early as 1784, but, apparently, without any license from the Governor of Quebec. Lebrun affirmed that Dumontier and his associates had traded there with the Indians in 1784 ;
that their vessel had returned to Quebec early in August, 1785, and had sailed for Northwest River on 16 August ; that Dorval had remained at the said post with a stock of goods for the Indian trade.4
Joseph Goupille of Quebec, affirmed, in 1785, that an Indian had told him that he had seen Dumontier, Beliveau and their partners “dans la Riviere du Nord-Ouest” (Northwest or Naskaupi river). Goupille stated that Dumontier had told him at Quebec that he had traded with the natives and that he was returning to Esquimaux Bay district with “un Equipement de traitte.”5
Cartwright reports a schooner as arriving in Sandwich Bay, 20 October,
1785. This is probably the vessel in which Dumontier returned to Northwest
River. Cartwright says:—“She belongs to some merchants of Quebec, and is bound to Ivucktoke Bay to winter, in order to kill furs, and trade with the Indians there.” Cartwright also says that the master's “name is Nicholas Gabourite.”6
19 June, 1786, a shallop entered Sandwich Bay. Cartwright says :
“She belonged to M. Demoetie [Dumontier] and partner . . . . they