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Michael Kilcool at Fort Hibernia and the Journey to Norway House

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 1817 to 1819
Location: Fort Hibernia and Route to Norway Housemap
Surname/tag: Kilcool
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Life in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company - both hardships and tedium - is illuminated through Journals of Occurrences. What follows are journal entries mentioning Michael Kilcool and the journey to Norway House:

Journal of Occurrences, Kept at Fort Hibernia, Commencing October 5th, 1817 And Ending May 2nd, 1818, By Duncan Finlayson[1] [2]

  • [Dec] 29th . . . Killcool sick . . .
  • [Dec] 31st . . . Killcool better . . .
  • Jan 12th 1818 . . . Killcool cutting firewood . . .

Swan River District Journal of Occurrences at Fort Hibernia 1818 @ 1819 by William Hemmings Cook[3] [2]

  • 1818 October 9th Arrived at Swan River lower house - found several Sotaux [sic; Saulteaux] Indians waiting our arrival, in order to take debt for winter - informed that several Indians belonging to Red Deers River have taken debt with the Canadians owing to our late arrival - brought in our party . . . Michl Kilcool . . .
  • [Oct] 15 At about ten am loaded five carts with goods & lumber for upper house & with 2 saddle and two sledge horses set off for Fort Hibernia - in company . . . M Kilcool . . . put up for the night . . . about 9 miles from Swan River House - Weather overcast threatening a heavy fall of snow
  • [Oct] 16 Much snow fell in the night - ?One? looking for horses this morning only found four of them five having strayed away beyond our search - employed Baptiste & Hugh Frazer to look after them sent Heddle & meat in a westerly direction to scower [obsolete] the woods & plains while the others examined every other quarter - but the snow falling thr[u] the whole of the night all traces were obliterated & the parties returned unsuccessful - sent Hugh Frazer to communicate our situation . . .
  • [Oct] 26 clear and mild . . . Wm K?, Robert Harvey, Kilcool, McKae & Mowat collected roots for boat timber . . .
  • Novm 2 sent James Wishard & M Kilcool to cut up turf for charcoal making . . .
  • [Nov] 3 Wishard & Killcool getting turf as yesterday . . .
  • Novb 4 Indians of yesterday took small debts - men as yesterday except Wihart and Kilcool who are fetching home hay and mudding houses - Three Indians brought in a trifling quantity of dried meat which they traded, took debt and returned to their tents
  • [Nov] 7 Sent Michal Kilcool to tent with Sotaux [sic] Indians . . .
  • [Nov] 8 . . . Kilcool returned not being able to find the Sotaux [sic] Indians he was sent to tent with
  • [Nov] 11 McKae & Kilcool mudding a House for Boat Builders to work in - rest as before
  • [Nov] 12 . . . sent also Andw Spence . . . Killcool to seek the abode of a Cree Chieftain named the Loon and to leave Kilcool with him - Flett [brought] three moose from two heads - exchanged Flett with Kilcool as a more fit man to look after the Indian Loon and preserve his furs from falling into the hands of the Canadians . . .
  • [Nov] 14 Kilcool and Jerry Cook went to live at Two heads Tent to assist in hauling home Meat . . .
  • [Nov] 15 . . . Kilcool and Jerry arrived with meat from Two heads
  • [Nov] 16 Killcool and Jerry returned for remainder of meat at hunting tent . . .
  • [Nov] 19 Killcool & Jerry came from Twoheads Tent with meat - Men as before
  • [Nov] 28 Kilcool brought home meat from two heads tent and three Cree Indians came in with a few furs from Beaver Hills - Mens employ the same as yesterday
  • [Dec] 14 Kilcool & Jerry brought home part of two moose . . .
  • [Dec] 15 Sent Kilcool, ?Mckachen?, (Gaddy & son) & Chas Cook with a horse and dogs to fetch home meat from Two Heads Tent . . .
  • [Dec] 21 Recd one moose from Hunters - Two Heads & Tail pitched into the House intending to change their hunting ground - the animals beings scarce where they have been hunting - Kilcool attended them - brought a few furs - All the summer cut wood expended this day - being in the whole not more than 50 cord . . .
  • [Dec] 22 Hunters pitched off towards the Beaver Hills Kilcool with them - men exactly as yesterday
  • [Dec] 30 Kilcool brought a moose from Tent killed by Two heads . . .
  • 1819 January 4 . . . Heddle & Aird wooding - also Kilccool
  • [Jan] 5 . . . Kilcool & Aird cutting wood - rest as before . . .
  • [Jan] 7 Sent Kilcool and John Flett with two horses to haul home logs for sawing - could not bring them the horses being so weak and poor - rest as before
  • 1819 January 11 . . . Heddle, Flett & Kilcool hauling home logs . . . Kilcool & Aird cutting & hauling home firewood
  • [Jan] 13 . . . as before - Kilcool Aird & Cunningham wood cutters . . .
  • [Jan] 30 . . . Kilcool & Saml Cook bending timbers for canoe - rest of men as before
  • 1819 February 1st . . . Snow thawing from the tops of the houses. Kilcool & Sam Cook bending timbers . . .
  • [Feb] 8 . . . Kilcool and Aird providing fuel for fires . . .
  • [Feb] 15 . . . Kilcool & Aird cutting firewood . . .
  • 1819 February 22 . . . Aird & Kilcool wooding
  • [Mar] 11 . . . Kilcool & Aird wood hauling as usual
  • [Mar] 16 . . . Aird & Kilcool getting wood for fires -
  • [Mar] 18 . . . Kilcool & Aird wood hauling.
  • [Mar] 19 no variation from yesterday
  • [Mar] 23 . . . Wood haulers as before
  • [Mar] 25 . . . Boat builders and woodsmen as before -
  • [Mar] 31 . . . Kilcool & Aird wood cutting -
  • [Apr] 5 . . . Kilcool wooding . . .
  • 1819 April 8 . . . Wm Heddle - Kilcool - Aird w Spence making oars. rest as before -
  • [Apr] 9 . . . rest making oars as yesterday
  • [Apr] 10 - Mens employ as yesterday
  • [Apr] 15 Two Indians of the Cree Nation arrived with 40 wolves . . . Sinclair, Kilcool, Spence and Flett making oars
  • April 16 First goose seen this day - indication of a late season as geese have been seen at York Factory on the 20th and the seasons here are supposed to be a month earlier than those on the shore Swans also seen - but these are early in all parts - Eagles are here all winter & Snow Birds ?also? - Very little snow on the plain & not much in the woods from which we dread a shoal [a sand bar] season. The river opening partially & will be clear of ice in less than 10 days - sent McKae - Spence - Kilcool - S-Cook - Cunningham with 40 bags of fat & ?other? lumber too stony Creek - to ease our embarkation from this place
  • [Apr] 17 . . . sent 5 carts with ?cargo? to Stoney Creek by Killcool, Aird, Cunningham, Wishart and Jerry - Swans & geese seen - small plants appear lively but the willow & trees as in winter. Two Cree and one Stone Indian ["Stone Indians" is an alternate name for the Assiniboine tribe] came in for tobacco -
  • [Apr] 20 . . . Kilcool . . . making oars
  • 1819 April [21] John Farcle & Thomas Taylor arrived with letter from Forks in Red River ?G?ochiboyshi?i? & gang arrived - brought a few furs - arranged the men for journey & for summer residence - sent Jno Flett to Swan River to apprize . . . of the orders received not to abandon Fort Hibernia for the summer as had been previously determined - sent off Farcle & Taylor on their return to Quappelle [The Hudson's Bay Company used the name Qu'Appelle for a post north of present-day Whitewood from 1813 to 1819.] . . . Men appointed to go down the Assineboya [Assiniboine] river in two boats . . . - Michl Kilcool - Ice ?shove? last night
  • [Apr] 22 All hands employed carting down cargo to Rivers edge - hauled down ?carts? - loaded them ready for embarkation tomorrow morning - the river quite clear of Ice the water not so high as could be wished - the Boat crews tenting at the Bank of the river to protect the canoes - Ice ?shoving? in the night
  • [Apr] 23 Clear of Ice this morning - started at 8 am. - found the river in a meddling state - the rapids very numerous & some of them of difficult descent - at 3 pm arrived at Stoney Creek when the good were deserted in care of W Heddle - Robt Harvey & John McKae. assisted us down to their ?place? being summer men at Fort Hibernia who with John Flett Gustavus Aird and Andw Spence are to remain inland with W Garrisch . . .
  • [Apr] 24th About 4 am left the stoney Creek & found Baptiste about 4 miles below took charge of one of our boats as sternsman & thus recommends his services with the ?Hum?ble Hudson's Bay Company - found the water in the River very good - no stoppage at the Elbow Fall - 2 geese killed this day & rabbit often seen as we floated down the River - current swift
  • [Apr] 25 Embarked at day break - deep water the whole day saw a moose crossing the River which George Sinclair wounded but could not get altho he pursued him some distance thru the woods - encamped near the White Mud River - Buffalo & moose tracks frequently seen - The country more open as we proceed to the southward - no pines to be seen as in the vicinity of Fort Hibernia - killed 8 geese in our company - saw a Bear & a cat - Rabbits continually in view quite White which make them on the bare ground easy too be seen -
  • April 26 Set off at 4 am. the wind increasing from the SE to a hurricane - could not proceed on our journey later than 2 pm no pines seen this day, the willows & poplars bursting in the bud in a? favorable situation, but the general aspect dreary as in winter - small plants on the slopings of the banks in full blossom - The first appearance of Elms this day - no obstruction from ?F?alls or shoals - the current strong but the course of the river tediously serpentine
  • [Apr] 27 pursued out Journey at 10 am - the wind much abated - detained till this late hour by the desertion of Hugh Fraziers wife a circumstance which the ?looks? for excited so much interest that the ceremony of searching for her could not be dispensed with - The Hilly Country commenced this day - The River running thru a vally [sic] of about a mile in breadth - stream serpentine - but free from obstruction of every kind -
  • [Apr] 28 Started at 5 am - took shelter from rain at 1/2 past 1 pm - no variation with face of the country - several vultures skimming the vally [sic] - found a large Beaver that had been killed by some Indians a few days ago - rain continues - no shoals this day
  • 1819 [Apr] 29 Embarked rather late owing to much rain having fallen in the night & morning - weather cold & cloudy - saw a party of Fort Hibernia Cree Indians - no furs in their possession pressed on and overtook a Sotaux [sic] Indian one attached to ? NWest party - traded 3 Beaver skins with him - a few Rapids this day, but none of shoals
  • May 1st Embarked at 5 am - and at 3 pm saw a band of Sotaux [sic] Indians at Shell River traded with them the whole of their Furs consisting of martens, bears, & too the amount of about 40 ma?e Beaver - The Indians are assembled here for the purpose of sugar making - but the Season has been so unfavorable that they had none to offer for ?sale? - Encamped about 10 miles below Shell River - Overcast & cold
  • [May} 2 Sunday Much snow last night - set off at 8 am - saw 4 Tents of Crees at 5 pm Traded with them some provisions These Indians are tenting in the Northn side of the River being apprehensive of assault from some southern Tribes - They very kindly cautioned us to encamp on the same side of the River as some Big Bellies had been seen lurking about who would probably pillage & perhaps murder us if too tempting an opportunity were afforded them - agreeably to the suspicions of these friendly people - An Indian was seen after sun on a distant Hill by George Sinclair who appeared devious to conceal himself on being discovered - We encamped on the Northern Bank agreeably to advice and were not disturbed tho the Dogs in company kept up an incessant barking thru the whole of the night - Saw about 10 small deer - also several wolves & the tracks of many animals on the new fallen snow - The country for several days past has been very agreeable in appearance - not much wooded but pleasantly diversified with hill & dale - & the tracks of animals more plentiful than in the upper parts of the Assineboyan [Assiniboine] River - It seems to be the center of the Indian ground much frequented by them -
  • [May] 4 Arrived at Quappelle at 9 am - found Mr Finlayson & party ready to start on Thursday next the 6th . . .
  • [May] 6 set off from Quappelle in company with the Battaux [sic; bateau or batteau is a shallow-draft, flat-bottomed boat which was used extensively across North America, especially in the colonial period and in the fur trade. It was traditionally pointed at both ends but came in a wide variety of sizes] of that settlement having taken into our craft 100 bags of Quappelle Pemican it being noon before we embarked - could not proceed far on our Journey - encamped about 20 miles from the Settlement - saw a herd of small Deer
  • [May] 7 Embarked at 5 am. - saw an amazing number of Buffalo Paths this day - & some skeletons of Buffalo lying about the paths which seemed to mark this part of the country as a long established ? - The Scenery gay & lively but similar to that before described & we saw nothing worth notice except a few drowned Buffalo which had perished in attempting to cross the River in the Spring -
  • [May] 8 Started about 6 am. found the river a little impeded with Bars of sand - saw a Buffalo crossing the River - killed it as he was attempting to ascend the Bank which happened to be about 12 feet high & almost perpendicular - saw about 50 other Buffalo on the inner Banks which we ascended to take a view of the Plains - nothing further occurred worth mentioning till we arrived near Brandon House [Hudson's Bay Company post on the Assiniboine River]
  • 1819 May 12th About noon arrived at the Rapids above Brandon House . . .
  • [May] 13 Arrived about ? at Brandon House found Mr Fidler ready to accompany us the day after tomorrow Mended our Battaux [sic] which ? had proved very leaky
  • [May] 14 An Indian arrived who had been on an hunting excursion to the Mandan Country saw some of that nation also some Soux [sic] and had learnt that the hostile Indians of that part were meditating an Attack on the Nation of Red River - & that the Traders were also to be an object of their resentment
  • [May] 15 at 6 am left Brandon House in company with the Quappelle Battaux [sic] - one of which being leaky by having got in a shoal we parted company - and put up near the Souris River - - The leaf in bud generally - the country woody - & pines frequently seen - nothing meriting notice untill [sic] we arrived at the Portage La prairie on the 20th . . .
  • [May] 20th Found the River very little obstructed by shoals - Heat in the middle of the day excessive - the native vegetation forward as we approach towards the Forks - Leaves of the maple nearly fully expanded of hazel and willows about half formed The bud of the Elm beginning to open - but of Oak no appearance of vegetation - grass about 4 Inches high in favorable situations -
  • [May] 21 Embarked at 5 am & past the portage as 2 pm saw 4 Tents of Indians there - encamped at White Horse plain - the settlement of Ma? Spence and other Orkney settlers - grass hoppers numerous & threatening destruction to the rising corn - the settlers rather dejected by this circumstance as the[y] anticipate great disappointment in the cultivation of this season - Rain with the night
  • [May] 22 set off above 8 am a wet disagreeable morning - The Rivers shoal in places - which detained us much - The land low & the woods on both sides of the River stately & abundant - no tracks of an Animal but Horses . . . encamped about 8 Miles above the Forks -
  • [May 23] Sunday arrived at the Forks in Red River at 3 am - found Governor in Chief & M Sutherland all well - the season backward - The Oaks not being yet in bud - but the small plants full in leaf & blossom
  • May 28. Left the Forks in company with M Sutherland on after a tedious passage thr[u] the winnipeg Lake opposed by a succession of contrary winds & rainy weather arrived at Norway House - June the 12th


  1. Fort Hibernia [Fort Pelly] post journal (selected entries transcribed here by SD), Duncan Finlayson, 1817-1818, Archives of Manitoba, Location Code B.159/a/6, Microfilm No. 1M117[1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 Transcribed and contributed by SD, 2020
  3. Fort Hibernia [Fort Pelly] post journal (selected entries transcribed here by SD), William Hemmings Cook, 1818-1819, Archives of Manitoba, Location Code B.159/a/7, Microfilm No. 1M117[2]


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Categories: Hudson's Bay Company