Publication History:

Place of Publication:  Bear Island Lake, on the upper Churchill (or English) River north of Lac la Ronge, Saskatchewan

Frequency:  Unknown

Volume and Issue Data:  August 8, 1845

Size and Format:  11 pages, foolscap

Editor/Publisher:  Bernard Rogan Ross

Title Changes and Continuation:  None

General Description & Notes:

According to The Beaver magazine, Bernard Rogan Ross tried to relieve the monotony of a trip by York boat over the regular route of the old fur trade by writing a newspaper, couched in the journalistic style of the period, about the doings of the people of his brigade of three boads proceeding slowly up the Churchill or English River towards Methy Passage.  Although his writing is extremely fine and small, the issue of Aug. 8, 1845, of this Athabasca Journal and English River Inquirer, as he called it, took up 11 closely-written pages of foolscap.  It was preserved by his daughter, (Mrs. George A. Graham) and later published in part of the Fort William Daily Times-Journal of Dec. 27, 1928.

The paper is dated at Bear Island Lake, on the upper Churchill north of Lac la Ronge, in what is now Saskatchewan, and carries the announcement that the next issue would be published the following week at Ile a la Crosse.  The price is stated to be six pence per customer payable, not in cash, but in Saskatchewan pemmican.

The first page is devoted to “Shipping Intelligence,” and included news of ship arrivals and gossip about the Dutchess of Kent.  During this period, the Oregon boundary question was hot news.  As this paper was written, however, the issue had been settled two months earlier.  Without this knowledge, Ross wrote that he suspected the Americans would start a war over the issue.  He warned the southerners that Canada could not only defend itself, but could “lay waste the North-western States with fire and sword, nor cease until the British flag waved triumphantly thoughout the Union.”

Chief Trader Bernard R. Ross, F.R.G.S., was only 18 years old when he wrote this account, and this was apparently his first trip west.  He became a well known naturalist (Ross’s Goose), an anthropologist, and a prolific contributor to the British Museum and Smithsonian Institution.

Information Sources:

Bibliography:  Bernard Rogan Ross, “Fur Trade Gossip Sheet,” The Beaver:  Magazine of the North (Spring 1955)

Locations:  Cited in the Fort William Daily Times-Journal, Dec. 27, 1928; location of copy mentioned in The Beaver preserved by Ross’s daughter is unknown


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