Peter Pond newsletter :: MAY 2001 :: #8

Peter Pond

Peter Pond


Let this be a tardy report of the Peter Pond Society's historic first meeting April 14,2001. It wasn't intended to go that way, just essentially for Judith Pond of Norwich, VT to pick my brains about her ancestor. You may remember reading about Judy in Peter Pond Society6. She grew up wondering about Peter Pond, became a middle school teacher in Hanover, N.H. and as a result of finding my web site, applied for and won a $4,000 instructional grant to research him for her curriculum. This includes traveling to Peter Pond country in Saskatchewan and Alberta in July and canoeing down the Clearwater River, which we all know Peter Pond was the first whiteman to descend in 1778. She plans to visit fellow teachers in Fort McMurray, AB, where Peter Pond has a hotel and shopping mall named after him, as well as Fort McKay and Fort Chipewyan further down the Athabasca River.

After reading the newsletter, other people asked to take part, or meet Judy, share what they knew about Peter Pond and visit Milford where he was born and died. Attending were: Betsey Pond Lenskold of Allentown, N.J., her husband, Bob, their daughter, Kirsten Lenskold Eastman of Hartland, VT, her husband, Dave, who grew up in nearby Wilton, CT, their 9-month-old son Caleb, Virginia Banerjee, a Pond genealogist from Skillman, N.J., Harvey Pond, Orange, CT, and Susan D'Ambrosio of Milford, a descendant of Roderick Mackenzie, Alexander's cousin, and a fur trade authority in her own right with a fine library to back it up.

The day started with a fine lunch at the Stonebridge Restaurant, where Susan visited us, followed by a private tour of Lauralton Hall where Harvey joined us. Lauralton is a private girls school for grades 9-12 founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1905. Its centerpiece is the 1864 mansion built by Charles Hobby Pond Jr. who sold it to the Taylor family who sold it to the Sisters. The school is currently seeking National Register of Historic Places status and was happy to show the mansion to members of the original Pond family who could supply information to help validate that status. We had a group photo in front of the mansion which is now on the web site.

We then went to Milford Cemetery where I showed the gravestone of Mary Pond, Peter's mother who died in 1761. Sadly, Peter Pond's headstone, if he ever had one, is no longer standing, but my theory is that he is buried nearby . We also saw the gravestones of Capt. Charles Pond, Peter's younger brother who fought in the American Revolution and is credited for ferrying Nathan Hale across Long Island Sound to his reward, and Mrs.Nathan Gillette (Sophia) Pond. I call her the `whistle blower' since she is the one who stopped the family member from shredding Peter Pond's diary into stove kindling in 1868. She made inquiries to fur trade authorities in Canada and USA that led to his diary being published several times and finally nobly stored for posterity in Yale University Library.

The day ended back at my house where I showed slides of my 1988 Peter Pond Pilgrimage down the Clearwater to Fort McMurray, and to the Peter Pond cairn at Prince Albert, SK. Also shown was a TV tape of my being interviewed by the Fort McMurray television station about my visit plus a music video made that May by the Calgary singer, Paulo, and students of the then Peter Pond Community School called `The Ballad of Peter Pond.'

It should be noted that two more Pond relatives did a separate abbreviated visit May 13, only having time for lunch and a visit to the cemetery. But they were also welcomed the previous day, before visiting old family homes in nearby Rye, N.Y., for their own Lauralton Hall tour where they gave appreciated input. They were Ruth Czar of Poultney, VT, whose grandmother, Florence, was a daughter of CHP Jr. and grew up in the mansion, and her daughter, Natalia (Lee) Czar of Huntington, VT.


2You are now aware of `The Ballad of Peter Pond.' I was given this on a 45 rpm record by Fort McMurray deputy mayor Ron Morgan at the end of my 1988 Clearwater trip. But I have since lost it. Prompted by other Peter Pond Society members who wanted their own copies, I wrote to Tim O'Rourke, publisher of FORT MCMURRAY TODAY asking where I could get more, and he mentioned this in his weekly column. Responding by email were Frances Jean, who has since sent me a copy, plus Art Avery,co-chairman of the 1978 Fort McMurray Peter Pond Bicentennial, and Rod Hyde, principal of nearby Fort McKay School.

It seems the flip side of the record had another song done for Fort McKay School by Paulo with the help of that school's kids, a funny one called `Muffaloose,' an animal that's half buffalo, half moose. It seems Rod has several copies, but I am not sure how many. I have asked Rod how many copies he could part with and how much he would charge as a fundraiser for the school. He has not yet answered, but the question of the moment is: how many Peter Pond Society members would like to have a record? I will take orders on a first-come, first served basis.


There is news on the Peter Pond cairn undergoing relocation in Prince Albert, SK due to incursion from the Saskatchewan River. To wit:

Re: Peter Pond cairn
Date: 5/2/2001 9:21:16 PM Central Daylight Time
File: att1.htm (840 bytes) DL Time (115200 bps): < 1 minute

Thank you for your enquiry. The Peter Pond plaque text is under review and the new site for the cairn has been identified approximately 300m from the previous site. Once these have received final approval from the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, a new plaque will be commissioned and the cairn built to accommodate it. Audra Norek, the Cultural Resource Management Specialist has the lead for this and will inform you once this is approved. We are hoping to have this underway this summer. If you have any further questions please contact her directly.

Re: Peter Pond cairn
Date: 5/4/2001 11:24:25 AM Central Daylight Time
File: att1.htm (955 bytes) DL Time (115200 bps): < 1 minute

Hello Bill.
As Cheryl mentioned, I will be the person coordinating the commemoration for Peter Pond. Currently, we are still awaiting approval for the plaque text, and so once we have that we will be able to begin planning. I will keep you informed as we receive information.
Audra Norek


I have also run across an auction for what is said to be a sword owned by Peter Pond. I never knew he had one. Here is the description:

Sword, c. 1740 smallsword; brass hilt; double shell guard; wood grip w. some remaining wiring. de. diamond-section blade; some pitting & staining; some edge chips apparently from usage. REPUTEDLY PETER POND'S SWORD, first white trader in Alberta. Pond was known to have used his sword offensively. Rawhide, red stroud & sinew sheath of later age. NOTE: Two other identical swords exist also claiming to be Peter Pond's sword, one being in mint condition. 2,000 CDN

For more information

Peter Pond Society editor Bill McDonald

On that note, adieu until next time. We are approaching 6,500 hits now, too.
Au revoir,