Peter Pond newsletter :: October 2008 :: #34

Peter Pond

Peter Pond


We are always glad to get emails on how this website has affected those who see it and/or receive the newsletter. Here is a note from David Eastman of Hartland, VT, husband of Kirsten whose relationship to Peter Pond is mentioned in the first sentence. What's interesting is that their eight-year-old son Caleb has done his own research on his ancestor, likes to dress up as Peter Pond and plans to do so for Halloween. The family took a Peter Pond Pilgrimage to Montreal in September, a trip that had its ups and downs.

"Dear Bill -
First, let me thank you for pointing us in the right direction for our trail to discover Kirsten's Great, Great, Great, Great Uncle Peter Pond. We had a tremendous adventure all over Canada this summer. Our two kids, Caleb (8), Anika (5), Mookie our 75 lb. black lab and Kirsten and myself camped in four different spots: Cape Bretton Island, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and finally in Trois Rivieres where we were somewhat equidistant between Montreal and Quebec. The plan was to visit both cities while staying in this last place. But, I must admit that we skipped Montreal - frankly because we had so much fun in Quebec City. As you may be aware that city is celebrating its 400 year anniversary. There was so much going on in what was already a remarkable city.

However, on Saturday, September 5th, weeks after coming home from our Canadian travels, we had plans to stay in Burlington, VT and used that to take a fun filled day trip to Montreal on that Sunday. First stop on our Peter Pond discovery day was the National Fur Traders Museum in Lachine, then it was off to The Beaver Club Restaurant in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, and finally to the McCord Museum. This was a particularly interesting trip for Kirsten, to discover a relative, and Caleb, who has become our little history buff. He has become particularly fascinated with Peter Pond.

The National Fur Traders Museum in Lachine was small but empty. We all enjoyed the exhibits and learned a lot about the Hudson Bay Company and the North West Company. We also learned a bit more about Alexander Mackenzie. The kids' favorite part was petting all the fur samples. Caleb fit right in wearing his coon skin cap with Anika, both holding fur pelts in the museum.)

Unfortunately, upon arriving at The Queen Elizabeth Hotel we found that the entire service staff was on strike and picketing outside the hotel. We slipped in a side door, but found that The Beaver Club Restaurant was closed, locked and the lights out. We spoke with the concierge who was apparently on the management staff and therefore not on strike. We pleaded our case - explaining that we had traveled all this way to see the case with The Beaver Club artifacts and that Kirsten was related to Peter Pond, one of the founding members of the club. The concierge seemed mildly impressed and sought out the key to the restaurant. She had one of the security guards unlock the restaurant. I found the lights to the cases and turned them on to find the artifacts that we were looking for. Caleb was particularly pleased to see the peace pipes that were mentioned in the description of the traditions of The Beaver Club about which we had read. Unfortunately, the security guard did not have a key to the cases. The concierge was apologetic about this and offered that we write to the hotel manager in the coming weeks and that he might be willing to photocopy pages from the book of signatures. I'll be sure to get you copies of this if I do get these.

Our visit was short but we saw what we came to see albeit not in the up close and personal way that you were able to view the register book. Kirsten purchased a Beaver Club apron for her mother's birthday present.

From here we had lunch at Reuben's and then headed off to the McCord Museum. I must admit, the McCord was nothing like I expected. What an interesting and entertaining way to display historical artifacts. It was a truly beautiful museum. Of course, we were pleased to see The Beaver Club medals as well as other artifacts from these explorers.

So, our day trip to Montreal was a fun-filled day of family history and discovery - just as we had planned. We couldn't have done it without your tips and advice - so thank you for that!

As a result of our trip, Caleb is in the process of putting together a Power Point Presentation entitled, Northwest Passage Explorers. In it, Caleb is providing information he has gleaned from his research about Peter Pond and Alexander Mackenzie, but it is primarily a presentation about the Corps of Discovery and Lewis and Clark.

During our research we have come upon a couple of 'burning questions' that we thought you may be able to answer. We make the assumption that Peter Pond's most recognizable and therefore most important claim to fame is creating maps, (is it map or maps?), that would later be used by Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery. Can you confirm this to be true? Second, we assume that the path that Peter's maps took was via Alexander Mackenzie. In other words, Peter created maps that he would give to Mackenzie upon assuming Peter's post and then Mackenzie would pass them on...? Can you confirm this? Or can you redirect us in a more factual path? Thanks!

Peter Pond has been awakened in our family. Caleb is often dressed as Peter was supposedly dressed in that wonderful painting by Illona Petrovits. Mookie, our goofy black lab, will have to suffice for the fierce hunting hounds depicted at Peter's heels. In fact, Caleb will be dressing as Peter Pond for Halloween in the coming weeks.

Thank you for all you have done to make Peter Pond come alive for our family. He is a truly remarkable character and we have enjoyed getting to know him. This wouldn't have been possible without you and your valuable work.

Thanks too for pointing us in the right direction around Montreal and thank you in advance for your help with our 'burning questions'.
Best regards,

David Eastman
(Husband of Kirsten Lenskold
- daughter of Betsey (Pond) Lenskold)
Hartland, VT"

I answered both 'burning questions': One: that I doubt Lewis and Clark ever used any of Peter Pond's maps. But he influenced the L&C expedition by being the inspiration for Mackenzie to conduct his two trips, the second of which was successful, whereby Mackenzie wrote the book that prodded Pres. Jefferson to get an American presence on the West Coast. Two: Peter Pond made at least three maps, only one of which he is said to have given to Alexander Mackenzie to pass on to the Empress of Russia (Catherine the Great). There is no record that the Empress ever received such a map.


Here's another example of someone dressing up as an historical figure, in this case the Zandee family of Ft. McMurray, AB patterning themselves after the colorful voyageurs who supplied the manpower to paddle the birchbark canoes as well as transport two or more 90-lb fur and supply packs over long portages.
They were part of the David Thompson Brigade of 25-foot six-man (women too) modern north canoes that paddled 2,200 miles (3,600 km) in 63 days May 10 to July 12 from Rocky Mountain House, AB on the South Saskatchewan River to Old Fort William, Thunder Bay, ON, on Lake Superior. Darin as president of the Borealis Canoe Club in Ft. McMurray was among those who paddled the entire route in the club's north canoe. Eight canoes completed the trip while another eight covered portions of the route in different sections. Darin's wife and club secretary, Jennifer, and 15-year-old daughter, Stephanie, joined in the last 500 miles (774 km) of the trip in three weeks from Kenora, ON, at Lake of the Woods to Thunder Bay.
As the Borealis canoe reached the outskirts of Prince Albert, SK, Darin was aware of the Peter Pond National Historic Site near the outlet of the Sturgeon River. This is where Peter Pond wintered over in 1777 before heading north for the Athabasca country and into history.
"We toasted Peter with a drink of Port from our clay flask and smoked a pipe for him as we paddled past the high bank of river left next to the Sturgeon River," he said.
Details of the trip as part of the David Thompson Bicentennial

Darin also sent me a photo taken this fall of Jennifer in voyageur garb standing next to the big canoe but on the Clearwater River next to a sandy bank out of which some oil is trickling. This is probably how Peter Pond became first white man to glimpse the oil or tar sands, the mining of which has become the major industry of Fort McMurray and the main reason for its existence.


David Chapin can apparently see the light at the end of tunnel in working on his Peter Pond book as seen in the note below. He also found time for wilderness paddling this summer.

"Hi Bill,
Yes, I spent six weeks in northwestern Ontario canoeing this summer with a group of fifteen-year-olds from Keewaydin Camp. There was lots of rain, which got tiresome at times, but high water made for some fun sections of river.
The book is coming along. I hope to have a draft ready to shop around by spring. The challenge now is trying to uncover some more information on what he did from the time he returned to Connecticut in 1790 and his death sixteen years later. I have some ideas, but have not found any significant sources yet for those years. Dave"


We mentioned in Peter Pond Society 33 that the book on the history of Prince Albert National Park in northern Saskatchewan has been published. Now we can proudly say we have a handsome copy of the 103-page volume in hand that includes a photo of the Beaver Club Medal lifted from this website. Peter Pond was one of the first white men to pass through the region.
The book is entitled Waskesiu and its Neighbours: A Casual Illustrated History, by Graham A. MacDonald and Grit McCreath. It is available through Alpine Book Peddlers, 140-105 Bow Meadows Crescent, Canmore, AB T1W 2W8, Toll Free Phone: 866-748-2280, Fax: 866-978-2840, Phone (403) 678-2280 , Fax: (403) 678-2840, email:
I was actually sent two autographed copies, one of which I sent along to the medal's owner.
A nice July 4 thank you note from the two authors came with the books.

"Dear Bill:
Many thanks to you and to your associates at the Peter Pond Society for your assistance with the Beaver Club Medal. Grit McCreath and I are pleased to enclose two copies of the book, one for the Society and one for the gentleman who provided the medal permission. There will be an official launch of the book at Prince Albert National Park on the July 1 weekend and the book will be sold on a regular basis by the Friends of Prince Albert National Park.
Best wishes to you and your fellow members and good luck with the Peter Pond Society in the future.
Yours truly,
Graham A. MacDonald and Grit McCreath"

If nothing else comes out before the end of the year, best wishes to all for the holiday season.

Peter Pond Society editor Bill McDonald

Au revoir,