Reconnecting the Red River
(pg 1 of 5)
In 1799, Alexander Henry explored huge portions
of the Red River of the North while on a tour of
duty as the head of Northwest Company's trading
post at Pembina. What he found was a river
surrounded by prairie, where buffalo were so
numerous that he sometimes had difficulty seeing
grass between them as he scanned from his lookout
in a tall oak tree. Giant lake sturgeon were so
abundant that the sound of them jumping often kept
him awake at night. His men caught up to 120 fish
per day, weighing up to 180 pounds each, in trap
nets set across Red River tributaries as the fish
began their spawning migrations.
that the entrance of this river is well
frequented by Buffaloe, Red Deer, Moose, Deer,
and Bears. And indeed it appears that the
higher we go the more numerous the Red Deer
and Bears are. On the beach Raccoons tracks are
very plentiful. Wolves are very numerous and
very insolent not shy in the least. About dark
the canoes arrived.… They had again today
found some shallow places and had trouble to
find their passage amongst the lumps of Clay.
They had seen a great number of sturgeon at
those shallow places and had killed one with my
axe, which made us a good supper. They had seen
more Red Deer and Bears than yesterday.
Raccoons and Wild Fowl plenty."
-Alexander Henry's Journal, entry dated
Sept. 8th, 1800