Chronology – War Of 1812

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Algoma Region 1751-1820

Sault Ste. Marie, the community beside the rapids, is one of the oldest settlements in North America. For at least 2,000 years, a parade of people has lived beside these jumping waters of the St. Mary’s River and some of the greatest names in Canadian history – Jesuit Missionaries, explorers, voyageurs, artists, soldiers, traders – have portaged around and rested beside them.

The rapids provided an ideal environment for whitefish and for centuries a community of Ojibwa lived close to the river, their livelihood based on whitefish. During the summer months, the community population swelled to the thousands as travellers from as far away as the upper Mississippi congregated to fish and trade for hides, tobacco, maple sugar and socialized. Bawating – the meeting place – was an apt name for this venerable settlement.

 1751 – Repentigny established his small post near the rapids and named it after himself. His chief assistant was Métis, Jean Baptiste Cadot, a local trader who was married to the daughter of the local chief (one of the first on record). The fort consisted of a 15 foot palisade which was 110 feet on a side. Inside were: two buildings 25 feet by 20 feet, one building 20 feet by 30 feet, and a 12 feet by 12 feet redoubt, built of oak and 27 feet tall. The settlement was also supplied with animals from Fort Michilimackinac consisting of cows, bulls, oxen, horses and mares. [i]

1788 – Fur trader Jean Baptiste Nolin settles on the south shore of the St. Mary’s River. About this time 7 trader houses were located on the south shore of the St. Mary’s River. Most of the inhabitants were French and some stayed only seasonal. Jean Baptiste Cadot, Joseph DuChene, Jean Baptiste Nolin, Jean Baptiste LaChausse, Pierre Parrent, Jean Baptiste, Lurrent and Lavoine Barthe, Francois Cameraire, Joseph Piquette and son Francois, Jean Baptiste Perrault and John Sayer (Irish merchant) are noted. [ii]

1791 – The North West Company established a fur-trading post south of the river. [iii] John Sayer forms the John Sayer and Company and becomes an agent of the North West Company at Sault Ste. Marie on the south side of the St. Mary’s River.[iv]

1793 – John Johnston, arrives at in the Sault Ste. Marie with his native wife who was the daughter of Chippewa Chief Waub-o-jeeg.[v]

1796 – Burial ground claimed by the Roman Catholic Church it has many graves. Some old timber prepared ages ago for building a church still lies on the ground.[vi]

1797 – After the British abandoned their occupation of the American mid west the Northwest Fur Company moved its post to the north shore of the St. Mary’s River.[vii]

1797 – The Northwest Fur Company constructed a navigation lock 38 feet long and 8 feet and nine inches wide on the Canadian side of the river for trading canoes.  The landing is in a bay immediately at the bottom of the fall on the nearest channel to the land on the north shore. A good wharf for boats is built at the landing on which is a storehouse 60 feet long and 30 feet wide. Close to the store a lock is constructed.  The lower gate lets down a windless; the upper has two folding gates and a sluice allowing the water to raise nine feet in the lock.  This lock remained in use until destroyed in 1814.[viii]

1797 – The Northwest Fur Company constructed a canal, about 2,580 feet long with a raised bridge or pathway of round logs at the side of it 12 feet wide for oxen to track to the boat. About 170 feet from the upper part of the canal, a store 36 feet long 22 feet wide is built. A sawmill for two saws is constructed in a line with the lock and parallel to it.[ix]

1797 – The North West Company blockhouse was built on the north shore of the St. Mary’s River.

1810 – Charles Oakes Ermatinger was established as an independent trader and merchant at Sault Ste Marie.  Some years earlier he had been the Northwest Fur Company agent at a post on the American side. Ermatinger participated as a militia captain in the expedition led by Captain Charles Roberts from Fort St Joseph (St Joseph Island), which captured Mackinac from the Americans on 17 July 1812.   By August 1814 Ermatinger had what Gabriel Franchere described as “an attractive establishment,” and had just completed a windmill, constructed “to encourage agriculture, for the inhabitants of Sault Ste Marie are not much addicted to work.” He was made a justice of the peace by 1816.

1812 – (July 16) Captain Roberts sails from St. Joseph on board the schooner Caledonia with his troops and two cannon. They are accompanied by a flotilla of several hundred Indian warriors in canoes, Metis and Voyageurs in their bateaux. Local attendants included: John Askin Jr. (merchant), Charles Langlade Jr., Michel Cadotte Jr., Joseph Rolette, Robert Dickson, Tousaint Pothier, Charles Oakes Ermatinger, George Ermatinger.

1812-(July 17) Fort Mackinac is captured without bloodshed.

1814 – (July 14) Americans raid North West Company post at Sault Ste. Marie. Along with the burning of houses, stores and shed belonging to John Johnson on the American side.[x]

1814 – (July 26), Gabriel Franchere on his arrival at the southeast of Michipicoten Bay, met Captain McCargo and the crew who had escaped from Sault Ste. Marie.  About 150 Americans in command of Major Holmes had attached the post at the Sault, pillaged it of every article of value belonging to the company and to Mr. John Johnson (on the south side), and set fire to all the houses, stores and shed.[xi]

1814 – (July 30), Gabriel Franchere with Mr. Duncan McGillivray (a merchant), and others went to the Sault, where they found the ruins of the buildings, including: the sawmill and Capt. McCargo’s schooner Perseverance, which was driven to the foot of the rapids and burned to the water edge.

1814 – Old Stone House was built for independent fur trader Charles Oakes Ermatinger.

1814 – (September 3) The Tigress was boarded under the cover of darkness and captured by Worsley’s soldiers.

1814 – (September 5) The Scorpion unaware her sister ship the Tigress was captured with the British hiding onboard, allowed her to come alongside. The Scorpion was taken by surprise.

1814 – The carpenter shop (15’x20’), a barn and stable (25’x50’), and Mens house (20’x60’), are rebuilt and completed at the Sault Ste. Marie post. [xii]

1814 – (December 24) Treaty of Ghent is signed, restoring the island and Fort Mackinac to the United States.

1815 – (February) The British begin construction of a naval base and arsenal at Penetanguishene, Georgian Bay.[xiii]

1815 – (June) British choose site for Fort Collier, Drummond Island.[xiv]

1815 – (July 18) American Forces occupy Fort Mackinac as stipulated by the Treaty of Ghent.

1816 – John Jacob Astor establishes an American Fur Company post on the south side of the St. Mary’s River.[xv]

1816 – John Siveright a North West Company clerk takes up private residence at the Ermatinger house. In 1823 he was transferred, from Sault Ste Marie to take charge of the Fort Coulonge district, at Fort Coulonge.[xvi]

1816 – A new Dwelling house (30’x50’), was built and completed at the Sault Ste. Marie post.[xvii]

1817 – A store measuring 30’x60 and two stories high was completed at the Sault Ste. Marie post.[xviii]

1818 – A store at the south west end of the portage (25’x60’), and a Bateaux (bateau), shop with store (20’x50’), was completed at the North West Company post.[xix]

1819 – North West Company completed rebuilding a stone magazine (22’x28’) and a kitchen (20’26’).[xx]  A log upper story that was later added to the stone magazine in 1894 by Francis  H. Clergue and used as his private residence

1820 – The wharf (10’x300’), located at the south east end of the portage was rebuilt, along with a stone house measuring 20’x25’.[xxi]  A pier was also erected from one of the islands at the head of the rapids, constituting a harbour where lay a vessel to receive the merchandize intended around the Great Lake and Grand Portage.[xxii]

1820 – The town on the American side of the St. Mary’s River consisted of twenty buildings. The north bank of the river there were six or seven dwelling houses occupied by French and English inhabitants with their Métis offspring.[xxiii]


[i] The Cadottes: Five Generations of Fur Traders On Lake Superior. Theresa M. Schenck. The Fur Trade Revisited: Selected Papers Of The Sixth North American Fur Trade Conference, Mackinac Island, Michigan. Volume 1991. Jennifer S. H. Brown, William John Eccles, Donald P. Heldman Editors. Michigan Historical University Press. Page: 190. Also see: The French Seigniory At Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. F. Clever Bald. Reprint of An Article Published In The Evening New, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. April 8 – April 17, 1937. n/d.

[ii] Who Owns Sault Ste. Marie? Theresa Schenck. Michigan Historical Review, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Spring, 2002). Central Michigan University.

[iii] Ontario Historical Plaque. Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board. Location: At the Locks, Sault Ste. Marie.

[iv] Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Volume V. (1801-820). Douglas A. Birk. University of Toronto. 1983.

[v] Sault Ste. Marie History Timeline. Mary. M. June. Bayliss Public Library. Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. 2000.

[vi] Alexander Videl at Sault Ste. Marie 1846. Ermatinger Papers, Reference Number: 901.25.1 EX 1.2, Sault Ste. Marie Public Museum, Sault Ste. Marie, ON.

[vii] Ontario Historical Plaque. Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board. Location: At the Locks, Sault Ste. Marie.

[viii] History of Michigan, Civil And Topographical: In A Compendious Form: With A View Of The Surrounding Lakes. James Henry Lanman. E. French Publisher. New York. 1839.

[ix] History of Michigan, Civil And Topographical: In A Compendious Form: With A View Of The Surrounding Lakes. James Henry Lanman. E. French Publisher. New York. 1839.

[x] Fighting Sail On Lake Huron and Georgian Bay: The War Of 1812 And Its Aftermath. Barry M. Gough. Naval Institute Press. Annapolis, MD. Page: xx] [The Story of Baw-A-Ting; Being the Annals of Sault Sainte Marie. Edward Henry Capp. Kessinger Publishing. Whitefish, MT. 1904. Page: 147.  Also see: Our Town: Sault Ste. Marie, Canada. Aileen Collins. McMaster University. Volume 1.

[xi] The Story of Baw-A-Ting; Being the Annals of Sault Sainte Marie. Edward Henry Capp. Kessinger Publishing. Whitefish, MT. 1904. Pages: 147.Also see: Our Town: Sault Ste. Marie, Canada. Aileen Collins. McMaster University. Volume 1.

[xii] Colonel Darling. Correspondence. 1824.  Summery of the North West Company Buildings. Library and Archives Canada.

[xiii] Fighting Sail On Lake Huron and Georgian Bay: The War Of 1812 And Its Aftermath. Barry M. Gough. Naval Institute Press. Annapolis, MD.

[xiv] Fighting Sail On Lake Huron and Georgian Bay: The War Of 1812 And Its Aftermath. Barry M. Gough. Naval Institute Press. Annapolis, MD.

[xv] History of the Great Lakes. Volume I. J. B. Mansfield, Editor. J. H. Beers & Co., Chicago. 1899.

[xvi] Siveright, John.  Dictionary of Canadian Biography. 1851-1860 (Volume VII). Elizabeth Arthur. University of Toronto. 1966.

 

[xvii] Colonel Darling. Correspondence. 1824.  Summery of the North West Company Buildings. Library and Archives Canada.

[xviii] Colonel Darling. Correspondence. 1824.  Summery of the North West Company Buildings. Library and Archives Canada.

[xix] Colonel Darling. Correspondence. 1824.  Summery of the North West Company Buildings. Library and Archives Canada.

[xx] Colonel Darling. Correspondence. 1824.  Summery of the North West Company Buildings. Library and Archives Canada.

[xxi] Colonel Darling. Correspondence. 1824.  Summery of the North West Company Buildings. Library and Archives Canada.

[xxii] History of Michigan, Civil And Topographical: In A Compendious Form: With A View Of The Surrounding Lakes. James Henry Lanman. E. French Publisher. New York. 1839.

[xxiii] History of Michigan, Civil And Topographical: In A Compendious Form: With A View Of The Surrounding Lakes. James Henry Lanman. E. French Publisher. New York. 1839.

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