Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Bernard Rogan Ross and Robert Kennicott

Ross and Kennicott at Portage La Loche in 1862
Bernard Rogan Ross
The chief factor of the Mackenzie District based in Fort Simpson was Bernard Rogan Ross. He came to Portage La Loche every year to oversee his outfit. In 1862 he was accompanied by the naturalist Robert Kennicott who was returning to Chicago from his first expedition. Father Emile Petitot describes these men in his book "En route pour la mer Glacial".
......Bernard Rogan Ross as a collector
......Bernard Rogan Ross biography
......Robert Kennicott biography

“On July 22 there came from the other side of the Portage a factor of the Hudson’s Bay Company dressed as follows: wool shirt of red and green squares of Scottish design bordered with yellow cloth stuck in a pair of white pants with purplish red stripes. Around the waist an assomption sash. Just below the knees were garters embroidered with glass beads and adorned with tufts of red silk that hung like scalps. On the head a florentine toque of green velvet ringed with silk embroidery. No shoes, no boots but immaculate white Chipewyan moccasins embroidered with silk of many colors. This fantastic costume, very elegant, is characteristic of the “Grand Nord”. It was worn well by a little Irish clerk, with black eyes and great sideburns, who came to meet Governor Dallas, that his Iroquois canoemen had brought to Portage La Loche. The chief factor of Fort Edmonton Mr. Christie accompanied him.”
“The Irishman was followed by a young American naturalist, very smart, petulant, who talked through his nose by the name of Kennicott. He also wore a costume of the “Grand Nord” on which he had embroidered in white ribbon a lizard, a butterfly, a turtle and a snake, the emblems of his livelihood. We might say that he looked like a clown of the new “Cirque”. The lovers of science, we say, are all original and a bit crazed but the naturalists that we meet in the remote areas of America seem to be a unique breed.”
page 273-274 Enroute pour la mer Glaciale by Emile Petitot (my translation)

kennicott robert
Robert Kennicott

Robert Kennicott was at Portage La Loche in 1862 and had his picture taken after he returned. In this carte de visite (visiting card)
he is wearing a capote (a wool jacket with a hood) tied at the waist
with an Assomption sash  (metis sash). His pants are trimmed at the cuffs and outside seams with a contrasting colour. Just below the knees are Metis garters (leg ties). On his head is a toque and on his feet are decorated moccasins either beaded or embroidered. From his sash hangs a marten fur skin fire-bag.

Kennicott's described his fire-bag on January 18, 1862. 
"It (the fire-bag used for carrying flints, steel, touchwood, pipe, knife, etc., etc., by all voyageurs, in place of pockets)
is made of a fine, large marten skin, and is the bonniest one in the district."
page 203 of the "Transactions of the Chicago Academy of Sciences" (volume 1)