Readers have asked for maps of Andre’s travels. To make it easier to locate him, I included a map in Book 3. And because I love maps and perused them extensively while writing “Uncharted Waters,” I’m sharing my favorite sections of those maps, with annotations.

1831 map: The canoe landing is near where the orange right angle meets the green. Ste. Anne’s Shrine is by the red island at the bottom. The Lake of Two Mountains has a green top border.

During the pandemic, I purchased an 1831 map of Montreal and Lower Canada (and its 1838 counterpart of Upper Canada) which I consulted constantly, enlarging sections so I could really see what my characters faced. I scoured old sources about the route. Enjoy!

  1. Lachine: Lachine, ironically, is named for China, though explorers didn’t yet realize that the river wasn’t a direct route. The canoe landing on the St. Lawrence River is placed just upstream of a tricky rapids — the brigades didn’t want to look foolish on their first challenge while in sight of their loved ones.  
    Peter Pond wrote, “thar Stans a Small Roman Church Aganst a Small Raepad   this Church is Dedacateed to St. Ann who Protescts all Voigeers    heare is a Small Box with Hole in the top for ye Reseption of a Lettle Muney for the Hole father to Say a Small Mass for those who Put a small Sum in the Box” [Note: This is Pond’s spelling and lack of punctuation, which I enjoy, but it’s easier to understand when read aloud.]
    André and his crew stop briefly at St. Anne’s Shrine, 16 miles from Lachine, before paddling on the Ottawa River (the Grand River) into the Lake of Two Mountains.
  2. The Long Sault

    Long Sault: After the Lake of Two Mountains, the river narrows, first into the Carillon Rapids, and then 12 more miles of boulder-studded rapids. This was the voyageurs’ first physical ordeal, made worse by the knowledge that Adam Dollard’s canoe was ambushed in 1660 by Iroquois warriors, according to Barbara Huck. Champlain nearly lost his life on the Long Sault when his canoe turned broadside in a whirlpool.
    André’s men get occasional respites from quieter water, followed by more rapids.

  3. Chaudière Falls: The word ‘Chaudière‘ means a ‘boiler’ or ‘kettle,’ which describes the turbulent waters. Eric Morse describes the portage as so steep that every man was needed to haul the canoe over it. Morse notes that two or three sets of old crude stone steps built by voyageurs are still visible today. Besides portaging the falls, they ascend 49 feet here.

    The Chaudieres: The rough rapids is where the yellow and green meet at the bottom.

    des Chats Falls: This site is named for the once-abundant raccoons (les chats sauvages), according to Huck, with the river nearly 2 miles wide, spilling over granite outcroppings and islands in 15 or 16 beautiful falls. The painter W. H. Bartlett depicted Portage des Chats in 1842.
    It must have been as amazing to André‘s crew as Niagara Falls is to us.

    Voyageurs in heavily-loaded Montreal canoes must take the main Grand Calumet portage (veering north and east) but smaller canoes can navigate the Muskrat River (farthest west).

    Grand Calumet: (and a shortcut on Muskrat River): The Ottawa River splits around an island of white limestone, which was soft enough to be carved into pipes, or calumets. The uphill portage here is a mile and a quarter, the longest voyageurs face until Grand Portage (9 miles!). But there’s another route that smaller canoes can take (which I learned of, thanks to Morse).
    On the Ottawa, André‘s crew makes 18 major portages and climbs another 600 feet in elevation as they near a continental divide. Finally they turn onto the Mattawa (Little) River. The distance of both river systems is about 315 miles.


    4. Baptism Point: Morse writes that voyageurs now paddled between narrow granite cliffs rising 500 feet above them, where they were indeed in the pays d’en haut, the upper country. Here they baptized new paddlers, a tradition which usually included high wines.
    é’s men creatively accomplish this task.


This is from the 1838 map of Upper Canada. Macdonell’s guide named 14 portages on the Mattawa before they reached Lake Nispissing, on the lower left.

Mattawa portages: Huck describes the Mattawa (also called the Little River), as strewn with great boulders, rapids and falls, formed 600 million years ago by a cataclysmic fracturing. John Macdonell’s brigade guide in 1793 told him that while Mattawa is only about 40 miles, it has 14 difficult portages — he named them all. Alexander Mackenzie considered the 275-pace Talon Portage as the most difficult and most dangerous in the continent. Just below Talon Portage is the height-of-land, where voyageur steersmen tossed out their setting poles and switched to paddles.


5. Lake Nipissing and the French River: The Mattawa crosses a continental divide — travelers go downstream to Lake Nipissing. The lake is shallow, so in high wind the waves become dangerously choppy. The French River is about 70 miles long.
Once on Lake Huron, André‘s men paddle 300 more miles to Fort St. Joseph. Experienced crews could paddle about 4 miles per hour on flat water but birch bark canoes lacked keels, so steering was always complicated, and even more so without a heavy cargo.

6. Fort St. Joseph:

Huck writes that after the war with New England, Britain ceded territory south of the Great Lakes, so Fort Michilimackinac, which had supplied the fur trade, was passed to the Americans, at least on paper (because Britain procrastinated). Started in 1796, Fort St. Joseph became a thriving community by 1804, though a soldier described it as “the military Siberia of Upper Canada.” Through gifts, the U.S. Governor attempted to sway First Nations leaders into supporting the U.S., but they declined, having pledged allegiance to Britain. In the War of 1812, about 400 Ojibwe, Odawa, Menominee, Winnebago and Dakota warriors joined Britain but Fort St. Joseph was burned by American forces.
Andre expects his end destination was this British fort. But he stays only briefly, needing to travel on, crossing the Straits of Mackinac. They can see the old forts at a distance.

This map (from Mackinac State Historic Parks) gives a sense of what the fur traders might have seen at a 1770s rendezvous.

Fort Michilimackinac: For hundreds of years, this was a place of gathering for First Nations peoples. In 1671, Jesuit missionaries established a mission at St. Ignace. Fur traders and French soldiers built the region’s first fort. For 150 years, the fur trade was lucrative in the Straits of Mackinac. Peter Pond had his trade goods shipped here in 1777.

7. Green Bay:

Peter Pond’s fleet of 9 laden canoes “Cross Lake Mishegon on my way to Grean Bay at the mouth of the fox River …two or three Miles Brod …” At a small French village, he “Incampt thare for two Days … with Mannamaneas” (Menominees) and paddled into enemy territory over to the Masecipey river. He describes the Fox as shallow, the bank level with the water, and gentle serpentine water meadows in which they paddled 3 miles but advanced only 1 mile.

From Fort St. Joseph, through Green Bay and following the winding Fox River, Andre’s canoemen paddle another 375 miles. for a grand total of 1,065 miles.

Aren’t these maps fun? Which is your favorite?

Final Thoughts


  • Exploring the Fur Trade Routes of North America” by Barbara Huck, et al. Heartland Associates (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 2002).
  • Five Fur Traders of the Northwest” edited by Charles M. Gates. Minnesota Historical Society (St. Paul, Minnesota, 1965). See the Narrative of Peter Pond and the Diary of John Macdonell.
  • Fur Trade Canoe Routes of Canada/ Then and Now” by Eric W. Morse. University of Toronto Press (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 1968).
  • Peter Pond Society







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