Peter POND explored this traditional Indian route in 1778, and soon NOR'WESTERS were portaging canoes and outfits into the rich Athabasca area. The system was later reorganized by the HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY : in 1823 the Athabasca brigade left its YORK BOATS at the northwest end of the portage, carried the fur packs across and embarked in other boats which were waiting for them at the southeast end. In 1826 the more distant Mackenzie River brigade simply exchanged furs for supplies with the La Loche brigade coming from the southeast. In the early years local Indians were hired to help portage the heavy loads. By the 1850s, packhorses and ox-carts had come into use, and over 100 tonnes could be portaged annually. After 1886, this route was displaced by the ATHABASCA LANDING TRAIL, which had been developing since 1875.
Author C.S. MACKINNON