Clarke, John, fur-trader, was born in Montreal, Canada, in 1781,
the son of Simon Clarke and Ann
Waldorf. He entered the service of the North
West Company as a clerk in 1800 and served successively on the
MacKenzie river and on the Peace river. In 1810 he left the North West
Company and joined the Pacific Fur Company
of John Jacob Astor, who appears to
have been a relative of his mother. In 1811 he commanded the second
expedition to Fort Astoria, and he was present in 1812 when the fort was
surrendered to the Nor'-Westers. On his return to Canada in 1814
he took service with Lord Selkirk; and during
the years 1815-1819 he was the leader in the opposition which the
Hudson's Bay Company offered the Nor'-Westers
along the Peace river. At the time of the union of the two companies,
in 1821, he was made a chief factor.
He retired from the fur-trade in 1830 and he spent the rest of his days
in Montreal. There he died in 1852. He was twice married, first, to a half-breed
named Sapphira Spence, who died shortly afterwards;
and second, in 1821, to Marian Tranclar, of
Neufchatel, Switzerland, by whom he had four sons and four daughters.
From: "Journal of Occurences in the Athabasca
By George Simpson, 1820 and 1821, and Report"
Edited by E.E. Rich. Pub. by the Champlain Soc.
for the Hudson Bay Record Soc.1938
John Clarke was born in Montreal in 1781 and entered the service of
as a clerk in 1804. In 1804-05 he was stationed at Fort Vermillion on the
Peace River. In 1810 Clark left the N.W.C. service and joined the Pacific
Fur Co. During his term with the Pacific Fur Co. he led the second expedition
to Fort Astoria in 1811, and in 1812 established Spokane House on the Spokane
River in opposition to James McMillan of the
N.W.C. At the amalgamation of the N.W.C. with the Pacific Fur Co. Clarke
declined to re-enter the N.W.C., and at Colin Robertson's
instance he joined the service of the H.B.C. in 1814 at a salary of L-400.
The H.B.C.'s settlement of Athabaska was mainly due to Clarke, who led
the expedition there in 1815 and established Fort Wedderburn during that
season. The N.W.C. cut down Clarkes activities in Athabaska by arresting
him on 7th October, 1816, on a warrant issued by Archibald
Norman McLeod, a N.W.C. partner then in charge of Fort Chipewyan
who was a Justice of the Peace for the Indian Territories. Clarke had been
arrested as a disturber of the public peace, but after a few day's imprisonment
in Fort Chipewyan he was released. He had, however, been compelled to obtain
recognizances for future good behaviour, his surety being Robert
Henry, a N.W.C. partner, who had only consented to stand surety
for Clarke after receiving from him as a guarantee thirty pieces of goods
valued at L3000. Clarke's conduct following his release was unchanged,
and on 15th April, 1817, the old charge against him was renewed and he
was again arrested on McLeod's warrant. This time his imprisionment was
to last longer. After being detained in Fort Chipewyan until June he was
removed to Great Slave Lake, where he remained until August. He was then
brought back to Athabaska and from there to Ile-a-la-Crosse, where he was
released on 12 December, 1817.
In 1818-19 Clarke was in charge of St. Mary's, Peace River, from which
he was transferred to Ile-a-la-Crosse during the following season. Clarke
had been censured by the commitee for not keeping a Journal in 1815: his
disasters in 1816-17 made them think that "Mr. Clarke did not act with
that caution and circumspection which we should have expected his knowledge
of the N.W. Co. would have induced him to adopt', and by 1820 Selkirk,
and Williams were all agreed that Clarke was
vain, extravagant and lacking foresight. But he was also couragous, knew
Athabaska, hated the N.W. Co., and 'seems to command every string that
can touch the heart of a Canadian'. They thought that 'He may very well
calculated to force an Establishment in a country where Opposition is violent,
and when the Expense at which it is accomplished is not an object of consideration',
Clarke was therefore continued at Ile-a-la-Crosse until 1821.
During this period he came into contact with Simpson,
who after a short time was able to perceive Clarkes many bad points and
did not hesitate to complain about him. In spite of the N.W.Co.'s attemt
to exclude him from the amalgamated concern, and in spite of Simpson's
strong disapproval of him, he became a Chief Factor under the Deed Poll
of 1821 and was subsequently granted a year's leave of absence. Along with
other Chief Factors he was appointed a Councillor in 1821 and he was once
more in active service during 1822-23, when he was given charge of
Lower Red River District. His conduct there proved unsatisfactory and was
the reason for his removal to Lesser Slave Lake, of which he was in charge
from 1824-26. From 1826-30 he was at the head of Swan River District with
headquarters at Fort Pelly, and in 1830 he was again granted one year's
leave. He was at the head of Mingan in the Montreal department from 1831-33,
though his conduct there was severely censured in 1832. From Mingan
he was ordered to proceed into the interior, but by then H.B.C. Committee
was tired of his conduct and his dismissal had been decided on. To prepare
the way to his retirement he was granted another year's leave, which was
extended to the season ending on 31st May, 1835, when he retired from the
H.B.C. His conditions appear to have been far from prosperous, so that
in 1848 the H.B.C. allowed him an annuity of L50 in consideration of his
past services to rescue him from utter destitution; the date of Clarkes
death is still to be found.
Clarke married twice. His first wife was Sapphira,
a half-breed daughter of Joseph Spence, on
whom he settled L200 in 1816. after her death Clarke married a Swiss
lady, Mary Ann Trutter, in Christ
Church Cathedral, Montreal, on 26th October, 1830.
From ""Genealogy of John Clarke The Fur Trader, His
Descendants and Related Families" (a work in progress)
by Patricia Jo Bowers-Kern
John Clarke was born Montreal, Quebec Canada. He entered the fur trade
at age 15. He was described in the book "Astoria" by Washington Erving,
as "a tall, goodlooking man, and somewhat given to pomp and
circumstance which made him an object of note in the eyes of the wandering
He entered the service of the Northwest
Fur Company as a clerk in 1804. In 1804-05 he was stationed
Fort Vermillion on the Peace River in Canada. In 1810 he left the Northwest
Fur Co. & joined the Pacific Fur Co..
During his term with the Pacific Fur Company he led the second expedition
to Fort Astoria, Washington State in 1812. John Clarke came in on the Ship
"Beaver" owned by John Jacob Astor. He was
one of the Astorians. Mr. Astor fitted out a fine ship of 490 tons, called
the "Beaver" and freighted her with valuable
cargo destined for the post at Astoria on the mouth of the Columbia
River. In 1812 John Jacob Astor and his Pacific Fur Company sent John Clarke
from the mouth of the Columbia River to established a post in the same
neighborhood as Spokane House on the Spokane River in Washington State;
in opposition to James McMillan of the Northwest Fur Company. [Here is
where he met and married his 1st. wife Josephte Kanhopitsa.]
At the emalgamation of the North West Co. with the Pacific Fur Company,
Clark declined to re-enter the Northwest Co. and at Colin Roberts insistance
Clarke joined the service of the Hudson's Bay Fur
Company in 1814 at a salary of 400 pounds.
The Hudson's Bay Company's settlement of Athabaska was mainly due to
Clarke who led the expedition there in 1815 and established Fort Wedderburn
during that season. In 1818-19 John Clark was incharge of St. Mary's
Peace River, from which he was transfured to Lia-a-la-Crosse during
the following season. By 1820 Lord Selkirk,
and Williams all agreed Clark would continue
at lia-a-la-Crosse until 1821.
It was during this period that John Clarke came into contact with Govenor
Simpson, who after a short visit was able to precive Clarke's bad
points and did not hesitate to complain about him. Inspite of
Simpson's disapproval Clark became Chief Factor under the Deed Poll
of 1821. Along with other Chief Factors of the H.B.C. Clarke was appointed
a councillor in 1821. He was given charge of the Lower Red River District
in 1822-23. Clarke was in charge of Lesser Slave Lake 1824-26.
From 1826-1830 he was at the head of the Swan River district with headquarters
at Fort Pelly. Clarke was head of Mingan in the Montreal department
from 1831-33. From Mangan he was ordered into the interior and granted
a years leave. To prepare the way to his retirement from the Hudson's Bay
Fur Company he was granted another years leave, which was extended to the
season ending on May 31, 1835.
John Clarke married his 2nd wife Sapphira Spence
in 1816, a half-breed daughter of Joseph Spence.
After her death in 1822 Clarke married a Swiss lady, Mary
Ann Trutter-Trauclar in Christ Church Cathedral,
Montreal, October 26, 1830.
John Clark died July 28, 1858 and was buried on Clarke Ave. in Montreal
For a number of years. John Clarke lived at the Beaver
Lodge, St. Catherine's known as Outremont. The Beaver
Club is where the Northwest Company's winterers met for social gatherings
and to entertain distinguished guests.
John Clarke from the Book: "The Great Northwest"
John Jacob Astor formed the Pacific Fur
Co. on June 23, 1810 to operate in the Oregon Country. Astor was to be
the first Partner. Associated with him were Alexander
McKay, Donald McKenzie, Duncan
McDougal, Wilson Price Hunt,
Stuart, Robert McLellan, John
Clarke and others. In 1812 John Clarke, an Astorian built
Fort Spokane near present city of Spokane, Washington.
John Clarke from the Book: "Spokane Story"
"At a spot for the post was an attractive parcel of land lying between
the Spokane and the Little Spokane rivers. Supervised by John
Clarke, Astor's partner and future Bourgeois, or resident-to-be
under whom the brigade had made its way from the mouth of the Columbia
River. Shortly Clarke was able to point with
pride to the new establishment with its 70-foot mess hall, 80 foot warehouse
and comfortable log dwelling of four rooms and a kitchen for his personal
use. etc. [I have a photo, that I took, of the monument which is
erected now in Washington state]
John Clarke from the book: "History of Oregon"
by Charles Henry Carey
Early in May, 1812, the Astor ship "Beaver"
arrived at Astoria after a voyage of 212 days from New York. The Beaver
had on board a cargo similar to that brought by the Tonquin etc. It also
brought one of its partners, John Clarke,
several clerks etc.
"After the arrival of the "Beaver" the Astorians had a meeting to plan
out the occupation of the territory. They decided to establish a fort on
the Spokane River", [Washington state] "to be under the management of Clarke,
and to be near the already located post of the North West Co."
"When the War of 1812 began between the U.S. and Britain word was recieved
that the Isaac Todd would soon be at the Columbia and the Canadians trading
under the American Flag would find themselves in great trouble, McKenzie
and McDonald decided Astoria would have to
be given up so they sent messages upriver to the various forts", etc. "In
response Clarke and Stewart
came down to Astoria June 1813", etc. June 20, 1813 Stuart and his companions,
set out together from Astoria, under the command of John
Clarke, numbering sixty-two persons, ect.
John Clarke in the book: "Young Men So Daring"
by Bobbs Merrill
1. "Three Other parties, under McKenzie,
Stuart and Clarke, were to explore
the upper Columbia Valley and set up a chain of protective trading posts
against any invasion of the Pacific Fur. Co. territory by North West traders",
2. "May 10, 1812, Mr. Astor sent fresh men. Among them was a new wintering
partner, John Clarke, another former Nor'wester",
3. "1813 Jan. McDougall at once ordered his own men to stop all trading
except for food. McKenzie sped back up-river to order Clarke
and David Stuart to close their posts.
Neither Stuart nor Clarke took seriously the idea of closing such profitable
posts. Though they agreed to meet McKenzie at the mouth of the Walla Walla"
[river] " to return to Astoria together, they carried only their pelt packs
with them. Both left their posts open and men behind to conduct trade".
4. "A handsom man with handsome ways, Clarke
naturally attracted Indian
attention wherever he went. At a small stream where he stopped to trap,
on his way to a rendevous, a band of Nez Perces already camped there watched
his every move. What really held their eyes was the magnificent air with
which he drank from a silver cup, then returned it to a locked box. They
were sure that cup must be something very precious ", etc.
John Clarke from the book: "Sir George Simpson"
by Arthur S. Morton", 1944
1815 -"The Hudson's Bay Fur Company planned
an expedition into the rich fur region of the valleys of Athabaska and
Peace Rivers. The Hudson's Bay Co. expedition was recruted
in Montreal. Many of its officers and men were old Northwester's
whose knoledge of the country and Indian languages gave promise of success
to the enterprise. John Clarke an old Northwester
and lately with John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Co. was in supreme charge",
John Clarke from the book:
"Journal of a Voyage on the N/W Coast of North America" 1811-1814,
by Gabriel Franchere.
Page 112 -footnote 6: "Clarke was born in Montreal in 1781 and joined
the Northwest Company in 1800. His mother was Ann
Waldorf, probably a relative of Astor. He was in command of the
party of reinforcements sent out in the BEAVER. He returned to Canada in
1814 and was later in the service of Lord Selkirk
and the Hudson's Bay Company."
John Clarke from the book: "Empire of the Columbia"
by Dorthy O. Johansen
"When the Beaver arrived at Astoria it brought supplies and additional
personnel. Among these were several relatives of Astor's, one of
whom John Clarke, until 1810 a Nor'wester,
was a new partner." Etc.
"The partners decided that Hunt should
go about the Company's business with the Russian posts; that Donald
McKenzie and newly arrived John Clarke
would move into the interior, Clarke to establish a trading post near the
Northwest's Spokane House and McKenzie to winter on the Snake River, Robert
Stuart was to carry reports to Astor overland." Etc.
John Clarke in the book: "Furs by Astor"
by John Upton Terrell
1. page 189.......The Beaver cleared New York harbor on October 13,
1811. Among the passengers were six clerks destin for service in Astor's
posts in the Northwest, which Astor presumed were being built. One of the
clerks was Ross Cox, who was to write a famous
and controversial book about Astoria. Another clerk was George
Erminger, the son-in-law of Astor's sister Catherine. Also on board
was John Clark, an ex-North West Company trader,
whom Astor had made partner in the Pacific Fur Company. Clarke was said
to be distantly related to Astor. His Mother was a German whose maiden
name had been Waldorf.
2. pages 211 and 212....."John Clarke was
to winter in Spokane. June 29,, all set out for the interior. All traveled
together to Walla Walla and seperated. Dave Stuart
arrived at the Okanagan Aug. 12, left Alexander Ross
in charge, and went on to Thompson River. Clarke reached the Spokane River
with clerk Pillet McLennan, Farham
and Cox, and commenced the construction of
a trading house". Etc.
There were many History books written that mention John Clarke and my
sources came from those books. I also lent a photograph of John Clarke's
daughter, Josephte Boucher Clarke, to John
C. Jackson for his book "Children of the Fur Trade" published in
Here is a list of some of my Sources:
1. The Hudson's Bay Record Society Publications
Volume 1-XXX, Vol.XXX Hudson's Bay Miscellany 1670-1870 is a bio.; Clarke
listed under Chief Factor on page 167 in Simpson's Character Book.
2.The Hudson's Bay Company Records Society Publications-Northern
Quebec & Labrador Journals & Correspondence Volume XX1V 1819-1835
pages 290-293, 301-305 and also the Appendix A.
3. The Hudson's Bay Co. Records Society Publications
Volume 1. Simpson's Anthabaska Journal and Report 1821-1822 [Journal of
Occurences in the Athabaska Department] pages: 1,2n,4,5,7-10,12,13,16-18,21,23-25,27-30,33,34,36,113-118,122,130,134,136,138,172,173,175n,
XXXV1,XL111,XL1V,XLV1,and LV111. Arrest of Clarke on pages 97-98,118,129,130.
Charactor and Activities; pages 122,249,270,301,324-325
Mistress info.; on pages 32,112,249. Plan to Murder;
on page 111
4. Furs by Astor, pages 189,211,212 etc.
5. The Honorable Company...by Douglas McKay, pages
6. History of Oregon...by Charles Henry Carey.
7. Young Men So Daring...by Vera Kelsey pages
152-154 "Mentions the Silver Cup under the title", "Vengeance for a Cup."
8. From Sir George Simpson..by Arthur S. Morton,
9. The Great Northwest...by Winter.
10. Spokane Story...by Fargo.
11.Farthest Reach: Oregon & Washington...by
Nancy W. Ross
12. Fur Trade Empire [George Simpson's Journal]...by
Frederic D. Merk.
13. Ceasers of the Wilderness...by Peter C. Newman.
14. Empire of the Columbia..by Dorthy O. Johanse,
pages 133-134. [first edition]
15. The American Fur Trade of the Far West [two
Vol's.]..by Chittenden pages 169,182,204,205.
16. The Northwest Company..by Cambell, pages 242-247,250-252,258-262.
17. John McLoughlin...by Johnson, pages 10 &
18. History of the Willamette Valley...by Long,
19. Big Business...by ? pages 6-16.
20. Red River..by Hargrave, Joseph James, Appendices
B, page 491 for Clarke, covers Chief Factors journal od 1819-20. Page 149.
21. The Columbia River...by Ross Cox, pages 107-10.
22. The Spokane Indians....by Robert H. Ruby and
John A. Brown, pagesm 40-42.
23. Adventures at Astoria 1810-1814...by ? their
is a picture of the Palouse River which mentions Clarke.
24. The Nez Perce...by? pages 47-52 which mention
25. Oregon Under The Union Jack...which lists
Company Employees, the Astorians of the Pacific Fur Co.
26. Astoria and Empire...by James P. Roda, pages
241,246,279-283. Shows a photo of the Ship "Beaver".
27. The Pacific Northwest Quarterly.
28. Astoria...by Washington Irving.
29. The Washington Historical Quarterly Volume
8...by O.B.Sperlin, pages 104-113.
30. The Journal of Alexander Ross...by Ross, Chapter
31. Strangers in Blood...by Jennifer S.H. Brown,
pages 112-119, 126-129
32. Drummers and Dreamers...by Click Relander.
"Mentions the Silver Cup".
33. Let Me Be Free...by David Lavender. "Mentions
the Silver Cup".
34. Renegade Tribe...by Clifford E. Trafzer &
Richard D. Scheuerman. "Mentions the Silver Goblet".
35. Mountain Men & Fur Trade...by LeRoy Hafen.
"Mentions the Silver Cup"
36. Thunder Over the Ochoco...by Andrew Gale Ontko.
"Mentions the Silver Cup"
37. Indians of the Pacific Northwest...by Ruby
and Brown. "Mentions the Silver Cup".
38. The Nez Perce..by Clifford E. Trafzer. "Mentions
the hanging of an Indian over the Silver Cup".
39. Journal De Franche're...1812..written in French...Mr.
John Clarke [Proprietaire] This book is in the Astoria, Oregon Library
under lock and key.
40. Astorian Adventure the Journal of Alfred Seton,
1811-1815..edited by Robert F. Jones. [this book mentions John Clark all
41. The Catholic Church Records of the Pacific
Northwest...by Werner & Munnick. [this set of books lists our whole
family starting with Clarke]
42. The Mountian Men....by Rick Steber on page
38, "Mentions the Silver Cup" under the title "The Silver Goblet"
Direct Descendants of John Clarke to Patricia Jo Bowers-Kern
1 John Clarke my g-g-g-g Grandfather, m. Josephte
...... 2 Josephte Clarke Boucher my g-g-g-Grandmother,
m. John McKay
.............. 3 Isabelle McKay my g-g-Grandmother, m.
Francois Jean Guerin
...................... 4 Jean Baptiste Guerin my G-Grandfather,
m. Esther Saunders-Sanders
............................... 5 Frances Aldean Guerin
my Grandmother, m. Harvey Alfred Bowers
....................................... 6 Clarence Harvey
Bowers, m. Josephine VanHorn
............................................... 7 Patricia
His father, Simon Clarke
His daughter, Adele Clarke
His daughter, Louise Clarke
Jo Kern ............gggg granddaughter
to Notable Montrealers / Return
to Clarke query / Return
to St. Gabriel church building fund