The Chicago Portage archive is available for download as a single .zip file from here. The archive includes copies of The Chicago Portage Ledger, photographs of the site, and the video "Connected Worlds: The Story of the Chicago Portage.
Furthermore, this December, we are launching a new platform for our unique digital collections.
Please take a moment to preview it and let us know what you think!


Young Gurdon

“I was born in Windsor, Vermont, August 22, 1802 My father was Elizur Hubbard, the son of George Hubbard, an officer in the war of the Revolution, and Thankful Hatch.  My mother was Abigal Sage, daughter of General Comfort Sage and Sarah Hamin, of Middletown, Connecticut.”

So begins Hubbard’s autobiography written near the end of his life, after the destruction of his first manuscript in the great Chicago fire.  His father was a lawyer who, through failed business deals, became very poor.  In 1812, the age of ten, Hubbard was sent to live with his Aunt’s son-in-law, an Episcopalian minister, in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.  He wrote of that time: “I was very deficient in my education, but the winter passed pleasantly and I made fair progress in my studies.”

The following year his father moved the family to Montreal and Gurdon returned home for the trip to Canada.  In April, 1816, he began working in a Montreal hardware store.  Through a friend he met an agent of the American Fur Company (AFC).  Despite his young age, he convinced his parents to let him apply for a job as a clerk with the Company.  He was hired for five years for $120 per year.

On May 13th, 1818, at 9am he reported for duty with his brigade of voyageurs just upstream of the rapids at Lachine, in front of LaSalle’s old estate on the north bank of the river.  After a half hour was allowed for “leave-taking”, the brigade of 120 voyageurs and 13 clerks led by the AFC agent Mr. William Matthews, boarded the boats and began rowing up the St. Lawrence River to the Company’s “Factory” at Mackinaw.

Next page: Mackinaw Island