(The following paragraphs are taken from "The French- Canadian Presence in the Northwest and the Very Early Beginnings of Red Lake Falls and Red Lake County" by Virgil Benoit, in A History~ of Red Lake County, edited by Anne Healy and Sherry Kankel, Taylor Publishing Co., Dallas, 1976. For more see article by Virgil Benoit and http://nmin.ardc.org/history/rlindex.asp )


In 1789 the Hudson's Bay company proposed a "series of posts radiating out from Osnaburgh southward -at Sturgeon Lake, Red Lake, Portage de 'Isle and Rainy Lake. .." the establishment of a post at Red Lake (not Red Lake Falls) meant that trade would also develop along the Red Lake and Red Rivers since they formed the waterway to Pembina, North Dakota, and the posts of the north. Moreover, the area of the Red Lake River which extended into the regions where buffalo grazed was highly strategic in the development of the fur trade. In establishing posts along this route the Hudson's Bay Company was securing for itself the pemmican, or dried buffalo meat, so necessary for its traders. .." Thus the Red Lake River posts were meant to be a strategic hold against the traders of competitive fur companies, who, like the traders of the Hudson's Bay Company sought to secure their trade in the far northwest. By 1826 there were as many as seventeen training posts in the upper Mississippi country.

"To Jean Baptiste Cadotte Jr. is given the credit for completely opening to the fur traders the region about the upper Mississippi. " Jean Baptiste had followed in the footsteps of his father, the fur trader and partner of Alexander Henry WHO IS HE? Jean Baptiste Cadotte, Jr. spent the winter of 1797-98 at the strategic forks of the Red Lake and Clearwater Rivers, or at the present site of the town of Red Lake Falls. "Mr. Cadotte in the employ of the Northwest Company, probably spent the winter of 1794-95 at Red Lake and the next year at Cedar or Cass Lake, while the season following, 1796-97, was passed at Red Lake once more. He was in charge the next winter of the trading house of the Northwest Company on the present site of the town of Red Lake Falls." On March 25, 1798 the geographer and surveyor David Thompson, who like Cadotte was in the employ of the Northwest Company, visited Cadotte's house at the fork of the Red Lake and Clearwater Rivers. About his visit Thompson wrote: "Mr. Baptiste Cadotte was about thirty-five years of age. He was the son of a French gentleman by a native woman, and married to a very handsome native woman, also the daughter of a Frenchman: He had been well educated in Lower Canada, and spoke fluently his native Language, with Latin, French and English. I had long wished to meet a well educated native, from whom I could derive sound information for I was well aware that neither myself, nor any other Person I had met with, who was not a Native, were sufficiently masters of the Indian Languages. As the season was advancing to break up the Rivers, and thaw the snow from off the ground, I inquired if he would advise me to proceed any farther with Dogs and Sleds: he said the season was too far advanced, and my further advance must be in Canoes.

Because of the severity of the spring thaw and rain which accompanied it, Thompson returned to Cadotte's house March 31 at which time he spoke with the Chippewa chief of the Red Lake Indians and observed some Indian dances. "The course of this River is from south westward until it is lost in the Plains, the groves are at a considerable distance from each other, by no means sufficient for the regular Farmer, but may become a fine pastoral country , but without a market, other than the inhabitants of the Red River." Thompson left Cadotte's house on April 9 with his crew of three French Canadians and the wife of one of them, a native woman. They took the Clearwater River since they were traveling in a birch canoe and the Red Lake River still had ice on it from the Lake.