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Full text of "In the days of the Red River Rebellion; life and adventure in the far west of Canada (1868-1872) With illus. by J.E. Laughlin and ports"

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From a photograph taken in 1872. 








Author of " Forest, Lake and Prairie," " Saddle, Sled and Snowshoe,' 
" Pathfinding on Plain and Prairie," etc. 




Entered according to A^t of the Parliament of Canada, in the 
year one thousand nine hundred and three, by WILLIAM 
BRIGGS, at the Department of Agriculture. 



Xorfc Stratbcona anfc /IDount 






Primitive transport The " buckboard " New coun- 
try Edmonton A pioneer parsonage House- 
building- Fishing A race for noble game A 
birthday feast A motley company . . 11 


Winter sets in A visit to Edmonton The " Pon- 
doira antelope " I secure a superb train of dogs 
A run to Victoria A jolly company Repre- 
sentative Indian types Aristocrats of the 
plains Watch-night service An accident 
Home again 26 


A tri.p to Rocky Mountain Fort A tenderfoot's be- 
wilderment " The hills of God " Tact of the 
Hudson's Bay Company A wolverine's cunning 38 


A big hunt planned Tragic death of Maskepetoon 
District meeting ait Victoria Jacob Blgstoney 
Rev. Wm. Jacob's skill in tracking 
A strong temptation Consecrated to the Min- 
istry Wans and rumors of war . . . .49 


We start for the big camp Varied diet My flrat 
breech-loader A scare A wonderful scene A 
" great lone land " Clerical costumes Excit- 
ing buffalo hunts Struck by lightning Charged 
by two buffalo bulls A battle royal Changing 
conditions Unerring instinct of Indian guidee 
Our camp rushed by a buffalo herd Loss of 
our only waggon 62 



The " fall hunit " A brutal murder My horse pois- 
oned "This is the way to do it!" Father's 
abbreviated musket Samson's dash and skill as 
a buffalo runner Bob and I do some scouting 
The silence of Nature's solitude A hair-raising- 
adventure I make new acquaintances . .86 


Visiting Hudison's Bay posts A lonely journey I 
encounter a solitary traveller Importation of 
liquor Circulating- a petition An Irish priest's 
objections Governor Archibald's proclamation 
Prohibition in the Territories . . . .108 


Rebellion in the Red Raver Settlement Reil seizes 
Fort Garry Attempts .to induce the Indians to 
revolt Visiting- the tribes to preach loyalty 
Indians remain firm Outbreak of smallpox 
Massacre of Blackfeet near Edmonton The post 
invested by avenging: force Narrow escape of a 
party of whites A bonfire of carts and a feast 
Wolseley crushes rebellion Terrible ravages 
of smallpox Heartrending- scenes The writer's 
attack and cure Awful mortality among- French 



An autumn hunt Spirit of the pioneer My friend 
Sum gets a bath Our camp entered by a war- 
party My brother David's pluck Best meat in 
the world Homeward with loaded carts We 
g-et serious word from the Mission Father and 
sisters down with smallpox A camp of the 
dead Arrive at the Mission Find father recov- 
ering Strict quarantine Into an ice-hole 
Narrow escape from drowning Mother's hero- 
ism in fighting the scourge 131 



Indians in sullen humor Another hunt organized 
A dubious Quaker My fingers badly frozen 
Apou and I in luck My endurance is tried A 
visit from the Chief Factor I am sent on a 
difficult and dangerous mission Indians gather- 
ing- in a big- camp Rebellion being fomented 
Packet brings news of Franco-Prussian war A 
priest's superstitious folly and its results New 
idea of prayer Gifts of tobacco Arrival at 
Hand Hills Camp 149 


Interview with the head chief Spirit of rebellion 
rampant Sabbath services A terrible storm 
Big gathering of Indians Exhorting loyalty 
and order Good impression made Distributing 
gifts Return trip Rejoicings at success of 
mission Recognition of service by the Hud- 
son's Bay Company 164 


A peace mission to Rocky Mountain House A 
Dutchman for travelling companion Call at 
Pigeon Lake Mission Difficult travel An 
obstinate pack-train boss A Blackfoot scala- 
wag At the Mountain Fort Interview with 
Indian chiefs Homeward bound A runaway 
couple Receive word of my wife's death Has- 
tening homeward A new breech-loader A mis- 
sion established ait Edmonton Father's narrow 
escape from drowning We lose our buckboard 
Floating down the Saskatchewan . . .176 


Down the Saskatchewan to Fort Carlton by skiff 
Fort Pitt Noted Indian chiefs A lonely camp 
and a solitary wolf A celestial battle David 
brings his bride to Victoria News from the 
outside world To Edmonton in a spring-wag- 
gon My wonderful crop of potatoes A severe 
attack of the mumps A visit from father 
Two typical westerners The White Mud Settle- 
ment . 196 




Missionary Conference at Winnipeg announced District 
Meeting moves me to Pigeon Lake A "migratory 
church " A hunt organized We fall in with Black- 
feet and Bloods A time of great anxiety Friendly 
overtures My visit to Solomon's camp Good 
feeling established A chief with Quaker instincts 
Our party divides We fall in with a Sarcee 
camp I make friends with Chief Bull Head Relief 
at meeting with large hunting party of our own 
people A glorious buffalo run Attack of fever 
Off for Edmonton 21? 


Visit at Edmonton Starting for Conference "Eight 
hundred miles to do shopping " Travelling ex- 
pensesBuy a fine horse On the fringe of settle- 
ment Arrival at Winnipeg Missionary Conference 
opened Distinguished deputation Entertained by 
Sir Donald A. Smith Rev. Wm. Morley Punshon's 
lectures and ordination sermon I am ordained 
Dr. Moore and Dr. Cochrane Am appointed to a 
new mission Government survey party arrives in 
Winnipeg Dr. Grant's " Ocean to Ocean "Affec- 
tionate tribute to my father - . . . .230 


Conference over, I leave on a visit to Ontario Dr. 
Punshon Passing the Customs A stubborn Jehu 
Northern Railroad at Moorehead Take steamer at 
Duluth Revisiting scenes of my boyhood Col - 
lingwood Craigvale Toronto College education 
denied My second marriage Westward bound 
Seasickness A "wild and woolly " town Heading 
off a steamer Down the Red River Dr. Bryce 
Westward rush begun A merited rebuke . . 242 




Arrival at Fort Garry Kindly received by Rev. Geo. 
Young and wife Mr. Marshall Wife and self 
start out alone on our long journey "The steady 
jog" A lordly Irishman "Give him a terrible 
pounding for me " A prairie fire Meet with a 
party of fugitive Sioux Participants in the Minne- 
sota massacre Mr. Macdonald and Mr. Audey 
" You will do for the North- West, Mrs. McDougall" 262 


A half-breed's lingo Origin of languages Half way to 
Edmonton Chief Factor McMurray A bitter storm 
First house at Batoche Duck Lake and Fort 
Carlton Fortunate meeting with my old friend, 
Jack Norris Neche stuck fast in a creek Another 
mishap Winter with a vengeance Bannock- making 
Buried in snow Camp-fire cheer Sufferings of 
our horses Brilliant night-scene Neche's sim- 
plicity " The man with the sharp axe " My wife 
nearly frozen Sandy McDonald, hero A plucky 
exploit Little Bob's plight Narrow escape from 
freezing Changing camp during the night Over- 
come by cold and exhaustion My wife's anxious 
night-watch Arrival at Fort Pitt . . . .271 


Welcome at Fort Pitt Flat-sleds and snow-shoes 
Norris and party arrive A unique incident On to 
Victoria Sandy accompanies us Order of march 
Little Bob clear grit A friendly French half-breed 
Arrive at Victoria David a proud father A run 
to Edmonton and Pigeon Lake A welcome visit 
from father Christmas at Edmonton Home at 
last Unique bridal tour My wife a heroine 
Au revoir 291 



Portrait of the Author .... (Frontispiece) 
' ' She turned to strike me, but I fired right into her 

breast" 22 

" Soon we were met by the returning herds dashing with 

full speed upon our line " 75 

" I bluffed by standing up and steeling my knife " - 102 
" The floor on which they stood was frozen prairie " . 169 
Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal .... 237 
Rev. Enoch Wood, D.D., Hon. Senator John Macdonald, 

Rev. George McDougall, Rev. George Young, D.D., 

Rev. Wm. Morley Punshon, D.D 242 

4 ' Erect on his legs, with head to storm and camp, and 

dead I " . 293 



Primitive transport The "buckboard" New country 
Edmonton A pioneer parsonage House -building 
Fishing A race for noble game A birthday feast A 
motley company. 

DURING the autumn of 1868, and on the last 
page of "Pathfinding on Plain and Prairie," I 
bade my kind reader adieu, with the promise 
that if opportunity came I would sometime 
resume my narrative of life and adventure in 
the far West. As yet but little change had 
come upon the scene; primeval conditions still 
largely obtained throughout that great region. 
The party I had guided into the beautiful valley 
of the Saskatchewan (as related in the closing 
chapters of my last volume) had left the banks 
of the Mississippi several months before, and by 
dint of continuous travel and many weeks of 
camping on the trail, had succeeded in reaching 
this distant spot. These people had left railway 


transport far to the south-east of this big upland 
country. Away under the Stars and Stripes 
they had said farewell for long years to what 
might fittingly be called civilized modes of 
travel. The ox-cart, the heavily burdened 
waggon, the prairie schooner, were slow in pace, 
and when one took into consideration the great 
wilderness, with its bridgeless and ferryless 
rivers and its thousands of miles of ungraded 
trails and utter solitude, so far as man was 
concerned, the enterprise of those few who 
ventured into this distant field seemed sublime. 

This little party brought with them the first 
buck boards to come into Manitoba and the 
North- West. Hitherto the Red River cart had 
reigned supreme the aristocracy of the land 
had nothing better ; but now the light and easy- 
riding buckboard came to conquer, and with 
base ingratitude the cart was relegated to the 
plebeian work of freighting only. No more of 
the dangling of one's legs over the front bar of 
this wooden coach ; good-bye forever to the 
dulcet tones of squeaking axles and the shriek- 
ing of unbushed hubs ! No, gentlemen, we are 
making history, we are entering on an epoch of 
development with the arrival of the springless 
buckboard. God bless the man whose brain 
caught the glorious idea and who thus became a 
benefactor to all who ventured upon the great 


continents beyond the limits of steam. Even as 
a palace Pullman coach is to a loaded flat-car, so 
is the backboard to an honest Red River cart. 
We can speak feelingly, if not regretfully. 

Forward the Star of Empire takes her course, 
and we on a glorious day in September of 1868, 
with but a portion of the original party, move 
onward and westward. Up along the north 
bank of the big Saskatchewan we ride and roll ; 
across lovely bits of prairie, through dense 
woods where the road as yet has been barely cut 
out and countless stumps are in omnipresent 
evidence ; the heavens above a sea of glory, and 
the earth beneath full of autumn grass and 
herbage and foliage colored and tinted and 
gorgeous. Ever and anon the graceful and 
majestic bends and stretches of this mighty 
river are at our feet. Over thousands of acres 
of rich soil, down into and across numerous 
streams and creeks the three " Was-uh-huh- 
de-nows," the Sucker, the Vermilion, the Deep, 
the Sturgeon, and many others all arteries 
feeding the giant river. The stream is the father 
of the river, even as the child is the father of the 
man, and the individual the progenitor of the 
nation. This is why we are camping and rolling 
and straining and working up the slopes of a 
great continent. We are here to preach and live 
loyalty to God and country, to make men strong 


and true; therefore we worry along. What 
'matters an upset, and serious loss in conse- 
quence ? Who cares for breaking axles and 
snapping dowelpins, and splitting felloes and 
ripping harness, dew and rain and mud and cold 
and storm, and sometimes hunger, and always 
danger ? Behold, to the true pioneer these are 
counted as nothing in order that the making of 
the man, the building of the citizen, may go on 
and the world be made better. 

Excepting my own family, our party is 
entirely tenderfoot. The Rev. Peter Campbell 
and wife and children are with us, also Mr. A. I. 
Snider, who has come out as teacher, and a sturdy 
Scotchman with his Red River native wife ; 
these latter going with us to Pigeon Lake, and 
Messrs, Campbell and Snider to Edmonton. 
Even in a small party of tenderfeet there is 
striking variety in point of vision. As we 
gather around the camp-fires we listen and hear 
such talk as this : " Oh, what a big country ! 
months of constant travel, and it is still before 
us ! " " Room for millions ! " " Splendid soil ! " 
" Rich grass ! " " What glorious landscapes ! " 
" Pure air, clear skies ! " " Surely this is God's 
country ! " and in our hearts and minds we say, 
verily it is God's country. Then it is another 
voice that speaks, and what we hear is thus: 
" What a fool I was to leave Ontario ! " the 


"0 h" long drawn out, almost a wail; 

" Such horrible roads ! " " Such barren wastes ! " 
" A beastly, dirty country, only fit for dogs and 
breeds and wild animals ! " " Oh, I'm tired of 
this endless journey ! " " My, my, how some 
men will lie about a country ! " " Surely this 
mud and these tormenting mosquitoes, and these 
infernal bulldogs, and these constant bridgeless 
streams, I hate them ! oh, why did I ever come 
out here into this God-forsaken and beastly 
land ? " and so on through all the gamut of 

But now we are approaching Edmonton. This 
is a prominent place ; has been on the map of 
Britain's empire for scores of years, has been a 
" station " in the Minutes of a large Conference 
for a long time. Are there any hotels? None. 
Are there any churches ? One, a Roman 
Catholic. How many stores ? One, the Hudson's 
Bay Company. What is the population ? From 
twenty to one hundred and fifty ; and in tones 
of bitter disappointment the sad traveller turns 
away with the despairing comment : " And this 
is the end of it all ! Oh, my, what folly to send 
us out to such a place." Well, just here we are 
in accord, and sometimes even wise men make 
mistakes in their disposition of humanity. Ed- 
monton, as she really is, stands for the centredom 
of the great Saskatchewan country the centre 


in religion, government, commerce, transport. 
Within the four walls of yonder little fort, and 
within its wooden bastions and picket sides, 
large business is conducted and far-reaching 
measures are planned. Its tentacles run out and 
grip this country in all directions. The popu- 
lation, we have just said, was from twenty to 
one hundred and fifty. We meant in this the 
residents of the post, for outside its walls hun- 
dreds, sometimes thousands, encamped. Hither 
the tribes came up for trade and barter, as also 
for war and revenge; here many a temporary 
peace was patched up and again broken; here 
scenes of butchery and rapine and murder took 
place, and it was truly wonderful how this stout 
little frontier post had held its own throughout 
the years, amidst such constant turbulence and 
strife. The policy of the great Fur Company 
had much to do with this. They took sides with 
none, they were the friends of all; theirs was 
truly a paternal attitude to every Indian in this 
whole land. 

And now in this autumn of 1868 we are at 
Edmonton, and those of our party destined for 
this point remain, while we go on. This time 
fortunately there is a scow, and by dint of much 
pulling and tracking we cross our carts and 
stock, and climb the southern bank, and keep 
pur eyes alert as we move up athwart the con- 


verging trails, upon all or any of which our 
enemy might come. To-day we are fortunate, 
and we slip away into the timber country 
between here and Pigeon Lake with a growing 
sense of security ; and yet we watch and listen 
and safeguard as best we may, and travel on 
and reach our home on the northern shore of 
this forest-fringed lake. If we have any home, 
this is the spot. Here we began in 1864, and 
for two years this mission was, I am bound to 
say, unique in the fact of its being maintained 
without any contributed funds. It cost the 
Society it served not one farthing. We hunted 
and fished and trapped, and, like our people, 
were nomads, sometimes feasting and then 
starving ; for, such was the energy of our life, I 
cannot say we fasted. During the last two 
years we have had a humble salary, which has 
had to perform the cantilever act and lift us out 
of the hole of the past as well as hold down the 
present. Now we have a simple home, a one- 
roomed shanty, and in line with this another 
similar for our man. Ours has been kitchen, 
dining-room and sleeping apartment. In it we 
have held many public services and councils, 
and entertained various guests Hudson's Bay 
officials, wandering missionaries, and vagrant 
Indians. Horse-thieves and war parties have 
stopped with us for the night, and we have 



watched them sleep, and stood guard over their 
every action until the next day relieved us of 
the anxiety of their presence. 

We now went to work to add another room 
to our house, and soon the logs were up and the 
chimney built. My man and myself were, 
between the intervals of hunting and fishing, 
exceedingly busy sawing lumber for the floor of 
this new room, when a couple of travellers came 
upon us from the West, an altogether unexpected 
quarter. These proved to be an English half- 
breed, House by name, and Henry Hardisty, 
whose brother Richard was my sister's husband. 
These men had come across the mountain by the 
Vermilion Pass, and, reaching the Rocky Moun- 
tain fort, had come by way of Buck Lake to 
Pigeon Lake as the safest and most secure route to 
Edmonton ; for the southern Indians had so often 
ambushed and slain small parties of white men 
passing through the country, that the way was 
fraught with extreme peril. Of course these 
camped with us for the night. It was a delight- 
ful change for us to have intercourse with men 
who came from afar, and to listen to their story 
of travel and adventure on the Pacific slope. 

During the course of the evening, spent in the 
blaze of our chimney fire, Hardisty noticed my 
skates hanging on the wall, and inquired if I 
could skate. I answered, " Some." Again came 


the question, how fast could I skate ? I answered 
that I had never timed myself. " Could I skate 
eight miles an hour ? " And I laughingly 
answered, " I would not think much of my run- 
ning without skates if I did not do better than 
that." Then my new-found friend began to take 
an interest in me; he evidently admired speed 
said he was quite a sprinter himself; had 
more than once run among the miners and 
Indians in Washington and Oregon, where he 
was known as the " Pondura antelope "; strongly 
advised me to go over there and make a vast 
deal more money by running and athletics than 
I possibly could by preaching in this country. 
He, like a good many more I have met, did not 
quite comprehend our estimates of values. 

Holding meetings at home, visiting adjacent 
camps, building and making lumber, plastering 
and mudding and preparing for winter, and all 
the while keeping a good lookout for the ap- 
proach of a wily enemy, thus occupied the short 
days and long nights found us busy. And now 
that the lake was frozen over, the work of fish- 
ing began in earnest. We needed several thou- 
sands to carry us through until spring. The fish 
in this lake are not very good, and we are mak- 
ing them better by making them less. As we 
pick the bones of the poor fish we solve the 
problem by mentally determining to help rid 


this lake of its surplus life. Two hundred thou- 
sand whitefish out of this little body of fresh 
water will give the balance opportunity to live 
and thrive. This is why we have gone without 
clothes and furniture, even to a cooking stove, 
in order to invest in twine and net material, all 
of which is exceedingly costly. We have intro- 
duced these amongst the Indians, and quite a 
number who in all their previous history never 
owned or used a net are now the happy possess- 
ors of a narrow fifteen or twenty fathom one. 
To these men this is a wonderful advance in 
civilization and permanent life ; to us it is all 
this and more, for it is so much toward the 
carrying out of our method of making the fish 
in this particular lake fitter food for man and 

We had already found that the first few 
weeks of winter are the best time for catching 
fish, and now with long pole and forked stick 
and cod lines we pass our nets under the ice, 
and every morning overhaul them and freeze 
the fish, and carry them up to the storehouse, 
and thus prepare for home and journey and 
general work, and also for the inevitable wan- 
derer, who will doubtless, as in the past, come to 
us singly and in droves. And, as ever, if we 
would reach the heart and soul we must, as did 
the Master, do this through the stomach ; and, 


as we know full well by this time, even a poor 
fish is better than an empty stomach. Thus the 
early morn of the twenty-fifth of November 
found us on our knees on the ice of this beauti- 
ful highland lake, literally jerking the fish from 
the net with our teeth and swinging them out 
upon the ice beside us with a toss of the neck, 
when in looking out upon the lake I discerned 
an object which it seemed to me must have 
come upon the scene since the previous evening. 
After glancing at it a few times, I pointed it out 
to an Indian, who also was overhauling his net. 
He laughingly replied, " Oh, it is only the ice- 
crack shining up in that place," and we went on 
with our work ; but ever and anon I looked at 
the object and determined to investigate it later. 
This being our little daughter's birthday, we 
had decided upon a humble feast, and as there 
were twelve or fifteen lodges of our people 
with us, all were invited. But as this would 
not take place until afternoon, I went on as 
usual and put my fish away and washed my 
nets, and then, being at leisure, quietly took my 
gun and skates and went down to the lake. The 
snow was beaten hard to the ice in ridges or 
drifts, and in between these there was good 
skating. With my skates firmly tied on, I 
started to reconnoitre the object far out on the 
ice. When the Indians saw me, some of their 


best runners came in pursuit. They reasoned, 
" John has a far-seeing glass ; he has already 
made that spot out, and it is worth a run ; let 
us race him for it." The fact was, I had no 
glass, but was of that make that I must find out 
if possible what this object was, and this was the 
spur of my action that morning and many morn- 
ings since then. Soon the whole camp was astir, 
and soon they saw that the fleetest men were 
not in it, for even on the snow I ran about as 
fast as they could, and when in the windings of 
the ice doubled and quadrupled on them, all the 
time with my eye keenly on the speck which 
had aroused my curiosity, and which was now 
quickly growing larger. Presently, as the big 
animal rose to its feet, I saw this was a full- 
grown cow moose. Ah, thought I, this is a 
royal birthday present for little Ruth. Now 
began the chase and fun in real earnest, and 
still my skates gave me a great advantage, for 
while my game made fast time on the snow-clad 
spots, it slipped and sometimes almost fell on the 
places where I was making the greatest speed. 
Verily it was a most unfair race, as usually are 
indeed such between man and the lower order of 
animals, for this was but a sample of all hunting. 
In a very short time I was upon the big moose, 
and suddenly she turned to strike me, but I fired 
right into her breast, straight for the heart, and 

She turned to strike me, but I fired right into her breast." (Page 23. 


down upon the ice fell my quarry. By the time 
I had bled the moose and got nicely to work 
skinning it, my Indian friends came up smilingly 
congratulating me on my good fortune and speed. 
I gave my good old skates a pair I had brought 
into the country in 1860 all the credit, and 
invited them to share the meat, just as any one 
of these fellows would have done to me if I 
had come upon his kill. Our menu that day 
included moose-nose and brisket and meat, all 
of which was delightfully opportune, and I was 
truly thankful. It was a great day to those 
simple people ; such a feast some of them had 
never seen, much less partaken of. The King of 
England may feed once in a lifetime a host of 
his poor subjects, but we at that time were really 
doing more in feeding half a hundred ; and the 
appreciation was great. Enduring bonds of 
friendship and trust were made that day be- 
tween us and those wild roving men and women. 
A strange little company that was to thus 
meet and for the little while forget all the alien 
idea, and in common give themselves to enjoy- 
ment and goodly cheer; a motley crew, of 
strange history and tradition, murderers and 
poisoners and horse-thieves, and conjurers and 
medicine-men, and gamblers and warriors, 
and skilful hunters, etc. Many a foul crime, 
many a glorious deed, is written in the faces of 
those who linger at our feast to-day. Yonder sits 


old Paul. Even now the avenger is on the look- 
out for him, and his kin and his arms are ever 
at hand, and his eye ever alert to guard his life 
and home. He and his brother each killed his 
man over a gambling quarrel. Now both are 
repentant, and Paul is, as I verily believe, a 
converted soul, and one of our staunch Chris- 
tians; but the recent past hangs over him all 
the same. God is more ready to forgive than 

Yonder is Simon, who also is, as we watch 
him, gripping his gun, and feeling for his knife, 
and listening and looking doorwards. He also 
has recently murdered two men, both half- 
breeds, and knows full well that if any of 
their friends come upon him unawares his life 
and perhaps that of his party will make atone- 
ment for the crime. He, too, is sorry, but still 
rankling with the insults that he claims these 
men gave him and his people. There is the look 
of murder in his very attitude as we behold him 
as our guest. 

Here is a noted horse- thief. At the time of 
which I write this was a glory, a meritorious 
act, with most of the native population of the 
West. There is no blush on his brow ; the more 
horses he has stolen the greater man is he, and 
the more renown and favor he has in camp with 
both sexes. 

On the other hand are Samson, and John, and 


William, all noble specimens of manhood, valiant 
in war, heroic for peace, and experts in animal 
lore and hunting life. Grizzlies and moose, 
mountain and elk, cariboo and wolverine, all 
manner of small game, and black and cinnamon 
bear, have fallen to their scouting skill and un- 
erring marksmanship. Now in the prime and 
full vigor of their mature manhood, these noble 
fellows are our welcome guests, and in all con- 
fidence we depend upon them under God to keep 
the peace at our festive board. Some good folk, 
as also some merely inquisitive people, have 
often said to us, " How did you win the confi- 
dence and faith of these native tribes ?" To-day's 
experience is in part the answer. We com- 
panioned with them in sorrow and in joy, in 
fasting and in feasting, in peace and in war ; 
were in all things like them, without in any 
sense compromising either principle or manli- 
ness. We were nomads or permanents, as our 
work needed. We hunted and trapped and 
fished, and engaged in all manner of athletics, 
foot races, horse races, anything for real fun and 
common brotherhood. Thus we found out men, 
and these in turn saw us and read us as a book, 
until they knew that on every page of our life 
there was written friendship and the true desire 
to help them. More than this, they saw we be- 
lieved in them, and at last they grew to believe 
most heartily in us 



Winter sets in A visit to Edmonton The " Pondura 
antelope" I secure a superb train of dogs A run to 
Victoria A jolly company Representative Indian 
types Aristocrats of the plains Watch-night service 
An accident Home again. 

THE winter of 1868-9 came slowly, and in the 
northern and western part of the country was 
more or less open. There was not sufficient snow 
to enable us to use sleighs to go out after 
buffalo, nor yet did we dare to start with carts. 
Moreover, the herds kept far out on the plains, 
or as much so as the weather permitted them to 
do. It is still very hard for the inexperienced 
to understand that the colder the weather and 
harder the winter, farther into the north did the 
great herds feed ; but all through the sixties and 
seventies this was my knowledge of them. With 
short trips to Indian camps, furnishing firewood 
for our home, looking after nets and making 
sleighs, the short days of early winter passed 
rapidly. Most of our reading was done by the 
dim tallow dip or chimney fire; our literature 
was limited, and of the ancient type ; one thou- 
sand miles to the nearest post gave us very little 


trouble with our mail. As Christinas drew on 
the last of the Indians had gone, scattering in 
many directions into the woods and mountains. 
The buffalo were too far away for any to think 
of them as a food supply, and the people had 
grown tired of our fish diet. We were alone, so 
we concluded to make for Edmonton for the 
holidays. We were longing for a change, for 
communion with kin and mother tongue, and 
perhaps we were also influenced by a desire for 
change of food. I confess that sometimes in my 
life this latter has influenced me considerably. 
As there was very little snow, and as rny dogs 
died the previous spring and summer of 
a virulent distemper, which had raged among 
the wolves and dogs in our vicinity, we travelled 

r ith horses. Our friends at Edmonton welcomed 
us with open arms, and we went into the fun 

id festivity of the season heartily. 
I think it was at this time, essaying to preach 
in English at the urgent request of the resident 
pastor, Rev. Peter Campbell, that I broke down. 
I had been using Cree for years, but now when 
I attempted to speak in my own tongue I was 
at a loss, so much so that I was obliged to sit 

lown. My friend the pastor came to the rescue, 
and I know that most of the audience, being 
gentlemen from the outlying Hudson's Bay posts, 
thoroughly sympathized with me. It was here 


also that again I met the " Pondura antelope," 
Mr. Henry Hardisty, who had the conceit to 
challenge some of us to a foot-race. He was 
much surprised when, running against his own 
brother, Mr. Richard Hardisty, and my brother 
David and myself, he found that the " Pondura 
antelope" was distanced by every one of us. He 
acknowledged " that the western slope of the 
Rockies was nowhere with the eastern in speed." 
Possibly this will always be the case, as there 
is something in climate and topography, and cer- 
tainly we have plenty of space for great running 
on this side. At any rate, the " Pondura ante- 
lope " said no more about himself on that score. 
It was glorious to mingle with the joyous crowd 
for a day or two, and the memory of the visit to 
old Edmonton in 1868 is still a fresh and frag- 
rant spot in my life. 

It was at this time that I, being on the look- 
out for a good train of dogs, found them. A 
celebrated dog breeder and trainer, Mr. McGil- 
very, had brought them in from Slave Lake and 
given them to his brother-in-law, resident at 
Fort Edmonton. Owing to the absence of snow, 
these dogs were not known; at any rate this 
would be their first working winter. Finding 
that this train was for sale, I said to the owner, 
'' Will you let me try your dogs ?" and he com- 
plied by harnessing them up. I went down on 


the ice of the river and gave them a spin, and 
soon saw that if I could make the trade these 
dogs would be a treasure. Having tried them, 
the next thing was to buy them. I found that 
the owner wanted a good large mare of reason- 
able age, with last spring's foal by her side, one 
cart and harness, one sack of flour and an order 
on the Hudson's Bay Company for two pounds 
sterling say, as prices went at the time, mare, 
seventy-five dollars ; foal, fifteen ; cart, fifteen ; 
harness, five dollars ; flour, twenty-five dollars ; 
sterling order, ten dollars totalling one hundred 
and twenty-five dollars. Well, this was a good 
price, but my credit was also good. I bought 
the dogs, and as some of us determined to go on 
down to Victoria for the New Year, I very soon 
demonstrated to all who travelled with me that 
I had the gem train of the Saskatchewan coun- 
try, which to one of my temperament and style 
of travel was a benediction. Four magnificent 
brutes they were, a dark brown, a jet black, and 
two white with tan spots. How my heart 
delighted in those dogs ! If anyone, even the 
owner, had known them before I got them, 
their price would have doubled, and I often said 
while using this train that I, though a poor man, 
would give all I paid for the outfit for the leader 
alone. Even as I write, though over thirty 
years have coine and gone, I can see hia fine 


hazel eyes looking into mine, and his whole ex- 
pression saying, " We are more than a match for 
the best of them, aren't we ? " and I would pat 
his big intelligent head and answer, " Yes, my 
lad, we can, with the blessing of heaven, show 
the whole crowd of winter travellers the way if 
they will only keep near enough to discern our 
tracks." My dogs' names were Caesar, Whiskey, 
Jumper and Cabrea, and a right noble quartette 
they were in character, if not in name. 

It was a lively, jovial crowd that started down 
the Saskatchewan in time to catch the New 
Year at Victoria. As there was only two or 
three inches of snow we had to ^take the ice for 
it. There may have been a dozen trains in all, 
some Victoria people returning home and some 
Hudson's Bay officers and myself visiting. 
Right merrily we raced around the points, and 
with swinging trot and sometimes a keen gallop 
our dogs rang their bells. For the time being 
we forgot isolation and loneliness, and the 
distant mission and post, and went in for a good 
healthy frolic. My new dogs without any effort 
would draw away from the best trains in the 
party. I confess I was tremendously proud of 
my "find," for thus they were termed by my 
almost envious friends. The "Pondura antelope " 
was with us, trying his hand for the first time 
in dog-running. The weather was splendid, 


cold, crisp and clear, and the atmosphere sur- 
charged with ozone, and we were living plainly 
enough to be healthy and full of spirits of the 
right kind. Pemmican and dried meat, with a 
taste of flour and water in the shape of little 
round cakes, served as our fare ; plain enough, 
but partaken of with such appetites and relish 
as a king might well envy. Scotland, Ontario 
and the North- West were all represented in our 
camp. The blood of strong and adventurous 
people was in our veins and hearts, and one may 
be sure our camp-fire was no funeral procession. 
Ready joke and ringing laugh and quick repartee 
and a full flood-tide of real good nature, and 
thus we journeyed in right good time to Vic- 
toria, and thus with glad cheer our friends of 
mission and fort met us and to their hearts and 
homes bade us welcome. 

Victoria at this time had a fine settlement of 
English half-breeds. These people were easily 
influenced either way, and now under father's 
wise hand were gladly on the right side in both 
civilization and Christianity. They were a 
distinct type of humanity a speculative, adven- 
turous, roving white race of men for fathers, 
and nomadic, homeless, natural people for 
mothers. Here was a new experiment in the 
race problem a strong, weak people a paradox 
in humanity. And as all men have needed a 


period of intense tuition and constant oversight 
in all matters, even to the maintenance of 
domestic and commercial habits and instruction 
in life, as well as a multiplication of law in moral 
and spiritual experience, so these men wanted a 
leader or teacher, or failing this they went to 
the wall before the many forces a man has to 
contend with. Just now, in the order of Provi- 
dence, the missionary is the leader in all things, 
and as these are the holidays he is at the head 
of these gatherings, whether for frolic, or fun, or 
for spiritual benefit. 

Coming and going, and now for the New 
Year, there were represented several distinct 
classes of Indian peoples. First there was the 
real native of the vicinity, the semi- Wood and 
Plain Cree, the man who could make his way 
either in the forest or plain ; a moose and fur 
hunter, a dweller alone with family or with the 
multitude, generally a plucky character whom 
isolation made self-helpful. Then there were 
the true woodmen, who almost shunned the 
plains, whose delight was to travel alone or in 
small parties, and whose hunting was still-craft 
Wonderful knowledge of animal movement and 
habit was theirs by long heredity and by steady 
practice. Brave and docile, believing and hum- 
ble, these were the easiest converts to Christian- 
ity, and also were the most easily handled by 


the great trading company which had exploited 
their country for generations. Then there were 
the Plain Crees. Speaking the pure mother 
tongue, while the others were more or less dia- 
lectical, these at times rose into the classic 
language, doubtless of the long past, when these 
strange men must have had a civilization, and 
possibly a literature, which have entirely disap- 
peared. These Plain men were the aristocrats 
of the nation; they looked with disdain and 
contempt upon the Wood Indians. They lived 
in large camps and flocked together, and while 
they were constantly at war, were not nearly as 
brave as the Wood men they so despised. It was 
amusing to watch one of these lordly fellows 
visit either a mission-house or a Hudson's Bay 
post. He had the air of conferring a great 
favor. He patronized even more than the new 
graduate or the new curate. His self -conscious- 
ness projected in every direction. If he men- 
tioned his fellowmen, it was by way of paren- 
thesis and en passant, "merely a trifle, you 
know." The broad plains, the big herds, the 
sublime ignorance had developed the wrong 
way with this man, and the result was a con- 
ceited prig. Slow to learn, he had much to 
unlearn; and it takes time to do the latter. 
Unburdening the load of centuries of miscon- 
ception is a great work, but it must be under- 


gone by all people before the lessons of the new 
life can germinate and take root. 

New Year's came in with a crowded watch- 
night service. After a delightful meeting, on 
bended knee and in solemn silence, we watched 
the last minutes of the old year pass and the 
first ones of the new year come in. Then there 
were warm hand-shakings and congratulations. 
The day was spent in a general feast, followed 
by out-door sports, football, foot-races, and tugs- 
of-war, dog-train races, etc. The " Pondura 
antelope " was steadily awaking to the agility 
and strength of the eastern slope. We had come 
from Edmonton in quick time, so he thought. 
By the river it was at least one hundred miles, 
on hard ice, difficult to run continuously upon. 
He offered to bet two hundred dollars that no 
man could go on foot this distance in twenty 
hours. I thought for a moment and then told 
him that I did not bet, but if he would give me 
two hundred dollars for the church I wanted 
to build at Pigeon Lake, I would do it. This 
backed him down and out of the running 
business for the time. 

The second day of January, 1869, found us a 
scattering crowd. "To your tents, oh, Israel," 
was the necessary cry of the time. The settle- 
ment had no such supply of food as would war- 
rant a long stay of many visitors. No one 


recognized this more than the visitors them- 
selves. Indians and half-breeds and ourselves 
one after the other departed for our widely 
separated homes, and by evening we were sun- 
dered far. Our party camped in a spruce grove 
on a small bench, under the shadow of the high 
bank of the Saskatchewan. Early the next day 
we reached Edmonton. One of my sisters, 
Georgina, accompanied us that far, and had a 
wild experience riding after my new dogs, one 
which almost resulted seriously; for as we 
swung up the hill at the fort, so fast was the 
step and so quick the turn, that my carryall 
upset and threw her out, and her head striking 
a boulder she was for a time unconscious. My 
heart was in my throat as I put her back into 
the sled and hurried up to the fort. Fortunately 
the hurt was but temporary, however. She 
advised her friends after this to be careful how 
they went driving behind John's dogs. Indeed, 
there was not snow sufficient for such work, and 
I did not risk my wife and children on the dog 
sleigh in returning to Pigeon Lake, but let my 
dogs run light beside the sober gait of the horses 
we had brought in with us. There had not come 
any more snow, and the sleighing was extremely 
poor. However, we were back at the lake and 
glad to be home again, but greatly refreshed 


with our short sojourn on the outside of our 
little world. 

Our oldest little girl, Flora, whom we had left 
with her grandparents at Victoria in September, 
I brought up with me, and she was now with 
us, and though scarcely three years old, was a 
most remarkable example of language learning, 
for in three months she had learned to speak 
English. Her vocabulary was quite extensive, 
and her pronunciation remarkably correct. For- 
merly it was all Cree with our little daughter ; 
now it was all English, and she quite amused 
her mother and the Indians around us by her 
insistence in using this new language at all 

We found our people and home all right, and at 
once fell into the routine of travel and work for 
the winter. When we had a congregation, either 
few or many, we lectured and preached as best 
we could, and around the camp-fire did some of 
our most effectual work ; and God blessed us in 
helping men and women to a higher plane of life. 
Getting out timber and lumber, gathering fire- 
wood, hauling hay, keeping the pot boiling, and 
our time was fully taken up. Even if we had a 
study and books, there would have been pre- 
cious little time for them. But as we see things 
now, our study was a big room wherein was all 
manner of strange life and mysterious problem, 


and in the working out of the questions before 
us at the time God was teaching in His own way ; 
at any rate He was giving us a grip of this won- 
derful country, and also of the confidence of the 
people dwelling in it. We were aliens no more 
in this commonwealth. 



A trip to Rocky Mountain Fort A tenderfoot's bewilder- 
ment" The hills of God "Tact of the Hudson's Bay 
Company A wolverine's cunning. 

DURING February some snow fell and winter 
travel began. The two Hardistys, Philip Tait 
and a couple of other men came along on their 
way to the Rocky Mountain Fort, and as this 
was a part of my mission I took the opportunity 
of going with them there. It was a great thing 
to have such company. Ours was the first party 
this winter, and we had to break the way 
through about eight inches of snow. The winter 
road led across portage and plain and lake, and 
through the bush as straight as possible, and 
was entirely distinct from that used in summer. 
Our first run was the length of Pigeon Lake and 
across country to the junction of Pigeon Creek 
with Battle River. We crossed the latter and 
then proceeded over the country to the Blind 
River, and then across the Medicine Lodge, and so 
on into the foothills and down into the valley of 
the Saskatchewan, where the fort stood on the 
northern bank of the river. The distance from 


Pigeon Lake is about one hundred and fifty 
miles, and we made it easily in three days. 

My new leader showed wonderful instinct in 
keeping a trail which had not been used since 
previous winter. Over a hill, down a slope, 
>ut on to a lake, and straight across, striking 
r ith unerring judgment for where the road 
rould leave the lake. To us, old trailers as we 
were, this dog was a marvel, and as I easily dis- 
tanced the party, my dogs and self made the road 
the whole way. 

Our second day out, as evening drew on, I held 
up not far beyond a clump of dry timber, which 
I thought suitable for camp, and waited for the 
advance members of our party to come up. 
Richard Hardisty and Philip Tait were the first 
to arrive, and as they voted for camping, we re- 
traced our road a few rods, turned into a thicket 
and went on to the lee side of the clump of 
timber. When all had come up but the western 
slope man, we laid a plot, suggested by his 
brother, to cover our side track, and see what 
this tenderfoot would do when he discovered the 
end of the road. Purposely we left our dogs in 
the harness, and while making camp and carry- 
ing wood we also listened intently for the 
approach of our friend. By and by we heard 
his coming, and his style of dog-driving was 
very amusing. Instead of the quick, vigorous, 


crisp "Marse," this was his way: "Hello, I say; 
go on, now." " See here, don't you know we are 
far* behind ? " Then aloud to himself, but which 
came to us in the calm of the evening, " I won- 
der if those fellows are never going to camp ? 
This is becoming monotonous ; it is hours since I 
saw the last of them." Again, to his team, " Get 
up, there, you dogs." " Come, now, move up," 
and so on, while they wondered and took a 
slower gait, and doubtless awaited further devel- 
opment, for to their dog minds this was an en- 
tirely new specimen of the genus homo. But in 
the meantime it was great fun for us, and what 
would he do if the old dogs he drove did not 
discover our side track ? Presently, with sup- 
pressed laughter we saw them go forging past, 
with our " antelope " standing on the end of the 
sled, and a most woe-begotten look on his face 
as he saw stretching away across the valley a 
plain in which there was no prospect of a camp 
for miles. 

" Well, well, did you ever see such lunatics ; 
they would rather run and rough it than stop 
at home. Catch me ever coming on such a 
trip as this for fun. Get up, there, you old 
lazy bones, I say ; we will never reach camp at 
this rate ; I say, hustle, now ! " But soon the 
old dog, whose head was becoming muddled by 
all this strange discourse he and his companions 


had listened to for the last day or two, was now 
at his wits' end, for here was the end of the 
road unbroken snow all around, nor sight nor 
sound of human being. Even the dog paused 
and thought, and how much more did the hapless 
driver, for, having recovered his balance, which 
he almost lost as the dog- sled suddenly came to 
a stand, he was altogether upset by this fact that 
had disturbed his dog and was now dawning 
upon his own mind here was the end of the 
road ! He was sure of it. At first he ran on a 
few steps, as if he thought we had jumped over 
a piece of the trail. Then he peered into the 
distance, as if we had taken wings and were now 
sailing over the earth, or had already alighted 
on some distant point. Then he stood and 
scratched his head, which I have noted is a sure 
sign either of too much life or of dense bewilder- 
ment. This time it was the latter, and no 
wonder, for here was a man who had never been 
anywhere alone, always dependent on a guide, 
now suddenly brought to a standstill, guiding 
himself in midwinter in a northern clime, with 
party and provisions all gone, trail gone, nothing 
but snow, wilderness, and isolation. The. man's 
attitude and expression were almost those of 
despair. He was speechless, and thinking this 
was enough for the present, I shouted, " Hello, 
Henry, are you going on to-night ?" As if an 


angel had come to him with joyous message, his 
face brightened with great satisfaction, and I 
have no doubt his thought was, " Thank God," 
but from his lips came, " John, I really thought 
I was lost," and turning his dogs very soon the 
" Pondura antelope" was in camp with us, and in 
a little while was joining with our party in 
laughing at himself as each one mimicked his 
style of dog-driving and then struck an attitude 
as best he could representing our friend at the 
end of the trail. 

On to the mountains, and in the early morn 
those glorious hills of God were before us. This 
was my third sight of them. It is my ninth 
year of constant travel in the North- West, and 
but seldom have I come this way. In our party 
to-day is one who is a native and has spent long 
years in this Saskatchewan country, and yet 
this is his first glimpse of the mountains ; I 
refer to Mr. Tait. Like myself, he is in raptures 
over them. And as from every new hilltop we 
catch fresh glimpses, with their ever-changing 
rnoods and panoramic variety for us to look 
upon and delight in, the miles are gone quickly 
and we reach the Mountain House. This since 
my last visit had been thoroughly rebuilt, and 
was now a large place in regular fort style, with 
stockades, bastions and citadel. Captain Hack- 
land was in charge, and we were welcomed with 


the usual cheer of the Hudson's Bay post. On 
Sunday at service there were many nationalities 
present, English, Scotch, French, mixed bloods, 
Cree, Stoney, Blackfoot, Protestant, Roman 
Catholic and pagan, and I did my best, with the 
help of the Lord, as I spoke in Cree, which was 
practically the universal medium of the time. 
We held tw r o services, and visited the people in 
their homes in the fort and in the camps outside 
of it. This place had been rebuilt to draw off 
the Blackfeet people from conflict with the 
Crees. Making Edmonton the common trading- 
post served to cultivate conflict, and it was, 
always the policy of the Hudson's Bay Company 
to stop this as much as possible. Just now the 
frequenters of this place are Blackfeet, Bloods 
Piegans, Sarcees and Stoneys. Any Crees com- 
ing here are employed, or are the wives of em- 
ployees, or are on the warpath bent, and so far 
as the Company is concerned are discounten- 
anced as much as possible ; but as these roving 
bands of Cree warriors represent so many com- 
munities with which the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany has trading interests, they have to be 
handled with great tact. Anything rash would 
frustrate the object in view and imperil lives all 
down the big Saskatchewan. 

Early Monday morning we were away again. 
In the meantime more snow had fallen and 


drifts were now in order, but my noble dogs 
made light of all obstacles, and now my leader 
knew the trail, so on we went at a rapid step 
homeward. A vigorous, lively, hearty party 
was ours. Storm and deeper snow but cheered 
us up. An hour before daylight and noon and 
night the camps were scenes of healthy fun and, 
at times, of noisy argument. The reader must 
not think this was light work, to roll out at two 
in the morning and hustle yourself and dogs 
into harness for the day ; and again, about five 
a.m., to make fire after three hours' heavy run, 
chop and carry wood, cut brush and dig snow to 
be comfortable for forty or fifty minutes, and 
repeat this at 11.30 or 12 o'clock ; to hurry your 
best all the afternoon until dark is near, and 
then work for an hour as hard as a beaver in 
cutting firewood and carrying the same to camp; 
to gather a huge pile for the six or eight hours 
you will spend here, cut brush or willows, or 
dig up swamp hay to floor your camp with after 
you have cleaned away the snow as much as 
possible from the breast of Mother Earth, all 
the while keeping your feet and legs as dry as 
you can from the melting snow near your fire, 
remembering that your health is not to be played 
with. Careless habits in this latter respect have 
killed off many a pioneer when but starting into 
his prime. The Indian is not lazy when on 


iither hunting or war expeditions out is careful 
of his camp and comfort therein. I hare often 
noted this as lacking in white men. When on 
the trip " anything will do " is on their lips 
and manifests itself in their conduct. Therefore 
I have seen a white man, coming out of a luxu- 
rious home and out of many generations of up- 
ward movement, drop in a few months to being 
the dirtiest, laziest creature in camp. Such men 
are objects of curiosity and disgust to the natives. 
No, to be a real pioneer, adventurer and traveller, 
winter and summer, entails hard work and plenty 
of it. Brain and lung and muscle and good op- 
timistic pluck, these are always at a premium. 
This party I am with now is full of generations 
of such life, and it is a pleasure indeed to dwell 
in camp and on the road with such men. 

On our way up we cached a big bag of fish for 
our dogs. We thought we had been careful 
against the wiles and cunning of our everlasting 
enemy the wolverine, alias " carcajou," alias 
the " kig-wuh-hoh-gas," alias the "now-wa- 
yuh-ma-shees," etc. ; as my reader will note, this 
notorious criminal against all pioneer mankind 
has many names. We had hung our bag of fish 
at the end of a long pole, which in turn we rested 
in the limb of a tall tree, the bag hanging from 
the end of the pole away out from the tree 
both pole and tree made as smooth as possible 


with our axes and thus we felt quite secure. 
However, as I approached the spot, which I did 
a long way in advance of my friends, I saw 
tracks in the fresh snow, and began to fear for 
our dogs and their fish. Coming nearer, I saw 
Mr. Wolverine with a fish in his mouth making 
for the bush. I had caught him in the act; 
what need for further testimony ? Stopping my 
dogs at the camp, I ran after the rascal and 
forced him so much in the race that he dropped 
the fish. Running on a short distance I found 
a pile of snow which he had scratched up, and 
under this lay a number of our fish. These I 
carried back to camp, and proceeded to investi- 
gate our cache. I found that the scamp had 
managed to climb the tree, and then had jumped 
at the bag, and at last succeeded in cutting a 
hole in the bottom of it, out of which by con- 
tinuous shaking the fish had dropped to the 
ground. I could imagine the industrious fellow 
climbing the tree repeatedly (of which the trunk 
bore evidence) in order, in the first place, to 
make the hole; then the pluck of the high jump 
to the ground so many times, for the bag was a 
very strong one and it must have taken consider- 
able biting and scratching on the fly to have 
made the rent ; and then afterwards the shaking 
process, as fish after fish dropped and the others 
would block the hole. Then I came upon the 



scene. The poor fellow had worked so intently 
that he had taken time to eat only a few, as he 
in turn evidently intended to cache just as we 
had done. Why, by the time I had secured the 
fish and investigated the manner of theft, if one 
could call it such, and cleaned the snow out of 
our camp, and made a fire and put down fresh 
brush, I was heartily in sympathy with the 
riverine and ready to protect him from our 
irty when they came up. Some expressed in- 
lignation, but I said, " No, gentlemen, we must 
lake our caches better ; it is our brain against 
us ; let us have fair play." However, we and 
mr dogs were glad that after all most of the fish 
jmained to us. 

On back to Pigeon Lake, through deepening 
low, which, however, made very little difference 
my fliers. We lunched within twenty miles 
)f the Mission, and when I took the ice at the 
id of the lake, twelve miles from home, I 
mid faintly hear my comrades coming, and 
r hen I was out in the middle of the lake they 
igan to show up on the shore. My, my, what 
race those dogs gave me across that lake in the 
loose snow, as I sat on a small box I had lashed 
the wrapper of my toboggan, the snow flying 
>n all sides. It was a regular whirlwind of 
>eed and rush, and when we climbed the bank 
ifore our own door, and I had rubbed the 


frosted snow from my face and looked across 
the ice, my companions were as specks in the 
distance. Our little company from house and 
lodge had been watching the run and were right 
proud of our dogs. Pigeon Lake, a city of two 
shacks and some leather lodges, could " clean 
out " the Saskatchewan in a dog race. All of 
which every one of my companions loudly 
affirmed when at last they came up straggling 
one after the other, for all had done their best. 

As I wanted to confer with my Chairman as 
to a big gathering for the coming summer on 
the plains, I took the chance of company on to 
Edmonton and Victoria, and right glad father 
and mother and sisters were to see us. The 
people, as a whole, too, always gave me a hearty 
welcome, for, as they said, was I not one of 
themselves in language and western experience ? 
I have so often found this with native people, 
that to be as good as themselves in their craft, 
or even sometimes a little better, is the short 
way to their respect and very often to their 



big hunt planned Tragic death of Maskepetoon District 
meeting at Victoria Jacob Bigstoney Rev. Wm. 
Lacombe Jacob's skill in tracking A strong tempta- 
tion Consecrated to the ministry Wars and rumors 
of war. 

>UR programme for the summer of 1869 was 
big gathering of hunters on the plains. Mr. 
Steinhauer was to come with all his people, and 
also the Lac la Biche half-breeds and Indians. 
Father and the Hudson's Bay Company officers 
from Victoria were to be there, with the whole 
settlement, and the big Wood Cree camp, of 
which Maskepetoon was head chief ; and I was 
to bring as many Crees and Mountain and Wood 
Stoneys as I could muster. The object was pro- 
tection and the cultivating by lecture and ser- 
mon and personal intercourse of education and 
loyalty and Christianity. This was the first 
effort of the kind. The Rev. Mr. Campbell, of Ed- 
monton, was to join us, and any teachers who 
were in the Mission employ were to come along. 
To effect this any amount of prejudices and petty 
jealousies had to be overcome. Maskepetoon 
went into it heartily, but others did not favor 



the scheme, and all manner of obstruction was 
laid ; but as we had until the last of May to 
arrange, we were hopeful. This primarily with 
other minor matters had brought me to Victoria, 
whence, having counselled with my Chairman, I 
returned home via Edmonton. 

In March I was kept busy at work on the 
Mission with Indians coming and going all the 
time, all concerned and excited over the contem- 
plated gathering of the coming summer. About 
the end of the month, or early in April, there 
came the dire news of the killing of Maskepe- 
toon and his sons by the Blackfeet. This was 
a sad blow to our Mission, as the grand old man 
had always been favorable to Christianity, and 
was a staunch friend of the white man. When 
the details of his tragic death came to us I never 
felt more like going on the warpath myself, and 
was not surprised when I knew that many a 
Cree had schemes for revenge planned for the 
spring and summer. It turned out that the 
Crees and Blackfeet were in proximity, having 
been forced there by the movements of the 
buffalo, and the Blackfeet made proposals of 
peace, which Maskepetoon answered favorably, 
and himself and his son with a small party set 
out to arrange and ratify the compact. As he 
approached the camp of the Blackfeet, the latter 
came out to meet him with loud acclaim, and 


seemed very friendly, and the whole crowd of 
both sides sat down to quietly converse, and, as 
far as Maskepetoon was concerned, to smoke 
the pipe of peace. But while this function 1 was 
going on, at a signal given by one of the Black- 
feet, the massacre of the old chief and his 
people began, and very soon all were killed by 
this consummate treachery. Not satisfied with 
this, the Blackfeet dismembered and severed the 
old hero's body, limb from limb, and dragged 
these at their horses' tails into their camp. My 
old friend had been a great warrior, but for 
many years had worked hard in the interest of 
peace, and had won an enviable reputation 
amongst all the tribes and camps, so that many 
of the enemy highly respected him. I have no 
doubt it was envy and jealousy in the minds of 
ambitious and base men that led to the foul 
murder of our true friend. 

There was mourning in many a camp on the 
Saskatchewan, and among the pagan peoples 
much weeping and wailing because good old 
Maskepetoon was no more. Both father and 
mother sorrowed for him as a dear friend, and I 
not only felt sorry, but almost thirsted for 
revenge. It was thought that this most sad 
and tragic misfortune would break up our con- 
templated gathering, but as the spring opened 
up we went on with our arrangements for it. 


The District Meeting for this year was held at 
Victoria early in April. There were to attend 
it as ordained men the Rev. George McDougall, 
the Rev. H. B. Steinhauer, and the Rev. Peter 
Campbell, while I went as a probationer ; a 
small gathering, but covering an immense ter- 
ritory. I took with me Jacob Bigstoney, a 
semi-Mountain and Wood Stoney, and a genuine 
type of real manhood, a splendid-looking fellow, 
a great hunter, and a swift runner. Many a 
bull mooae and elk had my friend run down. 
He was noted for his speed and endurance 
amongst his own people, who were almost to a 
man speedy on foot and had great staying pow- 
ers. The Wood Stoneys, even down to the little 
children, were wonderful pedestrians, for they 
had but few horses. Jacob and his band had 
plenty of horses, but hunting as they did in the 
mountains and woods kept up limb and lung 
ability. Jacob had never been as far east as 
Edmonton. To him it was a great place, and 
when we reached Victoria, now quite a settle- 
ment, he thought he was in a metropolis. I had 
become attached to Jacob ; he was not much 
older than myself, and we had a good deal in 
common. It was a pleasure to try and educate 
this man along the line of Christian civilization, 
and to watch his mind expand and his whole 
nature respond to teaching and kindness. 


Between Edmonton and Victoria we came 
upon two priests, also going eastward, one of 
whom was Rev. Mr. Lacombe, one of the pioneers 
of this country. They had one cart and one 
horse, and now this horse was lamed so that he 
could not travel. All I could do was to let them 
have my saddle-horse and foot it myself, which 
I did, and we pushed on, leaving the priests with 
their load to follow more slowly. 

After an early lunch I left Jacob to bring on 
the cart, and set out on foot for Victoria. I had 
about thirty -five miles to run, but there had been 
thawing and freezing, and now the road was 
icy in spots and as hard as flint. Before I had 
gone half way my moccasins gave out, then my 
duffles (we had no socks in those days), and now 
I was down to " hard pan," so to speak down 
to the soles of my feet and it was either sit and 
wait for Jacob or go on and grin and bear it. 
I took the latter course, and by the time I 
reached Victoria had several big blisters on each 
foot, which were exceedingly painful and caused 
me to walk circumspectly for several days after. 
I reached Victoria about two p.m., Jacob came 
along late in the evening, and our friends, the 
Catholic priests, arrived the next afternoon, very 
grateful for the loan of my horse. 

It was while at Victoria this time that Jacob 
evidenced what struck me as wonderful skill in 


tracking. We kept our horses on what was 
known as " the flat " above the Mission, and it 
was Jacob's duty to look after them. The day 
after the District Meeting I said to Jacob, " Are 
all our horses there ? " ( I had left some at 
Victoria the fall before, and now we had seven 
in number.) There was a brown mare I was 
afraid might try to get away, and I asked him 
particularly about her. "She is there, I just 
now changed her hobbles," was his direct 
answer. About a couple of hours after this father 
and I rode to a settlement some ten miles north, 
and when some three or four miles out I saw a 
number of horses in a swamp on one side of the 
road, and to my great surprise here was the 
identical brown mare. This somewhat staggered 
me, but I still held to my faith in Jacob ; sc , 
merely taking stock of the other horses the 
mare was with, I said to myself, "I will pick 
her up as we come back." To my astonish- 
ment, as we came back, here were the same 
horses, all but the brown mare ; but as it was 
now evening we rode home. After a while I 
asked Jacob about our horses, and his answer 
somewhat surprised me when he said, "They 
are all on the flat ; I saw them since the sun 
went down." " Is the brown mare there ? " I 
asked. " Yes, she is," he unhesitatingly an- 
swered. " Was she there all day ? " was my 


next question. Then Jacob smiled and told me 
that soon after we left he went to look after 
our horses and found that the brown mare had 
left the others, so he went to hunt her up, and 
found her just where I had seen her, between 
three and four miles out north in a swarnp with 
some strange horses. I let him describe to me 
the spot and the country intervening, and the 
color and size and sex of the animals the mare 
was with ; and knowing that the whole region 
was tracked up, and that the road was constantly 
in use both to and fro, and furthermore being 
somewhat expert at such business myself, I said, 
" This man is at the top in such matters." 
Brain and eye and instinct all strong and force- 
ful, what scouts such men make ! Jacob and his 
whole clan would be invaluable as allies and 
exceedingly dangerous as enemies. 

It was also at Victoria at this time that one 
of the crises of my life took place. On the way 
down, when at Edmonton, the Chief Factor, Wm. 
Christie, Esq., in charge of the Saskatchewan 
district, took me up to his private office and 
spoke to me in this wise : " John, the Methodist 
Church does not want you; you have been 
serving them for years, and as yet there is no 
recognition of you even as probationer. I have 
carefully followed the report of last Conference, 
and your case was not considered. Now, as it 


is clear that they do not want you, I have to 
say that we do want you. I will put you in 
charge of the Mountain Fort, I will give you a 
chief clerk's salary, and you shall be found in 
every particular. We want your business 
ability also, and, better, we want your tact in 
dealing with the I ndians. We have been watch- 
ing this when you did not think we were doing 
so, and now I want you to take my offer into 
serious consideration. You are going to the 
District Meeting, and you can tell your father, 
for as yet the Church has no hold on you." 

Of course I was altogether taken by surprise, 
and, as was natural, was very much flattered by 
what Mr. Christie had said. I knew that up to 
this time my case was very much in the balance 
so far as any action by our Church authorities 
was concerned. I had been recommended by a 
District Meeting of 1864, and this was after 
four years of constant mission work, and it was 
now the spring of 1869 and still my case hung. 
The Chief Factor knew all this very well, and he 
also knew my work for nine years, but especially 
for the last seven on the Saskatchewan. He 
had previously offered me the charge of the 
Hudson's Bay post at Victoria, which I had 
declined in respect to my father's wishes, and 
now this opening from the worldly standpoint 
was good and promising. Also I saw that I 


could do a great deal of true missionary work 
as officer of the Hudson's Bay Company, and 
thus the whole question came to me with a 
sore temptation to accept the Chief Factor's pro- 
position. Then my own brother-in-law, Richard 
Hardisty, chief trader, came to me and asked if 
Mr. Christie had made me an offer, and when I 
answered, " Yes," he said, " You will take it ; 
you must take it, John," and as he was older 
than myself, and a man I very much respected, 
I was sorely beset. Thus perplexed in mind, I 
went down to the District Meeting. When this 
was opened, and my opportunity came, I asked 
for the acceptance of my resignation, but this 
was vigorously opposed by Mr. Campbell and 
Mr. Steinhauer. Father kept silent, but to me 
his looks spoke volumes. The brethren spent 
all the morning in a prayer-meeting, then ad- 
journed, and I was face to face with the problem 
of my life. So it seemed to me at the time, and 
for some hours I wrestled with it, until finally 
I told the good Lord that I was done and would 
fully give myself to what I thought I was called 
to. This was my act of consecration, and I 
then and there entered into the experience of 
such a condition. When I told the brethren of 
my determination they sang the doxology, and 
I began to feel that these men, at any rate, 
believed in me and in my ability to work in this 
field for God and country. 


And now our District Meeting, having fully 
determined to muster the clans for the unique 
gathering during the coming summer, and Jacob 
having seen and " done " to his satisfaction the 
huge metropolis of Victoria, and as now I had 
ceased from fighting destiny, we left for our still 
more western home. A young lad from Toronto, 
Skinner by name, whom father had brought out 
the previous autumn, accompanied us. This boy 
had had full swing in the city, and was naturally 
precocious and clever, but was now being put 
through a new school. I was glad to have him 
with us ; so was Jacob, for he livened up our 
camp and was very amusing with his broken 
Cree, which by the way he was mending rapidly. 
Father had said, " Take the boy with you, John, 
and do what you can with him." 

Westward we rolled with our cart and loose 
horses, as fast as the roads and the rivers, now 
breaking up, would let us. The third evening 
found us within thirty or more miles from 
Edmonton. I said to Jacob, " I want to go on 
to-night, and you can come in in the morning," 
to which proposition he readily assented. Then 
young Skinner pled to be allowed to go with 
me, but as he had no saddle I objected. Then 
he offered to ride in bareback, and finally we 
put a robe on a pony and let the boy come along. 
My gait was a quick steady gallop, and for the 


first five or six miles Skinner was all animation. 
He plied me with questions, and told me about 
his life in Toronto, but soon there came a change, 
and I had to say, " Come on, Skinner," and had 
repeatedly to do this. Finally the boy began to 
cry, and when I asked him why, he said he was 
tired and sore. I reminded that this was what 
I had feared for him. " But now," I said, " we 
are pretty nearly half way to Edmonton, and I 
am not going to turn back with you nor yet let 
you go alone ; you must just grin and bear it, old 
fellow," and I brought his pony up beside mine 
and sent both horses into a sharp gallop, which 
by and by had the effect of making my Toronto 
lad forget his pain and weariness, and thus 
before the gates were closed we were in the walls 
of old Edmonton. 

Before I slept that night I had told the Chief 
Factor of my decision, and while to my face he 
said I was foolish, yet I knew in his heart he 
respected me the more. My brother-in-law was 
quite indignant, and roundly scolded me. Later 
on he also came around and said no doubt the 
Lord had given me a training for a special work. 
I in the meantime was at rest as never before, 
and thanked God and took courage and slept. 

Next day, Jacob arriving, we crossed the Sas- 
katchewan and went on to Pigeon Lake. From 
there on Indian camps kept us busy. War parties 


and thieves were in the field worse than ever ; 
there seemed to be nothing but wars and rumors 
thereof in the air. Already, while the spring 
was yet young, Maskepetoon's murder was 
being avenged and many scalps were taken. We 
had need to be watchful and careful with an 
exceedingly excitable people all around us, an 
omnipresent enemy on the keen lookout for lives 
and plunder, a big country without law and 
order, and every man his own master. We kept 
our old trading guns and powder dry, and trusted 
Providence for the rest. We also often kept our 
tempers when to have acted rashly would have 
endangered the lives of all the whites in the 

Paralleling all this the arranging for the big 
meeting on the plains went on. This was ticklish 
business ; we were bringing the participants in 
old feuds together. Camps and men who for 
years had been shunning each other to keep 
from killing we were now trying to make see 
that men may dwell in peace together. We did a 
good deal during the spring of 1869 to prepare 
for the treaties with our Government which 
came years later. My share was peculiar. I had 
Wood Crees and half-breeds and Mountain and 
Wood Stoneys, and between these parties old 
quarrels and long-standing feuds and petty 
jealousies strongly obtained. These Stoneys were 


hard to manage ; they did not give a snap of the 
finger for anybody. Self-helpful, as Indians go, 
much more than the others were they, and ex- 
tremely self-conscious ; as hunters and warriors 
easily at the top of the heap ; though few in 
number, greatly respected, especially by the 
Blackfeet tribes ; quick, impulsive and nervous. 
Needless to say, I found my task by no means 
an easy one. Such men as Jacob and his father, 
old Adam, were invaluable to me. Then I began 
to win some of the wild young fellows. I could 
outrun them and outjump them and outlift the 
strongest, and was gradually becoming quite 
skilful in hunting, especially in picking off 
buffalo, and these things were, in the minds of 
the boys of these camps, rare good qualities. 
Then I could run a horse to get his speed out of 
him, or camp here to-day and very far yonder 
to-morrow, and these fellows admired action and 
pluck, and thus oui influence was growing. 
Still ever and anon there would be trouble over 
gambling and women and horses, and then all 
our plans would be knocked crossways for a 
time. But we kept at it and slowly won our 
way, so that by the middle of May we had a re- 
spectable contingent ready to move from Pigeon 
Lake, and another to join our route later farther 
south and east. 



We start for the big camp Varied diet My first breech- 
loader A scare A wonderful scene A " great lone 
land" Clerical costumes Exciting buffalo hunts 
Struck by lightning Charged by two buffalo bulls A 
battle royal Changing conditions Unerring instinct 
of Indian guides Our camp rushed by a, buffalo herd- 
Loss of our only waggon. 

THE place of rendezvous for the great hunt was 
"somewhere on the big plains" rather indefinite 
but we had faith we could find it. Starting 
my people from the lake, I went into Edmonton 
partly on business and partly for the purpose of 
guiding and accompanying the Rev. Mr. Camp- 
bell and his brother-in-law, Mr. Snider, to our 
camp. We made some tall travelling from 
Edmonton to Battle River, where we caught up 
to my people and then moved on in a south- 
easterly direction towards the plains. Passing 
little Beaver Lake, crossing Buffalo Running 
Valley and then Willow Creek, and on to the 
last points of timber, our movement was from 
twenty to twenty-five miles per day, until we 
found buffalo enough to live on. Our routine 
was, early morning service, then down tents and 


march, stopping for a noon spell, and then 011 
until the early evening, when another service 
and rest came. Of course relays of guards were 
on duty each night to prevent surprise or the 
stealing or driving off of our stock. 

All day the hunters were out on each side of 
our line of march. We had to forage our way, 
not on the enemy this time, but out of Mother 
Nature's storehouse, from which the natural 
man had lived for centuries, but which was even 
now in this part of the country showing signs of 
exhaustion. What a bill of fare ours was 
buffalo, moose, elk, black-tailed and white-tailed 
deer, antelope, bear, beaver, lynx, skunk, porcu- 
pine, badger, swan, geese of various kinds, ducks 
of endless variety, prairie chickens and part- 
ridges, eggs and chickens and ducklings in all 
stages of incubation, the sap of the poplar, the 
wild turnip, and also a species of wild carrot, 
etc., etc. But it was always essential for one's 
comfort of mind and stomach to really know 
what had been brought in, or perhaps what you 
had been able yourself to bag, before you 
ordered from such a menu, or perhaps the 
answer might come back, " I am sorry, but none 
such killed to-day, sir." 

Sunday was the hard day for the missionary 
on such a trip and in such company. Any 
amount of trouble all the week, in the saddle or 


on foot from early morning until late at night, 
then often taking your turn on guard all night ; 
but with Sunday the responsibility of keeping 
such a crowd within bounds was no easy task. 
Perhaps we magnified our office ; at any rate, I 
was always more exhausted, mentally and 
physically, on a Sunday evening than I was all 
through the week. Not that we lacked encour- 
agement, for God blessed our labors. Perhaps 
we were too legal and strictly Sabbatarian ; but 
we must be consistent, and for this, I believe, we 
were doing our duty for the time we lived in. 
On this trip Mr. Campbell would often preach 
and I interpret. The Indians called him "the 
black head," because of his hair being very dark. 
Sometimes we were feasting, and again there 
came camp after camp with children crying 
for food, and mothers anxious, and we all felt 
the gloom of hard times. But on we moved to 
the last timber, where we camped for a day to 
allow time for cutting and trimming of the poles 
and triangles requisite for the drying of meat, 
also for the gathering of firewood, for as many 
as had means of carrying it, and then we pushed 
out into the boundless prairie. 

One fine morning, many days before we 
reached the gathering camps we were to join, 
Messrs. Campbell and Snider and myself rode 
out to reconnoitre one side of our line of march. 


We went far, and about noon killed a badger, 
and, making a fire of buffalo chips, cooked some 
of the meat. I remember that Mr. Snider and 
myself ate a little of it, but Mr. Campbell could 
not touch it, at which I was not surprised, for 
badger is " strong meat." Continuing our ride, 
we finally towards evening sighted some bulls, 
the first my friends had seen. Stopping on a 
hill and unsaddling to rest our horses, we made 
signs to a couple of Stoneys moving in another 
direction, and these, seeing our signals, came 
toward us. They were a long way off and 
evening was well on when we started the 
buffalo. The Indians killed one and I another. 
This was my first) experience with a breech- 
loader with fixed ammunition. I had obtained 
one from my brother David during the winter. 
It was a Smith and Wesson single-loader, and 
when I saw my bullet strike the ground away 
beyond the bull, I thought I had missed him, 
and was preparing to give him a second shot 
when I saw the blood jumping from both sides 
of the huge fellow, and very soon he fell. This 
was a sample of strong shooting I had never 
before seen, and my Indian friends thought 
with me that this was a wonderful gun. 

It was now near dark, and we concluded to 
camp beside my bull, while I butchered the 
animal. My friends busied themselves gathering 


chips and making a fire. It was early summer, 
but the night was cold. We broiled bull meat 
on dry chips and ate it straight not even salt 
had we. A night on the endless plains, no tent, 
no blanket, and not too well clad, any of us ; but 
as we also had to guard our camp and horses, 
we piled on the chips and endured. My friends 
soon squeezed all the romance out of such an 
experience and heartily wished themselves back 
in the camp. 

Next morning we loaded up most of the meat 
and started for where we supposed our camp 
would be. We had not ridden far when we saw 
a troop of horsemen coming down upon us. 
Not knowing whether these were friends or 
foes, we got ready for the latter. I showed 
my friends how to loosen up their loads of meat 
in readiness to drop them, and thus lighten the 
horses for either action or flight. On came the 
horsemen at a good quick gallop, bunched to- 
gether, some with long braids and some with loose 
hair, hanging leggings, and regular Plain Indian 
dress. Both our Indians and myself were for some 
time deceived, and we had decided they were 
enemies and were bracing up for the fight when 
they proved to be the young men of our camp 
out looking for us. We were glad, and so were they, 
to find us safe, as the camp had become anxious 
on our account. We told them where we had 


left the balance of our bull's meat, and they 
went on, indicating to us where we might expect 
to intercept the camp. 

While moving down the country, looking for 
our friends from the eastern points, we had 
several very long rides. One day I shot a bull, 
and as he stood bracing himself and stubbornly 
refusing to die, Mr. Campbell rode up and, draw- 
ing on him with his six-shooter, fired several 
shots right at his forehead, hoping to knock him 
down. But the bull merely shook his head at 
each shot, which did not seem to make any more 
impression than if one had flung boiled peas at 
the old fellow. Thick skulls and huge frames 
of great weight had the lords of these great 
herds. We saw only the stragglers, but enough 
to keep our camp going, as we travelled eastward 
hoping every day to find signs of our people. 
With two Indians I went as far as Nose Hill, a 
great eminence which stands out as the land- 
mark to be seen for many miles in every direc- 
tion ; but from its highest point we saw no sign 
or trace of those we were eagerly looking 
for. I say eagerly, for already I saw signs of 
mutiny with my mixed assemblage. More than 
one trouble which threatened internal war I had 
to work hard to allay. For some of these peo- 
ples this was a first venture out on the tree- 
less plains, and they were manifesting unmis- 


takable signs of discontent. I was all the while 
keenly searching for the camps we were to join, 
but not until late that evening, and when I did not 
expect it, did I find a willow stick with father's 
well-known pencil-mark to tell me how far east 
they were, and where they were heading for. 
This was definite, and when we got back to 
camp the next day it greatly cheered our 

Again I set off in advance. This time Mr. 
Campbell went with me, and we rode far with- 
out any signs, and were about to turn back 
when I said, " Let us go to yon hill and no far- 
ther," when, to our joy, on the slope of the hill 
we found the trail of a big party, which as we 
followed up led us to another sign from father, 
written on the shoulder-blade of a buffalo, 
telling us should we see it that he left this camp 
the morning before. They could not be over 
two days from us, and possibly only one, and, 
sure enough, we rode into their camp the same 
evening. I can tell you, my reader, it was a 
glorious sight for me. My anxiety was now 
over, but, independent of this, the scene was 
full of life and romance, history and tradition. 
Reaching the top of the hill and looking down 
upon this moving town of buffalo-skin lodges, 
with its circles of tents, its hundreds of carts 
and waggons, innumerable travois, and many 


hundreds of horses and cattle feeding in prox- 
imity, it seemed as though the ideal nomadic life 
of the long past was before me Abraham and 
Isaac and Jacob with their flocks and herds ; but 
this is even older, for the flocks and herds are 
still wild and free, and as yet belong to no 
individual. This is communal; the individual 
has not yet come in. It is our work to bring 
in the individual, and as I looked and thought, I 
saw even then that it would take time and great 
patience to make the change. The old was in- 
grained; it was in the blood many centuries 
before the source of all wisdom and prophecy 
had spoken, " Ye must be born again," and very 
slowly the quickest among men are learning the 
lesson, " Old things must pass away and all 
things become new." But we are now in camp, 
amongst our friends, and one with them, and we 
adapt ourselves to existing conditions with the 
readiest of them. 

Having found these people, the next thing 
was to bring our quota in, and we proceeded to 
do this by sending my old friend Samson out to 
meet them and escort the western section to this 
camp. It was decided by the council not to 
move until the Stoney camp was brought up. 
Samson was instructed to carry greetings of 
welcome, to inform the chiefs and head men that 
the big camp would await their coming, that the 


scouts had brought in word of plenty of buffalo 
not far ahead, that the enemy had been sighted 
and also felt quite a number of times, and there- 
fore as they approached this camp they must 
increase their vigilance. Knowing Samson as I 
did, I felt there was no need of my returning ; 
he would find and bring in, of this I felt sure ; 
therefore, being tired with worry and responsi- 
bility, I was glad to remain and rest. We had 
come far and had ridden hard, and it was not 
until the evening of the third day that our party 
came in sight, and was met and escorted in by a 
troop of light cavalry from the big camp. This 
crowd had come from one to two hundred miles 
from the north and west inclusive, and was com- 
posed of English, Scotch and French half-breeds, 
Wood and Plain Crees, and Mountain and Wood 
Stoneys. The Churches were represented by all 
the Protestant missions in the field, and one 
teacher, Mr. Snider, and the Roman Catholics by 
Mr. Scollen, an Irishman of the intense sort, 
to whom Britain was " Nazareth " no good 
could possibly come out of her. 

These people had converged at this spot 
from various points; some from the vicinity 
of Edmonton, sixty miles from Pigeon Lake 
and north; others from Victoria, one hundred 
and fifty miles north and east; others from 
White Fish Lake and vicinity, two hundred 


and ten miles north and east ; and others from 
Lac la Biche, two hundred and fifty miles 
north and east. Then the Mountain Stoneys 
had come from all distances along the moun- 
tain, say, from one hundred to two hundred 
miles west and south of Pigeon Lake. To show 
what a country we came through, I am safe in 
saying that not one hundred of these many 
hundreds of miles had been opened by man. On 
and through Nature's own handiwork in the 
primeval solitudes we had rolled and dragged 
and ridden to this gathering of the tribes and 
clans, and all the land we each and every one 
had come over was suitable for the making of 
homes for humanity ; soil, grass, water, timber, 
climate, especially endowed with properties for 
the breeding of a hardy, thrifty race of men. 
To-day we in this camp are thoroughly repre- 
sentative of its population. Verily this is the 
" great lone land," and this is entirely a new 
venture, the bringing of these people thus to- 
gether. We want to do them good in three 
direct ways Christianizing, educating, civil- 
izing. Some say civilize first, but our experience 
is that this is not nor yet can it be so great an 
agency for permanent civilization as Christian- 
ity, therefore we hope to begin on sure founda- 
tions. However, this whole scheme is sadly 
handicapped ; we have no woods to shade us, we 


have no big tent to hold the hundreds, as would 
be possible later; we have no store of pro- 
visions, but must constantly move and hunt as 
we go, and more than a living for the present is 
a dire necessity ; we must also and now make 
provision for the future, both for home use and 
for sale. Every one could readily see that no 
one matter could take up particular attention, 
but altogether must be worked as best we could. 
Storm and heat, hunger and thirst, hunting 
and war, paganism and contending Christiani- 
ties, and all the rest heaped together, must be 
handled in hope that good might ensue. 

We organized at once, appointed a captain and 
council and constables, made rules to govern 
our hunting and movements, chose our several 
guards, set every man in his place, and moved 
on out over the plains in a south-easterly direc- 
tion. Soon we were on the skirts of the " big 
herd," and provision-making began in earnest. 
Every day had its troubles. Somebody broke 
the law, and his clan resented punishment or 
fine, and we as missionaries had our hands full 
to keep the peace. I was several times hauled 
out of my camp and bed to allay excitement 
among the Stoneys, who would not stand any 
nonsense, but were ready to fight at a moment's 
notice. Some Plain Cree fancied he recognized 
a horse amongst theirs which had been stolen 


from him (so he said), and wanted the horse or 
demanded pay for it. In vain the Stoney might 
prove that the horse in question was one of his 
own raising, or one he had bought across the 
mountains from the Kootenays ; still the Cree 
brought his people to back his claim, and as this 
was not a matter for our captain or council, the 
missionary interested had to come in. However, 
we did get on without coming to any killing, 
and by and by our meetings began to have 

One day, as we were moving, some buffalo ran 
alongside of our trail, and a camp rule was 
flagrantly broken by some French half-breeds. 
There was general indignation, and at the noon 
spell the crier rode around camp calling upon all 
men to assemble in the centre of the noon camp 
to consider the trouble. As a matter of interest 
and on principle I went, and when the addresses 
were waxing warm one old French half-breed 
said, " And why is it that when we hold these 
councils these Protestant ministers are invited 
and our priest is not ? " The old man was look- 
ing straight at me as he spoke, and I quietly 
answered, " My grandfather, I heard the crier 
of our camp calling upon men to come to this 
gathering. Perhaps those who have not con- 
sidered themselves men have stayed away;" and 
the crowd, quick to see the point because of the 


manner of dress, answered with cheers and 
laughter, and we swung around the danger spot 
for the time. I had often heard the natives, 
Catholic and Protestant and pagan, curiously 
remarking upon the wearing habit of the priest, 
and I had wondered myself at such a costume. 
Even from childhood I have almost hated any- 
thing like ecclesiastical costuming. To my mind 
no man should be among and of the people as 
much as the priest or pastor, and even costume 
differentiates. God knows, we want individu- 
ality, but not the kind that comes of distinct 

As often as we could we held religious ser- 
vices. We did not lecture or educate as much 
as I think we might have done to profit, there- 
fore we did not reach all, but I suppose we were 
doing our best according to our light at the 
time. The Blackfeet were watching us closely, 
and this was quite natural, for the reprisals 
because of the treacherous murder of Maskepe- 
toon had been rapid in succession all spring, and 
the enemy was now seeking his turn. Our 
people were watchful, and we did not fear direct 
attack, as the size of our camp would compel 

We had some big buffalo runs at this time, 
one of which was quite exciting. Perhaps there 
were between three and four hundred of us as 


we approached the buffalo that morning, when 
they were feeding on the ascending slope of a 
broad, gently rounded hill. The incline which 
we were approaching was dotted thickly with 
the buffalo. They seemed to be densely packed 
on the summit, beyond which we could not see. 
As we rode up the stragglers fell in on to the 
herd, and soon the top of the flat, oblong hill 
was black with them. We rode slowly, in a 
long line, our captain and officers a little in ad- 
vance, and as we came near the summit the 
herd broke down the other side and the word 
was passed to charge. I was on a good horse, 
and with half a dozen others was soon in advance 
of the general line. The dust was thick as we 
rode on the dead race down the declivity. I did 
not know, nor do I think did many of our party, 
that at and along the foot of the hill there was 
a long narrow lake with precipitous banks. At 
this the advance buffalo balked and turned, 
and soon we were met by the returning herds 
dashing at full speed upon our line. The little 
company of riders I was with was now right in 
the centre of the meeting rush. Buffalo young 
and old all around us, and, we squeezed and 
jammed in amongst them and compelled to run 
with them. I had steel stirrups, and I could 
hear the ring of them as they struck the horns or 
were struck in turn by the rushing, seething 


crowd of wild animals. To make things worse, 
the main line of hunters came up against the 
right angle turn of the herd, and presently 
arrows and balls came, it seemed to us, all around 
where we were. Not a shot was fired by any 
one of our small detachment. We looked for 
room, and room only ; for the time we had too 
much buffalo ! Bulls and cows, and yearlings and 
calves, and noise and wild swirl and gallop I 
can never forget the scene, nor yet how mighty 
glad I was when the flat along the lake became 
broader and we spread out more. Now we looked 
for our game, and began to kill. For about 
eight or ten minutes, or possibly less, myself and 
the few with me were having a lively time, and 
were thankful when we were well out of the 
scrape with life and limb intact. 

Another day I was chasing a big fat bull, and 
so eager was I to kill this one that I took but 
little notice of what other bulls were doing. 
Presently my fellow got angry, put up his tail, 
'lowered his head and turned on me. Just 
then I felt my horse cringing from the other 
side, and when I looked there was another bull 
that evidently had lost his temper also, for here 
he was close to my horse, head down, tail up, 
and about to toss us with his horns. With quick 
action I sent my heels into my horse's sides, and 
he, fine fellow that he was, spurted and shot out 


between the two wild bulls, each of whom, not 
knowing the action of the other, came head 
on with full speed. I held up my horse in 
time to see them meet. Both fell with the im- 
petus of the compact; then with a roar one, 
recovering sooner than the other, dashed at his 
antagonist with double fury. For a time I wit- 
nessed a battle royal between the big fellows, 
and then closed the fight by shooting both. 

Another day, after killing several buffalo and 
butchering them, and sending my loaded cart 
back to camp with the meat, I fell in with one 
Magnus House, one of our Victoria people, and 
we came across some more bulls. I ran and 
killed one of these, but as it was now evening 
we decided to butcher this animal and bring in 
the meat next morning. When we were about 
through, a thunder-storm came up, and the rain 
and lightning were terrific. My rifle had a 
strap on it, with which I was wont to carry it 
at times. I flung the strap over my shoulder 
and mounted my horse, but just then a violent 
clap of thunder burst near us, and the lightning 
knocked my horse flat to the ground. The butt 
of the rifle, which projected along my shoulder, 
seemed to catch some of the lightning, and this 
set fire to my hair and stunned me for a little. 
I remember reaching for my head with both 
hands, and, as it was raining hard, finding no 


difficulty in putting out the fire in my hair. 
Then there came an interval when I was uncon- 
scious, and again I remember Magnus asking, 
" John, John, are you hurt ? " and I said I felt 
queer. Magnus again brought me to by asking 
what we should do, and I told him to go to camp 
and my horse would follow ; but he said he did 
not know the way. I tried to tell him, and we 
started campwards. It was now very dark, 
and sometimes I knew I was on the horse 
and again I was off into a sort of dream- 
land, but after what seemed to be a long 
time, Magnus woke me up by saying he was 
lost. I now made a desperate effort to draw in 
my reasoning faculties, and after some time came 
to a decision and started ahead, and going on by 
and by saw a light. Pointing this out, I said, 
" That is our camp, Magnus ; keep straight for 
it," and again I was back in the sleep into which 
the electricity had put me. What a relief to be 
behind and let the horse follow, and not to be 
compelled to think. When we did reach camp 
I went off to sleep at once, and for days felt a 
strange sensation coming over me. One of my 
train-dogs with us at the time also was affected, 
and ever afterwards ran for the house or camp 
at the sound of thunder. On the plains he 
would rush into the tent, and we would throw 
some robes over the poor fellow until the storm 
was over. 


At another time on this trip I killed a tre- 
mendous big bull, and did what I could to get him 
into position for skinning and butchering, but 
was unable to do so, and rode to the next mound 
to find someone to help me. However, there 
was no one in sight, and I came back and got 
the big fellow's head swung over, and my back 
under his shoulder, and with feet firmly fixed 
lifted his whole front in shape ; but when it was 
done I found that my back was very much hurt. 
I became violently sick, and though I was at 
work in a few days it was more than a year 
before I got that kink out of my spine. 

Meetings were held morning and evening and 
all day Sunday, when the weather permitted, 
and we all worked hard. The veterans, Mr. 
Steinhauer and father, and Mr. Campbell and 
myself as juniors, did what we could to stem the 
tide of old life and turn it into the new. Hard 
work it was, and very complex, and full of 
details which multiplied every day, almost every 
hour, as only the worker and his God know. 
Let me say a word as to the personnel of our 
company. First, there was the old chief Saya- 
kemat, who for years always had quite a follow- 
ing, but was now since Maskepetoon's death 
looked upon as head chief. He was altogether 
of a distinct type from the former ; in the main 
well-meaning, but in no way assertive. He was 


a polygamist, as many of the older men were at 
the time. He and father were good friends, and 
slowly the old man was developing a desire for 
Christianity. Of the younger men who were 
coming up there were Pakan and Samson and 
Ermine-skin. These men were meeting the 
changing times. They had all the past as a 
birthright, and up to middle life constant prac- 
tice in the rites of paganism ; but now Christi- 
anity and civilization and the dawn of changed 
conditions are upon them, and unlike the older 
people, to whom these changes came slowly, these 
men will have to take part in a cyclone of civili- 
zation. Our captain, old John Whitford, or, as 
he was most commonly called " Omacheesk " 
("Prone to hunt"), was a genuine Plain man 
and guide. He had fought the Sioux and Black- 
feet, and, for one born in this land, travelled 
afar, even across the great mountains into 
Oregon and Washington territories; had lived 
among the Flatheads and Snake Indians and the 
Kootenays and Shuswhaps ; had quite a history, 
and now as the captain of this present host is 
renowned as a guide of unerring instinct. Like 
all aboriginal men, he travelled without compass 
and yet went straight. Of this we had positive 
evidence, for a cloud of smoke came upon us and 
for several days the land was dark, and yet it 
was necessary for feed and water, and also 


because of the movement of buffalo, for our 
camp to travel a considerable distance. And as 
straight and steady as any true pilot " Old John " 
took us to good pasture and fresh water. Verily 
it was a dark time ; our noon-day fires of buffalo 
chips were lurid and weird in their flaming, and 
no one felt like leaving camp. We kept our 
horses close and fast, and put on double guards, 
for these seemed as much needed by day as at 
night. While this dense smoke-cloud rested 
upon the land a big bunch of buffalo came 
careening right into camp, and for a time there 
was wild commotion. I seized my gun and was 
just in time to shoot one as it dashed between 
two tents. Fortunately none of our people were 
hurt in this stampede, but for a little while there 
was much noise and running to and fro. 

After some weeks of hunting and provision- 
making, also a continuous effort on the part of 
the missionaries and teachers present to inspire 
desire for Christianity and civilization, and in 
so doing teach industry and economy and thrift, 
our large camp was split up. by each section 
taking its own course homewards. This was 
not done until we were pretty well into the 
woods. That beautiful region which stretches 
from the South Branch in a semi-circle north- 
ward and westward even to the mountains, and 
which is the scene of the meeting of the plains 


and woods, and where each of these great 
factors compromise the one with the other, 
forms a belt of country two hundred miles 
wide and many hundreds of miles long. Here 
we have a scenic land of woods and prairies 
of natural planting, with lawns and terraces, 
avenues and parks, and hills and dales wherein 
the eye and sense may revel for hundreds of 
miles. How often when coming out of the 
north country and reaching this borderland have 
I rejoiced, and as frequently coming in from the 
bare plains have I felt glad to alight from my 
horse in the shade of a sweet smelling and full- 
leafed grove. Then I cut the wild rhubarb and 
roasted it, and ate to repletion of vegetable diet, 
which my meat-laden stomach craved, and was 
satisfied. How extremely of the earth and 
earthy we are at the best. 

No doubt this gathering had done good. If 
it accomplished nothing else it had taken the 
self-conscious conceit out of a good many, for in 
isolation and dwelling with one class and kind, 
and in remotely small communities, man becomes 
heady ; but such a gathering as we had organ- 
ized had shown to many a poor soul that there 
were other people in this world beside them- 
selves. Nor had all the preaching and praying 
and lecturing been in vain ; the seed was sown, 
and would spring into fruition even after many 


The Stoneys went westward, and as Mr. 
Campbell was now to be stationed at Pigeon 
Lake, and to be their missionary, I did not go 
with them, but went in with the Victoria settle- 
ment as per instructions from my Chairman. 
Never in all their history had these Mountain 
and Wood Stoneys gathered under such condi- 
tions, and now having learned some useful lessons 
they will pitch towards the setting sun until, 
near the mountains, they scatter into little 
camps to return to their wanderings for a 
season. The Lac la Biche, White Fish Lake, 
Good Fish and Saddle Lake people have the 
big Saskatchewan to cross, and when home their 
gardens to weed and hoe, and hay to make for 
the coming winter, and so have the Victorians. 
We are all well loaded with pemmican and 
dried meat, etc., but as the consumption of such 
food without any cereal mixture, and for the 
most of the year without any vegetable, is 
enormous, there must be another season hunt to 
prepare for the coming winter. Carts are creak- 
ing, waggons rattling, travois bending, and 
burdened and packed horses groaning as we 
severally set our faces homewards that is, 
those of us who have homes just now. Person- 
ally we can sing, 

" No foot of land do I possess, 
No cottage in this wilderness." 


Although the whole North-West is before us 
we have no land or home except our camp. 
The people we are now living for we are also 
living with, but we are happy and busy and 

Nothing extraordinary marked our homeward 
journey save the stealing of some of the horses 
of those who straggled from our camp. Steadily 
we travelled, and after days of pitching tents 
in the wilderness we came to our present 
Jordan, the glorious Saskatchewan, and crossed 
over to what has been to some of us a veritable 
Canaan. For the next few weeks we had a 
busy time with our missionary work, and also 
with making hay and looking after gardens. 
Swinging the scythe from sunrise to sunset is 
great exercise ; the whole body is brought into 
action, and the general result in our case was 
very much more profitable and economic than the 
swinging of dumb-bells or Indian clubs. Dur- 
ing this time the only break was a raid made 
by the Blackfeet, who succeeded in running off 
with a few horses, and for a little time one 
morning we were quite excited over the purpose 
of following them up and giving them a lesson ; 
but finally, after some hurried preparations, it 
was decided to continue our work and let the 
horses and thieves get away for this time. 

Farm waggons were very scarce in 1869 on 


the Saskatchewan. Father had one, and we 
were using it in haying. We were just about 
to start a fresh stack when father, who was on 
the ground, being annoyed at some bulldogs 
who were worrying the team, set fire to a little 
hay at some distance from the load, which I 
had just begun to throw off. A puff of wind 
suddenly caught some sparks from the fire and 
blew them on to the hay I had forked to the 
ground, and in a moment the whole thing was 
in flames. I held the reins and hastened to 
unhook the team, but my hands and arms were 
scorched and the horses' tails were burned before 
I got them loose ; and, alas, in a few minutes, as 
if it had been so much paper, the waggon was 
gone, all save the ironwork, and we had per- 
force to resort to the old reliable Red River cart, 
the " chariot of the plains." 



The "fall hunt" A brutal murder My horse poisoned 
" This is the way to do it ! "Father's abbreviated mus- 
ket Samson's dash and skill as a buffalo runner Bob 
and I do some scouting The silence of Nature's solitude 
A hair-raising adventure I make new acquaintances. 

THE summer of 1869 was noted as the driest we 
had ever experienced in that northern country. 
Gardens and crops suffered in consequence, and 
it soon became apparent that we must take 
another trip to the plains for provisions. Most 
of the Indians, the regular nomads, had not 
come into the settlements, but had remained out 
in the border country waiting for our re- 
inforcements, and watching also for the buffalo 
to come farther north, as was their habit at this 
season ; for, contrary to outside ideas, the trend 
of the great herds was northward and westward 
during autumn and winter, and southward and 
eastward during spring and summer. Father 
and I decided to accompany these parties, and 
to join in the " fall hunt." We also decided to 
leave our families at home, trusting to Pro- 
vidence and the people who remained to care for 
them. I took my wife and children over to 


White Fish Lake, and it was here that our 
third daughter was born Augusta, or " Gussie," 
as she was named by her good grandfather, 
Rev. H. B. Steinhauer. 

Let no one imagine for a moment that there 
was little labor in arranging for the fall hunt, 
for I can assure him that to make preparations 
for such an expedition entailed an endless 
amount of worry arid hard work. To say 
nothing about those who were dependent upon 
us, and for whom we must furnish and plan, 
there were carts and harness to be mended, 
horses to be sought in great unfenced pastures, 
and, when found, to be carefully guarded that 
they might be neither stolen nor lost before the 
start is made. Then came the crossing of the 
big river, and very glad we all were when we 
began to roll out upon the trail, which for the 
first hundred miles was becoming clearly 

We had not gone far when there occurred a 
brutal murder of a woman by her husband. The 
villain fled, but was said to be prowling around 
the camp, contriving to elude the avenger of 
blood, who silently but determinedly was upon 
his trail. This murderer was for the time being 
a source of fear and dread to all the women and 
children in camp, and there were very few 
unarmed stragglers in consequence. We ren- 


dezvoused at the edge of the big plain, near the 
Nose Hill, and began to feel the buffalo at once. 
Soon the work of provision-making was in full 
blast. This was now the season for the killing 
of cows, and the farrow animals were in great 
demand. The skill of the hunter lay in being 
able to choose and pick at great disadvantages, 
as well as to kill, and to do this quickly ; for 
not only were the cows faster than the bulls, 
and harder on horses, but other hunters were 
after the fat animals as well as he, and he must 
be quick and sharp and wise in order to fill the 
bill now on. 

It was at this time that the only case of clear 
spite on the part of an Indian towards myself 
took place. I had a splendid horse that I 
called Archie, a noted buffalo runner, but his 
hoofs had worn smooth with the autumn grasses, 
and I had him shod with copper clips, a common 
custom on the plains with the half-breed hunters, 
the heads of the nails acting as corks. When he 
was shod I saddled him up and rode out of camp 
a little way, and just then there came a young 
buffalo at full speed across the plain, followed 
by an Indian on a played-out horse a long way 
behind. I thought this a fine chance to try my 
horse with his new clips, so I cantered up and, 
shouting to the Indian, " I will kill him for you," 
dashed in, and in a few jumps Archie brought 


me up with the young bull, which I bowled over 
with the first shot. Pulling up beside the 
carcase I was astonished to see my friend riding 
back into camp. I called after him, but he did 
not deign to look at me. I then rode after him 
and found him in his lodge, and told him that 
the buffalo was his ; but he was sullen and said 
he did not want it, would not have it, so I got 
one of my boys and a cart and went for the 

The next morning Archie was almost dead ; 
his legs and body were very much swollen, and 
his life and spirit all gone. You may depend 
upon it I was terribly put out, but as yet did 
not blame any one. I went to consult " Old 
John," who was the best horse doctor in the 
camp. As soon as the old man saw the horse he 
said, "He is poisoned," and asked me what I 
had done. I told him of the shooting of the 
buffalo, and he at once said, " That fellow has 
done it." It took a lot of medicine and care and 
a year's absolute rest to bring Archie back to 
something like his natural condition, but he 
never fully recovered his speed. The Indians 
were indignant at this act of one of their 
number, and for a time ostracised the offender, 
but I never said a word to him on the subject, 
and always felt that perhaps I had been a little 
too " previous " in thus coming to his aid. 


We moved on out to Sounding Lake, and had 
much success in gathering provisions. The 
Blackf eet and their allies were about us all this 
time, and it was only by ceaseless vigilance that 
we kept our lives and stock from them. While 
at Sounding Lake a number of our cart oxen 
strayed away, and as the country was freshly 
tracked up by the buffalo, we had great difficulty 
in finding them, We were away from camp 
several days hunting the truants, and succeeded 
in finding some of them, but it was not until the 
dead of the next winter that all were recovered. 
The loss of the oxen very much affected our pro- 
gress, and in consequence we found that we could 
not keep up with the large camp. We concluded 
therefore to break off from this and travel 
leisurely northward, filling up our capacity of 
transport as we might find the buffalo. More- 
over, our camp was almost too large for success- 
ful hunting; many of these people, careless of 
the future, considered themselves burdened when 
they had two weeks' provisions ahead, and 
could not have the patience to wait for those 
who were in earnest in their business of making 
store for the future. Another reason lay in the 
lawlessness of the large camp. No man had as 
yet, like Maskepetoon, come to the front to rule 
the disorderly element, and the spring and 
summer had been given so much to war-parties 


in revenge for his death that the younger men 
were hard to hold in check ; so, thinking it 
better to separate than to quarrel, we left them 
and went our own way. 

I must here describe what I saw and experi- 
enced one afternoon prior to our leaving the 
camp. Many buffalo were passing within sight, 
and we gathered at the call of the crier to run ; 
but between us and them was exceedingly rough 
ground, and there was a division amongst our 
council and hunters. Some counselled that we 
should move camp and run to-morrow. " The 
ground is dangerous," they urged ; " many will 
be hurt, and horses will be lamed, if not killed." 
Others were for running at once, and the dispute 
waxed loud and hot. As I sat on my horse 
listening to the argument and waiting for the 
outcome, a bold fellow suddenly gave a whoop 
of defiance and rushed his horse out on to the 
rough ground straight for the buffalo. Others 
quickly followed, and I with them. I was gently 
cantering my horse through and over the holes, 
waiting until I struck better ground, when a 
Plain Indian brave, in full costume, dashed past 
me with a yell, shouting, " This is the way to 
do it, John ! " I cried in response, " Go ahead, 
my friend ! " when presently over went his horse, 
flinging the ambitious rider with his legs and 
arms sprawling between hillocks and lumps, and 


his head pillowed on one of them, facing me as 
I came on at a more sober pace. I could not 
resist giving a whoop or two in my turn, and as 
my horse almost jumped on to him I shouted 
into his face, " This is the way to do it ! " and he 
answered back, "That's true; you are wiser 
than I, John." Many a tumble I witnessed 
during the ride over that rough spot, probably 
about a mile across, and many a laugh I had 
as feathers and breech-cloth, bow and quiver 
and old flint-lock, paint and flesh and blood 
and horse went tumbling pell-mell around me. 
But my little Bob was sure and keen, and like a 
lot of finely adjusted springs, and without a 
stumble we reached the better ground. We 
soon turned up several fine cows, and I was 
skinning one of these when I heard the clatter 
of hoofs coming my way. Seizing my gun I 
jumped into the saddle, holding myself in 
readiness for another run if there should be any 
real good ones in the bunch. Soon over the 
hill at the foot of which I was came at break- 
neck speed some twenty-five cows, yearlings 
and calves, with a horseman right after them, 
whom I recognized to be father on old Besho, 
both horse and rider so keen on the hunt that 
they never saw me. Immediately I took stock 
of the bunch and saw there were no fat ones in 
it, so I alighted from my horse to continue my 


work, when bang went one shot and down 
dropped a cow dead, and again another bang 
and down went a second cow. Then a very proud 
hunter drew up, and, seeing me, said, " That's 
the way to do it, John," and appeared rather 
crestfallen when I answered, " Yes, if they were 
any good." However, I eulogized his shooting, 
which was really good considering that he had 
only the remnant of a double-barrelled shot- 
gun, which the readers of " Pathfinding " will 
remember I burst and had to cut off, leaving 
the barrel only about eight inches long. With 
this father had, at a good range and while on 
the dead run, knocked down both cows, and he 
had laid them about fifty yards apart, all of 
which, barring the picking, was good work. 
Father never had the opportunity of learning to 
pick and choose while on the race as I had. 
Both Mr. Woolsey and father had made me the 
commissariat officer of the mission party, thus 
giving me great advantage in this respect. 

We found that after leaving the large camp 
we numbered only some thirty lodges, and that 
when we reorganized our turn as guard came 
on in quick succession ; but the advantage of 
quieter hunting and a more orderly camp suited 
our purpose for the time being very much 
better. We moved on eastward and north, 
making plenty of provisions and of the best 


quality. My friend Samson was with us as 
my constant companion. Several times I was 
with him when we brought large herds to camp, 
and our run was made near home, which gave 
everybody a chance and was much more secure 
than when we had to go far from our camp to 
hunt. I will never forget those wild rides 
beside my friend when, with a peculiar whoop 
and cry, he would start a herd, and then, watch- 
ing the wind and lay of country, continue to 
manoeuvre them homewards. What a voice he 
had, and such magnetism in the cry and yell he 
would give. The heads of the rushing herds 
would submit and almost seem to jump at his 
bidding, and thus over hill and across valley we 
would swing at a wild gallop, our horses flecked 
with foam and yet as eager in the chase as our- 
selves. And when the camp would see us and 
come out to the run, we would dash in and kill 
as best we could. Thus we hunted, and worked 
between hunts in pounding meat, rendering fat, 
making pemmican, baling dried meat, or mend- 
ing our wooden carts. To the missionaries also 
came the holding of meetings early and late, 
and constant personal intercourse with all we 
came in touch with. Indeed, there was no slack 
time in all this work, for it was foreign to 
father's nature to be still and wait for oppor- 
tunity. He came of a venturesome and seeking 


race, and was always on the alert for work and 
the chance to further his aims. Soon our carts 
and vehicles began to creak with their loads, 
and we moved nearer home, finding that the 
buffalo had gone northward. 

It was sometime during the last of September 
that our party crossed the Battle River at the 
mouth of the Iron Creek. We had been enjoy- 
ing glorious weather, and this day was a perfect 
one. We stopped for noon at the junction of the 
streams. Both father and " Old John " requested 
me to ride on that afternoon as scout to the 
party. We were now approaching the routes of 
war-parties both east and west, and I was more 
at liberty than the rest of our men. Moreover, 
my saddle-horses were in better condition' than 
theirs, for I was what you might call a light 
rider, more careful and easier in the seat than 
many. I suppose, too, they had some confidence 
in my ability, hence the request. Accordingly, 
I saddled up Little Bob No. 2, who really be- 
longed to my brother-in-law, Mr. Hardisty, but 
on this trip was one of my saddle-ponies and 
runners. Away out of camp and on to the front 
we went, always keeping in view the scout's 
main idea, that is, to see all about him and 
never to be seen himself unless it be of service to 
his purpose to let his presence be known. It 
has always been my policy I might say my 


nature to make companions of those around 
me. It might be an old heathen conjurer or 
gambler or warrior anybody ; I never went 
into their previous history on suspicion, but 
generally at once gave them a large measure of 
confidence. And I did this with my horses and 
dogs when they were at all responsive, and thus 
there was a large degree of mutual understand- 
ing between us. My present Bob and self 
thoroughly understood each other. Many a long 
ride and also many a hard race had we together ; 
for hundreds of miles we had jogged on the 
trail and off from it, and with only the lariat 
between us had slept or rather I slept while 
Bob cropped grass and kept nose and ears and 
whole being alert. And then I had watched, 
and he in turn dropped on to the grass and, 
turning over on his side, slept the sleep of the 
equine just, or stood on three legs in turn rest- 
ing and dosing in his way. 

This autumn day was like Indian summer, 
the atmosphere quiet and still, and nature at rest. 
The summer's work was finished; forest and 
grass and herbage had fully grown and ripened, 
the last colorings had come to the great pastures 
for the season, the last and brightest tints were 
BOW on, in full glory. All this lay in gentle 
repose before me, and I ardently wished that 
man would turn from his evil ways so that there 


would be no necessity to constantly act and 
watch and listen as I was now doing. On up 
the coolie, sometimes on foot and again in the 
saddle, cantering across a hidden bit of plain 
or lowland, but watching, always watching, 
ground and horizon and copse and bush and 
bits of lawn-like prairie, then more open coun- 
try. The flight of carrion birds and of crows 
and ravens is noted ; the movements of wolves 
and coyotes, the action of buffalo, especially 
stragglers, who in ones and twos and more are 
here and yonder, and because of which you 
must be most careful, for these if once startled 
would give you straight away to some other 
scout, of whose vicinity you have been altogether 
ignorant but of whose near presence you are 
now most unpleasantly aware. Coming to a bare 
prairie ridge, you alight and spread your horse - 
blanket under the running pad which serves as 
saddle, and then, letting your horse graze at the 
end of the lariat, you stretch and gently wriggle 
and slide in advance of him across the slope 
and over the summit and down the other side 
until cover is reached ; your horse coming slowly 
and nipping the close-cropped grass, and with 
the blanket spread over him and pad up on 
shoulders looking in the distance, or even not so 
far away, like a buffalo gently feeding as he 
travels. Bob and I thus scouted on until the 


sun was dropping in the western sky, and as yet 
had found no sign of human life ; then away up 
on the edge of the brow of Iron Creek hill we 
held up, and I slipped the pad from my horse 
and sat down while he fed beside me and 
rested; that is, we stayed bodily in one place, 
but eye and ear and brain were all the time 
busy, for aside from our immediate purpose the 
scene was lovely, and both Bob and I were 
thankful that we were denizens of such a world 
as this. 

Truly the heavens above and the earth be- 
neath were most beautiful and satisfying to our 
senses. The sweep of the valley, the windings 
of the stream, the autumn tints, the unoccupied 
fields and farms and lawns and terraces of the 
future, the natural placing of the clumps of 
timber, the smell of the land both wholesome 
and rich, the wild cattle to be seen here and 
there feeding or moving lazily down to the creek 
for water, the long beards of the bulls swaying 
rhythmically to their ponderous tread ; yonder 
a wolf or coyote slinking from clump to clump 
of bush, or indifferently seated on his haunches 
surveying the scene, even as we were all this 
was before our vision, nor yet sign of any man 
with it. To our ears there came no articulate 
sound ; a hush was upon all things. This was 
the time of day for quiet in nature, but in 


i'ancy we caught the rumble of waggons on well- 
travelled roads, the shriek of the locomotive, the 
hum of machinery, the lowing and bleating of 
herds and flocks, the tinkle of the cowbell, the 
ringing of the church and school bells. I could 
hear all these in anticipation, for verily the land 
before me was worthy and in good time it would 
come to its inheritance. Thus looking and 
listening a short time elapsed, and I said to 
Bob, " See here, old fellow, we must be moving," 
and he lifted his big eyes up to mine and 
answered, " I am ready, my dear John." 

We were now several miles in advance of 
where our camp would be pitched for the night, 
and while I was saddling up I saw a nice little 
bunch of buffalo come out upon the brow of the 
hill across the valley. They were feeding peace- 
fully, and I saw the most of them were cows 
and with few calves. There would be fat meat 
there. I also saw that the ground was very 
good, and the temptation to cross over and have 
a near look at them became strong. I scratched 
Bob's chin and neck, and he rubbed his nose on 
my shoulder ; we looked into each other's eyes, 
and it was understood between us. Soon with 
His Highness at my heels I struck down into a 
coolie and made for the creek (only by chance 
would any one see us) ; then at the creek I 
mounted and forded and kept in the creek up 


to another gully, which climbed the hill and ran 
out near the herd, of which we wanted a close 
view. At the head of the coolie I left Bob down 
a few yards, and, crawling up, beheld a black- 
robed cow, sleek and clean and beautiful in the 
glossiness of her new coat, and I said, " I must 
kill that one, at any rate." I straightway went 
back to Bob and told him, and he said he would 
do his part. Of this I had no doubt, for the 
time was opportune and the ground fine, so I 
looked to my gun, which was a breech-loader of 
the old type. You swung open the breech like 
a barn-door, and inserted the cartridge, which, 
when you closed the breech, was cut by this 
action so that the powder ran into the nipple, 
and then you put on a big cap made like a plug 
hat, and thus your gun was loaded. This one 
was a strong shooter, and I had found it do good 
work all autumn. Next I saw that the powder 
was well down in the nipple, and felt for my 
cartridges in the pocket of my leather jacket ; 
then tightening the girths and testing my stir- 
rup straps, taking another more emphatic look 
all around, and giving Bob a pat and caress, I 
mounted and in a moment we were at full speed. 
Before the black-robed cow was far on the way 
she was down and dead, and we passed her with 
the impetus of our spurt. I picked out another 
cow, this time fairly shaking with fat, and I 


asked Bob and he said, " Just as you like/' and 
she also was pressed and caught and killed. 

The hunt had taken but a very few minutes, 
and the run was so quick that Bob was not a 
bit blown as I rode him back to the black cow 
after straightening out the fat one for skinning 
before we went, and all the while looking every- 
where for some signs that we had been seen. 
Failing to perceive any of the latter, I settled 
down to skin the black cow for a head and tail 
robe, the season and quality of this one making 
it of special value as a bed or travelling robe. 
Before taking out my knife I unsaddled Bob, 
dropped the bit from his mouth, tied the end 
of the lariat to -the leg of the cow, and said to 
him, " Now, eat all you can, but keep your eyes 
and ears and nose at work all the same, that is 
a good boy ;" and he again assured me of his 
part. Then I felt for my cartridges and placed 
my rifle so that one of my moccasined feet 
would constantly grip it, and then I drew my 
knife and steel and began to skin the cow. 
This I did carefully, for I wanted the whole 
robe. All the afternoon we had not seen the 
fresh sign of a man, and undoubtedly there was 
none ; but, as the sequel proved, we had come 
just short of a party when we turned to cross 
the valley. I had not been very long at work 
when Bob gave a sudden start and looked keenly 


across the valley. Sheathing the knife, I picked 
up my gun and walked over to him, but he began 
again to nip grass. Just then I saw a big wolf 
slip between the clumps of timber across the 
valley, and saying to Bob, " Is that all you saw, 
old fellow ? why so much fuss over a wolf?" 
back to work I went with all precaution. But 
very soon Bob gave a jump and a decided snort, 
and I knew something was near, and again got 
ready and spoke to him ; but at that instant 
there came the warwhoop from sixty or seventy 
throats, and in such volume and so near as to 
fairly curdle the blood in my veins. I looked, 
and up over the crest of the hill came the 
wild crew on the dead run. I saw their painted 
faces, saw the flint-locks pointing and bows 
strung with arrows in hand, and saw, too, it 
was no use to run, for they were too many and 
too close. Then I thought of family and parents, 
especially of father in the camp now near, and I 
pictured my bones bleaching on the plains ; and 
then, while my old felt hat was moving or seem- 
ing to move on my head, I concluded the best 
way was to bluff, and accordingly I bluffed by 
standing up and steeling my knife, and then 
stooping to continue the skinning of the cow. 
It seemed a long time, though really but a min- 
ute or two, when they were all around me. 
Still I kept at work, momentarily expecting to 

I bluffed by standing up and steeling my knife." (Page 102.) 


hear a gun go off or a flint-lock snap or a bow 
twang ; but none coming, I straightened up. 
Knife in hand, gun gripped by my right foot, I 
now looked into the faces of those around me. 
In vain did I try to recognize any of them ; they 
were strangers. Were they down-east Crees or 
Blackf eet ? Which language should I use ? 
Either might irritate them and bring matters to 
a climax. At last I could stand the strain no 
longer, so I spoke out in Cree, " What do you 
want ? " and back in pure Plain Cree came the 
full accentuated " Nothing." Then I became 
bolder and ventured the query, " What did you 
run at me for in the way you did ? " and now 
the spokesman answered, " Is this not our coun- 
try, and can we not do what we like in it ? " 
I said, " It is true, it is your country ; but I am 
not your enemy. You could easily see that I 
was not a Blackf oot or ' outside man'" (the term 
used by the Crees for those not of themselves 
or allies). "Furthermore," I said, "it might 
have been that when you rushed I could have 
begun to shoot." Then, picking up my gun, I 
continued, "You saw me just now kill these 
buffalo. If I had shot at you I might have shot 
more than once, and you, of course, would have 
killed me, and I several of you, and then what ? 
Why, in your camp your parents and wives and 
sweethearts would have wept and mourned, and 


also my wife and family and parents and loved 
ones would have done the same for me; and 
more than this, the Great Spirit who made this 
beautiful country in which we meet, and who 
made you and me to be friends and brothers, 
would have been grieved and made sorry. I 
say, how foolish you were to risk all this by 
rashly running at me." Then the big fellow 
looked at me and asked, " Who are you to thus 
talk to us ? " I told him where I came from, 
and who I was and my calling, and he then 
eagerly asked me if I was " John," and when I 
admitted this he took my hand and said, " I am 
thankful, John, that the Good Spirit did not 
permit us to kill you." Then turning to his fol- 
lowing he said, " Shake hands, young men, with 
John ; he is like one of ourselves ; he is the In- 
dians' friend. Come, John, let us sit down and 
you will tell us the news." So we sat down, 
and he asked me why I did not run when they 
charged. I told him that I knew very well that 
if I attempted to do so his young men would 
have shot me. I also told him that I came of a 
race of men who did not like to run from their 
foes. Then he asked, " What do you want to 
do with these buffalo ? " and I answered that I 
wanted the robe of this one, but that he and 
his party might have the meat of both. " Well," 
he said, " the young men will skin it for you, 


and we will be thankful for some of the meat, 
but the young men can fix up a load for your 
horse out of it. And then, while a few worked 
at the buffalo, the chief and party sat around me 
and I gave them my news. First came the local 
happenings ; then I took them gently afield to 
other lands, and brought them up at length to 
the old, old story. 

The sun was now almost down and I was be- 
coming anxious as to what they would do about 
my horse and self, when to my delight, at a sign 
from the chief, a couple of young fellows saddled 
my horse, and having completely wiped the 
blood from the hide, lifted it up on him, also 
some of the choice pieces of meat, as they very 
well know how to string these for the saddle. 
Then the chief rose up and taking my hand said, 
" Again I want to say that the Great Spirit was 
most kind to us and you, John, in preventing 
the spilling of man's blood to-day. Tell your 
party not to fear that we will attempt to steal 
their horses ; we are going far to the Blackfeet." 
I in turn expressed my gratitude, and hoped 
that the time would come when he and his peo- 
ple would go to war no more, and so we parted. 
I rode down the valley to my party and was 
indeed thankful for life and opportunity. But 
when I told " Old John " and the rest of our 
party of the proximity of these fellows they put 


on a double guard for the night. I, however, 
enjoyed sound sleep, for I was very weary. 

The next day, as the party moved on home- 
ward, father and I took a pack-horse with us 
and went out across the creek, when he saw the 
camp of these fellows, which they evidently had 
left early in the morning. Going on I ran and 
killed two fine cows, and with our own saddle- 
horses and a pack-horse we brought most of the 
meat of these into camp that night. When run- 
ning them, and just as I shot the first one and 
knocked her down, my horse also fell and threw 
me far forward, and as I held the gun, which 
was that day a double-barrelled shotgun, this 
struck the ground so hard as to break the ram- 
rod keeper from the gun and smash the hard- 
wood ramrod all to pieces. More than this, it 
jarred my hand and shoulders and dislocated my 
thumb. I was thrown near the cow, which now 
jumped up and started to run off, but as I got on 
to my knees I let her have the other barrel and 
down she dropped dead. Then I heard a " Well 
done ! " from father, who sat his horse and held 
the pack animal while I ran, and who now came 
up to me. Then I noticed the condition of my 
hand, which was already much swollen. I 
hastily pulled my thumb back into joint, and 
fairly winced with the pain for some hours, nor 
did I get over the general shake-up for some 


days. My hand was tender for years as the result 
of that fall. However, I killed another cow, 
and, as stated, we brought the meat home to 
camp. Our carts, already well loaded, would 
still take a little more ; moreover, our daily con- 
sumption was not a little. 

It was well on into October when we were 
safe across the Saskatchewan, our provisions in 
storehouse, and we a thankful community. I 
then went over to White Fish Lake, where I 
found my wife and children all well, and bring- 
ing them to Victoria, commenced to fix up a 
home for the winter. 



Visiting Hudson's Bay posts A lonely journey I en- 
counter a solitary traveller Importation of liquor 
Circulating a petition An Irish priest's objections 
Governor Archibald's proclamation Prohibition in the 

EARLY in the winter I made a trip to the Rocky 
Mountain House, visiting Stoney and Cree 
camps en route, and also finding a goodly num- 
ber of people at the fort. These visits to the 
wandering camps and isolated Hudson's Bay 
posts were much appreciated ; they were events 
in the life of the people. Many were the ques- 
tions asked us. We never assumed knowledge 
that we did not possess ; what we knew we told, 
and a large measure of confidence which became 
mutual was thus created. Both going and coin- 
ing on this trip I called at Pigeon Lake. Reach- 
ing this point on the return journey, my Indian 
boy companion failed to show up. I was not sur- 
prised at this, however, for my hour of starting 
was three a.m., and at that hour a furious snow- 
storm was raging. I did not even wake up the 
household of the missionary, but went out alone, 
and all day into deep snow and trackless roads my 


good dogs and self made our way to Edmonton. 
On our outward journey one of the dogs my boy 
was using had hurt his neck, and, the wound 
festering, we were obliged to leave the poor 
fellow to follow us up. On our arriving at 
Pigeon Lake the dog did not make an appear- 
ance, and the conclusion was that the wolves had 
caught him in his weak state and killed him. 
However, when we reached Edmonton, going out 
to feed my dogs, I was delighted to find this 
fellow with them, and took him with me the 
next morning. Here also I was doomed to a 
solitary journey. Again deep snow and no trail, 
but my noble fellows breasted it gallantly, and 
I followed on snow shoes. We camped east of 
Sturgeon River, in a dry clump of trees, and I 
unharnessed my dogs and began making my 
lonely camp. I say lonely, for I confess that I 
do not like to be altogether away from the rest 
of humanity. Down came the snow, the storm 
increasing with the night. The wind whistled 
and moaned and groaned and shrieked through 
the trees and woods, and one could imagine all 
sorts of sounds. I set to work vigorously clear- 
ing away snow and chopping wood and carrying 
it in for the night, and by and by had a good 
fire and a camp comfortable enough for the few 
hours I hoped to spend in it. I had fed my dogs 
and looked after poor Snap, the sick one, and a 


lonesome feeling was settling upon me when I 
heard something like " whack, whack," coming 
with the north wind to my ears. I listened 
keenly and thought I heard chopping, and said 
to myself, "Here is someone about to camp short 
of me," so I put my supper away, and placing 
the tea-kettle closer to the fire started on the 
run through the deep snow to stay the benighted 
traveller, if I could, and invite him to my camp. 
I was running eagerly in anticipation of com- 
pany when I heard a strange sound like "crunch, 
crunch," and then like silent ghosts in the thick 
darkness a train of dogs glided in and about 
my legs, almost tripping me up so quietly had 
they met me. If there were any bells on their 
harness the thickly falling snow had muffled 
them. I looked for some man to come in sight, 
but no one appeared, and as I stood and won- 
dered, again came the strange " crunch, crunch " 
sound, and I peered into the dark, stormy night 
and listened intently. This was becoming mys- 
terious, and now I saw something that sent my 
heart into my throat, for surely here was " the 
giant of all the ages." Looming into view there 
came a strange big creature which broke through 
the bottom of the dog -sleigh road, as also the 
light new snow, and with stately, heavy steps 
approached. But by this time I was behind a 
clump of willows (one bound had brought me 


there), and thence I peered out to behold this 
wonderful creature that in colossal size so much 
surpassed anything I had ever seen. All at once 
it flashed upon my memory that I had overheard 
the storeman at Edmonton saying that they ex- 
pected an ox up from Victoria, and I began to 
think this must be the ox ; but whoever saw so 
tall an ox as this ? Then I recognized the figure 
of a man (who, by the way, was a big fellow) 
riding on the ox, and saw he had & buffalo robe 
belted around him ; and as he had given me a 
strange, queer fright I thought it was my turn 
to startle him, which I did by giving a quick, 
sharp yell. This made the ox jump and throw 
the man into the snow, and then we recognized 
each other and were mutually glad, for he also 
was alone and had been reluctant to camp. The 
whacks I had heard were of his whip coming 
down on the robe and the ox's ribs. We ex- 
changed news, sang a hymn and had prayer 
together, went to sleep, and at three o'clock next 
morning each went his way, and by evening I 
had made home and was no more lonesome. 

About this time free trade was importing 
more intoxicating liquors than usual, and some 
deeds of lawlessness and violence occurred. In 
consequence an agitation was begun at Victoria 
looking to a petition, the same to be forwarded 
to the Lieutenant-Governor of the North- West 


Territories (there being as yet no province of 
Manitoba), asking that the importation and 
traffic in intoxicants be stopped. The Hudson's 
Bay Company had discontinued their traffic in 
such in the interior for some years. Several 
meetings were held, the petition was drawn up, 
and I was asked to take it out to the camps and 
obtain the signatures of chiefs and leading men. 
The first large camp I came to was near Battle 
River, where I found the Indians in a state of 
excitement. They had had some fights with the 
Blackfeet and some horses had been stolen, and 
at the time of my visit they were exercising 
great care over both stock and camp. I remem- 
ber saying to them that they were different from 
my people, for we would either make our ene- 
mies fight to the death or sue for peace, and if 
the latter it must be permanent. I further said, 
" You call this your country, but even now in 
the dead of winter you dare not sleep in quiet. 
No," said I, " not until a stronger power 
friendly to you comes upon the scene will you 
really own a bit of land and live at peace with 
other men." This gave me a text to explain the 
government of our country and English law and 
reserve life, and many of my audience expressed 
a longing for the coming of the same. 

At the proper time I had all the chiefs and 
head men assemble, and read to them the peti- 


tion; but while I was doing this, who should 
come in but the Irish priest, the Rev. Mr. Scollen, 
who asked me for the petition, and having read 
it made a violent attack upon it. He wound up 
his harangue by telling the assembled Indians 
that it would be impudence and out of place for 
them to sign it, that the Government would not 
listen to any such arrangement, and that he 
hoped they would not make fools of themselves 
by having anything to do with it. This gave 
me my opportunity and I took it. I ex- 
plained the lawless and ungoverned condition 
of the country, and warned them that the cupid- 
ity of the reckless and bad white men would 
bring to pass here in our fair Saskatchewan what 
was now going on south of us near the border, 
and that this petition was to save trouble and 
life. In my turn I closed by hoping they would 
show their wisdom and prudence by signing this 
petition even to a man. 

Then a leading Roman Catholic, an old man 
of wide influence, took the floor and backed me 
up strongly. He expressed pain and surprise at 
the stand that his priest had taken, and eulo- 
gized me as the true friend of the Indian, ex- 
pressing the desire that his should be the first 
name on the petition from that camp. Down 
went his name, and all followed his example, 


whereupon the priest, calling us all fools, retired 
to his lodge. 

The whole Indian and half-breed population, 
and indeed practically all the whites as well, 
joined with us, and Lieutenant-Governor Archi- 
bald gave us a proclamation which enacted total 
prohibition in our western country. And as this 
was the general feeling, the law was most 
religiously observed, so that for a time we had 
profound peace from the trouble and sorrow 
caused by intoxicating drink. 



Rebellion in the Red River Settlement Riel seizes Fort 
Garry Attempts to induce the Indians to revolt 
Visiting the tribes to preach loyalty Indians remain 
firm Outbreak of smallpox Massacre of Blackfeet near 
Edmonton The Post invested by avenging force Nar- 
row escape of a party of whites A bonfire of carts and 
a feast Wolseley crushes rebellion Terrible ravages of 
smallpox Heartrending scenes The writer's attack 
and cure Awful mortality among French half-breeds. 

WITH the New Year there came to us, by way 
of rumor passed from camp to camp, the strange 
news that there was serious trouble in the Red 
River Settlement. Mysterious messages came 
to the leading Indians, tobacco to be smoked, and 
a cause to be joined which promised wonderful 
things in the near future. Then it became 
known that Riel and the French half-breeds and 
their sympathizers in the Red River had taken 
Fort Garry. The native tribes were called upon 
to join them or suffer in their turn, and I was 
sent out from camp to camp to counteract as 
much as possible this influence. The large 
gatherings of Indians during January, February 
and March of 1870 were at the last points of 
timber around Calling Lake, and it took long 


journeys to reach them. Moreover, the winter 
was a very stormy one, with the roads always 
full and largely non-existent. I had good dogs, 
and was always a welcome companion to the 
Hudson's Bay Company and free traders in their 
travelling and trading parties passing to and 
fro. Many a hundred miles did I break the 
roads for such that winter, and they in turn 
gave me companionship and great respect and 
help when needed. Then I would stop for days 
alone with the Indians, going from lodge to lodge 
attending councils, and, when I could, holding 
meetings and giving lectures, which you may 
be sure were at the time packed full of English 
history and Canadian experience and fair play, 
justice and liberty. Such men as Sweet Grass, 
Pakan, Little Hunter Who Frightens Them, 
Bob Tail, Big Bear, and a host of their contem- 
poraries were my auditors and my companions. 
I slept in their lodges, ate with them, and be- 
came a friend in whom I verily believe they 
came to have confidence, for they did not smoke 
rebellion tobacco and did not budge under the 
torrent of falsehood and deception which was 
poured into their ears by interested parties. I 
am sorry to say there were rebels in the Sas- 
katchewan, but they were not Indians nor yet 
half-breeds, but men who, while living under the 
British flag, and enjoying the largest measure of 


liberty under the same, were and are always 
disloyal to Britain. The hated English Govern- 
ment was talked about, but during 1870 none of 
the Indians or half-breeds of the farther west 
listened to such talk. 

Towards spring we heard more definitely 
about Kiel's sojourn in Fort Garry, and also that 
the Canadian Government was organizing an 
expedition against him. Of the issue of this we 
had no doubt, and loudly we sounded our faith 
in the ears of all the people. In the meantime 
we were extremely anxious. Around us were 
firebrands, and intensely inflammable material 
was to be found in every camp and settlement. 
Then the problem stared us in the face, where 
were we to obtain supplies for the coming year, 
the clothing and ammunition so -necessary, to 
say nothing about groceries and simple luxuries ? 
And then, how long could we counteract the 
influences of rebellion with its license of loot 
and plunder ? I can assure my readers, as the 
spring of 1870 opened there were some anxious 
souls in the great West. To add to this there 
came rumors of some fell disease to the south of 
is. It was said that the Indians beyond the 
border were dying by the hundreds. Smallpox 
was mentioned, and we shuddered at the sound, 
for we were a thousand miles from a medical 
man and without medicine. Worse still, we 


were without law and in the midst of an 
ignorant, excitable people. The chief magis- 
trate or chief factor, Wm. J. Christie, Esq., and 
father had many a consultation on the state of 
affairs. One proposition was to open up com- 
munication with the States by way of Fort 
Bent, but for some reason this was not done, 
and after a hard winter of travel and camp life, 
most of it distant from home so far as I was 
concerned, spring came and with it an intensify- 
ing of war and disease rumors. 

One day Lawrence Clark, of Fort Carl ton, a 
Hudson's Bay officer, came along and told us of 
the killing of Scott by Kiel, and the possibilities 
of more such acts to follow. How long would 
the Indians near us hold out ? That was the 
question. They were being worked hard. 
Would they yield ? We exalted the Government, 
we decried rebellion, we pooh-poohed the idea of 
Kiel and his friends holding out very long. We 
said, " Hold on even until midsummer and see," 
and I am thankful that the people even to a 
man did hold on to loyalty and reason. Father 
accompanied Mr. Clark on to Edmonton, but 
they were headed off by local war up there. 
The Blackfeet were on the scene. During 
March a few Blackfeet, believing the most of 
the Crees were out on the plains and farther 
east, came into Edmonton to trade, and when 


leaving they were ambushed at the top of the 
Southern River, where a most brutal massacre 
took place. A fellow, Tak-kooch by name, had 
feasted and danced with them at the fort, and 
then he had organized his following and ar- 
ranged his plans, and the result was much blood. 
This was in revenge for the killing of Maske- 
petoon, and also for many crimes on the part 
of the Blackfeet. 

When the few who escaped reached the Black- 
foot camp there was hasty preparation, and a 
large party of warriors, several hundreds in 
number, came in to have their turn at revenge. 
However, it so happened that the Hudson's Bay 
Company's post-master at Pigeon Lake and my 
brother David, who also had a small branch post 
at the same place, were now on their way to 
Edmonton and Victoria. The Rev. Peter Camp- 
bell was also in the party, and, as it occurred, 
these just about timed with the Blackfeet on the 
south bank of the river, nearly opposite the fort. 
Fortunately some one gave the alarm, and the 
most of the parby, including the women and 
children, managed to escape across the river and 
reach the shelter of the fort. So hurried was 
their flight that they had to leave all their 
belongings on the south bank. My brother and 
my friend Samson wanted to organize and meet 
the Blackfeet at the top of the hill and send 


them back on the jump, which no doubt would 
have been the result of such tactics, though 
some killing would of necessity have been the 
consequence. But the gentleman in charge of 
the fort resolutely shut the gates and would not 
consent to such a move ; so David, with Samson, 
who stayed with him, crossed what stuff they 
could, and when the war-party came out in full 
force at the river they were climbing the steep 
banks before the fort gates with the best packs 
of furs to serve as shields when the bullets came. 
Come the bullets did, fast and furious, but as the 
guns were inferior and the distance considerable 
no one was hurt. And now that the Blackfeet 
took none by surprise and the fort was shut, 
they turned their attention to the carts that 
were beside them, which were full of goods and 
leather and furs and provisions. Here was a 
genuine windfall to these warriors ; clothing 
and blankets, prints and shirts, and all manner 
of good articles, as well as pemmican and dried 
meat and tea and sugar. Settling down beside 
these good things they spent the night, every 
now and then firing a fresh fusilade at the fort, 
but doing no harm. They made a bonfire of the 
carts and divided the spoils, and they kept up a 
racket all night, and doubtless in their own 
style and to their own tune sang most lustily, 
" We won't go home till morning," and then 


went, for the next day found them a minus 
quantity near Edmonton. 

It was on the night of this occurrence that 
Mr. Clark and father were approaching the fort, 
and hearing the constant shooting, and not 
knowing what it might mean, wisely took cover 
until the next morning, when, scouting in, they 
found the fort all right, but still in a state of ex- 
citement over the raid. With rebellion at head- 
quarters, which also was the base of supplies, 
tribal war around us and the fearful scourge of 
smallpox in sight, truly the whole Saskatchewan 
country was in a bad state at this time, and for 
all this there seemed to be no prospect of 
immediate relief. No government, no protection, 
no board of health, no doctors, no medicine 
certainly under God we were completely thrown 
on our own resources. Nevertheless, we were 
hopeful, and at once began to plan. The Chief 
Factor went to Fort Garry to watch events, and 
if possible to obtain supplies and forward these 
west. Father also went east and joined the 
Rev. George Young in the little village of Win- 
nipeg, where he could follow events. He also 
was anxious about supplies and friends who 
might be coming west at that time. Father 
told me that after reaching the Red River and 
sizing up Riel and his troops in Fort Garry, he 
would have been delighted to be one of twenty 


men to go in and run the whole party out, but 
there were no men to respond. Word that Col. 
Wolseley and the volunteers were coming kept 
up the hopes of the loyal, and also acted upon 
the Kiel faction so as to keep them passive. In 
quiet these kept the fort, in quiet the balance of 
the country awaited developments, and in due 
time the developments came. When the troops 
reached Fort Garry and found it evacuated, 
any one asking for the Kiel rebellion would have 
met the echo, " Where ? " It was gone, had sud- 
denly atomized and entirely disappeared. All 
now were loyal ; the mere mention of rebellion 
thenceforth would hurt feelings, and so on. 

In the greater West we had kept the huge 
farce out from any actual flame, but as weeks 
went by we were menaced by woeful disease. 
Horrible tales of whole camps being dead and 
the epidemic growing in virulence came in 
to us from the south. Father had said to me 
with strong emphasis, "Scatter them, scatter 
them; do all you can to scatter the people, John, 
for that is the only hope of saving them." In 
the meantime, acting on this, we encouraged our 
settlers at Victoria to move on to the plains 
early in the season, or to go out to the lakes north 
of us ; and with only four men at the Hudson's 
Bay post, and a young Indian lad, Job, and my- 
self at the Mission, we kept down the plague and 
were on guard day and night. 


Anxious and careful, and sometimes exceed- 
ingly fearful, the early summer of 1870 found 
us at Victoria, on the north bank of the Sas- 
katchewan, with the people belonging to the 
settlements scattered, father far distant, no 
actual definite word from Fort Garry, rumors 
rife, smallpox drawing nearer, and small war- 
parties around us. Why the latter did not 
attack I cannot tell. Of course, we were always 
ready ; a gun, such as it was, at every window ; 
an axe behind every door ; mother and sisters 
and wife drilled to load and handle guns ; Job 
and I on guard all night, and so far as myself 
was concerned, never really asleep at any time. 
The Blackfeet shot our cattle and stole our 
horses, but did not attack us. Many a time 
during those weary nights and days I wished 
they would, and let us have it out to a finish, 
but still the waiting and watching went on. 

One day a messenger came from Edmonton 
on horseback bringing a letter from the Rev. 
Peter Campbell, asking me to send him by the 
bearer some sugar that he had stored in our 
provision shed, also inquiring very kindly about 
" our friends, the northern Ishmaelites." That 
night the Blackfeet stole fourteen horses, Mr. 
Campbell's being the fourteenth, and his horse 
we found a few miles down the river, stabbed to 
death, the thieves evidently having quarrelled 


over the spoils. So I sent his man back on foot, 
and after writing Mr. Campbell a good long letter 
on matters in general, I put in a postscript 
telling him my reason for not sending him his 
sugar was that his friends, " the northern Ish- 
maelites," were not dead nor yet sleeping ; that 
they had visited us the night before and had 
stolen our horses and his also, but had killed 
his, doubtless having recognized their friend's 

Such were the existing conditions when some 
of our half-breed population came in hurriedly 
from the plains, fleeing from the approaching 
smallpox. The tales these brought were alarm- 
ing, and we felt the coming of the disease to us 
was inevitable. The Wood Crees would come in 
without fail, and as many of their young men 
had gone south on the warpath, the infection 
must come north. By leaps and bounds the 
destroyer came on, from Sioux and Grovount 
and Crow to Piegan and Blood and Blackfoot 
and Sarcee, and from these to their hereditary 
foes, the Mountain and Wood Stoneys. We did 
as instructed. We scattered these half-breeds, we 
closed our church services and took every pre- 
caution, but soon in came the large camps, and 
already the disease was well spread. We con- 
tinued to urge isolation, and as many as listened 
almost to a man escaped. But there were many 


who were now diseased, and others who would 
not budge, and others extreme fatalists, and in a 
few days we were surrounded by disease. The 
sick and dying and dead were everywhere in 
our vicinity ; however, our isolation cry saved 
many, and the deaths around us were few com- 
pared with the settlements and camps east and 
west and south of us. 

In the vicinity of St. Paul, where the Rev. 
Mr. Lacombe was starting a mission, there was 
great mortality. It seemed strange that all 
through the country the Roman Catholic priests 
encouraged the people to congregate and gather 
into large camps, and because we did our best 
to isolate them the argument used by the priests 
was that we were personally afraid of the dis- 
ease. " Come to us and we will save you" was 
the language of a leading priest to some of our 
people whom we had succeeded in sending off by 
themselves, but one of the head men answered 
that they knew of one Saviour only, and He was 
Jesus Christ. I firmly believe that hundreds of 
poor deluded folk became the victims of the 
congregating of the infected. The disease 
quickly assumed a most virulent form and be- 
came most deadly. Right out in full view of 
our dining-room windows was a camp in which 
all had died save one son, a young man, and the 
father. This son was now dying, and the poor 


father, heart-broken but assiduous in his atten- 
tions, was doing all he could for his boy. Pre- 
sently the young man died, and the father rushed 
up to me for a bit of cotton or a shirt to bury 
him in. Rummaging among my things I brought 
out an old shirt, which the sorrow-stricken man 
seized and ran down to dress his son's corpse in. 
I sat down to dinner, and as I ate watched him. 
Having laid his boy out, he raised himself up, 
gave a leap, and himself fell down dead. I ran 
to him to make sure, and then came back to 
finish my dinner, and presently found myself 
with a feeling of shame at my hard-heartedness. 
The fact was we became accustomed to death 
and to scenes of sorrow and fearful destitution. 
Coming home one morning from a death 
peculiarly harrowing, I felt the grip of the dis- 
ease, and had to lean up against the fence 
several times before I could reach home. Going 
into the house I asked mother and my wife to 
have our room emptied of everything, and then 
asked for a tub of hot water and a double dose 
of Dover's powder. Having taken the powder 
and got into the tub of hot water, I presently 
slid into bed under plenty of clothing, and from 
excruciating pain went off into a profuse per- 
spiration, which gave me relief. The pain in 
my back was almost unbearable for a time, but 
the simple remedies did good in my case, and the 


next day I was again out amongst my patients. 
A grand old man, Thomas Woolsey or Red 
Bank by name, was dying in a little brush hut. 
All alone I found him, and we sang his favorite 
hymn. His voice quavered in weakness and 
mine in sorrow, but our faith was strong, and 
the good man said, " I am going on, John ; it is 
all right. My body is corrupt and will soon 
decay, but my spirit is young and strong, and 
Jesus will take me home." As I stood there 
beside the bent leaves of the fluttering willows 
in the shade of which my friend lay dying, his 
body terrible to behold in its premature corrup- 
tion, and listened to his clear, emphatic testimony 
to the comfort and assurance and triumph of 
faith in Jesus Christ, my own heart was made 
strong in this blessed gospel. How often during 
these days did I long for father's company. 
Some of the Indians were very sullen, and at 
times most insolent ; they went about armed to 
the teeth, and were ready for any excuse to 
commit violence. This was a white man's dis- 
ease, and they hated the whites. We were 
living all the time on the thin crust of a volcano 
we felt it in the air, we met it on the path, it 
was stamped on the faces of both men and 
women with whom in past times we had been 
on the most friendly terms. The strain was 
continuous, disease and death and danger con- 


stant. I often think of the true heroism of my 
mother at this time. She worked on, perfectly 
conscious of all the danger, but making no fuss, 
no noise. To me her conduct was sublime, and 
my wife and sisters all did their part. We had 
no scenes ; each felt that work and duty were 
now in place. One day in midsummer, or a 
little later, a traveller came along going east, 
and he waited while I wrote a note to father to 
hurry him up if possible. While writing I heard 
the neigh of a horse, and recognized it as 
that of Little Bob No. 2, and running out, there 
was father. Oh, how glad I and the others 
were ! He had with him Mr. Hardisty and my 
sister, also another sister who had come from 
Ontario. Having gone away a little girl, she 
now came back to us in the full bloom of young 
womanhood. More possible victims of either 
disease or massacre was the silent thought of 
some of us, and yet we were delighted to see 
our loved ones again, and took hold with fresh 
grip to stand off mishap or evil of any kind. 
Father's coming was as a breath of strength and 
security to many ; his experience and strong 
individuality seemed as a refuge unto which 
one might run and be comforted. He gave us 
the first real intelligence of the arrival of the 
troops and the establishing of law and govern- 
ment in the Red River Settlement. He worked 


almost night and day in the camps around 
us, and many a poor heart took hold on both 
material and spiritual life because of his help 
and cheer. To me his coming was indeed a 
heaven-send, for within a few days of his arrival, 
because of undue exposure, I was taken down 
with inflammation of the lungs, and father dosed 
and nursed me back to life. As a Western man 
would say, " it was a close call," but God and 
father and wife and mother raised me up again. 
It took three years to bring me back to my 
wonted strength, yet I was again at work 
within the month. From every direction came 
the reports of disease and many deaths. At 
Moose Lake, east of us, a whole settlement died, 
and when the spot was silently approached by 
a lone traveller, the one survivor, a little boy, 
fled from out of the unburied dead, and it took 
considerable search and craft to catch this child 
and allay his fears and save him. Up the river 
between us and Edmonton another camp of 
some fifty souls lay down and died, and but two 
children survived. I knew all of these and had 
lived amongst them at Pigeon Lake and on the 
plains, but in a few days, nay, in a few hours, 
from strength and cunning and human might 
and skill, of which in large measure they were 
possessed, they fell before this terrible disease 
which was now sweeping over our fair country. 


At Big Lake, now St. Albert, right alongside 
the largest Roman Catholic mission in the West, 
with bishop and many priests and brothers and 
sisters and nuns, the French half-breeds were 
cut down to less than half their number, three 
hundred and twenty dying in a short time. 
Along the mountains some of our Mountain 
Stoneys persisted in entering a Piegan camp, 
and bringing home the infection, spread it 
among their people. These all too late started 
north, and all along the valleys between Old 
Mans and the Bow left their dead. From where 
Morley now is, on both sides of the Bow, up to 
where Banff is situated, as one Stoney said to 
me, " it was a graveyard, and the crying went 
up both day and night." From the best infor- 
mation we could obtain it was reasonable to 
estimate that fully half of the native tribes 
perished during the season of 1870 through the 
ravages of smallpox. If it were true that this 
foul disease was purposely brought among the 
Indians by revengeful white men (as was re- 
ported), then this brutal act accomplished its 
devilish end, but oh, the suffering and misery 
of it all ! And in the meantime war went on 
and intensified the trouble. Day and night we 
had to watch, and so the summer passed with a 
dark cloud of death and sorrow covering one of 
the fairest countries in the world, " where every 
prospect pleases and only man is vile." 



An autumn hunt Spirit of the pioneer My friend Susa 
gets a bath Our camp entered by a war-party My 
brother David's pluck Best meat in the world Home- 
ward with loaded carts We get serious word from the 
Mission Father and sisters down with smallpox A 
camp of the dead Arrive at the Mission Find father 
recovering Strict quarantine Into an ice-hole Nar- 
row escape from drowning Mother's heroism in fighting 
the scourge. 

IN the autumn we organized a party to visit the 
plains for the purpose of making provisions. 
There may have been from forty to fifty families 
in our company, and with us went my brother 
David and some men with an outfit of carts. 
The whole settlement was interested in our 
success, as the winter supply of food largely 
depended upon this move. We were to find 
buffalo, make provisions out of same, but, above 
all things, to keep infection, if possible, from our 
camp. Father said to me, " Don't let the small- 
pox into your camp, John ; if need be, keep it out 
at the mouth of the gun." There being no law, 
we had to become a law unto ourselves. Accord- 
ingly we organized our party and crossed the 
big Saskatchewan, and turned our faces south- 


wards to the plains. Father and Mr. Tait, the 
Hudson's Bay Company's officer in charge at 
Victoria, and my youngest sister, Flora, accom- 
panied us on the first stage of the journey, and 
spent the Sabbath in our camp. Those were 
times when men gripped each other's hands at 
parting with the feeling that it might be for 
the last time on earth, and yet this was done 
with a laugh and a cheer ; such is the stuff of 
which the hardy pioneer is made. If he were 
not all full of optimism he could not exist ; this 
life demands hope and faith, and only those 
surcharged with these qualities make true 

Scouts are sent out in advance and on either 
flank all day as we move, a full guard is 
posted at night, and all stock of any value 
gathered in the corral made by our carts and 
waggons. These also are encircled in turn by 
our buffalo-skin lodges. Thus we travelled out 
across the head-waters of the Vermilion, in sight 
of Sickness Hill and Birch Lake, on across the 
Battle River and east of the Nose Hill, and not 
until many days had elapsed did we find buffalo. 
Finding these we also found Indians, and it was 
not without some difficulty that we kept the 
latter out of our camp. The older and more 
reasonable acquiesced, but the young warriors 
were bound to come in, and we had to make 


them stay out. All this caused us a lot of trouble 
and constant need of extra caution. 

One day an outrider brought me word of see- 
ing an old friend of mine away to one side of 
our line of march, who was in great trouble and 
who earnestly desired to see " John." Galloping 
back in the direction my informant indicated, 
I found Susa, whom I had known for years, 
in a terrible condition of mind and body. He 
was attired in old-time mourning, a filthy robe 
belted around the waist, and, with the exception 
of a worn pair of moccasins and breech-cloth, this 
was all poor Susa had on. His story briefly 
was : " I arn alone, my wife and children and 
friends are dead." A fine-looking, motherly 
woman, as I had seen her last, and several beau- 
tiful children all gone, camp broken up, and Susa 
with his one pony as I saw him was all that was 
left. I condoled with him, and then asked him 
if he would like to come with me. At this he 
jumped eagerly, so I sent him to the shore of a 
lake near our trail, and then went into camp 
and rummaged a pair of trousers and a shirt 
and blanket from our little store, and with these 
and a can of soft soap I returned to Susa. I 
had him strip off his filthy attire, and with gun 
and horse go into the lake, and with a plentiful 
use of soap made him wash and clean not 
only himself, but horse and gun as well. I kept 


him in the water a long time, made him swim 
his horse into the depths, and meanwhile made 
a fire on the shore and burnt his robe, line, 
saddle, etc., and then, re-clothing him, took my 
friend into my own tent. He in turn became 
hunter and scout and guard and servant and 
friend. Many a run we had together, and once 
it came near being Susa's last run, for just as we 
came up to the buffalo and he was about to pull 
his old flint-lock, his horse went down and the 
gun went off, grazing the horse's head and singe- 
ing the hair from the side of his own face. Susa 
pitched on to his head in such a manner that for 
a little we feared his neck was broken, but pre- 
sently he came to and after a few days was 
himself again. 

All this trip we had the buffalo in small lots, 
and only by having good horses and with extra 
skill did we secure meat. However, the work of 
making provisions steadily went on, and the 
cold weather came on also, sometimes in good 
big samples, and when one is a hundred or two 
miles away from timber it becomes a serious 
matter. One evening, coming into camp in 
advance of our hunting party, I found the camp 
in a state of excitement, being outnumbered by 
a war-party of Plain Crees who were already 
within our corral and in the shelter of the carts, 
and who without so much as " by your leave " 


had taken of the wood from our carts and had 
made a big fire. I stopped their taking any 
more wood and expostulated with them as to 
taking a fire within our corral, but not know- 
ing who were behind me, they were quite impu- 
dent. However, in a little while in came our 
crowd, and it was a surprise to these sons of the 
plain when my brother David jumped from his 
horse into their midst and kicked in every direc- 
tion the fire around which they were sitting, and 
pulling the logs out of the blaze flung them into 
the frosted grass to smoulder and go out. With 
rifle in hand he asked them by what right had 
they thus touched what was not their own. 
Seeing the stern faces of our party, these high- 
strung warriors meekly enough pleaded guilty, 
and then it was my part to step in and tell them 
we had a spare lodge, large and roomy, and 
would lend them poles and give them some wood 
and meat, and if they quietly behaved them- 
selves during the night we would let them go 
next morning, but we would not let them enter 
oar tents nor visit in our camps. If they did 
not wish to accept this they might move on 
right now. It being a bitterly cold night they 
were glad to accept what I offered, and our 
party put on a double guard and a special watch 
over these unwelcome guests. Early next morn- 
ing they were on their way, and we broke camp 


and moved farther afield. A day or two after- 
wards another party attempted to come into our 
camp, but we met them some distance out and 
forbade their doing so, and I explained our 
reasons for thus acting. We did not wish to 
quarrel with them, but we did not purpose run- 
ning any risk from infection. They had gone 
forth from infected camps, and into infected 
country, and doubtless had stolen infected horses, 
and we would not let them enter our camp. 
While I was talking to the crowd I noticed two 
young braves steal away on the one horse 
towards our camp. Presently they were on the 
jump, when I told my brother and one Charles 
Whitford to bring them back either dead or 
alive, and in a few minutes Dave had his gun 
poking into the faces of both, and he and Charles 
rounded the scamps up and brought them into 
the camp in short order. I then told the party 
it was no use discussing this matter. We did not 
seek a quarrel with them, but we were in dead 
earnest, so they had better go on ; and on they 
went. Time and time again we had thus to do 
with these parties who through the years had 
been our own allies, but now in the presence of 
the greater enemy, the smallpox, we, because of 
our families and also carrying out our instruc- 
tions, had to refuse any relations with them. 
So, carefully camping always on new ground 


and scouting in advance, we moved on and out 
and up even to the Hand Hills, on the bank of 
the Red Deer, and all the while were falling in 
with small herds of buffalo and loading up our 
carts and waggons with dried meat, pemmican, 
etc. And such dried meat as the flesh of those 
cows made ! Even as I write, my mouth waters 
for some of it. Never did we wish for bread or 
vegetables or anything else in the way of food 
when we had such dried meat as was made in 
the autumn hunts of the period I am describ- 
ing. The suns and rains of centuries had pro- 
duced wonderful grasses, which in turn had 
produced a quality of meat which from our 
standpoint had never been surpassed, perhaps 
never equalled. 

As we circled westward and north toward the 
timber, for every day admonished us that winter 
was near, there came to view a scene I have 
never forgotten. We were on the high lands 
between Battle River and Red Deer, and about 
south-east of Buffalo Lake, when the weather 
cleared and the sky and atmosphere became 
wonderfully transparent, and presently the 
mountains appeared in view. We were fully 
two hundred miles away from them, and yet 
they seemed near, and I would judge that two 
hundred miles of the range was in sight. Most 
gorgeous was the vision, and many were the 


exclamations of delight and wonder from our 
party. While almost all were natives, yet many 
had never seen the mountains until that time. 
Again I thought of the wonderful future there 
must be in store for this country through which 
we were now travelling. 

And now our carts were creaking with their 
loads. Providence had smiled upon us ; our 
party was intact ; there was no infection in our 
camp, and with thankful hearts we began our 
journey northward and homeward. It behooved 
us to still continue to avoid both living and 
dead objects of infection. Remember, we had 
no doctor, nor yet any medicine to speak of ; we 
had no government to come to the rescue ; we 
were entirely dependent on Providence and on 
local and very simple and humble remedies. 
Several cold storms began to hurry us timber- 
wards. One day we nooned at the bend of the 
Battle River. All this time no word from the 
Mission or forts in the north had come to us, 
though two months and better had elapsed, but 
as we pulled up the northern side of the valley 
of the river towards Flag Hill, we discovered 
people away east of us, and hoping these might 
have news of our friends, a few of our party on 
horseback bore down on them. They, seeing us 
coming, formed their carts into a barricade, and 
fastening their horses came out to meet and 


stop our charge, for these men at once concluded 
we were enemies. However, as we approached 
each other we found they were our friends 
from Victoria now out on a fresh meat hunt. 
From these we heard the sad news that the 
smallpox was in the Mission house, and that 
two of our sisters were dead and buried and 
others of the Mission supposed to be dying 
when this party left ; that father had quaran- 
tined himself and family from the inside of the 
stockade and forbade any one to approach the 
place. These sorrowful tidings quite upset us 
for the moment, but at once we began to plan 
to help if possible, and galloping back to our 
party my brother and Susa started at once 
with relays of horses to go to father's assistance ; 
they, having had the smallpox, might be con- 
sidered immune. By travelling night and day 
it would take them three days to reach the 

Slowly and like a funeral procession our 
string of carts and waggons wound up the 
valley that afternoon. All were quiet, for all 
were sad. We had hoped when we left the 
settlement that the worst was over, but now the 
disease is still awaiting us. Perhaps others by 
this time were dead, for many days had inter- 
vened since our informants had started out. 
Loved ones whom we had left in youth's bloom 


and beauty had succumbed to the loathsome 
disease. One of my little daughters was with 
her grandparents in this quarantined and, 
humanly speaking, almost helpless home. How I 
longed to gallop in with my brother and faithful 
Susa, but my instructions were, " Keep with 
your people ; save that camp from infection," 
and I dare not yet leave my post of duty. To 
break the weight of sorrow on my heart I rode 
up to " Old John," who with rifle in hand was 
leading the party, and asked where he intended 
to camp that night ; and he, divining my need, 
said, " On the ridge yonder is a fine little lake. 
If not already occupied, there is where I want 
to camp to-night, but you had better ride on 
carefully and scout." Action was what I 
needed, and away on up the gentle slopes of the 
long climb I galloped, keeping a sharp lookout 
for signs of human presence. David and Susa 
had already passed to the east of our course, 
therefore I did not very much dread that side, 
and keeping a little westerly presently I found 
tracks of horses and people, not very fresh, yet 
sufficiently new to make me careful. Then I 
saw flights of carrion birds, and again I met 
troops of wolves, and I said, "It is either an 
abandoned pound or a death camp," and soon I 
saw the waving earflaps of many lodges. Were 
all dead or were there any still living ? Keep- 


ing under cover and well to the windward I 
scouted nearer and nearer, and as I approached, 
a desolate and awful scene met my view. This 
camp of some forty lodges had been stricken 
with the dread scourge, and the few survivors 
had taken the horses of the camp and fled ; but 
the mass was here before me, putrid and de- 
cayed. I saw that they were either Sarcees or 
Blackfeet certainly not Crees, the lodges and 
travois and saddles being clear indications of 
this. There they lay in the lodges and outside 
of them, and the wolves and carrion birds and 
all manner of wild animals were feasting on 
human flesh. Of course, for the time being I 
forgot my own woe in the presence of this great 
multiplication of woes, and as I sat on my 
horse and looked upon this fearful scene the 
tragedy and pathos of it grew upon me. Old 
men and little children, nursing mothers and 
suckling babes, the wild, arrogant, impudent 
warrior, and the gentle native man were all 
here under the same lash. Having seen all 
that was necessary in the case, but sufficient to 
make it impossible for us to camp anywhere 
near the lake where John had planned, I rode 
back and reported ; then making a big detour to 
windward, we travelled late into the night to 
another watering place. 

With our heavy loads and heavier hearts the 


days seemed short and the distance long, but we 
kept steadily at it, and while watchful and care- 
ful and constantly busy, still our thoughts often 
wandered ahead to the Mission and to our loved 
ones there. By this time the smaller lakes and 
creeks were frozen over, and on the hard ground 
our progress became slower, for if we travelled 
fast our cart breakage increased and caused 
more delay. When within some forty-five or 
fifty miles of the Saskatchewan we met an In- 
dian called " Rabbit," who had just corne from 
the Mission. He told us that another of my 
sisters was dead, and that father was said to be 
dying. Hearing this I at once arranged to 
leave my party and ride on. I took two horses 
and kept on the steady jump, or as fast as un- 
shod horses could go over frozen, slippery ground. 
It was coming dusk when I rode down the hill 
to the river's brink. Almost at once I was seen 
by my watchful brother-in-law, Hardisty, who 
ran down with some poles to try the ice on the 
river, which had but now made fast, and as yet 
had not been crossed over. With the skill and 
caution of experience he succeeded by a very 
circuitous route in reaching my side. We gripped 
hands as those do who, coming out of big risks, 
again meet and are unspeakably thankful. The 
first question was, " How is father ? " and with 
joy I heard the answer, " He is better, he is re- 


covering; I have just come from speaking to 
him. He has already seen you and is thankful." 
I tethered my horses in as good a place as I 
could find for them and crossed with Hardisty, 
who went on to the Hudson's Bay fort to tell 
my sister and others of my arrival and of the 
welfare and success of my party, for all were 
very anxious concerning us. David and Susa 
had at once gone into quarantine, for father had 
kept this up most rigidly, and there had been 
little communication with them. 

Telling Hardisty I would be over for the 
night, I walked on up to the Mission stockade, 
and as I approached the place some one spoke 
out of the darkness, " Is that you, John ? " I at 
once recognized father's voice, though it was 
much weakened by disease. "Yes, father," I 
answered. " Thank God " came back the quick 
response, and then the command, " Come no 
nearer," and for a few minutes in darkness and 
cold we exchanged experiences and, saying 
" Good-night," parted. I heard father's short, 
weak, staggering steps as he returned to the 
house, then took a look through the gloom to 
the spot in the garden where with a gentle wave 
of his hand he had said, " We laid them there," 
and then turned away on the run across to the 
fort to be welcomed by my sister and her hus- 
band and to once more camp for a night under 


the shelter of shingles. Hardisty gave me the 
last eastern news, only two months old, but to 
rne as fresh as this evening's Telegram. I in 
turn gave him some of our hunting and quaran- 
tine episodes, and then we slept. 

The next day I succeeded in getting my horses 
across, and we virtually opened up traffic for the 
season with the other side of the river. Through 
the windows I saw mother and sisters and my 
own little girl, Ruth. David and Susa and I 
talked over the fence, and amongst us we planned 
to keep my party still in isolation. I was to re- 
turn to them, but instead of coming in on the usual 
road, we were to take the west side of the Egg 
Lake Creek, and were to camp in the woods on 
the south side of the river opposite the Mission. 
There was to be no promiscuous intercourse 
until we were as sure as we could be that the 
disease was stamped out. Thus instructed I left 
on the second day and returned to my party and 
did as we had planned, for all saw the reason- 
ableness of this and were only too willing to be 
thus guided. During the day the men that could 
be spared from guarding camp went across and 
worked on the houses and stables being made 
ready for occupancy when the time might come. 

And now winter arrived in real earnest. As 
we hoped, the intense frost helped to cleanse the 
country of the disease germs, and thankfully we 


noted that most of this disease had occurred 
practically out of doors in the fresh air. There 
were few houses to be disinfected, and Nature 
herself came to our rescue all over this big 
land, and the process of cleansing went on as 
the degree of frost went lower and the fresh, 
canopy of snow fell upon the land. In twenty 
days it was thought prudent for all of those 
whose homes had not been entered by disease to 
return again to them. The lodges were now 
very cold, and the migration of nearly all my 
party took place. In the breaking up of camp 
my responsibility was removed, and once again 
I was a free man. 

The Mission was all this time under strict 
quarantine. Father would allow no one in or 
out, but meanwhile was using every measure to 
induce disinfection. David and Susa and all 
the household were incessantly at work, burning 
and cleaning and scouring and making whole- 
some the old house, but still the pall of isolation 
was on the place. No meetings or gatherings 
of any kind were held. At a distance men 
hailed each other and passed on. One evening 
Hardisty and I were walking around the Mis- 
sion stockade, and knowing full well what had 
gone on inside and about the place, suddenly 
we determined to break quarantine. Quietly 
in our moccasined feet we slipped into the 


kitchen and on into the hall of the home. The 
inmates were in the dining-room at supper, and 
before they had noticed us we were beside them, 
and father gave in and let us have our way, 
and thus the break was made. What a joyful 
reunion of friends for months separated under 
most trying circumstances ! The next day being 
Saturday, we organized a big game of shinty on 
the ice before the Mission, and announced meet- 
ing for Sunday in the church. Hardisty rode 
one way and I the other to bring the people 
together, and the satisfaction of all was sub- 
lime. The old and the young came to the 
game on Saturday afternoon, and all took 
sides, some on skates and others on foot. Away 
went the ball, and some one " swiped " it across 
the river under the towering and almost per- 
pendicular bank which cast a deep shade over 
the ice, and in my rush after the ball I did not 
see the open hole and swift, silent current until 
too late. I sheered off, but only to cut through 
the thin ice, and in I went. I grabbed the 
stronger ice as I took the plunge feet fore- 
most, and with most vigorous swimming with 
both legs and one hand 1 managed to keep 
from going under. I knew I could not hold 
out very long, but presently was aware that 
Hardisty, who had been at the other end of the 
field, was now stretched out on the ice and was 


holding his shinty stick to me. This I gripped 
for life, and felt I was saved from present 
drowning. It was now my turn to take com- 
mand, and I called to Charles Whitford to lie 
down and take Mr. Hardisty by the feet ; then I 
shouted to others to take hold of Charles and 
pull us out, all of which was done in a minute. 
I ran off up to the house and changed my 
clothes, and was in the game again in a little 
while, but perhaps never in my many glimpses 
of the possibility of sudden death was I nearer 
the actual than that afternoon. Once under the 
ice no power on earth could have saved me. We 
marked that spot and religiously kept away from 
it during the rest of our play. 

The next day, Sunday, was a great day in our 
history. With hearts and voices we sang the 
doxology, and the old, old story came new upon 
our ears and sympathies, and there was general 
rejoicing amongst all the people in the settle- 
ment. We mourned, but not as those without 
hope. Father had literally buried his own dead. 
David was with him at the last burial, and could 
not but give expression to his burden by saying, 
" Father, it's hard to bury our own dead." Many 
another one's dead had we handled that season ; 
we were familiar with death, and yet the per- 
sonal experience of it came hard. Mother had 
worked like a Trojan, had nursed and watched 


and mourned up to the last, and then fell into a 
swoon and utterly collapsed, and for some time 
her life was despaired of. But now her vigorous 
constitution had prevailed and she was about 
again, to our great joy. In other parts of the 
country the disease still lingered, and it was 
thought not wise to travel for a time, so that 
Christmas and the New Year found us in the 
vicinity of Victoria. During these holidays we 
had special meetings and special games, and did 
what we could to break from out the cloud of 
woe and sorrow and trouble which had hung 
over us, in common with so many, during the 
past months. 



Indians in sullen humor Another hunt organized A 
dubious Quaker My fingers badly frozen Apou and I 
in luck My endurance is tried A visit from the Chief 
Factor I am sent on a difficult and dangerous mission 
Indians gathering in a big camp Rebellion being 
fomented Packet brings news of Franco-Prussian war 
A priest's superstitious folly and its results New 
idea of prayer Gifts of tobacco Arrival at Hand Hills 

THE Indians were sullen and hungry, and kept 
to themselves all through the late autumn and 
winter of 1870 and 1871. During January we 
heard of a few buffalo inside of Battle River, 
around Flag Hill and Dust Flying Lake, and as 
our food was almost altogether buffalo pro- 
visions, it behooved us if possible to secure some 
fresh meat. To do this we organized a strong 
party, perhaps thirty- five or forty sleds in all. 
Some of us took both horses and dogs. The 
weather was cold and occasionally quite stormy, 
and the snow deep, but by changing the teams 
often we made good time. Our camps were in 
the open, usually in the lee of some island timber. 
We were in a hurry and meant business. Day- 
light found us on the march, and harnessing 


horses and dogs before day dawn is cold work. 
At that time of day everything is cracking 
as well as your whip-lash, and you rub cheek 
or nose and clap your hands and think of 
big fires and breakfast later on. 

When near Dust Flying Lake we sighted our 
first buffalo. It was cold and stormy, but we 
concluded to run at least some of us, for in all 
parties you will find those who want every con- 
dition to be favorable before they will act. 
These are like the extreme Quaker who will 
not take the initiative until the Spirit prompts 
Brother Woolsey was getting up in meeting and 
an old Quaker interjected, " Are thee quite sure, 
Friend Woolsey, that the Spirit is now moving 
thee to speak ? " " Yes," answered the sturdy 
old Englishman, " and we Methodists are very 
thankful to have the Spirit for the asking." 
So some of our party that exceedingly cold day 
tried to dissuade us, but we caught up our run- 
ners, and saddling them rode forth into storm 
and cold, and presently were into the swirl of 
snow-cloud made by the flying buffalo. I shot 
two, and then pulling up saw that all my fingers 
were frozen right up into the palm of my hand. 
They rattled like bones, and I shoved them 
under the saddle-cloth on the back of my horse, 
who was covered with perspiration and anything 
but cold. Then as my fingers thawed out I 


suffered agony, but I knew it was the only 
thing to do. As they melted I washed them in 
the snow, and again put them under the saddle- 
cloth. After much pain the circulation was 
established, and I went to work to skin and 
butcher my animals. Soon some of the party 
who had not been so successful as I came to help 
me to do the butchering, and before long the 
sleds came for the meat, and presently we were 
roasting portions of our hunt around the huge 
camp-fire and exchanging experiences in the 
run. Some had fallen, both horses and rider, 
into the drifts, and others could not get their 
guns to go off; it was altogether too cold for 
these primitive firearms. In three or four days 
we were pretty well loaded, but still wanting 
more to fill up our transport capacity, we left 
part to take care of camp, and taking sleds and 
runners went on out a few miles farther. About 
noon we saw a lot of bulls strung out for half 
a mile or more, and decided to run them. But 
while the rest of the party were watching the 
movements of the bulls, I saw a small herd of 
cows in a brush-fringed swamp near by. I felt 
quite sure that what I saw would turn out to 
be cows, yet kept my own counsel, and leaving 
the boys to bring on the sleighs we rode towards 
the game, which gathered up and began to 
move of. With us was a Wood Cree, Apou, an 


old friend of mine. As the bulls bunched up I 
gave Apou a sign and he pulled up alongside of 
ine. While we went thundering along, making 
the snow fly, I leaned over and said, " Do as I 
do." This with a look into each other's eyes 
was sufficient, and he nodded acquiescence. 
And now the bulls were running and it behooved 
us to follow, so I let go towards them, and Apou 
stayed with me. The rest of the hunters 
charged at once. I pulled my horse up a bit 
and let them fairly into the snow-cloud, and then 
I said, " Apou, come with me, we will run cows, 
you and I ;" and now his face beamed with satis- 
faction, and into the brush and into the herd we 
pushed our steeds, and sure enough here were 
cows and yearlings and calves. Apou and I 
each killed two fine animals, plump and fat. 
The other hunters were astonished when our 
sleds came in with the prime cow's meat, but 
all I had to say to them was, " Where were your 
eyes ? Do you not as yet know the difference 
between buffalo ? " All of which immensely 
tickled Apou. 

Remaining for the night on the scene of our 
hunt, we returned to camp the next day, and 
loading up, made a start for home, three of us 
with dog-trains going on in advance of the 
horses. Our sleds were very heavily loaded. I 
had the meat of a cow and the half of another 


on my sleigh. There was practically no trail. 
We left the horse-sleds early in the morning, 
and long before noon I was about played out ; 
my heavy sickness of last summer was still on 
me. In all my thousands of miles of hard travel 
I never was so near giving out as that morning. 
We were crossing a wide treeless plain, where 
there was no chance to stop and make a fire. 
My sled would upset, and each time I found 
myself weaker and felt I must lie down and 
die, but again and again I willed myself up and 
on. There was no chance to ride, none what- 
ever. Slowly we crossed that awful plain, for 
so it seemed to me, but eventually we reached 
brush and made a fire, and an Indian companion 
said to me, " You are not well, you are almost 
done ; just try my plan, take off your shoes and 
bathe your feet and legs in snow, and perhaps it 
will help you." I did as he said and a great 
change came over me; the tired feeling gave 
way to comfort, and by the time I had taken a 
cup of tea I was again fit for the road. Away 
we went, doing in less than three days what it 
took our horse-teams fully six days to do. Once 
more our storehouse was comparatively full of 
good meat, and we could save our pemmican and 
dried meat for the spring and summer work. 
Soon after this winter hunt we were visited 
by the Chief Factor of the district and all the 


Hudson's Bay officials, and the missionary staff 
from Victoria accompanied the Factor over to 
White Fish Lake. There must have been a 
dozen dog-teams. The mission or purpose of 
our trip was to preach loyalty, civilization and 
Christianity. If the camps to the south were 
brooding and planning disloyalty and insurrec- 
tion, all the more reason we should make sure 
of those around our Mission and Hudson's Bay 
forts. Mr. Steinhauer received us right gladly, 
and meeting and lecture followed one another 
in quick turn. The Chief Factor presented these 
newly started gardeners and agriculturists with 
a plough, and offered to grind their grain at the 
Hudson's Bay mill at Edmonton (only one 
hundred and fifty miles distant !) for little cost. 
He also gave them a lecture on government 
and Christianity, which I was asked to take 
note of and reproduce in Cree, and I very well 
remember I was much elated when the Chief 
Factor said, as he thanked me, " You improved 
on my paper, John," and for one only ten years 
at the language I 'was very much complimented. 
This trip and these meetings, which were 
crowded from first to last, did a lot of good and 
solidified the people of White Fish Lake and 
Victoria in loyalty and ardent desire for peace. 
This was very timely work, for strong efforts 
were even then going on to produce a period of 


war and frontier trouble. Indeed, the Chief 
Factor had barely reached Edmonton when he 
again returned to Victoria and was closeted with 
father for some hours. Both then came over 
to where I was wintering and asked me if I was 
willing to go on a difficult and dangerous trip 
for the purpose of upsetting the plans of the 
enemy, and also of winning back, if I could, the 
respect and friendship of the large camps. The 
Chief Factor said that reliable word had come 
to him that the Indians were gathering near 
the Hand Hills, on the Red Deer, and dark 
councils were common. Evidently they meant 
mischief, and by my going out now I might be 
able to frustrate much evil. I told father that 
if he said "Go," I would do so, and he said, " Go, 
and God go with you, my son," and the Chief 
Factor said, " Amen." This was about three p.m. 
The Chief Factor said, " There is no time to be 
lost. I will start at once, and will look for you, 
John, to catch me to-night ; " and away he went 
with his two sleds of picked dogs and drivers. 

The Chief Factor had said to me, " You can 
pick your own men to accompany you," and I 
named two from Victoria as my choice. These 
he took with him, and after making preparation, 
and with much affectionate farewelling on the 
part of loved ones and friends, I followed about 
nine p.m., and at midnight came up to their 


camp, when I found the Chief Factor waiting 
up for me, and right glad he seemed to have me 
with him. He made me supper and waited on 
me himself, and even helped to feed my dogs, so 
satisfied was he with our action. After a short 
sleep of a couple of hours we were up and away 
into darkness and storm. Having the best dogs 
I took the lead. On we went through drift and 
deepening snow, until, some time after daylight, 
looking back, I saw some one waving to me, and 
pulling up in the lee of a bluff I waited, and 
here was one of the Chief Factor's crack dog- 
teams and drivers with a light sled, the load 
having been taken off on purpose that he might 
push ahead and catch and stop me so that we 
might have a combination meal of breakfast and 
lunch, for I had driven so fast and so long that 
the next run would bring us into Edmonton. 
We cleared away the snow and cut brush and 
made a fire, and still the rest came not, but by 
and by they hove in sight ; then, coming up, the 
Chief Factor gently scolded me for keeping him 
and the rest of the party out of breakfast for so 
long a time. This was Saturday, and early in 
the afternoon we made Edmonton. 

I forgot to say that after the Chief Factor left 
Victoria, the previous day, the February packet 
came in from Fort Garry, and I had brought it 
on ; thus we were doubly welcome to Edmonton 


folk. However, the Chief Factor paid little 
heed to the packet, but immediately took me to 
his private office and asked me what kind of 
outfit I wanted. I told him I wanted another 
man, now living at St. Albert, and he said he 
should be sent for at once. Then he made out a 
list of tobacco and tea and sugar, arid I put am- 
munition on to this, but he said, " No." I said, 
" Yes, I must have powder, ball, gun-flints, and 
gun- worms." The Chief Factor said, " No, sir." 
Then we had a hot time for a little while, and I 
settled it by saying I would not go a step on the 
trip without them, and he gave in and told me 
to take anything I wanted. So we made out 
the list for four dog-sleds, with three-quarter 
loads for each. Besides the men's and dogs' pro- 
visions, there were ammunition, tobacco, tea and 
sugar, and some gun-flints and gun- worms. The 
whole lot was got out of stores that night and 
tied on to our sleds. Then in came my third 
man, John Rowland, and we were ready to start, 
which we did bright and early Monday morn- 
ing, with all the inhabitants of the fort up to 
see us off. The old Chief Factor was quite 
affected when he grasped my hand at parting, 
and I began to think that perhaps there was 
some risk and danger in our trip. I saw my 
men turn quite solemn over it, but the faithful 
fellows were willing and obedient. 


Away we went, up the long hill and out on 
the Hay Lake trail, and over the Bonny Knoll, 
where during the last season a strange scene for 
these days and times was enacted and Christi- 
anity terribly discounted by one of its exponents. 
A camp of French half-breeds was caught here 
by the smallpox. Many lay in weakness and 
death's grip, when suddenly a lire was seen ap- 
proaching. " Never fear," said the priest, " I 
will go and meet it and stop its course," and the 
simple people believed him, so confident was 
their spiritual guide. Ammunition and powder- 
horns and camp equipage, carts and saddles, 
etc., the prostrate sick and the dying, the weakly 
conralesceiit, the few excited well ones worn out 
with nursing all in danger. " Never fear ; don't 
move. I will stop the tire," assured the priest, 
and while many things could have been done, 
and which ordinary common-sense would urge 
the doing of , these people, dazed and bunlrnnl 
by the awful epidemic, were passive in the hands 
of the foolish fanatic, and left undone what 
should have been done. So out towards the fire 
the priest went, with book and cross and beads, 
and kneeling and praying and signing the cross 
towards the flames did what he could according 
to his belief ; but ruthlessly and relentlessly the 
fire came on, nor heeded him for one moment, 
and he had to flee for his life, alas, too late to 


save the camp. There was weeping and wailing 
and rushing to and fro, and calamity and suffer- 
ing and death was the sequence. We cross over 
the spot where these poor men and women and 
children were hastily laid and barely covered by 
the dust of Mother Earth as she received them 
to their long sleep. 

The first night out our camp was joined by 
some half-breeds who were on their way to 
where quite a number of their people were win- 
tering near the edge of the woods. They occu- 
pied the other side of our camp-fire, and in due 
time my men and self engaged in our evening 
worship, and so did my man Johnnie, who was 
a Roman Catholic. The others across the fire 
did not, but quietly went on with their mending 
and drying of moccasins. When we were through 
and had made up our beds these half-breeds also 
in turn knelt in prayer, and presently Johnnie 
noticed them and remarked thus : " Oh, saying 
your prayers now, are you ? Well, we have 
already done that on this side of the fire ; that 
is enough for me to-night, for if the Lord is at 
all like any of the lords I have travelled with, 
and I have travelled with a good many, the less 
you bother Him the better He'll like you." This 
was Johnnie's idea of petition and prayer, but to 
me it was amusing and certainly very distinct 
from ordinary orthodox opinion. 


On Friday evening we camped at the last 
point of woods, and from which we had a long 
day's run to the Hand Hills. On the way out 
we saw quite a number of French half-breeds, 
who corroborated all the Chief Factor had heard, 
and also told us that now the camps were large 
and that starvation as well as disease was men- 
acing them ; further, that they blamed the white 
man for all the troubles and were talking very 
badly. " But," said an old French half-breed to 
me, "if anybody can help them out of their 
trouble you can, and I am glad you are going." 
This greatly encouraged me. Now we were at 
the last camp, and from here we must take wood 
for our noon stop, for there was a long, cold 
run before us. I saw that my men were some- 
what dubious as to our reception at the camps ; 
they said little, but were thinking a lot. I had 
purposely refrained from talking about the 
matter on the way, the packet having furnished 
plenty of material to relate and discuss. I had 
spent most of the last Sunday in gleaning 
the news of the world. The Franco-Prussian 
war was on, Paris was besieged, the terrible 
battles were being fought. I had taken notes 
of as much as I could of world events, knowing 
these would help me if I was fortunate enough 
to get into the Indian camps and obtain a hear- 
ing. I told my men around the camp-fire of 


these stirring events, and thus we kept up our 
spirits and made the lonely camp as cheerful as 
we could. 

Long before dawn we were away and running 
hard. When daylight came we saw that Indians 
were ahead of us and also travelling our way, 
and by and by we began to come up to the 
stragglers. I had some pieces of tobacco in the 
head of my sled, and presently when I came up 
to an old man picking his way with a staff in 
each hand, I handed him a piece of tobacco and 
said, " Here, grandfather, smoke this and live." 
The old man dropped his staves and took the 
roll of tobacco and smelled it, and then lifted his 
hands and exclaimed, " May you live long and 
be happy, my grandchild," and again he smelled 
and fondled the piece of weed. The gift had 
gone straight to his heart. Said he, " It is some 
moons since I had so much tobacco. I am glad, 
my grandchild ; you have done me good." 
" Where are you going ? " was my next ques- 
tion. " Travelling for life," replied the old man. 
" Where will you find it ? " I again asked, and 
back came the answer, " Look yonder, my grand- 
child ; do you see a blue range of hills far away ?" 
"Yes," I answered. "There is life," said the 
old man. " There are my people, there are 
buffalo ; these are life to me." " Well, keep up a 
good heart, my grandfather," was my parting 


word as on I went. To the aged, either men 
or women, I gave a piece of tobacco as I passed 
them, and they were thankful and glad. Some 
had not seen a fort or a trader since last spring, 
others since midsummer, and this was now late 
in February. 

On we hastened until my men and self were 
alone in mid-prairie and as atoms on the great 
spreading white winter landscape. We had 
neither tent nor wood with us, and as we scanned 
the sky we were thankful the day was clear. 
Clustering around the little fire of buffalo chips, 
drinking our cups of tea and munching our 
pemmican, we looked at the range of hills yet 
distant, and wondered what might take place 
with us before night came on ; but not a man 
said a word of fear or dread. What we felt we 
kept to ourselves, and again went on. 

After a while we were ascending the slopes of 
the hills, and in good time stood on the plateau 
which forms the summit. Back to the north 
was the way we had come, an immense region 
stretching from below our feet to the far sky- 
line. Anxious and nervous as I was, I could not 
help but look and think of the future of such a 
vast country. But already the smoke from the 
lodges hung over the southern edge of the hills, 
and I could hear the barking of dogs and the 
neighing of horses. In a little while roads from 


the timbered gullies and coolies converged on 
the trail, and climbing on my load I shouted 
to my dogs and almost flew towards camp. As 
I drew near some women recognized me, and the 
cry went up, " The young preacher ! The young 
preacher ! " ("Aha - yua - me - ha - we - ye - neese," 
literally translated, " The young man who talks 
to him " the significance being addressing the 
Deity). This was wafted on, and thus heralded 
over the brink of the hill we tobogganed right 
into the large camp. 



Interview with the head chief Spirit of rebellion rampant 
Sabbath services A terrible storm Big gathering of 
Indians Exhorting loyalty and order Good impression 
made Distributing gifts Return trip Rejoicings at 
success of mission Recognition of service by the Hud- 
son's Bay Company. 

ON entering the camp that night my first in- 
quiry was for " Frightens Him's " lodge. This 
was pointed out to me, and in a moment I stood 
at the chiefs door. The old man was there to 
meet me, and I was welcomed most heartily. 
"Surely the Great Spirit has sent you, John," 
was the manner of his greeting ; " come into my 
lodge, behold it is yours." I pulled my dogs out 
of their collars, left a message for some one to 
pilot my men to where I was, and went in to be 
given the guest-seat of honor. 

" Sayaketmat," I said, addressing the chief by 
his Cree name, " I am here on a mission. I have 
much to say to the camps, and I wish you would 
send messengers to each one, telling them that 
John wants to see the chiefs and head men as- 
sembled here the day after to-morrow. Here is 
tobacco. Word your summons as you please, 
but tell them that John brings greetings and 


messages and help, and fain would see and speak 
with them two nights from now." 

In a little while the runners were away, and 
soon fifteen large camps would know of our ar- 
rival, for I found that this was a big precon- 
certed rendezvous, and that within twenty miles 
of where I sat in Sayaketmat's lodge there were 
gathered several thousand Plain and Wood Crees, 
as well as a number of Saulteaux. The chief 
soon let me know that evil counsel was predomi- 
nating in these camps, but said, " Who knows 
but that your visit at this time, coming as you 
have so unexpectedly, and so welcome to some 
of us, will turn the whole tide of feeling ? " I 
very soon let him know what my programme 
was, and saw that it met with his decided appro- 
val. In came my men, and we were domiciled 
in the big lodge, and until midnight were stared 
at and interviewed by alternating crowds who 
came and went as space allowed, and then, tired 
and worn with nervous and physical strain, we 
slept until the camp stir awakened us on the 
early Sabbath morning. 

The site of the camp was on an elevation 
several hundreds of feet above the surrounding 
country ; at a glance one could look across an 
expanse of from fifty to seventy-five miles of 
country. A congregation of curious yet earnest 
listeners gathered for service in the morning. 


It was a motley throng ; all colors of paint, all 
manner of costume, all sorts of men murderers, 
horse thieves, warriors, braves, chiefs and com- 
mon men, polygamists and monogamists a 
strange mixture, but they behaved wondrously 
well while I did what I could in directing their 
thought Godward. Twice I spoke in the big 
open, and held several services in lodges, and 
thus the day passed while all looked forward to 
the general gathering Monday morning. These 
before us were comparatively known quantities ; 
the most of them we had met before in divers 
places and also in divers conditions; but to- 
morrow would come the strangers and wild men 
who, reasonably or unreasonably, hated the white 
man and now charged up to him all trouble and 
disease and hunger, made him the cause of many 
deaths, said he was the evil genius, and were 
harboring a growing spirit of revenge in their 
hearts. How would they receive me on the morn- 
ing of the day approaching ? I can assure my 
reader I was a bit nervous that Sunday night, 
but was so downright weary that I soon forgot 
everything in sound sleep, after leaving the 
whole matter in the hands of my Heavenly 

Monday morning came bright, cold and calm. 
I rose early and went out to view my surround- 
ings. Young men were starting for the distant 


iches of meat, and women striking out with 
logs and horses harnessed into travois for fresh 
ipplies of wood. Scores of women also were 
stretching and scraping robes and hides in the 
various processes of preparing and dressing 
iese, when suddenly, like a bolt out of a clear 
:y, dark clouds gathered and burst, and a 
jrrible storm was upon us. In a lifetime on 
the frontier, and in countless storms, I do not 
remember anything quite so sudden or severe 
as that blizzard which came to us at the Hand 
Hills in February of 1871. I thought of the 
many from the other camps who in all proba- 
bility at my request were crossing the prairie 
stretches to come to my meeting. In common 
with hundreds I thought of the many who had 
gone forth for wood and meat and in search of 
horses, many of whom were women and girls, 
and poorly clad at that, and my heart went 
down in me for a time. I felt in a measure 
responsible for a lot of this suffering and pos- 
sible death, but here was the big storm making 
everything hum about us and making every one 
work to keep lodges erect and fires going. For 
six hours this sudden paroxysm of Nature's 
forces fumed and raged and tore over our camp 
and doubtless over a large area of country about 
us. Tens of thousands of millions of sharply 
frozen moisture assailed us from every point of 


the compass. Down went the temperature, and 
doubtless it was this action of the Storm King 
that gave us, about three p.m., a clear sky and the 
already guaranteed promise of from forty to 
fifty below zero for the night quickly coming. 

And now to the rescue ! Out in every direc- 
tion issued parents and brothers and friends to 
seek their loved ones. I fully expected many 
deaths, and if the people of this camp had not 
been prepared by the centuries for the rigors of a 
northern clime many would have perished. But 
these mothers and daughters and sons, the pro- 
duct of generations of struggling with northern 
winters and endless plains, did the best possible 
to be done under such circumstances, and either 
went with the storm or lay quiet under it until 
the worst was spent. Thus the searchers and 
rescuers found them, and by dark began to bring 
in the numb and frozen and almost perished 

" John, come to my mother ! " " John, come to 
my sister ! " " John, come to my son ! " " Come 
quick, John ! " came the appeal to me from all 
sides, and with a little cayenne pepper, the only 
medicine I had, I went around from camp to 
camp helping to rub back to life, administering 
a warm drink, dropping on my knees beside an 
unconscious patient and offering a short prayer, 
which was a new evangel to the hearts and ears 

The floor on which they stood was frozen prairie. " ( Page 109. } 


of those who listened around the lodge fires that 
night. All the while anxiety was heavy on me 
concerning the many probable victims of the 
storm. About midnight there were arrivals 
from other camps, in twos and threes and more, 
and I listened for the sound of mourning and 
wailing, and was in great suspense as to the re- 
sult of my mission. It was a long, weary night 
which preceded the morning of Tuesday, but 
morning finally came, and was as if this world 
never knew a storm so far as sky and sun and 
landscape glory were concerned. 

Again the crier went forth, " Come to the 
centre of the camp ! come and listen to John ! " 
and in a short time the large space was filling 
up. As I stood and looked into the many 
strange faces before me, I could not help won- 
dering how these wild, sullen, disappointed and 
bereaved and ofttimes hungry men would 
receive my message. I often think of the 
endurance of that audience. The floor on which 
they stood was frozen prairie, with ice and snow 
for paint and varnish. The temperature was 
down, I do not know where, for there was no 
thermometer within two hundred miles of us. 
My breath became ice and hung as such upon 
moustache and beard. I spoke for a full hour 
or more. I brought them the greetings of the 
northern settlements ; told them that both white 


and red men were interested in them and sor- 
rowed with them, and that my mission was to 
tell them that we, like them, had suffered ; that 
the anxiety about them had resulted in my being 
sent by the Church and the great Company 
which had dwelt amongst and traded with their 
people for many generations; that I did not 
come empty-handed, or with lip sympathy 
merely, but I had with me something for them 
to smoke, and also ammunition and flints and 
gun-worms for their hunting and for protection 
from their enemies ; that it was the wish of all 
to help them. Great had been our mutual 
sorrow ; doubtless we all had sinned, and our 
Great Father had permitted this disease to come, 
and we in common with many 'others were pun- 
ished. As brave men it became us to resignedly 
accept our punishment, and to repent of our 
past wrong-doing and turn unto the great and 
good Spirit and live. I told them that we had 
not been alone : that across the great waters a 
most fearful war had been going on ; that while 
we had lost hundreds by disease, over there tens 
of thousands had been slaughtered. I gave 
them a picture of the siege of Paris, the starva- 
tion and death and disease that accompanied 
it, and the terrible slaughter of the Franco - 
Prussian battles, fresh on my brain from the 
papers of the last packet. I wound up by 


saying, "I will gladly carry your messages to 
those forts and settlements on the Saskatche- 
wan, and when we are through my men will dis- 
tribute the gifts we have brought as the evi- 
dence of the good-will and wishes of your old 
friends, the Hudson's Bay Company." 

When I ceased speaking the head chief pres- 
ent, Sweet Grass, rose, and addressing the 
assembly asked, " Will I voice this multitude ? " 
and there came back a thundering answer, 
" Yes ! " Then turning to me he said : " We are 
thankful that our friends in the north have not 
forgotten us. In sorrow and in hunger and 
with many hardships we have gathered here, 
where we have grass and timber, and, since we 
came, buffalo in the distance, few, though still 
sufficient to keep us alive. We have grumbled 
at hunger and disease and long travel through 
many storms and cold; our hearts have been 
hard, and we have had bitter thoughts and 
doubtless said many foolish and bad words, but 
it is true, as you say, John, we have sinned, and 
we must bear our punishment. My people are 
thankful for your coming to us ; we are thankful 
that your father sent you, that the Company 
chief asked you to come. We believe you, 
John ; you belong to us, therefore you were not 
afraid to come the long distance and enter as a 
friend into our camp and lodges. Some of us 


have met you before ; we have listened to you 
because of what you said, but more because 
of the way you have spoken even in our own 
language and as one of ourselves. Yes, John, 
all these men and women and children from 
to-day are your friends, and as you leave us we 
will think of you and wish you prosperity and 
blessing. Your coming has done us good ; it has 
stayed evil and turned our thoughts to better 
things. We feel to-day we are not alone ; man 
is numerous and God is great. We are thankful 
for the gifts you have brought with you. We 
will smoke and forget, and if there has been 
wrong will forgive. These women will drink 
the tea, and bless the ' trading chief/ and bless 
John. Tell the ' trading chief ' we thank him, 
and as in the past will again frequent his forts 
and posts. Tell your father we thank him for 
his son and all his good wishes for us and our 
people." Then, turning around in appeal to the 
crowd, he asked, " Have I spoken your minds ?" 
and again a great " Yes " came with loud assent. 
And now we placed the people in lines and 
circles, and my men and a few Indians I had 
selected went at the work of distribution. 
Powder and balls and tobacco and tea and sugar 
and gun-flints and gun-worms were given out, 
and never in my life did I witness a more 
thankful and delighted crowd. Many a warm 


grip of the hand came to me from men whom I 
had never previously seen. Little Pine, who 
had been quoted as saying that he would kill 
my father the first chance he had, came to me 
and said, " You have changed my heart, John ; 
henceforth I will think good of you and all your 
people." Ere long the last load of powder was 
given and the last pipeful of tobacco carefully 
wrapped up or put away in the pouch of some 
brave, and our present mission was done in this 
camp. I shouted to the crowd : " We were five 
nights coming to see you, and, as you well know, 
we travelled hard ; but we know that your 
friends in the north are so anxious to hear of 
you and to learn of your condition that my 
men and self will take but three nights to reach 
Edmonton, when we will tell them of how we 
found you, and will carry your kindly greetings 
to the ' trading chief ' and in turn to all the 
people of the north." 

This was received with great approval and 
shouts of " You can do it, John, if any one can." 

It was late in the afternoon when we left the 
rows and circles of lodges and took the trail 
leading over the summit of the hills. We 
carried wood on our sleds and camped for a 
few hours as night came on at the foot of the 
high range, and long before daylight struck for 
the " north country." I remember well how my 


men handled axes the next night. " Now we 
will have a fire," was the frequent exclamation 
from their lips. 

Early Saturday afternoon we were on the 
brink of the high bank of the noble Saskatche- 
wan. It would seem that some of the men were 
watching for and at once recognized us, for up 
went the old flag and down the long hill we 
tobogganed after our eager dogs, and across the 
ice and up the bank, to be met at the fort's 
gates by all the inhabitants, at the head of them 
the Chief Factor and my father and brother-in- 
law, Hardisty. The two latter had come up all 
the way from Victoria to watch for our coming, 
so anxious were they, as indeed were all the 
settlements along the river. We were many 
times welcome, and when I had opportunity to 
report there was much rejoicing. The dark 
spell was broken, and we now looked into the 
future with hope for brighter days. 

The grateful Chief Factor took me into his 
office and told me that while he remained in 
charge of the Saskatchewan district I should 
rank as an officer of the Company that is, I 
should have the entry of their forts and posts, 
be furnished with provisions and even trans- 
ports if I should need them, also be given a 
liberal discount on any purchase I might make 
for family or self from any of their stores ; all 


of which was helpful to my work and gave me 
as a missionary and man in the country a 
standing of respect and influence. Father was 
delighted with the success of my mission, and 
Hardisty warmed to me more than ever. 

Monday we started east and reached Victoria 
Tuesday evening, and again resumed the routine 
duties of our life. A trip to White Fish Lake 
was undertaken, followed by several trips to 
Indian camps, where from lodge to lodge we 
preached and lectured, sowing the seeds of faith 
in God and man and country. Many an hour 
around the camp-fire the eye glistened and the 
ear was tense, and the hearts of strong men 
were moved, as in answer to some pertinent 
question we talked of law and government and 
civilization and Christianity. No idle time was 
ours; father was incessant, and if we had 
wished to loiter he would have none of it. 



A peace mission to Rocky Mountain House A Dutchman 
for travelling companion Call at Pigeon Lake Mission 
Difficult travel An obstinate pack-train boss A 
Blackfoot scalawag At the Mountain Fort Interview 
with Indian chiefs Homeward bound A runaway 
couple Receive word of my wife's death Hastening 
homeward A new breech-loader A mission established 
at Edmonton Father's narrow escape from drowning 
We lose our buckboard Floating down the Saskatch- 

TOWARDS the end of March a courier came from 
Edmonton to father, and after he and Hardisty 
had been closeted together for some time, father 
came over to me and asked me to undertake 
another mission in the interests of peace. 
Certain events had transpired at the Rocky 
Mountain House, and the Chief Factor feared 
that another rebellion was brewing, for, as he 
reasoned, the same influences had been at work 
up there as were moving in the Red River 
Settlement. Would I go and size up the sit- 
uation, and forestall any mischief that might 
threaten ? The Hudson's Bay Company would 
bear all the expense, and my mission must be 
kept religiously secret. The Chief Factor was 
exceedingly anxious I should undertake this 


work, and now with Hardisty and father 
urging I could not but give my consent. That 
same night I started for Edmonton, and being 
delayed by thaw, did not reach there until the 
second morning at daybreak ; but the watchful 
Factor was up to meet me. Most of the day we 
were together in his private office, and as night 
came on I left the fort with an order in my 
pocket, authorizing me to take and use for my 
purpose any men, horses, dogs or material of 
the Hudson's Bay Company's I might come 
across or need to further my object. 

Leaving Edmonton I had incidentally as my 
companion a Dutchman who was going as far 
as Pigeon Lake. His name was Myers, but 
" Dutchman " was all he got anywhere in the 
North- West, just as I, with all my titles and 
degrees, got nothing but "John." Soon after 
we started, and early in the night, it began t6 
rain, which stopped our dog travel for some 
hours. We camped on Rabbit Knoll, slept for 
a while, and then about two a.m. assayed 
another start. Progress was slow, but we kept 
on until sunrise, and now the thaw was general, 
and we perforce made camp and slept. All day 
the thaw went on, and I saw that if there came 
no change my dog travel for the season was 
near at an end. Fortunately, however, it grew 
colder toward evening, and by nine o'clock we 


were able to resume our journey. On we went 
at a splendid step as the night grew colder, and 
by the break of day were at the humble mission 
home of Pigeon Lake. The Rev. Peter Camp- 
bell was away on a trip, but Mrs. Campbell and 
her brother Matthew (Kinwoskwanase, or " The 
Tall Man," as the Indians called him) I found 
at home, and they welcomed me gladly, and 
with these and a few Indians and half-breeds 
about the place I spent the Sabbath. Short 
services and rest as much as possible were the 
order of the day. Here I found two Indian 
boys who wanted to go west to the Mountain 
Fort and who asked if they might accompany 
me. They were about fifteen and sixteen years 
of age, and as I had plenty of provisions and 
wanted company, I said, " Why, yes, come 
along ; but you know you must travel if you go 
with me." At this they laughed and promised 
to keep up. Our course was the full length of 
Pigeon Lake, and as I knew that with good ice 
no men could keep up with my dogs for that 
distance, I sent the boys on early in the evening, 
and as I had been the bearer of some mail 
matter to this isolated point I said to Matthew, 
" You can sit up and read while I sleep, and at 
midnight to the minute " (we had no alarm 
clocks) "you will wake me and I will start." 
All of which was done, and by one a.m. I was 


gliding across the smooth ice of this beautiful 
lake at a high rate of speed. Reaching the 
other shore I found that the snow was gone, and 
I had to pick up my sleigh and load and carry 
them across many ponds of water, wading in 
these up to the knees and deeper at times. 

Long before daylight I came upon my boys 
fast asleep, and remembering that these lads 
had not eaten anything but poor fish for some 
weeks, and had come a good run, I said, " We 
will boil the kettle and have our first breakfast," 
and soon the fire glowed against the surround- 
ing darkness, and we were munching rich back 
fat and good dried meat, To the boys this was 
as a foretaste of heaven, and I was pleased to 
observe their appetites, which evidently be- 
tokened vigorous health. Then away on the 
run we went, the boys now helping me in turn 
across the water-stretches, and I wondering how 
long at this rate, with rivers bursting and 
waters flowing, we would be in reaching the 
Mountain Fort, my. first objective point. By 
sunrise we were on the bank of the Battle River, 
and to my great satisfaction I saw some men 
and horses moving there. Good-bye to dog 
travel for this spring, thought I, and on down 
across the valley we ran to the river, on the ice 
of which the spring overflow was rushing 
rapidly, but as we were already well soaked 


and did not mind further wetting, it was the 
work of a minute to unharness dogs and carry 
sled and harness and load across. 

Asking for the man in charge of this pack- 
train, for such this little gathering of men and 
horses proved to be, a young French half-breed 
was pointed out to me. Accosting him I said, 
" I want you to let me have two good horses 
and one pack-saddle and one riding-saddle." " I 
won't do it," was the prompt answer 1 got to 
my humble request. However, I soon impressed 
on this master of the pack-train that if I needed 
I would take him and his whole train, and leave 
all his packs piled up on the banks of the river 
for the time being, and he then quite willingly 
gave me the two horses and saddles, and in an 
incredibly short time my willing boys (for I saw 
they were immensely tickled at my handling of 
this pack-train boss) had the horses saddled 
and one packed, and I had hung my little oaken 
sled on the limb of a spruce and put my dog 
harness in the pack; and now with delighted 
dogs bounding around me as I rode, and the two 
boys running behind the pack-horse, we pursued 
our journey. We crossed the Blind Man, passed 
the Three Butes, crossed the Medicine Lodge, 
and when we camped that night I complimented 
my boys on their run. I verily believe I was 
the most tired of the three, for this was my first 
ride of any length in some months. 


We were up and away early next morning, 
and all day pushing westward, climbing the 
continent, part of the time in full view of the 
glorious mountains, the views of which from 
the summits of some big ranges of hills we 
crossed were tremendously grand and inspiring. 
Evening approaching, we turned aside into 
hiding and camped, for we were now in the way 
of the southern tribes. Unless some one stum- 
bled upon us here or had closely followed our 
trail, we would not be discovered. Next morn- 
ing bright and early we were off again, and as 
we came out into the converging of trails from 
the south, presently from what seemed nowhere 
there came a loud " Ha-he-ya," etc., with all the 
notes of the gamut. Then came in view a Black- 
foot and one I had seen before. His name was 
Mokoyoornuhkan, or " The Running Wolf," and 
a noted rascal he was. So far as we could see he 
was alone and on foot. The horse we were pack- 
ing had, I suppose, been hammered on the head 
at some time, for if you approached him from 
any side he would turn quickly and attempt to 
kick ; and when presently the Blackfoot said to 
me, " I am tired ; let me ride on your pack," I 
readily acquiesced, never expecting the horse 
would let him on. But in a flash he had the 
horse by the head, and speaking some strange 
words flung himself on to the pack, and on we 


went with our new companion singing a war- 
song in a strong contralto. Many a horse had 
this same fellow stolen, and many a life had he 
taken, but we were now near the Mountain Fort 
and had no fear on his account. 

Reaching the fort I found that the Mountain 
Stoneys had but recently gone south along the 
mountains. Making some inquiries I made up 
my mind to follow these Stoneys, as amongst 
them I knew I would find some sharp fellow 
who would doubtless know all I was seeking to 
know, and either corroborate or dissipate the 
Chief Factor's fears or suspicions. The gentle- 
man in charge of the post furnished me with 
several horses and an old Stoney as guide, and 
leaving my boy companions, we recrossed the 
Saskatchewan and made for the trail of these 
mountain people, and keeping at it camped a 
long way on the trail that night. Of course, I 
was quietly sounding everybody I met, and 
gleaning from these all that I could which con- 
cerned my special business. 

The next morning we crossed the Red Deer 
and came up to our friends, who were on the 
move, and thence went on with them, as also we 
did the next day, and spent the rest of the week 
and the Sabbath in their camp. During my 
sojourn with these hardy aborigines I had ser- 
vices morning and evening and practically all 


day Sunday. I interviewed most of the old men 
and chiefs, and with a farewell service on the 
Monday morning left their camp to return to the 
Mountain Fort. In the interval the thaw had 
gone on, and now the Red Deer was a wild 
stream ; but my old and true friend Mark had 
volunteered to come that far with us, and he did 
the exploring and took the risk, and in good 
time we were across ; then with another warm 
handshake with faithful Mark we started north, 
on the way meeting a runaway couple, the 
maiden turning out to be the step -daughter of 
my guide. The old man, however, merely gave 
them his blessing, and I added to this, " Be true 
to one another, and when some missionary comes 
along, be married by him." I am glad to say 
these young people took my advice, and were 
married in good time and have lived exemplary 
Christian lives. The youth was the son of 
Bear's Paw, a Stoney chief. 

Reaching the Mountain Fort, I found one of 
my boys still there and quite willing to accom- 
pany me back ; and being furnished with fresh 
horses and plenty of provisions by the gentle- 
man in charge, Capt. Hacklin, my boy and self 
recrossed the big river, now open and fordable, 
and started on our return journey towards 
Edmonton. The lowland streams were full, and 
we were often wet, and as our horses were thin 


we of necessity had to travel slowly; but we 
reached the south side of the Saskatchewan at 
Edmonton on the morning of the fourth day. 
Here we found the ice still intact but shaky. 
Here also we met some of the head men and 
chiefs from the Hand Hills, who had come into 
Edmonton and were now returning. They were 
delighted to renew our acquaintance, and old 
Sweet Grass was profuse in his compliments on 
my work of going up and down amongst the 
people. "You have done us great good, my 
grandchild ; you will have the smile of the Good 
Spirit ; you have the blessing of this old man at 
any rate." I told them of buffalo travelling east- 
ward towards their camps, which was indeed good 
news to them. Crossing on the ice as by the 
skin of our teeth, and by good fortune having 
only one horse break through, but in such a 
manner that he was got out all right, we 
again entered the fort. 

The Chief Factor welcomed me back, provided 
me with hot and cold water, towels and a com- 
fortable room, and said, " When you are ready, 
John, come up to my office." In a little while 
I went up to the office, but as I was going 
through the fort yard I saw two young fellows 
ride in from Victoria. I merely nodded to them 
and went on up to the Factor's private office, and 
we had but sat down to talk when a clerk 


knocked at the door and handed in a packet. 
" Excuse me, John," said the Factor, and he 
opened the packet, and taking out some letters 
read one. Noting his face change color, I won- 
dered at what was disturbing him. Opening 
another he read that, and then turning to me 
said, " John, I know you are a Christian man. 
You want all the help you can have now, for I 
must tell you that your wife is dead, and was 
buried at Victoria the day before yesterday." 
I had left her in the bloom of health when 
starting on this trip, and now she was dead and 
buried ! To me now on my way home, exultant 
with the successful accomplishment of my mis- 
sion, and looking forward to resuming my 
journey in the morning, the shock was almost 
overwhelming. The good old Factor kindly left 
me to myself, and I returned to my room and 
fought it out with my own sorrow. Then a 
profound longing came over me to reach home 
as soon as I possibly could. The Factor expected 
this, and coming to my room he said, " Those 
other matters can stand just now, John, and I 
will arrange for your journey at once." We 
took two horses out of the mill service, for at 
that time Edmonton had a horse-power mill, 
and in a little while my boy and self were on 
our way east. 

A spring storm had come, and a foot or more 


of snow was on the ground. Though our horses 
were big and strong, the deep snow with the 
partially tha wed-out ground beneath made pro- 
gress slow and heavy ; but all this was as 
nothing to my sore heart and the heavy burden 
laid on my life's experience. We camped be- 
tween the Sturgeon and Deep Creek, we crossed 
the Sturgeon, which was much swollen, by 
zig-zagging on the ice, and during the night 
our horses, which we had hobbled, having dis- 
appeared, my boy John ran back to the river 
and came to me, with eyes fairly starting from 
his head, to say that the horses had been 
drowned. I ran with him to the crossing, and 
very soon ascertained that our horses had not 
come this way; we found them on our way 
back to camp. It was clearly an hallucination 
that possessed this bright, honest boy when he 
thought he saw those horses drowned in the 

The next day, when east of Sucker Creek, 
we camped to the right of a camp of travellers 
going our way. After passing them a mile or 
so I heard a rush behind me, and up galloped a 
big French half-breed, Abram Salway, with a 
fresh horse, and literally pulling me from the 
big clumsy, jaded animal I was riding, and 
putting my saddle on his splendid, easy-going 
saddle-beast, he renewed my life and made me 


almost forget my sorrow by the spontaneous 
kindness and cheer of his act. On now at trot 
and canter for the balance of the journey to 
Victoria, where mother and sisters and my own 
little girls welcomed me and did all they could 
to comfort and console. Six years of com- 
panionship and mutual experiences in life had 
been ours ; many hardships had we shared, many 
pleasures as well, and now the faithful wife and 
mother had gone on. The Indians at White 
Fish and at Victoria and Pigeon Lake mourned 
her loss, for to them she had ever been kind and 
sympathizing, and many of the women loved 
her. This was now the third time that I had 
gone away bidding my loved ones, sisters and 
wife farewell for a time. In each case they 
were then, to human eyes, strong and well, and 
yet in each case I had come home to stand by 
their newly-rounded graves. Without question 
this was hard to bear, and yet we did not 
mourn as those who have no hope. 

When I reached home I found father and 
Mr. Hardisty away at White Fish Lake attend- 
ing a quarterly meeting. In a few days they 
returned, and as spring was now upon us and 
the fowl were in from the south, they planned a 
couple of days' shooting at Egg Lake. Seldom 
in my life had I gone out for the specific pur- 
pose of sport ; the most of my hunting was done 


in actual work and incidental with such. I 
alone was the possessor of a breech-loading 
shotgun, the first of the kind to come into the 
country. It was a revelation to every one of us. 
Hitherto the flint and percussion locks were the 
best weapons we owned, but here was some- 
thing wonderful, and while I was ordinarily a 
fairly good shot, now I gathered in the birds 
rapidly and got no credit for it it was the gun. 
We made stands from which to watch the flight 
of the birds. Hardisty and old Samuel Whitf ord, 
who was an expert at calling geese and waveys, 
were out at the point, while I was stationed 
farther in. Soon along came a fine flock of 
waveys, and while my friends were much 
nearer to the birds, I shot right over their heads 
and dropped a couple almost into their stand; 
then, reloading while old Samuel called the 
birds around, again I met the flock before my 
friends thought of shooting, and dropped a 
brace. At this old Samuel dropped his gun 
in amazement and exclaimed, " Wah-woh," 
with strong significance. He could not realize 
how any one could reload in so short a time, and 
suggested that we move farther apart. I cheer- 
fully told him the whole world was before him. 
We had with us several of the natives as well as 
Messrs. Hardisty and Tait and father, all genial 
souls, and the whole trip was cheery and help- 


ful. Our bag was a large one, and I was ahead 
but it was the gun ! 

During the spring of 1871 it was determined 
to establish a mission at Edmonton. For years 
this post had been on the Minutes of Conference, 
but up to this time there had been no manifest- 
ation of a church in that vicinity. Father went 
to begin the work, and I was left in charge at 
Victoria. He had again to start from the bot- 
tom, but the Hudson's Bay Company's employees 
and the few English-speaking half-breeds in 
the vicinity, with quite a number to come and 
settle beside the Mission, took hold, and the new 
cause was started. At Victoria we had good 
congregations, with country work up and down 
the settlement and out north some ten miles, as 
also visiting wandering Indian camps within 
reasonable distance. At this time it was very 
fortunate that the buffalo were quite numerous 
on the big plains. The Indians were contented 
and were also kept busy by their presence, 
which went far to make them forget the trouble 
and discontent of the past year. Thousands of 
bags of pemmican and bales of dried meat were 
made, and the material for new lodges and cloth- 
ing and moccasins and robes secured, all of which 
was helpful to both missionaries and people. 

About midsummer father came down to take 
mother up to Edmonton, and in company with 


House and Whitford he and mother started 
up the north side with some carts and a buck- 
board well loaded, for they were now moving 
to their home. My little brother George and 
myself left some three days later, and soon saw 
by the condition of the roads and creeks that 
we would overhaul our parents long before they 
reached Edmonton. Creeks ordinarily small 
were now swollen rivers, and my young brother 
was frightened more than once as we forded 
them. Approaching Sucker Creek as evening 
came on, we saw that our people had recently 
left there, and we also saw that the stream was 
very dangerous. Its fall is at all times rapid, 
and now the volume of water coming down was 
fearful to look upon ; and I, having neither axe 
nor canvas nor hides, and fearful for my com- 
panion's sake, had about made up my mind to 
camp and wait until the waters had subsided, 
when I heard a shout. Answering this I found 
it was father's party, which had barely succeeded 
in reaching the summit of the opposite bank 
and were encamped there. " Hold on ! we have 
made a canoe, and will bring it down ! " was 
shouted to us, and in a little while father and his 
men were on the other bank in a skin canoe which 
they had made of two buffalo hides. As the 
stream was narrow, the method employed was 
f/% tif <if,one to a small light line and fling it 


across, and with this draw over a stronger line, 
which in turn pulled the canoe, another line 
being fastened to the other end of the canoe. 
Paddles in such a current and with such a craft 
would be of little use. But this time there were 
two lines, and with one of these one of our 
horses was pulled or helped through the current 
of this most turbulent stream. Even with the 
aid of this line the horse went down as if he had 
been flung from a height. Then my brother 
and the saddles went over, and I pulled the 
canoe back with the two lines attached to it. 
Our second horse was helped across, and then I 
was pulled over, and we were all on the same 
side. I congratulated father on making thirty 
miles in three days, and he said I could not do 
any better myself, " for," said he, " no man 
living has worked harder than Harry and 
Philip and myself since we left Victoria ; and 
more than this, we have run some risks." And 
when we were up the hill and around the camp- 
fire I found that they had run some risks and 
that father had well-nigh lost his life. For 
eleven years he had been fording this creek, 
but when he and his party came to its brink 
this time they found it was under the influence 
of a cloud-burst or some abnormal storm, for it 
was wild and dangerous-looking. The depth 
did not appear very great, and father, unloading 


the buckboard, attempted to drive across. He 
had Little Bob No. 1 in the shafts, but no sooner 
had horse and rig struck the current than it 
hurled them down and rolled them over and 
over horse, buckboard and driver. Mother and 
the two men beheld a strange and to them 
awful sight ; father was somehow so mixed up 
in the scrape as not to be able to swim away 
from horse or rig. Under projecting trees, in 
amongst floating debris, at times disappearing 
altogether, he was swept down the raging 
torrent, and, beholding the turmoil of trees 
and logs and the mixing up of horse and rig, 
the anxious and terrified spectators felt it would 
be almost too much to expect father to come out 
alive. However, he did succeed finally in biting 
himself loose from the reins, which somehow had 
become twisted around his arm, and being a 
powerful swimmer he struck for the shore, and 
after much struggling succeeded in reaching the 
same bank he had started from. Far down the 
stream, and scarcely stopping to take breath, he 
joined the others in running after the horse and 
rig in the hope that the current might bring 
these in near enough to save either horse or 
buckboard. But now the bed of the river was 
widening and eddies were forming, and pres- 
ently, to their joy and astonishment, they saw 
Bob in one of the eddies on the far side of the 


river, swimming into the shore, where he found 
bottom at the foot of a precipice. He seemed 
spent, but looking around and seeing father he 
gave a neigh which seemed to say, " Here I am, 
what is left of me," and father shouted across 
the noisy current, " Stand still, Bob ; rest easy, 
old fellow, and we will save you yet," and Bob 
answered, " I'll do what I can." Noble fellow, 
in many a hard place he had already proved 
true, and again he was to do so. Father ran 
back up the stream, and jumping on the back 
of a fine large horse called Jack, plunged in 
turn into the river, and though the current at 
once took the big strong brute off his legs, yet, 
being free from the impedimenta of rig and 
harness, he soon made the other side, and gallop- 
ing down to the place where Bob was barely 
holding his own, and seeming to fully realize 
that if he moved the current would again have 
him and the rig at its mercy, father soon had 
him by the head and pulled him in, and, making 
fast the rig to a bush with one of the reins, 
unfastened Bob and landed him at last. Then 
there was joy on both banks of this lusty 
stream. After this our friends played no more 
with this current, but went to work to make a 
canoe and manufacture lines out of raw hide 
which they had with them as cart covers. They 
had but barely finished crossing when they per- 


ceived our approach and came to our help, and 
right glad were they to have our assistance for 
the rest of the trip to Edmonton. 

On the morrow we floundered through and 
across many little streams and sloughs, and at 
the Vermilion, because of the snapping of the 
lines, had the misfortune to lose our buckboard. 
I ran down across points through dense forest, 
but was unable to stop its course as it was swept 
out into the big river. This was a serious loss, 
and a great present discomfort to mother, who 
now had to mount a saddle for the rest of the 
way. We bridged Deep Creek, crossed over the 
Sturgeon, and then, being only twenty-three 
miles from Edmonton, I took Little Bob and 
galloped him in, and borrowing a harness and 
rig drove back fast to meet mother, and thus 
gave her the last ten miles in comparative com- 
fort, for by this time she was very weary of the 

I found at Edmonton a grist belonging to our 
school-teacher at Victoria, Mr. McKenzie, and as 
there was no let-up to the rain and floods, I 
concluded to leave our horses and buy a skiff, 
load McKenzie's grist into it, and float down 
stream, all of which was easily done. An ox 
and cart from mill to boat, and the strong 
current of the Saskatchewan did the rest. 
Leaving Edmonton at four p.m. we (for my little 


brother accompanied me) made home at Victoria 
at nine a.m. next day. All night while we slept 
the skiff went whirling on and around and 
down this mighty river, traversing a country, 
now wilderness, but evidently destined some day 
to swarm with humanity at any rate, this I 
thought that day as I lay back with my book 
on sacks of bran and barley flour. 



Down the Saskatchewan to Fort Carlton by skiff Fort 
Pitt Noted Indian chiefs A lonely camp and a soli- 
tary wolf A celestial battle David brings his bride to 
Victoria News from the outside world To Edmon- 
ton in a spring-waggon My wonderful crop of potatoes 
A severe attack of the mumps A visit from father- 
Two typical westerners The White Mud Settlement. 

I HAD at this time summering with me my sis- 
ter, Mrs. Hardisty, and her children. One day 
a courier came in from Fort Carlton instructing 
me to send Mrs. Hardisty and family down to 
that point, and as all the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany's posts and forts were parts of our mis- 
sions and circuits, and as this gave me the 
opportunity of visiting Fort Pitt and possibly 
Fort Carlton, and also of meeting any Indians 
who might be en route to or fro, I concluded to 
take her and children down the river in the 
skiff. Arranging to have her horses and two of 
mine driven across country in the first place to 
Fort Pitt, we embarked and began our journey 
down stream. In less than two days we had 
made Fort Pitt, which I judge is from one hun- 
dred and eighty to two hundred miles by the 


winding of the river ; but such was the current, 
and so continuous was our movement day and 
night, without loss of time, that we did better 
than a hundred miles in a day. Here we heard 
that Mr. Hardisty had passed west, hoping to 
meet his wife and children, of course never 
thinking of their coming by river. Knowing 
that he would return to this point when he met 
our men and horses, we waited and I had full 
opportunity to do some mission work. Here 
traded the Plain and Wood Crees, the Chippe- 
wyans of the Beaver River and north country, 
the Saulteaux and the Cree, and sometimes even 
Blackfeet came to this post. In my time noted 
Indians, such as Sweet Grass, Big Bear and 
Little Pine, made this their headquarters. A 
big trade in provisions was generally done here, 
and both wood and plain furs were taken in 
large quantities ; many a boat-load of furs and 
pemmican went down the Saskatchewan annu- 
ally from Fort Pitt. Several times in my jour- 
neyings I had been privileged to preach the 
Gospel in the mother-tongue to people who up 
to these times had never heard it. Nomads, 
wanderers out of the ages, a strange, mysterious 
people they were, and how solemnly and earn- 
estly they would look into my eyes as I came 
to them in their own language with this new 
and wonderful evangel. This present occasion 


was no exception, and I held services with a 
mixed crowd of tribes and peoples. God only 
knows if any permanent good was done as to 
Christianity, but in the meantime, at any rate, 
they were made to understand something about 
law and civilization, and, I do hope, of Christ 
and heaven. 

Hardisty came in Sunday afternoon and thus 
relieved me of going any farther. We visited a 
good part of Monday and then parted, my 
friends going east and I west. It was a lovely 
evening, and alone with my two horses, Bob 
No. 1 and Archie, either following the other and 
not needing to be led, my equipment a leather 
shirt, trousers and blanket, and my gun and 
ammunition and some dried meat as provision 
all on my saddle, so that my free horse was in- 
deed free, on we went and near dark crossed 
Frog Creek and camped. I have already told 
my readers I never was made to be alone ; I 
have always found myself in such condition 
under protest. I remember I was unusually 
lonely that night. I hobbled my horses, and as 
they moved off to better grass I made a fire and 
roasted some dried meat, and nibbling at it 
thought one man thirty-five miles from the 
nearest of his kind, so far as he knows, is 
entirely too far away, and I wondered how 
some are so constituted as almost to enjoy soli- 


tude. Then I became aware that a pair of eyes 
were fastened on me. A casual glance over my 
shoulder caught a movement, and gripping my 
gun I awaited developments. Presently I saw 
that the object looking down from the brink of 
the hill was a big timber wolf. This was a re- 
lief, for if he was alone I did not fear him ; so I 
threw more wood on the fire, renewed my atten- 
tion to the dried meat, and by and by moved 
away and spread my saddle-blanket, then wrap- 
ping myself in my own blanket I lay down with 
gun at hand and fell asleep to waken as the day 
sky came with all nature around me and myself 
as well covered, with heavy dew. Breaking 
another bit of meat, I ate as I went for my 
horses, which had ascended the hill and hobbled 
some distance. Soon I was back again, and 
saddling up was off on the lope in the fresh of 
the morning, while all the earth and its luxu- 
riant vegetation was glistening with moisture, 
which, as the sun appeared, flashed and bright- 
ened the whole scene. I said to myself, " I will 
do well if I reach Saddle Lake to-day." A vig- 
orous trot, a few miles of canter alternating, and 
in three hours changing horses, on I went across 
valleys and over plains, in and out and through 
and between islands of timber, all the while 
keeping a sharp lookout on the distant horizon, 
and as much as possible on everything within 


this, myself always its centre. Thus across 
Moose Creek and the Dog Rump and the im- 
mense stretches of country this side and between 
and beyond them, on and on past Egg Lake No. 2, 
and by the early evening I had made Saddle Lake, 
with self and horses still fresh. 

Near sundown, while going over a high range 
of hills, I witnessed a grand celestial battle. 
Two heavy thunder-clouds were coming rapidly 
together, the meeting promising to take place 
right over my course. I alighted and belted 
my blanket about me, leaving the upper part 
to pull over my head ; then, resuming my ride, 
saw the wonderful fight in the heavens above. 
Lightning flashed and artillery roared, and 
down came a torrent of rain, until the jump of 
my horse was one continuous splash. And now 
the scene was sublimely grand : flash and crash 
and roar and rumble, and then another louder 
and angrier discharge, and thus these atmos- 
pheric legions approached each other, each jagged 
cloud seeming to reach out to the skirmishing 
lines of the other. Suddenly they gripped, and 
the heavens opened their floods, and splash, 
splash went my horse's feet until we were on 
the bridge of the White Mud and only nine 
miles from home. Then I jumped down, and 
unsaddling my horse I caught the other, and 
bestriding him was away through the jack-pines, 


a narrow strip of sandy land, and across the 
Smoky Creek and through the valley and over 
the hill, and down into Victoria and home. The 
bracing effect of that northern air may be im- 
agined when I remark that neither myself nor 
horses were tired, and yet since morning we had 
come one hundred and three miles not guess- 
work but actual measurement. Not sleeping 
much the night before, and being drenched 
through to the skin for some hours in the even- 
ing, I was in prime condition for sleep ; indeed 
I awoke only when our people were preparing 
the table for dinner. Dressing I went out to 
look at my horses, who met me with a whinny 
and a look that said, " Well, we are ready to go 
on," and I rubbed their noses and slapped their 
backs and went into dinner. 

At this time my sister Libbie, afterwards Mrs. 
Young, and my two eldest daughters, Flora and 
Ruth, were with me. But one day who should 
turn up out at the hay-field where I was work- 
ing but my brother David, who blushed as he 
told me that he had not come alone, having 
brought with him a wife. Of course I was glad, 
for his sake as also for my own, as they would 
for this year, I hoped, make their home with me 
in the Mission house. I put away my scythe for 
the rest of the afternoon, and went in with 
David to be introduced to my new sister, whom 


I found to be a bright, fresh, healthy young 
Scotch-Canadian woman, daughter of a sturdy 
pioneer of the second degree first in Ontario 
and now in Manitoba. I found the two women 
already well acquainted, and no wonder, for they 
were but two of the same kind in an immense 
stretch of country. David and his bride had 
driven nine hundred miles on their honeymoon 
trip, and coming on fast had left their cart and 
outfit far in the rear. David had the latest 
news from the outside world: Winnipeg was 
starting, settlers were coming in, the change 
had begun. He had brought with him some 
new arms which were significant of a change. 

The next morning we took my two horses 
and David's light rig, and he and I started on a 
flying trip to Edmonton. We have the news of 
the world, and only some weeks old; we are 
not selfish, we must share it with father and 
mother and friends at Edmonton ; at any rate 
we will be back for Sunday. " Good-bye, girls," 
and we are away in a whirl of dust. This is my 
first ride in a three-spring waggon for many 
years; it quite intoxicates me, and Bob and 
Archie are wondering what kind of vehicle they 
are pulling behind them. The waters have sub- 
sided, and we fairly bowl along, and early next 
day are telling the news of Winnipeg and 
Toronto and London, yea, the world, to a listen- 


ing company at Edmonton. Turning back the 
next morning, we are at Victoria the following 
day and at work again. 

This had been a season of almost absolute 
rest from tribal war in this north land. The 
buffalo had kept out on the plains and had been 
quite numerous ; this wild people, too, had seen 
so much of death in the last year that they were 
weary of trouble and longed to have rest for a 
season. However, as autumn advanced the 
buffalo came north, and with them the camps, 
and hovering near and on the trails of these the 
war-parties. We were every little while hear- 
ing of fresh skirmishes, and were glad enough 
when our settlement began to fill up for the 

This was the autumn of my wonderful crop of 
potatoes and barley. In the spring I said to 
myself, " I don't know much about farming, but 
I believe in this country I can make no mistake 
about potatoes and barley ; " so I went to work 
and hauled out all the manure about the place, 
and then ploughed deep, for I had a good team of 
work horses that had been trained on a farm. 
Then I sowed my potatoes and handled them in 
my own way, in the summer weeded and tilled 
them, and in autumn the promise was rich. But 
a large camp of Plain Crees came in and settled 
for a couple of weeks just outside and above the 


mission field, and presently it was told me, 
"John, they're stealing your potatoes," and I 
said, " Ke-yam " (" Never mind/') and my very 
indifference stopped the stealing in a large 
measure. Presently I thought I would ask this 
whole camp to help me dig up my crop. Accord- 
ingly I said to the chief, Big Bear, and some of 
his head men, " To-morrow I want to take up 
my potatoes; will you tell the people to help 
me ? " and they promised to do so. I made my 
arrangements, team, waggon, bags, etc., and the 
next day we went at it, men, women and 
children. Soon the potatoes, in piles, and heaps, 
and bags, were all over the ground. I selected 
some young men to load and unload, and did no 
more myself than drive about superintending 
the work. The way those potatoes were dug 
and picked and cleaned and dusted and bagged 
was a caution, also the way my loading crew 
worked was splendid. The whole thing was 
new to these buffalo-eaters ; the wonderful crop, 
this strange four-wheeled iron-bound cart, this 
most obedient team of horses. Some of them 
had never taken part in such sport in all their 
history, and all day I took the fertility of the 
soil, and the response to agriculture, industry, 
and the beneficence of the Creator as my texts, 
and from the vantage ground of the waggon, 
with reins in hand and rushing things, I lee- , 


tured and preached every little while to listening 
crowds. This was a first-class object lesson; 
every little while some one would say, " John, 
look ! " and there going for camp would be a 
woman or girl bending under the weight of 
potatoes inside her blanket, and I merely said, 
carelessly, " Ke-yam, ke-yam." Indeed there was 
no need to worry over a few potatoes the 
ground was full of them. 

All day we hauled in that short distance. The 
Mission was in possession of a huge cellar which 
some miners had made as an expression of grati- 
tude to father, and into this we sent the pota- 
toes like a deluge. All day the sneaking of 
back-loads off to camp went on, and in the even- 
ing there still remained fully one-fourth of the 
field undug. Then I sent for the chief and told 
him I was grateful for the help his people had 
given me, and that I was satisfied that he might 
now dismiss them home to camp and tell them 
that I would give his camp the balance of the 
field to dig for themselves. There were loud 
acclaims at this announcement, and the chief 
sent the people home on the jump, promising a 
fair start for all in the morning. And I can 
assure my reader that in the morning that field 
was a sight, and further, I will venture to say 
that no spot in the British realm had any better 
pulverizing and cultivating than that one during 


that season. I once and for all time demon- 
strated that potatoes could be grown on the 

Following on the heels of the smallpox of last 
season, the mumps were the fashionable disease 
of this year ; several had died of them, and the 
type was a severe one. Some time in October 
an old Indian brought me word of buffalo near 
at hand, and as I had two Indian boys with me 
we hunted up our horses, and crossing a waggon 
and two carts, took with us a couple of running 
horses and started out after meat. Already I 
had premonitions of mumps and felt very mis- 
erable ; nevertheless I went on, and meeting with 
much success in my hunt, was soon loaded up 
with fine meat. But oh, how I suffered ! Pre- 
sently I was unable to sit on my horse. This 
would have been a glorious trip, both for the 
supplying of our need for fresh meat and for the 
sport connected therewith, had it not been for 
those abominable mumps and my sublime inex- 
perience concerning them. As it was I did the 
very worst I could have done, and intensified 
the disease, as doubtless did numbers of others, 
some of whom died in consequence. 

For the home journey I had to lie stretched 
out on top of the waggon, and in the two days 
we occupied in travelling it seemed to me I died 
many times ; every rut and knoll was torture 


to me, and when I reached Victoria my brother 
David was so shocked with my appearance that 
he at once despatched a courier to Edmonton for 
father. Then an old half-breed, Peter Whitford, 
came to see me and took me in hand and helped 
me, and when father arrived I was able to meet 
him up the road, and he smiled as we shook 
hands and said that he almost expected as much, 
but was so startled by David's despatch that he 
hurried down. We were glad to see him. This was 
his first introduction to his new daughter, Annie. 
He had ridden in a hurry ninety miles over a 
rough country, and would now return and make 
no fuss about it, nor lose much time in this jour- 
ney of one hundred and eighty miles. Verily 
this big country gave men to take on big ideas 
of life and work. This last summer had been 
to father a busy one, but now the humble 
mission-house at Edmonton was ready for occu- 
pancy, some out-buildings erected, and the start 
on the church made. Much menta* worry, much 
hard physical labor, everything done by hand 
chopping, sawing, planing without any ma- 
chinery to build a house at this time and 
have it finished half-way decent entailed labor 
and patience in the extreme, and with all this 
came the week-night meetings and all the Sun- 
day work. Other men rested, but the missionary 
never; he was doctor, surgeon, dentist, nurse, 


lawyer, magistrate, judge ; he was diplomat and 
ambassador, and all the time the representa- 
tive of civilization and government and church 
and Christianity ; no wonder the lines multiplied 
on his face and his hair became gray. And thus 
the winter of 1871 and 1872 came to the mis- 
sions of the Saskatchewan. 

Our life at Victoria was a full one. Never in 
the history of this place had we so many people 
about us as at this time ; church services were 
packed week-nights and Sundays. My regular 
work on the Sabbath was, twice in Victoria, 
morning and evening, and an afternoon ap- 
pointment ten miles out, where I conducted a 
Sabbath -school, and held a preaching service 
immediately afterward. This was known as the 
White Mud Settlement, and here dwelt two 
typical men. One of these was John Norris, of 
gypsy origin in the Old Country, it was said, 
who came out as a lad in the Hudson's Bay 
service, by way of Hudson Bay, and had 
well assimilated the West during his long term 
of service. Now, as it was termed, he had 
"gone free," and was freighting and trading, 
and had grown quite prosperous. A hardy, 
tough specimen of humanity, a regular fighter 
with either fists or gun, it was all the same to 
Jack ; withal a good-hearted man, fully amen- 
able to kindly fellowship and Christian man- 


hood. Father was to him a hero, one to be 
loved and pre-eminently respected. It was in 
Jack's house that we held our Sunday-school 
and after-service, and we were genuinely wel- 
comed and all due preparations made for the 
comfort of both preacher and people. Mr. Norris 
is still living as I write, and has had a consid- 
erable part in the opening up of the North -West. 
Now in his ripening years he enjoys and well 
deserves the respect of the whole community. 

The other man was from the north of Ireland, 
his Saxon origin fully revealed in the long 
flaxen hair, blue eyes and fair skin. He like- 
wise was typical as an Irishman ; language, wit, 
nervous impetuosity, all these he had to the full. 
He had crossed the continent in the early days ; 
he had seen California when the gold fever was 
at its height, and had come north along the 
Pacific coast, through every mining camp ; was 
in at the early days of Washington, Oregon and 
Montana, and now had settled for a time on the 
White Mud to take up farming. He had mar- 
ried and was, at the time of which I write, a 
useful citizen and an earnest worker in every 
department of local life. Sam Livingstone, or 
"Sam" as everybody called him, was, as I have 
said, a typical Irishman, and was taking on 
Americanism as fast as his nature admitted of 
his so doing. We can only move at a certain 


rate in the process of development ; anything 
faster is hurtful in the long run, indeed is often 
suicidal ; and the philanthropist or government 
that does not recognize this has not watched 
history nor yet given much heed to either God's 
or Nature's method. Sam was taking on strength 
when conditions were favorable, but he lost 
quickly when these were reversed. To him, as 
to John Norris, father was a tower of strength. 
" The old man," as Sam and the frontiersmen 
generally termed father among themselves, " was 
one to swear by, you bet." Sam and many 
others pinned their faith to him. Just now, on 
his farm and alongside of a mission and such 
like influences, Sam was a host. 

All through the Conference year of 1871-2 I 
was much in touch with the White Mud Settle- 
ment. Then there were Indian camps which 
I visited and ministered to, sometimes one day's 
journey distant, sometimes two days', making a 
four days' trip. During this winter, between 
November 1st and April 1st, I travelled by dog- 
train two thousand miles, and with horses one 
thousand, and yet was very little away from my 
work at Victoria ; indeed, I seemed to stay at 
home much more than usual. The Mountain 
Fort, Pigeon Lake, Edmonton, White Fish Lake, 
Lac la Biche, and the Cree camps to the south 
near Battle River, gave me many short trips in 



addition to my regular Sunday travelling to 
appointment. My dogs were fliers, my horses 
were fat and good travellers, and we got over 
the country in a hurry. Work there was in 
plenty, and very little time for play all through 
those long winter months. 



Missionary Conference at Winnipeg announced District 
Meeting moves me to Pigeon Lake A "migratory 
church " A hunt organized We fall in with Blackfeet 
and Bloods A time of great anxiety Friendly over- 
tures My visit to Solomon's camp Good feeling es- 
tablished A chief with Quaker instincts Our party 
divides We fall in with a Sarcee camp I make friends 
with Chief Bull Head Relief at meeting with large 
hunting party of our own people A glorious buffalo run 
Attack of fever Off for Edmonton. 

THE spring packet in March brought us word 
that during the coming summer a missionary 
conference would be held in the little village of 
Winnipeg; that the Rev. Drs. Punshon and 
Wood and other noted men would come that far 
west to attend it, and that the missionaries 
would be required to meet these august brethren. 
The Saskatchewan District Meeting, which took 
place during the winter, determined on some 
changes. Peter Campbell was to come to Vic- 
toria, and John McDougall to go to Pigeon Lake ; 
and as the best time to move was in the early 
spring, both parties made ready to do so. These 
Mountain and Wood Stoneys and western Crees 
had petitioned the Chairman for " John," and 


ie Chairman and the brethren thought this 
the best disposition of our forces in sight ; 
therefore, early in April, I sent my outfit of 
carts and material around by the south of the 
Beaver Hills, in charge of my man, Donald Whit- 
ford, a worthy fellow who had engaged with me 
for a year. Several lodges that had been win- 
tering in the vicinity of Victoria accompanied 
the party back to Pigeon Lake. 

Bidding my good sister-in-law and little 
daughters farewell, and with the company of 
my brother David as far as Edmonton, I took 
my buffalo runners, Bob No. 1, Archie and Tom, 
and started up on the north side of the river, 
visiting father and mother and friends at 
Edmonton, and then on to the lake, where I met 
many old friends. Here, too, I had a fine 
chance of joking the Dutchman, who had been 
my companion as I have related, on a trip the 
year before. I had not seen him since our 
parting during the night between here and 
Edmonton, and now, standing in the midst of a 
crowd of Indians and seeing him approach, I 
said, " Ah ! and here comes the Dutchman ! I 
left him last spring down the trail, and he is 
but now coming up ! " All saw the point and 
laughed at the boastful little fellow. 

Meetings and council, lecture and sermon, 
fishing and gardening, teaching and helping 


other men to do so thus the spring passed and 
our congregations grew, and we arranged to 
move out on the plains about the middle of May. 
Our camp numbered between forty and fifty 
lodges, largely Stoneys, with some Crees and a 
couple of camps of half-breeds. A moving 
village, a travelling school, a migratory church, 
we almost literally " nightly pitched our moving 
tent," though not " a day's march nearer home." 
On and out through the beautiful valley of the 
Battle River, across many beaver dams, whose 
builders became our food en passant, and in ten 
days we had cut our poles and triangles and 
loaded with dry wood, and were again stead- 
fastly facing the great plains. When camp was 
moving I generally was far in advance or away 
to one side. The camp might make from fifteen 
to twenty miles a day, but I rode from forty to 
sixty miles, exploring the country and thus 
keeping myself healthy in both mind and body. 
A short service every morning, weather per- 
mitting ; a longer one at night, and practically 
all day Sunday ; but between times away with 
some interesting hunter or good lively com- 
panion and changing these day by day, and 
thus we explored and hunted and travelled, and 
still this big land was before us. 

Our route from the edge of the woods at this 
time was almost all new to me. We were days 


travelling in a south-easterly direction before 
we found even a few straggling bulls; then, 
when we came to buffalo and began the work of 
making provisions, we fell in with a party of 
Blackfeet and Bloods. These were anxious to 
make peace ; and this entailed a vast deal of 
visiting and receiving, which was all right in its 
place, yet took much time from what was our 
main purpose in coming out to these plains. 
With all native peoples time is not in question, 
and it was a part of our mission to make these 
people feel- its value. Then there was the 
constant need of being on guard. These men 
professed a desire for peace just now, but there 
were many who only wanted the opportunity to 
make war; and thus, instead of taking your 
turn, as was the ordinary condition when travel- 
ling and hunting, while these alien camps were 
near us every man in our camp had to stand 
guard all the time, for the others outnumbered 
us ten to one. Moreover, the Bloods especially 
had come in from the Missouri recently and 
were well armed, while in our camp I was the 
only man with a breech-loading gun, and this 
not a " repeater." Moreover, these warriors had 
repeating rifles, mostly Henry's sixteen-shooters, 
and breech-loading revolvers, and plenty of 
fixed ammunition, all of which were new to us 
dwellers north of the forty-ninth parallel, and 


we saw most clearly how much disadvantaged 
we were. But it did me good to note how care- 
lessly my Stoneys carried themselves, armed as 
they were with only muzzle-loading, single- 
barrelled shotguns, and many of the young 
fellows with only bows and arrows. In spite 
of this they moved among these Plain Indians 
with their superior arms and superior numbers 
as if all this did not matter one whit ; indeed, 
their whole air was one of pure unconcern. To 
me every man of the Stoneys seemed to say by 
his conduct, " Never mind numbers and guns ; 
we can whip them anyway," and doubtless 
those cunning plainsmen had by experience 
found this out, and therefore were quite willing 
to act peaceably. 

Here I met Sotanow, a leading Blood Chief, 
who, when I came to know him, furnished also 
a reason for this unexpected attitude. Sota- 
now, or " Rainy Chief," was a Quaker by 
instinct. He had fought many battles, but not 
of his own option or desire ; he was amongst 
his fellows a brave man, but was always against 
war. And now when he met me as a " God- 
man." and one decidedly for peace, we became 
friends at once, and thus all his influence was 
thrown into the maintenance of peace while our 
camps were close to each other. He visited our 
camp with a large retinue, and he invited me to 


his camp, so the next day with a half dozen 
Stoneys we rode over to return the chief's visit 
and to see his people. 

Yesterday, when Sotanow and his following 
visited our camp it was pageantry and pomp 
and barbaric splendor, saddles and costumes, 
horses and men, in glorious array and wonder- 
fully fitting display on the great plain ; a won- 
derful environment, with its beautiful undu- 
lating surface, the sloping hill, the bending 
valley, the winding stream on the bank of which 
we were encamped, and the grass-covered hills 
in the distance. It was a sight to behold these 
aborigines in the bravery of paint and brass and 
cotton and blanket and buckskin and moose 
skin and buffalo skin, according to their own 
ideas of what was artistic and scenic and beau- 
tiful; and certainly they looked fine, and for 
place and purpose their horsemanship was 
without criticism. To our mountain and wood 
people their appearance was decidedly strange 
and impressive. To-day it is a small party of 
one white man and six Stoneys (half of the 
camp wanted to go with me, but I forbade them, 
knowing that it would not be well for us to 
thus divide our party), and our horses are plainly 
caparisoned and costumed, and our demeanor is 
quiet and unassuming, but we represent a dis- 
tinct life and entirely different conditions. We 


come as the forerunners of Christian civilization, 
and can afford to do without merely human 
numbers of pageantry or pomp ; nevertheless, we 
are met after a three hours' gallop by an escort, 
and amid growing numbers, falling into line 
with our approach, we draw near to this big 
camp, which, because of its position, we could not 
see until we were upon it. Already there are 
a hundred or more warriors surrounding us, and 
now coming to the top of the brae we see a 
large camp stretched at our feet. 

It is a wonderful scene that now meets our 
gaze : the beautiful valley ; the hundreds and 
possibly thousands of horses singly and in bands 
everywhere ; the many white lodges, tasselled 
and bedecked and gorgeous with the hiero- 
glyphics descriptive of glorious exploits ; women 
and children seemingly without number. On 
horseback and on foot, and through lanes of 
curious spectators gazing upon us, we are es- 
corted to the chief's lodge, where we are ushered 
in and welcomed by Sotanow, who introduces us 
to the assembled aristocracy of his camp. Seat- 
ing ourselves, we look around at the faces we 
now see for the first time. 

Eight here we met (not for the first time, 
however) with a piece of sublime presumption. 
The chief had been on the lookout for an inter- 
preter for nie, and an old fellow who had pro- 


fessed to be a great linguist was brought in and 
began speaking to me in what was only a 
mumbling of unintelligible sounds. I shook my 
head, and again he tried with an attempt at other 
sounds, but again I shook my head, and after a 
few more futile attempts the crowd laughingly 
dismissed the fraud and the chief sought for 
another interpreter. This time he was success- 
ful in finding a woman who understood Cree 
very well. She did not speak it as well as she 
understood it, because of lack of practice, but I 
soon found that she would make a good inter- 
preter, and through her I spoke to those wild 

By this time the sides of the lodge were lifted 
and a big crowd had pressed in all around to 
listen to the speaker, who told them where he 
came from and the conditions there ; why he 
was here, and who sent him thus afar and among 
strange and distinct peoples. I dwelt largely 
on the benefits of peace ; spoke of the future 
and of the inevitable change soon to come ; told 
them that now the land was without govern-, 
ment men did as they pleased, but the day was 
near when murder and wrong and theft would 
be stopped, and that the power to do this would, 
at the same time, be all-powerful and all-mer- 
ciful. They need not fear the future so long as 
they aimed at doing the right thing between one 


another and all men ; also that this great power 
corning would make no distinctions, the white 
man and the Indian of every tribe and nation 
would stand the same before it ; there would be 
no favoritism whatever; this was the Great 
Spirit's wish, this was what His Word enjoined ; 
we were brethren, and the land was big and we 
could all dwell in it in peace. There were in 
my audience many who had every reason to hate 
the white man; every better instinct in them 
had been insulted and beaten down by the sel- 
fishness of the white man ; wrong and injury 
and bestiality and crime had they suffered from 
his hands ; moreover, their idea of the white 
man's government was of a ruthless, despotic, 
absolute power breaking treaties, hounding men 
hither and thither, building prisons and erecting 
gallows. Oh ! these liberty-loving people hated 
the very mention of government. But to-day, 
if what I said was true, and some of them had 
heard that " John " told the truth, then there 
was hope for them as a people. 

My interpreter, she who was once a captive 
and now had been bought by her present hus- 
band, who was also the husband of three other 
women, as I found out by asking her, was glad 
to again listen to the tones of her own mother- 
tongue, and also to listen and be a party to such 
a message. She modestly thanked me, but I 


said it was my part to be grateful and hoped 
we might again meet. 

The chief spoke after me, and the woman gave 
to me what he said as follows : " My people, you 
see now why I asked John to come to our camp. 
I saw he was different, and when he spoke to 
me I felt this is indeed * God's man.' I must 
listen, and I heard good things which touched my 
heart, and now you have heard him also. Let 
us remember, oh, my people, and try and be 
ready for the change which John says is coming. 
He tells me that there are many white men like 
him who are the friends of the red man, who 
wish us well and will help us to a better future. 
I long for it, I am tired of war and hatred, I am 
glad to hear John, and from this out I will count 
him as my friend and brother." 

They gave us food and poured in questions 
while we ate, and after spending some three 
hours in their camp we asked for our horses and 
these were brought up. The chief said : " I am 
coming again to see you ; I will come almost 
alone, for I want to hear more of your talk, 
John." And now, feeling that, after all, our ride 
over and sojourn in this camp for a little time 
might result in good, I rode away on the jump 
for the home camp, carrying within me a thank- 
ful heart. 

True to his word, the chief came over and 


spent a night in our camp. He was full of ques- 
tions, and I did what I could to enlighten him, 
and when he had returned to his own people we 
moved away into another part of the country 
that we might the sooner find buffalo sufficient 
to ensure loads of provisions. In this we were 
fairly successful. The Stoneys and Crees were 
fully loaded, and as the buffalo had been in small 
bands passing us into the north they were anxious 
to march woodward. My plan was, when we 
were loaded, to let my man Donald accompany 
the Indians into Pigeon Lake, and I take the 
straight course to Edmonton to join my father 
there and go on with him to Winnipeg to the 
missionary conference ; but before our carts were 
nearly full the Indians became anxious, and I 
concluded to let them go, while my own party 
and a couple of lodges of half-breeds would move 
slowly in, picking up buffalo and loading as we 
might be able to do. So on a Sunday afternoon 
I told the assembled camp what I proposed, and 
suggested that they move in as they wished on 
the morrow. They expressed anxiety about us, 
but I told them we would be very careful, and 
after a general prayer- meeting it was thus 
arranged that we should part on the morrow. 

Monday morning there was much hand- 
shaking, and in a few hours, as our start had 
been simultaneous, there were many miles 


between us. We found a few buffalo the same 
afternoon, and, securing some meat, concluded to 
move on until finding a suitable camp we would 
dry our provisions, make pemmican, and bale our 
meat. We were moving northward when sud- 
denly we found ourselves almost into a camp 
coming from the east. The first man to reach 
us was Bull Head, the Sarcee chief, and I was 
glad when I found that he could talk some Cree 
and we were able to converse. Here we were, a 
very few, with a crowd of the wildest fellows on 
the plains in sight. " What shall we do ? " asked 
my men ; and as I saw that our lines of inarch 
were convergent, I said to Bull Head, " We will 
camp together, my friend," and now his solemn 
look disappeared, and with a smile he said, " I 
am glad to hear you say so;" and in an hour or 
two we found our three lodges surrounded by 
some thirty lodges of Sarcees, and with the not 
wholly pleasing intelligence that as many more 
would join us on the morrow. I felt queer, and 
wished in my heart that we had stayed with the 
Stoneys. So far as man was concerned, we were 
fully in the hands of these fellows ; what they 
might do was the question. My brother George 
was quite afraid of them, and no wonder, for 
here were some of the hardest and wildest-look- 
ing men to be seen anywhere. I resolved to 
cultivate Bull Head ; he was a big fellow and 


evidently very impulsive. Just now he was, or 
seemed to be, on our side. With him I walked 
through the camp, and when his lodge was fully 
set I went with him into it, and soon a crowd 
collected. As the Sarcees were a buffer people 
between the Crees and Blackfeet, and could 
understand Cree and speak it some, I told them 
pretty much what I had told the Bloods. Some 
of them laughed when I said we were brothers, 
but all were reverent when I spoke of the Great 

In the evening my men asked me what 
we would do with our horses. I said, " We will 
give them into the care of the chief." I then 
went to him and told him we were few, he was 
many ; we were really his guests, and I wanted 
him to take charge of our camp, and especially 
of our horses, and again that peculiar smile lit 
up his big face. I returned to my tent and went 
to sleep beside my little brother, and when day- 
light came and the camp noise made me fully 
conscious of surroundings, I was almost surprised 
that we were alive. In going out I could not 
see any of our horses, but, walking to the out- 
skirts of the encampment, I recognized them 
coming in ahead of a rider, and on near approach 
was astonished to see Bull Head himself on one 
of my runners, he having relieved his young men 
and taken charge of our horses himself. As he 



Line up he smiled and said, "I suppose you 
thought, John, that your horses were stolen," 
id I answered, " No, Chief, I slept in your 
imp just as I would expect you to sleep in my 
louse. The one Great Father watched over us 
11, for are we not His children ? " Again the 
die, " Do you think so, John ? " and I gave an 
emphatic " Yes." " Well, I like that," said this 
tan whose hand had hitherto been against every 

Soon the other part of the Sarcee camp came 
ip, and here was a multiplying of the problem 
to our future movements. Evidently there 
been a split in camp, and now we were to 
made the occasion of mending the breach. 
r ere we to be the common prey, or might we 
be the instruments of healing in the case ? The 
morning passed anxiously and things to us were 
growing tense, when in came some scouts with 
the startling intelligence that within a few miles 
there was a large camp of half-breeds and Crees 
from the north many carts, a big ring, very 
many lodges. And now there was apprehension 
on the part of the Sarcees, and I saw that our 
time had come to take the lead ; so when Bull 
Head hurried over to tell me, I at once said, 
" Let us down tents and go over to them and 
join forces with them." He looked surprised, 
>ut I continued, " They are my friends. I give 


my word, Chief, all will be well." This seemed 
to satisfy him, and turning with stately stride 
towards his lodge he shouted forth the news 


and announced the programme to " down lodges 
and make ready to travel with John to the big 
camp ; John has given his word that all will be 
well." I can assure my readers the announce- 
ment was welcome to my own party, and soon 
camp was astir with preparations for the march. 
At the head of the column, along with Bull 
Head and some of his leading braves of both 
factions, we rode towards our friends, and in 
three or four hours came in sight of a large 
camp. Then I said to my man Donald, " I will 
ride ahead and announce our coming." What I 
had in hand was a rather ticklish business; here 
were life- long enemies, hereditary foes, cherish- 
ing deep-rooted hatred and long unsatisfied 
revenge ; no government, no law but such as we 
might make convenient for ourselves for the 
moment. I confess I was sobered at the work I 
had undertaken. However, I galloped on and 
into the camp, where I was welcomed on every 
hand. Very soon, to my great relief, I was sur- 
rounded by leading half-breeds and Indians 
whom I knew, such men as Kakake, and 
John Hunter, and our own people from Victoria 
and White Fish Lake, and I sat on my horse and 
told them that I had the whole Sarcee camp with 


me. " These are my friends," I said ; " will you 
truly accept them as such ? " " Yes, yes," they 
replied. Then I said, " Let some of you go out 
to meet them, and others arrange where they 
shall camp," and on every hand I met the response, 
"Yes, it shall be done." I alighted from my 
horse, and with a circle of friends around me 
entered Kakake's lodge, feeling that a burden 
was rolled from my mind. 

When the Sarcees were all encamped and our 
tents were in place, we engaged in a rousing 
song service, which made the Sarcees and many 
others look and listen and wonder. Then with 
a heart full of gratitude I lay me down and 
slept, while my little brother, why, he was 
another boy altogether. Alarm, distrust, fear, 
which had been plainly written on his face, were 
gone, and peaceful calm had taken their place. 
Donald was with his people, and a strong sense 
of security had taken possession of all our minds. 
We found that just west of us was the fringing 
of a large herd of buffalo ; that for days this 
camp had lain quiet in that direction, and that 
the morrow was set for a grand hunt. 

On the morrow when we rode forth, an im- 
mense company, Crees, Saulteaux, French and 
English half-breeds, Sarcees, and one white man, 
on all manner of horses, and clothed in all man- 
ner of costumes, and with all manner of weapons, 


and many of our crowd painted in all manner 
of colors, we made a wonderful appearance. 
Behind us came carts and waggons and pack- 
horses and many riders and drivers, and in 
strong array we went forth to " slay and eat." 
The ground was good, the country not too hilly, 
and the buffalo sufficiently plenty to give room 
for pick and choice. Moreover, the day was 
almost calm. Oh ! the conditions were ideal for 
a hunt with such a crowd. The charge was mag- 
nificent. While many fell, so far as I could learn 
none were seriously hurt, and hundreds of buffalo 
were killed. Long before night many thousands 
of pounds of meat were in the camp and under- 
going the various processes of slicing and dry- 
ing, etc.; also hundreds of hides were being 
stretched, these in their turn to undergo the 
treatment necessary to make tents and clothes, 
moccasins and harness, provisions, saddle-bags, 

Of course, with this large camp of diverse 
people my work was much increased, and I was 
kept constantly on the go ; it was " John " here 
and " John " there almost day and night. Then 
I was taken with some kind of fever, and lay 
for a day or two between life and death. Oh ! 
how I longed for cold water. The Indian women 
did all they could for me; indeed, the whole 
camp was full of sympathy ; they did not move 


for six days, waiting for me to gain strength. 
Moreover, the time was now approaching for me 
to strike for Edmonton to join father and start 
for Winnipeg. I was extremely anxious, but 
there was nothing to do but let the fever take 
its course. 

When Sunday came I was better, but could do 
no more than sit beside John Hunter as he led 
the service. In the evening, however, I was so 
much better that I felt I could venture on my 
journey, so I told the people of the coming con- 
ference in Winnipeg, and of the purpose thereof, 
and bade them good-bye. Next day with Susa 
(whom my readers will remember as the man I 
had disinfected of the small-pox) driving a cart, 
and my brother George and self in the saddle 
behind some loose horses, we left the camp and 
started straight for Edmonton. Sarcees, Crees, 
half-breeds all wished us " bon voyage," and the 
Christian people said, " We will pray for your 
safe return and many blessings on your journey. 
Carry our greetings to the Praying Chiefs and 
the Christian people you will see ; also tell the 
" Law Chief " at Red River we hope he will not 
allow any fire-water to come west to us. 



Visit at Edmonton Starting for Conference "Eight hun- 
dred miles to do shopping " Travelling expenses Buy 
a fine horse On the fringe of settlement Arrival at 
Winnipeg Missionary Conference opened Distin- 
guished deputation Entertained by Sir Donald A. 
Smith Rev. Wm. Morley Punshon's lectures and ordin- 
ation sermon I am ordained Dr. Moore and Dr. 
Cochrane Am appointed to a new mission Govern- 
ment survey party arrives in Winnipeg Dr. Grant's 
"Ocean to Ocean" Affectionate tribute to my father. 

OUR course to Edmonton lay nearly due north- 
west. Crossing the Nose Hills on their western 
slope, ferrying the Battle River at its southerly 
bend, rolling up the north bank of this magnifi- 
cent valley, we made good progress, and on 
Friday morning, leaving Susa and George with 
the cart and loose horses, I pushed on alone and 
in the evening stood once more on the bank of 
the river with Edmonton and the new mission 
in welcome sight before me. Hailing the first 
man I saw on the other side, he crossed over to 
me with a skiff, and, unsaddling, I led my horse 
as he swam at the stern of the boat, then 
mounting him rode on to my friends, by whom 
I was abundantly welcomed. 

Father had been waiting rather impatiently 


for me ; already the Rev. Peter Campbell and 
[r. Steinhauer had gone from Victoria and White 
'ish Lake. If we started Monday morning we 
rould be eight days, and possibly a hundred 
dies or more, behind them. I said I expected 
boys and horses in Saturday night, and 
T).V.) would be ready for the road as early as 
wished Monday morning, and that if I were 
lot mistaken the advance party would not 
jh Winnipeg before us. George and Susa 
te in late Saturday evening and we barely 
>t them across by dark. I had a two days' 
dsit with parents and sisters and my own two 
little daughters, Ruth and Gussie, whom I found 
Edmonton, and was busily engaged helping 
ither make ready for Monday morning. I 
took one of the services on Sunday, drove with 
father to an afternoon appointment, where I 
again spoke in Cree, and Monday morning we 
were away once more ; father and self in a 
single-horse buckboard in the lead, Susa with 
cart next, and brother George in the saddle 
driving up the loose horses, of which we took 
nine with us. 

The first two days were easy travel, as we 
wanted to camp and visit with my sister-in-law, 
Annie, and also my own little girl, Flora. We 
found these well and flourishing, and anxiously 
expecting my brother David back from Winni- 


peg, whither he had gone to trade some months 
since. Eight hundred miles to do your shop- 
ping, and the mode of travel heavily laden carts, 
with the privilege of bridging the small streams 
and making boats wherewith to ferry the larger 
ones as you journey only the real pioneer will 
brave such hardships. 

Next morning we were away early, and now 
we really began to move. Father had said, 
" Now, John, you are chief transport officer of 
the brigade," and I thereupon took charge of 
the journey. Early and late we bowled across 
country, not with rapid step but with a steady, 
continuous, up-hill-and-down-dale-all-day jog. 
At daybreak I sprang for the horses, while 
father, Susa and George pulled down the tent 
and had things packed away by the time I was 
back ; then each man harnessed and saddled, and 
we were off. In three hours, if we had water 
and grass and wood, we stopped to camp, and 
the first move was to off-harness, turn the horse 
loose, and put the lines on the next to be used. 
There is no more propitious time to catch a 
horse than when you first come in from the 
road ; if you leave your horse until it is time 
to start, many a usually quiet horse will, just 
for the fun of it, keep you running after it for 
a while, thus using up valuable time. I* never 
took such chances when I was really travelling. 


Within the hour we were always away again, 
and with fresh horses, freshly oiled rigs, and 
mending done up to time, we kept our speed 
and run, and our night camps were far apart. 
Thousands of homesteads will dot the land we 
are passing in our day's journey, and which now 
is solitude sublime. This whole land is waiting, 
God has not yet touched the button which will 
switch the trend of humanity this way. Never- 
theless, I firmly believe He will do so in good 

Passing down the valley of the Saskatchewan, 
George and I ride into Fort Pitt, while father 
and Susa go straight on by Onion Lake and 
Frenchman's Butte. Here I bought a horse, 
born and bred on the spot, and there is no better 
horse or stock range in Canada than in the 
vicinity of Fort Pitt. A magnificent brown, a 
gem of horseflesh, was this purchase of mine ; 
old Mr. Roland was famous for his horses. It 
was dark when we caught up to our camp that 
night. " Hello ! another horse ? " said father, 
and in the morning when he saw him he said, 
" He'll do," and now we had three changes and 
one to spare, and on we rolled. Crossing the 
river at Carlton we drove by Duck Lake and 
crossed the south branch at Batoche. Our 
horses had swum the two big rivers, and now 
we rolled faster than ever. Our stock was 


settling down to work, regular hours, regular 
step, and they were hardening to their business, 
which was to travel about seventy miles a day, 
rain or shine. Six days of such work and the 
glorious Sabbath was a much appreciated insti- 
tution. From the waning of Saturday evening 
unto the dawning of Monday's morn we rested, 
unless at some fort or settlement. Horses ate 
and drank or rolled and rested; men ate and 
drank, and read and prayed a little, and slept a 
lot. This was really to the Sabbath-keeping 
" pony express traveller " a genuine restoration 
day, and thus on this trip we used it and most 
thoroughly enjoyed God's wise and beneficent 
provision for man and beast. 

When still about three hundred miles out 
from Winnipeg we met my brother David and 
party. David had with him my aunt and her 
husband, the Rev. Benj. Jones, a pair of genuine 
nomads. This was but another of their moves, 
the Saskatchewan being their present goal. We 
spent a part of a day in visiting with these 
friends. Here, too, we caught up with the rest 
of our western missionary folk, Messrs. Stein- 
hauer, Campbell and Snider. Eight days and 
one hundred miles of a shorter distance indeed, 
so far as my horses were concerned, there were 
three hundred miles of a shorter distance and 
when we compared stock our animals were in 


better condition than theirs, showing con- 
lusively that regular hours and regular speed 
> travel are the best methods in long journeys, 
from thence on we took the lead, and crossing 
Assiniboine and Bird Tail rivers, we passed 
>hoal Lake and the Little Saskatchewan, and 
not until we came to Rat Creek, now called 
Burnside, did we find the homes of the first 
settlers. Nine hundred and more miles we had 
travelled through a great farm, and not a farmer 
to break the virgin sod ! 

From this on into the little village of Win- 
nipeg there was a fringing of settlement, and it 
was amusing to listen to Susa and little brother 
George discussing the people we saw. Every 
little while George would gallop up to ask me 
about the folk we passed or met, " Who are 
they, brother John ? Where are they going ? " 
and such like questions from Susa as well. 
They seemed fully to expect me to know every- 
body and everybody's business. I told them 
that we were only now coming to people, and 
these were but as few compared to those farther 
east, at which their astonishment was very 

Somewhere about Poplar Point we met the 
Revs. George Young and Dr. Enoch Wood, who 
were driving as far as the Portage and would 
follow us down to Winnipeg. From both these 


brethren we had a hearty welcome. Driving on 
down the north side of the Assiniboine, we ap- 
proached Winnipeg and Fort Garry. I had not 
been here since 1864. Eight years had made 
some change, but still the mass of Canadians 
to say nothing about the rest of the world 
were lamentably ignorant of this most fertile 
land. We camped outside the small cluster of 
buildings called Winnipeg, and found willows 
for camp-fire and grass and water for horses. 
No billeting committee in those days ! On 
Mother Earth, as indeed for years, we now 
ate and laid us down and slept. We found we 
were ahead of both the eastern and northern 
contingents. In a day or two these arrived, 
those from the east by river steamer and those 
from the north by York boat. 

All being now gathered, the first Missionary 
Conference west of Lake Superior was opened 
in due time and in due form. Representing the 
far East there came the Rev. Drs. Punshon and 
Wood and John Macdonald, Esq. Resident in 
the Red River Settlement were Revs. George 
Young, Michael Fawcett, and Messrs. Robson and 
Bowerman. From the north there came the 
Rev. Egerton R. Young, and from the west the 
Revs. George McDougall, H. B. Steinhauer, Peter 
Campbell, and myself. The whole work was 
gone over in review and plans laid for the 



future. Dr. Punshon and Mr. Macdonald were 
the guests of Sir Donald A. Smith (now Lord 
Strathcona and Mount Royal) at " Silver 
Heights," some miles up the Assiniboine, to 
which hospitable home we were all invited for 
a visit and dinner one afternoon. Sir Donald, 
even in the early seventies, was noted for his 
princeliness of hospitality, and he, as also the 
great company he represented, did honor to our 
Conference in many ways. And to men of 
quick perception like Sir Donald Smith here 
were citizens worthy of honor : Dr. Punshon, the 
prince of orators, and President of the Methodist 
Conference ; Dr. Wood, the venerable General 
Secretary of Missions ; George Young, than 
whom no church had a fitter representative and 
foundation- builder for the establishing of the 
Redeemer's kingdom in a new country ; Henry 
Steinhauer, who had now spent many years of 
hard toil on frontier missions as teacher, inter- 
preter, translator, intense missionary, himself a 
monument of missionary enterprise. My own 
father was in the number, a pioneer from child- 
hood, a patriot prophet, the frontiersman and 
red man's friend. These were indeed worthy 
of all honor, and Sir Donald willingly gave 
them homage. 

It was a great treat for the lone settlement up 
in the heart of the Dominion to have the great 


preacher and lecturer, Wm. Morley Punshon, to 
electrify and stimulate and inspire with his 
world-famous lectures, " The Men of the May- 
flower" and " Daniel in Babylon," and his 
wonderful sermon Sunday morning, at the close 
of which I was the whole of the ordination class. 
My examinations were summed up in the one 
question given to me by Dr. Punshon the previous 
evening, " Are you ready, John, for your ordina- 
tion to-morrow morning ? " and my brief answer 
seemed to satisfy the Doctor. No oral or writ- 
ten examination, nor yet trial sermon, was 
exacted ; I was taken as I was on the merits of 
my twelve years' missionary work in the north 
and west. But if there is anything in the lay- 
ing on of hands, then I was especially privileged 
with those of Drs. Punshon and Wood and the 
two Georges, Young and McDougall, laid on my 

The first Grace Church was not sufficient for 
these things, and the Hudson's Bay Company 
cleared out its large warehouse on the bank of 
the Assiniboine, and having handsomely deco- 
rated it with cloth and bunting, and arranged 
it with improvised seats, " Daniel in Babylon " 
was listened to by a mixed multitude which had 
gathered in from the whole country. Sir Donald 
occupied the chair, and with him on the plat- 
form was the Lieutenant- Governor. To me 



ter twelve years in the wilderness these 
gatherings were a feast indeed. Susa looked 
and wondered ; George was dumb-founded, and 
for a time forgot both Cree and English ! 

Twice during those days I was interviewed 
concerning the west country and its future, and 
also as to its present inhabitants. The Rev. 
Drs. Moore and Cochrane, of the Presbyterian 
Church, put me through a catechism which was 
by no means the "shorter," and then the 
Lieutenant-Governor sent for me, and again I 
was questioned closely as to the great West and 
its people. I suppose it was conceded that even 
at that time I had travelled over the Saskatche- 
wan valley more than any one of our mission- 
aries, and the others referred those who were 
inquiring about land and people to myself as to 
an authority ; and for my part, I was indeed 
glad to bear witness to both Church and State as 
to the country and its needs. This Missionary 
Conference decided on the opening of a new 
mission in the wild country along the mountains. 
The site was as yet undetermined and left 
largely to the Chairman of the District and the 
Missionary in charge of the work. It was also 
decided that Bro. John McDougall should under- 
take this mission. Thus I found myself facing 
a difficult and dangerous problem, for even the 
Hudson's Bay Company had been forced to 


withdraw from that country in the days gone 
by ; and because of the lawless condition of the 
territories to the south of us, the Indian tribes 
were now worse in every respect than at any 
earlier date. Smuggling and whiskey and fear- 
ful demoralization were now general. Never- 
theless, I felt much honored with the appoint- 

While we were in Winnipeg a distinguished 
party arrived en route across the continent, 
among whom were Mr. (now Sir Sandford) 
Fleming, Dr. Grant (later Principal of Queen's 
University), and Messrs. Macoun and Horetsky. 
This was a Government party sent out for 
the purpose of taking a look over the country 
on the line proposed for the Canadian Pacific 
Railway. The world was moving, and at last 
our Government was awaking to some sense 
of the importance of the great West. We, 
who knew a little about the land, were glad to 
welcome this party. Father and Susa and 
George returned with them to Edmonton, and 
they would fain have urged father to go on in 
their company to the Coast, but he could not 
spare the time from his work. 

The experiences of this transcontinental jour- 
ney furnished Dr. Grant with the material for 
his book, " From Ocean to Ocean," and I may 
be pardoned if I quote from this interesting 


volume a passage in which Dr. Grant, describing 
the difficulties of travel on the plains, takes the 
opportunity to pay an affectionate tribute to my 
father. " In the afternoon drive," he writes, " the 
big Carlton waggon, drawn by the span, broke 
down. The iron bolt connecting the fore wheels 
with the shaft broke in two. Shaganappi 
had been sufficient for every mishap hitherto, 
but this seemed too serious a case for it ; but, 
with the ready help of Mr. McDougall, shagan- 
appi triumphed, and we were delayed only an 
hour. No one ever seems non-plussed on the 
plains ; for every man is a jack- of -all- trades, 
and accustomed to makeshifts. When an axle 
broke, the men would hand out a piece of white 
birch, shape it into something like the right 
thing, stick it in, tie it with shaganappi, and be 
jogging on at i - he old rato before a professional 
carriage builder could have made up his mind 
what was best to be done. Mr. McDougall in 
particular was invaluable. In every difficulty 
we called upon him, and he never failed us. He 
would come up with his uniform, sober, pleasant 
look, take in the bearings of the whole case, 
and decide promptly what was to be done. He 
was our deus ex machina. Dear old fellow- 
traveller ! how often you are in our thoughts | 
Your memory is green in the hearts of every 
one who ever travelled with you." 



Conference over, I leave on a visit to Ontario Dr. Punshon 
Passing the Customs A stubborn Jehu Northern 
Railroad at Moorehead Take steamer at Duluth Re- 
visiting scenes of my boyhood Collingwood Craigvale 
Toronto College education denied My second mar- 
riage Westward bound Seasickness A " wild and 
woolly " town Heading off a steamer Down the Red 
River Dr. Bryce Westward rush begun A merited 

A FEW days sufficed for our missionary gather- 
ing, and presently we were away, I to join the 
eastern party and visit for a few weeks the 
scenes of my childhood. This was pleasant in 
prospect, but when I had the privilege of travel- 
ling in the company of such men as Drs. 
Punshon and Wood and Mr. John Macdonald, 
it was to me a greatly prized opportunity. We 
embarked on the International at Fort Garry, 
and soon were stemming the muddy, sluggish 
current of the Red. It was a sultry afternoon, 
and Dr. Punshon, bitten on the hand by a lively 
mosquito, came to me in his trouble ; not only 
because of the pain and swelling, but also to 
inquire as to the ineffectuality of the mosquito 
netting he had on his hat. Said this learned 



(Page W.) 


man, " I took the precaution of purchasing some 
netting, and a lady friend arranged it on my hat 
nicely ; but it seems of no avail against these 
pests." I told him that all the netting in sight 
arranged as his was would be of no avail ; and 
then, ripping it from its artistic setting on his 
hat, and borrowing needle and thread from the 
stewardess, I made the netting into a sack which 
came down over the Doctor's head and neck, 
and told him to put on his gloves and fear no 
more. He was greatly astonished and most 
grateful, and wondered that he had not thought 
of this earlier. The Doctor was full of questions 
concerning the West, and as we were standing 
together on the steamer's deck looking out on 
the plains of the Red River valley, he suddenly 
asked me how many horses I had. I straight- 
way began to count up on my fingers : there 
were Moose Hair and Jack and Little Bob and 
Archie, and the two Browns, and Beaso, and 
Wahbee, etc., until I had twelve, that I told him 
if he knew anything about horses he could 
either ride or pack or drive, and that I had some 
unbroken mares and colts running at large on 
the range. " My, what a stud for a preacher ! " 
was his exclamation, and as he was a big, stout, 
heavy man, I drew up a little closer to His 
Bigness and said, "If you had my work to 
do, Dr. Punshon, you would require seventy 


times as many as I have." Then he laughed 
and said, " That is true, John, and I do not mind 
if you have a thousand so long as you do your 

At the boundary line we met the Customs 
officer. My party, desiring to go ashore, left 
their keys with me and asked me to look after 
their baggage. With us but not of us was a 
tall man named Snider, who came and put his 
carpet-bag beside my pile, but I moved it away 
and suggested that he had better look after his 
own luggage. When the Customs House officer 
came I stood beside my stack of valises and 
grips, and jingled a half dozen bunches of keys 
in my hand, ready to open everything if need 
be. " Who do these belong to ? " he inquired. 
" To those gentlemen you met on the gangway 
and myself," I answered, and he chalked them 
through without the opening of a single one. 
" Whose is this ? " was the next question, point- 
ing to the carpet-bag I had fortunately moved 
away from our heap. " Mine," said the tall 
man. " Open it," came the command, and the 
tall man opening his bag, the officer put his 
hands in down to the bottom and brought up a 
nice bundle of martin skins, and quietly putting 
them under his arm, moved on. The tall man 
was visibly disturbed at this confiscation, and I 
read him a lesson on attempting to smuggle. I 


was glad enough that I had moved that bag 
from our belongings. 

Reaching Grand Forks we were told that the 
boat would go no farther, and that all passengers 
would now proceed by waggon. Behold us, 
then, in a little while crowded into high-seated, 
low-covered, springless waggons. Here, while 
looking after the luggage of my friends, the 
Doctors, I was crowded out of their company 
and jammed into that of a strange lot of fellow- 
passengers. As we rode over the rough prairie 
trail the jolting was terrific. To sit with heads 
bowed and legs dangling in the air was growing 
to be something like purgatory, and I very soon 
began to agitate for a change. By taking out 
the top sides of the box and lowering our seats 
that much, we might make ourselves passably 
comfortable, but when I mentioned this to the 
driver he at once with an oath declared, " You 
shall do no such thing." I persisted in my 
demand, but still the stubborn driver refused. 
However, at the first stop we made I had my 
men ready, and we adjusted the seats while the 
driver was looking after his horses. On his 
return he was furious, but I gently told him not 
to worry, and assured him that we could go on 
without him, even if we had to leave him bound 
hand and foot to do so. Seeing we were in 
earnest, and that all his cursing and fuming 


would be futile, he gave up, and before the day 
was over had to admit that my plan was the 
best. To Dr. Punshon that long day under such 
circumstances was excruciating. 

At dusk we crossed the Red River at George- 
town, where more than twelve years before father 
and our party had camped for some days when we 
were en route into the north. We still had twelve 
or fourteen miles to do before reaching the rail- 
road at Moorehead, and had it not been for Mr. 
Macdonald's forethought we would have hung 
around an atmosphere of smoke and mosquitoes 
for hours ; but he had telegraphed for a waggon 
for our party, and there it was standing and 
ready for us. However, we were very hungry, 
and on inquiring were told by the big German 
who owned the place we were stopping at that 
they had no food cooked. Then Mr. Macdonald 
asked if they had bread, and the answer came 
back, " Oh ! yes." Again he asked if they had 
milk. " Oh ! yes." " Then please give us some 
bread and milk," and soon down to big bowls of 
milk and chunks of bread we sat to satisfy our 
present hunger. The long afternoon over a 
rough prairie road in a springless heavy waggon 
had given us large appetites. 

Our homely fare disposed of, we climbed into 
the lumber waggon and again set forth into the 
summer's night. Crossing Buffalo Creek we 



took the long level plain for Moorehead and the 
railroad. Every man in the party tried his 
turn on John, the driver, to induce him to trot 
even a wee bit, but it was no go. John's horses 
walked, and continued to walk, and it was not 
till the early morn of the next day that we 
entered the new railway town, just as one of the 
dance halls was turning its crowd into the 
streets. On hearing them Dr. Punshon remarked 
drily, that " those young fellows had evidently 
been to Sunday-school." We found that the 
train left at 5 a.m., and arranging to be called 
early enough for a cup of coffee, we lay down 
for an hour or two to sleep. Here once more I 
heard the whistle of a locomotive. Twelve 
years and better had passed since I left the 
northerly railhead at La Crosse, on the Missis- 
sippi. Steadily northward steam and steel had 
since then been forcing their way. Twelve 
years in the wilderness, but now I am in touch 
with all the world ! 

Sharp at five we were away, speeding behind 
the iron horse, and to me for a time the sensa- 
tion was delightful. ''Come with me, John," 
said Dr. Punshon, and he led the way into 
another car and presented me to a company of 
railway magnates, who soon satisfied them- 
selves of my " bona-fides," and straightway the 
questions came thick and fast concerning the 


Canadian North- West. I noticed that it was 
extremely gratifying to these men to learn that 
far north of their line there were vast areas of 
fertile country. They thanked me most heartily, 
and then pressed Dr. Punshon to come to St. 
Paul and give them a lecture on his way home. 
This he consented to do, and left us at Duluth 
for St. Paul. At Brainard we were held up by 
a subsidence in the road east of us, and after 
some hours' waiting were taken to the spot and 
transferred to another train. I remember Dr. 
Punshon was very anxious about this muskeg, 
and I had to pilot him across the floating bog at 
the side of the track. The whole bottom had 
fallen out under the dump indeed it was all 

On down the slope of Superior we rolled, and 
into the new port of Duluth, where the good 
ship Cumberland, with steam up, was awaiting 
our train. From the hurricane deck of a cayuse 
to that of a palatial side-wheeler was a big 
translation, and for a change I liked it so long 
as the lake was placid, and such it proved as we 
coasted down the north shore of Lake Superior. 
We touched at Port Arthur, Nepigon, and Michi- 
picoten,then on to the "Soo," where I stopped over 
one boat to meet some old friends of my boyhood 
and renew my youth with them among the scenes 
of various canoe and Mackinaw boat experi- 


ences. I also visited Garden River, where, with 
father and mother and little brother and sisters, 
we had landed amongst wild drunken Indians 
twenty years before. I stood on the spot where 
as a lad I had driven the oxen which hauled the 
timber to build the first mission house and 
church. I crossed to Sugar Island and visited 
the churches, and found both still alive and 
active. It was like old times to hear Mrs. Church 
exclaim, "Why, Johnnie McDougall!" "Oh, 
how you talk ! " " You don't say so," etc., etc. 
Generous and good as neighbors to all of us they 
were in those early days. 

Coming back to the "Soo," and while walking 
on the dock, I met a couple of gentlemen passen- 
gers, and at the first glance knew them to be 
Hudson's Bay Company officers. A feeling of 
gladness came over me as I recognized the stamp 
of the north and west in their walk and talk 
and actions, and soon I was as one of them, 
though we had never met previously. I learned 
in course of an interesting conversation that they 
were on their way into the wilds of northern 

I caught the next boat down on the Canadian 
side, and from the deck feasted my eyes on the 
scenery of the old North Shore route. Calling 
in at the Bruce Mines and at Little Current and 
Killarney, and crossing the wide stretches of 


Georgian Bay, we came into the port of Colling- 
wood, where I bade farewell to my Hudson's 
Bay Company friends. From Collingwood I 
took train to Craigvale, where I expected to find 
my uncles and cousins, as also other friends. 
Allandale, Barrie, Lake Simcoe, all familiar, and 
it seems but as yesterday when I was paddling 
a birch canoe along these shores ; and yet more 
than twelve years of continuous travel and toil 
have passed, and many hardships and countless 
adventures and perils have been experienced, 
and the boy has grown to manhood. " Will my 
old playmates recognize me ? " I ask myself, and 
as I walk from the station to uncle's store and 
home, I am all on the strain in the excitement of 
coming home again, and full of the sense that 
this is indeed " my own, my native land." 

Entering the store I saw my cousin Charlie 
waiting on customers, and I stood as one waiting 
his turn. People came and went whom I had 
known, but I was as a stranger amongst them. 
Fully an hour passed and I was not recognized, 
but after many glances from Charlie he at last 
got a glimpse of me as of old, and dropping 
everything he exclaimed, "Are you John Mc- 
Dougall ? " I nodded ready assent, and then my 
welcome was hearty, and presently aunt and 
other cousins were around me as one from the 


A short sojourn with these relatives, and then 
on to Toronto, where I called on my fellow- 
travellers, Drs. Punshon and Wood and Mr. 
Macdonald. I also met the Rev. Lachlan Taylor, 
Secretary of Missions, and was gently reminded 
by both President and General Secretary that 
my time in Ontario was short. They also advised 
me to look around for a companion, and indeed 
were very solicitous on my behalf. A personal 
matter, that even my own father had never pre- 
sumed to mention or converse with me about, 
these wise old men were quite insistent upon ! 
However, I had my own thoughts in the case, and 
now it came upon me strongly that I would like 
to attend college for the year, and immediately 
I went to the President, but was met with a 
prompt refusal. " No, sir," he said, " you must 
return ; your work needs you. A college educa- 
tion is not an essential, it is a luxury ; neither 
we nor you can afford it." Thus Dr. Punshon 
met me with kindness yet firmness, and though 
longing for the college, yet my recent vows of 
obedience were also ringing in my ears, so I 
gave up the matter and settled down to visit 
and enjoy my short sojourn in eastern Canada. 
Nevertheless, Dr. Wood must insist on my visit- 
ing one of our missions where a protegd of his 
was teaching school ; but Providence had some- 
thing else in store for me. I found that there 


would be no boat to this special point for some 
days, and therefore took another in an en- 
tirely different direction, and while on this trip 
met a young lady who made me say to myself, 
" If I can win her consent she shall go with me 
to the North- West ! " 

The next time I visited Toronto Dr. Wood was 
very anxious to know how I found the people 
at the isolated mission, and expressed surprise 
when I told him I had not been there. " Well, 
well," said he, " you must hurry up ; the season 
is advancing and the distance is great." The 
Doctor knew a little about it, for he had gone as 
far west as Portage la Prairie. Then I told him 
I was advancing slowly and wisely from my 
standpoint, and he said, " Go ahead, young man." 
And in good time I did go on with my project 
and was successful, and late in September we 
were married. My bride, poor girl, little thought 
of the long, difficult journey on which I was 
taking her, nor yet, describe as I might, did she 
nor many other of the eastern people realize the 
conditions. But in her case it was " Will go 
with you, John, to the ends of the earth if 
need be." 

We were married at Cape Rich, and sailed from 
Collingwood on the Chicora, calling at Owen 
Sound on the way. Instead of my bride only I 
found myself at the head of a little party bound 


for the Red River, including portions of two fam- 
ilies who expected to find their complement in 
the far West. We left Owen Sound some time 
after midnight, and soon were out in a gale on the 
wide stretch of the bay. My wife proved to be 
a much better sailor than myself. She and a 
few others went to breakfast, while I and the 
majority had no special desire for breaking fast. 
There were some jokes and fun at my expense. 
One young lady thought it was great fun that 
she on her first trip should do better than " a 
veteran like Mr. McDougall." I said little, but 
kept on the broad of my back. After a time, the 
ship continuing to roll and pitch, I noticed the 
young lady paling a little, and presently she also 
stretched herself out on the opposite side of the 
saloon. Then I opened conversation ; it was my 
turn to laugh. "So you enjoyed your break- 
fast ? " " Yes," faintly. " You've had a turn on 
the deck?" "Yes," more faintly. "Do you 
know what they are going to have for dinner ? " 
" No," in a whisper. " It is now 11.30, are you 
hungry ? " " No," with pathos and much feel- 
ing. All of a sudden my young lady jumped 
up and rushed for her stateroom, uttering a 
distressed "Oh, my! oh, my!" etc. For the 
rest of the trip we christened the complaint 
which affected our passenger list the " Oh, my ! " 
disease. However, in a few hours we were in 


the straits of Killarney, and our agony was over, 
and not until we reached Lake Superior was 
there much chance for further seasickness. Given 
comfortable ship and agreeable companions, with 
weather not too rough, and the North Shore 
route is a most enjoyable trip ; the scenery is 
fine, and the whole run is pleasant. 

Locking through the "Soo" canal, we were soon 
out on the great Lake Superior and hugging 
the northern shore. The weather was propitious, 
and we kept on deck most of the time. For the 
past twelve years my life had been spent on the 
plains in high altitudes, and this sniffing of the 
breeze direct from the fresh waters was a very 
much appreciated change. We called, as was the 
wont at the time, at every point on the lake, and 
finally came to Duluth, where we took the train 
for the west. 

During my stay in the east the St. Paul, Min- 
neapolis and Manitoba Railway had come north, 
and, crossing the Northern Railway east of the 
Red River, was now advanced as far as the Red 
Lake River. Arriving at the latter point, we 
found to our dismay that the boat had left on 
the afternoon of the previous day with a full 
load for Fort Garry. " When would there be 
another boat ? " No one knew. This place in 
all truth was "wild and woolly;" gambling 
and drinking dens and dancing halls practically 


made up the town. The rapid building of the 
railway and the navigation during the season 
to this point had brought a full quota of these 
parasites of humanity to feed on the navvies 
and travellers who, when stranded here, were 
more or less at their mercy. Obtaining some 
lunch for my party in one of the tents, I went 
out to reconnoitre, and found that it was twenty 
miles across the country to Grand Forks, where 
one might possibly find some accommodation. I 
accosted a genuine specimen of the New Eng- 
land Yankee westernized, and found that he had 
a waggon and team, which I went to see, and 
he offered to drive me over to Grand Forks with 
my party for twenty dollars. I told him to 
hitch up, and then ran to notify my people to be 

In a very short time we were rolling over the 
prairie, grateful beyond expression to leave this 
place of wild lawlessness. To me the change 
was delightful. I was again on the plains, and 
perched on the top of some luggage, with a couple 
of children in hand lest they should jolt off, I 
thoroughly enjoyed the western air and scene. 
We had not gone more than five miles when I 
saw the smoke-stacks of a steamer. I watched 
and waited until I saw she was heading our 
way, and then I gave the wild western whoop, 
and our driver started and wanted to know 


where the "Injuns" were. "There are the 
engines" I said, pointing to the smoke-stacks, 
which now and then would appear between the 
fringing of timber along the river's bank. 
" Jerusalem ! there she is, sure enough. Well, 
pardner," he continued, " what shall we do ? " 
" Drive over and head her off," was my answer, 
and across the prairie we made as rapidly as we 
could to intercept the steamer, which had left 
the railway crossing we had just now come 
from more than twenty-four hours since. Such 
was navigation on this tortuous stream. 

Picking a suitable spot for the steamer to land 
at, we waited her appearance, and when she was 
sufficiently near I hailed, " Ship ahoy ! " " What 
do you want ? " cried the captain. " To go 
aboard," was my answer. " We are full and 
have no accommodation." " Never mind, Captain ; 
shove her bow in and give us a plank," I 
answered. " I tell you we have no room," came 
back to us. " That is a matter of detail ; take 
us on board," was my straight answer. Then 
there was a change of voice from the same man. 
" Is that you, Mr. McDougall ? " was now the 
question. " Yes, Captain," I shouted back, and 
the bells jingled and the big wheel spokes rolled 
over, and right into the bank where we stood 
came the nose of the steamer, and in five minutes 
we with all luggage were on the boat. The tall 


Yankee and I split the difference, that is, I gave 
him ten dollars and a warm shake of the hand ; 
the bells jingled and over went the wheel, and 
we turned to find ourselves in a dense crowd of 
people seeking the west country. Every state- 
room and berth was occupied, and the saloon 
curtained off at night ; one part given over to 
the women and children, and the balance chalked 
by the steward so as to give each man his two- 
by-six-feet on the floor with one pair of thin 
blankets. But we were on the steamer and 
moving on to the Red, and I was happy to have 
my party going to their destination. 

On the boat I found Dr. Bryce and wife, they 
also newly married and, like ourselves, on the 
homeward journey. I also found on this much 
crowded steamer Commodore Kitson, the man- 
ager of the line, a typical old frontiersman. 
This was the beginning of the rush to Manitoba 
the name there usually pronounced with a 
marked accent on the last syllable. The new 
country was now attracting some attention. It 
was three days from the time we boarded the 
steamer before we rounded the point into the 
Red, and the boat was actually four days mak- 
ing the run from the Crossing, a distance of 
only twenty miles across the country. Now we 
were out on the larger Red River and would 
make better time. 


Reaching Grand Forks, I saw Mr. Kitson with 
his private secretary debark, and then there was 
a rush to the steward to secure the vacated 
stateroom, but the answer was uniform, 
" Already engaged," and in due time the steward 
came to me and said that Mr. Kitson had in- 
structed him to keep the room for Mr. Mc- 
Dougall. I had not asked for it, yet here was 
a case of the last being first, and we were 
thankful for the kindly act of the old pioneer. 
However, I did not approach that stateroom 
for some time, as there were many who thought 
they had a prior claim to it. 

Down the " Red River of the North " we 
headed with our steamer, the International 
Captain Amyot in command, laden with many 
tons of freight and crowded from the main to 
the hurricane deck with men and women seek- 
ing their fortune in this great free country. 
They were of all classes professional, agricul- 
tural, mechanical tradesmen of all sorts ; also 
some of no particular occupation, nondescripts, 
who had come to the West thinking that per- 
haps this new strange land might locate them, 
for thus far in life they had found it impossible 
to locate themselves. A queer medley of nation- 
alities they were ; many of them Scotch, among 
whom the Professor (Dr. Bryce) took the lead, 
which, by the way, he has kept well, for he is 


now, as I write, the honored Moderator of the 
General Assembly of the great Presbyterian 
Church in Canada, and, I believe, making his 
calling and election sure for the greater General 
Assembly of the first-born in the larger 

The last time I went down this muddy stream 
we were on a small barge, and our motive power 
big sweeps in the hands of stalwart men whose 
loins were girt about with Hudson's Bay sashes, 
and whose meat was pemmican. Four at a 
time, in six-hour turns, these men kept at it 
day and night without stop, and for eight days 
and nights we wound down from Georgetown, 
a city of two houses, even to Fort Garry and 
the Red River Settlement, of whose people and 
their habit of life a facetious Yankee said some 
years later, " Why, sir, everything is done out 
here by man's strength and stupidness," for as 
yet no modern machinery had come in, neither 
had it entered into the heads or hearts of any 
of these passive aboriginal peoples to dream of 
such. But now we are vibrant with the throb 
of our engines ; every plank and bolt in our 
vessel is nervous with motion, and undoubtedly 
as we swing the bends of the river we are con- 
scious of the beginning of a wonderful change. 
In this we have the advantage of our fellow- 
passengers, for we have some knowledge of the 


country to be exploited, and in a small way its 
infinite possibilities are dawning upon us. 

It was a beautiful Sabbath morning as we 
" crossed the Rubicon " to wit, the forty-ninth 
parallel and entered into our own domain. 
Dr. Bryce preached, while I acted as precentor 
and general " roustabout," and our service was 
well attended and much appreciated. It was 
we^i on in the afternoon that we began to touch 
tlie outer fringings of the old half-breed settle- 
ments. A crowd of new-comers were around 
me, and I was hurt to hear their language as 
they spoke of the English and Scotch and Ger- 
man and French mixed bloods and Indian 
peoples. These very " fresh " men were nasty 
and vulgar, and sometimes most shameful in 
their modes of expression. Presently I had my 
chance, for as we swept past a cluster of houses 
ranged in a row on the bank, a typical French 
half-breed in plains' costume came out of one 
house and entered another, and the crowd, as 
they noticed his flaxen hair and beard and clear 
white face, exclaimed : u There is a white man ; 
he is no d d breed, at any rate." Then I said : 
" There is just where you are mistaken, gentle- 
men, for that is a genuine mixed blood, and 
many of these are as white and as fair as your- 
selves ; and in any case, why call them such 
names and use such nasty language towards 


them ? Whose fault is it, if it is any fault ? 
Where did the Scotch and English and French 
come from ? In all this you are belying your- 
selves, gentlemen, and I must say that I have 
felt hurt as I have mingled with you and lis- 
tened to the tone of your conversation concerning 
these people. You are going into their country 
and will have more or less intercourse with 
them, and I advise you to be more careful, or at 
least be more courteous," and as I turned on my 
heel I added casually, "for I also am a half- 
breed." Later one of the party came to me 
curious to know if I really meant what I said. 
" Was I really a half-breed ? " I laughingly 
told him that my mother was a pure-bred 
Englishwoman and my father a Scotch-Canadian, 
so I thought very reasonably that I was a half- 
breed. I have knocked about a lot and have 
been thrown into association with many peoples, 
but for sublime indifference to the sensibilities 
of other folk and the most flagrant selfishness 
the ordinary white man " takes the cake," and 
were it not for the leaven of Christianity we 
would be at war with all the rest of mankind. 



Arrival at Fort Garry Kindly received by Rev. Geo. Young 
and wife Mr. Marshall Wife and self start out alone on 
our long journey " The steady jog " A lordly Irishman 
"Give him a terrible pounding for me " A prairie fire 
Meet with a party of fugitive Sioux Participants in 
the Minnesota massacre Mr. Macdonald and Mr. Audey 
" You will do for the North- West, Mrs. McDougall." 

IT was in the waning of the Sabbath day that 
we rounded into the mouth of the Assiniboine 
and landed at Fort Garry, and there was a chill 
autumn darkness over the land as we walked 
down to the first Methodist parsonage ever built 
in what is now the Province of Manitoba. Mr. 
and Mrs. Young and their son George received 
us kindly and made us feel very much at home. 
We also met Mr. Marshall, of Owen Sound, who 
had but recently come to Manitoba, and who has 
continued even unto this day helping to found 
and build up the city and province. 

It was now well on in October, and Mr. Young 
said, " You should stay here for the winter, 
John ; there is plenty of work, and I will bear 
all responsibility in the matter." But I felt that 
we must go on to our own post of duty, and 
early next morning set out securing provisions 


and outfit for the trip. On my way down from 
the plains the village of Winnipeg had assumed 
quite large proportions, but now as I walked 
through it I suddenly found myself north of the 
stores I wanted, having passed them en route. 
The horizon of my vision had grown, and this 
new place was now crude and small. My horses 
were out at Rat Creek, some seventy-five miles 
distant, but I had taken the precaution of order- 
ing a "democrat" before going east, and this 
was now ready. So I bought a pony and set of 
harness, and loading our stuff on to the waggon 
and buying a Hudson's Bay blanket capote for 
my wife, we bade our good friends farewell 
and started on Tuesday afternoon on our real 

We had not loitered in the confines of civiliza- 
tion longer than sufficed us to purchase horse and 
rig and outfit, and now we are off. We have 
too much load to make time ; nevertheless, we 
camp at Headingly with the Gowlers the 
first night, and make Poplar Point to camp 
with another Gowler for the second night. The 
third day we reach Rat Creek to find our 
friends, the McKenzies, glad to see us, and 
setting themselves with lavish hospitality to 
entertain our little party. My young wife 
was now beginning to awaken to the largeness 
of the West. Hitherto she had stood the journey 


well and enjoyed it, but from this point we would 
indeed enter the wilderness. 

I found my horses in good shape. Little Bob 
and Archie and my new brown and another 
older brown were glad to see me and fully ready 
for the road. I bought a cart and harness and 
more provisions, fixed everything ready, and then 
drove over westward to see my cousin John, 
who had established himself at this point. We 
spent a quiet Sunday at Burnside with the 
McKenzies, who, consequent upon father's visit 
to Ontario in 1867-8, had come out to Manitoba, 
and to-day rank among her most successful 
farmers and citizena That one talk by father 
in the town of Guelph during the winter of 
1867-8 had brought these instinctive makers of 
empire, and through them hundreds of others, 
to this land of rich promise. Just now they 
could not do enough for us, and the good old 
Scotch mother took my young wife to heart in 
such manner as to cheer her on her long, strange 
journey. As the season was now so late I failed 
utterly in my effort to find any one to attempt 
the road with us, so I prepared for a lonely 
journey. I divided my goods about evenly 
between the democrat and cart, giving Little 
Bob and Archie the work of pulling the former 
in turn, and the old brown mare and the pony I 
had just bought the latter. The new brown of 
Fort Pitt breeding I kept as my saddle-horse. 


On the morning of October 15th we left the 
hospitable home of the McKenzies and headed 
westward, my little wife with democrat in the 
lead, the cart following, and myself in saddle 
driving both cart and loose horses. " Keep the 
steady jog, Lizzie," were my instructions to her 
who had vowed to obey me, and thus we rolled 
toward the setting sun. The days were short 
and we had to rise early and travel late to make 
time ; the nights, too, were cold, and sometimes 
the days were stormy, but we kept steadily at 
it. Occasionally my wife would drop asleep 
with the steady jog step and the isolation of her 
vanguard station, and I would then shout cheerily 
to her and she would start afresh. By the 
tracks I knew that some company of freighters 
was not far ahead of us. A considerable portion 
of the country, too, was newly burnt, and I was 
feeling sore because of the careless act of some 
thoughtless man, and mentally breathing out 
threatenings and slaughter against him. We had 
reached the eastern border of what are known 
as the Beautiful Plains, north of where Car berry 
is now situated, when we met a party coming 
from the mouth of the South Branch. The 
leader was a big lordly-looking Irishman, a 
friend of Captain Butler, the author of "The 
Great Lone Land." At once he shouted out to 
me, " Do you know who is starting these abom- 


inable prairie fires ? " I said, " No, sir," and 
he began a tirade against any such person, at 
the same time threatening what he would do if 
he should catch him. While he was speaking I 
was looking ahead for Mrs. McDougall and the 
cart, when away beyond them I saw a man on 
foot and alone, and as I was watching him I saw 
that he stooped to the prairie, and up came a 
smoke and blaze. The villain was firing the 
grass. " There's your man," said I to the wrath- 
ful Irishman, and with an oath he turned his 
horse and galloped towards the culprit, while I 
cantered after my outfit. Presently my big gen- 
tleman turned and met us, and asked me to 
become his proxy. Said he, "You are going 
that way ; will you just oblige me by giving that 
rascal a terrible pounding. I will be forever 
grateful if you will," and thus we parted. When 
we did come up to the half-drunken French 
half-breed I asked him where he was going, and 
he said that his party was ahead on their way to 
Fort Ellice, but that they had left him when he 
was drunk, and he was burning the grass so 
they would be without feed on the return 
journey. I told him to jump on my cart and 
ride, and while I did not pound the half -silly 
fellow, I did give him a fright which sobered him 
up. This pounding some one by proxy is an old 
trick of others besides the Irish race, but this 


time moral suasion, I believe, did better, for the 
fellow promised me he would never again be so 
foolish and wicked. 

It was late when we came up to the Fort 
Ellice party at Miry Creek. I saw that the 
whole party were more or less under the influence 
of whiskey, so I prudently kept the creek be- 
tween as and camped a little lower down. I had 
noticed about dark a fire in the distance to the 
south-westward, and this was another reason for 
my stopping short of crossing the creek. About 
nine o'clock the wind brought this fire down on 
us at a great rate, and had the effect of sobering 
up to some extent my friends on the other 
side of the creek. Standing out as I did with 
my horses, I could see their frantic moves to 
round up their stock and load up the carts ; then 
there was a cry of dismay and some one shouted 
" Powder ! powder ! " and in frantic haste they 
ran two of their carts down into the creek up to 
the axles, and soaking the blankets, covered the 
carts with them. It was a dark night, but this 
wild rushing flame with its clouds of reflecting 
smoke rolling down upon us was a gorgeous 
sight. I saw that I might save a few acres of 
feed by firing before the oncoming flash of flame 
reached us, and I went to work and succeeded in 
keeping the fire from my camp. In this I was 
much helped by the camp to the windward of 


me, for these worked hard to protect their camp, 
and the spot being much used, the grass was 
short and close cropped, which favored us in our 
efforts. Like ten thousand demons in robes of 
flame the big fire swept past us the creek was 
but a tiny check and on westward it rolled, leav- 
ing all quiet in our vicinity. My wife had seen 
her first prairie fire and still lived, and at this 
she was at the time much surprised. 

Early the next morning we forded the deep 
Miry Creek in safety, pushed on across the Little 
Saskatchewan and skirted along the south shore 
of Shoal Lake. Had one dry camp only between 
there and Bird Tail Creek. This was harder on 
our horses than on us, as we had a can of peaches, 
but we were very glad of a cup of tea at the Bird 
Tail Creek next morning. Before we reached 
that point, however, I experienced quite a shock. 
Something went wrong with the cart, and while 
I was fixing it Mrs. McDougall drove on, and 
with the windings of the road between the 
islands of timber was soon lost to sight. When 
I did start I rode right into a lot of hard-looking 
Sioux, and as I was in no mood to palaver with 
them until I could see what had happened in 
front, I was surrounded by these fellows, who 
rode back with me. Then when we met their 
women and children and whole camp moving, 
and still no sign of the democrat nor my wife, 


I hustled that cart and those horses through 
the crowd, and was indeed glad to catch sight 
of the waggon-cover shaking as usual, for Mrs. 
McDougall had never let up on the steady jog. 
She was all this time serenely unconscious of 
what was happening, and it was well, for these 
were the fugitives from the massacre in Minne- 
sota and a most lawless lot of Indians. I turned 
loose all the Stoney I was worth, and found 
one of the crowd who spoke a little Cree, and 
they began to find out that I was not altogether 
a tenderfoot. When they had told me where 
they came from and where they were going, and 
sought my approval of same, and when I had 
given them to understand that I had come from 
far, where people were many, and was to go far, 
even until I would be with some of their own 
kin near the Rocky Mountains, then they pro- 
duced some papers they were carrying, and were 
anxious I should look at these and endorse the 
same, and thus with much protestation of mutual 
regard we parted. I straightway galloped after 
my wife and the cart and horses, and was ex- 
ceedingly grateful to find these pounding on 
westward entirely oblivious of the fact that 
we had just now met with some of the partici- 
pants in the horrible massacres of the early 
sixties, many of the victims of which we had 
become acquainted with on our way into this 


country ; all of these, white and red alike, being 
the terrible sacrifice of life caused by the im- 
morality and cupidity of men who had to do 
with the Indian Department of the United 
States. After our day camp we were glad to 
unhitch and breakfast beside the beautiful little 
Bird Tail Creek. While we were again hitching 
up, a Hudson's Bay factor and clerk, Messrs. 
McDonald and Audey, drove up. Seeing Mrs. 
McDougall harnessing her horse, the factor came 
out with a hearty " That's right, Mrs. McDougall. 
It does me good to see you take hold in that 
way ; you will do for the North- West. " With 
Audey it was, " John, my dear fellow, how glad 
I am to see you, " etc. , and after we had said 
good-bye and they had gone on, he galloped back 
in great haste to apologize for calling me John. 
Only now had Mr. McDonald told him that I 
was duly ordained, and I laughed at his evident 
discomfiture and assured him that I was still 
John, only John ; and as he rode away I smiled 
at the thought of the hundreds of my Indian 
friends who would never know me by any other 
name than John, 



A half -breed's lingo Origin of languages Half way to Ed- 
monton Chief Factor McMurray A bitter storm 
First house at Batoche Duck Lake and Fort Carlton 
Fortunate meeting with my old friend, Jack Norris 
Neche stuck fast in a creek Another mishap Winter 
with a vengeance Bannock- making Buried in snow 
Camp-fire cheer Sufferings of our horses Brilliant 
night-scene Neche's simplicity " The man with the 
sharp axe " My wife nearly frozen Sandy McDonald, 
hero A plucky exploit Little Bob's plight Narrow 
escape from freezing Changing camp during the night 
Overcome by cold and exhaustion My wife's anxious 
night-watch Arrival at Fort Pitt. 

WE spent our first Sunday west of the crossing 
of the Assiniboine. I well remember the wild 
snow-storm of the Monday morning, and our 
driving for a couple of hours into its teeth, and 
how thankful we were when it ceased. We met 
a French half-breed that morning, and I inquired 
of him as to water on the road between here and 
the South Branch. He began his reply in Cree, 
then went into broken English, and was bringing 
in some French when I quietly interjected an in- 
quiry if he could speak Cree. He laughingly 
apologised and then became intelligible, and I 
thought as I shook the snow from my beard and 


rode after my wife that this was how languages 
had been formed. Here was a people who, if left 
to themselves long enough, would construct a 
distinct language out of a fusion of English, 
French, Cree and Saulteaux. 

And now the nights were cold and the ice fast 
forming on the lakes and ponds. It was no 
picnic to take off one's shoes and break the thin 
ice by wading away out into shallow ponds in 
order to obtain water out of which to do our 
cooking and make tea ; but such was now our 
daily and nightly experience as for another six 
days we rose early and travelled late, until on 
Saturday night we camped at the foot of the hill 
which was said to mark half way from Edmon- 
ton to Fort Garry. Here we spent our second 
Sunday, and during the day were joined by n 
party of Hudson's Bay Company officers. These 
men had been at Fort Ellice when we passed, 
and hearing from Messrs. McDonald and Audey 
of our journey westward, had chased us all the 
week, but had failed to come up. Had we not 
stopped for Sunday they would not have seen 
us, as our routes would diverge at Carl ton, they 
going north from that point to Green Lake and 
the Athabaska. Chief Factor Me Murray was of 
the party. Soon they went on and we were 
again alone. We had now spent two Sundays 
and fifteen travelling days with no other com- 


pany but our two selves. My young wife had 
driven through several storms, and most of the 
early mornings and late evenings had suffered 
from the cold ; yet she did not murmur nor in 
any other way chide me for bringing her into 
these hardships and this sublimity of isolation. 
That Sunday evening the sky looked ominous, 
and on rising before daylight Monday morning 
I was not surprised to find we were into a 
driving storm, and that it was more or less 
dead ahead. Nevertheless, we started early 
and drove into it ; the season was so advanced I 
did not dare lose the day loitering in camp. So 
on we drove through snow and sleet and cold 
wind, and when night came sought shelter in a 
dry bluff of timber. The snow was now thick 
on the ground, but I rushed around and got on 
a big blazing fire, covered the cart with the tent 
and made things as cheerful as I could, while 
my little wife helped, as she was most willing 
to do, though all this was very new to her. The 
next day was extremely cold, and when we came 
out to the South Branch we found the river 
full of floating ice. The first house built where 
Batoche now stands was at this time in process 
of erection, and some people were living in 
one end of it. I took my wife in there to warm, 
and was made very welcome by the French half- 
breed woman in charge ; then I ran down to the 



ferry and was dismayed to see the scow away 
down the river and half-way out of the water. 
However, I found a native and told him that if 
he would get another man and bring that scow 
up and cross us I would give him five dollars. 
I saw that the case was urgent ; another night's 
frost might make this river impassable for many 
days. Fortunately by dint of push we got across 
by dusk, and I was thankful to camp a little 
way up from the river. 

The next day we faced a snow-storm all the 
way by Duck Lake over to old Fort Carlton, 
which I passed and drove right on down to the 
river, as I saw that somebody had just crossed 
and was even then climbing the long hill on the 
other side. I shouted and made this party hear, 
and the answer came back, " There is no one to 
take the scow over." But I continued to shout, 
and then came welcome words of recognition, " Is 
that you, John ? " and I shouted across a vigor- 
ous " Yes." Then there was a change of atti- 
tude, and soon a couple of men came down the 
hill on the dead jump, while I galloped back 
to the fort to look up a man. I was directed 
to some lodges near by, where I found a man 
named Neche willing to go with me, and I 
hustled him down to the river. By this time 
the scow was across to us, and we soon had our 
horses and rigs aboard. I found my rescuer was 


my old friend, Jack Norris. " I would not 
have come back for any one else," he said, " for I 
am in a great hurry ; my carts have just gone on 
from the top of the bank. But I am glad, I 
assure you, to see you and your wife. I tell you, 
John, we're in for it ; I'm afraid winter is upon 
us, and we're a long way from home, my boy. 
But if anybody can go through we can, can't 
we, John ? " and thus Jack talked as he worked, 
and soon we were across the big river. 

It was now the first day of November, 1872, 
and winter was setting in earlier than in any of 
my previous years in the North- West. " This 
climate is going back on us, John," said my 
friend Jack, and verily it was a revelation to 
me, this precipitate rushing of winter. Jack 
Frost was strengthening his grip with every 
passing day. We camped near Norris and his 
outfit that night ; he had a big string of carts 
and with him was another party, a free trader. 
Early the next morning we started, but had not 
gone far when we came to a boggy, swampy 
creek, axle-deep. It was frozen over, but the 
ice was not strong enough to bear either horses 
or rigs. Jack coming up, he and I plunged our 
horses into the ice and smashed a channel for 
the carts and waggons; but when MFS. Mc- 
Dougall drove in her democrat stuck about the 
middle of the stream, and when Little Bob really 


bent to it he hauled the shaft cross-bar right out 
of the shafts, and then we were forced to wade 
in and partially unload the waggon. I carried 
my wife ashore, and then with friend Jack, 
heeding not the ice-cold water, backed and pulled 
until our waggon was on the other shore. By 
this time we were armored with ice, and were 
glad enough to reach the nearest bluff of dry 
wood and get thawed out. The weather now 
was snapping cold, and if this kept up the 
swamps and creeks would bear by the morrow. 
My Neche proved to be a good-natured fellow, 
willing and obedient, and a great help now that 
we consumed so much more firewood and there 
was so much camp work to do. Jack and his 
party had quite a time crossing the stream, but 
by evening they were encamped near us. 

We had not gone more than a few hundred 
yards from camp next morning when the iron 
axle of the democrat snapped off near the inner 
end of the hub of the wheel, and down went the 
back part of the rig, and away rolled the wheel. 
It was fortunate that the mishap came to the 
rear part, else it had thrown my wife to the 
ground, and we might have had a serious acci- 
dent as well as a runaway. Here we were long 
leagues from a blacksmith-shop, and as yet 
without sufficient snow for a sleigh. I hired a 
cart from the party travelling with Jack, put a 


pole under my waggon, and resuming our 
journey camped that night at Bear's Paddling 
Lake. Mrs. McDougall now not only had the 
cold and wind to contend with, but with this 
she had to ride in the rough wooden cart, which 
at any time was a hard proposition, but now on 
the frozen ground was infinitely worse. How- 
ever, I determined to fix up the democrat on its 
three wheels and pole so that she would be 
able to ride in that with some comfort or less 
discomfort. Here Jack did not come up until 
next day, and in the meantime the storm had 
intensified so that I did not deem it prudent to 
travel. Down came the snow thick and fast, 
and by the third day at Bear's Paddling Lake 
we had eighteen inches of it on the level and 
immense drifts in places. Here was winter with 
a vengeance. As soon as the storm stayed we 
moved on and camped together for one night, 
but the next morning the others seemed loth to 
start, so we left them, and, as it proved, saw 
them no more on that trip. 

Oh, the weary miles of slow, arduous travel 
of those cold winter days ! Snow heavy on the 
level, hard and deep in the drifts, and these 
latter were many ; every little hollow and water- 
course and frozen creek full of it. " Fort Pitt 
Brown " led the way, or rather I led him, as we 
broke through the drifts backwards and forwards 


several times, beating down the deep snow ; then 
came Neche with the two carts, while Mrs. 
McDougall brought up the rear with her three- 
wheeled democrat, and thus we toiled and 
struggled only to make but slow progress. 
Archie and Little Bob had shoes on, which now 
threatened to be their death, for not only were 
these cold and heavy, but, worse still, they cut 
the grass so that when the horses pawed the 
deep snow away they left but little to feed 
on, and it made my heart sick to see the flesh 
wearing off them almost hourly. In turns they 
pulled the broken waggon and their poor young 
mistress, who must often have thought we were 
destined never to reach our journey's end. 
Fortunately our provisions, of which I had laid 
in a good stock at the Portage and Rat Creek, 
were holding out well. Every night we made 
bannocks, Mrs. McDougall mixing the dough 
while Neche and I did the baking. Our one 
frying-pan was a small one, and it would take 
ten bannocks of its size to last our party for the 
twenty- four hours. Mrs. McDougall would eat 
less than one, but Neche and I could easily finish 
the other nine and more. Appetites " furnished 
while you wait " on the western plains ! The 
effort was to daily move our bannock -baking 
some few miles nearer home. 

One bitterly cold evening we camped in an 


open bit of country between White Earth Creek 
and the Turtle River, where there were a few 
scattered willow groups and the remnant of a 
poplar bluff that had been burned over. We put 
our tent up for that night fortunately enough, 
as it proved and, finishing our baking and 
necessary camp work, we lay down to rest. In 
the night there came up a wild storm which 
effectually buried us. I was fully conscious 
it was daylight, but as the storm still raged 
furiously our only course was to lie still; the 
more so as it was some miles to any timber shel- 
ter. Here we were, buried from the rest of the 
world as effectually as one could conceive of ; the 
nearest human beings the party we had left some 
days since, and now perhaps forty miles behind 
us ; not a solitary settler within many scores of 
miles, and winter, solid winter, everywhere. 
My anxiety was mostly concentrated on our 
horses; would they survive such a storm and 
extreme cold ? and where would they wander to 
on this big plain if yet alive ? There we lay 
from about nine p.m. until two or three p.m. the 
next day, when, a lull coming in the storm, Neche 
and I dug our way out of this white cavern to 
look upon the storm-lashed world around us. 
We found the north-west wind still fresh, but 
moderating, and we also found a great wall of 
snow which had caught in some willows near by 


and grown to enormous proportions, and which 
we determined to make our shelter. To work 
we went to make a camp at the foot of this big 
snow-bank. Digging away the snow and laying 
a flooring of frozen willows, we made a big fire 
in front, and then I ventured to clear out a 
passage into the tent and bring my wife out 
from her snowy retreat. This was a great 
relief, even if it meant coming out into the open 
air tense with cold and also into one of the most 
wintry landscapes that one could behold. But 
when we had got our robes and bedding out and 
the camp in shape, with the kettle on the big 
fire and food thawing, then our horizon en- 
larged. Life was before us again, and we could 
afford to laugh and sing and be joyful. Were it 
not that the question of our horses and their 
whereabouts was constantly on my mind I would 
have been perfectly happy. 

Our meal over, I left Neche to gather up 
wood, for the night now approaching promised 
to be bitterly cold, and started out into the deep 
snow to look for traces of the horses. I ran 
straight with the storm for a while, then I came 
upon a partially filled track of one animal. This 
I followed and presently came to Little Bob, 
standing in the shelter of a small bush and 


completely covered with snow. At first I 
thought he was frozen dead ; but as I drew near 



the faithful fellow raised his head and neighed 
me a welcome, and while I felt like crying, yet 
I went joyously to work to clean him down 
and rub him back to warmth and life. By and 
by with a nicker and rub of the nose on my 
shoulder he said, " There, John, I feel very much 
better, and now I will help you to find the other 
chaps," and the wise old fellow started on a good 
trot through the deep snow, while I followed on 
the run. Soon we were beside the rest of our 
horses, and found them also in an icy covering 
of frost and snow. The poor brutes had been 
sweating when we turned them out the night 
before, and the perspiration had frozen and 
served to hold the snow as it fell. I spent about 
an hour giving them a good rubbing down with 
swamp grass, and noting that the shelter was 
better here, I said good-night to them and made 
a bee-line for camp, where I found my wife very 
anxious about both John and his horses. Neche 
had hustled and rustled and got together a huge 
pile of wood, and while the cold was increasing 
I did not apprehend any more storm for that 

Hitherto my wife had either the tent or the 
covered cart for shelter, but now she was to pass 
her first night in the full open camp. The stars 
like diamonds and brilliants were gemming the 
heavens above us, and the aurora ever and anon 


swept the sky athwart our vision, painting the 
world overhead in gorgeous hues. As we alter- 
nated in position between our big fire and the 
frozen atmosphere all around ns we could not 
help but look and admire and wonder. Speak- 
ing of the aurora Neche said, " The storm is 
over and the dancers are out for a good time ; 
their hearts are joyful to-night/' And with 
our horses found and living, ourselves in the full 
vigor of health, and with plenty of provisions in 
camp, we felt we had reason to be joyful also. 
If any of our friends had approached that 
lonely, snowy, frosty camp that night in Novem- 
ber of 1872 they would have heard no lamenta- 
tions, no sighings for the onions and garlics of 
old Egypt. Ours was an optimistic camp, and 
in full faith we cooked our bannocks and 
crunched our pemmican, made our beds, said our 
prayers, and calmly laid us down to sleep. There 
was no undressing as we travelled ; as we 
worked even so we slept, with the added weight 
of our bedding. 

Long before day we were up digging out the 
tent and releasing the carts and waggons from 
their covering of snow. With the first peep of 
dawn I was away after the horses. Oh, how I 
longed for a pair of snow-shoes ! Running and 
wading without them was very heavy work. 
Finding our horses all in good shape, once more 


we were off. We did not now attempt to follow 
the summer cart trail. Sonietimes we touched 
it and crossed it, but as everything was now 
frozen solid we took a straight course, or as 
straight as the big drifts would allow us. That 
night being Saturday, we considered we were 
fortunate in striking a bluff of poplar timber to 
make our camp in and wherein to spend Sunday. 
Neche was a pagan, some men would say, but 
he fully believed in the Good Spirit and was 
pleased to join in our morning and evening 
devotion ; he said it did him good. He had gone 
to war, had taken scalps, had brought home 
horses he had not paid for, but in all this he did 
not consider that he had made himself a sinner 
more than the rest of mankind, and certainly we 
found him a true fellow, courteous, considerate, 
patient, even chivalrous in his conduct to Mrs. 
McDougall. He was simple of mind, and I, who 
perhaps should not have done so, could not resist 
sometimes playing upon this childish simplicity. 
For instance, we consumed a great amount of 
wood at our night camps, and when it was 
approaching time to camp I would, as I led the 
way, begin an oration to the trees : " Oh ! ye 
trees that lift your tops heavenward and for 
many moons have stood, stately and proud, look- 
ing down upon your surroundings ; ye who have 
drank in the dews of many mornings, and 


bathed in the rains of many summers, and 
sucked up the moisture from the breast of 
Mother Earth ; hear me, ye trees of the forest, 
and as ye hear tremble, for your enemy is at 
hand. Even behind me comes the man of the 
strong arm and the sharp axe ; verily he is now 
approaching, and soon you will lie low." Thus 
I would talk, and Neche would laugh and 
chuckle and endorse me : " It is true, my master 
is giving you fair warning ; yes, the strong man 
and sharp axe are coming," and when we stopped 
it was amusing to see the despatch of the fellow 
as he unharnessed his horses and let them out of 
the carts, all the while repeating to himself, 
" Yes, he is coming, the strong man, and he is 
even now going for his sharp axe. Yes, oh, ye 
trees ! soon we will be among you, and presently 
you will fall to our camp. I will carry you in 
lengths for our fire." I can assure my readers 
Neche would work around those encampments 
with a will that ensured to us plenty of firewood, 
and this was most essential to our well-being at 
the time. Indeed, Neche and I were busy from 
early morning until late at night ; there was no 
cessation on that trip even for Sunday ; it was 
either work or freeze. Many a coolie engulfed 
us so that we had to dig out both horse and 
cart, and every hour of the day was a struggle 
for existence as well as an endeavor to prosecute 


our journey. Monday was an intensely cold 
day, and we were in a more or less open country, 
moving along on the north side of the Red Deer 
Hills, when, in looking back, I saw Archie com- 
ing along without his driver. I hurried back 
and found my wife struggling in the deep snow 
in the effort to follow. She had become so cold 
that she was forced to alight to try and warm 
herself, but could make such slow progress 
through the deep snow that she was now almost 
at the point of freezing. I gently chided her 
for not calling out, and then Neche and I hustled 
up beside a bluff of timber and soon had a roar- 
ing fire. I spread the robes and bedding down 
beside it, and was glad in a short while to find 
my wife coming to herself again. After that I 
had my way in providing for her comfort. I 
put a pair of big moccasins on her feet, and then 
wrapping her up well, took the seat out of the 
waggon and deposited her in the waggon-box, 
allowing the horse to come on without any 
driving except what we needed to give him at 
hills and ticklish spots on the roads. 

It was on a Sunday that a runner from 
Norris's company caught up with our camp. 
He was a young native from Kildonan, on the 
Red River, Sandy McDonald by name. Their 
provisions were going fast, and Sandy had vol- 
unteered to take the one pair of snow-shoes they 


had and go on to Fort Pitt, procure provisions 
and a dog-train there, and come back to meet 
his party. He was very lightly clad, and after 
giving him his dinner we made him take one of 
our blankets, which I belted about him in such 
fashion as to enable him to travel without being 
encumbered by it. He had never been in this 
country before, and was now going on descrip- 
tion, aided by a large measure of natural instinct. 
I felt anxious about the young fellow as he 
bravely stepped out, facing the sharp, keen wind, 
and disappeared over the hill into what was to 
him the unknown. I gave him four days, if he 
was successful, to meet us, and on the fourth 
night I purposely camped on a hill in order that 
our fire-light might be seen from the west side 
for a long distance. Sure enough, along about 
eight o'clock I heard the old familiar " Marse " 
coming over the hills, and was glad to know 
Sandy was alive and had been to the fort. He 
had a very heavy load of pemmican and dried 
meat, and a nice bale of the latter sent me by 
my old friend Philip Tait. He also brought us 
news of the West that he had gleaned from the 
men of the fort. Declining our invitation to 
stay, he took our trail and continued on in the 
night to the relief of his party. Sandy displayed 
a marvellous spirit of heroism in that lonely 
trip of five days and nights through storm and 


bitter cold and without trail or knowledge of 
country, showing no small ability to endure and 
rare instinct and pluck to thus successfully carry 
out his hazardous enterprise. 

It took us three days of hard work to make 
Fort Pitt, and it was during the evening of one 
of these days that Little Bob, who was taking 
his turn in one of the carts, stood stock-still. I 
sprang to his side and asked, " What is the 
matter, Bob?" and he looked at me and said, 
" I cannot do any more, John," and while the 
tears came to my eyes I jerked the harness from 
him and turned him out to follow if he could. 
Poor little Bob, it cut me to the quick to see him 
in such condition. I hung the harness on the 
cart and left the whole load standing in the 
snow, and it was not until late that night that 
Bob came up to the camp. The noble fellow had 
kept at his post until his strength was about 

Snow deepening, cold continuous, horses losing 
flesh and heart every day, but to-night we are 
camping within ten miles of Fort Pitt ; surely 
we can make that post to-morrow. Our camp is 
down in the valley of a creek. Above us is a 
clump of spruce, but to reach the timber the pull 
will be a hard one, so we conclude to stay in the 
open and make a shelter of the carts and waggons. 
Neche and I work hard packing wood and brush 


and getting our camp into shape, and as the 
night is clear we hope for a quiet time, and pre- 
sently we lie down to rest. All goes well for a 
while, but before morning I wake up chilled 
through and through, and then become aware 
that a big storm is tearing down the valley. All 
day we had struggled hard breaking the way 
for the horses and carts. Making camp also was 
hard work, and my clothes had become wet with 
perspiration, and now I was freezing. I won- 
dered how Neche might be faring and called to 
him, " How are you, my friend ? " " Cold, cold/' 
was the answer. " We must do something or die," 
I said, so I crawled out from under the covers, 
first asking my wife if she were cold, and glad 
to hear her answer, " No, I am quite warm." I 
told her to remain still, that we were going 
into the woods up the creek, and when we 
had made a camp and had started a good 
fire I would come for her. Then Neche and 
I faced the storm, which now was raging 
wild ; already the snow had blotted out our 
camp. Into the night we struggled, and reach- 
ing the spruce grove, hurriedly made a shelter. 
All the while I was most anxious about my wife 
Would she stay there alone ? If she should start 
up and come out of tne shelter of bedding and 
snow, she might wander and perish ; so just as 
soon as we had a fire going and a brush camp 



made right in the densest part of the grove, we 
hurried back, happily, and to my intense relief, 
to find that my wife had in this instance, at any 
rate, obeyed her husband. Neche took the 
kettles and cups and a supply of provisions, and 
I gathered up some of the bedding; then telling 
my wife to follow me, we again started for the 
brush. By this time the storm was so violent 
that we had difficulty making our way against it. 
The drifts were piling up like miniature moun- 
tains. I warned my wife to not lose sight of me, 
and finally by dint of crawling and wading and 
struggling we reached the woods. Oh, how 
grateful were the shelter and the smell of the 
spruce pine, and the blaze of our big fire ! We 
settled ourselves down beside the latter, and in a 
little while Neche had a steaming hot cup of tea 
ready for us. In my case, however, the reaction 
was too great, for as soon as I had taken a few 
swallows of this I fell over unconscious for the 
time, and when I awoke the day was upon us. I 
found that my wife had covered me up after 
making sure I was breathing naturally, and had 
kept up the fire while Neche and I slept. Poor 
girl, I could imagine what she endured during the 
long, lonely hours of that night vigil in a wild 
country she as yet knew little about. When I 
came to from my unconsciousness and the dead 

sleep of exhaustion and saw her sitting beside 


me, I felt ashamed at what seemed to me my 
display of weakness, but she met my inquiring 
look with a smile of glad welcome back to life 
and duty. 

We breakfasted, dug out our carts and wag- 
gons, hunted up the horses and again pushed on. 
Keeping at it steadily, we reached Fort Pitt in 
the late evening, having missed my friend Tait, 
who had gone out to meet us by another way. 
He was back, however, in an hour or so, having 
found our trail a few miles out, and gave us a 
hearty welcome. 



Welcome at Fort Pitt Flat-sleds and snow-shoes Norms 
and party arrive A unique incident On to Victoria 
Sandy accompanies us Order of march Little Bob 
clear grit A friendly French half-breed Arrive at 
Victoria David a proud father A run to Edmonton 
and Pigeon Lake A welcome visit from father 
Christmas at Edmonton Home at last Unique bridal 
tour My wife a heroine Au revoir. 

WE had spent two Sabbaths and seventeen 
travelling days between Forts Carlton and Pitt 
days and nights of extreme hardship. This 
was a bridal tour by no means lacking in the 
elements of romance. Here we were now in a 
Hudson's Bay fort and among friends, the gen- 
tleman in charge, Mr. McKay, and his two 
assistants, Philip Tait and John Sinclair, all 
old friends of mine, giving us a right hearty 
welcome. Moreover, they despatched two dog- 
trains to bring in our stuff from the cart, and 
then helped me rearrange my travelling equip- 
ment. I decided to leave my carts and waggon 
and take in their place two horse toboggans or 
flat-sleds. On the front of one of these we made 
a carry-all for Mrs. McDougall. My friends 
also supplied me with a pair of snow-shoes, a 


most welcome gift; and in addition Mr. Tait 
lent me two fresh horses, as two of mine were 
nearly used up. The only difficulty was to find 
a man to accompany us to Victoria, for Neche 
could not go with us farther than this point. 
He had done his duty splendidly, and after 
settling with him we reluctantly bade him 

In the meantime Sunday carne on, and I had 
the opportunity of holding two services with the 
people of the fort and some Indians in camp 
near by. On Sunday who should come in but 
Jack Norris and young Sandy, and here was 
our chance. Sandy wanted to go on, and Jack 
was willing that I should have him with me. 
Jack reported a " terrible time " ; he had left 
his party some sixty or seventy miles back, and 
had come on to obtain flat-sleds, having decided 
to abandon his carts until spring. He told us 
of a most pathetic incident that had happened 
on the way. One of their horses had played out, 
and, as I had done with Little Bob, they had 
turned him loose to follow. The faithful animal 
had done this up to the measure of his ability, 
but when he failed to come into the camp one 
night they went back in the morning to look 
for him, and found him actually standing with 
head to camp, frozen dead. I have seen and 
known of many a horse, worn out with hardship 

4 Ul V KK Kl-T.I- 11 1>N 

ami hunger, lyin^ down to .lie. but hen 
case 111114110 so ' know tlii- poor ' 

. le^s, \v ith h. imp. 

and de.' 

SttOfe Wti V' -': *'s condition that I had lo 
leave liini al tho l\>r(. Oiu- ol tl' 1 ' Hinlxon's l % ..iy 
omployocs. knoxviu^- him l>y n-|>uto. ollMr.l Q 

d pr'uv for him. and I \ci him _j?\> . l>ut Littlo 
Hob 1 ivuM not l.-avo. anl 1 xx as I'ortunatr in 
a ko^ of xvlirat from Mr MrKax ! 
him alixv. M y i>Kl l>io\vn niul new Kot-i Tut 
l>roxvn \\ ! to tlio front, fivsh a.nd si i -, 

ami with the two volts lont nu> l>\ Mr Tait. ami 
with Mat -slMs ami snow shors ami Sandy. I \ 
qilito hoprt'nl as to the tvst of (he journ. 

l>iddini;- the hospitable tYiemls at l'ort Pitt 
-rateful adieu, xve started for Viet>ria, our r 
objective point. Our line of mareh now XVHS : 
Myself ahead on ^now shoes , Korl Pitt l*.nxvn 
following, pulling a Ion*; t-obo^^tin with Mis. 
MePou^all carefully wrapped in the cotlin llk^^ 
i-arry all ami a CQUplo of trunks strapped on 
behind her; then Old P.roxvn in another si, 
with our traxellin^ kit and everything 
lashed on to it. and Sandy and the txvo *pfMPl 
horses follou in.- \\ith Little P.ob b up 

the rear. Thus xve be^an our traeklrss joun 
through tlu deepi-nin^ snow and strengthening 
\vinter. Of nei'e.v;ily *>nr progress wan sU)w. I 


went straight from point to point, making as 
few curves as possible. Sometimes after forging 
ahead a bit I retraced my steps and met Brown, 
and then doubled back, thus giving him the 
benefit for miles every day of my three tracks. 
Often as in the vigor of health and strength I 
took a run on the snow-shoes I heartily wished 
that my party could keep up with me for a few 
days and we would soon cover a long distance. 
But this was impossible at the time ; there was 
nothing for it but heavy and continuous plod- 
ding. And Bob, brave fellow that he was, 
proved himself clear grit. Sometimes it would 
be nine o'clock when he would herald his ap- 
proach with a neigh, and I would run out and 
give him a pat and a welcome, and feed him 
some of the wheat. Then at our noon spell, if 
he had not come up, I would hollow a small 
basin in the snow and put a few handfuls of 
grain in the track for him. Thus we journeyed 
on through storm and drift and bleak cold. All 
the while I could not resist the feeling of shame 
at my act in bringing that brave little woman 
from the east on such a journey ; but never by 
hint or act did my good wife indicate that she 
regretted the sacrifice she had made. 

On steadily we forged our way by Frog Lake 
and Moose Creek and the Dog Rump and Egg 
Lake. Poor horses, how their legs bled as the 


snow crusted. New Brown led the way all the 
time. Faithfully following behind my lead on 
snow-shoes, he climbed the drifts, broke them 
down and pulled his load, failing not either in 
flesh or spirit. A most wonderful horse was New 
Brown. The night before we reached Victoria we 
camped wih a French half-breed family by the 
name of McGillis. This was a pleasant break in 
the journey, for their hospitality was genuine and 
natural. The women were all greatly interested 
in Mrs. McDougall ; they thought she was a 
plucky girl to undertake such a journey, and 
made her blush by telling her she must have 
loved her husband very much to leave her 
people and come so far to this big, strange 
country. However, they said, " John was a good 
fellow." At any rate their shanty was warm, 
and it was no small relief not to have to make 
camp, nor to perform the pivotal act of turning 
around to the fire or from it every few minutes. 
Really it was a pleasant change, and we made 
up our beds on the floor and slept in peace that 
is, it would have been peace if I could have 
forgotten my horses, bleeding and sore with the 
almost constant crust we had come through for 
days, and which had been especially bad to-day. 
Poor Bob was the worst. Thus far he had kept 
up, though sometimes coming in late, and always 
had announced his arrival with a cheerful neigh 


which said, " Still alive and hopeful ! " But we 
had yet a long day under these conditions before 
we would reach Victoria, and I felt anxious as 
to how Bob would stand it. From my horses I 
fell to thinking about these people under whose 
humble roof we were camped. These were not 
settlers; no, no, only wintering. The head of 
the colony, Cuthbert McGillis, was a genuine 
type of the mingling of the two races, the 
careless, happy, plutocratic habitant with the 
nomadic Indian, the truly aboriginal man ; 
a mixture of semi-civilization and absolute 
barbarism. A gigantic, curly-headed, splendid 
specimen of physical humanity he was, ever 
ready to fight anybody, but the friend of 
everybody. A life-long plainsman, a genuine 
buffalo eater, he is now away with the men of 
his party looking for meat one hundred and fifty 
miles west of here. We have been friends ever 
since we first met. His big, hearty " John, my 
friend," rings in my ear as I write, and I often 
wonder that such men should ever have come to 
take the stand some of them did in 1870 and 
later. Certainly the trouble did not originate 
with themselves; of this my years of kindly 
intercourse and interdependence make me very 
sure. These are not the material out of which 
disloyalty comes as indigenous to the soil. 

Early the next morning, with a hearty hand- 


shake all around from these native women and 
children, and a sincere " bon voyage," we are off 
to again take up our slow and solemn procession 
over the Snake Hills and through the Vermilion 
valley and across the White Mud Heights. The 
day is short, and it is dark ere we cross the 
White Mud River. My wife is beginning to 
think this road interminable and the North- 
West without end. In the latter thought she is 
about right so far as things terrestrial go, and 
the generations to come will still be turning up 
fresh resources and endless wealth in this won- 
derful land. On through the sombre, pine- 
shadowed trail leading by the Smoking Creek, 
and we strike the beautiful valley north of 
Victoria. Little Bob is on his last strength. 
Presently he comes to a stop, utterly fagged, and 
I gently coax and push him up the hill a little 
farther. But I see that it is no use ; we must go 
on and then come back to his relief, and about 
9 p.m. we bring up at my brother's house, 
where we are welcomed most heartily. Here I 
found my eldest little daughter, Flora, but was 
pained to find my good sister-in-law in terrible 
distress with an ulcerated breast. Within the 
last few weeks their first-born, a fine little 
girl, had come upon the scene, and now the 
young mother was undergoing one of those great 
sacrifices which ever and anon come to the 


motherhood of our humanity. David had been 
away on the plains hunting buffalo and grisly 
bears, and was caught in the same early storm 
we had been struggling through; but he was 
with a strong party and much nearer home, and 
he had but recently returned to find himself a 
father. A fonder or more attentive one I had 
never seen. The little tot had but to move or 
whimper and David was all alive, be it day or 
night. To him the responsibility of parenthood 
had come in full force, and I was proud to 
witness such affection and true manhood in my 
brother. After asking about us, the next ques- 
tion was as to our horses, and when I mentioned 
Bob standing on the trail about two miles back, 
David at once exclaimed, " We must go for him 
right off." But I said, " No, we will take him a 
bundle of hay and a little barley, and let him 
eat and gather strength, and he will come in 
himself." Sandy immediately volunteered to 
take the hay and barley back to Bob, and though 
wearied with the long day's tramp this willing 
fellow got out one of David's horses, hitched 
him to a sleigh, threw on a bundle of hay and 
some barley, and drove back to find Bob just 
where we had left him. Leaving him the feed 
he returned, and we anxiously awaited develop- 
ments, meanwhile seeking to do what we could 


for our sick sister, who was delighted to have 
another sister come into her home for a time. 
While at breakfast the next morning we heard 
a loud neigh, as much as to say, " I am upon the 
scene once more," and there was Little Bob, 
head up and proud at having survived all the 
hardships and loss of blood and the cold and 
starvation he had come through. It is needless 
to say he was taken into a warm stable and 
looked after with all care; our whole family 
had an interest in that faithful little horse. 

I concluded to leave my wife and horses at 
Victoria, take a train of dogs, and go on to 
Edmonton and Pigeon Lake. Mrs. McDougall 
required the rest, and she was needed in the 
home of my brother. Certainly, too, my horses 
needed a chance to mend and heal, for we still 
had another hundred and fifty miles ahead of 
us ere we should reach home. That afternoon 
I was off on the jump with a train of borrowed 
dogs, and camping alone for part of the night 
reached Edmonton early the next day. Father 
was well pleased but not wholly surprised to see 
me. "I knew you would come," were his 
words of greeting ; others had given me up, but 
he had not. I spent a delightful evening and 
night between the Mission and the fort, where 
my brother-in-law, Richard Hardisty, was in 


charge, and went on to Pigeon Lake next day, 
where I found Donald with everything in order. 
I was welcomed most heartily by all the Indians 
and half-breeds in the vicinity, and held a 
number of services. Arranging with Donald for 
some changes in the little home, I returned to 
Edmonton, whence I was accompanied back to 
Victoria by my sister Libby. I was grieved to 
find my sister-in-law worse, and suggested that 
we at once send for father. This was agreed to, 
and a smart man and a train of first-class dogs 
were despatched to Edmonton for him. In an 
incredibly short time father was on the scene, 
and, I am glad to say, was instrumental in 
relieving and helping our patient. 

After a day or so in company with father, we 
continued our journey westward, leaving Little 
Bob to David's skilled care, and with Fort Pitt 
Brown still fresh -and fat and pulling his new 
mistress, we made good time to Edmonton. The 
weather continued cold and the snow was deep- 
ening all the while. There had been no such 
winter on the Saskatchewan in all my experi- 
ence. At Edmonton we met some new arrivals, 
notably Donald Ross, who had come in by way 
of the Peace River, and being quite a singer and 
amateur elocutionist, was a great help in the 
social life of the place. We spent Christmas 


with the Edmonton folk, and thoroughly enjoyed 
the rest and fun of the holiday season in this 
far-away upland centre. Here was a small 
world in itself, isolated and alone. No mail, no 
telegraphs, only a few Hudson's Bay Company 
traders and missionaries and adventurers, and 
yet the Sabbath services and week-night enter- 
tainments of the winter of 1872-3 would do 
credit to many a larger place. Indeed, had these 
hardy pioneers not strained to keep up in those 
things which appeal to the mental and spiritual, 
there would have been a terrible lapsing into 
barbarism. Lectures and literary entertain- 
ments and concerts, as also a growing interest 
in church work, kept these men and women 
shoulder to shoulder with the best in any 
country. In all this father took the lead, and 
was much respected and reverenced by both the 
white and the red men. 

Between Christmas and the New Year we 
pushed on to our own home, taking with us my 
two older girls, Flora and Ruth. Again we were 
facing the deep snow and extreme cold, and still 
Fort Pitt Brown was to the front, as strong and 
faithful as ever. Reaching Pigeon Lake without 
further adventure, we were at the end of our 
long journey. Two months and a half had 
elapsed since we left Portage la Prairie, and con- 


siderably over three months from our leaving 
eastern Canada. Long weary miles we had 
journeyed, with cold camps, deep snows, intense 
frosts and blinding snow-storms as accom- 
paniments; but here we were at last, well 
and strong and thankful. And our people at 
the lake were also thankful. Donald and all 
the rest of the natives welcomed our coming, and 
soon the chimneys of our two-roomed shanty 
were belching forth sparks and smoke, and by 
New Year's eve we were comfortably domiciled. 
My wife had undergone great hardships. Per- 
haps there never had been just such another 
bridal trip as this we had come safely through. 
To start thoroughly prepared for a winter trip 
such as ours would be hard enough in all truth, 
but to be caught as we were, almost wholly un- 
prepared, while yet six hundred miles intervened 
between us and our destination, added tenfold 
to the dangers and difficulties. Truly my little 
wife, who bravely endured all this without 
a- murmur, deserves to be ranked among the 
heroines of frontier life. 

And now the time has come to close my present 
narrative. In these pages the reader has accom- 
panied me in my wanderings from the autumn 
of 1868 down to the eve of New Year's day, 1873. 
We have travelled together over new and strange 


fields, have witnessed many scenes in the wild 
life that in those days prevailed throughout our 
great western domain, and now for the time 
being I will say farewell, trusting ere long to 
resume the story of my early experiences on the 
mission fieldg of the Canadian West. 

Yours faithfully, 


%)IKIftEI\Jff3 II I mi mi mi ii -_ . 




F McDougall, John 

5624 In the days of the Red 

M24 River Rebellion 

Sig, Sam.