Part 5 out of 5
resisted. We will then return and try to perfect arrangements for the
The outgoers are a cosmopolitan and happy "bunch,"--Major Jarvis,
R.N.W.M.P., fur-traders galore, three Grey Nuns and a priest, Mr. Wyllie
and his family bound for the Orkney Islands, fifty-four souls in all,
without counting the miscellaneous and interesting fraternity down on
the lower deck among the fur-bundles.
It is essentially a _voyage de luxe_. When Mr. Keele imagines a place is
good, the steamer stops and we all gather fossils. When lame James, the
steward, our erstwhile jig-expert, is about to serve coffee, he pokes
his head over the side and orders the engines stopped that we may drink
the beverage without spillage. The beardless prospector buys tinned
peaches from the commissariat, opens them with a jack-knife and passes
them round the deck with impartiality and a
to-hell-with-the-man-that-works smile. Who would envy kings?
We arrive at McMurray in time for treaty-payment. Tethered horses at the
tepee-poles, store-dolls for the babies, and unmistakable "Outside"
millinery prove the prosperity of these Crees, and proves also their
proximity to Edmonton. One little group looks tattered, out-at-heel,
and hungry,--a Cree widow presenting her four offspring that they may
receive the annual payment. The officials within the treaty tent declare
the youngest baby an illegitimate child and will pay it no treaty,--it
"has no name." I catch the anxious look in the mother's eye. Five
dollars goes a long way when baby bodies have to be fed and clothed. The
situation is crucial. Without a sponsor, the priest will not name the
baby. With no name, it cannot draw treaty. I conclude to father the
child, as its own (un)lawful father will not. My offer to give my name
to the girlie, after due deliberation of Church and State, is accepted.
Under the name of Agnes Deans Cameron the Cree kiddie is received into
the Mother Church and finds her place on the list of treaty-receiving
Indians--No. 53 in the McMurray Band. May she follow pleasant trails!
[Illustration: A Meadow at McMurray]
Back of McMurray lies a lush land. We tread a path a full mile in length
leading to meadows where, belly-high, the horses graze. Every yard of
our way is lined with raspberry bushes bent with their rich, red burden.
While the furs are being transferred from the _Grahame_ to the scows,
the working of our typewriter is a matter of much wonderment. Old Paul
Fontaine, a half-breed who thinks he is a white man, first looks through
the door, then comes into the dining hall where we are, takes his hat
off, and watches respectfully. Then, with an air of great conviction,
"This is the first time I ever see that. It is wonderful what man can
do--wonderful. There is only one thing left to be done now--and that is
to put the breath of life into a dead body." Solemnly putting on his
hat, he turns and walks out.
Mrs. Loutit, another fellow-passenger attracted by the click of the
machine, comes in and recounts her arts, wild and tame. In winter she
goes off in dog-cariole, traps cross-foxes off her own bat, shoots
moose, and smokes the hide according to the ancient accepted mode.
Coming home, she takes the smoked hide and works upon it silk embroidery
of a fineness which would be the envy of any young ladies' seminary in
Europe or America. She weaves fantastic belts of beads and sets the
fashion for the whole North in _chef d'oeuvres_ of the quills of the
porcupine. She is a most observant "old wife." Watching, fascinated, the
lightning play of the machine, "Much hard that, I think, harder than
bead-work, eh?" Conquering her timidity, she at last glides across to
find out how the dickens when you strike capital "A" at one end of the
keyboard, it finds itself in the writing next to small "o" at the other
end. There is something uncanny about it, and our stock goes up.
[Illustration: Starting up the Athabasca]
We confess to being a little homesick as we wave farewell to the half
hundred passengers in the familiar scows embarked for their two hundred
and thirty-eight mile journey up the Athabasca. It will be a tiresome
enough trip, though, for every foot of the way the big boats will have
to be tracked (towed) by teams of half-breeds scrambling along the
shore, now on land, now splashing in the water. The party will have the
mosquito as companion on the sorrowful way and it will take them four
weeks to make Athabasca Landing, the distance which in the spring we
dropped down in little over a week. We send letters home, and with
hand-shaking all round bid farewell to Mr. Wyllie, the Grey Nuns, and
[Illustration: On the Clearwater]
Our way back on the _Grahame_ to Chipewyan is not without adventure. At
three o'clock in the afternoon we run up hard and fast on a batture!
There is no swearing, no shouting of orders. The deck-hands from long
experience know exactly what to do. The engines are reversed and, in
their efforts, seem to speak Cree, for we catch the sound of the
familiar "Wuh! Wey!" But it is no go. The sun sinks behind the bank,
over the tops of the poplars floats a faint rosy glow which fades into
purple and then into black, and we are still there hard and fast. The
drifting sand piles up against us, and, in scows, the whole cargo is
removed. The captain throws out a kedge-anchor, and in a mysterious way
we pull ourselves off by hawsers, as a man lifts himself by his own
We have head-winds all the way. At four o'clock on the morning of August
14th, stress of weather causes us to run in under the lee of an island.
We tie up at the base of some splendid timber. Spruce here will give
three feet in diameter twenty feet from the ground. With an improvised
tape-line I go ashore and measure the base-girth of three nearby big
poplars (rough-backed). The first ran seven feet three inches, the
second exactly eight feet, and the third eight feet four inches. Within
view were fifty of these trees which would run the same average, and
interspersed with them were spruce with a base-girth scarcely less.
Arrived at Chipewyan, we are able to arrange to be taken up the Peace in
the same little tug _Primrose_ which had before carried us so safely to
Fond du Lac.
UP THE PEACE TO VERMILION
"What lies ahead no human mind can know,
To-morrow may bring happiness or woe.
We cannot carry charts, save the hope that's in our hearts
As along the unknown trail we blithely go."
When we leave Chipewyan August 17th, the fall hunt of waveys has already
begun. We learn afterwards that the Loutit boys alone made a bag of
sixteen hundred of these birds which, salted down, form a considerable
part of the winter food of the old Fort. Mrs. William Johnson comes down
to see us embark. She has overwhelmed us with generous kindness at our
every visit to Chipewyan, kindness we cannot soon forget. It is a small
group which now starts out in the little tug on the bosom of the mighty
Peace,--Major Routledge, R.N.W.M.P., Mr. and Mrs. John Gaudet with their
two olive-branches "Char-lee" and "Se-li-nah," now returning to Lesser
Slave Lake from a visit to Fort Good Hope, Miss Brown and myself.
This part of the journey we are to enjoy more keenly than all that has
gone before. Rising on the western side of the Rocky Mountains, the
Peace River is the largest affluent of the Mackenzie, being already a
splendid stream when it cuts through that range. With but one break, the
Peace River affords a nine hundred mile stretch of navigation, and we
can justly describe the country through which it flows as a plateau in
which the river has made for itself a somewhat deep valley. Extensive
grassy plains border it on both sides, and north of Fort Vermilion
country of this character extends to the valley of the Hay River.
Crossing the Quatre Fourches, an offshoot of the Peace at the Lake
Athabasca edge, we turn our faces due west to a land of promise. The
Mackenzie River and the banks of the Great Slave may some day afford
homes to a busy and prosperous populace, but there are many fertile and
more accessible lands to be settled first. With the Peace River Country
there is no conjecture, for it is merely a question of the coming of the
railway. Given a connection with the world to the south, the district
watered by the Peace will at once support a vast agrarian population.
The advance riders are already on the ground.
It is not our intent to go to the expense of using a steamer for our
whole journey up the Peace. Scows will allow us to proceed more
leisurely and to see more as we go, so the second day we turn the
steamer back and transfer ourselves and our belongings into a little
open craft or model-boat _The Mee-wah-sin._ We have a crew of five men,
one on the steering-sweep and four to track, and in this wise we make
our way for three hundred miles up the great river to Fort Vermilion.
One day we improvise a sail and so make fifty miles in a favourable
wind, but, with this exception, every other mile of the journey is by
Incidents are many. The first morning after we turned back the little
tug, the Kid and I left the slow trackers behind and were glad to
stretch ourselves in a long forenoon's tramp along the sandy beach. The
mosquitoes were practically gone and for the first time all summer one
could really enjoy the woods, where a tang of autumn in the air made
every breath a tonic draught. Exulting in the fact that we were alive,
we turned a sharp corner and came suddenly face to face with a grey
wolf, loping along at a swinging pace at the water's edge, muzzle close
to the ground! To make the story worth telling, one should have
something to say of "yawning jaws" and "bloodshot eyes" and "haunches
trembling for a spring." But this grey wolf simply refused to play that
part. He took one look at us, evidently didn't approve, and turned up
from his tracks quietly into the cottonwoods above. As we on our side
had brought neither gun nor camera from the _Mee-wah-sin_, we are unable
to punctuate the story by either pelt or picture. _Sic transit lupus_!
A week out from Chipewyan, where the Swan River makes into the Peace, we
came one glorious afternoon upon a camp of Crees, the family of the
_Se-weep-i-gons_. They had just killed two bears. We bought the skins
and a large portion of meat from them, and Mrs. _Se-weep-i-gon_ very
kindly added to the feast of fat things some high-bush cranberries "in a
present." As an excuse for listening to their soft voices, before we
left the camp we asked the name of every member of the little group,
scratching the list down on a piece of birchbark. The Crees evidently
considered this an official ceremony, for after we had paid our score
and shaken hands with everybody from Grandpa to the latest baby and were
well out in mid-stream, Mrs. _Se-weep-i-gon_ came running down to the
bank to call us back. Rowing to the shore we found that she had
remembered one more child whose name she wanted to add to the list. She
assured us that this one too had a little brass cross hanging round his
neck, so we will be sure to know him if we meet him in the woods.
We lived for the next two days on bear-meat and cranberries.
[Illustration: Evening on the Peace]
So one wonderful day follows another as our little boat is towed first
against one bank then another of this majestic stream. The forest growth
is a marvel. We measure one morning three of the spruce trees to which
our tent-ropes are tied, and get for base measurement six feet eight
inches, five feet two inches, and five feet respectively. The trees
averaged ninety feet in height and would give perhaps one thousand feet
to each tree. The autumn tints on the willows and alders of the high
river-banks are indescribably beautiful. We pass through one hundred
miles of a veritable field of the cloth of gold. We look out of our
tent-flaps at night on this living glory, and wake up to it again with
each new morning sun.
One Sunday evening at dusk we slip into the Hudson's Bay post where the
Little Red River makes into the Peace, the dear home of Tom Kerr, his
Scottish wife, and their four bairns. Let me try to give the picture.
Tom had been off all day cutting meadowgrass, and now wended his way
home with a load of it in a little Old Country cart drawn by a wall-eyed
mare. At her side frisked a foal, and two great stag-hounds ran back and
forward between the master and his home by the riverside. Three children
bounded out to greet their father. "Oh! Daddy, Daddy, the red coo broke
away from the byre and is far awa on the ither side o' the burn!" Here,
in a nutshell, you have the difference between the Mackenzie River of
to-day and the Peace River. On the Mackenzie, swarthy forms are in
evidence, Cree and French is spoken on all sides, there are no great
fields of waving grain, and the dog is the only domestic animal. On the
Peace is an essentially white race, cows, chickens, trustworthy old
nags, porridge for breakfast, "the tongue that Shakespeare spake,"
rendered in an accent born far ayont the Tweed. Right across the mouth
of the Little Red River, Tom Kerr has a fishing scine. We go down with
him to lift it, after the cows have been brought back to the narrow
path. The net yields seven fish and they are of five different
species,--trout, ling, sucker, jack-fish, and something else that Tom
calls a "Maria." Daily this net is set, and for three hundred and
sixty-five days every year it furnishes food for the family, in summer
in the flowing water, and in winter under the ice. You couldn't starve
at Little Red River if you wanted to. This is one of the most beautiful
spots in the whole North Countree. Long after Tom and we and Mrs. Tom
are under the gowans, and the little Kerrs possess the land, there will
be populous cities along the Peace, and millionaires will plant their
summer villas on the beauteous spot where we now stand.
[Illustration: Our Lobsticks on the Peace]
Bidding the bairns good-bye, we press onward on our way, Tom Kerr
accompanying us. A great honour awaits us round the next corner, when
the boatmen announce that they are going to make us each a lobstick. We
land, as pleased as Punch over the suggestion. We now know what it feels
like when the philanthropist of a village takes his after-dinner walk
through the square and sees the sparrows drinking from the memorial
fountain surmounted with his own bust, done in copper, life-size. It
takes fully two hours to trim the trees into significant shape, but the
beauty of this particular kind of Cook's Tour is that you go down when
you like and stop when you want to. The lobsticks furnished, the men
form a circle and discharge their muskets in salute, and on we go. We
learn that the ethics of lobsticks is that each of these men, should
Fate take him past this point again, will salute the lobstick just made
and send a strong thought across the spruce-tops to us. There is a
reverse to the shield. Should we, at any time before this journey ends,
fail to make good, the men on the return voyage will cut the lobstick
down. We are going to make no impertinent enquiries regarding the
ulterior fate of these family trees. Is it not sufficient glory to say,
"On the Peace River we _had_ a lobstick"?
The Chutes of the Peace! These will live forever with the Ramparts of
the Mackenzie as the two most majestic visions which the whole North
Land gave us. We had not been prepared for that wonderful spectacle
which met us as we turned a sharp point in the river. The torrent roars
for four or five hundred yards of rapid riverway before coming to its
great drop. The rock-reef over which the cataract falls extends quite
across the mighty Peace, here a river of immense width. Measured in feet
and inches, the Chutes of the Peace must take second place to Niagara,
yet they impress us as Niagara never did. The awesome silence of this
land so pregnant with possibilities, a land which, though it echo now
only the quiet foot of the Cree, is so unmistakably a White Man's
Country, intensifies the sense of majesty and power which here takes
possession of us. The men talk of the water-power furnished by the great
falls, and hazard guesses of the future economic purposes to which it
will be put. For our own part, our one wish is to get away from the
noise of even these subdued voices and in silence feast our very souls
on this manifestation of the power of God. The thoughts that we feel
cannot be put into words. Why attempt the impossible?
[Illustration: The Chutes of the Peace]
Our way lies beyond this, and the Chutes have to be overcome. These
half-breeds know exactly what to do in every emergency which arises.
Only one of the men has traversed this river before, and he gives
orders. We strip our little _Mee-wah-sin_ of her temporary masts and
canvas awning and take out all our belongings. Everybody works. A
purchase is obtained by throwing a pulley and rope over a nearby
jack-pine, and the boat is pulled out bodily from the water. Then the
crew drag her along the shore well beyond the head of the rapid, and we
[Illustration: Pulling out the _Mee-wah-sin_]
These delicious nights within the tent are memories that will remain
through all the years to come. It is cool and silent and productive of
thought. We are selfishly glad that fifty people went out by Athabasca
ways, leaving to us all the mighty reaches and pleasant pastures of the
Peace. The midnight is flooded by a glorious moon, and the thoughts born
this afternoon of that stupendous fall have driven sleep far away.
Opening the tent-flap, I slip through the camp of sleeping Indians to
the edge of the fast-flowing stream. The feeling is insistent here which
has been ever-present since we entered this valley of the Peace--here is
the home prepared and held in waiting for the people who are to follow.
"Listening there, I heard all tremulously
Footfalls of Autumn passing on her way,
And in the mellow silence every tree
Whispered and crooned of hours that are to be.
Then a soft wind like some small thing astray
Comes sighing soothingly."
"Lofty I stand from each sister land, patient and cheerily wise,
With the weight of a world of wonder in my quiet, passionless eyes,
Dreaming of men who will bless me, of women esteeming me good,
Of children born in my borders, of radiant motherhood,
Of cities leaping to stature, of fame like a flag unfurled,
As I pour the tide of my riches in the eager lap of the world."
It is on August 27th, in the evening, that the crew, all slicked up in
their Sunday-go-to-meetings, draw us up on the beach of the City in the
Silences, this Past-in-the-arms-of-the-Present,--Vermilion-on-the-Peace.
The first thing to meet our eye is the red roof of the flour-mill of the
H.B. Co., a picture of progressiveness set in a living frame of golden
wheat, the heavy heads nodding to the harvest.
Vermilion is an old post of the Old Company. Alexander Mackenzie on his
way to the Pacific found people at work here far back in 1792. The
Vermilion of to-day stands a living monument to the initiative faith and
hard work largely of one man, Mr. Francis D. Wilson, who has had charge
of H.B. Co. interests here for nineteen years. Mr. Wilson found this
place a fur-post on the edge of civilisation, and he has made of it a
commercial, agricultural, and manufacturing centre. And his example has
been contagious, for the half-breeds around him have become farmers, the
Indians who traded furs a dozen years ago now buy harness and ploughs
and breach-loading guns from The Company, paying for the same with wheat
of their own growing.
[Illustration: The Flour Mill at Vermilion-on-the-Peace]
Vermilion is in latitude 58 deg. 30' N.,--that is, about four hundred miles
due north of Edmonton, and on practically the same parallel as
Stockholm. The flour-mill that we now inspect is the most northerly
wheat-mill on this continent, and it has been running for five years. It
is the roller process, with a capacity of fifty barrels a day, the
motor-power being a 40 H.P. Corliss engine. The wheat which feeds these
rollers is all grown in nearby fields, and the resultant flour is
consumed by the people of the lone posts of the Peace and the lower
Mackenzie. Two years ago the H.B. Company paid to farmers, all of whom
lived within a radius of five miles from the mill, the sum of $27,000
spot cash for their wheat. An electric plant lights the mill and fort
buildings, affording fifty six-candle-power lights.
Right up to the door of the mill extends the sixty-acre wheat-field of
the H.B. Company, from which Mr. Wilson computes that he will this year
thrash two thousand bushels. If the H.B. wheat-field were to sell the H.B.
mill these two thousand bushels at $1.25 a bushel (the ruling
Vermilion price), there would be a net profit of $1500, after paying all
expense of culture, to the credit of one branch of Mr. Wilson's
commercial institution. For thirty years, wheat, oats, barley, and
vegetables have been grown in Vermilion, not as an experiment, but as
regular commercial crops. Cereals are sown late in April or early in
May, and the harvest is gathered in August. More than once, wheat has
matured in eighty-six days from seed-sowing to seed-garnering.
Vermilion farmers boast sulkies and gang-ploughs and the latest geared
McCormick, Massey-Harris, and Deering farm implements,--self-binders and
seeders. Everything is up-to-date. We ourselves counted fifteen
self-binders at work. And grain is not the whole story. The farmers own
thoroughbred Ayrshire stock and splendid horses. I happened to be at the
garden of the Church of England Mission when the potato-crop was being
harvested, and found that seven bags of seed planted in the middle of
May produced one hundred bags by the end of August. Five potatoes that I
gathered haphazard from one heap weighed exactly five and one-half
pounds. I photographed and weighed a collection of vegetables grown by
Robert Jones on the Dominion Experimental Farm.
[Illustration: Articles Made by Indians
A--Wall-pocket of white deerskin, embroidered in silk-work, and bordered
with ermine--the work of a Cree woman at Vermilion-on-the-Peace.
B--Gloves of white deerskin embroidered in silk, the work of a Slavi
woman on the Liard River (a branch of the Mackenzie).
C, D, E, F, G, H, I--Moccasins as worn respectively by the Crees,
Chipewyans, Slavis, Dog-Ribs, Yellow-Knives, Loucheux--all the work of
J.--Flour bag from the mill at Vermilion-on-the-Peace, the most
northerly flour-mill in America.
K--Sinew, from close to the spine of the moose--used by the women of the
North instead of thread.
L--Very valuable net of willow-bark made by an old squaw at Fort
Resolution. This is almost a lost art, and harks back to the pre-string
M--The "crooked knife" or knife of the country.
N--Match-box made from a copper kettle by an old Beaver Indian at Fort
O--_Babiche_, or rawhide of the moose or caribou--"the iron of the
One cauliflower weighed eight pounds, half a dozen turnips weighed nine
pounds each, and twenty table beets would easily average six pounds
each. The carrots and onions were sown in the open in mid-May and were
as inviting specimens as I have ever seen. Tomatoes ripened in the open
air on this farm on July 13th. Peas, sown on May 23rd and gathered on
August 12th, weighed sixty-four pounds to the bushel. Experimental plots
of turnips gave sixteen tons to the acre, and white carrots twelve tons.
Apple-trees and roses we found flourishing on this farm, with
twenty-five varieties of red, black, and white currants. The wheat story
is of compelling interest. Preston wheat, sown on May 6th and cut on
August 22nd, weighed sixty-four pounds to the bushel; Ladoga wheat, sown
on the last day of April and cut on September 5th, ran sixty-four pounds
to the bushel also, and early Riga weighed sixty-three pounds. In the
garden of the R.C. Mission we were presented with splendid specimens of
ripened corn and with three cucumbers grown in the open air, which
weighed over a pound each.
[Illustration: The Hudson's Bay Store]
Vermilion is the centre of prairie and rolling timber-land greater in
extent than the whole of Belgium. There are probably a million acres of
land immediately tributary to the place, all capable of producing crops
like those cited. Within a radius of ten miles of the H.B. post there
are living now five hundred people of whom perhaps fifty are white. They
all to some extent cultivate the soil, varying their farm operations by
hunting, trapping, and freighting. The settlement boasts two churches,
two mission schools, and two trading stores,--a happy, prosperous, and
very progressive community. Everything in the place points to this
The H.B. Company here, in addition to buying beaver-skins and growing
$1.25 wheat and grinding flour and importing big red binders, breaks the
monotony by running a sawmill and building modern steamboats. This
sawmill turned out all the lumber for the new steamer _Peace River_,
built here four years ago of native timber. She is a hundred and
ten-foot stern-wheeler with twenty-two-foot beam, drawing two and a half
feet and carrying forty tons burden. She can accommodate thirty
passengers in comfortable cabins, and when going with the current, makes
fifteen knots an hour. The sawmill which turned out the timbers for this
boat has a capacity of fifteen thousand feet a day.
Within this mill I took, at random, the record sheet of one raft of one
man's logs for the spring of 1906, cut in the immediate vicinity of
Vermilion and floated along the Peace to the mill. Edmond Paul's logs in
one raft gave a total of two hundred and eighty-eight logs, which cut at
the mill 27,029 board feet of lumber. The biggest log in this raft was a
twelve-foot log with twenty-six inches diameter at the small end, which
cut three hundred and sixty-three feet of lumber.
Vermilion in its soil fertility, its modernism, culture, and
arrived-ness is a source of recurring marvel and pleasure. If a handful
of people four hundred miles from a railway, as the crow flies, and
seven hundred miles by actual practicable trails, can accomplish what
has been done, into what status of producing activity will this whole
country spring when it is given rail communication with the
plains-people to the south?
Waiting for steamboat connection, we are for weeks in this glorious
autumn weather, guests in the hospitable home of Mr. and Mrs. Wilson.
Can we ever forget the generous kindness extended to us within these
walls? Months of travel in open scows, sleeping on the ground, and
stretching out in blankets on the decks of little tugs have prepared us
to enjoy to the full the comforts of a cultured home. It is a modern
house, with beds of old-fashioned pansies and sweet-Williams and rows of
hollyhocks on all sides. The upper verandah affords a view of the Peace,
here fully a mile in width, of incomparable beauty. To the visitor who
steps over its threshold, Mr. Wilson's library indicates at once the
reading man and the clever artificer. Scientific works of reference,
good pictures, the latest magazines, certainly look inviting to ragged
travellers who have opened no books, save those of nature and
human-nature, for five long months. The office furniture, hand-made of
native tamarack and birch, is Mr. Wilson's individual work in both
design and execution. Admiring the outcome of hand and head, we get also
a glimpse of a warm heart, for we are quick to notice that all these
carefully-filed magazines and papers are available for reference to any
one in the settlement, whether fort employe or not, who cares to come in
here for a quiet hour to read.
Kipling says, "You couldn't pack a Broadwood half a mile," but the
Wilson home gives the lie direct to this, blithe line. In a corner of
the drawing-room stands an old-fashioned piano with a history. The
honourable ancestress of all the modern square pianos and baby-grands of
Canada, this little instrument came long years ago in the hold of a
sailing ship to Hudson Bay, and by interior waterways was carried by
portage and York-boat into Winnipeg, and subsequently into Edmonton. It
carries on it the name of John Broadwood & Sons, London. Mrs. Wilson
tells us that when she was little it was carried by the boys from house
to house on the prairies to do duty wherever there was a social dance.
The ghost of the old thing has much quiet here in Vermilion to think of
the pretty girls in their short sleeves and muslin frocks who once trod
Sir Rogers to its sweet strains.
Mrs. Wilson, the grand-daughter of Peter Warren Dease, the explorer, and
the daughter of late Chief Factor Clarke of the H.B. Co., has put in a
life of loving service among the people of Vermilion. Her knowledge of
medicine and her devoted attention and nursing, extended in the hour of
need alike to Indians and whites, has saved the life of many a mother
and child; for doctors and professional nurses are unknown in Vermilion.
These are the pioneer days, when interdependence breeds neighbourly
Everything on a Vermilion dinner-table is produced in the country, with
the exception only of tea, coffee, sugar, and pepper. The country
furnishes beef, pork, and fowl all locally matured; home-cured ham and
bacon; every known variety of hardy and tender vegetables; home-made
butter; bread made from flour grown and ground on the premises; pies
whose four constituents--flour, lard, butter and fruit--are products of
the country; home-made cheese; wild honey; home-made wines; splendid
fish caught from the Peace, and a bewildering variety of wild
game--moose, caribou, venison, grouse, brant, wild geese, canvas-backs,
and mallards. Wild berries furnish jams and conserves of a dozen
different kinds, such as raspberry, black currant, strawberry,
blackberry, cranberry, blueberry, and saskatoon. The salt comes from
Slave River, and sugar could very readily be produced from Vermilion
beets if there should arise a market. What more would you? The
Vermilionese on his fertile acres is as independent of the world outside
as is the Eskimo in his Arctic igloo. The farm of Sheridan Lawrence,
exhibiting its wide-stretching wheat-fields, some heads of which counted
seventy-one kernels, with its patches of one-pound potatoes, twelve-foot
sunflowers, and its quiverful of happy, tow-headed children, gives as
sweet a picture of Canadian thrift and happiness as one would wish to
see. Indeed, happiness seems to be the keynote of Vermilion, whether we
seek it within the fort walls of the H.B. Co., on the fat acres of the
farmers, or within the folds of Protestant or Roman Mission.
[Illustration: Papillon, a Beaver Brave]
We carry away with us two pictures, that we like to cherish, of the
convent kiddies of Vermilion. The first thing we saw when we peered
round a corner of this old-fashioned building was the bright face of
Sister Thomas of Canterbury playing see-saw with a dozen wide-grinning
Slavi babies. When the morning came when we were to bid reluctant
good-bye to Vermilion and all its spontaneous kindness, the last sight
that met our eyes before we turned the corner of the Peace was the whole
convent force of Vermilion perched high on stumps and fence-rails,
wishing us _bon voyage_ with fluttering pocket-handkerchiefs, while
Sister Thomas of Canterbury, on a ladder, surmounted the crowd and waved
her farewells with a table-cloth.
FORT VERMILION TO LESSER SLAVE
"'Tis a summer such as broods
O'er enchanted solitudes,
Where the hands of Fancy lead us through voluptuary moods,
And with lavish love outpours
All the wealth of out-of-doors."
--_James Whitcomb Riley_.
[Illustration: Going to School in Winter]
On September 15th we leave Vermilion, leave, too, on the beach the
little _Mee-wah-sin,_ and in the tiny tug _Messenger_ of the H.B.
Company pass on up the Peace. By night we tent on the banks, by day we
puff along between painted banks of gold and crimson, while all around
us the air is a pungent tonic, and overhead the southward-passing
cranes are flying.
Little Se-li-nah, the sturdiest of travelling companions through months
of wandering over portage and up river, has won our unbounded respect
and created for herself a warm place in every heart. Se-li-nah, though,
makes it impossible for us to pose as brave endurers of hardships. Each
night and morning she carries her little pack on and off shore, takes
her share of pot-luck at _meat-su,_ and is never cross. Bless the
kiddie! If ablutions seem to her a work of supererogation and our daily
play of toothbrush furnishes all the fascination of the unknown, still
hers is the right stuff for pioneer lands and she has lessons to teach
us in pluck and endurance.
The first night out from Vermilion we made camp after dark and, on
waking, found that in our blankets we had lain directly across four new
bear-tracks. Moose-tracks are plentiful at every stopping-place, so we
see to it that both guns and camera are primed. At eight next morning we
pass Not-in-a-gu Seepee. Some Indians hail us, asking for tea, and from
these we learn that ten families who made this their winter camp last
season bagged eighty moose among them.
At half-past two our chance came. To get away from the noise of the
engine, the Kid and I had moved our work directly after breakfast to a
flour-laden scow that we had in tow, and I was dictating this story to
the machine when the sharp eyes of Showan in the distance spied a moose.
He was on the shore cropping willows. It had been generously agreed that
if opportunity offered at a moose the shot was to be mine, so in excited
whispers the news is telegraphed to our end of the scow and my rifle is
handed up. The fireman slows up on the engine, but still its throbbing
sounds distressingly loud as we creep up on the feeding moose and scan
the lay of the land, calculating his chances of escape. The banks are
high,--perhaps one hundred and fifty feet--and sheer, but there are two
gullies which afford runway to the bench above. What an ungainly
creature he looks as we draw in nearer, all legs and clumsy head,--a
regular grasshopper on stilts! He reminds me of nothing so much as those
animals we make for the baby by sticking four matches into a sweet
biscuit. And now at last he sees us. I fire, and the shot just grazes
his spine. Will he take to a gully? No, he plunges into the river
instead and we follow him up in the little tug. One more shot is
effective, and I have killed my premier moose. "Cruel!" you say. Well,
just you live from mid-May to mid-September without fresh meat, as, with
the exception of Vermilion's flesh-pots, we have done, and then find out
if you would fly in the face of Providence when the Red Gods send you a
young moose! To illuminate the problem I transcribe the menu of one
sample week of the summer.
[Illustration: My Premier Moose]
This is the literal "dope sheet" of the camp cook:
_Monday_:--Dried caribou and rice.
_Tuesday_:--Salt fish and prunes.
_Wednesday_:--Mess-pork and dried peaches.
_Thursday_:--Salt horse and macaroni.
_Friday_:--Sow-belly and bannock.
_Saturday_:--Blue-fish and beans.
Dragged ashore, the moose proved to be a male of two prongs, about
eighteen months old, and weighed perhaps four or five hundred pounds. A
full-grown moose of this country will sometimes dress half a ton. We are
to learn that there are many viewpoints from which to approach a moose.
The Kid wants its photograph, Chiboo and Mrs. Gaudet each eloquently
argue for the skin, the rest of us are gross enough to want to eat it,
and Se-li-nah, looking demurely off into the pines, murmurs gently in
Cree, "_Marrow_ is nice." Poor young stripling of the Royal House of
Moose, you could not have fallen into more appreciative hands!
The first thing Baptiste does is to plunge his penknife into the back to
see how deep the fat is. We had noticed this testing process before. A
bunch of feathers is always plucked off the new-killed bird that one can
immediately gauge the gastronomic niche at which to set one's waiting
stomach. No more voyaging to-night. The moose is cleaned and skinned.
Mrs. Gaudet draws the skin. I claim the head. A little Indian boy, who
with his mother had been added to our ship's crew at Carcajou Point,
appropriates the kidneys, which he proceeds to roast in the ashes.
Ten-year-old Bill evidently likes his devilled kidneys rare, for within
three minutes we see him prancing round the camp, nibbling his dripping
dainty from the point of an impaling stick.
[Illustration: Beaver Camp, on Paddle River]
Having sat round the barbecue half the night, we pull out late the next
morning. And now, apprised by moccasin telegraph, we are all on the _qui
vive_ to catch sight of a floating bride. A fur-trader attached to "The
French Company" at Vermilion has been out on six months' leave and is
bringing in a bride from Paris. We are to expect them to cross our
course on a raft, floating in with the current of the Peace as we make
our way upstream. We see the raft. All is excitement. We direct the
steersman to draw close in, and the men prime their rifles for a salute.
She is not visible,--floating brides on the Peace shrink evidently from
being the cynosure of passing eyes. Our men fire their salute, the
steersman on the raft looks puzzled when we, smiling our sympathy, peer
over the edge of his craft, and see, instead of the Parisian bride,--a
load of Poland pigs for Vermilion! It is the wrong raft. The real bride
passes us in the gloaming ten hours later, when it is too dark to get a
On the evening of September 22nd we arrive at Peace River Crossing, or
Peace River Landing, just a week out from Vermilion. Our course from
there has been almost due south. We turn the little _Messenger_ back
here and regretfully bid good-bye to our staunch and friendly boatmen.
No people in the world could be pleasanter to travel with than these
splendid men of the North. Indefatigable and ready for any emergency,
they know their business and are always master of the situation;
moreover, nature has dowered them with an intuitive delicacy as rare as
it is pleasing. Through all these weeks, intensely interested as they
are in everything that is new, never for a moment have they intruded
upon us or our doings. At night there is not a man of them who will not
walk a quarter of a mile through the woods rather than pass between our
occupied tent and the camp fire. But let us offer to show them pictures
or to explain the workings of the camera or the typewriter and it is a
different story, for then every man Jack drops his oar or tump-line and
rushes to our side like an excited schoolboy.
Peace River Crossing is in latitude 56 deg. N. and longitude 117 deg. 20' W.
From that far-off day in spring when we first touched the Clearwater we
have been following in the historic footprints of Sir Alexander
Mackenzie. We now take a day off, with the object of locating
Mackenzie's last camp on the Peace, which he reached in 1792 and from
which, in the spring of 1793, he started west across the map seeking an
unknown route to the Pacific Ocean. We find the remains of that camp. It
is in the corner of a potato-field a little way beyond Peace River
Crossing and on the opposite side of the river. Only the foundations of
the walls are left and the crumbling bricks of two old chimneys.
Mackenzie was the first man to cross the continent from sea to sea north
of the latitude of Mexico, and it was from this point where we stand
that he launched his ambitious canoe. There is no more historic spot on
the continent than that on which we stand this September day, and as yet
it is all unmarked of commemorative stone or recording tablet. The lost
camp had never been photographed until we brought our inquisitive camera
to bear upon it.
I stoop and pluck from where it nods behind the old chimney a wild
larkspur, and as I half-mechanically count its forty-two seed-pods, I
try hard to throw back my thoughts to the year 1792,--one hundred and
sixteen years. It is a far call! Canada is tardy in her recognition of
her early builders of Empire. Our cousins to the south would appear to
be more appreciative. In song and story and by a memorial World's Fair
the people of the United States have honoured the discoveries of Lewis
and Clark, but Mackenzie crossed the continent a full dozen years in
advance of these explorers.
[Illustration: The Site of old Fort McLeod]
Our mind feels back across the centuries to little-known Montreal where,
amid the bales of peltries and the trading-trinkets of the Fur Company,
a hidden voice is speaking and a young man listens. That young man is
Alexander Mackenzie, a self-taught Scot, a Canadian bourgeois. In the
noisy midday clatter of the fort he hears the voice, in the waking hours
of dawn and "when evening shuts the deed off, calls the glory from the
grey." He cannot get away from that haunting challenge, he would not if
he could. There are interminable changes rung on the everlasting
whisper, but its burden is ever the same.
"Something lost behind the Ranges,
Lost and waiting for you: Go!"
No more might it satisfy him to out-do his competitors and carry back to
Grand Portage canoes overflowing with furs. We have seen how the doughty
and determined Scot followed to the Arctic the river which now bears his
name. It gives us the measure of the man to know that the thought
uppermost in the mind of Mackenzie returning from the Arctic was not
pride in the deed accomplished but a realization of his limitations in
astronomical knowledge. He would go back to Britain and study stars for
a time instead of skins, planets for peltries. And back he went in 1791.
His first achievement had but whetted his ambition. It was of a Western
Sea that he had greatly dreamed among the bearskins and beavers of
Montreal, and to that ocean which split its waves "somewhere" far beyond
the snow crests of the Rockies he would go. With this strong
determination he returned from Scotland, made toilsome way to Fort
Chipewyan and pressed up the Peace to make the camp among whose ruins we
stand. The breaking of the spring ice of 1793 sent him forth on the
quest of that Northwest Passage by Land.
"O Young Mariner,
Down to the harbor call your companions,
Launch your vessel, and crowd your canvas,
And, ere it vanishes over the margin,
After it. Follow it. Follow the Gleam!"
We have not time to recount the chapters of the story, to name the
streams ascended, the boiling gorges passed, the discontent allayed, the
encouragement given, the lonely night-watches when the leader himself
looked for comfort to his new-found stars. The Fraser was discovered,
traced for a while; and then, striking westward, Mackenzie heard the
beat of the surf upon the rocks, and came out from among the pines to
the silver Pacific sparkling in the sun. It was a sweet day in summer's
prime, and as the gulls cried overhead and the sun mixed scent of
seaweed with balsam breath from in-shore, we can imagine but not divine
the feelings of that brave man who had thrown himself face-downward on
the sand and from whose presence the awed companions stole silently
away. We remember the words of another builder of Empire,--
"Anybody might have found it,
But God's whisper came to me."
PEACE RIVER CROSSING TO LESSER SLAVE LAKE
"A haze on the far horizon,
The infinite tender sky,
The ripe, rich tint of the cornfields,
And the wild geese sailing high,--
And all over upland and lowland
The charm of the goldenrod.
Some of us call it Autumn,
And others call it God."
At Peace River Crossing we say good-bye to the Gaudets, whose home is
here. While they have been making a little summer jaunt to Fort Good
Hope under the Arctic Circle the garden-seeds they sowed before they
left have not been idle. Mr. Gaudet shows us a pumpkin which weighs
twenty-five pounds, a squash of the same weight, and citron melons,
which weigh over ten pounds each.
To those who continue up the Peace from here, three great open prairies
present themselves: the Spirit River Prairie, the Grande Prairie, and
the Pouce Coupe. The Spirit River Prairie spreads over a thousand square
miles of splendid soil, sandy loam on a subsoil of clay. Wood and water
are plentiful, horses winter in the open, and crops here have never been
damaged by frost.
Trending south from the H.B. post of Dunvegan, one reaches the Grande
Prairie by passing through the fertile belt of Spirit River. Grande
Prairie is a loose term given to an area of thirty-five hundred square
miles of black-loam country. Settlers in this section never feed their
cattle longer than six weeks each winter.
[Illustration: Jean Batise, the Pilot on the Peace]
The Pouce Coupe would seem perhaps the most attractive of all the Peace
River Prairies. The natural vegetation on its one thousand acres proves
the soil exceedingly rich. Pea-vine and blue-joint hide a horse here in
mid-August, and berry-vines show no touch of frost at mid-September.
Shrub-grown knolls dot the rolling surface, while lakes and streams give
abundant water. Through three mountain-passes the Chinook drifts in,
tempering everything it touches and making it possible for Indians and
pack-train men to winter their horses here without any trouble on the
naturally-cured grasses. They drive the animals in at the end of autumn,
and the horses come out in the spring hardened and fit for work. This
is a paradise for wild animals. Rabbits seek the pea-vine, the lynx and
the fox follow the rabbits, and the bear finds here the berries that
tickle his palate,--blackberries, strawberries, cherries, cranberries,
willow-berries, and saskatoons.
[Illustration: Fort Dunvegan on the Peace]
On September 24th we engage waggons to carry our dunnage a hundred miles
south from Peace River Crossing to Lesser Slave Lake. This stands out in
our memory as one of the most beautiful bits of the whole ten thousand
miles that we travelled. With the cool mornings and evenings and the
suggestion of frost in the air it is ideal walking and we tramp almost
all of the hundred miles, letting the waggons overtake us at meal-times
and waiting for them again when it is time to camp. The trail leads us
through a rolling, lightly-wooded country, with many streams and open
glades. At every lake and runway we flush ducks and wild-fowl, like us
bound south, and like us, too, loath to leave the golden fulness of this
land. The sun is strong, the stretch of woods on each side of the trail
is a painter's palette splotched with vivid golds, greens, crimsons, and
tawny russets. Robins, little moose-birds, and saucy whiskey-jacks are
fairly revelling in the berries, crowding close to us, disputing the
very berry we are popping into our mouths. Spring lingers late in this
Land of Promise. Strawberry blossoms are around us everywhere, nestling
amid the ripened fruit, and on September 25th in latitude 56 deg. N. I pluck
a little pasque-flower, one beautiful belated anemone.
Next evening's tramp brings to view the little settlement of Lesser
Slave, and we sigh to realise ourselves another one hundred miles nearer
civilisation,--the "civilisation" of Chicago! A strong desire possesses
us to about-face and back to the woods again.
It is upon all the excitement of the Lesser Slave potato-harvest that we
intrude. Every one is busy piling potatoes in heaps, putting them into
sacks, wheel-barrowing the bags into winter storage,--men, women,
children, cassocked priests, and nuns surrounded by their chattering
flocks. A noise in the upper air causes everyone to stop work. We look
up, to count a flock of high-sailing cranes floating far to the
south,--one hundred and fifty-three of them. The observers make a pretty
picture,--the rigid figures and uplifted faces of the monks, the nuns
with their up-kilted skirts, the happy children. "It is the _Man with
the Hoe_," I murmur. "Yes," assents the Kid, "and _The Angelus at Lesser
We are the guests at Hudson's Bay House of Mr. and Mrs. George Harvey.
Mrs. Harvey is one of the best horsewomen in the North, and it is clear
delight, with her as pilot, to find ourselves once more in the "horse
latitudes"--though, indeed, it is no belt of cairns where Mrs. Harvey
leads. The only real accident of the summer writes itself on this page.
The day after our arrival we were incontinently spilled from a democrat
and dragged half a mile through the muskeg, being saved only by Mrs.
Harvey's splendid pluck and presence of mind. Climbing along the pole,
this cool-nerved lady gathered up the lost lines, sawed the horses'
mouths, and pulled our craft into the desired haven, incidentally in the
act making possible the writing of this "immortal work"!
[Illustration: Fort St. John on the Peace]
Things are more on the move here than elsewhere we have been. Everybody
rides, from grandmothers to two years' babies, and everybody handles a
gun. Duck-shooting is at its height, for the wild-fowl linger to feed
on their way south at Lesser Slave as they do at Chipewyan. Mr. Harvey
and his assistants, Old Country boys, some of whom have seen service in
Britain's foreign wars, are all wing-shots, and there is friendly
rivalry among them regarding the season's scores. The ducks are shot at
dusk. After office hours we watch each little group, equipped with the
latest capers in London and Dublin sporting-irons, hie off to the
vantage-points in the marshes. On the walls of the office each resultant
bag is verified and recorded, the figures being kept from year to year.
To make good at Lesser Slave, if you are a man you must ride well, shoot
straight, honour The Company, and otherwise play the game. This is the
healthy standard Mr. Harvey sets and follows himself.
[Illustration: Where King Was Arrested]
There is much to tempt the camera here. We see the identical shack in
which Sergeant Anderson made his arrest of the murderer King, and,
driving along a mile to the garden of the R.C. Mission, we photograph
giant cabbages, one of which weighs full forty pounds.
[Illustration: Alec Kennedy with His Two Sons]
By special good luck we run across Alec Kennedy,--tall, straight,
fifty-seven or thereabouts, with a face that shows the mixing of Scotch
blood with Sioux. On his coat shine two African Service medals, one
granted him by the British and one by the Egyptian government. His
grandfather was one of those Selkirk Scots who colonised the Red River a
century ago, but, in Kennedy, Indian blood far outweighs the white. He
married a full-blood and has several splendid-looking children. At the
time of Riel's first half-breed rising, Kennedy's services attracted the
notice of Sir Garnet Wolseley. When, in 1844, Wolseley was detailed to
lead an expedition for the relief of Chinese Gordon, then at Khartoum,
he had to think of the details of river-transportation, and the
flat-boats of the Nile recalled the Canadian batteaux and Alec Kennedy.
It is a far call from the Lesser Slave to the Nile, but men who can
navigate boats and manage crews are rare, and the outcome was that this
Scots-Sioux,--strong, silent, faithful, was ordered to collect a party
of Canadian voyageurs and report to the Commander-in-Chief. Reaching
Egypt, Kennedy was at once attached to a young officer, Kitchener, who,
too, was later to win his spurs. Round the camp-fire we induce Alec
Kennedy, between puffs from a black pipe, to tell in short ruminating
sentences of the hansoms slurring over London mud, of the yellow Nile,
of Africa's big game, of the camel that takes the place of the moose, of
the swart Arabs and Egyptians. But of his own deeds of derring-do Alec
has little to say. It was of men such as Kennedy that Kipling warns, "Do
not expect him to speak, has he not done the deed?"
Lesser Slave holds many a person with a history behind him. As a young
fellow of the H.B. Co. says, "It's beastly bad form to ask any man who
comes in here anything about his former history. If he wants to be a
wilful-missing, that's his privilege." However, fate has thrown in our
way one person whom we will interview, bad form or not. From Chipewyan
up the Peace we have traced the story of Louise the Wetigo, taking down
at different posts, from the lips of nineteen different people, more or
less garbled chapters of it. As great good luck will have it, Louise
herself has to-day come in to within six miles of Lesser Slave. We soon
make connection with her and at the same time with Archdeacon and Mrs.
Scott, who are closely identified with the weird story.
[Illustration: Cannibal Louise, Her Little Girl, and Miss Cameron]
Stripped of the horrible details, these are the related facts. Twenty
years ago Louise was a bride of seventeen. With her sister, aged
eighteen, their respective husbands, father, mother, sisters, little
brothers and cousins, _en famille_, they pitched off from Little Red
River to make winter camp in the woods. The camp made, all the younger
men set off to hunt meat for the others. Neither moose nor caribou was
seen, and on and on they went. They shot one small beaver and ate it,
and the white earth afforded no further food. Starving and hopeless,
they stumbled on, finally to fall into a camp of stranger Indians, who
nursed them back slowly through the winter to sane strength.
How about their families, the camp of waiting ones left behind in the
woods? With no one to hunt for them, gaunt Famine held these in her
clutch. Grandmothers' faces grew weary, the sharpened eyes of the little
children peered daily across the snow waiting, watching, for the hunters
who were to bring food. The fires were made in readiness, but no meat
came to those hanging kettles. Old and feeble, young and helpless, alike
became weaker as they watched. One by one they died. The survivors ate
of the dead bodies. At last, of the nineteen souls, Louise and her
sister alone lived. Wild-eyed and starving, holding one old musket
between them, these two sisters stumbled off together to try to make
Little Red River, leaving behind them in the woods the most awful
experience that two human beings could share. At the nightly camps each
feared the other and neither dared to sleep. The third night out,
thinking that Louise slept, the sister levelled the gun at her stooping
companion, but Louise was watching through burnt holes in the canvas.
The next day brought no food, and the nightly watch was repeated. Then
the sister died. _How_ she died God and the watching stars alone know.
Some say that Louise carried with her a piece of her sister's flesh as
food when at last she staggered into Red River. This Louise denies, but
admits freely the cannibalism of the winter's camp.
Cannibalism! As we use this term we regret the paucity of a language
which forces us, in describing the extremity of Louise, to use the same
word which we apply to those inhuman monsters who, of their own
volition, choose the flesh of man for food. It is an awful story. Human
imagination and sympathy utterly fail to give a conception of the agony
undergone by these poor creatures--women and children with affections
like our own--shut for the greater part of a winter within that cruel
camp of death!
Coming back to the world of men and women, Louise was for years a
recluse, shunned of all Indians as a "Wetigo" or "Cannibal." A friend
was raised up to her in the person of Mrs. Scott, the wife of Archdeacon
Scott, who took her in and made her a member of their household. Years
passed, and Louise married a man whose Cree name is
The-Man-Who-Looks-Like-Silver. To this marriage a little child has been
As we arrange the little group for a photograph, the mother tenderly
caresses the child and the father smiles kindly upon both. Louise the
Cannibal! When we look on our joint picture, it might be somewhat
difficult to distinguish the writer from the Indian woman. She is "even
as you and me."
LESSER SLAVE LAKE TO EDMONTON
"I hear the tread of Nations yet to be,
The first low wash of waves where soon shall roll a human sea."
[Illustration: A Peace River Pioneer]
Taking passage on the steamer _Northern Light_, we leave the settlement
of Lesser Slave Lake, this world-in-small, on the first day of October,
and, from here to Athabasca Landing, travel in company with Mr. J.K.
Cornwall, President of the Northern Transportation Company. Between the
time of our journey and this writing, Mr. Cornwall has been returned as
Member of the Alberta Legislature for the district we are now
traversing. He certainly knows his constituency better than most
representatives do. There is scarcely a mile of these unmapped ways that
he has not tramped alone; not an Indian guide in the North can last with
"Jim" for a week, in summer, or on snow-shoes. When some Lesser Slave
half-breeds were told that Mr. Cornwall was going to run for the
legislature against Allie Brick, one of them said, "Jim wins. Allie
Brick can't run. Not much fun in that race. No man on Peace River can
run like Jim."
Mr. Cornwall's pronouncement on the North Country can be taken as
authoritative. He says, "Practically all the timber of any commercial
value between the Great Lakes and the Rocky Mountains is in these
northern watersheds. This timber will be a very important factor in the
coming development of Prairie Canada to the south, and fortunately, too,
it is most get-at-able. There are thirty-six hundred miles of river and
lake in the North on which steamers are plying to-day and which are open
for navigation for six months in every year. The first railway that
comes in will tap a system of transporation equalled only on this
continent by the Mississippi and St. Lawrence with the Great Lakes. The
American Government has spent two hundred million dollars on the
improvement of Mississippi navigation, and to-day it is not as valuable
a national asset as the great Athabasca-Mackenzie-Peace system is as it
came from the hand of Nature. Thirty thousand bushels of wheat that
would grade 'No. 1 Northern' was produced in the Peace River Country
this year, besides thousands of bushels of oats and barley. In this
Northland there are 100,000,000 acres of land fit for the growing of
Charles Dickens used to carry a note-book in his vest-pocket in which he
jotted down names that tickled his fancy. Were Dickens to travel this
route with us, his name-note-books would bulge. Where Lesser Slave River
issues out of Lesser Slave Lake, we found Tom Lilac in earnest
conversation with Jilly Loo-bird. Jilly has navigated the North all the
way from Athabasca Landing to Hudson's Hope on the Peace, seeking a
wife, and still lacks his connubial rib. Being told that ladies are on
board, he breathlessly asks, "What colour?" When he learns that we are
white, Jilly makes a dash for some cache in the woods which takes the
place of clothes-closet, but the steamer has passed on before he
emerges. Another lost chance, both for Jilly and the writer! For two or
three miles here, where the river runs out of the lake, it never
freezes, and ducks and wild-fowl remain here all the winter in open
water. Last month, in this immediate vicinity, no fewer than one hundred
moose were killed. Lilac tells us that last winter there was no snow
here until March, and two winters ago absolutely no snow fell whatever,
so that the sleighs were not gotten out and all the freighting had to be
done with waggons. "No need to starve here," says Lilac, "the trout run
up to forty pounds each. There are whitefish and grayling, and I gather
berries all the year round. In summer, I get the red and white currants,
raspberries, saskatoons, blueberries, gooseberries, and strawberries,
and all winter long there are both high-bush and low-bush cranberries."
[Illustration: Three Generations]
Travelling with us are Judge Noel and Judge Beck, making the first
circuit of justice through this country. Although they had come all the
way from Edmonton looking for trouble, so splendid has been the
surveillance of the Mounted Police here that no one could scrape up one
case for the judges to try. The Peace River people seemed somehow to
think that in greeting the judges with an empty house the settlement had
failed to make good. Some one comforts them with setting forth as the
ethics of the case the fact that the judges should be presented with
white gloves, as the traditional sign of an empty docket. Again is Peace
River chagrined, neither The Company nor the French Company has white
kids in stock. Each judge is made the recipient of a handsome pair of
moose-skin gloves, as a substitute, ornamented with beads and quills of
At Norris's, we leave the steamer and shoot the current of the swift
Lesser Slave River in a cranky dugout. The Dominion Government, with a
series of wing-dams, is putting this river to school, teaching it how to
make its bed neatly and wash out its own channel. Where the Lesser Slave
River runs into the Athabasca, we change the dugout for a scow, and from
there to Athabasca Landing float down the last stretch of our northern
waterways of delight. There is frost each night now and the deciduous
trees on the banks are a rich riot of colour. We resurrect from the
depths all the warm clothing available and have opportunity of testing
in their own latitudes the lynx-paw robes, moose-skin hunting-coats, and
other spoils that we are bringing out to civilisation.
Every passenger who floats with us enlarges our knowledge and enriches
our vocabulary. Judge Noel's bodyguard is a young stripling of the
Mounted Police, born in dear old Lunnon. It is always interesting to
note the different things of which people are proud. Old men boast of
their age and young ones of their youth. The fat woman in the side-show
is arrogant over her avoirdupois; the debutante glories in her slender
waist; and the globe-trotter triumphs in the miles he has travelled.
Wyllie claimed distinction in never having left Chipewyan. This Mounted
Policeman, who stretches out on the scow, plumes himself on two things:
"I 'old the dahnsin' championship of Edmonton. I got a gold watch lahst
winter for waltzin'." We smile approval, and the constable continues, "I
waltzed,--reversin',--an 'our-an'-a-'alf! And--," straightening himself
up, "I am the best-tattooed man in the Province of Alberta."
[Illustration: A Family on the Lesser Slave]
Rich is the descriptive language of the North, and we lie awake on the
scows, rolled in our blankets, loath to lose any of it. "Jim" is at the
sweep. Many of the men are going out from the North for the first time
in four or five years. They also seem too interested to slumber, and all
night long the conversation goes on. A priest is describing some man who
seems to be hard to identify. "You know him,--the son of the ole man
with the patch on his nose wot died. I christen him last winter." No one
is more apt at naming than these men. Two days ago, at the treaty at
Lesser Slave, when a smiling couple drew five dollars for a baby one day
old, a Cree bystander dubbed the baby "dat little meal-ticket." A young
girl who came up to claim her money was nicknamed "Pee-shoo," or "The
Lynx," because of her bad temper. So we see where all the old cats of
the south come from.
[Illustration: A One Night Stand]
The scow glides on, and we doze, but do not sleep. In the dark she hits
something and bumps us wide awake to hear the reassuring, "This is where
Pat Cunningham's horses were drownded last week." Under Jim's command,
everybody works, even learned judges from Edmonton. He says, "Take
another shot at the oars, and then you can hit the feathers." In the
morning, one half-breed fails to turn up for _meat-su_ and the comment
is, "He feels the feathers pullin'." "Don't blime 'im," remarks the
constable, passing the tea, "only fools and 'orses work."
"He reached out his hand for a drink," rendered into trans-Athabascan
would be, "He got his thievin' irons on the joy-juice," or "He stretched
his mud-hooks for the fight-water." "He set him a-foot for his horse"
means "He stole his horse," and from this we derive all such phrases as,
"He set him a-foot for his blankets," "He set him a-foot for his furs,"
"He set him a-foot for his wife."
The springy tussocks of grass growing in swampy places are _tetes des
femmes_, a name that pleased our fancy and made us think each time we
negotiated them of walking over the swaying heads of women in a crowd.
To call the tribes together, Indians are wont to send out significant
little pieces of wood. The announcement in the society columns, if the
Indians had any, would be, "The Crees sent out chips for a crush." An
Indian far down the Mackenzie had a name that kings might envy. He was
known among his tribe as _The-Man-Who-Goes-Around-and-Helps_. When a
beardless and ardent missionary approached this splendid chief, wanting
to "convert" him to the Christian religion, the old man replied with
indulgent dignity, "My son, for eighty years have I served the Great
Spirit in my own way. I fear I am now too old to change."
HOMES AMONG THE YELLOW WHEAT
"The stranger that sojourneth with you shall be unto you as
the homeborn among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself."
--_Leviticus, XIX_, 34.
[Illustration: A Rye Field in Brandon, Manitoba]
Edmonton once more. Two Spanish sailors shipwrecked and navigating the
Pacific on a log, search the shore for a sign. Into what land are they
drifting? The one at the bow (does a log have a bow?) sees something
through the haze--"_Gracias a Dios_! Praise be to God, it is a
Christian country! I see the gallows!" We too get our sign. We reach
Edmonton on Convocation Day.
Most young countries for the first ten years of their lives confine
their energies to roads, bridges, transportation--things of the
market-place. Alberta has been a full-fledged Province of Canada for
barely three years, and, coming out of the wilds, we sit on the back
benches and see her open the doors of her first Provincial University.
The record is unique and significant. On the banks of the Saskatchewan
rise the walls of the new Parliament Buildings, a replica in small of
Minnesota's State Capitol at St. Paul. This new Province, carved out of
the heart of the world's biggest wheat-farm, would seem to hold within
it all the elements that make for national greatness: the richest soil
in the world, oil, timber, fur, fish, great underlying coal measures, a
hinterland which is a very Pandora's box of gifts. Strong, sane, young
people have the situation in hand, each alert to grasp the skirts of
happy Chance. Peace walks within these western borders. What more would
The very first man we hunt out in Edmonton is Mr. Wyllie of Chipewyan.
On his promised visit to the Orkneys the old man had gotten as far as
Winnipeg, where the crowds of the modern city affrighted him. "Miss
Cameron, the men on the streets were as trees walking, and no man
stopped to ask how the other was doing. If that is the world, I wanted
to go no farther. I'm going back to Chipewyan, and I will take my family
with me. We go home with dogs on the first ice!" Poor Wyllie! Before the
bells rang out the Old Year, his soul heard the summons none may
disregard, and alone he went out on the Long Journey.
What of Inspector Pelletier, Walker, Joyce, and Conway, essaying the
traverse from Resolution to Hudson Bay? For weeks after coming out we
waited for news of the party. Month succeeded month and no word came out
of the white silence. Hudson Bay has no daily mail service. "There ain't
no busses runnin' from the Bank to Mandalay." It is not until March that
the welcome word comes that the original party safely made salt water.
The relieved tension at Regina headquarters and the joy of personal
friends is dimmed by the news of the death of Corporal Donaldson, who
joined the others at Chesterfield Inlet. Donaldson, in company with
Corporal Reeves, started down Hudson Bay in an open boat and encountered
a herd of walruses. Enraged and maddened at the shots of the men, one
huge animal made a charge, the boat was upset, and Donaldson, trying to
make shore, was drowned. Reeves survived.
It seems to be a chapter of accidents. Just as this book goes to press
we learn of a double fatality which attended the transport of the 1909
outfit of Count von Hammerstein. This plucky developer of McMurray
oilfields, while running Grand Rapids on the Athabasca (the rapids which
we had descended in an empty while the other sturgeon-heads were
discharging freight at Grand Rapids Island), struck a boulder. The boat
turned turtle and the three men were tossed into the torrent,--von
Hamerstein, V. Volksooky, a young Russian, and a French half-breed, La
France. The Count was washed ashore and escaped, but the others were
drowned. Deaths such as these are the price of Empire. When the
railroad reaches the Athabasca, the running of these dangerous rapids
will no longer be necessary.
[Illustration: Charles M. Hays, President of the Grand Trunk Railway]
In the footprints of Back and Samuel Hearne, Alexander Mackenzie and Sir
John Franklin, for six months we have been treading the silent places.
We have thought much of these faith-possessed men who found the roads
that others follow. In faith they wrought. Canada does well to honour
these great of old, and that she appreciates the work of her early
explorers is shown in the fact that British Columbia recently granted a
pension to the granddaughter of Simon Fraser, the man who in 1808 first
sailed down the great river that bears his name. But the day of our
great men is not over; Canada still in her great North and West has
Pathfinders of Empire. The early voyageurs made their quest in the
dugout and the birchbark; and the tools of these are rails of steel and
[Illustration: William Mackenzie, President of the Canadian Northern
We are accustomed to look upon a railroad as a cold thing of dirt and
sand and rock, ties and steel,--a mechanical something associated with
gradients and curves. But the history of railroading in Canada is one
long romance; back of each line is its creative wizard. We are too near
these men to get their proper measure; the historian of the future will
place their names on Canada's bead-roll:--Charles M. Hays, the forceful
President of the Grand Trunk Pacific; Mackenzie and Mann; William Whyte
of the Canadian Pacific. Canada owes much to Caledonia. Nine-tenths of
those pioneers of pioneers, the trading adventurers of the H.B. Company,
came from Scotland, that grey land where a judicious mixture of
Scripture and Shorter Catechism, oatmeal and austerity, breeds boys of
dour determination and pawky wit, boys who, whatever their shortcomings,
are not wont to carry their wishbone where their backbone ought to be. A
conspicuous example of the dynamic Scottish Canadian, hale at sixty-six,
is William Whyte, Vice-President of the Canadian Pacific Railway. At an
age when most men are content to "drowse them close by a dying fire,"
William Whyte finds himself in complete charge of all the affairs of the
Canadian Pacific Railway Company between the Great Lakes and the
Pacific. Through the positions of brakemen, freight clerk, yard master,
conductor, night station-agent, passenger agent, this man worked on his
own passage along Fame's ladder. Twenty years of adolescence and
preparation, twenty years with the Grand Trunk, a quarter of a century
with the Canadian Pacific, this is William Whyte's record of splendid
service. He has always played the game and he is still in the harness.
[Illustration: Donald D. Mann, Vice-president of the Canadian Northern
[Illustration: William Whyte, Second Vice-president of the Canadian
When people enquired of the early Christians, "What do you call your new
religion?" they answered, "We call it _The Road_." If religion is the
best work of a man made visible, as I think it is, then the Canadian
Northern Road may well stand for the religious expression of the men
who made it. It takes more than money, more than dreams, more than
ambition, for two men in twelve years to build, own, and personally
control five thousand miles of railway. As Riley says, it takes sweat. A
mile a day for twelve years,--this is the construction-record of the
Canadian Northern. It sounds like the story of Jonah's gourd. In 1896,
nothing. In 1909, a railroad line with earnings of ten million dollars a
year west of Port Arthur alone, and twelve thousand people on the
regular pay-roll. Beginning in Manitoba and operating in the three
prairie Provinces, the Canadian Northern is primarily a western railway,
its remarkable growth being coincident with and closely related to the
tide of immigration.
[Illustration: In the Wheat Fields]
As a case in point, on our way south from Edmonton we pass through the
divisional point of Vermilion on the Canadian Northern, which is not to
be confounded with our Far North Vermilion-on-the-Peace. Vermilion
exemplifies wonderfully the Go-Fever and the Grow-Fever of the
Prairies. Before it was three months old its citizens had organised a
Board of Trade, had given it a Methodist Church, a newspaper, a bank, a
public school, three lumber-yards, three hotels, three restaurants, four
implement warehouses, two hardware stores, two butcher shops, four real
estate offices, a furniture store, a drugstore, a jewellery store, a
steam laundry, a flour and feed store, a shoe-shop, a bakery, and a
bookshop. Three barbers had hung out their signs, and so had two
doctors, a photographer, a lawyer, a dentist, and an auctioneer. There
were two pool-rooms and a bowling-alley.
Farther south we reach the town of Vonda. The Canadian Northern reached
this neighbourhood, and the town-site was surveyed in June, 1905. That
year Vonda shipped over the line one hundred thousand bushels of wheat,
and in 1906 her exports were five hundred thousand bushels. The Canadian
farmer looks upon the railroad as his friend; you cannot expect _him_ to
use the inclusive condemnation, "Corporations have no souls." The main
line of the Canadian Northern runs from Port Arthur on Lake
Superior--where, by the way, stands the world's largest grain
elevator--to beyond Edmonton on the North Saskatchewan, operating in the
heart of one gigantic wheat-farm. The method of construction has been
unique. The owners commenced to build branch railways almost before they
had a main line. Little spurs to small elevators grew into long branches
flanked with bigger elevators, and the elevators evolved into villages,
towns, and cities, until to-day the result of twelve years' growth shows
a main line of thirteen hundred miles, with over three thousand miles
of branch railways. An orchard tree is a good fruit-bearer when the
thick clustering branches are more in evidence than the long thin trunk,
and the same applies to railroads. But this main line will grow, too.
Working out from its wheaten heart, its natural line of growth is east
to Hudson Bay, north beyond Edmonton, and west to the Pacific. Surely
the tentacles are pushing out. Already the Alberta Legislature has
granted the Canadian Northern a charter to Athabasca Landing, and one
hundred miles of steel will here tap all the lush land watered by the
Peace and the Athabasca.
More interesting than the line which gridirons the wheat-lands we are
passing through, are the men who made it. To try to write the history of
Western Canada's development and not speak of Mr. Mackenzie and Mr. Mann
would be as difficult as Mr. Dick's efforts to tell his story without
mentioning the unfortunate Charles I. William Mackenzie is the Cecil
Rhodes of Canada--gentle, kindly, almost retiring in his manner, and
with a glance as inscrutable as the sea. Beginning as a school-teacher,
he early threw aside the ferule and the chalk, to get into the world of
action. In his time he has built shacks, kept a country store, and run a
saw-mill. Three things come to him as priceless treasure out of the
self-discipline of these experiences: a rare aptitude to see and to
focus the central idea of any proposition, quick and unerring decision,
and the power of ready calculation. "I am seldom wrong in a figure," is
one of his few admissions about himself. The President of the Canadian
Northern travels without a secretary, dictates letters sparingly, and
works in an office as bare of adornment as a monk's cell.
And his working partner? Donald D. Mann is a man of deeds rather than
words. James J. Hill has declared Mr. Mann to be the greatest railway
builder in the world. Mr. Mann was born in Ontario not far from the
sleepy town of Acton and just six miles east of Rockwood, the birthplace
of James J. Hill. These two boys learned to swim in the same
swimming-hole. One wonders from what roadside spring they quaffed the
draught which sent them railroad-building. Mr. Mann thinks it a great
advantage to be born a country boy, for he says it makes a lad frugal,
strong, and resourceful. It worked out this way in his own case at
least, for there is not a thing in railroad building that Mr. Mann
cannot do with his own hands, from shoeing a mule to finding the best
pass in the Rockies through which to slide his iron horse down to the
sea. Direct, strong, simple, he knows how to control himself and manage
others. D.D. Mann is a conspicuous example of what a Canadian boy has
managed to accomplish by his own efforts. The beauty of this Western
Canada is that it holds out opportunities to every plucky lad who has
initiative and who is willing to work; nothing is stratified, the whole
thing is formative.
While the steel kings are letting the light of day into this great
granary, they are being helped by a government representative, as
democratic and direct as any of the pathmakers whose visible work we
have been noticing. The Hon. Frank Oliver, Canada's Minister of the
Interior, is essentially a self-made man. Before the railroad men
realised their vision splendid, young Mr. Oliver and his bride rode into
Edmonton on an ox-cart, with a modest little printing-press tucked away
among the wedding-gifts and household goods. Oliver was a practical
printer and soon issued a hand-dodger called by courtesy a newspaper.
The editing habit sticks. The Minister of the Interior owns and
publishes the Edmonton _Bulletin_. Mr. Mann says, "I like building
railroads"; Mr. Oliver might parody him and say, "I like building
[Illustration: Hon. Frank Oliver, Minister of the Interior]
Arrived at Winnipeg, we look back across this great prairie we have
twice traversed. The land stands ready to produce bread for the nations;
Nature has done her part, now man must do his. The two greatest needs of
Western Canada to-day are transportation and immigration. Of the one we
have spoken; the other claims our interest even more compelling, for man
is more vital than machinery. Canada is a country with a meagre past, a
solid present, and an illimitable future.
She, moreover, is the last unstaked Empire under a white man's
sky,--where wilderness and man are meeting. The flood of immigration
hither is not the outcome of the temporary mood of mankind or of the
immigration policy of a government. It is the natural sequence of the
economic conditions of a continent seeking the outlet of least
resistance to a more favourable situation. The people who are coming in
are not dreamers but workers. "The world's greatest wheat-farm," says
the economist. It is more than this: it is a human crucible, and we are
witnessing here the birth-throes of an entirely new nation.
[Illustration: Threshing Grain]
While seventy-five per cent of Canada's wheat-farmers are either
Canadian, American, or British-born, and of the class that preserves the
homogeneity of the race, every country on the map pays tribute to the
plains. Austrians are here and Galicians, Hungarians and Belgians,
Dutch and French and Germans, Italians and Polish, the Russian
Doukhobortsi, Finns and Danes and Icelanders, Swedes in thousands and
stalwart Norwegians. South Africans and West Indians are coming in with
Bermudians and Jamaicans and the bearded Spaniard. Far off on the
Pacific Coast, strangers are knocking at the western gate,--Chinese,
Japanese, and Hindoos.
[Illustration: Doukhobors Threshing Flax]
There is no Established Church in Canada; it is the freest land in the
world. On his one hundred and sixty government-given acres, the new
arrival may worship his God in his own way. The Greek Church in Winnipeg
has a Bishop who one day each year makes holy water of the Red River
when the Czar is performing the same blessing on the Neva. Down in
Southern Alberta refugee Mormons from Salt Lake grow sugar-beets,
revere the memory of Brigham Young, and multiply after their kind. Until
within two years ago the expatriated Russian Doukhobors maintained a
commonwealth of ten thousand souls, eschewing liquors and flesh-meats,
making the prairie blossom into bumper harvests, and holding all things
Winnipeg has three thousand Icelanders who, every August, take a day off
to celebrate the fact that the Danish King, in 1874, granted a
constitution to Iceland. When you ask them why they came to America,
they say, "Did not our Lief Ericcson discover this continent, why
shouldn't we come?" The Icelanders boast two members in the Manitoba
legislature. A Mennonite is a member of the Parliament of Alberta. The
first graduate of Wesley College in Winnipeg to find a place on the
staff of his Alma Mater is also a Mennonite. Winnipeg has several, Roman
Catholic Polish lawyers. Statistics prove that the young Jewish people
of Western Canada patronise the public libraries more than any other
class or race. All the citizens-in-the-making are closely interested in
politics. Recently there was chronicled the formation in Winnipeg of a
Syrian Liberal Club and a Syrian Conservative Club. Up in Edmonton the
Galicians (Ruthenians?) have just organised a corps of volunteer militia
to serve the Canadian country of their adoption.
[Illustration: Sir William Van Horne, First President of the Canadian
The Americanisation of Canada? During the past seven years over three
hundred and fifty thousand people have come to us from the United
States. Is this American invasion to be feared politically? Western
Canada has no more desirable citizens than those who come to us from
the south. They are not failures, but are people who have made good,
intent on making better. One generation at the most,--sometimes but a
few years,--converts these into Canadian voters. The troubled English
brother should remember that when "American" farmers in Canada pronounce
on Canadian matters they do so constitutionally at the polls and as
Canadian citizens. As Canadians we believe that our national
institutions, though far from perfect, are in some respects superior to
those of the United States. We believe they are at once more elastic,
more responsive to the popular will, and more stable because more
elastic. The west is gaining in political power as it gains in
population and prosperity, and fortunately our government machinery has
been well tested before it is called upon to feel the strain of our
rapidly-increasing population. Canada may construct where older nations
must reconstruct, and if we borrow an American institution or two,
provided it be a good one, let no man hold up hands in holy horror.
Japan has borrowed nationally whenever she saw, lying around loose,
something she could use, and Japan is as Japanese at heart as she was in
the days of the Tycoon and the two-sworded Samurai. Belgium to-day,
after centuries of contiguity and intercourse, is not exactly France;
and little Switzerland, surrounded by the Powers, will be Switzerland
till the last curtain-fall.
"Is Canada loyal to England?" is a question that sometimes meets us. No,
Canada is loyal to the British Empire of which she forms a part. Let
England see to it that she, too, is loyal.
Canada has two hundred millions of arable acres south of the
Saskatchewan. North of this river, in the pleasant valleys of the Peace,
are one hundred million acres more. If Canada were as thickly populated
as the British Isles it would have a billion people. The mind reels and
the imagination staggers in thinking of the future of this rich land.
God has intended this to be the cradle of a new race, a race born of the
diverse entities now fusing in its crucible. Most of these people in
time will intermarry,--Germans and Latins, Celts and Slavs, and with
these the Semitic peoples, in varying proportions and combinations.
Physically, what will be the result? Mentally and morally, what type
will prevail? Drawn by the lure of the wheat, all pour themselves into
the melting-pot. What of the new Canadian who will step out?
In the point of population, Canada begins the twentieth century where
the United States began the nineteenth. The race is ours to run. Wise
the nation, as is the individual, who can learn his lesson from a page
torn out of his neighbour's book, learn what to follow and what to
avoid. Our fore-elders who laid the foundations for us laid them
four-square. As Canadians, we owe a debt to the Fathers of Confederation
and their successors. In the West, our particular thanks are due to the
Hudson's Bay Company, the R.N.W.M.P., and all those factors which
established British law "in the beginning." Canada has never seen a
lynching; we have had no Indian war; with but one weak-kneed exception
there has been no attempt to hold up a train within our Western borders.
This is the inheritance of the people of this generation, and on this
foundation we must build. Our hope is in the children.
On the benches of one school-room in Edmonton I found children who had
been born in Canada, the United States, England, Scotland, Russia, New
Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, Australia, and Austro-Hungary. They were
all singing "_The Maple Leaf Forever_." It is the lessons these children
are to learn in that little red school-house which will determine the
future of Western Canada, and not the yearly tale of forty-bushel
wheat. In the past, nations out of their very fatness have decayed. Many
signs are full of hope. Last winter Mrs. Ray travelled alone with
dog-sled all the way from Hudson Bay to Winnipeg to place her children
in school. Her husband is a fur-trader and could not leave his post. At
all hazards the bairns must be educated, so the brave mother journeyed
out with them!
May I close with a purely personal note? At the end of a summer which
had showered us with kindness, I was to hear from the lips of a Roman
priest in St. Boniface the most delightful tribute I have had in my
life. We had gone across the river to see the holy relics and skulls,
the result of the La Verendrye research carried on by this clergy in the
Lake of the Woods country. I was anxious to get the story of the
recovery of these historic remains and also to secure photographs. But
the Father was obdurate, for he thought his Bishop might not approve. We
turned to go downstairs from the third story of the seminary. Looking in
at an open door, my eye was caught by the familiar wording of a
blackboard problem. "If 16 men and 4 boys working 4 hours a day dig a
trench 82 yards long----." And I halted, as the one-time circus-horse
stops when he hears the drum of a passing band.
"You are interested?" queried the Father.
"Yes," I acknowledged, "I once taught school."
He, still in the trammels, looked the enquiry he did not utter.
"I taught school for twenty-five years," I admitted.
We walked on down the stairs to the next landing in silence, when he
turned to me with, "And you taught school--for twen-ty five years?"
I nodded my head, and we went on. At the next landing the remark was
repeated. At the foot of the stairs he excused himself and came back
with the photographs which he presented to me with an Old World courtesy
and dignity. Grasping my hand in farewell, once more the man of God
wondered, "And for twen-ty five years you taught school. And you remain
so--" He hesitated for the word, and I wondered what it would be. At
last it came,--the tribute of one who expected to teach school all his
life to one who had put in a quarter of a century at the work and still
survived,--"You have taught school for twen-ty five years, _and you
remain so glad!_"
And this is the keynote of what the summer has left with us. As
Canadians, looking at this Western Canada which has arrived and thinking
of the lands of Canada's fertile Northland far beyond, for the future we
are full of optimism, and of the present we are _glad_.
ROUTES OF TRAVEL
ROUTE FROM EDMONTON TO THE ARCTIC VIA THE ATHABASCA AND MACKENZIE RIVER
MILES PLACE PASSENGER FREIGHT TARIFF MODE OF TRAVEL TIMES
TARIFF per cwt.
100 Athabasca Landing $8.00 $1.00 Mail stage, run by J.M. Kennedy Twice a week all year round
DOWN RETURN DOWN RETURN
STREAM UPSTREAM STREAM UPSTREAM
0 Athabasca Landing Northern Transportation Co.'s SS.
120 Pelican Rapids $ 7.50 $ 7.50 $ .75 $ .75 _Midnight Sun_ (when business offers)
165 Grand Rapids 10.00 15.00 1.50 1.50 or scows. From Athabasca Landing
to Grand Rapids.
252 Fort McMurray 20.00 27.50 3.25 3.25 Scows from Grand Rapids to Fort
437 Fort Chipewyan 35.00 45.00 4.50 4.50 H.B. Co's SS. _Grahame_ (sternwheel
539 Smith's Landing 45.00 55.00 5.50 5.50 river steamer, 130 ft. x 28 ft.;
accommodates 30 passengers; blankets
supplied; bathroom; meals served 50 From June to
cents each; 150 lbs. baggage free). August inclusive
From Fort McMurray to Smith's
555 Fort Smith 48.00 58.00 6.25 6.25 H.B. Co. Transport, portage by teams
from Smith's Landing to Fort Smith.
749 Fort Resolution 56.00 68.00 7.25 8.25 H.B. Co's SS. _Mackenzie River_
819 Hay River 59.00 73.00 7.75 9.25 (strong new sternwheel, lake and
869 Fort Rae 62.00 78.00 8.25 10.25 river steamer; accommodates 50
917 Fort Providence 65.00 82.00 8.25 10.25 passengers, same conditions as _Grahame_
1078 Fort Simpson 73.00 92.00 9.25 12.25 above). From Fort Smith to Fort
1214 Fort Wrigley 80.00 102.00 10.25 14.25 Macpherson.
1398 Fort Norman 87.00 112.00 11.25 16.25
1572 Fort Good Hope 93.00 122.00 12.25 18.25
1780 Arctic Red River 100.00 130.00 13.00 19.50
1854 Fort Macpherson 103.00 133.00 13.75 21.25
[Footnote 1: For further particulars regarding dates and rates,
application should be made to the Hudson's Bay Company, Winnipeg; J.K.
Cornwall, M.P.P., of the Northern Transportation Co. at Edmonton; or to
A.G. Harrison, Secretary Edmonton Board of Trade, Edmonton, Alberta.]
ROUTE FROM EDMONTON TO PEACE RIVER, VIA THE ATHABASCA RIVER (UP
STREAM), LESSER SLAVE RIVER AND LESSER SLAVE LAKE.
MILES PLACE PASSENGER FREIGHT TARIFF MODE OF TRAVEL TIMES
TARIFF per cwt.
100 Athabasca Landing $8.00 $1.00 Mail stage, run by J.M. Kennedy Twice a week all year round
0 Athabasca Landing Northern Transportation Co.'s SS.
75 Mouth of Lesser Slave _Midnight Sun_ (sternwheel river
River $6.00 $ .80 steamer, 120 ft. long x 24 ft. beam;
accomodates 35 in staterooms; passengers
supply their own blankets;
meals served 50 cents each; freight-carrying
capacity 50 tons). From
Athabasca Landing to Mouth of
Lesser Slave River.
91 Norris's (head of rapids) 8.00 1.40 Portage 16 miles in N.T. Co's passenger
and freight waggons from From May 15 to
Mouth of Lesser Slave River to Oct. 15.
Norris's (head of rapids).
194 Shaw's Point on Lesser
Slave Lake 16.00 2.50 N.T. Co.'s SS. _Northern Light_ (sidewheel
river and lake steamer, 100
ft. long x 26 ft. beam; accommodates
35 in staterooms; passengers
supply their own blankets; meals
served 50 cents each; freight capacity
30 tons). From Norris's to
201 Lesser Slave Lake Settlement Portage 7 miles to the settlement.
0 Lesser Slave Lake Settlement From Lesser Slave Lake Settlement to
$10.00 2.00 Peace River Crossing, teams and
to drivers may be hired; fare depends
25.00 on number of passengers; takes 3 All the year round
according days. Stopping places at intermediate
to number points, with stabling and hay;
bunkhouses for travellers who supply
90 Peace River Crossing (Peace their own bedding and provisions.
[Footnote 2: For further particulars regarding dates and rates, application
should be made to the Hudson's Bay Company, Winnipeg; J.K. Cornwall, M.P.P.,
of the Northern Transportation Co. at Edmonton; or to A.G. Harrison,
Secretary Board of Trade, Edmonton, Alberta.]
PEACE RIVER ROUTES:--(1) FROM PEACE RIVER CROSSING UP TO HUDSON'S HOPE.
(2) FROM PEACE RIVER CROSSING DOWN TO FORT CHIPEWYAN.
MILES PLACE PASSENGER FREIGHT TARIFF MODE OF TRAVEL TIMES
TARIFF per cwt.
UPSTREAM RETURN UPSTREAM RETURN Having arrived at Peace River Crossing,
DOWN DOWN the traveller may go up the
STREAM STREAM Peace by H.B. SS. _Peace River_
0 Peace River Crossing (sternwheel river steamer, electric From June to August
70 Fort Dunvegan $10.00 $ 5.00 $1.00 $ .75 light, bathroom; accomodates 40 inclusive.
200 Fort St. John's 25.00 15.00 3.00 2.25 passengers; blankets supplied; meals
240 Hudson's Hope 35.00 20.00 5.00 4.25 served 50 cents each; 150 lbs. baggage free).
DOWN RETURN DOWN RETURN
STREAM UPSTREAM STREAM UPSTREAM
0 Peace River Crossing Or, having arrived at Peace River
280 Fort Vermilion $15.00 $25.00 $1.00 $3.00 Crossing, the traveller may go down
330 Chutes of the Peace 17.00 30.00 1.75 4.00 By the H.B. SS. _Peace River_, from From June to August
Peace River Crossing to the Chutes inclusive.
of the Peace.
570 Fort Chipewyan 37.00 60.00 3.25 7.00 By H.B. SS. _Grahame_ or Tug _Primrose_,
from Chutes of the Peace to
[Footnote 3: For further particulars regarding dates and rates,
application should be made to the Hudson's Bay Company, Winnipeg; J.K.
Cornwall, M.P.P., of the Northern Transportation Co. at Edmonton; or to
A.G. Harrison, Secretary Board of Trade, Edmonton, Alberta.]