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Title: The Book of the West

Date of first publication: 1925

Author: Howard Angus Kennedy (1861-1938)

Date first posted: Sep. 30, 2018

Date last updated: Mar. 9, 2019

Faded Page eBook #20180953

This ebook was produced by: Al Haines, Cindy Beyer & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net

Canadian Legends and Tales of Imagination,
Red and White. Sixth Edition.
In the Story of the Empire Series. Third
Second Edition.
By his Nephew. Second Edition.
Life of Dr. John Kennedy.

Manitoba      Saskatchewan
Alberta      British Columbia







The Story of Western Canada, its Birth and

Early Adventures, its Youthful Combats,

its Peaceful Settlement, its Great

Transformation, and its

Present Ways.






Copyright, Canada, 1925, by








  Study to be quiet and to do your own

business, and work with your own hands,

that you may act honestly to others and

lack nothing yourselves.

Paul the Apostle

A Hill-Top Adventure. Foreword1
I.Adventures without a Man4
   Giant Lizards, page 5. Birth of the Mountains, 7. Ice Age, 7. Rhinoceros and Mastodon, 8. A Continent Waiting for Man, 8.
II.The Indian by Himself9
   First Arrivals from Asia, 9. Spreading South and East, 11. Corn Found, 11. Gardening Begins, 12. Wanderings of Northern Indians, 13. Prairie Left to the Last, 14. Life and Death, 15. The Mound Builders, 16. The First Plainsmen, 17. Buffalo Hunting Starts, 18. Blackfoot and Cree come out of the Woods, 19. Life in a Hunting Tribe, 20.
III.The White Man Comes Exploring23
   Indians Hear Strange News, 23. Why the White Man Crossed the Sea, 25. French Ascend the St. Lawrence, 26. La Salle, 27. English Discover Hudson Bay, 25. Radisson and Groseillers reach the West, 31. Hudson’s Bay Company Started, 33.
IV.The Reign of King Beaver35
   His Achievements, Dead and Alive, 35. “Rupert’s Land,” 37. Trading on the Bay Shore, 39. French Opposition, 40. Forest Runners, 41. The Vérendryes, 41. First Sight of the Mountains, 43. The English Strike Inland, 44. Indians on Horseback, 45. Hearne Reaches the Arctic Sea, 47. Eskimo Massacred by Indians, 48.
   The Rival North-west Company, 49. Mackenzie Crosses to the Pacific, 50. Thompson Descends the Columbia, 50. Fraser of Fraser River, 51. The Companies at War, 52. Lord Selkirk’s Colony on Red River, 53. Battle of Seven Oaks, 55. The Rivals Join Forces, 56. Company Rule Extended to the Pacific, 56. The Fur Trader’s Life, 56. Travel by Land and Sea, 57. Perils of the Straits, 57.
   The West as Paul Kane saw it in 1847, 60. Isolation of Red River, 61. Slaughter of Men and Buffalo, 61. The Cree and Blackfoot Feud, 62. Indian Dance and Horse Race, 63.
   Tragedy of Arctic Exploration, 64. Fate of Franklin, 65. North-west Passage Found, 66. Amundsen Gets Through, 66.
V.The Farthest West68
   North-west Passage Hunt not Wasted, 68. Drake on the Pacific Coast, 69. Captain Cook, 69. British and Spanish on Vancouver Island, 70. United States Frontier Fixed, 71. Company’s Forts and Farming, 72. Dogs Bred for Wool, 72. Indian Sports and Slavery, 73. Flat-Heads, 74.
   First White Colony, 75. The Gold Rush, 75. Company Rule Ended, 76. British Justice, 79. Coal Found, 81. Federation with Canada, 81. The Hog of San Juan, 82.
VI.The Windows Opened83
   Exploring for Homes, 83. “Paradise of Fertility,” 84. The Door Still Shut, 84. Toleration of Savagery, 85. Alexander Henry, 86. Indians and Christianity, 86. A Peace Maker, 87. Rupert’s Land Enters Dominion, 88. Trouble on Red River, 89. Wolseley’s Expedition, 90.
VII.The Mounted Police91
   New Danger on the Frontier, 91. Mounted Police Organized, 92. Campaign against Whiskey Smugglers, 93. Indians make Treaty, 93. Redcoats and Redskins, 94. Sioux from the States, 96.
VIII.Our First and Last Indian War98
   Riel’s Second Revolt, 99. The Indian Peril, 99. Duck Lake Fight, 99. Battleford Besieged, 100. Frog Lake Massacre, 101. An Army from the East, 103. The Railway just in Time, 104. Relief of Battleford, 105. The Fight on Cutknife Hill, 106. Fish Creek, 111. Victory of Batoche, 112. Surrender of the Chiefs, 112. The Hunt for Big Bear, 114.
IX.Opening the Door of the West117
   The Railway to the Pacific, 117. A National Necessity, 118. How it was Got, 120. Difficulties of Construction, 121. Finished in Five Years, 122.
X.Our Fathers and Mothers Come in124
   British Settlers in the East, 124. Their Children Colonize the West, 126. Immigrants Direct from Europe, 126. Early Isolation, 126. King Steer and King Wheat, 127. Collecting Buffalo Bones, 127. The Ranching Era, 127.
XI.Riding the Plains in 1905128
   A Ride through Two New Provinces, 128. Calgary, 129. Livestock in the Park Lands, 129. Untouched Prairie, 129. “We are Canadians Now,” 130. Wild Life, 131. Antelope and Railway, 131. Thin Thread of Settlement, 132. Hospitable Métis, 133.
   Turn the Key and Walk in, 135. A Man from Iowa, 135. Kings and Presidents, 136. Law and Order, 137. French-Canadians’ Return, 138. Revisiting a Battlefield, 139. Indians Farming, 139. A Sylvan Home, 140.
XII.Learning to be Canadians141
   Freighting, 141. The Blacksmith’s Wife, 141. Health in the Air, 142. Scandinavians, 142. “Who are the Slavs?” 143. Small Beginnings, 143. A Spinning Bachelor, 143. A Doukhobor Village, 145. The Long Migration, 148. The Newcomer Learns, and Teaches, 149.
XIII.The Tree of Freedom151
   Twin Provinces Born, 151. How to Cultivate the Tree of Freedom, 153. The Political Art of Living Together, 154. Loyalty to Union, 155. The Two Empires, 156.
XIV.On the Wings of the West158
   “Cultivating our Garden,” 158. Seeing the West from the Air, 159. Victoria, 159. Federal Observatory, 159. Ships, 160. What the British Navy Means, 160. Vancouver, 160. Fish, Forest, and Mine, 161. A Pioneer Family, 162. “Simple Life and High Standard of Living,” 163. Fruit Valleys, 164. Westerners and the War, 164. Sea of Mountains, 165. Airplane, Wireless, and Forest Fires, 166.
XV.A Flight Across the Plains167
   Wealth of Coal and Water Power, 167. Manufactures, 168. The Chinook, 169. Watering Dry Land, 169. Bees, 170. Natural Gas, 170. Quality in Cattle and Sheep, 171. Regina, 171. Rare Clay and Common Dirt, 171. Network of Railways, 172. Better Houses, 172. Telephones, 172. Tree Planting, 173. Nomads Yet, 174. Climates, 175. “Test and Select,” 176. Wasteful Cultivation, 176. Automobiles, 177. The Business End of Farming, 178. Experimental Farms, 179. Universities, 180. People Wanted, 180. Small Farming, 181. Butter and Cheese, 183. Winnipeg, 184. Sports, 185. Boys and Girls, 185. Citizen Soldiers, 186.
XVI.Up to the North and Home Again187
   The Caribou Pastures, 187. Reindeer and Food Supply, 188. Police on Arctic Islands, 189. Wireless on the Arctic Coast, 190. Up the Mackenzie, 190. Peace River, 191. Homes in the Brush, 191. Buffalo Flourish Again, 192. Fur Farming and Trapping, 192. A Beaver Colony, 193.
   New Settlers and Canadian Ideals, 194. Harmony and Variety, 196. A Sure Foundation, 196. Pure Canadian, 199.
The Spirit of the West201

Parliament Buildings of the Western ProvincesFrontispiece
Very Early Westerners5
   Giant Lizards on the Red Deer. Drawing by E. S. Christman. 
Indian Lacrosse Player13
   Drawing by George Catlin. 
Early Buffalo Hunting24
   Drawing by George Catlin. 
Towing Through the Ice29
   From Gerrit de Veer’s “Vraye Description de Trois Voyages,” Amsterdam, 1600. 
The Voyageurs’ Way to the West. A Portage on the Ottawa36
   From W. H. Bartlett’s Engraving in “Canadian Scenery.” 
Chief Poundmaker36
   From Pastel by Edmund Morris. 
Chief Piapot36
   From a Photograph. 
Beaver at Work, and Beaver Hats37
   From Horace T. Martin’s “Castorologia.” 
The Beaver and the Unicorn37
   From John Ogilby’s “America,” 1671. 
In a Swift Current52
   Drawing by Frederic Remington. 
On the Winter Highway52
   Drawing by Frederic Remington. 
Lord Selkirk, Father of Western Settlement53
From a Painting by Raeburn. 
Fort Douglas; Where Winnipeg Now Stands53
   Built to Protect the Selkirk Settlers. From a Water-Color believed to be by Peter Rindifbacher, Dutch Artist. 
Coast Indian Masks73
   From the Marquis of Lorne’s “Canadian Pictures.” 
On the Cariboo Trail, Thompson River77
   From the Marquis of Lorne’s “Canadian Pictures.” 
Fort Chipewyan, Lake Athabasca96
   From a Drawing by W. S. Watson, 1899. 
Buffalo Herd and Prairie Fire96
   From a Painting by F. A. Verner. 
Mounted Police Chasing Whiskey Smugglers97
The Covered Wagon97
   A Returned Canadian, Home-seeking. From a Photograph by H. A. Kennedy, 1905. 
An Indian Ultimatum102
   Facsimile of Big Bear’s Demand for Surrender of Fort Pitt. 
On the Battlefield. Friends Again112
   Mounted Police Officer and Cree Indian, Sir Archibald Macdonell and Piacutch. From a Photograph by H. A. Kennedy on Cutknife Hill, 1905. 
A Horse Ranch112
Where No Trees Grew. Forestry Station, Indian Head113
Quality Raising Quality. School Fair Prize Winners113
Antelope on the Prairie132
   From a Drawing by George Catlin. 
From the Russian Oven176
At the Spinning Wheel176
   Doukhobor Housewives. From Photographs by H. A. Kennedy. 
The Old House and the New. On a Ruthenian Farm177
A Family from Poland177
Lake Louise, Rocky Mountains National Park192
Mount Robson, Jasper National Park193
The E. P. Ranch, High River193
   The Prince of Wales and his Canadian Home 
Sketch Map of Western Canada206

Hearty thanks are given to the Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, and the publishers of “Canadian Pictures,” for the use of pictures from that book by the late Duke, Governor-General of Canada; to Mrs. H. T. Martin for the beaver pictures from her husband’s book; to Harper’s Magazine and Mrs. Remington’s executors for the two travel scenes by Frederic Remington; to the American Museum of Natural History, New York, for the giant lizards; to the scientific staff of the Victoria Museum at Ottawa for checking my pre-historic facts; to many other officers of the Dominion and the four Western Provinces, and unofficial informants, for pictorial and other details; above all, to the numberless good folk all over the West who have made my travelling and living among them an endless revelation and delight.—H.A.K.




A Hill-Top Adventure

BULLETS whistled about my ears as I leapt from my horse on Cutknife Hill. The Indians had us neatly ringed in, as once they used to trap the buffalo. Puffs of smoke rose from the gully on our left, from the gully on our right, from the creek-bed in our rear, from the ridge beyond the gully on each hand. Man after man fell, killed or wounded. The friend who had shared his supper with me, the night before, lay dead, a bullet through his head. The next bullet might go through mine. For five long hours the painted braves kept up the zip-zip-zip, shooting us down like rabbits. It was my first adventure in the West,—and the last of its kind the West will ever know.

That little war of 1885 was the Great Divide of Western History. It marked an end and a beginning. The rising on the Saskatchewan was the last volcanic outbreak of the fire primeval, the savage spirit of the old Wild West. With the suppression of that rising, the fire was quenched for ever. The old times ended; our own new times began.

Standing on the Great Divide of the Rocky Mountains we see, looking back, the long road we have travelled up from the Atlantic, and then, looking forward, the long road stretching down to the Pacific. So, looking back from the Great Divide of Western History, we see a moving picture of romance, of wonderful discovery, of long-drawn struggle against fearful odds; a picture brightened with heroic deeds, though darkened now and then by clouds of crime. Life Full of Adventure Then, looking forward, we see the moving picture of our modern West, the inrushing flood of humanity, these forty years of peace and safety, of swift transformation from a hunter’s wilderness to a land of a million homes, of marvellous, though unsatisfying, progress.

This picture too is crowded with adventure, of many kinds. People are constantly having adventures without knowing it. They pass through life and think it dull because they have a dull habit of not looking at the thousand points of interest as they pass.

When the first Indian landed in empty America, far back in the mysterious past, that was a great adventure. And when the last family of European newcomers stepped off the train this very morning, after a journey of 6,000 miles by sea and land, that was just as big an adventure to them. When a boy has learned to shoot, and hunts down a coyote, he feels that he has had an adventure; but when he merely hunts up a stray cow in the brush of the back pasture, on his pony, that too is an adventure, and tests his power of observation and discovery as well as horsemanship.

Yes, and every spring when the farmer tests his grain for germination, and fans the last weed seed out of it, and treats it with formalin for smut, and carefully cleans his drill, he is preparing for a yearly adventure, as truly as the fur-hunter centuries ago when he patched his canoe and packed his belongings for a journey of months and years through an unknown land.

For me, it is an adventure to sit down and write this book, as truly as when I saddled up and rode out of Battleford on my way to Cutknife Hill. A hard adventure, too; harder work than rounding up cattle, or clearing brush, or pitching hay, or stooking heavy wheat, or anything else The West is Vast and Various I have ever done on the farm. But there is great pleasure in doing hard things, as every true Westerner knows by experience.

·      ·      ·      ·     ·     ·

A moving picture of the West is what you ask from me: a moving picture in words that help you to see in imagination events as if they were happening under your eyes. You want me to tell the story of our Western home, and how it came to be ours,—yours and mine. You want me to conjure up a picture of the West as it was and as it is.

“The West as it was” may have a more thrilling interest to some of my distant readers than “the West as it is”; but among Westerners themselves the glimpses of modern life in the later chapters of this book will have an interest keen enough, for it is their own life. The questions touched by me, or by the men and women whose words I give, are questions that Westerners have daily to face and often to wrestle with.

The West is so vast, so full of contrast, so rich in variety of scene, of climate, of industry and of people, that no one book can describe it all as it is. To do that would need a library, with picture gallery attached. I can only do my best, with two hundred pages of print and pictures, to paint in true colors on the smallest scale the country that I love.

The West as it is to be,—the West as it will be when we have all done our best for its prosperity,—ah, that I must leave for you to imagine and create.


Adventures Without a Man

HOW IS your own imagination, to-day?

I hope it is good and strong, because you will need to use it now.

The most surprising things used to happen, right here in the West, with no man here to see them. Mother Earth and her elder children had the most extraordinary adventures before the first man came.

Our eyes, if we will only use them, come to the help of our imagination here. Down in the Red Deer Valley of Alberta monsters used to live, more huge and wonderful than dragons in a fairy tale.

No human eyes ever saw them in life. No men lived here, or anywhere on earth, so long, long ago. But we ourselves can see those very beasts, their huge old bones and awful teeth; yes, the very pattern of their skin, printed on the soft mud they sank and died in,—mud now hardened into rock. Many of these monstrous skeletons have been put together and set up in museums. Every year more come into sight, as the river undermines its banks and the rock breaks up and wears away.

You can see these creatures, dead, with your eyes. Now set your imagination to work, and see them alive.

What a picture! A dense jungle, of waving horsetail reeds and rushes tall as our poplars, of spreading tree-ferns, of towering trees like tropical palms. Here An Age of Giants and there, an open stretch of gleaming, stagnant water. Flitting overhead are curious birds with rows of sharp teeth in their long beaks, and still more curious reptiles of the air with fleshy wings, like overgrown bats. What are they looking down at? There is a stir among the greenery. A lizard, fifty feet long, is wallowing in his muddy bed; his head appears, with dull eyes looking out from a stupid little brain; then his neck, longer than any giraffe’s. We call him the Gigantosaurus, or giant lizard. He seizes a tree with his forepaws, bends it down, and begins to munch the leaves and twigs.

Very Early Westerners,

Corythosaurus and Gorgosaurus

Suddenly he stops, looks round in alarm, and dives. Too late. Another huge lizard comes crashing and splashing through the greenery,—not quite so big, but fierce and strong, his mighty jaws grinning with terrible fangs. It is the Tyrannosaurus. He throws himself on the poor leaf-eater, and bites and tears, and tears and bites, till the helpless monster lies dead in the swamp. The Monsters A whole tribe of the conqueror’s family, and other flesh-eaters of all sizes and many curious shapes, creep up and share the feast, till nothing is left but the bones—for us to discover, a few million years later, and collect for our museums.

That was the most ornamental and spectacular age in the whole history of animal life on this earth. Nothing so fantastic has ever lived, before or since. One beast had a crest of many pointed plates jutting out of its high humped back from head to tail. Several had two or three horns, on forehead and snout. One had a full suit of bony armor plates, including a movable shield over each eye. Another had a bill like a duck, and a towering dome of a skull that gives an impression of high intellect; but his brain, like that of all the rest, was ridiculously small. There were hundreds of different kinds of these quaint animals roaming about here at the same time.

Even that is not the earliest scene of Western life we can see when we open the telescope of imagination and look back through the ages past.

Look back far enough, and we see the hot earth spinning through space, a soft and fluid ball,—red-hot, only we cannot see the color, for a thick cloud of vapor covers all. As the earth cools, it shrinks, wrinkling and crinkling. The parts of its skin that rise make continents and islands, the parts that sink make seas and lakes. It goes on shrinking, and its shape changes constantly. A sea-bottom rises, and becomes land; land sinks, and is covered by sea. Up and down, up and down, for millions of years.

Little beasts appeared in the sea. High up in the Mountains Rise and Fall Rocky Mountains we find them by countless thousands—the trilobites, related to the crabs,—their shapes preserved and moulded in the solid stone. But that stone, when they lived and died, was soft mud at the bottom of the sea. There were no Rocky Mountains then. The oldest mountains in this part of the world are nearer the coast. They are worn down and rounded now; for as soon as a mountain is raised it begins to wear away, split by frost, falling in landslides, and washed down by rain. Even when the giant lizards browsed and played and fought in the jungle, there were no Rockies yet.

The giant lizards came, and passed away. The earth still shrank, and threw up more wrinkles,—the Rocky Mountains at last rising out of the sea. They are still so new that their ridges and edges and peaks have not yet lost their sharpness, yet so many thousand years old that their uppermost rocks, worn away to sand and carried down in rivers to the plain, have had time to bury the lizards many feet deep. They have buried, too, the tropical palms and ferns and reeds, and pressed them into coal, which we dig up and burn.

Millions of years pass,—and when we look through our telescope again the country has so changed that we cannot recognize it. Instead of being hotter than now, it is colder. Most of it, in fact, has disappeared, under an immensely thick sheet of ice. This icy mantle covers nearly all Canada, and a great part of the United States. Its edge advances, century after century, farther and farther south, slowly but surely, wiping out forests, grinding and grooving the rocks underneath, as glaciers always do. Then it slowly Mammoths, but no Men retires,—through more centuries,—advances again, and again withdraws to the north. A third time the land is covered before the final retreat of the Arctic ice.

How did this happen? Most likely by the surfaces of the earth and sea-bottom in these northern parts rising many hundred feet and then sinking, to rise and sink again and again. In some parts of the world even now the level of the land is rising, in others falling; and wherever the land is high enough to-day, with a considerable snowfall, we know it is always covered with snow and ice, summer and winter.

Let us take a look at our country as it was when the second ice-cap had melted and the last had not yet formed.

The monsters have gone, for ever vanished from the earth. Gone are the tree-ferns and towering palms. New birds have come, like those we know, and sing among trees and shrubs of the kind still growing around us. The hairy rhinoceros, the mammoth and the mastodon, thunder over the grassy plain. We see our northern musk ox grazing as far south as Kentucky and Tennessee.

We look for men and find none at all. Not one man, woman or child, in all these two vast continents. Fifteen million square miles, empty and waiting, all ready for man, but waiting for him in vain; perhaps till even the last and smallest of the ice-caps has disappeared.

Far away in the north-west the land comes to an end; but looking over the water we see the coast of Asia only sixty miles off, with a convenient little group of islands half-way over. There is nothing to prevent man from coming over in a canoe in summer, or on the ice in winter.

And there he is, coming!

The Indian by Himself

LOOK far enough, and we see him, a wanderer with his little family, starting from the heart of Asia, hunting and fishing as they go, camping for a few years or a century in one place, moving on when their number increases and food is not enough for all, or when some other tribe comes up behind and drives them on,—moving on, and on, and on,—a few families at a time or hundreds together. They belong, as all the American “Indians” do, to one great human stock that spread out east and west along the northern lands of Asia and Europe, where their closest kin to-day are found among the tribes of North Siberia and the Lapps of Russia and Norway. Another branch of the same ancestral stock settled in China, where it made many new inventions and slowly built up a civilization of its own, with high achievements in literature and art. But our “Indians” must have broken away long before that, for they had none of these inventions to bring with them,—not even that of the wheel, either for vehicles, for spinning, or for pottery; though the wheel was in common use among the Chinese and other old-world races thousands of years ago.

Let us watch these first men coming, now, and see what they are like.

They are a shaggy-looking folk, with bear-skins thrown over their shoulders and tied round their waists. Their hair hangs long and black. Their skin is dark. The First Men Here

They have little baggage. They bring nothing with them except spears, bows and arrows, and furs. For a spear they have fixed a pointed bone or horn or sharp broken stone to the end of a pole. Their arrows are just little spears. The furs are the skins of bear, walrus, seal and caribou.

When we ourselves start on a journey, we know where we are going; we are bound for some particular place with a name. But these first wanderers from Asia don’t know where they are going, and don’t much care. They are not looking for a place to settle down in, land of their own to farm, to build a house on. So long as they find plenty of wild beasts, berries and roots to eat, they are satisfied. They know how to make fire, by twirling a stick between their hands till its lower end, by friction against another piece of dry wood, kindles a spark which they catch on dry bark or moss and blow into flame. They have neither pottery nor baskets, but carry small articles in a big bowl-shaped receptacle of rawhide. Their only animal is the dog, the half-tamed descendant of foxes, wolves or jackals.

These first comers have “discovered America,” without knowing it. They have no idea that they are the first to set foot in a “new world.” It looks just like the “old-world” to them. They have been living on the sea-shore, over there at the tip of Asia. Their number has increased, and other tribes have come up behind them, so they have simply crossed over to the land they have often seen at a distance, where they can have the hunting all to themselves. They just go on living as they have been used to living.

Some of them wander along the north coast, where they still wander,—we call them Eskimo. Peopling a Continent

Most of the newcomers, however, turn to the right, and follow the coast to the south. One family follows another, family after family, band after band,—not close on each other’s heels, or many at a time, but in driblets, for hundreds or thousands of years. When the coast of Alaska is dotted with encampments, the next comers pass on and pitch their skin tents on the empty shores of British Columbia. There they are astonished to find a mighty forest. They make rough shelters of bark and branches, instead of skin tents. After a time some clever fellow says,—“This is a good place to live; we don’t need to wander about all the time, for the salmon and deer are plenty. Let us cut down trees and build houses.” So they do, though they have never seen such a thing as a house before. They learn to be carpenters, and finally wood carvers. They have no teachers, they just learn by trying. With axes of big chipped stone they cut down trees, and build houses with thick posts which they carve and color in rough imitation of men. They make boats, each of one tree, hollowed out like Robinson Crusoe’s.

More little bands follow, and settle all along the shore of the Continent. Some of them strike inland, perhaps chased off the coast by others, perhaps finding the food supply too poor where they have landed. One party comes at last to what we now call Mexico.

One day, while the men are off hunting, the children find here and there a plant of wild maize, and bite the juicy grains off the cob. The men come back at night, empty-handed; game is getting scarce. They are glad to eat the corn their children have found. It is good. Later on, when the corn is ripe and hard to chew, some one has a bright idea. I think it must have been a First Baker, First Gardener woman, a mother with little children whose teeth cannot chew the hard grains. She spreads a handful of the grains on a flat stone, breaks them up with a stone hammer, and mixes the meal with water, so the little ones have mush to eat. Some of the mush she roasts in lumps. She is the first baker in the new world. Next year another woman, or perhaps it is the same, takes some of the big grains left over, makes a scratch in the earth, and drops them in, so that she can have food close at hand without wandering about to pick the wild ears. She is the first gardener.

Year after year more corn is planted, till there are fields of it. The men still hunt, and leave the farming to their wives, but they are glad to have so much food without hunting. The band does not need to move every time the game is scarce. The people settle down and make a permanent home for themselves. More bands come, and quarrel and fight as savages do,—we all have a good deal of the savage in us even yet,—but the foolishness of it strikes them presently, so a number of bands join to make a tribe. One tribe fights another, but at last several tribes join to make a nation. As food is plentiful, the men have time to think and plan and invent. They mould clay into pottery, and bake it. They twist fibres and spin cotton, though they never happen to think of a spinning wheel. They make looms, and learn weaving. They have no iron, but with stone and copper tools they cut rock and build pyramids, and temples decorated with sculpture. They become expert goldsmiths and silversmiths. They invent a kind of writing, something like that of ancient Egypt.

Passing Mexico by, other bands thread their way along the isthmus of Panama, or skirt the coast till they Wanderings of the Tribes come to South America, and there they settle and grow into a nation, high up among the mountains of Peru. Here also the people build cities, and roads, and aqueducts, and temples adorned with sheets of dazzling gold. They farm, and spin, and weave. They tame the wild llama, and make it their beast of burden; its cousin, the wild alpaca, too, they raise in flocks for its wool.

Wild tribes of men continue streaming down from the north. Some of them conquer the Mexicans, and settle down among them and learn their arts. Some hover on the outskirts of the new civilization for a while, and learn how to spin and weave and raise corn, but then wander on to the east along the Gulf of Mexico, or north up the Mississippi. A group of these tribes, finding their way at last into the St. Lawrence Valley, settle down there and join forces in the great Iroquois alliance of the “Six Nations.” Their women grow corn, melons, beans and pumpkins, but the favorite occupation of the men is fighting, as the first white Canadians will discover to their cost in the seventeenth century. Between fights, they play a magnificent game of their own invention, which we call lacrosse. The goals are the two villages in which the teams live.

Lacrosse—Before the White Man Played It

There was one tribe that never went south at all. When they landed in Alaska these folk struck inland and wandered away to the east, past Hudson Bay, some of them spreading then through Labrador, others crossing the St. Lawrence and never stopping till the Atlantic The Prairie as it was rolled at their feet in Nova Scotia, where a remnant of them may be seen to-day. Some of them had fallen out at various points along the way, finding hunting grounds that suited them, and others turned back to the west, so that the early white fur traders found them scattered all through the forest lands from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the west of Hudson Bay. The Crees, a western branch of this Algonquin stock, were still a woodland folk, although, as they depended mostly for food and shelter on the caribou, they followed the herd in its yearly migrations out of the wood and across the treeless country towards the Bay.

Our fertile prairie was still an unpeopled wilderness, long after a multitude of tribes had spread over the rest of the continent.

What sort of country was this vast empty space, “the granary of the British Empire” to-day?

It is not hard to imagine, for white men are still alive among us who remember it pretty much as it was when the “Indians” first came, a thousand years ago. A great grassy plain dotted with pale anemones in spring, pink roses and white strawberry blossoms in summer; mighty herds of buffalo grazing over it, and wallowing in little pools; parts of it flat, but most of it rolling, up and down, like a sea of earth suddenly stilled after a storm. Poplar bluffs rise here and there, but for hundreds of miles not a tree is to be seen. Two great rivers, the North and South Saskatchewan, have carved deep valleys across from west to east; their water, and that of many smaller rivers, pours into the Manitoban lakes, and out again to lose itself in Hudson Bay. Those lakes, great as they seem, are but the remnants of one Life and Death vast lake which covered nearly all Manitoba long after the ice-cap had retreated.

Beyond the prairie northward stretches the forest, poplar and willow and birch, tamarack, pine and spruce. North-east the forest dwindles and fades away into the “barren lands,” which are not really barren, for countless caribou and musk ox pasture there. North-west, great rivers pour through the forest and away to the Arctic Sea; north-east, more rivers drain out to the Bay.

The plains rise gently for a thousand miles from east to west; so gently that we do not notice the change, till we see the foothills swelling up and the sharp-edged mountains towering high beyond in a heavenly rampart of white and grey. Beyond the prairie, mountains on mountains, range after range, with roaring torrents in deep ravines; wider valleys, and placid lakes reflecting stately trees; the country smoothing down to the north, in a thick cloak of poplar and pine, and sinking in the south-west to a level plain, dark under thronging regiments of giant firs and cedars, along the coast of the western sea.

No voice of man is heard upon the untilled plains; but the land is not silent. The coyote screams and howls. High overhead the wild-goose honks. The air is musical with songs of little birds and gay with their colors. No hand of man is raised to kill; but hunters are busy killing. In the woods, the rabbit squeals as the weasel catches him by the throat. On the prairie, the hovering hawk drops swiftly to seize a gopher. On the lake, the skimming gull darts down and snatches out a fish. In the mountains, the eagle swoops and carries The Mound Builders off a marmot; the prowling bear claws at a rotting stump and gobbles down grubs by the mouthful.

Far away in the south, the prairie is invaded by man. Not suddenly, or by a great armed host. Don’t imagine that the buffalo-hunting tribes known to our fathers came riding out on to the plains one day in a picturesque and mighty horde, as the invading Tartar host swarmed out over Europe. The first hunter of the plains had never heard of a horse.

This is more likely what happened.

The Indians who settled in the Mississippi Valley were far from “civilized,” but they were no longer mere wandering hunters. They hunted deer and beaver and other animals, but they also cultivated the soil, growing corn and beans and squash. They made real homes beside their fields. They stayed there long enough to build great mounds, which are still to be seen, grown over with grass and trees. Some of these mounds are very curiously shaped, like serpents, turtles and other animals, which the people superstitiously reverenced as their protectors. Some of the mounds, however, are like fortifications, high dykes or ridges enclosing great squares of land, large enough to protect whole villages. These needed all the protection they could get, and often more, for the wilder tribes were constantly raiding the weaker.

One night a war party breaks in upon a village of the grain-growers, rushing over the dykes and killing the owners of the fields. A few escape, and scatter in all directions. See! There is one whole family, stealing away through the woods to the west—a man and woman, with deerskins thrown over their shoulders and tied The First Plainsmen with rawhide thongs around the waist; two naked children trotting behind, and a dog at their heels. They stop when tired out, snatch a few hours’ sleep, and flee on again. Day after day they hurry on. Their old hunting ground is left behind, and they slacken the pace, but still they press on to the west. The woods get thinner and thinner, till there is only a fringe of trees in a valley, sheltered from the wind of the plain above. The fugitives keep close to the rivers, where they can be sure of fish and birds and berries to eat.

At last they come to a place where two rivers meet. The narrow valley here spreads out wide; its banks slope more gently, and are covered with brush; but a mile farther on both valleys are narrow again, and almost bare. “This place looks good to me,” says the man; “stay here by the river while I go exploring.” Climbing through the brush and out of the valley, he stands on the edge of a bare and boundless plain. He shades his keen eyes to see the end of it,—in vain. The gentle waves of turf stretch away—surely to the edge of the world!

“If we go farther,” the man says, coming back to his wife, “we shall find nothing to catch; if we go back, we may be caught ourselves. We shall camp here.” He takes his bow and arrows to shoot a few rabbits for supper; his wife with a sharp stone axe cuts down branches for a shelter,—and that is the first prairie home.

Time passes. More families come straggling up and join them. There is not enough food for all, and they often go hungry. There are coyotes on the plain, but they run like the wind; and antelopes, but they run like the cyclone. One day, the children climb up to the plain with their little bows and arrows to shoot gophers, but come running down again. They have seen monstrous Learning to Hunt Buffalo animals up there, they say. Their father goes up with a spear. Sure enough, there is a herd of shaggy brown beasts grazing on the turf, with huge heads, fierce eyes, short horns and woolly manes. He has been used to hunting deer and moose in the woods, where he could creep silently from tree to tree until he got within easy range. It is quite another matter to attack a herd of fierce-looking buffalo, out on the bare plain where no shelter is. But the temptation is greater than the risk, when other game is scarce or small or hard to catch.

“Let us go boldly out and attack the buffalo in the open,” says the brave man. He shouts down to his friends in the valley camp. Two other hunters climb up to where he stands, and together they glide over the prairie, slower and slower as they near the herd, till you can hardly tell they are moving. The buffalo stop grazing, lift their heads, and stare at these two-legged creatures they have never seen before. The men come close, and fling their spears. One spear goes home, and brings down a beast; but the rest of the herd wheel round and thunder away over the sounding turf, carrying two spears with them.

That troubles the hunters, for a good spear-head of sharpened bone or antler takes long to make. Next time, they use bows and arrows, and shoot from a distance; but now all the buffalo get away, with arrows sticking in their tough hides. Many spears and arrows are lost, and every now and then a hunter is killed, for sometimes the desperate animals rush at the men who have attacked them, instead of rushing the other way.

“If we can drive the buffalo off the prairie into the brush,” says a thoughtful Indian at last, “they can’t run away so fast; and if they run at us we can get behind Blackfoot and Cree Arrive trees.” So the hunters do that. Still, most of the hunted animals get out of the wood again, and escape.

Presently another clever Indian thinks of a better plan. “Let us build a corral in the brush, and drive the beasts into it,” he says. So the men cut down trees and make a rough stockade of upright logs, leaving a wide entrance. They manage to drive a herd of buffalo into the corral, and there the poor beasts are crowded together and rush round and round while the hunters behind the trees shoot them down by the score.

There is plenty of food now; too much, in fact. So the Indians just cut out with stone knives the tenderest parts of the meat, the hump and the tongue, and leave the rest to be eaten by coyotes. Some of the lean meat is dried and beaten into powder, and mixed with fat and crushed into bags of skin. This is pemmican, and it keeps a long time, so the tribe has a store of meat to use without hunting.

The buffalo-hunting tribes increase, and spread out over the southern plains. Some of them have never been anything but hunters, in the woods; and whether they have once grown corn or not, they come to despise the corn-growers. The buffalo is their only crop.

Unknown to these southern plainsmen, after a time the plains were invaded from the north as well. Bands of the northern Wood Indians, first perhaps the Blackfeet, long afterwards the Crees, began to creep out on the prairie. Like the southern Sioux, they could not travel fast on land; the Indians had no horses. Ages before the first men came there had been horses here, at first of a dwarfish kind, with three toes. The horse tribe may have had its beginning here and spread over to Asia when the sea between Siberia and Alaska was dry land; Dogs Put in Harness but nothing was left of them in all America except their fossil bones.

To be sure, the Indians had dogs; but at first these were only camp-followers, and their only use was to be killed and eaten when better meat was scarce. In the far north, the Eskimo learned to hitch dog teams to a sleigh; and presently the Indians south of them put their dogs in harness, too.

The Wood Indians, living in a country full of lakes and rivers, in summer did all their travelling by canoe. In winter they stayed idle in camp, down in some sheltered valley or forest glade, living in rough shelters or tents of birch-bark or caribou hide. Presently, when they came out into the open to follow the buffalo, they had to leave their canoes behind. They did not like carrying loads on their backs; and one day an Indian, no lazier than the rest, but with more active brains, thought of a new way to make the dogs do that work. They had already been trained to haul toboggans in winter, and sometimes in summer; but the toboggan is a poor sort of cart except when it has smooth snow for its flat surface to glide over. To be sure, the travoy was not very much better, but it was less easily upset, and as the Indian never thought of inventing wheels let us give him all credit for inventing the travoy. You have probably seen it in action,—two poles crossed over the dog’s back, and trailing wide apart behind, with cross-pieces to carry the load.

To these Indians spreading slowly over the prairie from the north, the buffalo was everything, as it was to the plainsmen of the south. They made their tents of its skin. They lived on its meat, though when the pemmican gave out and no herd was near they ate Life in a Hunting Tribe rabbit, gopher, beaver, crow, dog, anything and everything they could get. As for vegetable food, they were content with berries and roots, especially the “pomme blanche” or prairie turnip, which the women scraped and dried for winter use. The early explorers found the Mandans of the Missouri growing corn and tobacco, beans and pumpkins, and sunflower—for the seed,—with a hoe made of the buffalo’s shoulder-blade and a wooden handle; but the prairie Indians as a whole despised farming.

They hunted the buffalo in the same wasteful way as the southern plainsmen, from whom they probably learnt the trick of driving the beasts into an enclosure. They made some progress in a few of the arts. Many of them tried their hands at pottery; they also plaited bark and other fibres into baskets. They decorated articles of hide with geometrical designs, in paint or porcupine quill; their famous bead-work only came into fashion when white men gave them glass beads in trade. The beaten copper with which they fastened the plaits of their long black hair, they got from tribes who found it on the shore of Lake Superior. They could not write, but they could draw. They drew maps, of their land and water trails, on bits of birch-bark. They painted figures of animals on the outside of their skin tents.

They would hunt a band of other Indians or a herd of buffalo with the same ingenuity and fierce delight. Having spent all their energy in this violent collection of human scalps and buffalo meat, they dropped into idleness. But time did not hang heavy on their hands. They were never bored by lack of occupation; they enjoyed doing nothing, as a cow enjoys chewing the cud. Story Telling They smoked dry willow-bark, when they could not get tobacco, in carved stone pipes. They used no strong drink, till the white man brought it to them. They did not lack the pleasures of imagination; endless and agreeable were the hours they spent telling and hearing tales of enchantment and mythical legends of the past, many of which I have borrowed for my “New World Fairy Book.”

The White Man Comes Exploring

ONE DAY a strange piece of news came to an Indian prairie camp. The men and women, squatting on the grass, and smoking their willow-bark, discussed the great news, and even the children stopped their play to listen and wonder.

A new kind of man had been seen, far away in the south,—a light-skinned man.

How did the news come? The scattered Indian tribes had little to do with each other, except when they fought, and in a fight they generally killed all the men they conquered who did not escape. But they often kept the women and made wives of them.

It may have been one of these women, captured by some raiding party in the south, who told the prairie Indians the story her tribe had heard in the same way from some tribe still farther south. The story was that a lot of these “white” men had come sailing across the big water in monstrous canoes with wings; once ashore, they had come riding over the country on great four-legged animals, as swift and terrible as buffalo, though not so shaggy. Nearly all the tribes had an old story about an agreeable fair-skinned god who had once lived among them and had promised to come back, so the newcomers were at first believed to be that god and his brothers. But they were not at all agreeable, for they took possession of the land and killed the Indians Indians Hear Strange News resisting them. They had terrible weapons,—tubes that breathed fire, and shining swords that cut off a head at a blow.

Fortunately for our Indians, these mysterious conquering white-skins never came up to the north. But some of their animals did. Running wild, little herds of horses found their way up at last to the prairie. They were hard to catch; but if buffalo could be driven into a corral, so could they. It was not very long before the Indians were breaking and riding them; and from that time the tribesmen chased the buffalo on horseback instead of on foot.

Early Buffalo Hunting

Presently news came that more white men or gods had appeared,—this time in the east.

Here is what had happened.

While the early forefathers of our “Indians” were spreading north through Asia and wandering over into America, our own forefathers came wandering and hunting west through Europe. Some of them came to Seeking a Way to the Indies the very edge of the sea before they finally settled down, and learned to plow, and gradually joined together to form nations. Five hundred years ago, three of the strongest nations had grown up on the shores of the Atlantic, in Spain, France, and England. They, like other nations in Europe, used to get spices and incense, pearls and precious stones, ivory and silk, from India and the farther East. But the way to India was now barred by the Mahommedans. The goods that they allowed to pass were heavily taxed on the way, and became very dear.

Most people up to then believed that the earth was flat; but some knew it must be round, and one of these was the Italian named Christopher Columbus. He persuaded the King and Queen of Spain in 1492 to lend him three little ships, and with these he sailed away westward to find a shorter and cheaper trade route to India. He discovered a number of islands, and thinking they were close to India he called them the West Indies and their people Indians,—a mistaken name which has stuck to the native tribes of America ever since. More Spaniards followed; some of them landed on the American mainland, in Mexico; and it was their runaway horses which found their way up to our Western plains.

The English, years before Columbus, had sent ships exploring far out into the Atlantic, in search of a new land; but they did not find it. Five years after Columbus had found the West Indies, however, the King of England sent out ships under another Italian, Cabot, who took a more northerly route. That expedition came in 1497 to Labrador, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia; so the English were the first white men to French Come up the St. Lawrence discover the mainland of America in modern times. We know now that five hundred years earlier the Norsemen, after settling in Iceland and Greenland, visited Nova Scotia or New England; but they probably sailed away again very soon. Some of them may have been captured and “adopted” into Indian tribes. At any rate they vanished, and their adventure was forgotten. European fishermen, too, had been gathering harvests of cod from the Newfoundland banks long before Columbus was born, and they probably landed; but they wrote no accounts of what they had seen, and their stories attracted little notice.

The French explorers came soon after the English; one of them, Jacques Cartier, of St. Malo, in Brittany, sailed up the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 1534, and got as far as Montreal on his next voyage in 1535. Another great Frenchman, Champlain, founded at Quebec, in 1608, the first Canadian settlement which has had an unbroken history to our own time. For a long while, however, the towns of “New France” on the St. Lawrence were little more than fur-trading posts, as fur was the only Canadian product that any one in Europe thought of much value.

The real object of the first French explorers was the same as that of Columbus, to find a short cut to Asia. Even the fur trade, rich as it might be, was nothing compared to the trade they hoped to carry on with India and China. Jacques Cartier, when he first sailed into the mouth of the St. Lawrence, hoped he had discovered the “North-west Passage” through America, never dreaming that the western ocean was three thousand miles away across a whole wide continent. The Mississippi Explored

To explore the West, then, was the ambition of more than one brave Frenchman who left the new settlements behind and paddled up the St. Lawrence,—not to find homes for their people in this new world, but to find a waterway through to the Pacific. In 1666 one of these explorers, La Salle, set out from Montreal for the Great Lakes. Missionaries and fur traders had already reached Lake Huron, and Indians had told them of a great river, the Mississippi, which La Salle thought might flow into the Pacific. He reached first the Ohio and then the Illinois, but did not follow them to their junction with the great river; for he learned, to his great disappointment, that the fur traders had already discovered it to flow south instead of west.

La Salle gave up the idea of reaching China, and, on another adventurous journey, went down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. He proclaimed the sovereignty of France over all the country through which the great river and its tributaries might flow. Long afterwards, accordingly, when traders from the growing English colonies along the Atlantic made their way farther and farther inland, they found the way barred by French forts. Mother England sent troops to their aid, and the united British force, in which George Washington himself was a colonel, broke down French opposition and enabled the colonists to spread westward into the valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi. The war was carried on until even Canada in the north was brought under the British flag, by Wolfe’s crowning victory at Quebec. It was, in fact, Britain’s action in freeing her colonists from French opposition that enabled the colonists to turn on Britain herself a few Hudson Discovers the Bay years later, and, this time with the help of French soldiers, to separate themselves from the rest of the English-speaking brotherhood.

Let us turn back now to the earlier days.

The English, like the Spanish and French, were bent on finding a western route to Asia. Nearly eighty years after Cabot’s voyage to Labrador, another little English ship, of only twenty tons, sailed from London on this adventure. Martin Frobisher was her captain’s name. Passing Newfoundland and Labrador, he entered a channel, where he verily believed the land on his right was the coast of Asia. As a matter of fact the channel led nowhere, being only the mouth of a bay—Frobisher Bay, in Baffin Land, as we call it now.

A lump of mineral picked up on shore excited a belief that the barren country was a land of gold. Accordingly, the London merchants sent out a second expedition, and even a third. No gold was found; but Frobisher discovered a new inlet, which became a highway of commerce under the name of Hudson Strait.

The great explorer Hudson, however, did not appear on the scene till 1610, and his first appearance was his last. Passing through the strait, he rounded the north point of Labrador, and, turning southward, sailed out upon a body of water so vast that three months’ exploration left the work unfinished; but it was pretty clear that no way through to the Pacific existed in that direction.

Caught by winter at the south end of the Bay, Hudson and his crew landed and put up wooden shelters, where they spent an unhappy eight months. They failed to lay in a stock of game, and when the breaking ice set A New Way In the ship free, in the middle of June, food was running terribly short. The homeward voyage had barely started when mutineers laid hold of their captain, his young son and half a dozen others, and set them adrift in a boat. The few who survived, when the ship reached England at last, professed to believe that Hudson meant to leave them behind in the Bay if they had not played the trick first, as there was not food enough to keep all alive. Nothing was heard again of the great explorer, though ships were sent in search; but the sea that he won for a grave still bears the modest name of Hudson Bay.

Towing through the Ice—1600

Many a brave man after that met his death in the icy chaos, trying to find the North-west Passage to Asia. There were some, however, who had another aim—they saw in Hudson Strait and Bay a new way to the heart of North America, a way by which the wealth of the great French and Indians at War North-west might be drained off to England, in spite of the French who barred the St. Lawrence route.

Curiously enough, it was a couple of Frenchmen, named Radisson and Groseillers, who led the English in through this unguarded door.

The first French settlers on the St. Lawrence made friends of the Indians living there, the Hurons and Algonquins, and helped them to fight their enemies, the Iroquois. For many years, therefore, the Iroquois were constantly attacking the French, who could not even cultivate their little fields around the river-side towns without muskets slung over their shoulders. Even so, many of them were killed, and most of those taken alive were cruelly tortured.

At the village of Three Rivers, between Quebec and Montreal, lived Pierre Radisson. One spring morning in 1652, when he was about seventeen, he went out hunting, and was captured by a party of redskins in ambush. His life was spared, for an Indian and his wife took a fancy to him, adopted him as their son, and took him with them on their wanderings. He escaped, along with an Algonquin fellow-prisoner; but only by killing three Iroquois. He was captured again, and tortured; his feet were so badly burnt that he was lame for a month; but his Indian “father and mother” ransomed him with gifts to the head men of the tribe, and as he was a brave young fellow and a “good mixer” he became quite popular with his redskinned companions.

In the fall of the following year, these Indians went off raiding into the south, where the Dutch had settled in the present State of New York. At Fort Orange, or Radisson and Groseillers Start Albany, Radisson escaped again. From the Dutch town of New Amsterdam, now New York, he took ship for Europe; but after a few months in his native land of France he got back to his family in Canada, where he had long been given up for dead. He had another narrow escape from Indians when they attacked the fort of Onondaga; but nothing could satisfy his appetite for adventure. Two of his fellow-countrymen had travelled up the lakes as far as Green Bay in Wisconsin, where Indians had told them of other tribes who hunted great beasts on a treeless plain still farther west, and wandered in summer to a northern sea—no doubt our Hudson Bay. A big lake named Winnipeg also, they said, lay up there in the north.

Eager to explore, young Radisson and his sister’s husband, Médard Chouart des Groseillers, set off with a party of Algonquins in 1658, paddled up the Ottawa, through Lake Nipissing, across Lake Huron, and down Lake Michigan to Green Bay, where they spent the winter. Early in the following year they crossed Wisconsin, and came to a great brown river, worthy to rank with the green St. Lawrence. They had discovered the Mississippi. They crossed the river; and for the first time the red man of the West looked on a white man’s face.

The meeting was quite friendly. The Sioux were a warlike tribe, always breathing slaughter against their northern neighbors, the Crees; but as yet they had no quarrel with the whites. It mattered nothing to them if bearded white men were fighting Indians down in the south, as they had heard. The white men were evidently ready to trade as well as fight, for these Sioux were White Men See the Prairie already wearing European beads which must have been brought oversea by the Spaniards and passed up north from tribe to tribe.

The two young Frenchmen travelled for months over the plains. They saw the buffalo and hunted them; the swift and graceful antelope as well. How far west they got we do not know. They heard from the Indians of a range of mountains beyond the sunset; but then, circling south and east again, they set out for home. There they arrived, after two years’ absence, and had a tremendous welcome, not only from their families, but from the Governor of the Colony at Quebec. That was because they had brought home with them a wealth of furs; and skins were very scarce, for the Iroquois so infested the country around that friendly tribes dared not venture down to the settlement with their catch. The Iroquois themselves had no trouble in selling all they caught to the English, who had been settling in New England for thirty years and more.

In New France, the fur trade was a strict monopoly. The Government had given the privilege of dealing in furs to a company, and any one else daring to buy skins without a license was severely punished. When Radisson and Groseillers asked leave to start on another journey to the north and west, the officer in command at Three Rivers refused to let them go, because they would not promise him half their catch. They started in spite of him. This time they kept farther to the north, and reached the country beyond Lake Superior, where they built the pioneer fort of the West. They spent the winter travelling among the Crees, the Sioux in the south, and the Assiniboines up in Manitoba. All the tribes were eager to exchange their furs for guns, knives, Hudson’s Bay Company Formed beads, and other European wares; and when the travellers got back east they brought an enormous quantity of precious fur along with them.

The Governor of the Colony seized nearly the whole of it!

Disgusted with this treatment, Groseillers went over to France and tried to get help in fitting out an expedition to the forbidden West through Hudson Bay; but all his persuasions failed. He and his brother-in-law then went to England, where they were warmly welcomed. By this time several English ships had explored Hudson Bay, and many people were ready to put their money into a venture which promised to capture the fur trade of the West without interference from the French of “Canada.” King Charles himself was much interested in the two young Frenchmen’s scheme, and so was his cousin, Prince Rupert. A royal charter was given in 1670 to the Prince and a few other noblemen and commoners, who thus formed the “Company of Adventurers Trading into Hudson’s Bay.” Radisson and Groseillers were sent out in English ships, and helped to establish forts at the southern end of the Bay.

Thus the Hudson’s Bay Company started on its great trading enterprise, which continues to this day.

Unfortunately, when rival French traders came overland from Quebec and drew away much of the Indian trade, the English Company’s chief officer suspected his two French comrades of playing into the hands of their fellow-countrymen. Radisson went back to England to defend himself. The Company’s chiefs were convinced that the charge against him was false; but as they would only pay him $500 a year for his services Great Explorer’s End he was tempted back to France, where he became a naval officer. Groseillers also was forgiven by the French, and returned to his people at Three Rivers.

Presently both the brothers-in-law went off again to Hudson Bay, this time in French vessels, but in competition with a powerful and jealous French company; and on the return of the expedition to Quebec their furs were confiscated. They appealed to the French Government against this, but could not get justice. Radisson went back to England, made several more voyages to the Bay, and the last we know of him is that in his old age he had a pension of $250 a year from the Hudson’s Bay Company.

He “died poor,” as we say, after making other men’s fortunes. Poor in money, yes; but the men who took the money he made are forgotten, and he will always be remembered as one of our greatest explorers. He had two ambitions, to discover new lands, and to make money by trade. He failed in one, but succeeded brilliantly in the other. A man with two such different aims can hardly ever succeed in both; and Radisson won the aim he most desired. His life was hard, but not poor—far richer than a soft life could have been.

The Reign of King Beaver

THE KING of the West was no longer the buffalo. From the time the Company opened its first fort on the Bay, the beaver was king; and his reign lasted two hundred years. White men and red alike, all were his servants. They served him for what they could get out of him, as courtiers often did with human kings in days not long ago.

The buffalo remained the chief food and house-material used by the plainsmen themselves, but its skin was not so easy to sell as the beaver’s. To be sure, it had a cash value. Early in the eighteenth century we hear of a French company building many posts in the Mississippi Valley, to make fortunes by this “neglected” trade; and they collected 15,000 skins in one season. Many of us can remember the buffalo robe and coat in common use, down east, and their popularity was well deserved. Nevertheless, the Indians dealing with the fur traders found the beaver both lighter to carry and in greater demand.

A wonderful monarch the beaver was—an architect, an engineer, an expert lumberman. So clever was he in damming up streams, felling trees and building lodges, that ignorant people came to believe anything of him. He was described as walking on his hind legs and carrying a log on his shoulder.

“Their Nests, very artificial, are six Stories high,” Beaver and Unicorn says John Ogilby, Esq., in a big book published the year after the foundation of the Hudson’s Bay Company, 1771. Now John Ogilby was a man of authority, “His Majesty’s Cosmographer, Geographick Printer and Master of the Revels in the Kingdom of Ireland.” Yet in one of his pictures the beaver is shown at the feet of a Unicorn (ridden by an eagle) which seems to have leapt off the Royal Coat of Arms. This beast, “seen sometimes on the Borders of Canada,” Mr. Ogilby says, has “cloven Feet, shaggy Mayn, one Horn just on their Forehead, a Tail like that of a wild Hog, black Eyes, and a Deer’s Neck: it feeds in the nearest Wildernesses.” The males at a certain season “grow so ravenous that they not onely devour other Beasts, but also one another.”

The beaver’s performances alive were nothing compared to the wonders his dead body was supposed to work. A waxy material, called castoreum, was taken from it and used as medicine for madness, deafness, stomach-ache and all other aches, pleurisy and sciatica, weak sight and hiccoughs, tumors and abscesses; it killed fleas, and there was “nothing like it for gout”; it put people to sleep, and kept them from getting sleepy; it was even said to bring back lost memory. The fat was prescribed for asthma, giddiness and apoplexy; the skin, for bed sores and consumption; the hair, to stop bleeding.

It was the precious castoreum that men chiefly hunted the beaver for, in ancient times. One of the ridiculous stories then believed was that the clever animal used to cut out its own castoreum glands and throw them to the hunter, who would then let it escape.

The Voyageurs’ Way

to the West

Chief Poundmaker

Chief Piapot

Beaver at Work

Left to Right: Beaver Hat, 1820

Clerical Beaver, 18th Century

Paris Beau, 1815

The Beaver and the Unicorn

The beaver’s long, sharp-edged teeth were used as Fashion in Fur chisels by the Indians, before the white man brought in iron and steel. The meat I have spoken of already; some of my western readers know its taste well. It is something like tender pork; the choicest morsel, the tail, makes fine bacon. The animal used often to be roasted whole, in the skin, till its fur became too valuable to burn.

The French fur traders found their best market in Russia and Poland; but the fur-wearing fashion “caught on” in France itself, and spread to England. Then it was found that the shorter hairs of the beaver made the finest felt, and beaver hats of many shapes became the rage. When English hatters took to mixing cheap rabbit fur with the more expensive material, a law was passed forbidding them to use anything but beaver. If silk had not taken its place, in the last century, the beaver would probably have been hunted out of existence in Canada. It disappeared from England hundreds of years ago, and very few are now left in northern Europe and Siberia. Even when the beaver’s fur was no longer wanted for felting, and there was choice of many fur animals for other purposes of luxurious clothing, it was still greatly sought after, and a few years ago the beaver was disappearing. Then Canadian governments forbade its capture for a while, and to-day our beaver colonies are growing fast.

Look back now to the day when the beaver first became King of the West—when the Company settled on the shores of the Bay.

The domain granted by Charles the Second to this company included “all the lands, countries, and territories upon the coasts and confines” of “all those seas, straits, bays, rivers, lakes, creeks and sounds lying Ruling Over Rupert’s Land within the entrance of Hudson’s Straits,” excepting only such land as might be in the possession of other Christian nations. As we look on the map we see that the area thus granted included not only a strip of land two or three hundred miles wide around the eastern and southern shores of Hudson Bay, but an empire of forest and prairie stretching westward to the Rocky Mountains, where the Saskatchewan had its sources—a thousand miles across.

Over the whole of this territory of “Rupert’s Land” the Company was to reign. Some of its powers were greater than the king himself dared to exercise in the mother-country. An absolute monopoly of trade; power to make laws, inflict punishment, plant colonies, build towns and forts, maintain armies—all these were conferred on Prince Rupert and his partners; and, to crown all, no British subject was so much as to set foot on the soil of Rupert’s Land without the Company’s written leave. The reason given for this imperial grant was that the Adventurers had “at theire owne great cost and charge undertaken an Expedition for the discovery of a new Passage into the South Sea, and for the finding some Trade for Furrs, Mineralls, and other considerable Commodityes,” by which the king hoped for “very great advantage” to himself and his kingdom. As rent for the whole vast domain the Company was to pay his Majesty “two elks and two black beavers” per annum.

For many years the Company had no idea of the size of its domain, and made no attempt to occupy even the best-known districts of the interior. The Indians from A Trading Scene hundreds of miles up country brought their annual catch of furs to the Company’s posts on the Bay.

The scene when one of these yearly parties appeared was picturesque, but not altogether pleasant. Pitching their camp outside the palisade of the fort, the red men celebrated their arrival by drinking as much of the white men’s spirits as they could get. Although the liquor, for economy and for safety, was plentifully mixed with water, trading was out of the question for two or three days.

When the Indians were ready for business they were admitted to the fort with their bundles of furs. Each skin was carefully examined, and the price decided on was paid in the form of little notched sticks or quills. With these counters each red man passed on into another room, where axes, guns, blankets, mirrors, beads, trinkets, and all the other useful or useless objects of an Indian’s desire were spread before him.

Everything was priced in beaver-skins, not in shillings or dollars. A price list dated 1733 shows that one beaver would then buy a brass kettle or twelve ounces of colored beads, a pound and a half of gunpowder or two pounds of sugar, two combs or twelve needles, a pair of shoes or two looking glasses, eight knives or two hatchets. If the Indian asked the price of a blanket, he was told “Six Beaver.” He could get a gallon of brandy, at that time, for four beaver. He paid ten or twelve beaver for a gun, four for a pistol, three for a pair of breeches or two handkerchiefs.

These were the prices at the southern forts, Albany and Moose River, under competition. The Company charged higher prices in the north, as they frankly said—“The French Raids on the Bay French being not so near these places, and therefore can’t interfere with the Company’s trade so much as they do at Albany and Moose River, where they undersell the Company, and by that means carry off the most valuable furs.”

When the last skin had been turned into the store, and the last counter had been exchanged for British goods, the tribesmen vanished away into the wilderness, and the piles of furs were sorted and packed for the ocean voyage. Every summer a single London ship sailed into the Bay, discharged her cargo of provisions for the white men and merchandise for the red, filled her hold with the precious “peltries,” and sped away home before the early winter barred the straits with ice.

If the Company had only had the Indians to reckon with, it might have gone on gathering the furry harvest of the West with imperial ease. But, as we have seen, there were other white men in America who had no notion of submitting to such a monopoly. The King of France claimed as his own the territory that King Charles had given away. Several times before the close of the seventeenth century the French raided the Bay and captured or destroyed the English forts, coming overland from Canada and also sailing round through Hudson Straits. In 1697, France and England being at war, five ships swooped down upon Fort York, at the mouth of Nelson River, and captured the place after defeating three English vessels. A peace treaty, signed that same year, left England with only one little foot-hold on Hudson Bay, at Fort Albany. It was sixteen years before another treaty, at the end of another war, restored the whole of the north land to the English King and Company. Outlaws of River and Forest

There was no end, even then, to the furious competition of the French fur-buyers. If it had been only the official French Company, that would have been bad enough; but swarms of independent French traders were bidding against both the French Company and the English.

These men were outlaws. Flogging, and branding with red-hot irons, were the mildest of the penalties decreed against the “free traders” by their own French Government. Yet the temptation of fortunes to be made by fur proved stronger than all the risks. Hundreds of young men took to the woods, and spent their lives roaming from one Indian camp to another, living as the Indians lived, and buying up in advance the skins which should have gone down to the Company at Quebec. At one time, when the whole population of the French colony was only about 10,000, as many as 800 men were away in the forest, defying the King and his officers. These “coureurs de bois,” or forest-runners, were protected not only by the forest hiding them, but often by the very officials who were supposed to be hunting them down. Many officials were quite ready to take big bribes from the outlaws. The Governor himself went in for unlawful trading on a large scale, in secret partnership with outlaws who smuggled the beaver-skins over to the English colonists in the south.

In the summer of 1731, a French army captain named Pierre de la Vérendrye—Canadian born, he was—set out from Montreal for the West. Like most of the earlier explorers, French or English, he was keen to discover an outlet to the Western Ocean. The Governor gave his full consent—but he would give nothing more. Vérendrye and His Sons Some of the merchants were then persuaded to “stake” the expedition, supplying Vérendrye with goods to trade for furs in all the unknown lands he was to discover. The captain took with him his three sons, the youngest only sixteen, and a nephew as second in command, besides a dozen soldiers and a band of Indians.

It was a long and tragic journey. At the western end of Lake of the Woods, Vérendrye built a fort among the Crees. Some of these Indians one day fired on a party of Sioux, and then pretended that the French had done it. In revenge, the Sioux set upon a French detachment, on its way to fetch up supplies from Michilimackinac, and killed every man, including a priest and the explorer’s eldest son. The merchants at home in Canada were grumbling because the cargoes sent down to them were not as large as they had expected, and jealous rivals falsely accused Vérendrye of keeping some of the furs for himself. More than once he had to go back east before he could get enough goods for trading.

At last, in the February of 1737, he got as far as the south end of Lake Winnipeg, where his sons had already built a fort. The year after, he made his way up the Red River to its junction with the Assiniboine and established a trading post—Fort Rouge, now part of the city of Winnipeg. Pressing on to the West, he built another fort at Portage la Prairie, where Indians bound for Hudson Bay used to lift their canoes from the Assiniboine for the overland carry to Lake Manitoba.

Surely the ocean could not be far away now! Montreal was fifteen hundred miles behind him in the East—how could he know that the ocean of his dreams was still nearly as far again to the West? The Assiniboines knew nothing of such a sea, but they had heard tales First Sight of the Rockies of it through the Mandans, farther south. Southward, accordingly, the captain marched for a month and a half across the plains, till he found the Mandans on the Missouri River. But even they could only tell him a vague story of white men in armor who were said to have built stone houses beside salt water, somewhere away in the south-west—the Spaniards, perhaps, on the Pacific coast of Mexico.

Back to the north tramped the disappointed captain over the snowy plain, and spent the rest of the winter among the Assiniboines; but his sons made one excursion to the unknown country north-west. There they discovered two more great rivers, the North and South Saskatchewan, and started a trading post where the rivers joined. In the spring their father had once more to make his weary way to Montreal, where the discontented merchants had refused to send him any fresh goods, and even threatened to seize his property for goods already supplied. He never saw the West again. It was years before he succeeded in getting leave to make another expedition, and then it was too late—he died in Montreal in the midst of his preparations.

His two sons, Pierre and François, meanwhile, had done their best to carry on his work. They pushed on to the West, visiting one tribe after another who had never seen a white man before, and came at last to an encampment of the Bow Indians. Now the Bows were just sending a war party out against a tribe still farther West, so the Frenchmen went on with them, over the high plateau of Montana, and at last, one day early in 1743, as they travelled they saw rising above the horizon a beautiful range of snowy peaks.

They had discovered the Rocky Mountains. If they English Strike Inland could only climb that range, they thought, they would see the long-sought ocean spreading out below their feet on the other side. The Indians, however, flatly refused to go on. Not finding the tribe they had come to fight, the Bows hurried back home, fearing the enemy would get there ahead of them; and the disappointed brothers had to go with the rest.

The bravery and dogged perseverance of Vérendrye and his sons had thrown open a new world, the prairie and woodland of the West; and their fellow-countrymen pressed in to reap the profits of its trade. While the English Company’s officers sat waiting for the Indians to bring their furs down to the Bay, the French traders pressed farther and farther west and north, buying up the furs themselves.

The Indians living far inland, though eager for the white man’s wonderful wares, did not like making the long journey to the Bay. Sometimes they nearly starved before they got there; sometimes they were kept at home by fear of attack from hostile tribes.

The first white man who ventured inland from the Bay and tried to overcome their hesitation did so without orders. Henry Kellsey was just a lad who had made particular friends of Indians around Port Nelson. The Governor did not like this, and punished him. Henry ran off, joined a party of Indians, and after a year or so came back with an Indian wife. He was forgiven, and the Company was glad to employ him after that, “to call, encourage and invite the remoter Indians to a trade with us.”

Half a century later, another adventurous young Englishman, named Anthony Hendry, was sent off on the same errand; and he was the first white man to Hendry in the Park Lands explore the great plain between the North and South Saskatchewan. There for the first time Indians were discovered hunting buffalo on horseback, near the Red Deer River, and Anthony hunted with them. These were the Blackfeet. They used pads of buffalo skin for saddles, with stirrups of the same leather.

When he had smoked the pipe of peace, Hendry asked the Chief to send his young men down to the Bay, promising guns, ammunition, “and everything else they desire,” in return for beaver and wolf skins. But the chief said his men could neither paddle canoes nor live on fish; they could only travel on horseback, and needed buffalo meat. Besides, they did not want guns—bows and arrows were all they needed. It was not very long before they changed their minds.

Hendry spent a whole winter in the park lands, which he found swarming with beaver and otter. The Indians, however, would never go hunting till they were actually short of supplies. Even when the cold weather was coming on and many had not furs enough for winter clothing, they would spend their time feasting and dancing to the music of the tom-tom.

In spite of all the Company’s invitations, it could not keep the Indians from staying at home and selling furs to the more enterprising French traders who came to their very doors. At the French Fort de la Corne, on the Saskatchewan, Hendry found Captain de la Corne himself; and, the Englishman says, “I am certain he hath got above one thousand of the richest skins.”

Yes, and very soon British traders were doing the same—especially Scotsmen, who flocked over when King Louis gave up Canada to King George.

The Company found that its easy-going habit of Hearne Makes for the Coppermine staying on the sea-shore did not pay. Easy-going habits don’t. Besides, other British merchants, who wanted to get into Hudson Bay and share its trade, began to complain. They said: “The Company only got the privilege of keeping all the trade to itself because it made big promises, to attempt the discovery of the North-west Passage to Asia, and to search for minerals as well as fur. It has not kept its promises.”

Something more had to be done, the Company saw that. So it sent off one of its best men, Samuel Hearne, on an exploring trip inland from Prince of Wales Fort, at the mouth of Churchill River. He set out in November, 1769, with two other white men and four Indians; but the Indians deserted, and he had to come back. In February he started again, and got up into the “barren lands,” where his party nearly starved. At last he came upon the herd of caribou on their spring procession from the woodlands in the west where they had spent the winter. Meat was now plentiful; but the explorer’s quadrant was broken, and without that instrument he would not be able to put his route on the map for future travellers; so again he had to turn back. It was nearly the end of November when he reached the Fort.

After such hardships he must have been greatly tempted to stay there until spring. But no; he would not rest until he had won the double goal he had set before him. He was bent on reaching a mysterious river, where Indians said that enormous masses of copper were found; and as the river was believed to flow north he hoped it would lead him to an unknown sea-way uniting the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. If he waited till spring for his next start, he could not reach that sea before winter, when it would all be hidden under He Comes to the Arctic Sea ice. So, after only twelve days’ rest, he plunged once more into the wilderness, alone with five Indians.

It was a year and a half before his white comrades saw him again. Now, however, he had great things to tell. He had not only found the Coppermine River, but had followed it down and down to its very mouth. There at last, on the 17th of July, he had looked out upon the Arctic Sea. It was truly the North-west Passage, or one of the North-west Passages, that lay before his eyes, for its waters connect with both oceans, east and west; but he could not be sure of that. Indeed it took a hundred years more of exploration to prove the fact.

The young explorer had a bitter experience in the far north, the country of the Eskimo. These “Usquemows,” as the old travellers called them, were an interesting and generally harmless folk. Captain Coats gives a quaint description of them, as he used to see them on his many voyages through Hudson Straits: “Bold, robust, hardy people, undaunted, masculine men, no tokens of poverty or want, with great, fat, flatt, greazy faces, little black piercing eyes, good teeth, lank, black, matted hair, with little hands and feet, under proportion; a well made back and shoulders; loyns, buttocks and haunces well fortified; thighs are pretty full, but their legs taper to a little foot.” The women, he says, are “very fair when free from greese, very submissive to their men, very tender of their children, and are indefatigable in the gew-gaws to please their men and children,”—little ivory toys carved like fishes, fowls, animals, people, ships and boats.

The Indians, however, had “no use for” the Eskimo, except to raid and rob and kill them. A band of Indians Indians Massacre Eskimo who had joined Hearne’s party, apparently for this very object, attacked an Eskimo village, without the slightest provocation, while the people were asleep in their tents, and slaughtered them, men, women and children. The horrified white man tried to stop the massacre, but the Indians pushed him aside. The Eskimo had furs, the white men wanted furs, and the Indians thought it unreasonable for a white man to object if they got those furs by murder.

As for the mountains of copper which the Indians had described, Hearne found only “a jumble of rocks and gravel,” and the best specimen he could find was a lump of ore weighing about four pounds.

Coming back from the Arctic, on Christmas Eve he found himself looking out upon a vast lake which no white man had seen before and few have seen since. We know it on the map as Great Slave Lake. In Hearne’s time, buffalo beyond numbering roamed the plains up to its southern shore. He spent the rest of the winter among the Indians, and when spring came a party of them accompanied him down to the fort on Hudson Bay.

From this time forward the Company sent its officers back into the country that Hearne had explored, and other parts of the interior, where they built trading forts on the shores of many a river and lake. Fort Cumberland was the first of them, on the lower Saskatchewan. The trade picked up, but if the Company thought it would now be allowed to have things all its own way it was much mistaken. The revolutionary war broke out between the British colonists down east and the Mother Country. The King of France, though he ruled his own people with tyranny and hated the idea of The Rival North West Company popular freedom, hated England more, and he was delighted to help anyone who would injure her. So, while his soldiers were sent over to help the American colonists on land, his sailors raided Hudson Bay, where they captured, looted and destroyed the English Company’s forts. Hearne was by this time in command of Fort Prince of Wales, but his handful of clerks and traders could do nothing against three ships of war.

The next year, 1783, ended the war between the nations; but the trade war between the Company and the other fur traders went on more bitterly than ever. A rival “North West Company” was formed by Scottish merchants down in Canada, who engaged many of the French “voyageurs” and “coureurs de bois,” and their half-Indian sons, and sent them out skirmishing for trade and building forts among the tribes of the far west. The old Company met the competition by building more forts and organizing on its own account more bands of hardy Frenchmen and “Métis”—the name given to men of mingled French and Indian blood.

The names of three great western rivers, the Mackenzie, the Thompson and the Fraser, still remind us that some of the North West Company’s men were famous explorers as well as traders.

Alexander Mackenzie, a young Scot from the Hebrides, was the officer in charge of Fort Chipewyan, on Lake Athabasca. With the old dream of the North-west Passage in his mind, he set off on the 2nd of June, 1789, to descend a river flowing from the lake towards the north. His little flotilla of canoes presently came out on another lake, the Great Slave. Following its shores to the West, Mackenzie found the water at last pouring First Across to the Pacific out to form another river. This he followed day after day, starting at three or four every morning, till the stream widened out into a bay of many islands, where the tide rose and fell and whales were playing. It was only the 14th of July, but the homeward journey would be against the current, and the freeze-up would come early. Mackenzie swiftly turned his back on the Arctic Sea, and reached his fort on the 12th of September. His tremendous dash had carried him nearly 3,000 miles in 102 days.

This adventure by no means took the edge off his appetite for exploration. As he had proved that Mackenzie River did not flow to the Pacific Ocean, he made up his mind to get there some other way. In 1793, early in May, he once more left Lake Athabasca behind, and this time steered his canoes up the Peace River to its source in the mountains. He crossed the divide, and began to descend an unknown stream, but as this only flowed south he struck over land to the west, and on the 22nd of July came out on salt water, near Bella Coola. He had then only twenty pounds of pemmican left, with fifteen of rice and six of flour, for his party of ten; but they managed to get safely home to the fort after a month’s hard travel across the mountains. Mackenzie’s troubles had been many and great, from cataract and precipice, from hostile Indians and cowardly guides; but he won the fame of the first man to cross the whole width of the continent from Atlantic to Pacific.

In 1806, the year after Trafalgar, the young Welshman, David Thompson, another of this Company’s officers, went up the North Saskatchewan to Rocky Mountain House and across the Rockies to the Columbia. He spent several years exploring the mountains and Thompson and Fraser establishing posts for trade, and at last descended the whole length of the Columbia to the Pacific. At the mouth of the river he found that another party had got there ahead of him, and had built a fort under the flag of the United States.

As a matter of fact, two explorers named Meriwether Lewis and William Clark had reached that point in 1806, being the first white men to cross the height of land from the Missouri to the coast. The fort had been established five years later by a trading expedition sent round Cape Horn from New York by John Jacob Astor. It was captured by the North West Company’s men during the War of 1812, and Astor allowed the Company to buy out his rights; but later on, as we shall see, it was decided that this part of the coast should belong to the United States.

The North West Company meanwhile had sent young Simon Fraser up into the mountains to discover the true course of the river which Mackenzie had left because it seemed to go south instead of west. It was supposed to be the head waters of the Columbia. Fraser and a brother Scot, John Stuart, began by building little forts for trade. One of these, where the mysterious river was joined by the Nechaco, he called Fort George, after the King. There he embarked on one of the most perilous voyages ever undertaken. With Stuart, and Jules Maurice Quesnel, nineteen voyageurs and two Indians, in four birch-bark canoes, he trusted himself to a torrent of which he knew nothing except that Indians living on its banks declared no man could ever get through alive. Running rapids where the chances were ten to one for death, clinging with heavy loads on their backs to the precipitous walls of canyons when the raging torrent Rival Companies at War absolutely compelled a portage, building new bark canoes when the old were smashed beyond repair, those brave men came out at last on smooth water where the tides of the Pacific rose and fell. Near where they landed, the city of New Westminster now stands. They had explored the whole length of the Fraser River, which to-day thrills even railway travellers in the safety of an observation car.

The dangers conquered by these brave young men were great enough; but, after all, it was only the grim force of nature they had to fight as they broke their way through the mountains, with some little trouble now and then from timid guides and suspicious bands of Indians. Back on the plains and woodlands in the heart of the continent, there was danger of another kind, and a most disgraceful one. The two companies were practically at war.

In a “civilized” land, with the law wide awake, unscrupulous competitors have to be satisfied with slower methods of ruining each other. In the wild west of our fathers’ time the voice of civilization was feeble, and law was laughed at. The passion of gain was free to indulge its natural tendency to crime. Parties of rival traders, meeting in solitudes where no witnesses were to be feared, fought out their differences with gun and hatchet.

All the trickery of war was brought into play as well as its violence. At some points both companies had trading posts, and the rival traders now and then entertained each other in quite a neighborly way. Once the Hudson’s Bay men, having discovered that an Indian hunting party had just returned to its camp forty miles First Colony Started away, invited the Nor’-westers to a dance, and kept them revelling while four Hudson’s Bay sledges dashed away over the snow and bought up the whole of the catch. Next day the Nor’-westers heard of the same hunting party and made the same long journey, hoping to do a big trade, but came back, of course, empty-handed and full of wrath.

In a Swift Current

On the Winter Highway

Lord Selkirk,

Father of Western Settlement

Fort Douglas, (in background),

Where Winnipeg Now Stands

The Nor’-westers hid their anger, and watched for a chance to pay off the score. A party of them, on their way to an Indian camp, met a Hudson’s Bay party bound in the same direction. They started a camp fire, and began talking and drinking in the friendliest way. The Bay men took all that was offered them; but the wily Nor’-westers only sipped their liquor and secretly poured the rest on the snow. At last the Bay men fell asleep. The Nor’-westers then tied them on their sledges and whipped up the dog teams, which carried the sleepers safely home to their fort, while their sober rivals went on to the Indian camp and got the whole of the furs.

Many deeds of violence remained hidden in the breasts of the perpetrators. Of those that came to light, the most notorious was the “Battle of Seven Oaks,” or “Red River Massacre,” in 1816.

It was the foundation of the first white settlement in the West that led to that shocking event.

Until 1811, the Hudson’s Bay Company had been steadily opposed to any colonizing of its land. A permanent white population, it thought, would injure the fur trade. The Company’s officials even declared, and some of them doubtless believed, that the country was unfit for settlement or cultivation. But Thomas Douglas, the Earl of Selkirk, who was Governor of the The Pemmican War Company in 1811, knew better. He had already, in 1803, taken oversea a party of poor Scottish Highlanders, who established a colony in Prince Edward Island, and a little later he tried to start a settlement in Ontario. Seeing prospects of greater success in the West, he and his relations bought a majority of the Hudson’s Bay shares, and so controlled the whole of the Company’s operations. His next step was to buy from the Company 116,000 square miles of land, stretching north and south across Manitoba into Dakota and Minnesota, and including the present site of Winnipeg, where the Assiniboine flows into Red River.

The pioneers of western settlement sailed from Glasgow for Hudson Bay on July 26, 1811, but met “boisterous, stormy and cold weather,” and it was two months before they cast anchor at York Factory. There, though unskilled with the axe, they built log huts and spent the winter. Starting in boats for the next stage of their pilgrimage on July 6, up Hayes River and through Lake Winnipeg, it took them nearly as long to reach their Red River home as it had taken to cross the sea. They arrived on the 30th of August, and the first land was broken for crop that fall. Other parties meanwhile were coming out to join them, mostly from the north of Scotland and the Hebridean Isles, but some from Ireland too.

The North West Company did not like its rival’s new colony, and its hostility flamed up at last in the “Pemmican War,” which came about in this way.

The settlers, until they could raise food for themselves, had to live chiefly on the buffalo. The North West Company’s men, however, had been used to drawing their supplies of pemmican largely from the Settlers Attacked by Nor’-Westers same district, and as the Company’s Métis were skilled hunters the food supply of the colony was in danger. An order was made that no pemmican should be taken away from Lord Selkirk’s land. The Métis disobeyed the order, chased the buffalo out of reach of the settlers, and went on shipping pemmican out to the North West Company’s trading posts. The quarrel grew more and more fierce, and the Nor’-westers resolved to drive the Selkirk settlers out of the country. They burned the farmhouses and other buildings, destroyed the crops, and chased off any settlers who refused to go. “The Colony is gone to the Devil,” as one of the conquerors wrote.

The colonists came back to their devastated farms, however, or some of them did, and the old Company tried to give them better protection. The enemy organized a force, including Métis and Indians, for a fresh attack. The Hudson’s Bay commander, Governor Semple, went out to meet them, but his party was surrounded. The Governor and a score of the settlers were killed, and the rest were either captured or put to flight. So ended the “Battle of Seven Oaks.” Lord Selkirk sent up reinforcements, and many of the original settlers went back to restore their ruined homes; some of their descendants are still to be found in the neighborhood; but for half a century no fresh attempt was made to colonize the West.

The worst effects of all that fierce competition between the companies, unfortunately, fell not on the rivals, but on the native races for whose custom both were struggling. Each side made strenuous efforts to win over the tribes, and one of the principal attractions offered was “fire-water.” The red man is even more The Rivals Join Forces easily maddened and destroyed by alcohol than the white, and with spirits thrust upon them at every turn the Indians were plunging headlong to ruin, when the murderous competition suddenly stopped. The two companies had become sensitive—not in the heart, but in the pocket—to the evil effects of their feud. In 1821, Lord Selkirk having died, the Nor’-westers made terms and even joined forces with their rivals.

The Hudson’s Bay Company, freed from the dangers and losses of competition, and reinforced by the Scots who had fought them so fiercely, began a fresh career of peace and profit. In the same year its privilege of trading monopoly was extended to cover—for twenty-one years—the mountains and valleys and islands of what we call British Columbia, in addition to the plains and forests of the interior, an extension which was renewed in 1838 for a term to end in 1859. The Company’s rule now stretched from the Atlantic end of Hudson Strait to the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

Dotted at long intervals over the Company’s 2,800,000 square miles of earth stood the forts where the furs were collected, and where the authority of civilization was exercised by traders largely recruited from the Orkney Islands. These young men, entering the Company’s service as clerks, gradually made their way up till they became chief factors or chief traders. Forty per cent. of the Company’s annual profit was divided among these officers. The profits were very high, for the goods sold by the Company cost a mere trifle compared to the value of the furs received from the Indians in payment.

Even with such a partnership in prospect, the young men found the life at first very hard to bear. They were The Fur Trader’s Life cut off not only from home but from all the social and religious observances which ordinary colonists take with them from one land to another. No towns were allowed to spring up. The Company’s men, and the families of mixed race clustering around the fort, grew vegetables for their own use; but the rest of the territory was a gigantic game preserve, jealously guarded against the intrusion of settlers.

A postal service had been organized by the company, but to many a fort the mail only came once a year, and letters were months old when delivered. Communication was not difficult—that is to say, there were no great physical obstacles, at any rate till the Rocky Mountains were reached; there were rivers navigable by big boats from the Mountains to the Bay, though broken in the east by rapids where the boats had to be hauled up by ropes on the way back; there were easy trails over the prairie—pony and ox carts used to ply between Edmonton and Winnipeg, a thousand miles; and in winter dog sledges and men on snowshoes could glide in all directions over the frozen land; yet the immensity of the distances to be covered made travelling intolerably slow.

They rarely visited their homes in Scotland, these hardy fur traders. Even those who came down to the forts on Hudson Bay, where the fur bales were loaded in ships for the old country, knew that they could not cross the sea and come back in the same year. And the voyage was perilous as well as long—no one could ever tell how long it might be.

The Bay itself, though not free from risk, was the easiest part of the way. Getting into the Straits, and through them, and out at the other end—that was the The Boyling Streights fearful part of it. The Arctic ice was bad enough by itself; but masses of rocky ice hurled about by furious storms, or tossed to and fro on racing tides, made navigation terrible, and when a blinding fog fell on the turbulent sea the sailors were helpless.

Captain Coats, who for twenty-four years commanded ships sailing between England and Hudson Bay, from 1727 to 1751, wrote the story of his experiences for the benefit of his sons, who had taken up his own adventurous trade. “The tides,” he says, are “so violent and surprising, especially when disturbed and distracted by ice, that nothing but experience can comprehend or imagine.” An ordinary spring tide “rises near 30 foot all along the streights,” “boyling up in eddies and whirlpools in a most amazing manner,” and “shattering in shivers immense bodys of ice.” In 1727, near the meridian of Cape Farewell, “two pieces of ice shutt upon us and sunk our ship.” In 1736 he was “entangled in ice which shutt upon us, by the tides only (for it was dead calm) and crushed our sides in, and sunk her in 20 minutes.”

A vessel had to leave England by May 20 to be sure of reaching the mouth of Hudson Straits by 6th July, and then the trouble began. One year the captain tried six times to enter the straits, from the 1st to the 12th of July, and had to stand out to sea every time.

“Sometimes,” he says, “in favorable seasons, we have entred the streights sooner.” Once he got in by June 26, “and got up with great labour about 60 degrees, but there we found such banks and walls of ice from side to side that we did little or nothing untill the 20th July.” And “as it is very hazardous to enter the streights before Travelling by the Lakes the beginning of July, for ice, so it is dangerous to be in that bay after the middle of September; the gales of wind and snow setts in for a continuence, with very short calm intervals; the severe frost are such that you cannot work a ship;” there are “violent piercing winds, which no creature can face for a continuence.” Even on shore, at the forts, “those terrible snowdrifts and dark condensed foggs are hardly to be guarded against.” “So apprehensive are our people of being caught out in those frightful drifts that they never suffer a stranger to go a bow shott from the palisades without a person of experience with them.”

When steamers took the place of sailing ships, the length and the risk of the voyage were greatly reduced, but nothing could abolish the “dark condensed foggs” and “immense bodys of ice” in Hudson Straits.

Far less dangerous and disagreeable was the inland water route by which the North-west Company sent its furs down to Montreal—the route opened up by the old French explorers; but no risk could be much worse than a sudden storm when the traders came out on the lakes in their boats and canoes. There were plenty of other hardships too, on that long voyage; yet there were plenty of hardy French voyageurs to undertake and even enjoy the adventure.

Others made the adventure too, on occasion. Sir George Simpson, the young Scot who was made Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company on its union with the North-west Company in 1821, made the long trip from Montreal to Manitoba about forty times. He travelled in state, with a Highland piper to rouse the echoes and excite the wondering awe of the natives when he was nearing an outpost. An Artist’s Trip in 1846

A lively picture of the West is given us by Paul Kane, who undertook that journey in 1846, not as a trader but as an artist. Paul Kane set out, as he tells us, “with no companions but my portfolio and box of paints, my gun and a stock of ammunition,” to make pictures of Indian life and “the scenery of an almost unknown country.”

Such a journey as it was! Leaving Toronto on the 9th of May, he reached “Fort Vancouver,” ninety miles from the mouth of the Columbia River—now in the States, but then “the largest port in the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Dominions”—only on the 8th of December.

From the head of Lake Superior he had to travel practically all the way by canoe, though occasionally on horseback. His route lay through the Lake of the Woods and Lake Winnipeg to Norway House, up the North Saskatchewan to Edmonton House, up the Athabasca to Jasper’s, across the Yellowhead Pass—through which the Canadian National Railway now runs—then down the whole length of the Columbia, by the Arrow Lakes and Fort Okanagan.

At Edmonton he found quite “a large establishment,” forty or fifty men, with their wives and children, amounting altogether to about 139, all living within the pickets of the fort. The men were occupied chiefly in building the company’s boats, sawing timber and cutting up firewood. The women, all, without exception, either Indian or Métis, were employed making moccasins and clothing for the men, and converting buffalo meat into “pimmi-kon.”

The one real settlement in the whole of the West was that of Fort Garry, extending about 50 miles along the banks of the Red River, and “back from the water, Métis on the Hunting Trail according to the original grant from the Indians, as far as a person can distinguish a man from a horse on a clear day.” Here lived about 6,000 Métis, all speaking Cree and French, though “governed by a chief named Grant.”

The white folk, about 3,000 in number, were Scottish families, living “in great plenty so far as mere food and clothing are concerned.” Luxuries were “almost unattainable.” There was “no market nearer than St. Paul’s, on the Mississippi River, a distance of nearly 700 miles over a trackless prairie.”

The Scotsmen were genuine farmers—the fathers of western agriculture.

The Métis of that time—well, they had discarded “the practice of scalping,” but otherwise Kane says they differed “in very few respects from the pure Indians.” In fact, when our artist went riding with them after buffalo, the first game they stalked was a party of Sioux Indians, of whom they brought down eight at one volley. “They abandoned the dead bodies to the malice of a small party of Saulteaux, who accompanied them.” These Indian allies immediately “commenced a scalp dance, during which they mutilated the bodies in a most horrible manner. One old woman, who had lost several relatives by the Sioux, rendered herself particularly conspicuous” in this ghastly work.

When they came up with the buffalo, a herd of four or five thousand bulls, the chase continued only about one hour, but at the end of that time five hundred lay dead and dying over an area of five or six square miles. It was calculated, according to Kane, that the Métis alone destroyed 30,000 annually.

Farther west, near Fort Carlton, our traveller found Slaughter of Man and Buffalo the Indians hunting buffalo in their own way—driving them into an enclosure and then despatching them with spears and arrows. Some of the bowmen were so strong that arrows passed right through the buffalo’s body.

This had been the third herd driven into one pound within ten or twelve days, the disgusted artist says, “and the putrefying carcasses tainted the air all round. The Indians in this manner destroy innumerable buffaloes, apparently for the mere pleasure of the thing. Not one in twenty is used in any way, so that thousands are left to rot where they fall.” Even the wolves, hovering around while the slaughter was going on, could not dispose of such a monstrous feast.

Who can wonder at the disappearance of the buffalo, massacred like that? The Indian might have gone on hunting them on foot with bows and arrows forever without making much difference to the herd; but first came the horse, then the gun, and then the crowd of Métis wanting pemmican to feed white traders as well as themselves—with all these against him, the King of the Plains could not hope to survive. And other calamities besides man overtook him. Between Fort Pitt and Edmonton, Paul Kane saw large herds of buffalo swimming across the Saskatchewan, on their usual spring migration; but he saw also thousands of dead buffalo strewn along the banks—so weakened by disease, or by lack of food, that they were drowned in the attempt to swim the river.

The guns which the Indians got from the white man and used to exterminate their “best friend, the buffalo,” helped them also to exterminate each other. The feud between the Iroquois confederacy and the Hurons in the Blackfoot Raiding Cree early days of Eastern Canada was no more relentless than the feud between the Blackfoot confederacy and the Crees in the West, even in the reign of Queen Victoria.

Voyaging down the North Saskatchewan one day, below Fort Pitt, Kane says, “we saw a large party of mounted Indians riding furiously towards us.” They proved to be “a war party of Blackfoot Indians, Blood Indians, Sur-cees, Gros Ventres and Paygans—the best mounted, the best looking, the most warlike in appearance, and the best accoutred of any tribe I had ever seen.” But—“we had a Cree Indian in one of our boats, whom we had to stow away under the skins lest he should be discovered.” The warriors were friendly enough to the white men. “They spread a buffalo skin for us to sit down upon, depositing all their knives, guns and bows and arrows on the ground in front of us, in token of amity,” and passed round the pipe of peace. “After our smoke several of the young braves engaged in a horse race, to which sport they are very partial, and at which they bet heavily; they generally ride on those occasions stark naked, without a saddle, and with only a lasso fastened to the lower jaw of the horse.”

Yet the sport these men were bent on was nothing less than a war of extermination against their fellow-countrymen. “They told us they were a party of 1,500 warriors, from 1,200 lodges, pitching their tents on towards Edmonton, leaving few behind capable of bearing arms. They were in pursuit of the Crees and Assiniboines, whom they threatened totally to annihilate, boasting that they themselves were as numerous as the grass on the plains.”

The artist “must be a great medicine-man,” the warriors thought, as they saw him drawing their portraits. Franklin’s Fatal Voyage As they were expecting a battle with the Crees next day, they got up a war dance, and with much solemnity placed him in the best position “to work his incantations” for their success—that is, to draw his pictures while they danced.

Turn your eyes now to the north. At the very time when the adventurous artist and his fur-trading friends were floating through the long-established “North-west boat passage” across the continent, the search for a north-west ship passage was ending in tragedy.

“We met here,” says the artist, arriving at the Pas on the 12th of June, 1848, “Sir John Richardson and Dr. Rae, en route to Mackenzie River, with two canoes, in search of Sir John Franklin,” the great Arctic explorer.

Three years before, on May 19, 1845, Franklin had left England in command of an expedition to discover what Columbus and so many other explorers had vainly sought, a sea-way to the east through the west. In his two ships, the Erebus and Terror, of the British navy, there sailed 129 officers and men. They were seen in July by a passing vessel in Baffin’s Bay, and then they vanished. Not one man ever came back.

One expedition after another was sent in search of them—by the British Government, by the Hudson’s Bay Company, by American friends, and by Lady Franklin herself when all others had given up the task as hopeless. In 1853, John Rae—a splendid specimen of the Hudson’s Bay factor, whom I knew in his later years—met a band of Eskimo who in the winter of 1850 had seen, first a large party of white men dragging southward a boat and sledges, and, some time after, dead bodies both on the mainland and on Montreal Evidence of the Tragedy Island, near the mouth of Back’s Fish River. From the Eskimo, Rae recovered a silver plate engraved with Franklin’s name, and many forks and spoons with the initials of his officers.

At last, but not until 1859, Lieutenant Hobson, an officer of Lady Franklin’s expedition under Captain McClintock’s command, found on King William Island three skeletons, two of them in a boat on a sleigh. In a stone cairn, too, he discovered the only written record of the tragedy, signed by Captain Crozier of the Terror. In a few sentences, scribbled on the edges of a printed form, this told that the ships had been beset by the ice since September 12, 1846; that Sir John Franklin had died on June 11, 1847; that on April 22, 1848, the ships had been abandoned; that twenty-four men, including nine officers, were dead; and that the remaining one hundred and five were starting for Back’s Fish River. It was too late. An old Eskimo woman was found who said that the strangers “fell down and died as they walked along.”

Though Franklin was lost, the object of his search was found. The relief expeditions added immensely to our knowledge of the north, and filled in the great blank Arctic map with a labyrinth of islands and straits. In 1850 one British ship, the Investigator, rounding Cape Horn and passing in through Behring Sea, sailed eastward for hundreds of miles along the north coast of Alaska and Rupert’s Land, before being frozen in. Captain McClure, with six men in a sledge, pressed on over the ice through Prince of Wales Strait between Banks Land and Prince Albert Land, for six days, till they came in sight of Melville Sound, which had already been entered from the east. North-west Passage Found

They had discovered, therefore, the existence of a North-west Passage; but when summer came, and the captain tried to bring his ship through the narrow strait, he was blocked by ice in mid-August, and had to spend a second winter frozen up. In April he was reached by a party from another ice-bound ship, the Resolute, which had come in from the Atlantic. Abandoning their own ship, McClure and his men went back with this party over the ice to the Resolute. That vessel also, and two others, had to be abandoned, after still another winter in the Arctic; and the crews were only rescued by fresh ships coming from England in 1854.

As McClure and his men had come over the sea from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, though not all the way by ship, they won a prize of $50,000 which the British Government had long before offered for the finding of the North-west Passage.

Having been found, the North-west Passage was left severely alone. Only one ship ever went through, and then not by McClure’s route, the Prince of Wales Strait. On June 16, 1903, in the little yacht Gjoa, the Norwegian explorer Amundsen, who had already discovered the South Pole, left Christiania with his six companions. Passing Hudson Strait by, they sailed north, struck in west over the top of Baffin’s Land, then turned south into Peel Sound and Franklin Strait and down the east side of King William Land. Then, almost doubling on their tracks, they turned west again and crept along the coast of the mainland, through the length of Coronation Bay, past the mouths of the Coppermine and Mackenzie Rivers, and finally got down into the Pacific through Behring Strait. They cast anchor at Nome, in Alaska, on August 31, 1906. —But No Longer Wanted

This voyage proved that if a navigator was prepared to spend a few years on the trip, including several winters frozen up in Arctic solitude, he might in the end get through from Atlantic to Pacific by sea, the dream and heart’s desire of countless old explorers. But if the old explorer had the chance to-day, and heard he could get through by land in less than five days by a Canadian railway, the dream would lose its attraction. A North-west Passage was wanted strictly for use, not to ornament a map.

The Farthest West

WERE all those good lives wasted, then, and the scores of good ships too, lost in three centuries of wild-goose chase?

But for that wild-goose chase, carried on by brave British sailors from the Pacific as well as the Atlantic, our Dominion of Canada, stretching from sea to sea, would never have come into existence. If we had not taken a vigorous part in the exploration of the Pacific coast, the Russians coming down from the north and Spaniards coming up from the south would between them have seized and held it all, till both their shares were swallowed up by our neighbors of the United States.

It has had a very curious history, this west coast of ours. To begin with, no one dreamed that there was any “west coast of America” at all, for the first explorers all thought America was simply an extension of Asia. Even when they got into the Pacific and sailed up the western shore of Mexico, they expected any day to see land barring their way and bending round to the left, so that, by following the coast, they would presently find themselves among the people of China. They were astonished at the land persistently keeping on their right, however far north they sailed.

In the days of Queen Elizabeth, only a year after Frobisher’s attempt to discover a channel through America in the North-west, his fellow-countryman Sir Captain Cook Explores the Coast Francis Drake sailed round Cape Horn in the hope of finding the other end of that channel, which imaginative geographers had already drawn on the maps and called the “Straits of Anian.”

How far north Sir Francis got, nobody knows. Up to Oregon, for certain. The weather was bad, with “thick stinking fogs” and “nipping cold” in midsummer; so he turned back, resolved to encircle the globe by going home round Africa and India instead of around America. First, however, he landed in California, finding a “convenient harbour” which was probably San Francisco Bay. The natives were shivering under their furs, in July, but they gave the white men a warm welcome. In fact, the “King” or chief came “with a retinue of about 12,000 men,” “humbly desiring of Drake that he would accept of the Realm,”—putting a feather crown on his head, and three big chains of bone around his neck.

The great commander accepted the gift, took formal possession of the country in the English Queen’s name, and called it New Albion, as Albion was the old name of the Mother-land.

Nearly two hundred years passed before the first settlement on the Californian coast was made by Spanish missionaries from Mexico. That was in 1770. Farther north, not a white man was to be found when Captain Cook arrived on his famous voyage in 1778. James Cook, the runaway son of an English laborer, had already earned the gratitude of his fellow-citizens. Exploring vast breadths of southern sea, he had added Australia to our Empire. The northern sea next attracted him; at that time the prize offered by the British Government for the finding of a North-west Passage was $100,000.

Sailing up the Pacific as far as Behring Straits, he did Spaniards Claim the Coast not find what he sought; but, by peering into every river mouth and inlet, he added much to men’s knowledge of the present British Columbia.

Ten years later another inquisitive Englishman visited these coasts; in fact, Captain Meares went so far as to build a house on Nootka Sound. The Spaniards, who claimed the whole Pacific side of the continent as the French had claimed the centre, warned off the “trespassers,” seized several British ships, and in 1790 planted a little Spanish settlement on the disputed shore. The governments of the two countries then came to a makeshift agreement that neither should interfere with the settlements of the other till the ownership of the soil could be decided. The naval representatives of Spain and England met on the spot, dined in each other’s cabins, went on exploring expeditions together, and joined their names in the title of “Vancouver-Cuadra” Island. Beyond this the rival powers could not get. The Spanish settlement, however, was soon abandoned.

In 1819 Spain gave up to the United States all her claims to the Pacific coast north of Mexico; but the British claims north of California remained, and for twenty-seven years the two English-speaking governments, at Westminster and Washington, exercised joint control over what was known as the “Oregon Territory.”

In the early forties, however, so many Americans had arrived and settled in the neutral territory that it could be left neutral no longer. The United States government not only withdrew from the joint arrangement, but claimed the whole territory between California and Alaska for itself. This would have shut off the British colonies from all access to the Pacific Ocean, as United States Frontier Fixed absolutely as the French claims a century before would have shut off the Americans.

To guard against emergencies, and if possible to find a peaceful way out of the difficulty, a ship of the British Navy, the American, in 1845 visited Vancouver Island, and Captain Gordon is reported to have exclaimed, “I would not give one of the bleakest knolls of all the bleak hills of Scotland for twenty islands arrayed like this in barbaric glories.” The captain’s brother, Lord Aberdeen, was Foreign Minister, but happily he did not throw away the future of British America because its glories at that time were “barbaric.”

The trouble was ended in 1846 by a compromise. All the western territories north of the 49th degree of latitude (except, of course, Alaska) were to belong to Britain, and all south of that degree to the United States. It was the most charmingly simple way of creating a frontier that could be imagined: rule a straight line across the map from Lake of the Woods to the Pacific shore, a line 1,200 miles long without a break, and the thing is done.

Between that 1,200-mile boundary and the Arctic Ocean the British power was represented by a great trading corporation. The Hudson’s Bay Company, as you will remember, had had its commercial monopoly extended to the Pacific shore as early as 1821, and it was no more anxious for the spread of settlement among the mountains and on the western islands than it had been on the prairie and in the woodland of the interior. The rising tide of white population would drive away the game and demoralize the native hunters.

A little agriculture was indulged in, so that the Dogs Bred for Their Wool Company’s forts should not go without fresh vegetables, and early in the nineteenth century a certain number of farmers were encouraged to take up land because the Company had contracted to feed the Russian fur traders up in Alaska. On Puget Sound, when the artist Kane reached the coast in 1847, a ranching company had about 6,000 sheep and 2,000 cattle. The wool found its way to England by the Company’s ships—the cattle were killed and salted for the Sandwich Islands and the Russian territory.

“A Babel of Languages” met the artist’s ears when he reached Fort Vancouver, as the inhabitants were a mixture of English, French, Iroquois from Eastern Canada, Crees from the Centre, and Chinooks of the west coast, with Sandwich Islanders from Hawaii. “The buildings,” he says, “are enclosed by strong pickets about sixteen feet high, with bastions for cannon at the corners.” The Company’s 200 voyageurs, with their Indian wives, lived in a little village of log huts near the bank of the river.

“Ninety miles without stopping,” six Indians paddling his canoe, is Kane’s record of his crossing from Nasqually on the mainland to the four-year-old Fort Victoria on Vancouver Island. Beside the harbor of the future capital stood an Indian village boasting 500 warriors, armed chiefly with bows and arrows. Some of their lodges were sixty or seventy feet long, and well built; the boards were split from the logs with bone wedges, but were very smooth and regular.

Dogs were bred for their wool,—a peculiar breed with “long hair of a brownish black and clear white.” A winter suit consisted of a blanket made of dog’s hair, or dog’s hair and goose-down mixed, or frayed cedar Indian Sports and Slavery bark, or wildgoose skin. The sea otter was then the most valuable fur animal on the coast—twelve blankets had to be paid for one skin. It has now been hunted out of existence.

Like most barbarians, and many white folk who call themselves civilized, the Indians were great gamblers. They often spent two or three days and nights on end playing such simple games as “lehallum.” Ten small round pieces of wood, one being black, were shuffled rapidly between two bundles of frayed bark, by one player, and his opponent had to guess which bundle contained the black piece when the shuffling stopped. A player would often keep this up till he had lost everything, even his wife; and some of them had much wealth in blankets, furs and slaves.

Coast Indian Mask

Any Indian caught by another tribe, even if there was no war between them, could be kept as a slave; Making Flat-heads and slaves had no rights, not even a right to live. Kane tells of a chief who “erected a colossal idol of wood and sacrificed five slaves to it, boastfully asking who else could afford to kill so many slaves.” Before going off to fish, or to fight, or even to gather camas, the tribe had a “Medicine Mask Dance.” Half a dozen men put on wooden masks “highly painted and ornamented, with the eyes and mouth ingeniously made to open and shut. In their hands they hold carved rattles, which are shaken in time to a monotonous song or humming noise (there are no words to it) sung by the whole company as they slowly dance round and round in a circle.”

The camas, by the way, was their favorite vegetable; it is a bulbous root, looking like an onion, but “more like a potato when cooked, and very good eating.” Fish, of course, was the principal food all along the coast. In fact, salmon pemmican was carried far inland. The coast canoe, very large but very light, was hollowed out of a cedar tree by fire and smoothed off with stone axes.

One of the chief amusements Paul Kane found among the Chinooks was picking and eating insects from each other’s heads. “On my asking an Indian why he ate them, he replied that they bit him, and he gratified his revenge by biting them in return.”

The Flat-head monstrosity which Kane found and depicted was cultivated by whole tribes on the mainland and around Victoria on the island. The infant, strapped to its papoose board for the mother to carry on her back, had its head pressed by a leather band passing tightly over the forehead and through holes in the board. This pressure was kept up steadily till the child was eight or twelve months old; that was enough to give its head the shape of a wedge for the rest of its life. Kane A Colony under a Company says that he never heard an infant cry under this treatment until the fastenings were removed, when it would cry until they were replaced. Farther north on the island the head was pressed by bandaging into the shape of a cone.

About this time a proposal was made in England to organize a colony on the Pacific coast. The Hudson’s Bay Company asked to be entrusted with the task. Mr. Gladstone and other British statesmen argued that the Company had always opposed settlement and was quite unfit for such an enterprise: as well ask the wolf to guard the sheepfold.

The protest was in vain, and in 1849 Vancouver Island was organized as a colony under the Company’s rule. The experiment was an utter failure. The Company charged $5 an acre for land, while any settler could get 320 acres for nothing on the American side of the frontier. After five years the white and part-white population of Vancouver Island numbered 450 in all, and only 500 acres were under cultivation.

A poor little parliament of seven members was elected in 1856, and assembled at the miniature capital called Victoria; but they had little power and less revenue. The Company was still the master, and its chief agent held at the same time the position of royal governor. The settlers petitioned for direct imperial rule, and in 1858 an event occurred which compelled the Government in England to grant their request.

This event was the outbreak of the gold fever. Several years before, Indians canoeing down from Queen Charlotte’s Islands to trade at Victoria had brought with them specimens of gold, and now a rumor spread that quantities of the precious metal had been found along The Gold Rush of 1858 the river bottoms of the mainland. The men who had turned California into a mining camp pulled up stakes and flocked northward to collect what they imagined would be easier and richer spoil in British territory.

Victoria, the little provincial capital on Vancouver Island, suddenly awoke to the noise and bustle of a commercial city. In a single summer 25,000 men landed there, while 8,000 more found their way to the frontier by land after a three weeks’ ride on horseback. Those who had come by water deposited their capital—sacks of raw gold—in the office of the Hudson’s Bay Company at Victoria, and set themselves to build rafts, boats, and canoes in which to reach the mainland and ascend the golden Fraser River. Many of them were drowned on the way; and of the 33,000 who reached the river, thirty thousand turned back in disgust to their deserted California.

The three thousand who remained had to be kept in order and provided for in some way. Governor Douglas, of Vancouver Island, was ready to undertake this awkward task, but on the mainland he had no authority except that of a Hudson’s Bay factor. On November 17, 1858, proclamation was made that company rule over the mountains and islands of the West was ended forever—surviving the East India Company’s rule over the plains of Hindustan by just eleven weeks. The Hudson’s Bay Company might continue to exist, but its trading monopoly on the mainland and its political supremacy on Vancouver Island were extinguished together. Douglas, giving up the attempt to serve two masters, resigned his connection with the Company. He received in exchange the Queen’s commission as Governor, not only of the island, but of the new colony, The Golden Gorges “British Columbia,” stretching four hundred miles eastward from the Pacific Ocean to where the Rocky Mountains look down upon the inland plains.

On the Cariboo Trail, Thompson River

The immigrant might well be appalled by his first experience of British Columbian gold-streams, for these do not meander along gentle valleys, but pour through gloomy gorges, walled for hundreds of miles by precipitous mountain sides. At the season when the human tide poured in, the water was at its highest too, and the sand-bars where men expected gold were hidden deep Treasure Trove in Cariboo under the torrent of the Fraser. Such ground as still lay high and dry was soon crowded with miners, each hunting for a fortune in a little patch of earth twenty-five feet square. Those adventurous spirits who pressed on to the upper reaches of the stream, and into the tributary gorge of the Thompson River, had to scramble along trails where mountain goats alone had trod before.

All provisions had to be brought up on the backs of men, and before a mule track could be cut along the precipices the men were reduced to a diet of wild berries. Yet some were not too hungry, nor too absorbed in dreams of gold, to be charmed by the wild magnificence of the canyon—the gloomy depths closed in for miles by perpendicular walls, then opening out in steep fantastic slopes, all splashed with brown and cream and orange and purple and black, and sprinkled with dark green solitary pines.

About $500,000 worth of gold was taken out in 1858, but it had cost the miners a good deal more than that in the getting. The next year’s yield was estimated at $1,500,000. This, however, was only a preface to the volume of riches quickly opened to a wondering world. In 1860, a young Nova Scotian named Macdonald, and two Americans named Dietz and Rose, left the Fraser and Thompson rivers behind them in search of virgin gold-fields farther north. In consequence of the discoveries they made, an unknown and uninhabited wilderness of forest and ravine sprang into fame as an Eldorado to which the miners of California and Australia and amateur gold-hunters from all the world were madly rushing.

In seven years this Cariboo district, about fifty miles square, yielded gold worth $25,000,000. In one Riches and Starvation day five men washed $1,200 out of the soil; four men in the same short time got $1,850. An old river bed was found where nuggets could be picked up to the amount of $1,000 per square foot.

The mountain lion and grizzly bear looked on in wonder as mushroom towns sprang up in the silent hunting grounds and the rocks re-echoed with the white man’s oath and pistol. Provisions still had to be carried up from the coast on mule-back, and were often intercepted and devoured by miners travelling the same road. In the winter of 1861, flour in Cariboo cost $72 a barrel, and bacon 75 cents a pound. Next year men came in so much faster than meal that the population was brought to the verge of famine.

The miners were a rough set for the most part, given to furious gambling on the gold-fields and to excesses of every sort when they returned to the comparative civilization of Victoria or San Francisco. Still, the mining towns had their well-filled reading-rooms, their concerts and debates, and the authority of law was uncommonly well respected. “Gold commissioners” were appointed to deal out justice promptly in every camp, and over this whole system presided a judicial genius whose name was a terror to evildoers.

“Old Judge Begbie soon made them understand who was master,” says an old miner. “I saw a fellow named Gilchrist, who had killed two men in California, on trial. He killed a man on Beaver Lake, in the Cariboo country, who was gambling with him. Whilst sitting at the table, a miner came in, threw down his bag of gold, bet an ounce, and won. Gilchrist paid. The man bet again, and won again, flippantly inquiring of the gambler if there was any other game he could play better, as he British Justice drew in the stake. Gilchrist took offence at the remark, and, lifting his pistol, shot him dead.

“Gilchrist was tried, and the jury brought in a verdict of ‘manslaughter.’ Turning to the prisoner, the judge said: ‘It is not a pleasant duty for me to have to sentence you only to prison for life. Your crime was unmitigated murder. You deserve to be hanged. Had the jury performed their duty, I might now have the painful satisfaction of condemning you to death. And you, gentlemen of the jury, permit me to say that it would give me great pleasure to see you hanged, each and every one of you, for bringing in a murderer guilty only of manslaughter.’ ”

Thirty thousand rough whites could hardly invade an Indian province without some little trouble from the natives, and one or two fights took place; but as a rule the two races got on very well together. The newcomers washing sand along the river beds did not destroy the game on which the old inhabitants depended for their living; true British justice was measured out to red man and to white with equal hand; and the Indians took readily to such work as white employers wanted done. An American historian, Hubert Howe Bancroft, has left on record his opinion that “never in the pacification and settlement of any section of America have there been so few disturbances, so few crimes against life and property” as in this British land.

Fifteen years after the first rush Cariboo was utterly deserted by the white miners, though the frugal Chinese continued to sift out the golden dregs left in the district. In those fifteen years many other districts in the “sea of mountains” had been invaded by detachments of gold hunters. Some of these acquired fortunes to “Black Stone” on Vancouver Island squander, while many came out poorer than they went in, and some never came out at all. Of the three lucky Cariboo pioneers mentioned a little while ago, Dietz died a pauper in 1877, and the body of Rose was found in the woods, starved to death while searching for new gold-fields to conquer.

Even coal-mining has had its romantic episodes in the history of British Columbia. In 1835, some Indians visiting a Hudson’s Bay outpost on Vancouver Island happened into the smithy. They were astonished to find the blacksmith burning coal, and when told it had been brought a six months’ journey from over the sea they burst out laughing. There was any quantity of the same “black stone,” they said, at the north end of that very island. Other deposits were found from time to time, and the Pacific slope farther south has been glad to draw largely on the British territory for its coal supply.

In 1864, British Columbia—the mainland territory, that is—was endowed with a separate Governor and an infant legislature of which only three members out of thirteen were elected by the people. Two years afterwards Vancouver Island and British Columbia were united under the latter name; and in 1871, when the whole colony entered the Canadian Federation, the political swaddling bands were removed, and the Provincial Legislature became an elected body, with full control over the Government.

One other striking episode in the history of our Pacific Province must still be mentioned—an episode that nearly caused a war with the United States.

When the frontier question was settled, or supposed to be settled, in 1846, a serious omission was made. On A Hog Makes Trouble the mainland the British and United States territories were divided, clearly enough, by the 49th parallel of latitude; but when the sea was reached the line was simply ordered to follow “the middle of the channel” between Vancouver Island and the United States part of the mainland. Now there are a number of islands between Vancouver and the mainland of the United States, and therefore several channels through which the frontier might be imagined to run.

The island of San Juan, which belonged to our country or to the United States according as one channel or another might be considered the frontier, had been used by the Hudson’s Bay Company as a cattle pasture since 1843. In 1852, the “Americans” landed a sheriff and a customs officer on the island and tried to collect taxes from the British herdsmen, who refused to pay and hoisted the Union Jack.

Here were the makings of a pretty quarrel; and in 1859, when an “American” settler killed a Hudson’s Bay hog for rooting in his garden, the naval and military forces of Queen and President came within an ace of opening fire on each other.

Before this calamity could occur, however, the British Government proposed arbitration. The dispute dropped out of sight when the energies of the United States Government were distracted by the Civil War. For twelve years the settlers and hogs of San Juan were kept at peace by British and United States detachments of equal strength, and the two forces got on famously together. At last, in 1871, the German Emperor was called in as arbitrator, and traced the frontier through a channel which gave San Juan to the United States.

The Windows Opened

FOR HUNDREDS of years the West had now been explored—inland, to find new routes for the fur trade, and up in the north to find a new sea route from Europe to Asia—but no explorer had come in to find new homes for his fellow-men.

In the middle of last century, however, the Government of Canada sent up a scientific expedition to find out the real facts about this country—for one thing, whether it was fit for agriculture. The fur traders said it was not. People overseas, and most people even in the Province of Canada, actually believed this, just as a great French writer a hundred years before had comforted his fellow-countrymen on the loss of “New France” by asserting that Canada itself was only “a few acres of snow.”

Some of the more enlightened Canadians, however, were pretty sure that the common belief was a monstrous delusion; though even they, if any one had told them the West would yield 900,000,000 bushels of grain in a single harvest, would have smiled as at a fairy tale.

Even without going very far west, the explorers of 1857 and 1858 saw enough to convince them that many million acres of the prairie were arable land of first quality. One of the chief men of the expedition, S. J. Dawson, wrote:

“Of the valley of Red River I find it impossible to speak in any other terms than those which may express A Paradise of Fertility astonishment and admiration. I entirely concur in the brief but expressive description given to me by an English settler on the Assiniboine, that the valley of Red River, including a large portion belonging to its great affluent, is a ‘Paradise of fertility’ . . . Indian corn, if properly cultivated, and an early variety selected, may always be relied on. The melon grows with the utmost luxuriance without any artificial aid, and ripens perfectly before the end of August. Potatoes, cauliflowers, and onions, I have not seen surpassed at any of our provincial fairs. The character of the soil in Assiniboia [now Manitoba], within the limits of the ancient lake ridges [a great lake covered that region, long ago] cannot be surpassed. As an agricultural country, I have no hesitation in expressing the strongest conviction that it will one day rank among the most distinguished.”

The windows had been opened, though the door was still shut. It was only a glimpse that the world then got by looking in, but that was enough. “A Paradise of Fertility.”

The Mother country sent out an expedition on its own account. One of its objects was to see if a railway could be built through the Rocky Mountains, as part of a great line on British soil from the Atlantic to the Pacific. That expedition discovered a pass through which the railway was finally built, as we shall see. Its discoverer, James Hector, got a kick from a horse up there, and “Kicking Horse Pass” it has been ever since. At that time, however, Captain Palliser, at the head of the expedition, reported after four years’ work that the railway would cost too much. In 1863 the Red River settlers sent an envoy to England, begging the Imperial Government to connect them with Canada by rail; but even that was too expensive.

The door stayed shut, accordingly. Settlers of the Indian Humanity and Savagery more adventurous sort dribbled in, by the roundabout route through the States, or coming up by the Lakes. But fur traders and Indians had the prairie and woodlands almost to themselves for another quarter of a century. The Company went on bartering, the braves went on hunting—and for some years fighting, too.

As far back as 1750, Captain Coats had blamed his employers, the Hudson’s Bay Company, for not trying to convert the natives—“leaving such swarms of God’s people in the hands of the divill, unattempted, as well as the other Indians in generall, a docile, inoffensive, good-natured, humane people,”—“as if gorging ourselves with superfluitys was the ultimate condition of this life.”

The Indians may not have been so “humane” as the benevolent captain thought, but, with all their barbarous customs, on the whole they deserved his good opinion. Fighting to kill for revenge, and to prove their own courage, they considered the height of virtue. If food ran short on a journey, they would abandon the aged and sick who could not travel as fast as the rest, for delay would risk the lives of all the band. Yet Paul Kane, after visiting many tribes, declared that their affection for their relatives was very remarkable, particularly for their children. “I may mention,” he says, “the universal custom of Indian mothers eagerly seeking another child, although it may be of an enemy, to replace one of her own whom she may have lost, no matter how many other children she may have. This child is always treated with as great, if not greater, kindness than the rest.”

So far as the Indians were savage, that was all the more reason why they should be taught better. But the Printing from Bullets on Birch Bark Company was afraid of losing their friendship by interfering with their customs; and we remember how Samuel Hearne was pushed roughly aside when he tried to stop a massacre of the Eskimo. Paul Kane tells of a Saulteaux Indian being hung for shooting a Sioux, in 1845, but that was in the Red River Settlement, which had a judge and a court-house. The fur traders generally turned a blind eye to the savagery of their customers. Alexander Henry, who established a trading post on the Red River at the mouth of the Pembina in 1801, for the North West Company, and made a little garden there, gives this calm account of one day’s incidents: “LeBoeuf stabbed his young wife in the arm. Little Shell almost beat his old mother’s brains out with a club, and there was terrible fighting among them. I sowed garden seed.”

The Christian folk down east and over in Britain, though they knew little of what was going on out here, heard enough to make their consciences uneasy. The churches, one after another, sent missionaries to convert the Indian. The story of their devotion and sacrifice, without hope of earthly reward, would fill many books. Most of the Indians’ education has been carried on by the churches, and still is. Some of these men were as ingenious as they were devoted. There was James Evans, for example. In 1836 he not only invented a phonetic written language for the Crees, but printed it for them, at first melting down bullets to make the type, mixing soot and water for ink, and using birch bark for paper. It was hard work. “Christianity to them seems a Chimera, Religion a design to draw them from the libidinous Pleasures of a lazy life.” So it appeared to an English writer when the Hudson’s Bay Company had How Lacombe Stopped the Fight just started; and far on in the nineteenth century, though many tribes had been persuaded to exchange their pagan belief for the white man’s creeds, it was difficult—as it still is—to wean them from their haphazard ways to the white man’s standard of persistent industry.

To uproot the Indian’s cherished belief in the virtue of war against a “hereditary foe” and “traditional enemy” was equally difficult—and not at all strange, considering how recent is our own awakening to the folly of that belief.

As I look out on my farm beside the old Edmonton trail, and see the motors whizzing by, I see in imagination hordes of painted Blackfeet riding over this very land to slay the Crees, and hordes of Crees again to scalp the Blackfeet—in my own lifetime, too, though I was too far off to see it.

The little town over yonder, with its churches and banks and stores, preserves the memory of those bloody times in its very name—Lacombe.

One winter night in 1865 the missionary Albert Lacombe was the guest of the chief in a Blackfoot camp. Suddenly the crackle of guns awoke the sleeping Indians. “Assinaw! Assinaw! The Crees! The Crees!” shouted the braves, as they rushed out to defend the camp. Bullets whizzed through the tent; you could smell the powder—the Crees were as close as that. Now both tribes liked the missionary, as much as they hated each other. He ran out and shouted to the Crees, but his voice was drowned in the din. He found a Blackfoot woman, dying of wounds, and baptized her. A Cree came on her body, scalped her, and killed her child. The fight went on all night, and half the camp Rupert’s Land Enters the Dominion was captured. At dawn the missionary told the Blackfeet to stop firing, and went out again alone to parley with the raiders. A spent bullet struck his head, nearly stunning him, and he fell. “You have killed your friend,” a Blackfoot shouted. Then the Crees heard, and were horrified. The fight was at an end; the raiders turned right-about and made off.

Three years later, in 1868, the same Lacombe was in camp with the Crees. In the middle of the night, their scouts brought word that Blackfoot raiders were hiding in the brush across the valley. The missionary went out, and, standing unarmed in the moonlight, shouted—“Hey! Hey! Are you there and wanting to fight? Then my Crees are ready for you. Come on, and you will see how they can fight. They are brave, my Crees, if you come to kill their people!” The voice “sounded big over the great prairie”—but there was no reply. Not a shot was fired; the raiders slunk off to their homes.

Though the Indians did not know it, their country was then on the eve of a great change. The year before, in 1867, the old Province of Canada—Ontario and Quebec—had united with the Atlantic Provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to form a federation, a “Dominion of Canada.” To complete the Dominion, to unite all these British lands from sea to sea for ever in one strong federation, it was necessary first of all to bring in the vast territory of the Hudson’s Bay Company. This was done in 1869. The Company gave up all its exclusive privileges for a payment of $1,500,000 and 45,000 acres of land. The Company also kept all its forts, with full liberty to go on trading in free competition with others. This it continues to do, on the largest scale, and the white settlers whom it used to shut out are The Red River Rising now its best customers. As the furs obtained in two centuries of trading had sold for about $100,000,000, the shareholders had no cause to complain of their bargain.

The French Métis on the Red River, however, were uneasy when they heard of this transference of the country to new rulers, and even some of the white settlers at first objected to the change, for which their opinion had not been asked.

The Government, to get the country ready for settlers, sent land surveyors up from the East. The Métis took fright. Seeing those strangers running straight lines across the land, the ignorant people thought their farms were going to be taken away from them—the long narrow strips of land running back from the river front.

A Governor was appointed by the Dominion authorities, and came round through the United States, for there was no other railway communication between Eastern and Western Canada. When he came to the frontier, at Pembina, he found a barricade across the trail, and was ordered by a “Comité National des Métis de la Rivière Rouge,” or “National Committee of Red River Métis,” to turn back and go home again. A “provisional government” was set up; Louis Riel, a halfbreed of some education but little sense, the leader of the insurrection, seized the Hudson’s Bay post of Fort Garry, and imprisoned a number of loyal settlers. One of them, a young man from Ontario named Scott, was tried by a rebel court-martial and shot; his body was pushed through a hole in the ice of Red River.

A storm of helpless indignation swept over Canada—helpless because the rebels were separated from the seat of power and population in the East by more than a thousand miles of lake and river. An officer then Birth of First Prairie Province known only as Colonel Wolseley, later on Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, was put at the head of a boat expedition, which arrived after a three months’ journey—to find that the mere news of an army’s approach had put down the rebellion. The government made it clear to the Métis that none of their rights would be interfered with: the Red River district was organized as the Province of Manitoba and gave no more trouble.

The Mounted Police

NO; BUT out in the vast beyond were the makings of trouble enough. From little Manitoba to the mountains, the thousand miles of plain, then vaguely known as “The Saskatchewan,” lay unguarded and unwatched. The old ruling company had given up its power, and no new ruler had appeared. The throne was empty.

The Company’s authority over most of the tribes had been extraordinary. By treating the Indians as its children, with a wise mixture of patience and firmness, by avoiding interference as a rule and acting swiftly and sharply when action was both necessary and possible, the Hudson’s Bay men had won both affection and respect. More than once a young clerk had walked alone into an Indian camp after a murderer, shot the fellow where he stood, and walked out untouched without a word.

What was to happen now?

It was the dangerous age of the West. Along the frontier in the south the risk was great. Over the Blackfeet, in their pride and power, even the Company had never gained as much influence as it had with the rest. And now a new danger appeared in that quarter. The neighboring territory of the United States had been allowed to become the happy hunting ground of rascals. They snapped their fingers at the law of their own land; they thought nothing of killing their fellow-whites, Ruffians on the Border and less than nothing of killing an Indian. What was a frontier to them? Laughing at the weakness of their own government, they thought they could defy the British Government too. They did not know our way.

One day a band of these ruffians crossed the line from Montana with a cargo of smuggled whiskey. Coming to a camp of Assiniboines, they first got possession of everything the Indians could be persuaded to barter for the fiery spirit. At night, when most of the unsuspicious red men were indulging in a drunken dance, the “traders” suddenly poured volleys of lead into the defenceless crowd. Forty Indians were shot dead and many others wounded; only a remnant escaped to the neighboring Cypress Hills.

The liquor was murderous enough, without such massacres. The smugglers plied their devilish trade unceasingly; who was there to hinder? The Indians, poisoned and demoralized, fought each other worse than ever. If this thing had gone on, white settlement would have been impossible.

The story of the swift restoration of peace and order is one of the finest in Canadian history. It is the story of the North West Mounted Police.

Rudely awakened by the Red River outbreak, and warned by the Imperial authorities—who had persuaded the Company to surrender the West to Canada, and were therefore peculiarly responsible for the welfare of its inhabitants—the Federal Government took action. A little force of three hundred red-coats was organized in 1873 and told to keep order in a territory of two and a half million square miles. Impossible, it sounds. Yet the thing was done. It is Like a Miracle

The frontier campaign against the whiskey runners in the south-west was undertaken by half the force, 150 men. In 1874 prohibition was established for the whole territory, with severe penalties for selling or giving liquor to Indians. At the end of one year Colonel MacLeod, the commander, was able to report a “complete stoppage of the whiskey trade throughout the whole of this section”—which was the worst in the country. The drunken riots, which had been almost a daily occurrence, were entirely at an end. In fact, “a more peaceable community than this, with a very large number of Indians camped along the river, could not be found anywhere. Everyone united in saying how wonderful the change is. People never lock their doors at night, and have no fear of anything being stolen which is left outside; whereas, just before our arrival, gates and doors were all fastened at night, and nothing could be left out of one’s sight.” “It is like a miracle wrought before our eyes,” said the veteran missionary John McDougall, whom I met years afterwards riding as a volunteer scout in the Saskatchewan campaign. It was chiefly owing to MacLeod that the Blackfoot tribes in 1877 signed a treaty by which certain lands were set apart for ever as their Reserves, the Government agreeing to pay them a yearly subsidy of $5 a head. Such treaties had already been made with Indians farther east. At a great gathering of the Blackfoot and kindred tribes, the Governor of the Territory, David Laird, told them that the Queen was much pleased by the way they had helped the Police and obeyed the law. “The Great Spirit,” he said, “has made the white man and the red man brothers, and we should take each other by the hand. The Great Mother loves all her children, white men and red men Blackfoot and Blood Make Treaty alike. You will always find the Mounted Police on your side if you keep the Queen’s laws.”

The head Chief, Crowfoot, coming forward to sign the treaty, declared that the advice given to his people had proved to be good. “If the Police had not come,” said he, “where would we all be now? Bad men and whiskey were killing us so fast that very few of us indeed would have been left to-day. The Mounted Police have protected us as the feathers of the bird protect it from the frosts of winter.” And Red Crow, Chief of the Bloods, who signed with Crowfoot, added that MacLeod had made many promises to him and kept them all; not one of them was broken. The town that grew up beside MacLeod’s old fort preserves his memory in its name; and Calgary, where he built a fort in 1875, was called after his birthplace on the west coast of Scotland. A French trading post had been established near the same spot on the Bow River as far back as 1752, by Niverville, a kinsman of the great explorer Vérendrye.

The most romantic tales are told of the Mounted Police and their unbeatable pluck. Too romantic to be true, perhaps you think. No; I might have thought so once. But after seeing these men at work, in peace and war, I can imagine no duty so hard, so long or so dangerous that they would shrink from shouldering it or fail to carry it through at any cost. A single trooper would think no more of walking into the strongest camp, arresting an Indian and bringing him out, than I would think of riding into a herd of cattle and cutting out a steer. Next day, with an equally light heart, he would start off on a six months’ hunt for some desperate criminal in the ends of the earth, travelling summer and winter, Achievements of the Mounted Police over land and water and snow and ice, and bringing back his man or perishing in the attempt.

The Indians quickly learnt that the man in the red coat was “he who must be obeyed.” They were impressed by the fact that the Police, whether one or many, had the authority of the “Great White Mother,” the Queen. That by itself, however, might have forced only a grudging obedience. It was the character of the police themselves that won for them an authority over the tribes as remarkable as the Hudson’s Bay factor ever possessed.

With rare exceptions, which were swiftly thrown out on discovery, the Mounted Police were not only brave but considerate, scrupulously fair, and neither to be bribed nor wheedled. That is, they upheld the true British standard of honor. The Indian learnt to trust them because they proved themselves worthy of trust. I have known tribesmen come to a police corporal, rather than any one else, for advice in all sorts of social and domestic difficulties.

Unfortunately, the Indians south of the line had had a very different experience. There was no great company interested in protecting them, and no one did protect them, from irresponsible and rascally white men. Even the Indian Agents appointed by the Government at Washington to “father” the tribes often proved the worst of step-fathers. The Indians, swindled and outraged, took vengeance in their primitive way on any one of the same race as their oppressors. The innocent settler suffered for the deeds of his guilty fellow-countrymen. Then the army was sent to punish, not the white criminal, but the red avenger. Long and desperate “Indian Wars” were the result. Where’s Your Troop?

The Sioux Chief Sitting Bull, after wiping out a force sent against him in one of these wars, fled to Canada. That was in 1877. Already, the year before, 3,000 Indians had come in from the States, saying they had not been able to lie down in safety for years, and their grandfathers had told them they would find peace in the land of the British.

The new incursion was decidedly embarrassing. Even if they behaved themselves in Canada—as they did, under the watchful eye of the Mounted Police—the name of Sioux had a terrifying sound, and their presence wandering over the prairie would hardly encourage farmers to settle there. Besides, the buffalo were being swept off the prairie, and it would soon be hard enough to provide for our own buffalo-hunting tribes. The newcomers, therefore, were not given a Canadian reserve to settle on, and to our great relief they went back to their own country in 1881, accepting an offer of peace from the Washington Government.

A few years later, a band of our own Indians fled across the line to avoid punishment for the unprovoked rebellion which I shall soon have to narrate. When the trouble had blown over, they decided to come back. A whole troop of United States cavalry escorted them to the frontier at a point where they were to be handed over to the Canadian Mounted Police. There they found a corporal and one constable, with an interpreter. The United States officer was puzzled. “Who is in command?” he asked. “Myself,” said the Canadian corporal. “But where’s your troop?” said the officer. “Here they are,” replied the corporal, pointing to his solitary constable.

Fort Chipewyan

Buffalo Herd and Prairie Fire

Mounted Police Chasing

Whiskey Smugglers

A Returned Canadian

Home Seeking

Astonished, the officer asked what the corporal would Two Were Enough do if the Indians turned sulky—there were more than a hundred of them. “They won’t,” said the corporal promptly; “we shall have no trouble with them.” Nor did they. The tribesmen went quietly back to their reserves, like lambs.


Our First and Last Indian War

THERE were only fifteen hundred white folk in Manitoba at the time of the trouble in 1870, but around them lived ten thousand people of mixed race. Three-fifths of these owed their white blood to French voyageurs; the rest drew theirs chiefly from Scots higher up in the Hudson’s Bay service.

A small but steady stream of white settlers now began to trickle in, coming from Ontario through the States. The French Métis soon found themselves in a minority. The wilder spirits sold their land and flitted to the banks of the Saskatchewan, four or five hundred miles away to the north-west; but even there the stream of white immigration followed, and the land surveyors again began to map out the country with ruthless regularity. The Métis, living along the river bank, from which their farms ran back in narrow strips, were afraid they might lose their land, especially as the issue of their patents had been delayed and petitions to the Government seemed to fall on deaf ears.

In the fall of 1884, it was plain that a storm was brewing. Louis Riel, after many years of exile, returned from the United States on his kinsmen’s invitation, and put himself at the head of their agitation for the redress of grievances. Chiefly, and naturally, they wanted The Duck Lake Fight the same title to their land as had been given to the Métis back on the Red River. Such grievances as actually existed might have been remedied, and the threatening storm prevented, if the Federal Government had given a little attention to the matter. Agitation was allowed to flame up in revolt, and Louis Riel had proclaimed himself “President of the Saskatchewan” before the government machine began to stir.

The Métis began, in the spring of 1885, by seizing the persons and property of their white neighbors at Batoche and Duck Lake. Mounted Police went to the rescue, accompanied by some volunteers from the neighboring town of Prince Albert, but were driven back with a loss of twelve killed, nine being left dead on the snow. The rebels had beaten the white men!

Imagine what that meant, in a country where the little white population of peaceful farmers lay thinly scattered among strong tribes of warlike Indians. The Métis were a mere handful compared to the pure-blooded red-skins; these numbered, even without the tribes of the distant north, some 25,000, including braves who had taken many a scalp in tribal wars, and in fights with white troops south of the frontier. If these tribes had gone on the war-path, the scattered white population of the territories might have been wiped out of existence, and the re-conquest of the country might have involved a long and hard campaign.

Everything depended on the Indians. The Métis knew this perfectly well, and Louis Riel moved heaven and earth to drag in the only allies who could give him a chance of winning. Adopting the name David, and pretending to have supernatural powers, he claimed to be a new Messiah sent to lead the red men and give Battleford Besieged them victory over the white. He sent his envoys all over the plains to rouse the ancient passion of the tribes for war. Promising impossible gains, and threatening when persuasion failed, they did their very worst.

The strongest tribes, including the Blackfeet, decided to sit still and mind their own business. This was partly owing to the fairness with which as a rule they had been treated by the Canadian Government and the Hudson’s Bay Company, partly to the influence of missionaries and Mounted Police in their midst, and partly to their own good sense. The railway had just arrived; and the spectacle of an army of men constructing at marvellous speed a road of steel across the prairie was a most convincing evidence of the white man’s power. But for a while it was touch and go, even among the Blackfeet. So it was among Piapot’s Crees near Qu’Appelle.

The flaming words of the new “Messiah” and his apostles had more effect on the tribes along the North Saskatchewan. The more intelligent chiefs, like Poundmaker of the Crees, knew well enough what the end of the war must be, sooner or later; but the younger braves, the hot-headed extremists, were shouting for a fight, and carried the tribe with them. An Indian chief will never hang back when his tribe is bent on war, however crazy he may think it; so even Poundmaker, the white man’s friend, fought the white man rather than be called a coward by his own foolish folk.

“The Indians are on the war-path. Battleford is besieged!” That was the news flashed down to the East before we had recovered from the shock of the Duck Lake defeat. The whole white population of Battleford town, with hundreds of refugees from the country-side, crowded into the fort, standing high on a point of land Frog Lake Massacre in the fork of the Battle and Saskatchewan Rivers. This fort was simply a log stockade enclosing the Mounted Police barracks, stables and storehouses. The railroad was nearly two hundred miles away to the south, and the road to it was cut off by the enemy. The Government telegraph line, the only means of communicating with the outside world, was cut again and again by an unseen foe. Imagine the feelings of the beleaguered refugees, watching the smoke of their burning farmhouses, and wondering whether they themselves would be slaughtered or starved before any one came to their rescue!

Within a week, the exaggerations of rumor were rivalled by a terrible statement of fact brought in by a scout from Fort Pitt. This Hudson’s Bay post, ninety miles up the Saskatchewan, had been held by twenty-four Mounted Police under Inspector Dickens, a son of the novelist. Five miles farther north, on the picturesque shores of Frog Lake, a smaller Hudson’s Bay post and a Roman Catholic mission had begun to develop into a settlement, possessing even a mill.

The Crees in that neighborhood, headed by a chief named Big Bear, held a war dance on hearing of Riel’s victory, and ordered the white folk into the Indian camp as prisoners. A Government agent, Thomas Quinn, refused to go, and a furious Cree named Wandering Spirit shot him down. The Indians had probably not planned a massacre, but this taste of blood roused their tiger spirit. Nine men in all were shot, including two priests. Only the Hudson’s Bay clerk was spared. There were two white women, but friendly Métis paid three dollars and four ponies ransom for them, and kept them safe. Fort Pitt Abandoned

After the braves had gorged themselves for ten days on stolen victuals, keeping up their war spirit by frenzied dances, they laid siege to Fort Pitt. There was no lack of courage in the garrison. Even the girls, daughters of the Hudson’s Bay factor, William MacLean, shouldered rifles with the men. But when MacLean went out to parley with the Indians, they would not let him return; they only promised to protect the white civilians if the Police cleared out of the fort. MacLean had such confidence in his Company’s favor with the Indians that he sent a letter telling his wife and children to come into camp, with several other white and half-breed families; and he advised the Police to leave, as the Indians had got fire-arrows ready to burn the fort down.

Big Bear’s Demand for the Surrender of Fort Pitt

His advice was taken. The civilians put themselves at the Indians’ mercy, and the Police made their way painfully down the river, amid masses of floating ice, An Army from the East in an ancient leaky scow. Battleford welcomed the two dozen extra appetites with self-forgetting heartiness; and two days later, on the 24th of April, this modern Lucknow was relieved by an expedition which had come two thousand miles to save it.

“Would you like to go out as our war correspondent?” the editor of the Montreal Daily Witness asked me when telegrams were pouring in from the West begging the Government to hurry up troops or no one would be left alive to rescue. The editor spoke with hesitation. He had a tender heart and lively conscience, and hated the idea of sending a young fellow off “perhaps to be killed.”

The young fellow laughed, and jumped at the adventure—it was well worth the risk. A few hours later, with a knapsack for baggage, he was rolling along through the States, as that was before the Canadian Pacific was finished and the only railway connection between Eastern and Western Canada was still by way of Chicago.

Canada’s problem, to save the people of the West, was a hard one indeed. We had no regular army, beyond a few companies at Infantry Schools and an occasional battery of artillery. The rescuing must be done by volunteers, who were certainly keen enough, but had little or no experience of war. Moreover, the troops were not allowed to go through the States, as I had done.

The Government apparently thought they would have to send the force up through the Great Lakes by steamer, as there were four unbuilt gaps in the railway north of Lake Superior, and no passenger cars on the three disconnected sections of track between the gaps. But spring navigation was not yet open, and every day’s delay might mean sentence of death to hundreds of peaceable Over the Unfinished Railway folk in the West. Van Horne, the manager of the Canadian Pacific, went to Sir John Macdonald, the Prime Minister, and offered to take the troops up at once in spite of everything.

“How can you carry the men without a railway?” said Sir John. “It’s impossible.”

“Raise the men, and give me a week’s notice of their arrival, and I pledge myself to do it.”

“What do you pledge?” asked Sir John.

“I pledge my word, and, if necessary, my life,” was the answer.

“Can you do it in a month’s time?” was the next question.

“I will do it in eleven days to Qu’Appelle,” said Van Horne. And he did. Over the longer gaps the troops were carried in sleighs; over the shorter, they marched through the snow. They looked as if they had gone through a campaign already by the time they got to Qu’Appelle—but they got there in eight or nine days instead of eleven, thanks to the vigor and capacity of the railway men.

Within a month, 3,000 men had been transported to the West, some as far as 2,500 miles and the rest about 1,800. With over 1,500 Westerners under arms, a force of 4,500 was collected; though, as it happened, the later arrivals had no chance to share in the fighting.

The prairie section of the railway was already built, but it only ran within about two hundred miles of the rebel centres in the north. From Qu’Appelle one force under General Middleton had to march against the Métis at Batoche, near Duck Lake. Another column, under Colonel Otter, had to go on to Swift Current and thence across the prairie to fight the Indians besieging Battleford. The March to Save Battleford A third force, under General Strange, including the 91st Battalion from Winnipeg and a French-Canadian battalion, the 65th from Montreal, had to march north from Calgary to Edmonton, and thence reach Fort Pitt by trail and river. Some of them marched the soles off their boots, but when I came up with them towards the end of the campaign, doing sentry-go in bare feet near Beaver River, they were cheery as larks and singing the old folk-songs their forefathers had sung in the France of the seventeenth century.

Embarking at Qu’Appelle in a caboose with an advance party of Otter’s Indian-fighters, I landed, one fine April morning, at Swift Current, then consisting of half a dozen shacks. When the rest of the column arrived, we found ourselves 500 strong: the Queen’s Own Rifles of Toronto, in their dark green uniforms; a company of red-coated sharpshooters, picked from the Governor-General’s Foot Guards of Ottawa; a company from the Toronto School of Infantry; a bunch of blue-coated artillery-men from Quebec, with a gatling and two field guns; and forty Mounted Police.

To reach the beleaguered town we knew we should have to cross 180 miles of uninhabited wilderness. We had, therefore, to accumulate a train of farm wagons to carry food for the troops, hay and oats for the horses, and even wood for our camp fires. Many pioneer farmers of Manitoba and the territories let their land lie fallow that year and spent the summer teaming at $10 a day for the Government.

Hour after hour, day after day, the thin line of wagons and horsemen, four miles long from van to rear, rolled northwards up the trail. Not a man did we see, nor sign of life, except for the meadow larks and gophers. The Night Ride to Cutknife

At last we stood on the bank of the Battle River,—and over there we were thankful to see the old Battleford stockade still sheltering the refugees we had come to save.

The Indians vanished on our approach, and pitched their camp on Poundmaker’s reserve, nearly forty miles away in the west. So in the afternoon of the first of May, leaving half our little force to guard the town, but taking with us a company of the beleaguered white men who had organized themselves as a “Battleford Home Guard,” we set out on the enemy’s track, carrying five days’ rations and little else.

All night we rode, and the sun was sending its first rays up behind us when we saw at our feet a little valley where Cutknife Creek wound in and out among bushes through a sandy bottom. From the other side of the creek rose a gentle slope of bare turf, flanked on either side by a gully. This was Cutknife Hill, where Poundmaker and his Crees had defeated Chief Cutknife and his Sarcees, many years before. But since then Poundmaker had distinguished himself as a peacemaker; it was he who brought to an end the age-long feud between the Crees and the Blackfoot confederacy.

A few hundred yards beyond the crest of the hill we knew that Poundmaker was now encamped, and we hoped that he and all his men were still sound asleep.

They were—all but one. Do you ask how I know that? Years afterwards I went over the battlefield with an old Indian named Piacutch, who had been in the fight. When I asked him how the Indians knew we were coming that morning, he told me—“There was an old Indian, named Jacob-with-long-hair, who always got up before anybody else. He went out over the hill, and his horse put up its ears, and then he listened and heard Surrounded wagons coming; so he galloped back and told us, and we strung out as quick as we could, one by one.”

Scarcely had the head of the column got across the stream when a scout dashed back with the cry “The Nichis are on us!”

The police were flying up the hill in a moment, with the gunners galloping at their heels, and gained the top of the hill in the nick of time, for the Indians were racing for the same point of vantage. Foiled in this, the painted redskins launched a volley of yells and bullets at the police, and fell back into a hollow, beyond which lay the Indian camp. Meanwhile the infantry had leapt from their wagons, and in less time than it takes to tell were lying in skirmishing order all along the edges of the slope.

Puffs of smoke began to rise from the gullies on our left, on our right, and even in our rear. We were completely surrounded by hidden Indians, every one of them a sniper. If a rifleman so much as rose on his elbow to fire, he was the target of a dozen marksmen. Cover we had none. The horses and wagons were just bunched together on the middle of the hill. The air seemed alive with whizzing bullets, and one by one our men were dropping.

Do you wonder what it feels like, to find yourself suddenly for the first time in the middle of a whistling concert of bullets, knowing that any one of them may get you? Well, some are scared for a moment, and a few stay scared. Others are exhilarated by the joy of fighting. On Cutknife Hill that day, I suppose nearly all, though tired with the long night ride, quickly recovered from the shock of surprise, and felt little anxiety except to do their duty as well as they could. Personally, Heroism on the Field I felt too much interested to be afraid; nor could I be upset by the sight of death in ghastly forms, for my calling had hardened me to that in time of peace. My chief feeling was just a keen desire to see and understand everything that was going on, to gather up all the incidents of the battle into a living and accurate story, so that others could read and realize what I had seen.

The volunteers, whatever they felt, seemed in action cool as veterans; cool of nerve only, for the sun beat down upon them with all its western might. They wasted a monstrous lot of lead at first, but presently settled down to more systematic work, and even imitated a favorite Indian trick—one man holding up a hat as target and his comrade picking off anyone who rose to aim at it. Those clerks from Ottawa and students from Toronto were as steady under the deadly hail as if they had fought through a hundred battles.

A most heroic scene was enacted by a pair of theological students from Toronto. Three of the Battleford Home Guard, trying to clear out the enemy from the creek-bed in our rear, were cut off by a bunch of Indians. Their only way of escape was by reaching and climbing a perpendicular earthen cut-bank. Two of the University Company in the Queen’s Own, Acheson and Lloyd, who had themselves got separated from their comrades, caught sight of the Battleford men from the top of the bank and realized their desperate strait. Acheson stretched himself over the edge and hauled up the refugees by main force as soon as they reached the foot of the cut-bank, while Lloyd took aim in turn at every Indian that rose to fire at the rescuer—took aim, but dared not let fly, for he had only one cartridge left.

So hot was the Indian fire that every one of the three Comedy in Tragedy Battleford men was shot as soon as he reached the top of the bank. One of them got a second bullet in him while Acheson was carrying him back, and they rolled over together. Acheson was picking the man up again, when a Métis scrambled up out of the gully and levelled his musket at the rescuer’s back. Lloyd fired his last cartridge and knocked over the Métis, whose body carried down with it half a dozen Indians climbing up behind him. A moment after, a bullet pierced Lloyd’s side, took off a piece of a vertebra, and stretched him helpless on the turf. Acheson, all his ammunition gone, sprang to Lloyd’s defence, and stood over him with clubbed rifle; but neither of them would have lived another minute if a handful of their comrades had not come up in the nick of time and driven back their assailants.

It is that same Lloyd, now Bishop of Saskatchewan, whose name is immortalized by the town of Lloydminster. Acheson is a bishop too, in Connecticut.

Desperately grave as the situation was, it had its moments of humor. A bullet scraped the skin off Sergeant McKell’s temple. “Another good Irishman gone!” he cried as he fell—but picked himself up next minute on discovering that he was not killed at all.

“What on earth have you been wearing that red tuque for?” a rifleman asked when he met one of the Battleford men at the end of the fight,—“I heard there was a halfbreed with a red tuque on, and I’ve been firing at you all the morning.”

The guns were the grimmest joke of all. The gatling sprayed the prairie with a vast quantity of lead, and a machine gun is all very well when your enemy stands in front of it in a crowd; but that is not the Indians’ way. Retreat They had a wholesome respect for the seven-pounders—which was more than the gunners themselves had, for the wooden trails were rotten and gave way under the recoil, so that one of the guns fell to the ground after every shot and the other had to be tied to its carriage with a rope.

At last our men were allowed to charge down the slopes and clear out the gullies. The Indians fled before them, and prepared to defend their camp. But we were not allowed to follow up our advantage. Instead, the order was given to retire. The teams were hitched up in a hurry, and the retreat began. We had lost eight killed and fourteen wounded.

Imagine the Indians’ astonishment. We were leaving them masters of the field. Before half of us had re-crossed the creek, they were pouring down the hill after us like a swarm of angry ants. Now, however, they were in the open, and a well-planted shell from our rope-swathed seven-pounder (its companion had been put to bed in a wagon), with the cool musketry of our rear-guard, held the pursuers in check till the last of our wagons had struggled through the creek.

The Indians might have turned our defeat into disaster if they had circled round and picked us off piecemeal as the long-drawn-out line of sleepy soldiers wound its way home through the woods. And that is exactly what they would have done if their chief had let them, as an Indian explained to me afterwards.

“The young men wanted to,” he said, “but Poundmaker held them back out of pity for you.” Another old Indian added that the chief brandished his whip and threatened to flog any Indian who dared to go after the white man. The Check at Fish Creek

We were comforted by the assurance that we had taught the Indians a lesson; but it was exactly the opposite of the lesson we had meant to teach them. Up to that time Poundmaker had resisted all Riel’s persuasions to bring the tribes down and join forces with the Métis fighting further east, but now he could no longer resist the war spirit of his elated braves.

The bad news burst upon us with dramatic suddenness one day, when a big train of nearly thirty wagons, bringing food from Swift Current, ran into the middle of the Indian army streaming away to the east. It was a great haul for the red men.

That was “the darkest hour before the dawn.” As hot a reception as we got from the Indians, the other column got from the Métis farther east. General Middleton had under his command about 850 men—two militia battalions, the 90th Rifles of Winnipeg and the Royal Grenadiers of Toronto, with two batteries of artillery, and two bands of mounted men raised for the occasion, under Major Boulton and Captain French.

On the 24th of April the force was marching down the valley of the South Saskatchewan, half on one side of the river, half on the other. They were bound for Batoche’s Ferry, where the Métis had their stronghold, defended with many rifle pits. One party of rebels, however, under their “general,” an old buffalo hunter named Gabriel Dumont, came up the valley a dozen miles on the south side, to meet the white men and if possible check their advance. Skilfully choosing the best spot for this purpose, they took cover amongst the trees and boulders just below the edge of a gully which the soldiers would have to cross. The rebels were hard Riel Defeated and Captured to dislodge, and in that skirmishing fight of Fish Creek ten of our men were killed and forty wounded.

This checked the advance for a fortnight, till reinforcements arrived—half the Midland Battalion of Ontarians, and a gatling gun, brought down the river by the same steamboat which had ferried our column across on the way to Battleford—one of those stern-wheelers which are said to “float in a heavy dew.” A corps of surveyors under Captain J. S. Dennis came up in time to join in the final attack. Arriving at Batoche on May 9, the troops for four days peppered the hidden foe, who held their ground and fired back with equal courage.

At last the soldiers were allowed to charge, and they cleared out the rifle pits at a rush. The battle was won, with a loss of eight killed, including four officers, and forty-six wounded. Riel escaped, but a few days afterwards he was caught not far away by a party of scouts. Dumont fled to the States, and the rank and file of the misguided rebels laid down their arms.

The news travelled swiftly to the west, and Poundmaker saw that the game was up. One afternoon, therefore, when I had crossed over to the south shore of the river at Battleford, I met the most pathetic and picturesque procession I have ever seen: the Indian chiefs riding in to surrender.

Here was Poundmaker at their head—tall and gaunt, with a strong hooked nose, his long black hair hanging down his back in a score of tight little plaits, each bound round at intervals of an inch or two with brass wire. His clothing was far from royal; a pair of shapeless blanket trousers or shaps, a colored cotton shirt, an old tweed waistcoat and no coat at all. But his keen and dignified face was that of a king, and though he was too thorough Poundmaker Surrenders an Indian to show the least sign of his feelings, I could not help pitying the fallen leader in his deep humiliation.

On the Battlefield—

Friends Again

A Horse Ranch

Where no Trees Grew—Forestry

Station, Indian Head

Quality Raising Quality—

School Fair Prize Winners

Around him rode his allies and lieutenants. No two of them were dressed alike. One gentleman wore a black “wide-awake” hat and a long blue naval frock-coat with brass buttons, hanging over the usual dirty blanket breeches. Another wore on his head the whole skin of a big otter, its teeth grinning in front and its tail hanging down behind. Still another had stuck feathers in his topknot, and a fourth wore a hard felt Derby hat adorned with fluttering ribbons of many colors. All of them had washed the yellow war-paint off their faces, discarded their guns, and rode on, silent and impassive as statues, to meet any dreadful fate that might be in store for them.

General Middleton, newly arrived from his victory at Batoche, held his court in the open air, sitting on a campstool for bench, with an interpreter by his side. Poundmaker sat before him on the ground, the rest of the prisoners squatting around in a semi-circle at a more respectful distance.

Poundmaker, being severely questioned by the General, denied having any intention of fighting; nor had he ever promised to help Riel. He did not know what Indians had committed murder or robbery.

A very gay young Stoney came forward and squatted right at the General’s feet,—a regular Indian dandy, covered with bead-work, and wearing a woman’s black straw hat with a bright green plume. With the utmost coolness, he confessed to a perfectly unprovoked murder. He and a few comrades had come across an inoffensive farmer greasing his wagon wheels, and had The Hunt for Big Bear shot him down like a rabbit. “I told my people I would give myself up to save them,” the murderer said.

Another speaker, an old and ragged man, had also a murder to confess. This was Ikta, the slayer of the farm instructor on Red Pheasant’s reserve. Ikta wound up by offering to be cut into little pieces, if only the white men would spare his wife and children and give them food.

At last a woman rose to speak. “Tell her we don’t listen to women,” said the General to the interpreter. “Then why does your Queen send her word for us to obey?” asked an Indian. The General muttered that the Queen had men for her advisers; but the woman was allowed to speak, and put in a pathetic plea for mercy to the conquered red men.

Then the murderers, and Poundmaker, and three other chiefs, were locked up in the fort, while the rest of the red men were sent off to repent on their reserves.

The war was not over yet, though the fighting was. Big Bear was still at large. To rescue the twenty-six prisoners he had been dragging about with him since his capture of Fort Pitt, flying columns were sent off to scour the maze of wood and river and lake in the north. It seemed like hunting through a haystack for a needle; but it gave promise of fresh adventures in a country very different from any we had so far seen, and I attached myself to a troop of Mounted Police and Scouts who seemed more likely than the rest to catch the runaways.

Our experiences on that wild chase were varied and even entertaining, to those of us who had a spice of the Mark Tapley in our dispositions. For hardship, this proved the worst part of the whole campaign.

Leaving the sunlit prairie behind, we plunged into a The Prisoners Escape forest broken by glades and lakes and sloughs and muskegs. If a lake was shallow and had a reasonably firm bottom, we waded through; if not, we squeezed our way along the boggy edge between wood and water. One day we covered only twelve miles. The mosquitoes had no trouble keeping up with us. They had never had such a feast in their lives. We ourselves had to feast on hard tack and salt pork, washed down with sugarless and milkless tea.

Spurred on by the hot pursuit, the Indians fled faster and faster, till they reached Beaver River, which they crossed in hastily built coracles of hide stretched on willow frames. We, too, reached Beaver River, a fine stream flowing through a deep valley between steep, thickly wooded hillsides. Some of us got across, in a derelict canoe, and struck away north as far as Cold Lake; but Big Bear had clearly given us the slip. Great was our rejoicing when a messenger from Fort Pitt came after us with the news that all the prisoners had been saved.

It turned out that a band of friendly Indians, whom Big Bear had forced to go on the war path, and who had all along protected the prisoners from the wilder Crees, had one day lagged behind on pretence of mending their harness, and set the last of the white folk free as soon as the other Indians were out of sight.

Big Bear soon afterwards came down to Prince Albert and gave himself up. He and Poundmaker were sent to prison for a few months, while Riel and eight Indian murderers were hanged. The Métis were now assured of their rights, on the time-honored principle of locking the stable door after all the horses have been stolen. Even before receiving this assurance, the Rebellion Extinct rebels had settled down, quite as glad as we were to be done fighting. I wandered about among them alone for a time without meeting the slightest trace of ill will. The earth was still fresh in the rifle pits of Batoche, and the bullet scars raw on the trees of Duck Lake, but the rebellion was dead as a camp fire after a rain storm.


Opening the Door of the West

DO YOU see that rough man with a key in his hand? It looks like a spade, you say—and so it is; but it is doing the work of a key. He strikes it into the soil; he digs up a sod. That is all you observe, till your imagination awakes—and then you see that he is opening the door of the West. He has turned the first sod of a railway line from the East.

The saving of the West from destruction, the swift suppression of revolt when delay might have rallied all the Indians to the rebel flag, was only made possible by the railway. But when the railway was planned there was no idea that it would be needed for such a purpose. It was not built for its military value.

True, the safeguarding of our country and our Empire in case of war had always been one aim of those far-sighted men who looked forward to a transcontinental railway on British soil. Such a line, enabling troops and munitions to be carried from Atlantic to Pacific in a few days, would clearly be a priceless advantage, and might even be the deciding factor in a life and death struggle; we know the immense help it gave in the life and death struggle we were plunged into a few years ago.

Yet the reasons which decided Canada to carry out this tremendous railway scheme were wholly peaceful—to The Railway a National Necessity open up a land of homes for loyal people on the plains, and to join the East and Centre with the farthest West; to unite our scattered little communities in one great Dominion.

There was only one thing uniting these three regions—a sentiment. They all knew and felt that they were members of one great brotherhood, the royal republic known as the British Empire. The British Columbians could have “paddled their own canoe” and remained separate from the Canadians if they had wanted; but they did not want. Their legislature unanimously and wisely voted in favor of federating with the newly formed Dominion of Canada in 1871—on condition that within ten years a railway should be built connecting that far western province with the railway system of Eastern Canada.

The colony on the Pacific, with a small population, hemmed in both north and south, would have found it hard to maintain an independent existence if she had not joined forces with her fellow-countrymen in the East.

British Columbia, too, was the only possible gateway of Canada to the West. Without a transcontinental railway, the rest of our country would have been cut off from its natural and necessary outlet to the trade of the Pacific, a trade already large and destined to become enormous.

Just as urgent was the need of this railway to open up the land between the Rockies and the Lakes for the millions of British folk and others who desired new homes under the British flag, which stood then, as it stands to-day, for the union of steadfast liberty with steadfast law.

The United States, face to face with the same problem, Saving the West had just solved it by completing in 1869 a transcontinental railway system which linked California with New York and at the same time opened up the western plains of that country to the home-maker. That was not only an example but a warning.

The United States, of course, had plenty of land, enormous territories of its own to fill up; but the evil habit of coveting a neighbor’s possessions is found among those who have plenty as well as among those who have little. South of the line were many who looked with covetous eyes on the fertile land in the north. Their plan to “jump the claim” to this land might have become a serious danger if no one had been living here except fur traders and Indians.

What staved off the danger, to begin with, was the settlement of the Red River district, by the energy and self-sacrifice of Lord Selkirk. The settlers were only a handful; but they “held the fort” and set an example, and after a while others began to dribble in, as you have heard already. The situation would again have become serious, however, when the Union Pacific Railway brought settlers and adventurers crowding into the Western States, if an easy way had not been provided for our own people to settle our own western territory from Eastern Canada and from overseas.

If the prairie had passed into the control of an alien power, the Canadian people, and the people coming from overseas to join them, would for ever have been prevented from expanding westward, just as the American colonists themselves a hundred years before had found their westward expansion blocked by the French occupation of the Mississippi valley—only on that occasion, as we have seen, the Americans were able to break down Government Railway Scheme Abandoned the obstacle by the British mother-country coming to their rescue.

The very existence of Canada, then, as a complete Dominion worthy of the two great enterprising races which had laid its foundations, and worthy of the civilizing British brotherhood in which it had achieved self-governing membership, depended on the prompt connection of all its parts by a national railway line.

The puzzle was, how to do it? The line would have to be built through an almost uninhabited wilderness, and the cost of construction was bound to be enormous.

The Canadian people, though rich in faith, in courage, and resources, were not rich in money. With the strong right arm and heroic heart they had tamed the wild East, but was their arm strong enough and long enough to reach out and tame the wild West? At first it seemed not. The building of the railway, by the agreement with British Columbia, should have commenced by 1873. It was 1875 before construction began, on a line from the head of Lake Superior towards the West; and even then the Federal authorities could only make up their minds to an instalment plan, giving contracts for the building of sections here and there, and trusting to navigation on the Great Lakes and Lake of the Woods to complete a chain of mixed land and water communication between East and West. No provision was made for the necessary land line north of the Lakes.

In 1880, when nine of the ten years had gone by and less than 700 miles of track had been laid, the scheme of a Government railway was given up as hopeless. A little group of men was found to guarantee the building of a line by private enterprise and finish it within ten years. Most of these men were Canadians of Scottish The Task of the Canadian Pacific birth, of the same class that had already done so much for the exploration of the West and the carrying on of its ancient fur trade. In fact, the moving spirits in the enterprise were Donald Smith, the head of the Hudson’s Bay Company, who had spent most of his life in the northern and western wilds, and his cousin George Stephen. Though it was not to be officially a Government line, it was built to provide the great national highway which the country required, and Parliament decreed that a majority of the directors must always be British citizens.

It was a great adventure and a costly one, the building of that line; so costly, indeed, that again and again the Company was nearly ruined before its task was done, even with a large grant of money and western land from the Government. The prophecy that it would never pay for its axle grease sounds absurd now that the railway has proved itself perhaps the most conspicuously successful enterprise ever undertaken in Canada, and one of the most famous in the world. In its early years, however, the capitalists, outside the group of resolute men who had launched the scheme, could hardly be persuaded to put any money in it, they thought its chances of success so small.

Blasting, cutting and levelling, building a track to carry heavy trains through mountain passes and along the sides of precipices where even a mountain goat never ventured before, demanded the highest degree of skill, endurance, and dogged defiance of danger. Towering heights and raging torrents, hard rock and dense forest, crumbling gravel and avalanching snow, all were encountered and all were overcome.

Besides the mountains and chasms of the Far West, North West Passage by Land there was the long mountainous stretch north of Lake Superior, where the thrilling grandeur of the scenery may suggest to the admiring passenger some feeble idea of the tremendous toil which alone made possible his enjoyment or indeed his very sight of it. Here 200 miles of railway track cost $12,000,000, of which $2,100,000 was used for dynamite alone. A dynamite factory had to be established on the spot. The bridges, tunnels and galleries along the face of the cliff for three miles at Jackfish Bay cost $1,500,000. A single mile cost $700,000.

There was only one town of any size in the whole length of the line, from eastern Ontario to the British Columbian shore; and Winnipeg itself had not 8,000 inhabitants when the work began in 1881. Practically every company and battalion of the great army of railway builders was hundreds of miles from its base of supplies. The fighting line, far longer than all the battle lines on the French, Italian and Russian war fronts put together, stretched for over 2,500 miles through an almost uninhabited and untilled wilderness.

With such tremendous energy and enthusiasm was the work pushed on, that in less than half the promised time it was finished. The discovery of a useless North West Passage had taken centuries; the creation of an infinitely useful North West Passage overland had taken only five years. The first sod had been turned on May 2, 1881; the prairie section reached Calgary on August 18, 1883; the last gap north of Lake Superior was closed on May 17, 1885, giving a continuous line of steel from Montreal to the Rocky Mountains; and on the 7th of November in the same year the last spike was driven at Craigellachie, 85 miles west of the Selkirk summit in The Pacific Terminus British Columbia. The first through passenger train, from the head of Atlantic navigation on the St. Lawrence to the head of Pacific navigation on Burrard Inlet, left Montreal on the evening of June 28, 1886, and finished its memorable journey at Port Moody on the morning of July 4. The great city of Vancouver, twelve miles down the Inlet, was then but a clearing in the forest scarcely three months old. It took Port Moody’s place as the Pacific terminus in June, 1887.

Our Fathers and Mothers Come In

THE PEOPLE who now streamed in through the open door, who were they? Mostly Eastern Canadians. But who were these Eastern Canadians? We must look back a hundred years to find out.

When most of the English colonists to the south broke away from the Empire, many thousands of them considered this violent action wrong; and, without any doubt, if the object to be achieved was self-government, it could and would have been won later on without secession, as other colonists won it.

Thousands of “United Empire Loyalists,” sacrificing everything, flocked over the border and made new homes in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario. This inrush from the lost colonies was followed by a considerable immigration from the mother-country, and the human tide flowed more strongly than ever after the end of the war with Napoleon. The United Kingdom contained less than half her present population, yet she was supposed to be overcrowded. Scotland and Ireland especially were drained of their people, because the political economists could find nothing for them to do at home.

It is believed that in the early years of the nineteenth century 25,000 Scottish peasants settled on Cape Breton Island alone, while great numbers were taken to the southern parts of Nova Scotia, and various counties in British Settlers in the East Upper and Lower Canada were peopled almost entirely from the same source. The members of a clan, or the inhabitants of a district, commonly emigrated together, and took up homes together in the New World, under leaders chosen or accepted by themselves. In 1804, eight hundred Highlanders, evicted by landlords who wanted the land for sheep runs, came over and made a new Glengarry between the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers, where the land would be their own. About the same time an Irish officer, Thomas Talbot, threw himself with the “go” of a cavalry charge into an emigration movement, and never rested till he had settled twenty-eight townships north of Lake Erie.

One Highland chief, the Macnab, not only sent a large company of his own clansmen to Canada at his own expense, but took up his abode among them on the township allotted him by the Government. Later, in the early thirties, we hear of 400 discharged Irish soldiers coming over in a body, with their old officers at their head, and forming a military camp in the Upper Canadian backwoods, till their united efforts had cut out the roads and fields and built the houses of a civilized settlement. In England, about the same time, Lord Egremont organized an expedition of 760 Sussex folk, who also made homes for themselves in Upper Canada, as Ontario then was called. The emigrant ships were thick on the Atlantic, and in four years 160,000 British emigrants landed on Canadian soil.

While the silence of the desert spread over Scottish hillsides, the Canadian wilds awaked to vigorous life. From Lake Huron to the Atlantic, Canada was ringing with the settler’s axe. The air was black with smoke,—fire cleared the land faster than steel. The stones were Coming from East to West gathered into piles, and the plow, driven in and out among the blackened stumps, prepared the virgin soil for its first crop of oats and potatoes. The labor which forced the wilderness to blossom as the rose was enormous; but the men who gave it had strong hearts, and wrestled cheerfully with nature. Never thinking of ease, they won prosperity.

The children and grandchildren of those hardy eastern pioneers made just the right pioneering stuff for the newly opened West. They were reinforced by descendants of the folk their ancestors had left behind in the Old Country, now coming out to Western Canada direct,—English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, even Manxmen and Channel Islanders, Scandinavians, and others from Northern Europe. These were our nearest relations on that continent, descendants of the men left behind long centuries ago when their raiding kinsfolk settled in the British Isles; and now they sent contingents straight to the British prairies in Canada. Many of the same stock came in early, beginning long before the railway opened, from the Norse colony in Iceland which had “discovered America” five hundred years before Columbus. From the south came “Americans,” practically all of the same stock as the Anglo-Saxons and Scandinavians, or of the Celtic stock to which most of the Highland Scots, Irish, Welsh and French belong. Many coming in from across the line were natives of Eastern Canada who had heard “the call of the West” while the only West ready to receive them was that of the States.

The newcomers spread over the prairie—spread so fast and so far, in fact, that they had to endure long isolation before any railway could reach them. “I had to haul my wheat 80 miles,” one old settler says, “and Live Cattle and Dead Buffalo then got forty cents a bushel for it.” But he was “a sticker,” and is now one of the most prosperous farmers in the country. Not owing to wheat, however; he was a stockman, long before live stock became popular. Wheat became King of the Plains, and few there were who would not bow down to him.

The reign of King Steer came first, however. Before the railway arrived, with the mass of settlers, the chief industry of the plains was ranching. The buffalo disappeared, but their place was partly filled by great herds of cattle, driven in from the States and roaming at large over the plains of our south-west and the foothills of the Rockies. Their offspring were rounded up when the time came, year after year, and driven across the line for sale. The rancher and his cowboys were almost the only white inhabitants—with the Mounted Police, who had to protect them from invading cattle and horse thieves, as they protected the Indians from whiskey-smugglers.

I was going to say that the first western freight the Canadian Pacific had to fetch out was cattle from the ranches. But, as an old railway man says, “The first live stock carried was dead stock.” The first substantial freight movement was that of buffalo skeletons. As soon as the prairie section got running, Métis and Indians were employed to gather up the millions of bones scattered over the plains where they had been shot down by generations of hunters. Great stacks of these bones were piled up like cord-wood beside the track—Regina’s first name was Pile of Bones—and thousands of carloads were shipped down to Chicago and other centres for use in sugar refining.

Riding the Plains in 1905

KING STEER made a brave stand against King Wheat, but had to surrender when his realm was thrown open for settlement and the army of grain-growers poured in, cutting up the range with barbed-wire fences.

This brings us to the beginning of the present century. Turn your telescope back to that time. Mount the broncos of imagination and ride with me, to see what I saw, riding the plains in 1905 when the new Prairie Provinces were just being born.

Down in Southern Alberta, the biggest ranch still surviving, with its lordly domain of 66,000 acres, has just been sold to a syndicate for $6 an acre—five times what its owner paid to the Government twenty years back—for sub-division into farms. The last 10,000 head of cattle are being driven off to a range leased from the Government many miles away to the north.

Wheat is waving, yellow and ripe, on farms newly fenced off the prairie, close by; and even the ranches up in the foothills, where they thought themselves secure, find speculative homesteaders cutting off quarter sections from the “free range.”

Much of the south-western prairie was fit for ranching, and for ranching only. But newcomers in their haste and ignorance demanded to have it thrown open for homesteading, and the Government, equally hasty Prairie Primeval Still in 1905 and ignorant, allowed them to flock in,—presently to flock out again, to districts where crops are reasonably sure. After many wasted years the deserted land may possibly be seen alive with flocks of sheep, and in the end with herds of cattle as in the beginning.

Riding away to the north—though not for lack of a train, if we wanted to take one—we pass through Calgary, already a city of 10,000, and after another fifty miles or so of “bald-headed prairie” we enter the beautiful park lands of Central Alberta. Here, along a railway closely following our road, the old Edmonton Trail of Cree and Blackfoot, we find a string of farmers who are neither “ranchers” nor “grain-growers,” though they raise both grain and cattle. Livestock is their mainstay; and already, though the day of the big ranch is over, the number of cattle in the West is greater than ever.

Strike eastward, though. Here, far from any railway line, we might think ourselves back in the days before the West was discovered even by Indians. We enter a land where no man dwells. We see the prairie primeval, as it was when it first arose from the sea and put on its mantle of green; sleeping on, untouched and unchanged, as it slept when the first silent red man stole out of the woods and shaded his eyes to scan its sunlit sea of grass.

Look close, and we detect the winding trails of buffalo, trod by uncounted generations in everlasting single file—mere shallow grooves all overgrown with grass. The buffalo have all been gone these thirty years. We cannot do as thirty years ago a traveller did—shoot a buffalo when dinner time came, roast the tongue, carry off the best of the hump, and leave the rest to the coyotes. We might bring down a prairie We’re Canadians Now chicken or duck now and then, but we have a long trip ahead of us, and no time for hunting. Like old Highland clansmen riding to war, we carry each a bag of oatmeal strapped to the saddle. There is nothing like it. “We owe to Scotland whiskey and oatmeal,” somebody says, “but the less we take of the one, and the more we take of the other, the less we lose and the more we gain.” For this trip we add a trifle of tea and sugar, and bacon, which our clansman would have thought luxurious.

Here and there we may happen on a square iron stake rising from a little mound in the midst of four shallow pits, pointing north, south, east and west. Surveyors have been here and left these landmarks so that home-seekers can see at once the corners of each quarter section; but the home-seekers have not yet come.

At last we see two parallel ruts worn smooth and deep through the grass. We have found the old trail which the army followed on its march to the relief of Battleford. Here is a little creek, “Fifteen-mile Springs” by name; it is fifteen miles north of the Saskatchewan River; and camping beside it we actually find two human beings, with a wagon and team. They are Minnesota farmers, on their way to join a score of others from the same State who are settling on homesteads far north-east of this.

“And don’t you want to be ‘Americans’ any longer?” I ask.

“No,” say they both, most emphatically, “we’re Canadians now.”

After a friendly meal of bread and bacon, we leave the good men behind, and with them leave the modern world. The ancient world opens up around us as we Birds and Beasts ride away to the north—the ancient prairie as it was, as it is, and never-more shall be.

Bathed in a glorious flood of sunshine, a glorious flood of air, the rolling plain spreads limitless to far horizons. Space, never-ending space, all round; and silence, but for the music of our horses’ hoofs.

High overhead fly steadily a flock of cranes, in perfect arrow-head formation, two long lines converging on the leader. Wild duck fly, straight but scattering, from slough to slough. The little greyish lark hops everywhere.

The gopher sits bolt upright on the edge of a hole, vanishing downward like a shot when he thinks audacity has reached fool-hardiness. Twenty yards ahead, beside the trail, a fountain of earth spouts up where a big striped badger is digging himself a home. He turns and stares at us, motionless, till we also stop, when he too disappears. Now and then a snake slips across the trail, a greenish-yellow innocent.

On the crest of a knoll, outlined against the sky, a great buzzard sits watching us till we come near, then soars away on the other side. A coyote steals swiftly over the plain, turning round and stopping now and then for a good look at us. Again and again, rounding a hillock, we startle a bunch of antelope; they make off in a leisurely-seeming way, but their graceful leaps take them out of range with the speed of a fast train. When the railway later on had to fence its track, the antelope at first would stop, distressed and puzzled by the mysterious obstacle to their migration; but they soon learned to clear the barrier at a bound. . . .

Suddenly we spy a house—then a second house, and Thin Thread of Settlement a little sod shack—the only sign of settlement between the South Saskatchewan and the Battle River valley. It looks like an isolated knot of dwellings, but we are really cutting across a long thin line. The newcomers left the railway at Saskatoon—the Canadian Northern, which before the end of the year will be through from Winnipeg to Edmonton—but, finding the land near the railway taken up, they have driven on and on to the south-west, till at last, after 85 miles, they have reached land without an owner. Others following them have gone on in the same direction, till now the thread of settlement stretches out to a length of a hundred miles from the railway.

Antelope on the Alert

The sod shack is the first western home of a farmer from Ontario, whose family will not be coming up till spring. On the next homestead is a good frame house, an unpainted and unvarnished shell so far, but showing taste and means which scorn to shelter even for a time Hospitable Métis within rough comfortable walls of turf. This, too, belongs to a born Briton from Ontario. The third settler is a cheery Perthshire Highlander. He has spent twelve years in Manitoba, sold his farm at a profit, and come far afield for a free homestead. He has already got 50 acres broken for next year’s crop, and finds time to act as baker for the settlers “baching it” around him.

Again we mount, and plunge into the wilderness. Evening draws in, and still we ride—in silence, for the joy of living is too deep for words. On a high hilltop we pause, enchanted by the vista opened suddenly at our feet. Deep in the darkening east a valley sleeps, veiled in a weird portentous purple mist.

Beside the next water we camp; that is, we cook our simple fare on a fire of dwarf willow and wild rose stems, hobble our broncos, roll ourselves in blankets and go to sleep under the friendly stars, lulled by the breeze that rustles in the grass, despite the heathen coyote’s evening hymn.

The next day we see trees ahead, and ride into the heart of Sixty-mile Bush, a curious isolated patch of wood rising like an island from the grassy sea, and interspersed with many a slough. Here we find human beings: two families of Métis. One woman speaks French and Cree; the other, educated in a convent, speaks English pretty well. Their eight little children, dark-skinned, black-eyed and very Indian looking, roll each other over on the floor; active and jolly, though remarkably quiet in their play.

Presently grandfather comes in: a pleasant-faced man, dark as an Indian, but bearded like a white man; a stalwart of seventy, without a white hair. Not a word of English can he speak, though long ago he travelled New Trails and Fresh Breaking as guide with an English hunter through the Rocky Mountains. In quite good French, he spins out reminiscences. He knew Louis Riel in the trouble of 1870—knew him so well that he strongly opposed inviting him back in 1884. But when the invitation was given, and the man he despised was leading his kinsfolk into hopeless rebellion, our friend took up his gun and fought like the rest at Batoche.

They are all most hospitable, these dusky folk of Sixty-mile Bush. “If you want wood for your camp-fire,” says the spokeswoman, “take all you need from our log pile. And aren’t you tired of sleeping on the prairie? The stable is dry and clean—the horses run out all summer—and there is plenty of hay in the stacks. Have you had enough of slough water? Here’s a pail of fine water from the well.” To be sure they have no yeast bread, but for a trifle we get one of their mighty bannocks—oval slabs, eighteen inches by twelve, and an inch thick—with a big lump of home-churned butter and a jug of fresh milk.

Crossing another stretch of treeless plain in the morning, we notice fresh wagon tracks leading away from the trail. We turn aside and follow one of these tracks, but it ends suddenly on the edge of a deep wooded coulee, where some new settler has gone to cut logs for his first shack. Exploring another fresh trail, we come upon a brown patch of newly broken land, with a brand-new box of a house in the middle, and the beginnings of a well dug beside it; but we have had our trouble for nothing, for the owner, after doing as much as this in compliance with the easy homestead law, has returned to the States for the winter, intending to come back for good next year. Open the Door and Walk In

Better luck farther on. Here is a house that is clearly inhabited, for we see through the window a loaf of bread on a shelf and a pile of wood by the stove. Now we country folk in the West don’t like a visitor to turn away just because we are out when he calls, especially near meal times. We leave the key over the door to welcome him by proxy, and if he knows anything about our ways he will reach up and find it at once. Most of us, in fact, don’t lock our doors at all; there is no need. . . . Oh, yes, there are exceptions. Now and then a low-down individual, or a whole family without one conscience to the dozen, will descend like a blight on a neighborhood; until they are driven out or reformed, things have a habit of disappearing; but in most parts we trust each other perfectly. . . . Putting up my hand, I find the hospitable key. We go in and make ourselves at home, lighting a fire for our bacon, and helping ourselves to bread and butter and potatoes by way of a change. Departing, we leave twenty-five cents apiece on the table; but we know that if the hostess had been at home she would almost certainly have refused the money.

A white spot in the distance attracts us, as twilight thickens. Riding over, we find it a very small tent—inhabited by a very large man, who cannot stand upright till he comes out of it. “Good enough for me,” he says with a laugh. “When I’m not sleeping I want to be out working. I started plowing the day I got here, and now look at that”—pointing to his fifty acres of new breaking. “The house can wait till I bring my folks up from Iowa next April. Then we’ll run up a house together in a brace of shakes.” The People’s King

“Why did you leave Iowa? Don’t they call it the finest agricultural State in the Union?”

“So it is, but no better than this’ll be. And anyway I’d only a rented farm, and I wanted one of my own. My next neighbor here came from down there too, and he had a good farm; but his boys were big enough to want farms too, and land prices went soaring out of sight, so he sold out for enough to stock half-a-dozen new farms up here.”

“You won’t find it strange to become a Canadian?”

“There’s nothing strange about it. Friend of mine down there said to me, ‘I ain’t going to have no king riding over me!’—Well, there’s some folks think no ways good but their own ways; and that’s the worst kind of ignorance. I told him the King was just a president, and brought up to the business, as no in-and-out president ever was. We have to elect a new one every four years, and you just elect a new one when you see there’s need. I know history, and I know how you give a bad king the air, and choose a new one and tell him to go ahead and be the sort of king you want and teach his son to do likewise—which he takes mighty good care to do. He’s just as much the people’s choice as ours is, and then some! And the best of it is, chosen and brought up as he is like that, you’ve always got a president that’s never been a party man and never can be, so all parties can trust him. Mighty sensible plan, seems to me.

“Then your king never goes against his people and parliament. He hasn’t anything like the power of our president. Once a president gets in, he appoints what ministers he likes—the House hasn’t a word to say about it though the Senate has—and there they are, planted for four years no matter what happens, congress or no King by Act of Parliament congress. Here in this Dominion of Canada, your Prime Minister is the only man that has anything like the power of our president, and even he has to do what parliament says—or get out. Talk about self-government! They’ve got it in England, and you’ve got it in Canada, a sight more of it than we have.

“There’s another sensible thing I like about your British ways. Whether you make much better laws or much about the same, if a man breaks them you get after him, and give him his medicine quick. We call ourselves hustlers! You don’t give your scallywag a thousand miles of rope and let him play around dodging the law as long as he can pay a lawyer.”

“As for the King, you’ve hit the nail on the head,” I remark. “If everybody looked for the facts as you do, without prejudice, half the differences of opinion on all sorts of questions would simply vanish. There is no nation without a king. Our neighbors, as you say, elect a King every four years and call him a President—we elect our President whenever we see cause, and call him a King. King George holds office entirely by authority of an Act of Parliament, and so will his son; though we are always glad to remember that they inherit the blood of Alfred the Great. We are a practical people, though we know well the value of sentiment and high tradition; and we have found the greatest practical advantages in possessing an independent and impartial president, who has no party bias, favors no class or sectional interest, and belongs not to the mother-land alone but to every country of our world-wide brotherhood. He, as no one else can, unites and represents us all. A French-Canadian’s Home

“As for our laws, they are not perfect, and I’m afraid we have not caught all the rascals yet; but on the whole the impression you have got is well justified.”

Half a mile away, in the darkening air, we see the outline of a house, with a cheerful beckoning light in the window, and we gallop across to see who is there. We find a French-Canadian couple who left Quebec in their youth and have just come back to their native land. Monsieur is unhitching his ox team in the dark. His habit is to rise at three, put in at least six hours’ work on the land before ten, rest through the mid-day heat, and then stick to the plow or harrow as long as he can see the animal’s horns. The house is a perfect model of cleanliness and good order. It has only one room, but is well if plainly furnished, and every utensil, bright as a new pin, hangs from its proper hook on the neatly plastered wall.

The man has made the house, from door-step to chimney-top, with his own hands. He admits that he spent $30 on window sashes, planed wood for door and floor, and the necessary nails; but otherwise the whole building has cost him in cash only the twenty-five cents charged by the Government for leave to cut logs in Cutknife Valley. He has brought a year’s rations, besides his eight work oxen and milch cow, so he is well able to wait till the second year for his wheat crop. Madame is packing all the eggs and butter she can gather and make for winter use. Between them they find time to read three weekly papers, one French and two English.

“I suppose you are a bit lonely out here as yet,” I remark.

“Lonely? Oh, dear no!” says our host, pointing to Indian Farmers a fiddle on a shelf. “We had a couple of dances this summer in my father’s house, and all the girls came from twenty miles around.” There is quite a colony of these “original Canadians” here already, and not one home without plenty of children.

We ride over to the battlefield in the morning. Twenty years have passed since the Indians caught us on Cutknife Hill, but the grassy slope is still strewn with empty cartridge shells. An old Indian who took his share in the fray goes over the battlefield with us, exchanging reminiscences where once we exchanged hot shot, and “reconstructing” the scene by creeping up the slope with an imaginary gun in his hand. Then the enemies of a bygone day sit down and take pot-luck together—pot-luck being a couple of prairie chicken brought down with one shot.

To-day, it seems, the painted warriors of ’85 are a peaceful community of farmers. Here comes one, driving by in his wagon with a good team of horses. Instead of picturesque blanket and bead-work, he wears what we have the conceit to call civilized clothes, and differs only in complexion from his European neighbors. On the edge of a poplar bluff we meet another Cree brave, who comes forward smiling to have his photograph taken when he has put up his horses in their log stable. His summer dwelling stands close by,—a genuine tepee, but made of canvas instead of buffalo skin—and in front of the door is a wash-tub. Think of it!

Still more remarkable than the wash-tub is the big threshing machine. A little later, and it will be hard at work pouring golden wheat into wagon after wagon. The whole outfit, steam engine and all, was bought by the tribe with their own earnings. The land is still Wouldn’t Live Without Trees held in common, but any tribesman who wants to fence off part of it as a farm is free to do so.

Through the park lands of the Battle River Valley we now ride for many hours—a country as rich as the prairie, and rich not only in soil, but in wood and water. High on the bank of a clear and rapid stream, in the shade of a beautiful grove, an old Ontario farmer and his sons, with an eye to the picturesque as well as the profitable, have built their mansion. Between them, they have taken a whole section, 640 acres, and have over 150 acres broken this first year.

“A grand country,” says the farmer’s wife, bringing out a jug of cool milk for the riders when their broncos have drunk their fill at the creek. “It’s as beautiful as where we came from, and that’s saying a lot. My husband and I wouldn’t live without trees. There was a man driving through to-day that said he wouldn’t live with them—says he feels choked in the brush. He’s taken a homestead where you can plow the whole half-mile furrow straight without a turn. Well, it takes all sorts to make a world.”

Learning to be Canadians

OUT ON the prairie again we ride, by the old freighting trail from Battleford to Saskatoon. But we only meet one freighting outfit all the way, a wagon drawn by two plodding oxen. “It was a big business, that freighting,” says a Scottish blacksmith who has built his shack and smithy beside the trail, “but it didn’t last long. The freighters made good money from the time settlers began to come in thick, but now the railway is open the trail is dead.” He might have said “barred and buried,” for it is not a surveyed road, and again and again we find ourselves charging into a wire fence and have to turn aside and make the circuit of some new farm.

He is a townsman, this swarthy smith; he has about as little farm experience as cash; but he is the sort of man that makes a successful farmer all the same. He is rich in brain and in brawn. From the mating of these, all wealth and welfare spring. The blacksmith put in a few acres of oats and potatoes last year, in the intervals of shoeing freighters’ teams, and then went off to work at his trade all winter in a lumber camp north of the Saskatchewan; this winter he will do the same—“and when I come back to the farm with a bit of money I’ll make things hum, as the Yankees say.”

The wife smiles, rocking her little girl to sleep. “Do you never wish yourself back in Scotland?” I ask, Scandinavians from the States thinking of her winters spent alone with her infants in the prairie shack. “Never!” says she. “We’re all so much better in health out here, and going to be better off too, in good time. Look at this lassie. She was always ailing, over there, and now she’s nearly as strong as the rest.”

There’s no such medicine in all the drug stores as the life-giving air of the West.

The hamlet of Saskatoon, where I found a bare hundred inhabitants four years ago, has three thousand now in 1905, and dreams of 30,000—a dream that we shall see come nearly true before our story ends. The town is a “jumping-off place” for hundreds of home-seekers bound for points south-west, where paper railways will presently be turned into steel.

Every railway station, for the matter of that, is a jumping-off place for new settlers. Here is one with neither a station building nor even a platform; just a siding; yet a couple of Norwegians are loading up wagons with furniture from a box car, while their wives cook dinner on the turf and a dozen children play in and out of two little tents. These people speak pretty good English, for they have spent five years in Dakota since they left their motherland. South-east of Edmonton there is already a large colony of Norwegians, a “New Norway” in fact.

As we ride west and north-west, however, we find ourselves among folk who know no English. “Galicians,” or “Galatians,” they are commonly called. Some of them come from Galicia in the Austrian Empire, but others are Ruthenians or Ukrainians from South-western Russia, and many from Poland, too. They belong, like the Serbs and Croats and Montenegrins, the Czechs Who are the Slavs? and Slovaks, and nearly all the Russians, to the great Slavic Race.

But who are the Slavs? Just a branch of the same white race that we ourselves belong to. Their ancestors, like ours, poured through Europe in waves of barbaric invasion from some far eastern home, but settled in Russia and neighboring lands, as our forefathers had passed on to settle on the shores of the Atlantic. The very name “Galician” reminds us of the real kinship between the Galicians of Austria-Hungary, the Galatians of Asia Minor to whom St. Paul wrote his epistle, the inhabitants of France whom Julius Cæsar describes as Gauls, and the Celtic Gaels of the British Isles.

Long separated from us, they have come to join us again. They come poor in money, as nearly all our fathers did; but having to work up “from nothing” is the best guarantee that they will work up to something. It was only in 1894 that the first Galicians arrived, nine families in all. They sent home such good reports of the country that now in 1905 there are 75,000 of them thriving here. Thriving in spite of their poverty? No—because of it.

Here is one just beginning. His home is a long low hovel, one end built of poplar logs roughly plastered over with brown mud, the other part made of sods, with grass sprouting from every joint and growing freely all over the roof. The owner, a tall good-humored Galician, has to stoop coming out of the door to welcome us. A distaff is under his arm; we have caught him spinning linen thread for a shirt, which he badly needs. The one and only door leads into the stable; we have to pass through this to reach the solitary living room, where the furniture consists of a home-made table and a bedstead Beginning with Nothing of round poplar logs covered with a few scraps of blankets. But he is a bachelor.

The ordinary Galician is a well-married man with a large family. The walls of his house are smoothed and white-washed; the high-pitched roof is of straw thatch, and rises in a series of steps at the corners. Beside one of these picturesque cottages we find the owner, with a red fez on his head, reaping oats with the primitive “cradle,” a scythe with three or four sticks projecting from the handle to catch the stalks as they fall. Most of the men, however, are still away; for the poor Galician, as soon as he has built his house, and perhaps dug up a little garden, goes off to earn money, generally on railway construction. His wife and children, having neither plow nor beast to draw one, do the best they can with the spade, and raise a little crop of oats, rye and potatoes.

The father’s earnings will buy an ox and plow, and with these he really begins to farm. Many a Galician farmer already has from 20 to 200 acres under crop, and from 10 to 100 head of live stock. In winter, he fills a rough box sleigh with grain and sets out for the nearest market, no matter how far it is. At night, he saves hotel or “stopping place” charges by sleeping on the snow beside his sleigh. I have heard of men who thought nothing of a fortnight’s journey of this sort. In three or four years, such a man is poor no longer.

These people raise practically everything they eat. Their clothing, like their furniture, is of the simplest. They go bare-foot all summer, and in winter they wear shoes out of doors only—sometimes not then. Of ventilation they know nothing except as something cold to be shut out—an idea not peculiar to Galicians! To tell the truth, Cousin Slav is much more like his English A Doukhobor Village neighbors than he is different from them—and a difference is not always a defect.

A saddle girth breaks as we near a village, and one of us (I won’t say which) rolls over on the ground. It’s an ill wind that blows no good. The hour we spend held up in that village is one of surprise and delight. This is no haphazard collection of dwellings, with untidy little shacks and ambitious modern houses putting each other to shame. There is no distinction here between rich and poor; there are no rich and no poor; or rather, all are rich, though not one has more than trifling possessions.

The whole village has been built on an intelligent design, not allowed to spring up anyhow. The houses are symmetrically arranged in two long rows, with a broad avenue between. Each cottage, standing on its own lot, comprises “a but and a ben,” as they say in Scotland. The gable of the ben, or better end, faces the street, while the doors open sideways into the yard. The walls, substantially built of logs, present a neatly smoothed surface of white-washed earth. The roofs also are covered with earth, but even they are clean and neat. A raised ledge of earth runs along the foot of the wall, under the wide overhanging eaves, to form a sort of veranda seat. A little red and green pattern over each window adds a pleasant touch of color to the whole. Just outside the village is a ring of hard smooth earth, with a mound in the middle; this is the flax-breaking floor, the flax straw being crushed by a big wooden roller with small logs nailed lengthwise on its surface like cogs on a wheel.

They are a pleasant folk, these villagers. A woman, embroidering linen at her cottage door, rises to welcome Cleanliness and Simplicity us. She is ignorant of our tongue, and we of hers, but we both know the ancient universal language of signs, invented long before words. She guides us to the community saddler, and while he fixes the girth she takes us home and spreads before us bread, from an enormous rye loaf, butter, wild raspberry preserve, and milk—a royal feast.

Jutting out from one corner of the room is the great clay oven, which projects into the next apartment too, and has sleeping accommodation on the top. A shining table and benches, with a long bench around the wall, are the only furniture. Everything is marvellously clean: we might eat our dinner off the floor.

Music floats in at the open door; seven girls have come to entertain us, sitting on the ledge outside and singing hymns while we eat. For this is a village of Doukhobors.

We have all heard of the little gang of fanatical extremists bearing that name, who now and then make trouble for the police. The members of the Doukhobor community, as a whole, are distressed by such proceedings, for which they are often blamed. The saddler, when we go for the mended girth, expounds their views in quite good English. “When a criminal lunatic calls himself a Presbyterian or Catholic,” he protests, “you don’t hold up your hands and cry ‘Oh, those dreadful Presbyterians and Catholics!’ I know we have peculiar ideas, and we have suffered for them; but we are not criminals and we are not mad.”

They are like our Quakers in their opposition to fighting, and in the simplicity of their religious observances as well as their daily life. Each family has its little personal belongings; but the land, live stock and A “Stopping Place” implements are owned by the community. “The co-operation that we preach they practise,” an observer says, who knows them well, “and we should be honestly thankful to them for trying to live up to high ideals in a too materialistic age. Though they cultivate an almost primitive simplicity of life, in the cultivation of the ground they are by no means primitive, but keen to adopt the most scientific methods, which their strong co-operative organization enables them to practise with admirable success. They are industrious workers. Their cleanliness and good health are remarkable. The value of all this to our country is so great that it should not be impossible, with sufficient good-will and elasticity of law on our part, to allow them to work out their system side by side with our own—especially as their number is not large, for many leave their community rather than submit to its rules and restrictions.”

But the bugles are calling at Edmonton; we must be up and away. It is a long, long ride, and we can hardly resist the temptation to stop and chat with new settlers by the way. Here, for instance, is a farmer who keeps a stopping place—a common practice along trails where there is nothing like a hotel. Fifteen cents for a “noon” and twenty-five cents for a square meal, that seems the regular tariff.

These are evidently people of taste. The old gentleman and his grandchildren have already taken time, in the intervals of chores and attendance on hungry travellers, to lay out a garden, where asters, poppies and mignonette bloom in a setting of elk horns and buffalo skulls. In the parlor of the comfortable log house is a well-used library of a hundred books, including Dickens, Kipling, and a strong contingent of religious authors. The Long Migration

What a story of age-long adventure it is, the history of that family. The man has a French name, though he speaks no language but our own. His distant ancestors, hunting with chipped stone spears like our Indians, and moving on as they did from one hunting ground to another, wandered through Europe till they came to the Atlantic and settled on the coast of France. Centuries passed; America was discovered; two centuries more, and the family, good civilized French folk, continued the westward migration of their pre-historic tribe whose course had been barred by the sea. They settled under the English flag in North Carolina. Another century, and one of them made his way inland to Tennessee, where our friend grew up. Presently he moved north-west to Illinois, where he married; west again to Kansas, where his children were born; south-west into Oklahoma; and north-west at last to Alberta, where he is so much better satisfied than in any of his former homes that he is ready to sing, “Here all my wanderings cease!”

That is the story of thousands of Western families, mostly of the British, Scandinavian and German branches of our race. They come over from Europe, settle on the Atlantic sea-board, pull up stakes and strike inland; pull them up again to go farther in, and so on indefinitely; halting perhaps for a year or two, perhaps for generations, but always moving westward and generally northward too.

Among the old-timers, in a well-settled district that we presently pass through, is a Nova Scotian who has been farming up here for a dozen years. “My grandfather,” he says, “was a United Empire Loyalist. He had been a leading citizen of New York, and lost everything in the revolution. He knew nothing of country Newcomers from England life beyond his garden in Manhattan. But he never kicked; he got right down to it, and when some poor West Highlanders came in, more used to fishing than farming, it was the city man that showed them how to build log houses and clear the Nova Scotian forest.

“I thought of him one day, soon after I came up here, when I butted in to a family of newcomers from England. There were three brothers, all university graduates, who had never done a hand’s turn of work except in their sports, I reckon. Now they were trying to work three quarter sections, in partnership. They weren’t baching it like some high-toned ‘remittance men’ I’ve seen, who wouldn’t sweep out the shack or make a bed once in a year, for all the elegant way they’d been raised. No; one of them had a wife, and, though she’d been used to servants doing everything, she got down to it like a good one and kept the house as clean as her baby. But the men were trying to farm before they learnt how, which is a mistake.

“Well, I saw one of them plowing with a team of oxen, and there was something wrong with the plow and he couldn’t find out what, let alone make a straight furrow. The others were picking up stones and carrying them quite a ways, and the skin was almost flayed off their tender hands. I fixed the plow, and told ’em to wear gloves, and helped ’em make a stone-boat. Of course they must have me stay for supper—dinner, they called it. I opened my eyes, I tell you, when they all came to supper dolled up in evening dress, London style; and her ladyship served up a dinner to match, winding up with black coffee and cigars. But they didn’t let their ‘style’ interfere with their work. That first year they broke 200 acres and had the luck to raise enough Learners Become Teachers wheat for seed, besides oats enough for four horses; and the second year they had a splendid crop. There never was any doubt about their success, from the word go. They were good mixers—no starch, except in their shirts—they made themselves liked; and to-day, if you please, it’s those city boys that show half the newcomers around them how to live in the West.”

The Tree of Freedom

THAT BUGLE again! You cannot hear it, but I know it is calling, for to-morrow is the birthday of the giant twins, Alberta and Saskatchewan. One more night under the stars, a brisk morning ride, and we canter up to the old fur-trading post. Paul Kane’s 139 people, “all living within the pickets of the fort” and not a white woman among them, have grown to 14,000, and, from their clothes and complexions, they might be in London or Toronto.

In all the big crowd, gathered to hear the Governor-General of Canada proclaim the birth of a new Province with Edmonton for capital, we look in vain for beaded redskin or shaggy voyageur. We discover one cowboy, got up for the occasion, in buckskin coat and fringed leather shaps, and he looks as singular in such a gathering as a canary among sparrows—or a sparrow among canaries—for the ladies’ dresses and the fluttering Union Jacks make up a scene as bright as anything in the bird creation. And side by side with the cowboy’s bronco stands—an automobile. If we ask for the Hudson’s Bay Company, we are directed to a modern department store; yet, on investigation, we discover the old fur-trading Edmonton still busy behind the scenes. A million dollars’ worth of furs pour in every year from a multitude of outposts in the north, to be sorted and packed for the markets of the world. Two New Provinces Born

Settlers look longingly up the trail by which the furs come down, and already all the surveyed land for eighty miles north, except the heavy brush, is taken up. In fact, pioneers are squatting twenty miles beyond the survey. But many of the late arrivals at Edmonton are men of some means who will buy land within easy reach of a railway. Among them are scores of families who have abandoned California, many good Dutch farmers from Pennsylvania, and hundreds from the Western States. At the same time, the “Galicians” are being largely reinforced, and they cannot afford to be as particular. They take brush land without hesitation, clear it, and, having spent much toil transforming it into farms, take root as firmly as the toughest willows they have just pulled out.

Our ear catches fragments of many tongues, therefore, in this expectant crowd, till the platform fills and the ceremony begins.

Think of what this ceremony means, both here and at Regina, which to-day becomes the capital of the new Province of Saskatchewan and will have its own festivities as soon as the Governor-General can arrive.

It is the blossoming of a tree of freedom, planted many years ago. In early days the Hudson’s Bay Company was the autocratic ruler of the West; but in 1835, finding it difficult to keep order in the growing Red River Settlement and along the frontier, the Company formed fifteen leading residents into a “Council of Assiniboia,” which appointed justices of the peace and organized a volunteer force. In 1870, as we have seen, southern Manitoba became a Province, electing its own Tree Must Be Cultivated legislature for local affairs and members of parliament to share in making laws for the whole Dominion. Its Lieutenant-Governor, appointed by the Federal Government, was also Governor of the territory beyond, from Manitoba to the Rockies.

In 1876, this territory was put under a separate Lieutenant-Governor, with a Council, in which elected representatives of the people had a share in the law-making. Battleford was chosen as the capital. In 1882, the southern part of the territory was divided into three Provisional Districts—Assiniboia, Saskatchewan north of that, Alberta west of both, and Athabasca in the north-west; Regina, which could now be reached by rail, became the capital. In 1888 a regular Legislative Assembly was set up, all its members being elected, though without complete provincial powers. And now, in 1905, the old districts have been abolished, and the land is divided between two full-fledged Provinces, ranking with the older Provinces of the East, with Manitoba, and with British Columbia, which has been a Province ever since it joined the Federation in 1871.

This tree of freedom—how shall we cultivate it? This power to pass our own laws, to make and unmake our Governments—how shall we use it? The Tree of Freedom must have constant care and cultivation, or it cannot yield good fruit; just as an orchard tree needs water, and fertile soil, and eternal vigilance against devouring parasites. The orchardman has to study, and learn the best thing to do, and do it with energy, or his trees will die, and his business too.

Human beings—ourselves—are more interesting to us than anything else. The art of politics, which is the We are “Our Brother’s Keeper” art of free human beings living together, is therefore the most interesting of all arts. It can only seem dry and dull to us if we don’t see what it is and how it concerns us.

We can’t possibly “keep out of politics,” for as long as we are alive we have to live in the same world with all sorts of other people, who don’t all like the things we like, and can’t all earn their bread in the same way; and the art of arranging for different kinds of people to live and work in harmony together is simply “politics.”

“Good politics” is unselfish. Even if there were only one family in the world, its members would not all think alike, or have exactly the same interests. They would constantly have to give in to each other. If each member insisted on its own likes and interests, the family would break up at once. No man can “be a law to himself” alone; nor can a country, still less a part of a country. We are all “our brother’s keeper,” and bound to think of his interests as well as our own.

Step by step, our great human family has made great progress in the first essential art of civilization, the art of living together. The tribes of England, for instance, after hating and fighting each other as fiercely as the tribes of Canada did a few years ago, not only made peace, but united in one English nation. The tribes of Scotland did the same; even the Highlanders and the Lowlanders, speaking different languages, saw the folly of fighting, and united in one Scottish nation. England and Scotland went on fighting each other, but presently they too saw the folly of it, and united to form one Kingdom. Each country, each county, each village, may have its own ideas, even its own conflicting interests, but recognizes these as small compared with the joint The Art of Living Together interests of the whole, and allows no local or sectional desire to lessen its overwhelming loyalty to the duty of Union.

In Canada we have learnt the same lesson, though we meet some individuals who have not yet completed their education in the art of good citizenship. In the earliest days, Quebec was jealous of Montreal. Later on, Lower Canada, including both Quebec and Montreal, was at daggers drawn with Upper Canada, or Ontario. The Maritime Provinces were reluctant to federate with “the Canadas”—but did. It was a magnificent step forward when our whole country became united from sea to sea, and no step backward now can be dreamed of without shame.

British Columbia has some interests and ideas which are not shared by the Prairie Provinces; the desires of the western and eastern ends of the prairie are not always the same; the West as a whole has many discussions with the East as a whole, just as various parts of the East have still great differences among themselves. For that matter, two cities or two districts in the same Province, either East or West, often have differences, sometimes petty and sometimes grave. But every difference between district and district, Province and Province, East and West, however great it seems when we think of our individual interests alone, is small in comparison with the greater interests, the nobler duties, which unite us all. No difference can be allowed to interfere for a moment with the supreme and sacred duty of Union. And every difference can be settled, with difficulty or with ease according as we are careless or enthusiastic in the devotion of thought, study, ingenuity and unselfish good-will, to perfecting ourselves in the essential art of living together. Our Great Union

A greater union is ours to-day, greater even than the union of all our Provinces in one Dominion. We may be a long way yet from “the Parliament of Man, the Federation of the World”; but we must set our faces steadily in that direction, for the nations of the world cannot go on jostling and “daring” each other without disaster. No nation can ever again be absolutely “independent” of the rest, even if that were a high ideal, and not, as it is, a low one. The nations must learn the art of living and working together. Recognizing others’ interests as well as their own, they must join to study and perfect arrangements which will make the idea of war between them as absurd as it would be to-day between England and Scotland, Kansas and Iowa, Alberta and Saskatchewan, or Canada and Australia.

We have our feet securely now on the first well-tested step of the ladder. We have the priceless possession of a united commonwealth of self-governing nations which we call the British Empire; and what we have we shall hold. No force of reaction and dissension can rob us of that firm footing and separate us from our sister-nations, unless we fall asleep. We are trying a second step, the League of Nations, and hope it will bear; we must do our best to strengthen it; but meanwhile we have our own British league of nations, and that has stood the test of the hardest knocks in history.

The next step may be an arrangement between our Empire and that of the United States—which is just as much an “empire” as ours, if anyone is bothered by mere names. This West of ours, containing so many thousands born or long resident in the United States, can do much to strengthen the ties between these two empire-commonwealths. But, until our neighbors awake The Two Sister Empires from the dream of irresponsible isolation, and come forward boldly to take their sister-empire by the hand, we must all make it perfectly clear to them that neither bribes nor boycotts can break our union or shake our independence.

In the future an international patriotism will flourish, to the confusion of strife-makers and to the great satisfaction of the peace-loving mass of mankind, whose essential one-ness is already an axiom of science and religion. Until we can have the greater patriotism, let us carefully cultivate the less.

On the Wings of the West

Cela est bien dit; mais je sais aussi qu’il faut cultiver notre jardin.

That is well said, but I also know that we must cultivate our garden.

AFTER many adventures, the speaker of these famous words at last found satisfaction, which nothing else had brought, in winning his daily bread from a little patch of earth.

Our “garden” is so big that we should still need months of travel to see it all, even now when trains are running over 20,000 miles of western railways. Our lawns and beds are measured by the million acres; our shrubbery, the forest, by the million acres too; with mountain ranges for our ornamental rockery, an ocean for our fish-pond. As the crow flies, a thousand miles divide a Manitoba farm on Lake of the Woods from an Albertan farm on Peace River; and the bird would have another 500 miles to fly before he saw the end of the West on the British Columbian coast. Fifteen hundred miles—nearly the breadth of the Atlantic, from Newfoundland to old Ireland.

Let us take an airplane, and beat the crow. In a space so vast, there are vast differences, of climate and soil, of people and their ways; but in a zig-zag flight, with sharp eyes and ears, we can discover a good deal of what is being done in various ways to “cultivate our garden.” Victoria, and the Eye of Canada

There are four of us—a Manitoban, a Saskatchewander (the name is his own invention, he says), an Albertan and a British Columbian. But I think our airplane will carry a few guests without a breakdown. Let us offer a ride to our visiting brothers and cousins from the East. The trip will do them good, and we shall enjoy their company.

Sir Sandford Fleming, the engineer, who came west in 1872 to spy out a route for the promised railway, took thirty-six days of hard riding, over forty miles a day, to reach the foothills of the Rocky Mountains from the Red River. Eleven years later, as he tells us, he made the trip by Canadian Pacific in fifty-six hours. To-day a traveller by the same railway does it in thirty hours. We shall cover three or four times that distance in thirty minutes.

We rise from the sea where the sun has a habit of setting, and steer for the coast explored by Captain Cook. At the foot of Vancouver Island we hover above the Jewel City, the city of flowers, Victoria. Do you smell the roses? A gem of architecture, the Parliament Building of British Columbia, rises from its garden on the shore of a land-locked port. Flying over fields of strawberries, we circle a high, wooded hill crowned by a shining watch-tower. From its revolving dome looks out the sleepless Eye of Canada, the priceless telescope, famed among astronomers, busy discovering suns that shone before the world was born. Our practical country is no longer a mere hanger-on of the international brotherhood of science and literature and art.

We leap the straits, alive with salmon, and steer for a clump of giant trees, cedars and Douglas fir towering 250 feet in air. Big ships are steering that way too, for What the Navy Means those trees are the gateposts of the Dominion. There is a steamer just going in, the fastest on the Pacific. In a few hours her precious cargo of oriental silk will be speeding across the continent from Vancouver by special train. Here is another, coming out, bound for Australia and New Zealand. Here come two more, both laden with grain, one for Japan and the other for England by way of Panama. In twelve months fifty million bushels of prairie wheat have passed through this western gate.

That silent ship with a few blue-coated figures on deck—she carries no grain, but every ounce of grain is carried under her protection. The prairie farmer, a thousand miles from salt water, carries on all his business under the sheltering flag of the British fleet. Without that protection a few years ago our wheat trade would have fallen to ruin in a night; the freedom of the seas would have vanished—and with it the freedom of the world. Neither the mother-land herself, nor Canada, nor even the United States, could have sent her army to the rescue, but for the splendid efficiency of the British fleet. We call it an engine of war, but its chief duty and pride is to keep the peace. Its quiet patrol of the sea is the most effective insurance against the risk of war; and for this protection we Canadians pay not one cent. The British blue-jacket is feared only by war-lovers and law-breakers. He is the guardian of the peace at sea, as surely as the policeman is its guardian on land.

Vancouver, where forty years ago scarce an axe had broken the silence of the forest, is a great city now, and likely to be the greatest sea-port on the west coast of America. This Province, by the way, owns Fish, Forest and Mine 1,900 ships—more than any other Province in the Dominion.

Over the verdant coastal plain we fly, with its rich berry farms and dairy farms, and away up the narrow sea, beloved of tourists, between numberless islands and the mainland pierced by many a mountain fjord. Hundreds of fishermen are out in their little boats, catching halibut, which in a few days will appear on the dining tables of St. Paul or Chicago. British Columbia catches $20,000,000 worth of fish in a year, with salmon heading the list and halibut next. No other Province comes near that total.

Those mighty forests on our right, too, furnish $30,000,000 worth of wood, which means nearly 450,000,000 cubic feet of standing timber cut down. Quite as much as that probably goes up in smoke. Are we so gorged and bloated with riches that we must burn up our possessions to get rid of them? By the careless act of a moment we destroy wholesale the gifts that nature has taken centuries to grow for our use.

Sweeping into a picturesque fjord, we see a little town clinging to a steep hillside, with a huge mill covering the shore: a paper town, sending out shipload after shipload of transformed forest to be covered with printer’s ink.

Another arm of the sea brings us to a famous silver mine. In gold and silver mining, and in mineral production as a whole, this Province is second only to Ontario. In lead and zinc the score is “British Columbia first and the rest nowhere.” At Prince Rupert, the ocean terminus of the Canadian National Railway, we strike inland and follow the track for hundreds of miles. The land is neither mountainous nor so heavily timbered: open spaces appear. A Pioneer Family

The sound of hammering comes up from a pioneer settlement. A farmer is building a new barn. Now he stops. Mrs. Settler is just home with the wagon, from the creamery. “They were asking if we couldn’t send in more cream,” she says. “I’ll buy another cow,” says Mr. Settler, “while the buying’s good. And half that $300 I made trapping last winter is in the bank yet.”

Children come running out of the house, three of them; a fourth, a small boy, has been helping his father; Mrs. Settler goes indoors and comes out with a fifth in her arms. This looks good. I think we must land here.

We all sit down and chat under the shade trees that father was careful to leave when he cleared the land for his garden. It turns out that the man and his wife were a country boy and girl who drifted into the city, as so many do. “But when the babies began to come,” says the lady, “we both made up our minds to get out where they could grow up in freedom as we did, and learn to do things for themselves, as they never would in town. That more than makes up for not having quite such a good school, even if we hadn’t the education to help them keep ahead of the school work all the time, as we do. And as for us, we’re not crazy about the white lights and all that; we get all the white light we want from Mr. Sun—when he gets up he don’t wait long for us! No, we’ve never regretted coming out here, and only wish we’d come sooner.”

“You don’t find the work too much for you, then, with your five children?”

“Five! There’s seven—the two biggest are out stacking hay, Jim on the stacker and Jenny riding the sweep. They just love to handle the teams alone, without being interfered with, and made me promise to take Living Simply, Living High the cream to-day so they could. They seem to think the farm work is just a big sort of play.”

“I guess they find it pleasant because they never hear you and your husband talking as if it was unpleasant.”

“No, indeed; why should we? Of course, we don’t let them overdo it—nor ourselves either. We study, and plan, and find out all sorts of labor-saving dodges and devices; and we cut out the frills, too, in clothing and cooking and everything else. I reckon we’ve got the ‘simple life’ down to a pretty fine point, and enjoy it all the more. The West has got to work out a way of living for itself, and not make itself miserable trying to follow fashions that grew up where people had servants to do everything for them. We’ve got to choose: we can either have children and happiness and health, with the simplest possible life, or wear ourselves out with drudgery, trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. If the Joneses talk to me about a ‘high standard of living,’ I say that’s just what we’ve got and they haven’t.”

Yes, the high standard of living we have to set before ourselves, and before the people we ask to join us, is a high standard of working, a high standard of learning and thinking, with a high standard of family life and public spirit. In these we shall enjoy a high standard of living indeed.

“The wife is right,” says her husband, laughing, as I look to see how he is taking all this. “I wouldn’t say so if she starved us, or sent the children to school in rags, would I? But it seems to me, the more she has to do, the better she gets things done. Planning does it, I reckon—just thinking and planning.”

“Use your brains and save your hands, eh?”

“That’s the size of it. Next time the Prince of The West and the War Wales comes out to his ranch, you send him along, and I reckon she’d cook him a four-course dinner on a chip-and-a-half of firing, if he was keen on style, which he doesn’t seem to be. Of course we’ve got a fireless cooker; she planned it from one she saw in a paper, and little Jim made the box. But, listen! There they are.”

Melodious sounds are echoing through the woods—“Comin’ through the rye,” sung in unison by two robust young voices, and jingling tug-chains for accompaniment.

With that music echoing in our ears, and the “three cheers” of the whole happy family as we take off, we sail away down the middle of the Province to the South.

There’s the Okanagan Valley, with its beautiful houses, set gem-like in their gardens, looking out on battalions, brigades, whole army corps of apple and cherry and plum and peach and apricot trees, knee-deep in vetch and alfalfa; on spreading fields of tomatoes, onions and celery, and potatoes; all watered from the mountain streams close by. And this is only one, though the chief, among the fruit valleys of this rich and corrugated Province.

“They used to laugh at us,” an English orchardman says, “and what they called our ‘style’—‘Piccadilly in the Wilds,’ and all that—but we know how to work.” No, if we ever laughed we stopped when we saw 3,400 men—3,400 from a total population of 15,000—pouring out of this valley to fight for our common cause. When those thousands hurried off to the War, those who were left doubled up and did their work for them, as far as human beings could. . . . Of the 590,572 men in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, we do not forget that 200,569 came from these four Western Provinces, Mountain Marvels besides 2,327 from Yukon. British Columbia sent 51,438, Alberta 45,146, Saskatchewan, 37,666, and Manitoba 66,319.

Turn east again, across a labyrinth of mountain and forest. A blast of hot air rises from one spot—a highly effective kind of hot air, too. That smelter pours out sixty million pounds of refined zinc in a year—nearly the whole zinc production of Canada.

That broad valley where two rivers meet, the Columbia and the Kootenay, was filled with dense jungle a few years ago. It has been transformed into a garden, by the co-operative industry of the Doukhobors. This is the headquarters of their community. That black snake winding for miles up to the head of a waterfall is their new irrigation pipe-line, and that big building beside the railway is their jam factory.

Higher, now! Ten thousand feet up, and still we have to twist and turn to avoid the higher peaks. We are nearing the Great Divide of the Continent. A sea of Rocky Mountains, piercing the azure sky with spires and domes and pyramids of white and grey, till sunset magic changes all to flaming red; mountains towering over glaciers and snowfields, which pour their torrents down through pine-clad glens and dark ravines. A lake of brilliant blue, set in a royal ring of snow-soft pearls and glacial diamonds. That is Lake Louise: many travellers call it the most beautiful spot in this rich land of beauties. More lakes, more cataracts, more glaciers, more peaks that pierce the sky; a land of myriad marvels; a treasure house of all that is grand and beautiful.

The crack of a rifle, and a mountain lion rolls down the slope, as the echo volleys from cliff to cliff. The The Fire Patrol big-game hunter’s paradise, this; the paradise of tourists, alpine climbers, artists, and all who cannot be satisfied with anything short of perfection.

“I have been there and still would go,

It’s like a little heaven below.”

Hundreds of peaks have never yet been climbed, and many daring alpinists come in every year to win fresh victories over the mountains, with the help of Swiss guides who live in those picturesque chalets perched on a height overlooking the Columbia, back there at Golden.

We are not the only navigators of the upper air to enjoy this bird’s-eye view of the earthly paradise. As we glide down the eastern slope of the mountains another airplane sweeps up to meet us—and now it is past and away to patrol the high forest. It comes from High River, near the Prince of Wales’s Canadian home. There, as well as at Winnipeg and Vancouver, the Department of National Defence keeps up stations of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Its fliers carry out many useful operations, such as patrolling the coast against drug and liquor smuggling and illegal fishing; carrying surveyors and their supplies, and treaty money for Indian tribes; aerial photography, especially for the survey of water-powers; and, most of all, patrolling the forest on the watch against fires. Many a fire that might have done untold mischief has thus been discovered and checked before it could get beyond control. By wireless telephone a flying plane has sent back word of such a fire to the station 190 miles away.

A Flight Across the Plains

AWAY WE glide, down the eastern slope. We have entered Alberta now. A farming Province? Yes, all the Prairie Provinces are. That is their chief glory, for agriculture is the one industry that man cannot do without, unless he cuts down his numbers by ninety-nine per cent. and tries to live like his savage forefathers, by hunting and fishing alone.

Yet farming is not everything, even here. We only hear of what comes off the surface of the prairie, as a rule; but underground there is wealth we have scarcely begun to touch. Look at those coal mines on the mountain slopes—down south and up north, and away out on the plain. One-seventh of all the coal in the world is right here in Alberta. Already she digs out more than any other Province in Canada.

“When we came in first and dug our well,” an old settler once told me, “we threw out two wagon loads of coal. One time we made a little camp fire at night and were surprised to find it still burning in the morning. We had made our fire of sticks on a bed of coal, without knowing it.”

British Columbia, richer in water-power, and with plenty of coal within easy reach, will one day be the busiest manufacturing workshop of the whole Pacific slope. But Alberta and Saskatchewan have great water-power Water Power and Manufactures too, and Manitoba has more than all three put together.

It is hard for any one to believe, who thinks of the Prairie Provinces as flat, that their streams have “fall” enough to create the tremendous water-power which careful measurement shows them to possess. But look! One of the streams that join to make the Bow River starts at a height of 6,775 feet above sea level. Even from Calgary the water falls 2,150 feet, and from Edmonton 750 feet, to the meeting place of the North and South Saskatchewan; from that point it falls 540 feet more before entering Lake Winnipeg; and between the Lake and the sea at Port Nelson is an additional fall of 710 feet. In the south-east, the water from Lake of the Woods has to fall about 350 feet to reach Lake Winnipeg.

“Liquid gold,” the brown water deserves to be called, now running to waste in all our rivers. We only use a minute fraction of it all, to make electric light and power. One day we may use it, as they now do in Norway, to extract from the air all the nitrogen we need to put back in the land, to replace what we have taken out in wheat. The richest soil cannot be drained of its riches without becoming poor.

It is not lack of power that keeps even the prairie from developing great manufactures, but only lack of a great population to buy the goods. Long haulage of raw material does not prevent large-scale manufacturing in other “purely agricultural” regions.

You don’t like statistics, perhaps—I don’t exactly love them myself—but a few picked figures now and then are good to chew on. Take these, for instance:

Already the manufactures of Western Canada amount to $333,000,000 in a year. British Columbia stands The Zephyr Called Chinook first with $149,000,000, Manitoba next with $94,000,000, then Alberta with $51,000,000 and Saskatchewan with $38,000,000. “Vegetable products” account for $88,000,000, including $42,000,000 from flour and grist mills; “Animal products,” for $73,000,000, including $31,000,000 from slaughtering and meat packing, and nearly $21,000,000 from butter and cheese; “Wood and paper,” for $88,000,000, of which British Columbia contributes $62,000,000. Textiles exceed $17,000,000, and iron and steel industries $13,000,000.

·      ·      ·      ·     ·     ·

The foothills past, we sail out over the plain in company with the balmy Chinook. A wonderful wind this zephyr, as the Greeks called it—

“Sweet and low, sweet and low,

Wind of the western sea.”

In the middle of winter it has come to my farm, a hundred miles east of the mountains, and driven the mercury up to 75. Not “in the shade,” of course; but why stay in the shade when you can be out in the warm sun?

The city of Calgary, as we fly over it now, has five times the people it had when we rode through it twenty years ago. And the face of the country east and south has completely changed. The West is not satisfied with new roads and railways, it must have new lakes and rivers too. The Canadian Pacific Railway Company has tapped the Bow in two places, and the streams flowing out spread over a three-million-acre block in 4,000 miles of irrigating ditches and canals. It is the biggest irrigation scheme in the world, except a few carried out by powerful Governments. The farmers of several neighboring Irrigation, Bees, and Gas districts have now co-operative irrigation systems of their own, with the Provincial Government’s help.

What a contrast, between the waist-deep sea of green alfalfa and the dry land still untouched by the life-giving water of the Bow! Southern Alberta does not lack moisture: an inexhaustible supply pours down from the mountain snow in never-failing streams.

Look at that three-acre picture, set in a broad green frame of maple, ash, willow, poplar and dainty caragana, and filled with melons, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, giant cabbages, onions and potatoes—all watered, like the farm beyond, from the St. Mary River, near Lethbridge. “I thought there was no such color as green up here when we came in first,” says the farmer’s wife, “but that was before we turned the water on. And look at it now!” It is a sight for sore eyes.

Do you hear the hum of bees? They are flying to and from that cottage yonder. The lady knitting at the door, under a shady porch of wild hop-vine, says she makes $10 per square foot of her “holding,” which is a two-by-two wooden stand with a hive on it. The bees pasture on the neighbors’ alfalfa, and bring her $40 worth of honey in a season. Reckon what that comes to per acre, if you have the time and arithmetic. Somebody must have reckoned it up, for he has just brought in ten million bees for distribution through these Western Provinces.

Eastward still we fly. Do you smell gas? That is the “medicine” of Medicine Hat. Puncture the earth, and up it comes: ready-made light and heat. Hot-house flowers grown by that heat have beautified the tables of Montreal, 2,000 miles away. Quality, in Cattle and Sheep

Here we are skimming over a cattle ranch. The old-style ranch is not quite dead, but is on its last legs—like the old-style caterpillar that shrivels up into a chrysalis before its resurrection into a beautiful new-style butterfly. Listen to the rancher talking to one of his neighbors. “I’ve got to go out of business,” says he.

“No,” says neighbor; “just change it, as I did. I used to let the beasts rustle, and turn them off as four or five-year-olds. Now, the market for that sort of stuff is gone. I breed them and feed them through the winter, so they’re in fine shape as two-year-olds, and at the worst of times I get a good enough price for a good beast. Here’s the latest Government report from the Winnipeg stockyards: ‘The market was draggy owing to the poor quality of the offerings, but there was a good demand for anything showing quality and flesh.’ They’ve been telling us that for years, and it’s time we took it in.”

Hear the music rising from the next ranch—sheep baa-ing for their lambs. Their owner was not satisfied with the common range ewes, weighing about 100 pounds and giving five or six pounds of wool. Six years ago he began buying pure-bred rams, and now his average is 175 pounds of sheep and nearly ten pounds of wool. Quality, only quality pays. And quality in the beast shows quality in the man.

We are in Saskatchewan already. Here is another fine Parliament Building in the middle of a garden, with pleasure boats on a lake. Little “Pile of Bones,” as it was before the railway came, is now Regina, Queen City of the Middle Province. On a cabinet minister’s window-sill is a beautiful vase. No, it is not imported from England or France; it is made of fine white Saskatchewan New Homes for Old clay, the only deposit known in Canada. But it is not this rare white clay that makes the wealth of Saskatchewan; it is the common brown dirt.

We speed through the sunny air, and over the vast central plain. Would you recognize it? The unbroken wilderness, where twenty years ago we rode day after day without meeting a soul, is now a checker-board of golden wheat fields, dotted with farmhouses and big barns, villages and schools, and crossed by a network of railways, each a string of elevator-beads—not only the Canadian Pacific now, but two other transcontinental systems, the Canadian Northern and Grand Trunk, now merged in the Canadian National.

Nearly all the sod shacks have gone. From most of the log cabins the people have moved into new frame houses, though many of the old dwellings have been cased in to make the new. The frame house itself has been vastly improved, in looks as well as convenience. The natural taste for beauty is finding expression, as it was seldom allowed to in hard pioneering days. Hundreds of prairie habitations are pleasant to look upon, tasteful in color and form, with shady verandas, and gardens neatly fenced.

I wish it could be said that the average prairie farmhouse was provided with a bathroom, hot and cold water, and drainage, and kept comfortably warm in the coldest spells of weather; but only an exceptional district here and there has a majority of its homes as well equipped as that. Ten years from now, such a district will be no longer exceptional.

Look at that network of wires along the roadsides, and running into nearly every house. This Province uses 96,000 telephones, Manitoba 68,000, Alberta 64,000 and Trees for Use and Beauty British Columbia 79,000. That means 958,000 miles of wire. It is not as if we were short of post-offices; over 4,200 serve these four Provinces; with 350 rural delivery routes, so that many thousands of country folk get their letters, and papers, and even “cash on delivery” parcels, without going to any post-office.

Do you notice another change? The “bald-headed prairie” is not so bald now. It was not always so bald as we saw it a few years ago, but the Indians took to setting the prairie on fire to drive the buffalo. Where this was checked and the trees had a chance, they spread fast.

Most of the pioneer settlers were too busy at first to think of planting trees to beautify their new homes. Many, unfortunately, had no intention of making permanent homes here; they would make just enough “improvements” to get their patents, and then sell their homesteads and go off to repeat the process farther afield; they were “land speculators” just as truly as those who bought large tracts to hold it for high prices. Some of the real home-makers, however, had enough foresight to plant trees around their shacks at the very start.

Look at that charming picture. A neat white farmhouse, with a wide veranda, green lawns and flower-beds, divided from the barnyard by a hedge of blue spruce and lilac. The whole range of buildings is sheltered on the north, west and east, by a thick grove of maples and poplars thirty or forty feet high. That has all grown up in twenty years. The farmer began planting trees the year after he reaped his first crop.

Westerners discovered after a while, and especially after soil drifting had become a nuisance, that trees We had to Learn were needed to protect our fields from the wind. The Dominion Government and the Canadian Pacific both started tree nurseries, distributing millions of seedlings and cuttings to farmers, who plant them in shelter belts along their fences. In 1924 the Government Forestry Stations supplied 5,215,800 of these young trees, to 4,593 applicants.

This Province grows more wheat than any other in the Dominion, than any State in the Union to the south. But listen!

There is a grain-grower speaking. “I had a hard time at first,” he says, “and left for the States. I found things worse in the farming line there, as indeed they are to-day. Thousands quit this country, like me; we didn’t know how to get a crop. We had thought of the West as a sort of big ready-made farm. ‘All you have to do is tickle the earth with a plow and she laughs with a harvest,’ we used to think. We were too new to the country; and we were mostly young men, and in too much of a hurry. We hadn’t a lot of old farmers around us, as people have in older countries, to tell us that hard times were always followed by good times.”

“No,” say I, “we were a nation of newcomers; and we are not much more now, for what is half a century in the lifetime of a country? Besides, we had pulled up stakes somewhere else to come here; so it seemed the simplest thing to pull them up again and go somewhere else. We had to learn the good habit of ‘sticking it.’ Some men here are simply nomads, throw-backs to our pre-historic hunting tribe, and they will go on moving for ever. Perhaps when they have sampled the whole of this continent and find they can’t get farther west than the Farthest West, they may try the Farthest East Climate and Critics and settle in China till they are ready to start a fresh migration on the track of their early ancestors, through Asia to Europe again!

“Perhaps they will find the perfect climate, somewhere. I have sampled all sorts of climate in Europe, Asia, Africa and America, and never found one that escaped fierce criticism from the inhabitants. I met a man the other day who had thought to find it in Southern California,—‘lie on your back and let the fruit drop into your mouth,’ you know. He had come back a wiser man. And he showed me a story by an eminent American author, in the most popular magazine of his country, describing a personal experience at Los Angeles. Here are his very words:

“ ‘Three days and nights of dry suffocation; gasping for breath in the stinging, scorching, withering, enervating heat; days of shrill, shrieking, moaning wind that smites you hip and thigh; of excruciating and shriveling blasts from the blistering pit of that vast shameless inferno, the deadly desert, where dead things lie and bleach, and poisonous reptiles bask on the sun-baked rocks; days when your skin is pelted and prickled with invisible bullets of alkaline dust; when depression reigns, vitality ebbs, and nerves are set on edge.’

“Every climate may have a fit of sulks or temper now and then; but ours at its worst never inflicts anything like that. It may put an extra edge on our appetite, but not on our nerves. It is a magnificent nurse of hardy, healthy men and women.

“We can always find plenty to grumble at, if we Get out of the Rut think grumbling will improve our digestions, wherever we go. You remember the sporting offer that the Premier of this Province made to one of his people who said he was ‘fed up and wanted to quit’—‘Tell me when you’ve found a better place and I’ll lend you the fare.’ When the man had studied up conditions in every country in the geography, and taken a glance at Mars, he turned back quite cheerfully to his own Western farm and hitched up his team for the fall plowing.”

“Yes,” says our friend, “the man who stayed, or came back as I did, and took pains to learn what the earth really wanted, is the happiest man to-day.

“We learned to select and test our seed grain, and that accounts for the high proportion of number one wheat that makes the Canadian West famous now. We learned to summer-fallow a third or a half of our land every year, to preserve moisture for next year’s crop. But that’s a terribly wasteful plan, besides turning the fibry soil into dust that blows off and takes the young crop with it. We’ve got to go on learning, that’s all, and get out of the old rut, and go in for regular rotation of crops, or at least lay down the fields in pasture, turn and turn about, to give the land a chance to recover. That means more livestock, and some of us won’t take the trouble. But it has to be done, for the sake of those who come after us. The country won’t die when we do.”

“True for you! Fortunately we are getting ashamed of the old false idea that when a man has bought a piece Automobiles and Extravagance of land, or got it as a homestead, he has a right to do as he likes with it. That land is a piece of Canada. The land of Canada is all that the people of Canada will have to live on, to the end of the world. Who are we, that we should dare to spoil it for all who come after us, taking out of it in thirty or forty voracious crops of grain the plant food which nature has taken thousands of years to accumulate?”







From the Russian Oven

At the Spinning Wheel

The Old House and the New—On

a Ruthenian Farm

A Family from Poland

There’s a man driving a dozen cows out to pasture. He has evidently learnt the livestock lesson. Let us pay him a visit. “Yes,” he says, “I learned that much years ago, and it was all right as far as it went. I didn’t keep all my eggs in one basket, and if wheat was poor Mrs. Cow would always keep our heads above water. But that was nothing to what she could do, as I soon found out when I studied the matter, and learned to select and test the cows, and weed out those that didn’t pay for their board. Breeding up, and feeding right, I call this herd my little gold mine.”

Quality, again! Quality all the time.

“And I don’t spend the gold on gas,” he adds, as an automobile speeds by. “Think of it! Over 63,000 passenger autos in this Province alone—one to every three or four grown-up people—40,000 in Alberta, nearly as many in Manitoba, and 32,000 in British Columbia. Every man must judge for himself, but living as I do, only three miles from town, I couldn’t give ‘business’ as an excuse for keeping a car. What with the cost in money, and the time a man is tempted to spend running around when he’s wanted at home, some of us have been kept pretty tight pinched by our cars.”

“You wouldn’t call the West extravagant, on the whole, would you?”

He laughs. “No and Yes. You know as well as I do, we farmers didn’t spend over much on ourselves at the best of times. You wouldn’t call a telephone an extravagance, would you, or a gramophone?” Ten Million Wagon Loads

“Not for the world! I should be sorry to see the poorest farmer give them up. It’s things like that, and now the radio, with good roads, and the auto when you live a long way out, that have ended the ‘isolation’ we used to complain of. They bring us the advantages of city life without its disadvantages.”

“That’s right. And so far as we farmers have spent too much, it has generally not been for pleasure, but for business. We have taken too much land, and bitten off more than we can chew—that was the way of the country, and we had to learn better. We’ve often bought more and bigger machinery than we could profitably use—that was partly because everyone was begging us to raise more grain during the war, partly because we were too easily persuaded by professional salesmen. We haven’t had a business training, worse luck.”

“No; we’ve been too busy with the producing end of our business to study the commercial end of it. Think of the work we put in to raise the crops we do! Of the 1,956,000 people in the Prairie Provinces, 1,652,000 are classed as ‘rural,’ but they include all the old folk and women and children on the farms, and even villagers. Yet our handful of country folk managed to raise in one year a good 10,000,000 wagon loads of grain, not to speak of hay and potatoes, and the rest. If you put those wagons in procession, so close together you couldn’t cross the street between them, that string would be so long that Mother Earth could tie a girdle around her waist with it and have spare ends left long enough to trip over.

“It’s a big manufacturing business, this agriculture of ours, making food out of earth and air and water and The Business End of Farming a little seed. In any other big manufacturing business, do you think the men who make the goods in the factory have to sell them over the counter—or buy the machinery, for that matter? The concern must have its buying experts, and its selling organization as a matter of course.

“We have made some progress on the selling side, with grain and cattle and wool and fruit and butter and eggs; but it is only a beginning. It is too much to hope that every experiment will succeed at once. An infant can’t run till it has got some practice in walking, and it can never learn even to walk if it stops trying after a fall or two.

“We need co-operation—not between food-raisers at the food-eaters’ expense, but co-operation in each class, leading to complete co-operation between both classes. If that is a dream, it is one that must come true when we all awake to the need of working together for the good of the whole community.”

Off again. Do you see what that boy is digging, down there? Sweet potatoes. They are called “semi-tropical.” As a fact, we have a semi-tropical climate; not for long at a time, but long enough for corn and tomatoes and tobacco, through a big stretch of the prairie—to say nothing of the coast. We have discovered that sunflower makes about as good fodder as corn, and grows a tremendous weight of crop. But the corn line, like the wheat line, is pushing farther and farther north. For this, and for a hundred other most practical benefits, we have to thank the quiet, ceaseless work of the experimental farms, started long ago by the Dominion Government—work now carried on by The Inspiration of Bigness the Provincial Governments too, at their universities. We don’t all make the use of these that we might, we are so busy. Fortunately they come to us, if we don’t go to them, sending out “extension lectures,” and manning the “Better Farming Trains” which the railways lend.

Every Western Province has its own full-fledged university, a centre of light and leading, besides its normal schools for training teachers. Just over yonder, at Saskatoon, is the University of Saskatchewan.

Eastward again we fly, and look down on Manitoba—no longer a “postage stamp province,” for it has been growing in size, as well as in every other way. One extension followed another till in 1912 Manitoba pushed up to Hudson Bay, and the Province covers 232,000 square miles. Saskatchewan has 243,000 square miles, Alberta 253,000, and British Columbia 353,000.

Big figures these. The West is a big place, as I have observed. That is nothing to brag about. Its bigness should inspire us with a humble determination to do big things with it, and for it, each in our own little corner of it, looking beyond our own little corner, too; for if we have a broad country we are bound to take broad views.

A big country indeed, endowed with land and railways and roads and schools and all the machinery of Government for countless millions of citizens. We hold the West in trust, a sacred trust, not for ourselves and our children alone, but for the millions who might be here to use it with us. We shall gain, as well as they, by their coming; though even if we had nothing to gain, we cannot escape the responsibility of holding a realm so much vaster than we can use.

Our most urgent need is to unearth our hidden wealth, Small Farming for Big Population to develop our enormous undeveloped resources, of which our uncultivated or half-cultivated land is the greatest part. Our first business, then, is plainly to get population, people able and willing to work. We have to devise new plans of settlement, of land-holding or land arrangement, of agricultural production and agricultural commerce—yes, and agricultural manufacture, so that we shall no longer depend almost wholly on the sale of raw material. Every possible avenue must be explored, every resource of human ingenuity taxed to the utmost, brushing aside all obstructive traditions and conventions, and thoroughly testing every plan with one glimmer of hope in it, to get and keep a large and permanent, because successful and contented, body of people doing this vital work.

It is not the big wheat farm or cattle ranch that means big population, but just the opposite.

Most of the new settlers we can hope to get will be poor. Small farming, and often very small farming, is the only kind possible to them. What of that?

It was the small man, the poor man, with little or no capital beyond his own body and brains, who built up this country from the beginning. It is the small man, reinforcing us in his hundreds of thousands from the mother country and from many other lands, that we must get to build it up with fresh vigor from now on. Yes, and we must give him a better chance than he ever had under the broadcasting, go-as-you-like, sink-or-swim homestead system, which so often allowed him to sink, with grievous loss both to him and to the country.

There is no fear for the wheat supply. Any cutting down of the present wheat acreage, beyond what may A Self-Supporter be required from time to time to prevent over-production, will be made up for by the multitude of small wheat fields on the multitude of small farms that will now come into existence.

The small farmer, if he thinks and plans his way carefully, is not only self-supporting—able to feed his family even if the rest of the world should sink under the sea, and independent of labor costs, which are the last straw on many a big farmer’s back; he is also independent, to a degree which few yet realize, of the foreign market, and of unfortunate conditions abroad that keep that market down.

Such men are to be found in every Province already. Here is one. He has cut his coat strictly according to his cloth. He does not try to farm one acre more than he can handle with his own small capital, supplemented by very little credit. He works no more land and carries no more stock than he can thoroughly cultivate and care for in normal times by himself, or with such help as his family can give—and occasionally the neighbors, to whom he lends his help in turn. He spares neither brain work nor hand work to produce—not simply the largest quantity, but the most that can be got of the highest quality, so as to secure the highest net cash yield per acre and per hour.

I know his family are well dressed and well fed, for I have more than once dropped in unexpectedly, about meal times. There is always plenty of variety on the table, but you notice, even in winter, that almost everything on the bill of fare was raised right there. A little tea and sugar are their only imports; British Columbian apples are the only food from outside the farm.

This man has been improving his land steadily from Our Friend the Cow the start, till almost the last inch of his quarter is under cultivation. He is a hard worker, of course; “but I don’t kill myself,” he says; “what’s the use? I don’t want the moon.” Yet he is by no means lacking in ambition. He had a very high ambition from the beginning—to be independent—and he has got more than he aimed at; while thousands who aimed at something much bigger have overshot the mark, through over-ambition, and are not even independent, but struggling in the chains of heavy debt.

Small men, or rather men with small means, can do big things by working together, as the Danes have shown us by the wonderful results of their combination of scientific dairying and hog-raising with nation-wide co-operation in marketing.

This Province of Manitoba has been learning fast in the last few years. She still grows over two million acres of wheat—Saskatchewan has twelve million and Alberta nearly six—but no longer stakes her whole existence on that crop. In 1920 butter and cheese factories received from Manitoban farmers the milk or cream of 24,600 cows. By 1923 that number had risen to 107,200, yielding 10,730,000 pounds of butter and 231,000 of cheese. In the same year Alberta sold 17,870,000 pounds of butter and 1,865,000 of cheese, from 158,000 cows, while Saskatchewan’s output, from 95,400 cows, was 10,870,000 pounds of butter and 119,000 of cheese. A few years ago we were importing butter to the prairie; now we are exporting butter from this same prairie to England, and the people there are delighted with its quality.

The prairie farmers’ takings for the year, from these factories, came to nearly $13,000,000. British Columbia’s Winnipeg factory output of 2,960,000 pounds of butter and 290,000 pounds of cheese, from 39,000 cows, gave the farmers over $2,000,000. These figures take no account of the enormous quantity of milk sold in its natural state, or used on the farms.

Winnipeg alone must need a big supply. The little settlement which had such a stormy and romantic infancy has grown into the largest city of the West, with nearly 200,000 inhabitants, including 30,000 Slavs, 14,500 Hebrews, 6,700 Scandinavians and 6,200 Germans and Dutch. It is noticeable, by the way, that seventy per cent of the people in the five biggest prairie cities—Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary and Edmonton—are of “British” stock, including “Americans” of British descent; though they are only fifty-six per cent of the whole population of the three Provinces. That is, the English-speaking folk tend to gather in cities much more than the Slavs, and very much more than the Scandinavians and Germans.

Winnipeg holds all the railways bunched together in her hand, before they spread out east and west. The largest railway “yard” in America is here—the Canadian Pacific’s, with 258 miles of track in it; and the Canadian National has 200 miles of yard track too. In twelve months 225,000,000 bushels of western wheat have passed out through this eastern gateway.

Here is a Parliament Building, stately and fine enough for a Dominion, not to speak of a Province. “When Canada has a bigger population than the little mother-land, as one day she certainly will have, and the Empire wants a more central capital than London, Winnipeg will be all ready with the equipment,” a hopeful Westerner remarks. Boys and Girls

She is certainly ready with the golf links, where eminent statesmen are said to find their chief recreation. There must be a dozen such courses around this city, and some of them are owned not by clubs but by the community, so that here, at any rate, golf is not only the rich man’s game; any one may play who can.

We have little leisure out on the Western country-side, and get all the healthy exercise we need on the farm; but hundreds of country villages have their baseball and tennis clubs for summer, and hockey for winter. The cities and towns, of course, have their organized sports and healthy athletic clubs of all kinds, with enthusiastic musical and literary associations too. The churches and schoolhouses, in town and country alike, are centres of social activity.

If there is one country school in the West where the children are not any day to be found playing and shouting as children should, I have yet to find it, and hope I never shall. Many school gardens are cultivated by the pupils; and large numbers of farm boys and girls are now active members of juvenile societies which give prizes for the best-bred and best-fed steers, heifers and hogs, or the best samples of grain. That youngster of eleven, captain of the soccer team, “pitched on” the hay of an eight-acre field the other day, by himself, when a sudden emergency called his father away and it “looked like rain.”

Corps of Cadets and Boy Scouts flourish in scores of country centres, as well as in the larger towns. There are over 18,000 Boy Scouts in these four Provinces (that is more than the number in the East), besides 7,500 “Wolf Cubs,” or Junior Scouts. There are nearly 21,000 Cadets, in 340 companies, besides other National Defence organizations which likewise aim at helping each new generation to develop the health of mind and body Acquired for good citizenship. The Cadets are connected with our Department of National Defence; but they include in their programme lectures on citizenship, and organized games, as well as physical training, “first-aid” work, scouting and signalling.

“We love peace as much as any Quaker,” says a Western war veteran who is now an enthusiastic officer in the Canadian Militia, “and warmly sympathize with every movement, international conference, or anything else, towards the abolition of war. Peace is the chief interest and foundation principle of our Empire—pax Britannica. If we train ourselves to be ready for emergencies, in the present state of a world we can’t help belonging to, we look forward persistently to the growth of commonsense and good feeling which will make emergencies few and far between.”

As a matter of fact, we have no “standing army,” except a little force of 4,000 or so, for the whole of this vast Dominion. In the Western battalions of the ordinary “Non-permanent Militia” about 13,000 men are enrolled.

Up to the North and Home Again

THE MUSIC of a foaming torrent mingles with the softened hum of mowers and roar of heavy trains rushing wheat to the steamers at Fort William, as we plane up—not down—to the south-east corner of the Province. The crisp music is the voice of Winnipeg River, busy making electric light and power for the city and the towns beyond.

Right about turn. There is the very same water, spread out and sleeping in the shallow expanse of Lake Winnipeg. The shimmer of the surface breaks into flashing points of light as hundreds of Icelandic settlers pull out the fish.

Now for a long swift spin to the farthest North. Leaving Manitoba behind, we soon leave the woods behind too. Beneath us lies a treeless rolling plain.

Astonishing! We were brought up to believe Northern Canada a “frozen wilderness.” We find it contains great stretches of green pasture, gay with innumerable flowers, alive with birds and beasts and butterflies. Even the Arctic islands, which most people imagine covered with perpetual snow and ice, we find carrying much vegetation and fattening herds of musk ox and caribou. A large part of Alaska, and nearly all Greenland, are mountainous. These keep their mantle of ice the year round because of their height and snowfall; but they are not in Canada. For periods varying Sunshine and Reindeer from two to four or five months, as the explorer Stefansson tells us, most of our northern land is a picture of green prairie and flowering meadows; the flowering plants are much more conspicuous than the mosses and lichens which many people imagine are the only specimens of vegetable life to be seen.

The summer is short up here, if reckoned by months, but not if reckoned in hours of sunshine. Where the sun never sets, for weeks or months at a time, the summer warmth is continuous, unbroken by the cooling of night. In polar regions you may experience a temperature of 95 to 100 in the shade.

One day, as Stefansson predicts, this continent will draw a large part of its meat supply from vast herds of reindeer grazing on these northern prairies of Canada. The caribou is simply a variety of reindeer, and as easily tamed.

The 1,280 reindeer brought over from Siberia to Alaska, between 1892 and 1902, have increased beyond all expectations, and now number more than 200,000, after 100,000 have been killed for their meat and hides. And Alaska possesses only one-tenth of the area available for this purpose on our vast northern plains.

Our children will smile at our notion that this north land is “useless.” We have not learnt to use it; that is all.

Rising again, and skimming over Hudson Bay, we overtake a ship of the Company making her yearly voyage to England with a cargo of furs. Yes, it is the same old Corporation of Adventurers, carrying on its ancient trade. Times have changed even up in the North, but the change has been very slight compared to the transformation of the South under the magical touch of steel rails. Steam has long taken the place of Our Farthest North sails, at sea; stern-wheelers ply at intervals on the Peace, Mackenzie and Stikeen Rivers; but everywhere the stout rowboat and fragile canoe in summer, the dog cariole in winter, are still the express trains of a country thousands of miles wide, from British Columbia to Labrador. On the shores of all three oceans, and at scores of posts between, the Company goes on bartering goods for the furs brought in by Indians and Eskimo.

On and on we glide, over the land of the midnight sun, with its Eskimo encampments. We leave the continent behind, but the land is still almost continuous: we are crossing the Arctic Archipelago, and some of its islands are huge. Threading its way among them goes a little steamer, apparently on its way to the North Pole. No, but it goes within seven degrees of the Pole, on its yearly voyage with supplies for the Canadian Mounted Police stations and post-offices on the east and north shores of Baffin Island, on North Devon, and on Ellesmere, the most northerly island of all.

It is only when we reach the top of this island that we look down on the northern boundary of Canada, and realize that our Dominion has enormous breadth as well as length. From this point to the southern boundary of Manitoba is about 2,450 miles in a straight line; to the south extremity of Ontario, 2,650 miles.

We are scarcely tempted to spend the winter up here, though the Police would be very good company. Turning back towards the mainland, we fly in silence to the west, a vast expanse of sea on one hand, a barren shore line on the other. The whole world may be dead, for all we see of life, except the life of the birds.

Hark! In the midst of this utter solitude, the virgin Wireless in the Arctic air gives birth to a still, small human voice. Incredible, yet true. It is a wireless message giving us news from home, two thousand miles away, and telling also of events that happened a few hours ago in Europe, in India, in Australasia. Speeding on, we see at last the explanation. There on Herschel Island, in the Arctic Ocean, is a wireless station, the end of a chain of aerial communication stretching south to the prairies of Alberta, west to Dawson City, Prince Rupert and Vancouver, east to Norway House, Winnipeg and Ottawa, and keeping this outermost sentinel of Canada in touch with the whole civilized world. The Mounted Police wave a greeting to us as we pass.[1]

[1] This may be called prophetic. The ship of 1924 carrying the wireless apparatus round to the Arctic was caught in the ice and abandoned; but another set is being got ready, and should be at work before this book is many months old.

We have reached the north-west corner of the Dominion. The yearly steamer bringing supplies from British Columbia, round through Behring Sea, has just arrived. Inland, we catch a flying glimpse of Yukon Territory, which blazed into fame as the gold-seekers’ Mecca in 1898. Now, striking up the valley of the Mackenzie, we pass a string of outposts where the fur traders, the Mounted Police and the missionaries live and watch and trade and teach among the Indians. The braves no longer fight, but they live as they did by hunting and trapping the beaver and the rest of the fur bearing folk.

A noble valley this, now spreading wide, now narrowing to a canyon where the Ramparts rise hundreds of feet sheer up from the river’s edge, now opening again to show green meadows and woodland. Here, a mountainous Mackenzie and Peace Rivers region is densely clad with spruce; there, light birch and poplar restore life to a stretch of brulé; jack-pine and tamarack vary the scene; and yonder a gaunt escarpment of bare rock climbs to a height of 3,000 feet.

If we followed the Mackenzie through all its windings, we should find it the longest river in Canada, 2,500 miles to the head of the Finlay. Let us be content to strike a bee-line of 1,000 miles from the Arctic Sea to the Peace River.

Another noble valley this, and, where we strike it at the “head of steel,” dotted not with fur traders’ forts but with farmhouses, schools, and villages. Here is a Canadian farmer whom I saw a dozen years ago setting out from Edson, on a 300-mile drive through the backwoods to reach this “land of promise.” He has a great farm now, with 300 acres of fine wheat and oats, and the railway is almost at his door; when it pushes through to the coast he will be satisfied, he says. “But we’ve got a creamery at the Crossing, now, and that’s been a godsend. They reckoned on making 40,000 pounds of butter in a year, and they got up to that in three months. In the first two months they had paid the farmers $6,600 for cream, which brightened things up considerably—that year was dry as we had never known it up here before.” Another Peace River farmer is filling a silo with sunflower for his aristocratic herd of pure Jerseys.

Southward again we fly, but swerve a little to the east. Those little log shacks in the brush remind us that the pioneering spirit is not by any means extinct. As a matter of fact, as many as 2,576 homesteads were taken up in this Province in 1923 and 1924, besides 3,507 in Saskatchewan and 1,121 in Manitoba. The Buffalo Comes Back

“If you are a great people,” as Joshua told an Israelite tribe when it wanted more land, “then get up to the wood country and cut for yourselves there in the land of the giants.” Only there are no giants, either men or trees, to be encountered in the prairie backwoods.

Still keeping a south-easterly course, we come out of the woods again and rub our eyes. Are we back in the middle of last century? Buffalo in thousands roam the plain beneath. Newcomers? Yes, but the oldest of old-timers, too. Not one was to be seen when we passed here twenty years ago. But the Dominion Government bought up a few hundred surviving in the United States and fenced in a prairie “park” at Wainwright as a sanctuary for these original inhabitants of the West. They have thriven and multiplied fast. A wonderful sight, that shaggy monarch of the ancient plains and all his wild barbaric following. . . . And over there, a few miles away, a fair-haired girl is milking a sleek imported Shorthorn, a cow with a pedigree of thirty proud generations. . . . The old and the new, the native and the immigrant; and what a contrast! They are not so different as their skins appear. Some interesting alliances have been made between the wild buffalo and tame cattle. But more success is hoped from a union arranged between buffalo and yak, the long-haired cattle of the cold Himalayas.

The good old buffalo “robe” is again on the market, for hundreds of the band have now to be killed every year. The park is becoming a fur farm as well as sanctuary.

Lake Louise—Rocky Mountains National Park

Mount Robson—Jasper National Park

The E. P. Ranch, High River, Alta.
The Prince of Wales and his Canadian Home

Scores of private fur farms, nearly all devoted to fox raising, have been established in the West, though the East has still ten times as many. This will become one Fur Farming and Trapping of our leading industries. Trapping, in comparison, is a wastefully laborious and crude as well as cruel method, though still by far the chief source of the Dominion’s fur supply—and Canada is “the last great fur preserve of the world.”

In 1924 Saskatchewan sent out 1,161,805 pelts, Manitoba 711,778, Alberta 503,070, British Columbia 180,844, the North West Territories 164,903, and Yukon 50,070, or 2,772,470 in all.

Of the 70,029 beaver, British Columbia contributed 21,509, Alberta coming second with 20,057, and Manitoba third with 14,806. Of the 233,037 ermine or weasel, Saskatchewan sent 82,437, Manitoba 63,054, Alberta 57,962, and British Columbia 25,128. The muskrat numbered 2,121,929, of which 1,006,863 came from Saskatchewan, 554,716 from Manitoba, 331,144 from Alberta, 108,632 from the North West Territories, and 85,670 from British Columbia. The beaver catch showed a great increase over the previous year’s figure, 51,737; but the muskrat total fell heavily, as the number taken in 1923 had been 3,100,074.

The total value of the western fur catch in 1924 was $8,798,773, of which $1,970,013 is credited to Alberta, $1,927,914 to Saskatchewan, $1,908,354 to Manitoba, $1,529,376 to the North West Territories, $1,116,037 to British Columbia, and $347,079 to the Yukon. The whole Dominion’s total was $15,643,817, for 4,207,593 pelts, and included $2,542,992 for 169,172 beaver and $3,440,363 for 2,985,395 muskrat.

Sometimes a fur farm does not need to be “established”; it establishes itself. On the banks of the Red Deer, away there in the south, you can see—if the telescope is strong enough—a beaver gnawing at a tree. Transforming the Brush Country Now he has finished, and skips to one side. Down falls the tree with a crash. The enterprising farmer who owns that land, when he found the beavers coolly colonizing his water-front, adopted them under special licence, and supplements their diet of bark with a dessert of carrots, for which they will presently pay him with their skins.

Turning back from these oldest Canadians to the newest, we plunge into the thick of the “Galicians” whom we watched coming in. Twenty years have made a great change here too. Many of the thatched cottages have been abandoned for modern houses, which, however, are scarcely so picturesque. The little plots dug up with a spade and reaped with a scythe have expanded into broad farms worked with the most modern machinery.

In agriculture, these “New Canadians” have been more than willing, and many of them keen and quick, to learn the ways of our country. Their natural thriftiness, ingrained by the poverty of bygone days, has largely saved them from branching out in the fatal course of over-ambition. Then the kind of land they have generally settled on, the brush land, has helped to keep them in the safe path of mixed farming.

There is something in the woodland that seems to fix a family to the soil with peculiar tenacity—partly, no doubt, because we value most what we have taken most trouble to secure. Then the Slavs have come to us with no idea except to make a permanent home. “In the brush country they can’t be beaten,” says an observer of experience. “It is wonderful,” says another who knows them well, “what a transformation they have made; how they have developed the country as well as their own homes.” The Teacher and New Canadians

Those who live near the unifying railway and the town easily pick up our language, and also have a chance of visiting a “better farming train” and hearing an agricultural lecturer. But the folk away out in the back country, who need most help, get least of it.

Look at this little schoolhouse, where a young teacher is playing with the boys and girls. It is in their free hours out of school, quite as much as in their “lessons,” that they learn our spirit and our ways as well as our speech. This young woman has such tact and sympathy and sense that the parents love her, as the children do, and come to her for information and advice on all sorts of subjects quite apart from school work. But she is absolutely alone; to every one else in this district English is a foreign tongue; our Canadian spirit and ideals are unfamiliar.

Lectures are valuable, when they are listened to and understood; books and papers, if they are read, and read with ease. But living interest, personal friendship and sympathetic insight, have ten times the attracting and stimulating force of all other influences put together. Without the power of winning affection by giving it, the strongest intellect is feeble at a task like this—to make the “New Canadian” not only at home in our country but at home with ourselves; to make him one of us. It is not paternalism that will do this, but fraternalism.

We must back up those solitary teachers, and, doing that, we shall back up those New Canadians themselves who are already keen to see their whole people on the highest level the best of us have reached. We cannot wish them to adopt our faults when they adopt our language. We have something to learn from them, as well as they from us. Unity, not Uniformity

It is not unnatural uniformity we want. If we got it we should not like it; and we are better without it. The highest music is not unison, but harmony, in which our varied voices play their natural parts. Unity is our aim, not monotony.

We must penetrate the remotest settlement, the densest mass, with the national spirit of Canada—the spirit and sentiment that knit us together, the ideals that shame us instinctively when we are unworthy of them. But only when inspired ourselves by such ideals can we inspire others with them.

Whether by casual neighborly intercourse, by travelling among them as an unassuming friend, by large and carefully thought-out systems of intensive education, or by establishing among them little community settlement houses in which the teachers of several districts and others who see the need and the opportunity would live together—or by all these means and any others which good-will and good sense united can devise—this aim can and must be achieved.

Achieving this, we shall have laid the sure foundation of a splendid future for our country, every diverse element joining, in mutual appreciation and respect, to form one great harmonious community.

Once more we find ourselves approaching Edmonton. When we rode up to it in 1905 we were just in time to see it raised to the rank of a capital city. Since then it has adorned itself with a lordly Parliament House, which crowns the northern bank of the deep wooded valley, and a fine range of university buildings on the opposite heights.

We slow down over a garden, charmed by its harmonious Wild Flowers, and Music blend of colors. There is something uncommon about it too. Half the flowers are natives; half are immigrants. “Like me and father,” says mother, with a rake in her hand. “He came from England; I was born here in the West; so I put in the nasturtium and mignonette and sweet peas and morning-glories that he loved over there, and he begged me to bring in the goldenrod and wild aster and Indian paint-brush and wild sunflower, the prairie rose and wild violets and Canada lily that I grew up with. There never was such a country as this for wild flowers, he says, and he has been all round the world. The finest of all are the little ones, like the ‘shooting star’; dainty and delicate as a piece of embroidery worked by the fairies.”

Perfect in harmony, rich in variety.

Listen again. The city is holding a musical festival. The grandeur of “O Canada” follows the glorious simplicity of “God Save the King.” Perfect harmony again; and many of those blending voices had never sung or spoken a word of English, a few years back. These folk who come to us with other languages are said to be more musical than the rest of us. They have practised singing more in their daily lives, perhaps; but nearly all of us have musical capacity, if we will only train and use it as we might. Music will be one of the great forces to weld us together.

As if to echo our thoughts, that lad on the gang plow below breaks out in song—a song of Robert Burns, the plowman poet. I know teams that would jump at such an outburst, but these beasts are used to it.

Let us go down. We have time for one more visit. The city is far behind, the journey almost ended, and the sun still high. A Blend of Races

A very modest farmhouse is this we have come to: not much of it, but spick and span, what there is. Barn and sheds all painted; beasts, not many of them, but all good. The house-wife is singing as she comes to the door, and only stops when she catches sight of her unexpected visitors. No need to ask why the boy sings at his work.

She is “sorry to have nothing better” than deliciously cool butter-milk to quench our thirst—as if there could be anything better, on a hot afternoon like this! Will we let her make us a cup of tea? Not on any account.

Happily, this seems the only thing she has to be sorry for. She and her husband have had difficulties, she admits when asked, but she brushes them lightly aside for cheerful topics. “Everyone has difficulties, of course,” says she, “but they were made to be got over.” And we can imagine how that spirit of hers smoothed the way over them. “Anyway,” she adds, “why worry about difficulties when there’s so much to be thankful for?”

Her husband is one of her chief “things to be thankful for,” we discover at once. And where did he come from? Oh, his parents came out here from some corner of the old Austrian Empire, and settled next door to an Ontarian farmer with a Nova Scotian wife. These must have been the best kind of neighbors, for they treated the newcomers like brother and sister. Well, that Canadian couple, having a wealth of natural affection and no children to spend it on, had adopted three orphans, who were part English and part Scotch, with a dash of Irish; and our hostess was one of them. Her elder brother also had married into the Slavonic Pure Canadian family. “And a good family they are,” she exclaims; “there’s none better; right-down good Canadians”—thanks largely to the “neighboring” they got when they first came in.

We look at each other. One of our party smiles. “I’m what they call a pure Scot,” he says, “and never heard of a single ancestor who wasn’t. But if I could see a little farther back I know I should find Norsemen among my forbears, besides Celts, and the folk who held Scotland before the Celts came in, and fought them like Indians. To tell the truth, there’s no such thing as a ‘pure’ race in the world—or, if there is, it’s a poor one, too. I hadn’t thought of it before, but with such a threefold inheritance I’m thrice as rich as if I had only one.”

“Then my children are richer still,” says the mother, laughing.

“To be sure they are—a dozen times as rich; for every one of the races they inherit from is a blend in itself.”

“And when neighbors ask what ‘race’ my children belong to,” the mother goes on, “I say I can’t guess a riddle—they belong to so many, and all good. But this I know, the children are what their father and mother are, just pure Canadian.”

The mother is right. We need not and should not forget the roots from which we spring; we cannot pull up and burn those roots, if we wanted, and we should not want. Every cause for love and pride that we have in the lands of our past, we ought to cherish. Those who best remember the past and rightly value it are the least likely to forget their duty to the present and the future. Valuing our distant roots, we shall value more highly A Picture of Home and love with more devotion the tree which has sprung from them, this many-rooted, many-gifted tree, the united brotherhood of the Canadian people.

A last flight through the air, and we glide to rest on a gently sloping hillside. At our feet is a lovely picture, reminding me of a famous view in the garden of England, in spite of differences in detail. A picture of softly undulating green and gold; wide fields of yellow grain, with many a copse of poplar and willow, and here and there a darker grove of stately spruce; herds of fine cattle, teams of big horses—and yonder a big school, chief glory of a little town. We have done with adventures of travel; we must plunge once more into all the adventures of Home.

See the children playing under the maples, beside that gabled farmhouse on the knoll. That is Home. The biggest boy, a son of the Stars and Stripes, runs a sister flag up to the mast-head. Wherever we were born, we are all true Canadians now. True Westerners too. The better Westerners we are, the better we can serve Canada; and the better Canadians we are, the better we can serve the West.

That is the flag of our own world-wide brotherhood, our royal commonwealth,—his flag, and yours, and mine—the Union Jack. It is a signal. The children are running to meet me at the gate. As soon as I have landed you other Westerners at your own doors, I must get into my overalls—only first we must see our visitors off by train.

“No,” they protest, “we had rather stay and get into overalls ourselves.”

There is only one answer to that—“Brothers, Welcome!”


“What is the Spirit of the West?” I was asked when I began to write.

You have read the book? Then you have seen the fruits of that Spirit, in its actions and achievements. If that is not answer enough, here is the Spirit of the West as I have seen it; here are the dominant ideals of Western life.

The Spirit of Courage. The brave heart for a short heroic dash, and for persistence, more heroic still, through the long march to a distant goal. The spirit that never flinches at an obstacle or set-back, but fights its way through to victory. The spirit that finds pleasure in other toils than play, and saving humor in grave events which overwhelm a dull and bitter mind.

The Spirit of Independence. The spirit that takes pride in swimming the creeks in its way without waiting or shouting for some one else to fetch a boat.

The Spirit of Ambition—often hasty and overgrown in our exhilarating air of boundless possibilities, but, when turned by buffeting experience from the goal of quantity to that of quality, capable of winning both.

The Spirit of Truth. The ideals of frankness, candor, straightness and fair play. The spirit of scorn for crookedness, trickery, graft, lying and pretence, in business, politics and social life. The spirit that wants to think straight as well as act straight, refusing to deceive itself by prejudice and conventional parrot-phrases. The spirit of open-mindedness, of quick willingness to learn.

The Spirit of Unselfishness. The ideals of hospitality, sociability, geniality, generosity, and neighborly helpfulness. The Spirit of the West

Selfishness, envy and suspicion, an ill disposition to blame anyone but ourselves for every wrong; a passing frown of discouragement and complaint, sometimes with fair excuse; these you may find in the West, as you may strike a misty morning on the sunny plain or a hard frost on the balmy coast; but they are foreign to the Spirit of the West.

Without that Spirit, though the land should rise to gorgeous heights of moneyed wealth by perfecting its science of material production and commercial organization, the West would be poor and mean, a body without a soul.

Therefore, of all the proud ambitions of the West, the proudest is to keep that noble Spirit strong.

The Spirit has hours of weakness, but it soon revives, to proclaim with the strength of a giant refreshed—

“In the fell clutch of circumstance

  I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

  My head is bloody, but unbowed.


“It matters not how strait the gate,

  How charged with punishment the scroll.

I am the master of my fate,

  I am the captain of my soul.”



Adventures, life full of them, 2.

Agriculture, 54;

  ranching, 127;

  mixed farming, 129;

  fruit, 164;

  irrigation, 169;

  bees, 170;

  improving livestock, 171, 177;

  “We have to Learn,” 174;

  enormous production, 178;

  need of co-operation, 178, 183;

  “semi-tropical,” 179;

  the small farmer, 181;

  grain growing and dairying, 183, 191.

Air patrol, 166.

Animal and plant life: pre-historic, 4;

  modern, 14, 15, 131, 197;

  beaver, 35;

  his achievements and value, 35, 192, 193;

  buffalo, 18, 20, 45, 48, 54, 129;

  wholesale slaughter, 61;

  collecting his bones, 127;

  present increase, 192;

  caribou, 46, 187;

  coyote and antelope, 17, 131;

  dogs, 10, 20;

  bred for wool, 72;

  horses, 19, 23;

  maize 11;

  trees, 140;

  far north, 188.

Arctic Ocean: Hearne’s arrival, 47;

  Mackenzie’s, 50.


British brotherhood of nations, 28, 156, 200.

British justice, 79, 137.

British Navy’s task, 160.


Calgary, 105, 129, 169.

Climates, 169, 175, 179.

Coats, Capt., 47, 58, 85.

Columbia River, 50.

Coppermine River, 46.


Dominion formed, 88;

  width North to South, 189.


Edmonton in 1846, 60;

  in 1905, 151, 196.

Empires, British and United States, 156.

Eskimo, 10, 47;

  massacred by Indians, 48.

Exploration, Spanish and British, 25;

  Norse, 26;

  French, 26;

  Cartier, Champlain, 26;

  La Salle, 27;

  Frobisher, Hudson, 28;

  Radisson and Groseillers, 30;

  Vérendrye, 41;

  Kellsey, Hendry, 44;

  Hearne, 46;

  Mackenzie, 49;

  Thompson, 50;

  Fraser, 51;

  Lewis and Clark, 51;

  Franklin, 64;

  McClure, 65;

  Drake, Cook, 69;

  Palliser, Hector, 84;

  Amundsen, 66;

  Stefansson, 188.


Fisheries, 161, 187.

Fleming, Sir Sandford, 159.

Forest, 15, 161;

  fires, 161;

  air patrol, 166.

Fort Carlton, 61.

Fort Chipewyan, 49.

Fort de la Corne, 45.

Fort Cumberland, 48.

Fort Pitt, 62.

Fort Rouge, 42.

Fort Vancouver, 72.

Fossils: giant lizards, 5;

  trilobites, 7;

  mammoth, 8;

  horses, 19.

Fraser River, 49, 51.

Freighting, 141.

French Cession of Canada to British, 27.

Fur trade, 26;

  French monopoly, 32;

  buffalo skins, 35;

  beaver in fashion, 37;

  scene at trading post, 39;

  “Free Traders,” 41;

  the traders’ life, 56;

  sea otter, 73, 151;

  fur farming, 192;

  statistics, 193.


Gardens, 147, 197.

Gas, natural, 170.

Great Slave Lake, discovery, 48.


Hudson’s Bay, 28;

  Company formed, 33;

  its powers, 37;

  French raids and competition, 40, 49;

  traders sent up country, 44;

  Scottish-Canadian rivals, 45;

  North West Company formed, 49;

  Companies at war, 52;

  the rivals unite, 56;

  Company’s rule extended to Pacific, 56;

  Simpson’s journeys, 59;

  Company and Indians, 85, 91;

  Territory enters Dominion, 88;

  Company continues, 151, 188.

Hudson Straits navigation, 57.


Indians, origin of, 9;

  southward migration, 11;

  industry and art, 11, 12, 21, 74;

  baking and gardening, 12;

  Mexican and Peruvian civilization, 12, 13;

  the Six Nations, 13;

  lacrosse, 13;

  Algonquins, 14;

  mound builders, 16;

  a night raid, 16;

  travoys, 20;

  agriculture, 16, 21;

  story telling, 22;

  dancing, 64, 74;

  racing and betting, 63, 73;

  slavery, 73;

  Flat-heads, 74;

  kindness and barbarity, 85.

Indian tribal fighting, 21, 23, 85;

  Sioux and Cree, 31;

  Saulteaux and Sioux, 61;

  Blackfoot and Cree, 63, 87.

Indian treaties, 93;

  refugees from United States, 95;

  Sitting Bull, 96.

Indians and Métis, 99;

  Indians farming, 139.


Kane, Paul: artist’s journey in 1846, 60.

King and president, 136.


Lake and river route to West, 59.

Liquor and Indians, 55.


Mackenzie River, 49, 189, 190.

Manufactures, 167, 168.

Métis, the, 49;

  revolts, 89, 98;

  a hospitable family, 133.

Migrations of men, 2, 9, 24, 148.

Minerals: coal, 7, 81, 167;

  copper, 21, 46;

  gold, etc., in B.C., 75, 161, 165;

  potters’ clay, 171.

Missionaries: Evans prints in Cree, 86;

  peacemaker Lacombe, 87.

Mississippi, 27;

  discovery, 31.

Mountains, birth of, 7;

  first sight of Rockies, 43;

  an Alpine paradise, 165.

Mounted Police and frontier crime, 91;

  force organized, 92;

  Col. MacLeod’s reign of law, 93;

  in the Arctic, 189.


Northern Territory and Islands: caribou pasture, 187;

  reindeer, 188;

  Government stations, 189;

  wireless, 190.

North-west Passage, 26, 29;

  Franklin’s last voyage, 64;

  passage discovered, 66;

  Amundsen gets through, 66;

  Captain Cook’s attempt, 69.


Ogilby, John, his book, 36.


Pacific Coast: Mackenzie’s arrival, 50;

  Hudson’s Bay Co., 56, 71;

  claims of Spain and United States, 70;

  frontier agreement, 71;

  early ranching, 72;

  Kane’s visit in 1847, 72;

  Coast Indian ways, 73;

  colony under company, 75;

  gold rush, 75;

  company rule ended, 76;

  Cariboo trail, 77;

  Judge Begbie keeps order, 79;

  Province of British Columbia formed, enters Dominion, 81;

  United States and San Juan Island, 81;

  the Province to-day, 159.

Peace River, 189, 191.

Pemmican, 19;

  war, 54.

Politics: the art of living together, 153.

Portage la Prairie, 42.

Prairie primeval, 14;

  first inhabitants, 16;

  the prairie in 1905, 129;

  to-day, 167.

Prince Rupert, 33, 161.

Provinces formed: Manitoba, 90;

  British Columbia, 81;

  Alberta and Saskatchewan, 151;

  Dimensions, 180.


Railway, Transcontinental, proposed, 84;

  its necessity, 117;

  built by Canadian Pacific Co., 120;

  last spike driven, 122;

  irrigation, 169;

  C.N.R., 60, 161, 172;

  Winnipeg yards, 184.

Regina, 127, 171.

Red River rising of 1870, 89.

Riel rebellion of 1885, 98;

  Duck Lake fight, 99;

  Frog Lake massacre, 101;

  Big Bear and Fort Pitt, 102;

  army from the East, 103;

  Cutknife Hill, 106;

  Fish Creek, 111;

  Batoche, 112;

  Indian chiefs’ surrender, 112;

  battlefield twenty years after, 139.

Rupert’s Land, 38;

  enters Dominion, 88.


Saskatchewan rivers discovered, 43.

Saskatoon, 142.

Schools and colleges, 180, 185, 195.

Settlement: Lord Selkirk’s pioneers, 53, 85;

  door opened by railway, 124;

  Eastern Canadians, 124, 132, 140, 148;

  British newcomers, 126, 133, 141, 149, 164;

  from United States, 130, 135, 147, 152;

  French-Canadians, 138;

  Scandinavians, 142, 187;

  Slavs, 142, 152, 194;

  Doukhobors, 145, 165;

  a pioneer family in the North, 161;

  “The land is Canada’s,” 176;

  new plans needed, 181;

  homesteading, 191;

  brush land, 192, 194;

  Canada and “New Canadians,” 195;

  racial blending, 198.

Shipping, 160.


Territorial Government, 153.

Thompson River, 49.

Trade, Oriental, 25, 160.

Travel, ways of, 20, 57;

  in 1872, 159; 189.


Unicorn, 36.


Vancouver, 123, 160.

Victoria, 159;

  observatory, 159.


War, the, 164.

Water Powers, 167, 187.

Western Canada: size and variety, 3, 158, 180;

  pre-historic state, 4;

  ignorance of its capacity, 83;

  S. J. Dawson finds a “Paradise of Fertility,” 83;

  the West in 1905, 128;

  Central Alberta, 129;

  hospitality, 135;

  a stopping place, 147;

  the country now, 158;

  children, 162, 185;

  simple and high living, 163;

  better houses, 172;

  telephones, 172;

  tree planting, 173;

  nomadic instinct survives, 174;

  automobiles, 177;

  “Extravagance,” 177;

  recreation, 185;

  national defence, 185;

  music, 197;

  “The Spirit of the West,” 201.

White men reach America, 23.

Winnipeg: Fort Rouge founded, 42;

  Kane’s visit, 60, 184.

Wireless, 166.


Yukon, 190.

Sketch Map of

Western Canada







Misspelled words and printer errors have been corrected. Where multiple spellings occur, majority use has been employed.

Punctuation has been maintained except where obvious printer errors occur.

Some illustrations were moved to facilitate page layout.


[The end of The Book of the West by Howard Angus Kennedy]