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On Canada's frontier Ralph, Julian, 1853-1903 1892

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/.7«T ^sssssssssssssssssss^ssssssssssssssssssssss^sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss   ON CANADA'S FRONTIER
Sftetcbea
OF HISTORY, SPORT, AND ADVENTURE
AND OF THE INDIANS, MISSIONARIES
FUR-TRADERS, AND NEWER SETTLERS
OF WESTERN CANADA
BY
JULIAN   RALPH
ILLUSTRATED
NEW   YORK
HARPER   &   BROTHERS,   FRANKLIN   SQUARE
1892    •  TO
THE  PEOPLE   OF  CANADA
THIS BOOK IS  GRATEFULLY  DEDICATED  BY THE AUTHOR
WHO,   DURING   MANY   LONG   JOURNEYS   IN   THE   CANADIAN   WEST
WAS ALWAYS AND EVERYWHERE TREATED WITH AN EXTREME
FRIENDLINESS   TO    WHICH   HE    HERE    TESTIFIES
BUT  WHICH  HE CANNOT EASILY   RETURN
IN  EQUAL MEASURE ^n$§Sj\«SS^' ^SSSSSSSSSSSSSS^ PREFACE
If all those into whose hands this book may fall were as well informed upon the Dominion of Canada as are the people of the
United States, there would not be needed a word of explanation of
the title of this volume. Yet to those who might otherwise infer
that what is here related applies equally to all parts of Canada, it is
necessary to explain that the work deals solely with scenes and
phases of life in the newer, and mainly the western, parts of that
country. The great English colony which stirs the pages of more
than two centuries of history has for its capitals such proud and
notable cities as Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Halifax, and many others, to distinguish the progressive civilization of the region east of
Lake Huron—the older provinces. But the Canada of the geographies of to-day is a land of greater area than the United States; it
is, in fact, the " British America" of old. A great trans-Canadian
railway has joined the ambitious province of the "Pacific slope to the
provinces of old Canada with stitches of steel across the Plains.
There the same mixed surplusage of Europe that settled our own
West is elbowing the fur-trader and the Indian out of the way, and
is laying out farms far north, in the smiling Peace River district,
where it was only a little while ago supposed that there were but
two seasons, winter and late spring. It is with that new part of Canada, between the ancient and well-populated provinces and the sturdy
new cities of the Pacific Coast, that this book deals. Some references to the North are added in those chapters that treat of hunting
and fishing and fur-trading.
The chapters that compose this book originally formed a series of VI
PREFACE
papers which recorded journeys and studies made in Canada during
the past three years.   The first one to be published was that which
describes a settler's colony in which a few titled foreigners took the
lead; the others were written so recently that they should possess
the same interest and value as if they here first met the public eye.
What that interest and value amount to is for the reader to judge,
the author's position being such that he may only call attention to
the fact that he had access to private papers and documents when
he prepared the sketches of the Hudson Bay Company, and that, in
pursuing information about the great province of British Columbia,
he was not able to learn that a serious and extended study of its resources had ever been made.   The principal studies and sketches
were prepared for and published in Harper's Magazine.  The spirit
in which they were written was solely that of one who loves the open
air and his fellow-men of every condition and color, and who has had
the good-fortune to witness in newer Canada something of the old
and almost departed life of the plainsmen and woodsmen, and of the
newer forces of nation-building on our continent. f—
CONTENTS
PAGE
I. Titled Pioneers  i
II. Chartering a Nation .   .    .    . n
III. A Famous Missionary .......... 53
IV. Antoine's Moose-yard  66
V. Big Fishing  115
VI. "A Skin for a Skin"  134
VII. "Talking Musquash"  190
VIII. Canada's El Dorado  244
IX. Dan Dunn's Outfit     . 290 SXSSSSSSSSKKSSK
JNJJ»JN»NNNS ILLUSTRATIONS
PAGE
The Romantic Adventure of Old Sun's   Wife    ....    Frontispiece
Dr. Rudolph Meyer s Place on the Pipestone 2
Settler's Sod Cabin 3
Whitewood, a Settlement on the Prairie 4
Interior of Sod Cabin on the Frontier 5
Prairie Sod Stable    .  7
Trained Ox Team    . . 9
Indian Boys Running a Foot-race 31
Indian Mother and Boy 36
Opening of the Soldier Clan Dance 39
Sketch in the Soldier Clan Dance 43
A Fantasy from the Pony War-dance 47
Throwing the Snow Snake 51
Father Lacombe Heading the Indians 61
The Hotel—Last Sign of Civilization 69
"Give me a light" 73
Antoine,from Life 79
The Portage Sleigh on a Lumber Road 83
The Track in the Winter Forest 87
Pierre, from Life % 91
Antoine's Cabin 93
The Camp at Night 97
A Moose Bull Fight 101
On the Moose Trail 103
In Sight of the Game—"Now Shoot"     . 105
Success 109
Hunting the Caribou—" Shoot!    Shoot /" 111
Indians Hauling Nets on Lake Nepigon 119
Trout-fishing Through the Ice .    .  127
Rival Traders Racing to the Indian Camp 137
The Bear-trap  143 Xs-
ILLUSTRATIONS
PAGE
Huskie Dogs Fighting  H7
Painting the Robe  I51
Coureur  du Bois  159
A Fur-trader in the Council Tepee  163
Buffalo Meat for the Post  167
The Indian Hunter of 7730  171
Indian Hunter Hanging Deer Out of the Reach of Wolves    . 173
Making the Snow-shoe  177
A Hudson Bay Man {Quarter-breed)  181
The Coureur du Bois and the Savage  185
Talking Musquash  193
Indian Hunters Moving Camp   .  198
Setting a Mink-trap  201
Wood Indians Come to Trade  205
A  Voyageur, or Canoe-man, of Great Slave Lake  209
In a Stiff Current \  211
Voyageur with Tumpline ....217
Voyageurs in Camp for the Night  221
"Huskie" Dogs on the Frozen Highway  227
The Factors Fancy Toboggan  233
Halt of a York Boat Brigade for the Night  239
An Impression of Shuswap Lake, British Columbia    .    .    .    . 251
The Tschummum, or Tool Used in Making Canoes     .    .    .    . 257
The First of the Salmon Run, Fraser River  261
Indian Salmon-fishing in the Thrasher  266
Going to the Potlatch—Big Canoe, North-west Coast   .... 269
The Salmon Cache *  275
An Ideal of the Coast  279
The Potlatch  283
An Indian Canoe on the Columbia .    .  293
" You're setting your nerves to stand it"  297
Jack Kirkup, the Mountain Sheriff  299
Engineer on the Preliminary Survey  303
Falling Monarchs  308
Dan Dunn on His Works  311
The Supply Train Over the Mountain  313
A Sketch on the Work  317
The Mess Tent at Night  319
"They Gained Erectness by Slow Jolts"  322
SB!
SS58S
sssss ON  CANADA'S  FRONTIER
TITLED  PIONEERS
THERE is a very remarkable bit of this continent just north of our State of North Dakota,
in what the Canadians call Assiniboia, one of the
North-west Provinces. Here the plains reach away
in an almost level, unbroken, brown ocean' of grass.
Here are some wonderful and some very peculiar
phases of immigration and of human endeavor.
Here is Major- Bell's farm of nearly one hundred
square miles, famous as the Bell Farm. Here Lady
Cathcart, of England, has mercifully established a
colony of crofters, rescued from poverty and oppression. Here Count Esterhazy has been experimenting with a large number of Hungarians, who form a
colony which would do better if those foreigners were
not all together, with only each other to imitate—
and to commiserate. But, stranger than all these,
here is a little band of distinguished Europeans,
partly noble and partly scholarly, gathered together
in as lonely a spot as can be found short of the
Rockies or the far northern regions of this continent. < vs
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DR. RUDOLPH  MEYER S   PLACE   ON  THE
PIPESTONE
These gentlemen are Dr. Rudolph Meyer, of Berlin,
the Comte de Cazes and the Comte de Raffignac, of
France, and M. le Bidau de St. Mars, of that country
also. They form, in all probability, the most distinguished and aristocratic little band of immigrants
and farmers in the New World.
Seventeen hundred miles west of Montreal, in a
vast prairie where settlers every year go mad from
loneliness, these polished Europeans till the soil,
strive for prizes at the provincial fairs, fish, hunt,
read the current literature of two continents, and are
happy. The soil in that region is of remarkable
depth and richness, and is so black that the roads
and cattle-trails look like ink lines on brown paper.
It is part of a vast territory of uniform appearance,
in one portion of which are the richest wheat-lands
^igM§iMMS§^g TITLED   PIONEERS 3
of the continent. The Canadian Pacific Railway
•crosses Assiniboia, with stops about five miles apart
—some mere stations and some small settlements.
Here the best houses are little frame dwellings; but
very many of the settlers live in shanties made of
sods, with such thick walls and tight roofs, all of sod,
that the awful winters, when the mercury falls to forty degrees below zero, are endured in them better
than in the more costly frame dwellings.
I stopped off the cars at Whitewood, picking that
four-year-old village out at hap-hazard as a likely
point at which to see how the immigrants live in a
brand-new country. I had no idea of the existence
•of any of the persons I found there. The most perfect hospitality is offered to strangers in such infant
communities, and while enjoying the shelter of a merchant's house I obtained news of the distinguished
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SETTLER S   SOD   CABIN 4 ON  CANADA S   FRONTIER
settlers, all of whom live away from the railroad in
solitude not to be conceived by those who think their
homes the most isolated in the older parts of the
country. I had only time to visit Dr. Rudolph
Meyer, five miles from Whitewood, in the valley of
the Pipestone.
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WHITEWOOD, A SETTLEMENT  ON  THE  PRAIRIE
The way was across a level prairie, with here and
there a bunch of young wolf-willowTs to break the
monotonous scene, with tens of thousands of gophers
sitting boldly on their haunches within reach of the
wagon whip, with a sod house in .sight in one direction at one time and a frame house in view at another. The talk of the driver was spiced with news
of abundant wild-fowl, fewer deer, and marvellously
numerous small quadrupeds, from wolves and foxes
down. He talked of bachelors living here and there
alone on that sea of grass, for all the world like men TITLED   PIONEERS
5
in small boats on the ocean; and I saw, contrariwise,
a man and wife who blessed Heaven for an unheard-
of number of children, especially prized because each
new-comer lessened the loneliness. I heard of the
long and dreadful winters when the snowfall is so
light that horses and mules may always paw down
to grass, though cattle stand and starve and freeze
to death. I heard, too, of the way the snow comes
in flurried squalls, in which men are lost within pistol-shot of their homes.    In time the wagon came to
INTERIOR  OF  SOD  CABIN  ON  THE FRONTIER 6 ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
a sort of coulee or hollow, in which some mechanics-
imported from Paris were putting up a fine cottage
for the Comte de Raffignac. Ten paces farther, and
I stood on the edge of the valley of the Pipestone,
looking at a scene so poetic, pastoral, and beautiful
that in the whole transcontinental journey there
were few views to compare with it.
Reaching away far below the level of the prairie
was a bowl-like valley, a mile long and half as wide,
with a crystal stream lying like a ribbon of silver
midway between its sloping walls. Another valley,,
longer yet, served as an extension to this. On the
one side the high grassy walls were broken with frequent gullies, while on the other side was a park-like
growth of forest trees. Meadows and fields lav be-
tween, and nestling against the eastern or grassy
wall was the quaint, old-fashioned German house of
the learned doctor. Its windows looked out on
those beautiful little valleys, the property of the doctor—a little world far below the great prairie out of
which sportive and patient Time had hollowed it..
Externally the long, low, steep-roofed house was German, ancient, and picturesque in appearance. Its
main floor was all enclosed in the sash and glass
frame of a covered porch, and outside of the walls of
glass were heavy curtains of straw, to keep out the
sun in summer and the cold in winter. In-doors the
house is as comfortable as any in the world. Its-
framework is filled with brick, and its trimmings are
all of pine, oiled and varnished. In the heart of the
house is a great Russian stove—a huge box of brick-
work, which is filled full of wood to make a fire that
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PRAIRIE SOD  STABLE
is made fresh every day, and that
heats the house for twenty-four
hours. A well-filled wine-cellar, a
well-equipped library, where Harper's Weekly, and Uber Land
und Mer, Punch, Puck, and Die Fliegende Blatter
lie side by side, a kindly wife, and a stumbling baby,
tell of a combination of domestic joys that no man is
too rich to envy. The library is the doctor's workshop He is now engaged in compiling a digest of
the economic laws of nations. He is already well
known as the author of a History of Socialism (in
Germany, the United States, Scandinavia, Russia,
France, Belgium, and elsewhere), and also for his
History of Socialism in Germany. He writes in
French and German, and his works are published in
Germany. 8
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
Dr. Meyer is fifty-three years old. He is a political exile, having been forced from Prussia for connection with an unsuccessful opposition to Bismarck.
It is because he is a scholar seeking rest from the
turmoil of politics that one is able to comprehend his
living in this overlooked corner of the world. Yet
when that is understood, and one knows what an Arcadia his little valley is, and how complete are his
comforts within-doors, the placidity with which he
smokes his pipe, drinks his beer, and is waited upon
by servants imported from Paris, becomes less a matter for wonder than for congratulation. He has
shared part of one valley with the Comte de Rairlg-
nac, who thinks there is nothing to compare with it
on earth. The count has had his house built near
the abruptly-broken edge of the prairie, so that he
may look dowri upon the calm and beautiful valley
and enjoy it, as he could not had he built in the
valley itself. He is a youth of very old French family, who loves hunting and horses. He was contemplating the raising of horses for a business when I
was there. But the count mars the romance of his
membership in this little band by going to Paris
now and then, as a young man would be likely to.
Out-of-doors one saw what untold good it does to
the present and future settlers to have such men
among them. The hot-houses, glazed vegetable beds,
the plots of cultivated ground, the nurseries of young
trees—all show at what cost of money and patience
the Herr Doctor is experimenting with every tree
and flower and vegetable and cereal to discover what
can be grown with profit in that region of rich soil
1
^ TITLED PIONEERS 9
and short summers, and what cannot. He is in communication with the seedsmen, to say nothing of the
savants, of Europe and this country, and whatever he
plants is of the best. Near his quaint dwelling he
has a house for his gardener, a smithy, a tool-house,
a barn, and a cheese-factory, for he makes gruyere
cheese in great quantities. He also raises horses
and cattle.
The Comte de Cazes has a sheltered, favored claim
a few miles to the northward, near the Qu' Appele
River. He lives in great comfort, and is so successful a farmer that he carries off nearly all the prizes
for the province, especially those given for prime
vegetables. He has his wife and daughter and one
of his sons with him, and an abundance of means,
as, indeed, these distinguished settlers all appear to
have.
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TRAINED   QX  TEAM 10
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
These men have that faculty, developed in all educated and thinking souls, which enables them to banish loneliness and entertain themselves. Still, though
Dr. Meyer laughs at the idea of danger, it must have
been a little disquieting to live as he does during the
Riel rebellion, especially as an Indian reservation is
close by, and wandering red men are seen every day
upon the prairie. Indeed, the Government thought
lit to send men of the North-west Mounted Police to
visit the doctor twice a week as lately as a year after the close of the half-breed uprising. II
CHARTERING  A   NATION
HOW it came about that we chartered the Black-
foot nation for two days had better not be told
in straightforward fashion. There is more that is interesting in going around aboutxthe subject, just as in
reality we did go around and about the neighborhood
of the Indians before we determined to visit them.
In the first place, the most interesting Indian I
ever saw—among many kinds and many thousands
—was the late Chief Crowfoot, of the Blackfoot peo
ple. More like a king than a chief he looked, as he
strode upon the plains, in a magnificent robe of
white bead-work as rich as ermine, with a gorgeous
pattern illuminating its edges, a glorious sun worked
into the front of it, and many artistic and chromatic
figures sewed in gaudy beads upon its back. He
wore an old white chimney-pot hat, bound around
with eagle feathers, a splendid pair of chaperajos, all
worked with beads at the bottoms and fringed along
the sides, and bead-worked moccasins, for which any
lover of the Indian or collector of his paraphernalia,
would have exchanged a new Winchester rifle with-
out a second's hesitation. But though Crowfoot was-
so royally clothed, it was in himself that the kingly
quality was most apparent. His face was extraordinarily like what portraits we have of Julius Caesar,. 12
ON   CANADAS   FRONTIER
with the difference that Crowfoot had the complexion
of an Egyptian mummy. The high forehead, the
great aquiline nose, the thin lips, usually closed, the
small, round, protruding chin, the strong jawbones,
and the keen gray eyes composed a face in which
every feature was finely moulded, and in which the
warrior, the commander, and the counsellor were
strongly suggested. And in each of these roles he
played the highest part among the Indians of Canada
from the moment that the whites and the red men
contested the dominion of the plains until he died, a
short time ago.
He was born and lived a wild Indian, and though
the good fathers of the nearest Roman Catholic mis-
sion believe that he died a Christian, I am constrained
to see in the reason for their thinking so only another
proof of the consummate shrewdness of Crowfoot's
life-long policy. The old king lay on his death-bed
in his great wig-a-wam, with twenty-seven of his medicine-men around him, and never once did he pretend
that he despised or doubted their magic. When it
was evident that he was about to die, the conjurers
ceased their long-continued, exhausting formula of
howling, drumming, and all the rest, and, Indian-like,
left Death to take his own. Then it was that one of
the watchful, zealous priests, whose lives have indeed
been like those of fathers to the wild Indians, slipped
into the great tepee and administered the last sacrament to the old pagan.
" Do you believe ?" the priest inquired.
" Yes, I believe," old Crowfoot grunted. Then he
whispered, " But don't tell my people."
MW" CHARTERING   A   NATION
13"
Among the last words of great men, those of Sa-
ponaxitaw (his Indian name) may never be recorded,,
but to the student of the American aborigine they
betray more that is characteristic of the habitual attitude of mind of the wild red man towards civilizing
influences than any words I ever knew one to utter.
As the old chief crushed the bunch-grass beneath
his gaudy moccasins at the time I saw him, and as
his lesser chiefs and headmen strode behind him, we
who looked on knew what a great part he was bearing and had taken in Canada. He had been chief of
the most powerful and savage tribe in the North, and
of several allied tribes as well, from the time when
the region west of the Mississippi was terra incognita
to all except a few fur traders and priests. His warriors ruled the Canadian wilderness, keeping the
Ojibbeways and Crees in the forests to the east and
north, routing the Crows, the Stonies, and the Big-
Bellies whenever they pleased, and yielding to no
tribe they met except the Sioux to the southward
in our territory. The first white man Crowfoot
ever knew intimately was Father Lacombe, the noble
old missionary, whose fame is now world-wide among"
scholars. The peaceful priest and the warrior chief
became fast friends, and from the day when the white
men first broke down the border and swarmed upon
the plains, until at the last they ran what Crowfoot
called their " fire-wagons' (locomotives) through his
land, he followed the priest's counselling in most important matters. He treated with the authorities,,
and thereafter hindered his braves from murder,
massacre, and warfare.    Better than that, during the 14
ON   CANADAS   FRONTIER
Riel rebellion he more than any other man, or twenty
men, kept the red man of the plains at peace when
the French half-breeds, led by their mentally irresponsible disturber, rebelled against the Dominion authorities.
When Crowfoot talked, he made laws. While he
spoke, his nation listened in silence. He had killed
as many men as anv Indian warrior alive; he was a
mighty buffalo-slayer; he was torn, scarred, and mangled in skin, limb, and bone. He never would learn
English or pretend to discard his religion. He was
an Indian after the pattern of his ancestors. At
eighty odd years of age there lived no red-skin who
dared answer him back when he spoke his mind.
But he was a shrewd man and an archdiplomatist.
Because he had no quarrel with the whites, and because a grand old priest was his truest friend, he gave
orders that his body should be buried in a coffin,
Christian fashion, and as I rode over the plains in the
summer of 1890 I saw his burial-place on top of a
high hill, and knew that his bones were guarded
night and day by watchers from among his people.
Two or three days before he died his best horse was
slaughtered for burial with him.    He heard  of it.
cd
" That was wrong," he said; " there was no sense i
n
doing that; and besides, the horse was worth good
money." But he was always at least as far as that
in advance of his people, and it was natural that
not only his horse, but his gun  and  blankets, his
J * CD
rich robes, and plenty of food to last him to the
happy hunting-grounds, should have been buried
with him. CHARTERING   A   NATION
15
There are different ways of judging which is the
best Indian, but from the  stand-point of him  who
would examine that distinct product of nature, the
Indian as the white man found him, the Canadian
Blackfeet are among if not quite the best.    They are
almost as primitive and natural as any, nearly the
most prosperous, physically very fine, the most free
from white men's vices.    They are the most reasonable in their attitude towards the whites of any who
hold to the true  Indian philosophy.    The sum of)
that philosophy is that civilization gets men a great J
many comforts, but bundles them up with so many)
rules and responsibilities and so  much hard work <
that, after  all,   the   wild   Indian   has   the   greatest
amount of pleasure and the least share of care that <
men can hope for.    That man is the fairest judge of"*
the red-skins who considers them as children, gov-
erned mainly by emotion, and acting upon undisciplined impulse; and I know of no more hearty, natural children than the careless, improvident, impulsive
boys and girls of from five to eighty years of age
whom  Crowfoot turned over to the care of Three
Bulls, his brother.
The Blackfeet of Canada number about two thousand men, women, and children. They dwell upon a
reserve of nearly five hundred square miles of plains
land, watered by the beautiful Bow River, and almost
within sight of the Rocky Mountains. It is in the
province of Alberta, north of our Montana. There
were three thousand and more of these Indians when
the Canadian Pacific Railway was built across their
hunting-ground, seven or eight years ago, but they i6
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
are losing numbers at the rate of two hundred and
fifty a year, roughly speaking. Their neighbors, the
tribes called the Bloods and the Piegans, are of the
same nation. The Sarcis, once a great tribe, became weakened by disease and war, and many years
ago begged to be taken into the confederation.
These tribes all have separate reserves near to one
.another, but all have heretofore acknowledged each
Blackfoot chief as their supreme ruler. Their old
men can remember when they used to roam as far
south as Utah, and be gone twelve months on the
war-path and on their foraging excursions for horses.
They chased the Crees as far north as the Crees
would run, and that was close to the arctic circle.
They lived in their war-paint and by the chase. Now
they are caged. They live unnaturally and die as
unnaturally, precisely like other wild animals shut up
in our parks. Within their park each gets a pound
of meat with half a pound of flour every day. Not
much comes to them besides, except now and then a
little game, tobacco, and new blankets. They are so-
poorly lodged and so scantily fed that they are not
fit to confront a Canadian winter, and lung troubles,
prey among them.
It is a harsh way to put it (but it is true of our own
government also) to say that one who has looked the
subject over is apt to decide that the policy of the
Canadian Government has been to make treaties with
the dangerous tribes, and to let the peaceful ones-
starve. The latter do not need to starve in Canada,
fortunately; they trust to the Hudson Bay Company
lor food and care, and not in vain.    Having treated
sss^sss^
^^^^^^^^ CHARTERING
with the wilder Indians, the rest of the policy is to
send the brightest of their boys to trade-schools, and
to try to induce the men to till the soil. Those who
do so are then treated more generously than the
others. I have my own ideas with which to meet
those who find nothing admirable in any except a
dead Indian, and with which to discuss the treatment
and policy the live Indian endures, but this is not the
place for the discussion. Suffice it that it is not to
be denied that between one hundred and fifty and
two hundred Blackfeet are learning to maintain several plots of farming land planted with oats and potatoes. This they are doing with, success, and with
the further result of setting a good example to the
rest. But most of the bucks are either sullenly or
stupidly clinging to the shadow and the memory of
the life that is gone.
It was a recollection of that life which they portrayed for us. And they did so with a fervor, an
abundance of detail and memento, and with a splendor few men have seen equalled in recent years—or
ever may hope to witness again.
We left the cars at Gleichen, a little border town
which depends almost wholly upon the Blackfeet and
their visitors for its maintenance. It has two stores
—one where the Indians get credit and high prices
(and at which the red men deal), and one at which
they may buy at low rates for cash, wherefore they
seldom go there. It has two hotels and a half-dozen
railway men's dwellings; and, finally, it boasts a tiny
little station or barracks of the North-west Mounted
Police, wherein the lower of the two rooms is fitted i8
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
with a desk, and hung with pistols, guns, handcuffs,
and cartridge belts, while the upper room contains the
cots for the men at night.
We went to the store that the Indians favor—just
such a store as you see at any cross-roads you drive
past in a summer's outing in the country—and there
were half a dozen Indians beautifying the door-way
and the interior, like magnified majolica-ware in a
crockery-shop. They were standing or sitting about
with thoughtful expressions, as Indians always do
when they go shopping; for your true Indian generates such a contemplative mood when he is about to
spend a quarter that one would fancy he must be the
most prudent and deliberate of men, instead of what
he really is—the greatest prodigal alive except the
negro. These bucks might easily have been mistaken
for waxworks. Unnaturally erect, with arms folded
beneath their blankets, they stood or sat without
moving a limb or muscle. Only when a new-comer
entered did they stir. Then they turned their heads
deliberately and looked at the visitor fixedly, as eagles
look at you from out their cages. They were strapping fine fellows, each bundled up in a colored blanket, flapping cloth leg-gear, and yellow moccasins.
Each had the front locks of his hair tied in an upright bunch, like a natural plume, and several wore
little brass rings, like baby finger-rings, around certain
side locks down beside their ears.
There they stood, motionless and speechless, waiting until the impulse should move them to buy what
they wanted, with the same deliberation with which
they had waited for the original impulse which sent CHARTERING  A   NATION
19
them to the store. If Mr. Frenchman, who kept the
store, had come from behind his counter, English-
fashion, and had said: " Come, come; what d'you
want ? Speak up now, and be quick about it. No
lounging here. Buy or get out." If he had said
that, or anything like it, those Indians would have
stalked out of his place, not to enter it again for a
very long time, if ever. Bartering is a serious and
complex performance to an Indian, and you might as
well try to hurry an elephant up a gang-plank as try
to quicken an Indian's procedure in trading.
We purchased of the Frenchman a chest of tea, a
great bag of lump sugar, and a small case of plug tobacco for gifts to the chief. Then we hired a buck-
board wagon, and made ready for the journey to the
reserve.
The road to the reserve lay several miles over the
plains, and commanded a view of rolling grass land,
like a brown sea whose waves were petrified, with
here and there a group of sickly wind-blown trees to
break the resemblance. The road was a mere wagon
track and horse-trail through the grass, but it was
criss-crossed with the once deep ruts that had been
worn by countless herds of buffalo seeking water.
Presently, as we journeyed, a little line of sand-hills
came into view. They formed the Blackfoot cemetery. We saw the " tepees of the dead" here and
there on the knolls, some new and perfect, some old
and weather-stained, some showing mere tatters of
cotton flapping on the poles, and still others only
skeleton tents, the poles remaining and the cotton
covering gone completely.   We knew what we would 20
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
see if we looked into those " dead tepees " (being careful to approach from the windward side). We would
see, lying on the ground or raised upon a framework,
a bundle that would be narrow at top and bottom,
and broad in the middle—an Indian's body rolled up
in a sheet of cotton, with his best bead-work and
blanket and gun in the bundle, and near by a kettle
and some dried meat and corn-meal against his feeling hungry on his long journey to the hereafter. As
one or two of the tepees were new, we expected to
see some family in mourning; and, sure enough, when
we reached the great sheer-sided gutter which the
Bow River has dug for its course through the plains,
we halted our horse and looked down upon a lonely
trio of tepees, with children playing around them and
women squatted by the entrances. Three families
had lost members, and were sequestered there in abject surrender to grief.
Those tents of the mourners were at our feet as we
rode southward, down in the river gully, where the
grass was green and the trees were leafy and thriving; but when we turned our faces to the eastward,
where the river bent around a great promontory,
what a sight met our gaze! There stood a city of
tepees, hundreds of them, showing white and yellow
and brown and red against the clear blue sky. A silent and lifeless city it seemed, for we were too far
off to see the people or to hear their noises. The
great huddle of little pyramids rose abruptly from the
level bare grass against the flawless sky, not like one
of those melancholy new treeless towns that white
men are building all over the prairie, but rather like CHARTERING  A   NATION
a mosquito fleet becalmed at sea. There are two
camps on the Blackfoot Reserve, the North Camp
and the South Camp, and this town of tents was between the two, and was composed of more households
than both together: for this was the assembling for
the sun-dance, their greatest religious festival, and
hither had come Bloods, Piegans, and Sarcis as well
as Blackfeet. Only the mourners kept away; for
here were to be echoed the greatest ceremonials of
that dead past, wherein lives dedicated to war and to
the chase inspired the deeds of valor which each
would now celebrate anew in speech or song. This
was to be the anniversary of the festival at which the
young men fastened themselves by a strip of flesh in
their chests to a sort of Maypole rope, and tore their
flesh apart to demonstrate their fitness to be considered braves. At this feast husbands had the right
to confess their women, and to cut their noses off if
they had been untrue, and if they yet preferred life to
the death they richly merited. At this gala-time
sacrifices of fingers were made by brave men to the
sun. Then every warrior boasted of his prowess, and
the young beaus feasted their eyes on gayly-clad
maidens the while they calculated for what number
of horses they could be purchased of their parents.
And at each recurrence of this wonderful holiday-
time every night was spent in feasting, gorging, and
gambling. In short, it was the great event of the
Indian year, and so it remains. Even now you may
see the young braves undergo the torture; and if you
may not see the faithless wives disciplined, you maj
at least perceive a score who have been, as well as 22
ON   CANADA S FRONTIER
hear the mighty boasting, and witness the dancing,
gaming, and carousing.
We turned our backs towards the tented field, for
we had not yet introduced ourselves to Mr. Magnus
J CD
Begg, the Indian agent in charge of the reserve. We
were soon within his official enclosure, where a pretty
frame house, an office no bigger than a freight car,
and a roomy barn and stable were all overtopped by
a central flag-staff, and shaded by flourishing trees.
Mr. Begg was at home, and, with his accomplished
wife, welcomed us in such a hearty manner as one
could hardly have expected, even where white folks
were so " mighty unsartin " to appear as they are on
the plains. The agent's house without is like any
pretty village home in the East; and within, the
only distinctive features are a number of ornamental
mounted wild-beast's heads and a room whose walls
are lined about with rare and beautiful Blackfoot
curios in skin and stone and bead-work. But, to our
joy, we found seated in that room the famous chief
Old Sun. He is the husband of the most remarkable
Indian squaw in America, and he would have been
Crowfoot's successor were it not that he was eighty-
seven years of age when the Blackfoot Caesar died.
As chief of the North Blackfeet, Old Sun boasts the
largest personal following on the Canadian plains,
having earned his popularity by his fighting record»
his commanding manner, his eloquence, and by that
generosity which leads him to give away his rations
and his presents. No man north of Mexico can
dress more gorgeously than he upon occasion, for
he still owns a buckskin outfit beaded to the value
^^^^^^^^M^e^^^^p^^^m^^ CHARTERING  A   NATION
of a Worth gown. Moreover, he owns a red coat,
such as the Government used to give only to great
chiefs. The old fellow had lost his vigor when we
saw him, and as he sat wrapped in his blanket he
looked like a half-emptied meal bag flung on a chair.
He despises English, but in that marvellous Volapiik
of the plains called the sign language he told us
that his teeth were gone, his hearing was bad, his
eyes were weak, and his flesh was spare. He told
his age also, and much else besides, and there is no
Cj '
one who reads this but could have readily understood his every statement and sentiment, conveyed
solely by means of his hands and fingers. I noticed
that he looked like an old woman, and it is a fact
that old Indian men frequently look so. Yet no one
ever saw a young brave whose face suggested a
woman's, though their beardless 'countenances and
long hair might easily create that appearance.
Mr. Remington was anxious to paint Old Sun and
his squaw, particularly the latter, and he easily obtained permission, although when the time for the
mysterious ordeal arrived next day the old chief was
greatly troubled in his superstitious old brain lest
some mischief would befall him through the medium
of the painting. To the Indian mind the sun, which
they worship, has magical, even devilish, powers, and
Old Sun developed a fear that the orb of day might
" work on his picture " and cause him to die. Fortunately I found in Mr. L'Hereux, the interpreter, a
person who had undergone the process without dire
consequences, was willing- to undergo it again, and
who added that his father and mother had submitted 24
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
to the operation, and yet had lived to a yellow old
age. When Old Sun brought his wife to sit for her
portrait I put all etiquette to shame in staring at her,
as you will all the more readily believe when you
know something of her history.
Old Sun's wife sits in the council of her nation—
the only woman, white, red, or black, of whom I have
ever heard who enjoys such a prerogative on this
continent. She earned her peculiar privileges, if any
one ever earned anything. Forty or more years ago
she was a Piegan maiden known only in her tribe,
and there for nothing more than her good origin, her
comeliness, and her consequent value in horses. She
met with outrageous fortune, but she turned it to
such good account that she was speedily ennobled.
She was at home in a little camp on the plains one
day, and had wandered away from the tents, when
she was kidnapped. It was in this wise: other
camps were scattered near there. On the night
before the day of her adventure a band of Crows
stole a number of horses from a camp of the Gros
Ventres, and very artfully trailed their plunder towards and close to the Piegan camp before they turned
and made their way to their own lodges. When the
Gros Ventres discovered their loss, and followed the
trail that seemed to lead to the Piegan camp, the girl
and her father, an aged chief, were at a distance from
their tepees, unarmed and unsuspecting. Down
swooped the Gros Ventres. They killed and scalped
the old man, and then their chief swung the young
girl upon his horse behind him, and binding her to
him with thongs of buckskin, dashed off triumphantly
^M CHARTERING  A   NATION
25
for his own village. That has happened to many
another Indian maiden, most of whom have behaved
as would a plaster image, saving a few days of weeping. Not such was Old Sun's wife. When she and
her captor were in sight of the Gros Ventre village,
she reached forward and stole the chief's scalping-
knife out of its sheath at his side. With it, still wet
with her father's blood, she cut him in the back
through to the heart. Then she freed his body from
hers, and tossed him from the horse's back. Leaping
to the ground beside his body, she not only scalped
him, but cut off his right arm and picked up his gun,
and rode madly back to her people, chased most of
the way, but bringing safely with her the three greatest trophies a warrior can wrest from a vanquished
enemy. Two of them would have distinguished any
brave, but this mere village maiden came with all
three. From that day she has boasted the right to
wear three eagle feathers.
Old Sun was a young man then, and when he
heard of this feat he came and hitched the requisite
number of horses to her mothers travois poles
beside her tent. . I do not recall how many steeds
she was valued at, but I have heard of very high-
priced Indian girls who had nothing except their
feminine qualities to recommend them. In one case
I knew that a young man, who had been casting
what are called " sheep's eyes " at a maiden, went one
day and tied four horses to her father's tent. Then
he stood around and waited, but there was no sign
from the tent. Next day he took four more, and so
he went on until he had tied sixteen horses to the 26
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
tepee. At the least they were worth $20, perhaps
$30, apiece. At that the maiden and her people
came out, and received the young man so graciously
that he knew he was "the young woman's choice,"
as we say in civilized circles, sometimes under very
similar circumstances.
At all events, Old Sun was rich and powerful, and
easily got the savage heroine for his wife. She was
admitted to the Blackfoot council without a protest,
and has since proven that her valor was not sporadic,
for she has taken the war-path upon occasion, and
other scalps have gone to her credit.
After a while we drove over to where the field lay
littered with tepees. There seemed to be no order in
the arrangement of the tents as we looked at the
scene from a distance. Gradually the symptoms of a
great stir and activity were observable, and we saw
men and horses running about at one side of the
nomad settlement, as well as hundreds of human
figures moving in the camp. Then a nearer view
brought out the fact that the tepees, which were of
many sizes, were apt to be white at the base, reddish
half-way up, and dark brown at the top. The smoke
of the fires within, and the rain and sun without,
paint all the cotton or canvas tepees like that, and
very pretty is the effect. When closer still, we saw
that each tepee was capped with a rude crown
formed of pole ends—the ends of the ribs of each
structure; that some of the tents were gayly ornamented with great geometric patterns in red, black,
and yellow around the bottoms; and that others bore
upon their sides rude but highly colored figures of CHARTERING  A   NATION
27
animals—the clan sign of the family within. Against
very many of the frail dwellings leaned a travois, the
triangle of poles which forms the wagon of the Indians. There were three or four very large tents,
the headquarters of the chiefs of the soldier bands
and of the head chief of the nation; and there was
one spotless new tent, with a pretty border painted
around its base, and the figure of an animal on either
side. It was the new establishment of a bride and
groom. A hubbub filled the air as we drew still
nearer; not any noise occasioned by our approach,
but the ordinary uproar of the camp—the barking of
dogs, the shouts of frolicking children, the yells of
young men racing on horseback and of others driv-
ing in their ponies. When we drove between the
first two tents wTe saw that the camp had been systematically arranged in the form of a rude circle,
with the tents in bunches around a great central
space, as large as Madison Square if its corners were
rounded off.
We were ushered into the presence of Three Bulls,
in the biggest of all the tents. By common consent
he was presiding as chief and successor to Crowfoot,
pending the formal election, which was to take place
at the feast of the sun-dance. European royalty
could scarcely have managed to invest itself with
more dignity or access to its presence with more
formality than hedged about this blanketed king.
He had assembled his chiefs and headmen to greet
us, for we possessed the eminence of persons bearing
gifts. He was in mourning for Crowfoot, who was his
brother, and for a daughter besides, and the form of 28
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
expression he gave to his grief caused him to wear
nothing but a flannel shirt and a breech - cloth, in
which he sat with his big brown legs bare and
crossed beneath him. He is a powerful man, with
an uncommonly large head, and his facial features, all
generously moulded, indicate amiability, liberality,
and considerable intelligence. Of middle age, smooth-
skinned, and plump, there was little of the savage in
his looks beyond what came of his long black hair.
It was purposely wore unkempt and hanging in his
eyes, and two locks of it were bound with many
brass rings. When we came upon him our gifts had
already been received and distributed, mainly to
three or four relatives. But though the others sat
about portionless, all were alike stolid and statuesque,
and whatever feelings agitated their breasts, whether
of satisfaction or disappointment, were equally hidden by all.
When we entered the big tepee we saw twenty-
one men,seated in a circle against the wall and facing
the open centre, where the ground was blackened by
the ashes of former fires. Three Bulls sat exactly
opposite the queer door, a horseshoe-shaped hole
reaching two feet above the ground, and extended
by the partly loosened lacing that held the edges of
the tent-covering together. Mr. L'Hereux, the interpreter, made a long speech in introducing each of
us. We stood in the middle of the ring, and the
chief punctuated the interpreter's remarks with that
queer Indian grunt which it has ever been the custom to spell " ugh," but which you may imitate exactly if you will try to say " Ha " through your nose CHARTERING  A   NATION
29
while your mouth is closed. As Mr. L'Hereux is a
great talker, and is of a poetic nature, there is no
telling what wild fancy of his active brain he in
vented concerning us, but he made a friendly talk,
and that was what we wanted. As each speech
closed, Three Bulls lurched forward just enough to
make the putting out of his hand a gracious act, yet
not enough to disturb his dignity. After each salutation he pointed out a seat for the one with whom
he had shaken hands. He announced to the council
in their language that we were good men, whereat
the council uttered a single " Ha" through its twenty-
one noses. If you had seen the rigid stateliness of
Three Bulls, and had felt the frigid self-possession of
the twenty-one ramrod-mannered under-chiefs, as well
as the deference which was in the tones of the other
white men in our company, you would comprehend
that we were made to feel at once honored and subordinate. Altogether we made an odd picture: a
circle of men seated tailor fashion, and my own and
Mr. Remington's black shoes marring the gaudy ring
of yellow moccasins in front of the savages, as they
sat in their colored blankets and fringed and be-
feathered gear, each with the calf of one leg crossed
before the shin of the other.
But L'Hereux's next act after introducing us was
one that seemed to indicate perfect indifference to the
feelings of this august body. No one but he, who
had spent a quarter of a century with them in closest
intimacy, could have acted as he proceeded to do.
He cast his eyes on the ground, and saw the mounds
of sugar, tobacco, and tea heaped before only a cer- 3Q
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
tain few Indians. " Now who has done dose ting?"
he inquired. 1 Oh, dat vill nevaire do 'tall. You
haf done dose t'ing, Mistaire Begg? No? Who
den? Chief? Nevaire mind. I make him all rount
again, vaire deeferent. You shall see somet'ing."
With that, and yet without ceasing to talk for an
instant, now in Indian and now in his English, he
began to dump the tea back again into the chest,
the sugar into the bag, and the plug tobacco in a
heap by itself. Not an Indian moved a muscle—
unless I was right in my suspicion that the corners
of Three Bulls' mouth curved upward slightly, as if
he were about to smile. | Vot kind of wa-a-y to do-o
somet'ing is dat?" the interpreter continued, in his
sing-song tone. "You moos' haf one maje-dome
[major-domo] if you shall try satisfy dose Engine."
He always called the Indians | dose Engine." " Dat
chief gif all dose present to his broders und cousins,
vhich are in his famille. Now you shall see me, vot
I shall do." Taking his hat, he began filling it, now
with sugar and now with tea, and emptying it before
some six or seven chiefs. Finally, when a double
share was left, he gave both bag and chest to Three
Bulls, to whom he also gave all the tobacco. " Such
tam-fool peezness," he went on, " I do not see in all
my life. I make visitation to de free soljier chief
vhich shall make one grand darnce for dose gentlemen, und here is for dose soljier chief not anyt'ing
'tall, vhile everyt'ing was going to one lot of beggaire
relation of T'ree Bull. Dat is what I call one tam-
fool way to do somet'ing."
The redistribution accomplished, Three Bulls wore   CHARTERING  A   NATION
33
a grin of satisfaction, and one chief who had lost a
great pile of presents, and who got nothing a,t all by
the second division, stalked solemnly out of the tent,
through not until Three Bulls had tossed the plugs
of tobacco to all the men around the circle, precisely
as he might have thrown bones to dogs, but always
observing a certain order in making each round with
the plugs. All were thus served according to their
rank. Then Three Bulls rummaged with one hand
behind him in the grass, and fetched forward a great
pipe with a stone bowl and wooden handle—a sort
of chopping-block of wood—and a large long-bladed
knife. Taking a plug of tobacco in one hand and the
knife in the other, he pared off enough tobacco to fill
the pipe. Then he filled it, and passed it, stem foremost, to a young man on the left-hand side of the tepee.
The superior chiefs all sat on the right-hand side.
The young man knew that he had been chosen to
perform the menial act of lighting the pipe, and he
lighted it, pulling two or three whiffs of smoke to
insure a good coal of fire in it before passing it back
—through why it was not considered a more menial
task to cut the tobacco and fill the pipe than to light
it I don't know.
Three Bulls puffed the pipe for a moment, and
then turning the stem from him, pointed it at the
chief next in importance, and to that personage the
symbol of peace was passed from hand to hand.
When that chief had drawn a few whiffs, he sent the
pipe back to Three Bulls, who then indicated to
whom it should go next. Thus it went dodging
about the circle like a marble on a bagatelle board. 34
ON   CANADA'S   FRONTIER
When it came to me, I hesitated a moment whether
or not to smoke it, but the desire to be polite outweighed any other prompting, and I sucked the pipe
until some of the Indians cried out that I was " a
good fellow."
While all smoked and many talked, I noticed that
Three Bulls sat upon a soft seat formed of his
blanket, at one end of which was one of those wicker-
work contrivances, like a chair back, upon which Indians lean when seated upon the ground. I noticed
also that one harsh criticism passed upon Three
Bulls was just; that was that when he spoke, others
might interrupt him. It was said that even women
"talked back" to him at times when he was harang-
uing his people. Since no one spoke when Crowfoot
talked, the comparison between him and his predecessor was injurious to him; but it was Crowfoot
who named Three Bulls for the chieftainship. Besides, Three Bulls had the largest following (under
that of the too aged Old Sun), and was the most
generous chief and ablest politician of all. Then,
again, the Government supported him with whatever
its influence amounted to. This was because Three
Bulls favored agricultural employment for the tribe,
and was himself cultivating a patch of potatoes. He
was in many other ways the man to lead in the new
era, as Crowfoot had been for the era that was past.
When we retired from the presence of the chief, I
asked Mr. L'Hereux how he had dared to take back
the presents made to the Indians and then distribute
them differently. The queer Frenchman said, in his
indescribably confident, jaunty way:
^^^^^^^^^^m^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^M CHARTERING  A   NATION
" Why, dat is how you mus' do wid dose Engine.
Nevaire ask one of dose Engine anyt'ing, but do
dose t'ing which are right, and at de same time make
explanashion what you are doing. Den dose Engine
can say no t'ing 'tall. But if you first make explanashion and den try to do sometrig, you will find one
grand trouble. Can you explain dis and dat to one
hive of de bees ? Well, de hive of de bee is like
dose Engine if you shall talk widout de promp'
action."
He said, later on, " Dose Engine are children, and
mus' not haf consideration like mans and women."
The news of our generosity ran from tent to tent,
and the Black Soldier band sent out a herald to cry
the news that a war-dance was to be held immediately. As immediately means to the Indian mind
an indefinite and very enduring period, I amused myself by poking about the village, in tents and among
groups of men or women, wherever chance led me.
The herald rode from side to side of the enclosure,
yelling like a New York fruit peddler. He was
mounted on a bay pony, and was fantastically costumed with feathers and war-paint. Of course every
man, woman, and child who had been in-doors, so to
speak, now came out of the tepees, and a mighty
bustle enlivened the scene. The worst thing about
the camp was the abundance of snarling cur-dogs.
It was not safe to walk about the camp without a
cane or whip, on account of these dogs.
The Blackfeet are poor enough, in all conscience,
from nearly every stand-point from which we judge
civilized communities, but their tribal possessions in- elude several horses to each head of a family; and
though the majority of their ponies would fetch no
more than $20 apiece out there, even this gives them
more wealth per capita than many civilized peoples
can boast. They have managed, also, to keep much
of the savage paraphernalia of other days in the form
of buckskin clothes, elaborate bead-work, eagle headdresses, good guns, and the outlandish adornments of
their chiefs and medicine-men. Hundreds of miles
from any except such small and distant towns as Calgary and Medicine Hat, and kept on the reserve as
much as possible, there has come to them less damage
by whiskey and white men's vices than perhaps most
other tribes have suffered. Therefore it was still
possible for me to see in some tents the squaws at
work painting the clan signs on stretched skins, and
making bead-work for moccasins, pouches, " chaps,'
and the rest. And in one tepee I found a young
and rather pretty girl wearing a suit of buckskin, CHARTERING  A   NATION
37
such as Cooper and all the past historians of the Indian knew as the conventional every-day attire of the
red-skin. I say I saw the girl in a tent, but, as a matter of fact, she passed me out-of-doors, and with true
feminine art managed to allow her blanket to fall
open for just the instant it took to disclose the precious dress beneath it. I asked to be taken into the
tent to which she went, and there, at the interpreter's
request, she threw off her blanket, and stood, with a
little display of honest coyness, dressed like the traditional and the theatrical belle of the wilderness.
The soft yellowish leather, the heavy fringe upon
the arms, seams, and edges of the garment, her beautiful beaded leggings and moccasins, formed so many
parts of a very charming picture. For herself, her
face was comely, but her figure was—an Indian's.
The figure of the typical Indian woman shows few
graceful curves.
The reader will inquire w-hether there was any
real beauty, as we judge it, among these Indians.
Yes, there was; atr least there were good looks if
there was not beauty. I saw perhaps a dozen fine-
looking men, half a dozen attractive girls, and something like a hundred children of varying degrees of
comeliness — pleasing, pretty, or beautiful. I had
some jolly romps with the children, and so came to
know that their faces and arms met my touch with
the smoothness and softness of the flesh of our own
little ones at home. I was surprised at this ; indeed,
the skin of the boys was of the texture of velvet.
The madcap urchins, what riotous fun they were
having!    They flung arrows and darts, ran races and 38
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
wrestled, and in some of their play they fairly swarmed
all over one another, until at times one lad would be
buried in the thick of a writhing mass of legs and
arms several feet in depth. Some of the boys wore
only " G-strings' (as, for some reason, the breech-
clout is commonly called on the prairie), but others
were wrapped in old blankets, and the larger ones
were already wearing the Blackfoot plume-lock, or
tuft of hair tied and trained to stand erect above the
forehead. The babies within the tepees were clad
only in their complexions.
The result of an hour of waiting on our part and
of yelling on the part of the herald resulted in a war-
dance, not very different in itself from the dances we
have most of us seen at Wild West shows. An immense tomtom as big as the largest-sized bass-drum
was set up between four poles, around which colored
cloths were wrapped, and from the tops of which
the same gay stuff floated on the wind in bunches
of party-colored ribbons. Around this squatted
four young braves, who pounded the drum-head
and chanted a tune, which rose and fell between
the shrillest and the deepest notes, but which consisted of simple monosyllabic sounds repeated thousands of times. The interpreter said that originally
the Indians had words to their songs, but these were
forgotten no man knows when, and only the so-called
tunes (and the tradition that there once were words
for them) are perpetuated. At all events, the four
braves beat the drum and chanted, until presently a
young warrior, hideous with war-paint, and carrying a
shield and a tomahawk, came out of a tepee and be-   CHARTERING  A   NATION
41
gan the dancing. It was the stiff-legged hopping, first
on one foot and then on the other, which all savages
appear to deem the highest form the terpsichorean"
art can take. In the course of a few circles around
the tomtom he began shouting of valorous deeds he
never had performed, for he was too young to have
ridden after buffalo or into battle. Presently he pretended to see upon the ground something at once
fascinating and awesome. It wTas the trail of the
enemy. Then he danced furiously and more lim-
berly, tossing his head back, shaking his hatchet and
many-tailed shield high aloft, and yelling that he was
following the foe, and would not rest while a skull
and a scalp-lock remained in conjunction among
them. He was joined by three others, and all danced
and yelled like madmen. At the last the leader came
to a sort of standard made of a stick and some cloth,
tore it out from where it had been thrust in the
ground, and holding it far above his head, pranced
once around the circle, and thus ended the dance.
The novelty and interest in the celebration rested
in the surroundings—the great circle of tepees; the
braves in their blankets stalking hither and thither;
the dogs, the horses, the intrepid riders, dashing
across the view. More strange still was the solemn
line of the medicine-men, who, for some reason not
explained to me, sat in a row with their backs to the
dancers a city block away, and crooned a low guttural accompaniment to the tomtom. But still motfe
interesting were the boys, of all grades of childhood,
who looked on, while not a woman remained in sight.
The larger boys stood about in groups, watching the 42
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
spectacle with eyes afire with admiration, but the
little fellows had flung themselves on their stomachs
in a row, and were supporting their chubby faces
upon their little brown hands, while their elbows
rested on the grass, forming a sort of orchestra row
of Lilliputian spectators.
We arranged for a great spectacle to be gotten up
on the next afternoon, and were promised that it
should be as notable for the numbers. participating
in it and for the trappings to be displayed as any the
Blackfeet had ever given upon their reserve. The
Indians spent the entire night in carousing over the
gift of tea, and we knew that if they were true to
most precedents they would brew and drink every
drop of it. Possibly some took it with an admixture
of tobacco and wild currant to make them drunk, or,
in reality, very sick—which is much the same thing
to a reservation Indian. The compounds which the
average Indian will swallow in the hope of imitating
the effects of whiskey are such as to tax the credulity
of those who hear of them. A certain patent "painkiller" ranks almost as high as whiskey in their estimation; but Worcestershire sauce and gunpowder,
or tea, tobacco, and wild currant, are not at all to be
despised when alcohol, or the money to get it with,
is wanting. I heard a characteristic story about these
red men while I was visiting them. All who are
familiar with them know that if medicine is given
them to take in small portions at certain intervals
they are morally sure to swallow it all at once, and
that the sicker it makes them, the more they will-
value it.    On the Blackfoot Reserve, only a short time !35f?»<tftf ^"""ftf-
SKETCH IN THE SOLDIER CLAN DANCE
ago, our gentle and insinuating Sedlitz-powders were
classed as children's stuff, but now they have leaped
to the front rank as powerful medicines. This is because some white man showed the Indian how to
take the soda and magnesia first, and then swallow
the tartaric acid. They do this, and when the explosion follows, and the gases burst from their mouths
and noses, they pull themselves together and remark,
" Ugh ! him heap good."
On the morning of the day of the great spectacle I
rode with Mr. Begg over to the ration-house to see the
meat distributed. The dust rose in clouds above all
the trails as the cavalcade of men, women, children,
travoises and dogs, approached the station. Men
were few in the disjointed lines; most of them sent 44
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
their women or children. All rode astraddle, some
on saddles and some bareback. As all urged their
horses in the Indian fashion, which is to whip them
unceasingly, and prod them constantly with spurless
heels, the bobbing movement of the riders' heads and
the gymnastics of their legs produced a queer scene.
Here and there a travois was trailed along by a horse
or a dog, but the majority of the pensioners were
content to carry their meat in bags or otherwise upon
their horses. While the slaughtering went on, and
after that, when the beef was being chopped up into
junks, I sat in the meat-contractor's office, and saw
the bucks, squaws, and children come, one after
another, to beg. I could not help noticing that all
were treated with marked and uniform kindness, and
I learned that no one ever struck one of the Indians,
or suffered himself to lose his temper with them. A
few of the men asked for blankets, but the squaws
and the children wanted soap. It wTas said that when
they first made their acquaintance with this symbol
of civilization they mistook it for an article of diet,
but that now they use it properly and prize it. When
it was announced that the meat was ready, the butchers threw open an aperture in the wall of the ration-
house, and the Indians huddled before it as if they
had flung themselves against the house in a mass.
I have seen boys do the same thing at the opening
of a ticket window for the sale of gallery seats in a
theatre. There was no fighting or quarrelling, but
every Indian pushed steadily and silently with all his
or her might. When one got his share he tore himself away from the crowd as briers are pulled out of CHARTERING  A   NATION
45
hairy cloth. They are a hungry and an economical
people. They bring pails for the beef blood, and
they carry home the hoofs for jelly. After a steer
has been butchered and distributed, only his horns
and his paunch remain.
The sun blazed down on the great camp that afternoon and glorified the place so that it looked like
a miniature Switzerland of snowy peaks. But it was
hot, and blankets were stretched from the tent tops,
and the women sat under them to catch the air and
escape the heat. The salaried native policeman of
the reserve, wearing a white stove-pipe hat with
feathers, and a ridiculous blue coat, and Heaven
alone knows what other absurdities, rode around,
boasting of deeds he never performed, while a white
cur made him all the more ridiculous by chasing him
and yelping at his horse's tail.
And then came the grand spectacle. The vast
plain was forgotten, and the great campus within the
circle of tents was transformed into a theatre. The
scene was a setting of white and red tents that threw
their clear-cut outlines against a matchless blue sky.
The audience was composed of four white men and
the Indian boys, who were flung about by the startled
horses they were holding for us. The players were
the gorgeous cavalrymen of nature, circling before
their women and old men and children, themselves
plumed like unheard-of tropical birds, the others
displaying the minor splendor of the kaleidoscope.
The play was " The Pony War - dance, or the Departure for Battle." The acting was fierce; not like
the conduct of a mimic battle on our stage, but per- 46
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
formed with the desperate zest of men wiio hope for
distinction in war, and may not trifle about it. It
had the earnestness of a challenged man who tries
the foils with a tutor. It was impressive, inspiring,
at times wildly exciting.
There were threescore young men in the brilliant
cavalcade. They rode horses that were as wild as
themselves. Their evolutions were rude, but mag-
nificent. Now they dashed past us in single file, and
next they came helter-skelter, like cattle stampeding.
For a while they rode around and around, as on a
race-course, but at times they deserted the enclosure,
parted into small bands, and were hidden behind the
curtains of their own dust, presently to reappear with
a mad rush, yelling like maniacs, firing their pieces,
and brandishing their arms and their finery wildly on
high. The orchestra was composed of seven tomtoms that had been dried taut before a camp fire.
The old men and the chiefs sat in a semicircle behind the drummers on the ground.
All the tribal heirlooms were in the display, the
cherished gewgaws, trinkets, arms, apparel, and finery
they had saved from the fate of which they will not
admit they are themselves the victims. I never saw
an old-time picture of a type of savage red man or of
an extravagance of their costuming that was not re-
vived in this spectacle. It was as if the plates in my
old school-books and novels and tales of adventure
were all animated and passing before me. The traditional Indian with the eagle plumes from crown to
heels was there; so was he with the buffalo horns
growing out of his skull; so were the idyllic braves   CHARTERING  A   NATION
49
in yellow buckskin fringed at every point. The shining bodies of men, bare naked, and frescoed like a
Bowery bar-room, were not lacking; neither were
those who wore masses of splendid embroidery with
colored beads. But there were as many peculiar
costumes which I never had seen pictured. And
not any two men or any two horses were alike. As
barber poles are covered with paint, so were many of
these choice steeds of the nation. Some were spotted
all over with daubs of white, and some with every
color obtainable. Some were branded fifty times
with the white hand, the symbol of peace, but others
bore the red hand and the white hand in alternate
prints. There were horses painted with the figures
of horses and of serpents and of foxes. To some
saddles were affixed colored blankets or cloths that
fell upon the ground or lashed the air, according as
the horse cantered or raced. One horse was hung
all round with great soft woolly tails of some white
material.    Sleigh-bells were upon several.
Only half a dozen men wore hats—mainly cowboy
hats decked with feathers. Many carried rifles, which
they used with one hand. Others brought out bows
and arrows, lances decked with feathers or ribbons,
poles hung with colored cloths, great shields brilliantly painted and fringed. Every visible inch of
each warrior was painted, the naked ones being
ringed, streaked, and striped from head to foot. I
would have to catalogue the possessions of the whole
nation to tell all that they wore between the brass
rings in their hair and the cartridge-belts at their
waists, and thus down to their beautiful moccasins. 5o
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
Two strange features further distinguished their
pageant. One was the appearance of two negro
minstrels upon one horse. Both had blackened their
faces and hands; both wore old stove-pipe hats and
queer long-tailed white men's coats. One wore a
huge false white mustache, and the other carried a
coal-scuttle. The women and children roared with
laughter at the sight. The two comedians got down
from their horse, and began to make grimaces, and
to pose this way and that, very comically. Such a
performance had never been seen on the reserve before. No one there could explain where the men had
seen negro minstrels. The other unexpected feature
required time for development. At first we noticed
that two little Indian boys kept getting in the way of
the riders. As we were not able to find any fixed
place of safety from the excited horsemen, we marvelled that these children were permitted to risk their
necks.
Suddenly a hideously - painted naked man on
horseback chased the little boys, leaving the cavalcade, and circling around the 'children. He rode
back into the ranks, and still they loitered in the
way. Then around swept the horsemen once more,
and this time the naked rider flung himself from his
horse, and seizing one boy and then the other, bore
each to the ground, and made as if he would brain
them with his hatchet and lift their scalps with his
knife. The sight was one to paralyze an on-looker.
But it was only a theatrical performance arranged for
the occasion. The man was acting over again the
proudest of his achievements.    The boys played the THROWING THE SNOW  SNAKE
parts of two white men whose scalps now grace his
tepee and gladden his memory.
For ninety minutes we watched the glorious riding, the splendid horses, the brilliant trappings,
and the paroxysmal fervor of the excited Indians.
The earth trembled beneath the dashing of the
riders; the air palpitated with the noise of their
war-cries and bells. We could have stood the day
out, but we knew the players were tired, and yet 52
ON  CANADA S FRONTIER
would not cease till we withdrew.     Therefore we
came away.
We had enjoyed a never-to-be-forgotten privilege.
It was as if we had seen the ghosts of a dead people
ride back to parody scenes in an era that had vanished. It was like the rising of the curtain, in re-
sponse to an " encore," upon a drama that has been
played. It was as if the sudden up-flashing of a
smouldering fire lighted, once again and for an instant, the scene it had ceased to illumine. Ill
A   FAMOUS   MISSIONARY
THE former chief of the Blackfeet—Crowfoot—
and Father Lacombe, the Roman Catholic
missionary to the tribe, were the most interesting
an'd among the most influential public characters in
the newer part of Canada. They had much to do
with controlling the peace of a territory the size of a
great empire.
The chief was more than eighty years old; the
priest is a dozen years younger;. and yet they represented in their experiences the two great epochs of
life on this continent—the barbaric and the progressive. In the chief's boyhood the red man held undisputed sway from the Lakes to the Rockies. In the
priest's youth he led, like a scout, beyond the advancing hosts from Europe. But Father Lacombe came
bearing the olive branch of religion, and he and the
barbarian became fast friends, intimates in a companionship as picturesque and out of the, common as any
the world could produce.
There is something very strange about the relations of the French and the French half-breeds with
the wild men of the plains. It is not altogether necessary that the Frenchman should be a priest, for I
have heard of French half-breeds in our Territories
who showed again and again that they could make 54
ON  CANADA S  FRONTIER
their way through bands of hostiles in perfect safety,
though knowing nothing of the language of the tribes
there in war-paint. It is most likely that their swarthy
skins and black hair, and their knowledge of savage
ways aided them. But when not even a French half-
breed has dared to risk his life among angry Indians,
the French missionaries went about their duty fearlessly and unscathed. There was one, just after the
dreadful massacre of the Little Big Horn, who built
a cross of rough wood, painted it white, fastened it to
his buck-board, and drove through a country in which
a white man with a pale face and blond hair would
not have lived two hours.
It must be remembered that in a vast region of
country the French priest and voyageur and coureur
des bois were the first white men the Indians saw, and
while the explorers and traders seldom quarrelled
with the red men or offered violence to them, the
priests never did. They went about like women or
children, or, rather, like nothing else than priests.
They quickly learned the tongues of the savages,
treated them fairly, showed the sublimest courage,
and acted as counsellors, physicians, and friends.
There is at least one brave Indian fighter in our
army who will state it as his belief that if all the
white men had done thus we would have had but little trouble with our Indians.
Father Lacombe was one of the priests who threaded the trails of the North-western timber land and the
Far Western prairie when white men were very few
indeed in that country, and the only settlements were
those that had grown around the frontier forts and A  FAMOUS  MISSIONARY
55
the still earlier mission chapels. For instance, in
1849, at twenty-two years of age, he slept a night or
two where St. Paul now weights the earth. It was
then a village of twenty-five log-huts, and where the
great building of the St. Paul Pioneer Press now
stands, then stood the village chapel. For two years
he worked at his calling on either side of the American frontier, and then was sent to what is now Edmonton, in that magical region of long summers and
great agricultural capacity known as the Peace River
District, hundreds of miles north of Dakota and
Idaho. There the Rockies are broken and lowered,
and the warm Pacific winds have rendered the region
warmer than the land far to the south of it. But
Father Lacombe went farther—400 miles north to
Lake Labiche. There he found what he calls a fine
colony of half-breeds. These were dependants of the
Hudson Bay Company—white men from England,
France, and the Orkney Islands, and Indians and
half-breeds and their children. The visits of priests
were so infrequent that in the intervals between them
the white men and Indian women married one another, not without formality and the sanction of the
colony, but without waiting for the ceremony of the
Church. Father Lacombe was called upon to bless
and solemnize many such matches, to baptize many
children, and to teach and preach what scores knew
but vaguely or not at all.
In time he was sent to Calgary, in the province of
Alberta. It is one of the most bustling towns in the
Dominion, and the biggest place west of Winnipeg.
Alberta is north of our Montana, and is all prairie- 56
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
land; but from Father Lacombe's parsonage one sees
the snow-capped Rockies, sixty miles away, lying
above the horizon like a line of clouds tinged with
the delicate hues of mother-of-pearl in the sunshine.
Calgary was a mere post in the wilderness for years
after the priest went there. The buffaloes roamed
the prairie in fabulous numbers, the Indians used the
bow and arrow in the chase, and the maps we studied
at the time showed the whole region enclosed in a
loop, and marked " Blackfoot Indians." But the other
Indians were loath to accept this disposition of the
territory as final, and the country thereabouts was an
almost constant battle-ground between the Blackfoot
nation of allied tribes and the Sioux, Crows, Flat-
heads, Crees, and others.
The good priest—for if ever there was a good man
Father Lacombe is one—saw fighting enough, as he
roamed with one tribe and the other, or journeyed
from tribe to tribe. His mission led him to ignore
tribal differences, and to preach to all the Indians of
the plains. He knew the chiefs and headmen among
them all, and so justly did he deal with them that he
was not only able to minister to all without attracting the enmity of any, but he came to wield, as he
does to-day, a formidable power over all of them.
He knew old Crowfoot in his prime, and as I saw
them together they were like bosom friends. Together they had shared dreadful privation and survived frightful winters and storms. They had gone
side by side through savage battles, and each respected and loved the other. I think I make no mistake
in saying that all through his reign Crowfoot was the k
A  FAMOUS  MISSIONARY
57
greatest Indian monarch in Canada; possibly no
tribe in this country was stronger in numbers during
the last decade or two. I have never seen a nobler-
looking Indian or a more king-like man. He was tall
and straight, as slim as a girl, and he had the face of
an eagle or of an ancient Roman. He never troubled
himself to learn the English language; he had little
use for his own. His grunt or his J No" ran all
through his tribe. He never shared his honors with
a squaw. He died an old bachelor, saying, wittily,
that no woman would take him.
It must be remembered that the degradation of
the Canadian Indian began a dozen or fifteen years
later than that of our own red men. In both countries the railroads were indirectly the destructive
agents, and Canada's great transcontinental line is a
new institution. Until it belted the prairie the other
day the Blackfoot Indians led very much the life of
their fathers, hunting and trading for the whites, to
be sure, but living like Indians, fighting like Indians,
and dying like them. Now they don't fight, and they
live and die like dogs. Amid the old conditions
lived Crowfoot — a haughty, picturesque, grand old
savage. He never rode or walked without his head-
men in his retinue, and when he wished to exert his
authority, his apparel was royal indeed. His coat
of gaudy bead-work was a splendid garment, and
weighed a dozen pounds. His leg-gear was just as
fine; his moccasins would fetch fifty dollars in any
city to-day. Doubtless he thought his hat was quite
as impressive and king-like, but to a mere scion of
effeminate civilization it looked remarkably like an 58
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
extra tall plug hat, with no crown in the top and a
lot of crows' plumes in the band. You may be sure
his successor wears that same hat to-day, for the Indians revere the " state hat" of a brave chief, and look
at it through superstitious eyes, so that those queer
hats (older tiles than ever see the light of St. Patrick's
Day) descend from chief to chief, and are hallowed.
But Crowfoot died none too soon. The history of
the conquest of the wilderness contains no more pathetic story than that of how the kind old priest,
Father Lacombe, warned the chief and his lieutenants against the coming of the pale-faces. He went
to the reservation and assembled the leaders before
him in council. He told them that the white men
were building a great railroad, and in a month their
workmen would be in that virgin country. He told
the wondering red men that among these laborers
would be found many bad men seeking to sell whiskey, offering money for the ruin of the squaws.
Reaching the greatest eloquence possible for him,
because he loved the Indians and doubted their
strength, he assured them that contact with these
white men would result in death, in the destruction
of the Indians, and by the most horrible processes of
disease and misery. He thundered and he pleaded.
The Indians smoked and reflected. Then they
spoke through old Crowfoot:
" We have listened. We will keep upon our reservation.    We will not go to see the railroad."
But Father Lacombe doubted still, and yet more
profoundly was he convinced of the ruin of the tribe
should the " children," as he sagely calls all Indians, A   FAMOUS   MISSIONARY
59
disobey him. So once again he went to the reserve,
and gathered the chief and the headmen, and warned
them of the soulless, diabolical, selfish instincts of
the white men. Again the grave warriors promised
to obey him.
The railroad laborers came with camps and money
and liquors and numbers, and the prairie thundered
the echoes of their sledge-hammer strokes. And one
morning the old priest looked out of the window of
his bare bedroom and saw curling wisps of gray
smoke ascending from a score of tepees on the hill
beside Calgary.* Angry, amazed, he went to his
doorway and opened it, and there upon the ground
sat some of the headmen and the old men, with bowed heads, ashamed. Fancy the priest's wrath and his
questions! Note how wisely he chose the name of
children for them, when I tell you that their spokesman at last answered with the excuse that the buffaloes were gone, and food was hard to get, and the
white men brought money which the squaws could
get. And what is the end ? There are always tepees on the hills now beside every settlement near
the Blackfoot reservation. And one old missionary
lifted his trembling forefinger towards the sky, when
I was there, and said: " Mark me. In fifteen years
there will not be a full-blooded Indian alive on the
Canadian prairie—not one."
Through all that revolutionary railroad building
and the rush of new settlers, Father Lacombe and
* Since this was written Father Lacombe's work has been continued at Fort McLeod in the same province as Calgary. In this
smaller place he finds more time for his literary pursuits. 6o
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
Crowfoot kept the Indians from war, and even from
depredations and from murder. When the half-
breeds arose under Riel, and every Indian looked to
his rifle and his knife, and when the mutterings that
preface the war-cry sounded in every lodge, Father
Lacombe made Crowfoot pledge his word that the
Indians should not rise. The priest represented the
Government on these occasions. The Canadian
statesmen recognize the value of his services. He
is the great authority on Indian matters beyond our
border; the ambassador to and spokesman for the
Indians.
But Father Lacombe is more than that. He is
the deepest student of the Indian languages that
Canada possesses. The revised edition of Bishop
Barager's Grammar of the Ochipwe Language bears
these words upon its title-page: " Revised by the Rev.
Father Lacombe, Oblate Mary Immaculate, 1878."
He is the author of the authoritative Dictionnaire et
Grammaire de la Langue Crise, the dictionary of the
Cree dialect published in 1874. He has compiled
just such another monument to the Blackfoot language, and will soon publish it, if he has not done so
already. He is in constant correspondence with our
Smithsonian Institution; he is famous to all who
study the Indian; he is beloved or admired throughout Canada.
His work in these lines is labor of love. He is a
student by nature. He began the study of the Algonquin language as a youth in older Canada, and the
tongues of many of these tribes from Labrador to
Athabasca are but dialects of the language of the   A   FAMOUS   MISSIONARY
63
great Algonquin nation—the Algic family. He told
me that the white man's handling of Indian wrords in
the nomenclature of our cities, provinces, and States
is as brutal as anything charged against the savages.
Saskatchewan, for instance, means nothing. | Kis-
siskatchewan' is the word that was intended. It
means " rapid current." Manitoba is senseless, but
"Manitowapa' (the mysterious strait) would have
been full of local import. However, there is no need
to sadden ourselves with this expert knowledge.
Rather let us be grateful for every Indian name with
which we have stamped individuality upon the map
of the world, be it rightly or wrongly set forth.
It is strange to think of a scholar and a priest
amid the scenes that Father Lacombe has witnessed.
It was one of the most fortunate happenings of my
life that I chanced to be in Calgary and in the little
mission beside the chapel when Chief Crowfoot came
to pay his respects to his old black-habited friend.
Anxious to pay the chief such a compliment as should
present the old warrior to me in the light in which he
would be most proud to be viewed, Father Lacombe
remarked that he had known Crowfoot when he was
a young man and a mighty warrior. The old copper-plated Roman smiled and swelled his chest when
this was translated. He was so pleased that the
priest was led to ask him if he remembered one night
when a certain trouble about some horses, or a chance
duel between the Blackfoot tribe and a band of its
enemies, led to a midnight attack. If my memory
serves me, it was the Bloods (an allied part of the
Blackfoot nation) who picked this quarrel.  The chief 64
ON   CANADAS   FRONTIER
grinned and grunted wonderfully as the priest spoke.
The priest asked if he remembered how the Bloods
were routed. The chief grunted even more emphatically. Then the priest asked if the chief recalled
what a pickle he, the priest, was in when he found
himself in the thick of the fight. At that old Crowfoot actually laughed.
After that Father Lacombe, in a few bold sentences, drew a picture of the quiet, sleep-enfolded
camp of the Blackfoot band, of the silence and the
darkness. Then he told of a sudden musket-shot;
then of the screaming of the squaws, and the barking of the dogs, and the yelling of the children, of
the general hubbub and confusion of the startled
camp. The cry was everywhere " The Bloods! the
Bloods!" The enemy shot a fusillade at close quarters into the Blackfoot camp, and the priest ran out
towards the blazing muskets, crying that they must
stop, for he, their priest, was in the camp. He shouted his own name, for he stood towards the Bloods
precisely as he did towards the Blackfoot nation.
But whether the Bloods heard him or not, they did
not heed him. The blaze of their guns grew strong-
er and crept nearer. The bullets whistled by. It
grew exceedingly unpleasant to be there. It was
dangerous as well. Father Lacombe said that he did
all he could to stop the fight, but when it was evident that his behavior would simply result in the massacre of his hosts and of himself in the bargain, he
altered his cries into military commands. " Give it
to 'em I" he screamed. He urged Crowfoot's braves
to return two shots for every one from the enemy. A  FAMOUS   MISSIONARY
65
He took command, and inspired the bucks with
double valor. They drove the Bloods out of reach
and hearing.
All this was translated to Crowfoot—or Saponaxi-
taw, for that was his Indian name—and he chuckled
and grinned, and poked the priest in the side with
his knuckles. And good Father Lacombe felt the
magnetism of his own words and memory, and clapped
the chief on the shoulder, while both laughed heartily
at the climax, with the accompanying mental picture
of the discomfited Bloods running away, and the clergyman ordering their instant destruction.
There may not be such another meeting and rehearsal on this continent again. Those two men
represented the passing and the dominant races of
America; and yet, in my view, the learned and brave
and kindly missionary is as much a part of the dead
past as is the royalty that Crowfoot was the last to
represent.
5 IV
ANT0INE S  MOOSE-YARD
fc
R
T was the night of a great din
ner at the club. Whenever
the door of the banqueting hall
was opened, a burst of laughter or
of applause disturbed the quiet talk
of a few men who had gathered in
the reading-room—men of the sort
that extract the best enjoyment
from a club by escaping its functions, or attending them only to draw to one side
its choicest spirits for never-to-be-forgotten talks before an open fire, and over wine and cigars used
sparingly.
" I'm tired," an artist was saying—"so tired that I
have a horror of my studio. My wife understands
my condition, and bids me go away and rest."
" That is astonishing," said I; " for, as a rule,
neither women nor men can comprehend the fatigue
that seizes an artist or writer. At most of our
homes there comes to be a reluctant recognition of
the fact that we say we are tired, and that we persist
in the assumption by knocking off work. But human fatigue is measured by the mile of walking,
or the cords of firewood that have been cut, and
the world will always hold that if we have not hewn '•
ANTOINES   MOOSE-YARD
6/
wood or tramped all day, it is absurd for us to talk
of feeling tired. We cannot alter this; we are too
few." :;
I Yes," said another of the little party. 1 The
world shares the feeling of the Irishman who saw a
very large, stout man at work at reporting in a courtroom. 'Faith!'said he,'will ye look at the size of
that man—to be aiming his living wid a little pincil?'
The world would acknowledge our right to feel tired
if we used crow-bars to write or draw with; but pencils ! pshaw! a hundred weigh less than a pound."
" Well," said I, " all the same, I am so tired that my
head feels like cork; so tired that for two days I
have not been able to summon an idea or turn a sentence neatly. I have been sitting at my desk writing wretched stuff and tearing it up, or staring
blankly out of the window."
| Glorious!" said the artist, startling us all with
his vehemence and inapt exclamation. 1 Why, it is
providential that I came here to-night. If that's the
way you feel, we are a pair, and you will go with me
and rest.    Do you hunt ?    Are you fond of it ?"
II know all about it," said I, | but I have not definitely determined whether I am fond of it or not.
I have been hunting only once. It was years ago,
when I was a mere boy. I went after deer with a
poet, an editor, and a railroad conductor. We journeyed to a lovely valley in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, and put ourselves in the hands of a man seven
feet high, who had a flintlock musket a foot taller
than himself, and a wife who gave us saleratus bread
and a bowl of pork fat for supper and breakfast.   We 6S
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
were not there at dinner. The man stationed us a
mile apart on what he said were the paths, or" runways," the deer would take. Then he went to stir
the game up with his dogs. There he left us from
sunrise till supper, or would have left us had we not
with great difficulty found one another, and enjoyed
the exquisite woodland quiet and light and shade
together, mainly flat on'our backs, with the white
sails of the sky floating in an azure sea above the
reaching fingers of the tree-tops. The editor marred
the occasion with an unworthy suspicion that our
hunter was at the village tavern picturing to his
cronies what simple donkeys we were, standing a
mile apart in the forsaken woods. But the poet said
something so pregnant with philosophy that it always
comes back to me with the mention of hunting.
' Where is your gun ?' he was asked, when we came
upon him, pacing the forest path, hands in pockets,
and no weapon in sight. ' Oh, my gun ?' he repeated.
' I don't know. Somewhere in among those trees.
I covered it with leaves so as not to see it. After
this, if I go hunting again, I shall not take a gun.
It is very cold and heavy, and more or less dangerous in the bargain. You never use it, you know.
I go hunting every few years, but I never yet have
had to fire my gun, and I begin to see that it is only
brought along in deference to a tradition descending
from an era when men got something more than
fresh air and scenery on a hunting trip.'"
The others laughed at my story, but the artist
regarded me with an expression of pity. He is a
famous hunter—a genuine, devoted hunter—and one THE HOTEL—LAST SIGN OF CIVILIZATION
might almost as safely speak a light word of his relations as of his favorite mode of recreation.
" Fresh air!" said he; " scenery ! Humph ! Your
poet would not know which end of a gun to aim
with. I see that you know nothing at all about
hunting, but I will pay you the high compliment of
saying that I can make a hunter of you. I have
always insisted heretofore that a hunter must begin
in boyhood; but never mind, I'll make a hunter of
you at thirty-six. We will start to-morrow morning
for Montreal, and in twenty-four hours you shall be
in the greatest sporting region in America, incomparably the greatest hunting district. It is great
because Americans do not know of it, and because
it has all of British America to keep it supplied with
game. Think of it! In twenty-four hours we shall
be tracking moose near Hudson Bay, for Hudson
Bay is not much farther from New York than Chicago—another fact that few persons are aware of."
Environment is a positive force.    We could feel 70
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
that we were disturbing what the artist would call
" the local tone," by rushing through the city's streets
next morning with our guns slung upon our backs.
It was just at the hour when the factory hands and
the shop-girls were out in force, and the juxtaposition of those elements of society with two portly
men bearing guns created a positive sensation. In
the cars the artist held forth upon the terrors of the
life upon which I was about to venture. He left
upon my mind a blurred impression of sleeping out-
of-doors, like human cocoons, done up in blankets,
while the savage mercury lurked in unknown depths
below the zero mark. He said the camp-fire would
have to be fed every two hours of each night, and he
added, without contradiction from me, that he supposed he would have to perform this duty, as he was
accustomed to it. Lest his forecast should raise my
anticipation of pleasure extravagantly, he added that
those hunters were fortunate who had fires to feed •
for his part he had once walked around a tree stump
a whole night to keep from freezing. He supposed
that we would perform our main journeying on snow-
shoes, but how we should enjoy that he could not
say, as his knowledge of snow-shoeing was limited.
At this point the inevitable offspring of fate, who
is always at a traveller's elbow with a fund of alarming information, cleared his throat as he sat opposite
us, and inquired whether he had overheard that we
did not know much about snow-shoes. An interesting fact concerning them, he said, was that they
seemed easy to walk.with at first, but if the learner
fell down with them on it usually needed a consider- ANTOINES  MOOSE-YARD
71
able portion of a tribe of Indians to put him back on
his feet. Beginners only fell down, however, in attempting to cross a log or stump, but the forest
where we were going was literally floored with such
obstructions. The first day's effort to navigate with
snow-shoes, he remarked, is usually accompanied by
a terrible malady called mal de raquette, in which the
cords of one's legs become knotted in great and excruciatingly painful bunches. The cure for this is to
" walk it off the next day, when the agony is yet
more intense than at first." As the stranger had
reached his destination, he had little more than time
to remark that the moose is an exceedingly vicious
animal, invariably attacking all hunters who fail to
kill him with the first shot. As the stranger stepped
upon the car platform he let fall a simple but touching eulogy upon a dear friend who had recently lost
his life by being literally cut in two, lengthwise, by a
moose that struck him on the chest with its rigidly
stiffened fore-legs. The artist protested that the
stranger was a sensationalist, unsupported by either
the camp-fire gossip or the literature of hunters.
Yet one man that night found his slumber tangled
with what the garrulous alarmist had been saying.
In Montreal one may buy clothing not to be had
in the United States: woollens thick as boards, hosiery that wards off the cold as armor resists missiles,
gloves as heavy as shoes, yet soft as kid, fur caps and
coats at prices and in a variety that interest poor and
rich alike, blanket suits that are more picturesque
than any other masculine garment worn north of the
city of Mexico, tuques, and moccasins, and, indeed, so 72
ON  CANADA S   FRONTIER
many sorts of clothing we Yankees know very little
of (though many of us need them) that at a glance
we say the Montrealers are foreigners. Montreal is
the gayest city on this continent, and I have often
thought that the clothing there is largely responsible
for that condition.
A New Yorker disembarking in Montreal in midwinter finds the place inhospitably cold, and wonders
how, as well as why, any one lives there. I well remember standing years ago beside a toboggan-slide,
with my teeth chattering and my very marrow slowly
congealing, when my attention was called to the fact
that a dozen ruddy-cheeked, bright-eyed, laughing
girls were grouped in snow that reached their knees.
I asked a Canadian lady how that could be possible,
and she answered with a list of the principal garments those girls were wearing. They had two pairs
of stockings under their shoes, and a pair of stockings
over their shoes, with moccasins over them. They
had so many woollen skirts that an American girl
would not believe me if I gave the number. They
wore heavy dresses and buckskin jackets, and blanket
suits over all this. They had mittens over their
gloves, and fur caps over their knitted hoods. It no
longer seemed wonderful that they should not heed
the cold; indeed, it occurred to me that their bravery
amid the terrors of tobogganing was no bravery at
all, since a girl buried deep in the heart of such a
mass of woollens could scarcely expect damage if she
fell from a steeple. When next I appeared out-of-
doors I too was swathed in flannel, like a jewel in a
box of plush, and from that time out Montreal seemed,   ANTOINES   MOOSE-YARD
75
what it really is, the merriest of American capitals.
And there I had come again, and was filling my trunk
with this wonderful armor of civilization, while the
artist sought advice as to which point to enter the
wilderness in order to secure the biggest game most
quickly.
Mr. W. C. Van Home, the President of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, proved a friend in need. He
dictated a few telegrams that agitated the people of a
vast section of country between Ottawa and the Great
Lakes.' And in the afternoon the answers came flying back. These were from various points where
Hudson Bay posts are situated. At one or two the
Indian trappers and hunters were all away on their
winter expeditions; from another a famous white
hunter had just departed with a party of gentlemen.
At Mattawa, in Ontario, moose were close at hand
and plentiful, and two skilled Indian hunters were
just in from a trapping expedition; but the post
factor, Mr. Rankin, was sick in bed, and the Indians
were on a spree. To Mattawa we decided to go. It
is a twelve-hour journey from New York to Montreal,
and an eleven-hour journey from Montreal to the
heart of this hunters' paradise; so that, had we known
at just what point to enter the forest, we could have
taken the trail in twenty-four hours from the metropolis, as the artist had predicted.
Our first taste of the frontier, at Peter O'Farrall's
Ottawa Hotel, in Mattawa, was delicious in the extreme. O'Farrall used to be game-keeper to the
Marquis of Waterford, and thus got "a taste of the
quality" that prompted him to assume the position he 76
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
has chosen as the most lordly hotel-keeper in Canada.
We do not know what sort of men own our great
New York and Chicago and San Francisco hotels,
but certainly they cannot lead more leisurely, complacent lives than Mr. O'Farrall. He has a bartender to look after the male visitors and the bar,
and a matronly relative to see to the women and the
kitchen, so that the landlord arises when he likes to
enjoy each succeeding day of ease and prosperity.
He has been known to exert himself, as when he
chased a man who spoke slightingly of his liquor.
And he was momentarily ruffled at the trying conduct of the artist on this hunting trip. The artist
could not find his overcoat, and had the temerity to
refer the matter to Mr. O'Farrall.
" Sir," said the artist, " what do you suppose has
become of my overcoat ?    I cannot find it anywhere."
" I don't know anything about your botheration
overcoat," said Mr. O'Farrall. " Sure, I've throuble
enough kaping thrack of me own."
The reader may be sure that O'Farrall's was rightly
recommended to us, and that it is a well-managed and
popular place, with good beds and excellent fare, and
with no extra charge for the delightful addition of the
host himself, who is very tall and dignified and humorous, and who is the oddest and yet most picturesque-looking public character in the Dominion.
Such an oddity is certain to attract queer characters
to his side, and Mr. O'Farrall is no exception to the
rule. One of the waiter-girls in the dining-room was
found never by any chance to know anything that she
was asked about.    For instance, she had never heard
KSSSS
\mm^^%w«MW ANTOINES   MOOSE-YARD
77
of Mr. Rankin, the chief man of the place. To every
question she made answer, "Sure, there does be a
great dale goin' on here and I know nothin' of it."
Of her the artist ventured the theory that" she could
not know everything on a waiter-girl's salary." John,
the bar-tender, was a delightful study. No matter
what a visitor laid down in the smoking-room, John
picked it up and carried it behind the bar. Every
one was continually losing something and searching
for it, always to observe that John was able to produce it with a smile and the wise remark that he had
taken the lost article and put it away "for fear some
one would pick it up." Finally, there was Mr. O'Far-
rail's dog—a ragged, time-worn, petulant terrier, no
bigger than a pint-pot. Mr. O'Farrall nevertheless
called him " Fairy," and said he kept him " to protect
the village children against wild bears."
I shall never be able to think of Mattawa as it is—
a plain little lumbering town on the Ottawa River,
with the wreck and ruin of once grand scenery hemming it in on all sides, in the form of ragged mountains literally ravaged by fire and the axe. Hints of
it come back to me in dismembered bits that prove
it to have been interesting: vignettes of little schoolboys in blanket suits and moccasins, of great-spirited
horses forever racing ahead of fur-laden sleighs, and
of troops of olive - skinned French - Canadian girls,
bundled up from their feet to those mischievous features which shot roguish glances at the artist — the
biggest man, the people said, who had ever been seen
in Mattawa. But the place will ever yield back to
my mind the impression I got of the wonderful prep- 78
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
arations that were made for our adventure—preparations that seemed to busy or to interest nearly every
one in the village. Our Indians had come in from
the Indian village three miles away, and had said they
had had enough drink. Mr. John De Sousa, accountant at the post, took charge of them and of us, and
the work of loading a great portage sleigh went on
apace. The men of sporting tastes came out and
lounged in front of the post, and gave helpful advice;
the Indians and clerks went to and from the sleigh
laden with bags of necessaries; the harness - maker
made for us belts such as the lumbermen use to preclude the possibility of incurable strains in the rough
life in the wilderness. The help at O'Farrall's assisted in repacking what we needed, so that our
trunks and town clothing could be stored. Mr. De
Sousa sent messengers hither and thither for essentials not in stock at the post. Some women, even,
were set at work to make " neaps " for us, a neap being a sort of slipper or unlaced shoe made of heavy
blanketing and worn outside one's stockings, to give
added warmth to the feet.
" You see, this is no casual rabbit-hunt," said the
artist.   The remark will live in Mattawa many a year.
The Hudson Bay Company's posts differ. In the
wilderness they are forts surrounded by stockades,
but within the boundaries of civilization they are
stores. That at Winnipeg is a splendid emporium,
while that at Mattawa is like a village store in the
United States, except that the top story is laden with
guns, traps, snow-shoes, and the skins of wild beasts;
while an out-building in the rear is the repository of ANTOINES   MOOSE-YARD
79
m
~^0!
Ztt
w\
^
scores of birch-bark canoes—the carriages of British
America. Mr. Rankin, the factor there, lay in a bed
of suffering and could not see us. Yet it seemed
difficult to believe that we could be made the recipients of greater or more kindly attentions than were
lavished upon us by his accountant, Mr. De Sousa.
He ordered our tobacco
ground for us ready for
our pipes; selected the
finest from among those
extraordinary blankets
that have been made exclusively for this company   for   hundreds   of
years;   picked   out   the ^^^^ J',
largest snow-shoes in
his stock; bade us lay
aside the gloves we had
brought, and take mittens such as he produced, and for which we thanked
him in our hearts many times afterwards; planned
our outfit of food with the wisdom of an old campaigner; bethought himself to send for baker's
bread; ordered high legs sewed on our moccasins—
in a word, he made it possible for us to say afterwards that absolutely nothing had been overlooked
or slighted in fitting out our expedition.
As I sat in the sleigh, tucked in under heavy skins
and leaning at royal ease ^against other furs that covered a bale of hay, it seemed to me that I had become
part of one of such pictures as we all have seen, portraying historic expeditions in Russia or Siberia.   We
ANTOINE,   FROM LIFE 8o
ON  CANADA S   FRONTIER
carried fifteen hundred pounds of traps and provisions for camping, stabling, and food for men and
beasts. We were five in all—two hunters, two Indians, and a teamster. We set out with the two huge
mettlesome horses ahead, the driver on a high seat
formed of a second bale of hay, ourselves lolling back
under our furs, and the two Indians striding along
over the resonant cold snow behind us. It was beginning to be evident that a great deal of effort and
machinery was needed to " make a hunter V of a city
man, and that it was going to be done thoroughly—
two thoughts of a highly flattering nature.
We were now clad for arctic weather, and perhaps
nothing except a mummy was ever "so dressed up"
as we were. We each wore two pairs of the heaviest
woollen stockings I ever saw, and over them ribbed
bicycle stockings that came to our knees. Over these
in turn were our " neaps," and then our moccasins,
laced tightly around our ankles. We had on two
suits of flannels of extra thickness, flannel shirts,
reefing jackets, and "capeaux," as they call their long-
hooded blanket coats, longer than snow-shoe coats.
On our heads we had knitted tuques, and on our
hands mittens and gloves. We were bound for An-
toine's moose-yard, near Crooked Lake.
-The explanation of the term "moose-yard" made
moose-hunting appear a simple operation (once we
were started), for a moose-yard is the feeding-ground
of a herd of moose, and our head Indian, Alexandre
Antoine, knew where there was one. Each herd or
family of these great wild cattle has two such feeding-
grounds, and they are said to go alternately from one ANTOINES   MOOSE-YARD
81
to the other, never herding in one place two years in
succession. In this region of Canada they weigh between 600 and 1200 pounds, and the reader will help
his comprehension of those figures by recalling the
fact that a 1200-pound horse is a very large one.
Whether they desert a yard for twelve months because of the damage they do to the supply of food it
offers to them, or whether it is instinctive caution
that directs their movements, no one can more than
conjecture.
Their yards are always where soft wood is plentiful and water is near, and during a winter they will
feed over a region from half a mile to a mile square.
The prospect of going directly to the fixed home of
a herd of moose almost robbed the trip of that speculative element that gives the greatest zest to hunting.
But we knew not what the future held for us. Not
even the artist, with all his experience, conjectured
what was in store for us. And what was to come began coming almost immediately.
The journey began upon a good highway, over
which we slid along as comfortably as any ladies in
their carriages, and with the sleigh - bells flinging
their cheery music out over a desolate valley, with
a leaden river at the bottom, and with small mountains rolling all about. The timber was cut off them,
except here and there a few red or white pines that
reared their green, brush-like tops against the general blanket of snow. The dull sky hung sullenly
above, and now and then a raven flew by, croaking
hoarse disapproval of our intrusion. To warn us of
what we were to expect, Antoine had made a shy 82
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
Indian joke, one of the few I ever heard: " In small
little while," said he, "we come to all sorts ot a road.
Me call it that 'cause you get every sort riding, then
you sure be suited."
At five miles out we came to this remarkable highway. It can no more be adequately described here
than could the experiences of a man who. goes over
Niagara Falls in a barrel. The reader must try to
imagine the most primitive sort of a highway conceivable—one that has been made by merely felling
trees through a forest in a path wide enough for a
team and wagon. All the tree stumps were left in
their places, and every here and there were rocks;
some no larger than a bale of cotton, and some as
small as a bushel basket. To add to the other alluring qualities of the road, there were tree trunks now
and then directly across it, and, as a further inducement to traffic, the highway was frequently interrupted by " pitch holes." Some of these would be called
pitch holes anywhere. They were at points where
a rill crossed the road, or the road crossed the corner
of a marsh. But there were other pitch holes that
any intelligent New Yorker would call ravines or
gullies. These were at points where one hill ran
down to the water-level and another immediately rose
precipitately, there being a watercourse between the
two. In all such places there was deep black mud
and broken ice. However, these were mere features
of the character of this road—a character too profound for me to hope to portray it. When the road
was not inclined either straight down or straight up,
it coursed along the slanting side of a steep hill, so ANTOINES   MOOSE-YARD
83
that a vehicle could keep to it only by falling against
the forest at the under side and carroming along
from tree to tree.
Such was the road. The manner of travelling it
was quite as astounding. For nothing short of what
Alphonse, the teamster, did would I destroy a man's
character; but Alphonse was the next thing to an
idiot. He made
that dreadful
journey at a gallop!     The   first *  ^?r
t
m
•"/••I'ViW;—   .-"-\:si:::^:;;i^r'^-|
sV^VvBAVASV.ttt VAWV-'f.
THE PORTAGE  SLEIGH  ON A
LUMBER ROAD
time he upset
the sleigh and
threw me with
one leg thigh-deep between a stone and a
tree trunk, besides
sending the artist flying over my head like a shot from a sling, he reseated himself and remarked: "That makes tree time I
upset in dat place. Hi, there! Get up!" It never
occurred to him to stop because a giant tree had
fallen across the trail. "Look out! Hold tight!" he
would call out, and then he would take the obstruc- 84
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
tion at a jump. The horses were mammoth beasts,
in the best fettle, and the sleigh was of the solidest,
strongest pattern. There were places where even
Alphonse was anxious to drive with caution. Such
were the ravines and unbridged waterways. But one
of the horses had cut himself badly in such a place a
year before, and both now made it a rule to take all
such places flying. Fancy the result! The leap in
air, and then the crash of the sled as it landed, the
snap of the harness chains, the snorts of the winded
beasts, the yells of the driver, the anxiety and nervousness of the passengers!
At one point we had an exciting adventure of a
far different sort. There was a moderately good
stretch of road ahead, and we invited the Indians to
jump in and ride a while. We noticed that they took
occasional draughts from a bottle. They finished a
full pint, and presently Alexandre produced another
and larger phiaL Every one knows what a drunken
Indian is, and so did we. We ordered the sleigh
stopped and all hands out for "a talk." Firmly, but
with both power and reason on our side, we demanded a promise that not another drink should be taken,
or that the horses be turned towards Mattawa at
once.    The promise was freely given.
" But what is that stuff ? Let me see it," one of
the hunters asked.
" It is de 'igh wine," said Alexandre.
"High wine? Alcohol?" exclaimed the hunter;
and, impulse being quicker than reason sometimes,
flung the bottle high in air into the bush. It was an
injudicious action, but both of us at once prepared to ANTOINES   MOOSE-YARD
85
defend and re-entree it, of course. As it happened,
the Indians saw that no unkindness or unfairness
was intended, and neither sulked nor made trouble
afterwards.
We were now deep in the bush. Occasionally we
passed "a brule," or tract denuded of trees, and littered with trunks and tops of trunks rejected by the
lumbermen. But every mile took us nearer to the
undisturbed primeval forest, where the trees shoot
up forty feet before the branches begin. There were
no houses, teams, or men. In a week in the bush
we saw no other sign of civilization than what we
brought or made. All around us rose the motionless regiments of the forest, with the snow beneath
them, and their branches and twigs printing lace-
work on the sky. The signs of game were numerous,
and varied to an extent that I never heard of before.
There were few spaces of the length of twenty-five
feet in which the track of some wild beast or bird
did not cross the road. The Indians read this writing in the snow, so that the forest was to them as a
book would be to us. " What is that ?" "And that ?"
"And that?" I kept inquiring. The answers told
more eloquently than any man can describe it the
story of the abundance of game in that easily accessible wilderness. " Dat red deer," Antoine replied.
" Him fox." " Dat bear track; dat squirrel; dat rabbit." " Dat moose track; pass las' week." " Dat pa'-
tridge; dat wolf." Or perhaps it was the trail of a
marten, or a beaver, or a weasel, or a fisher, mink,
lynx, or otter that he pointed out, for all these "signs"
were there, and nearly all were repeated again and
6* 86
ON  CANADA S  FRONTIER
again.
Of the birds that are plentiful there the
principal kinds are partridge, woodcock, crane, geese,
duck, gull, loon, and owl.
When the sun set we prepared to camp, selecting a
spot near a tiny rill. The horses were tethered to a
tree, with their harness still on, and blankets thrown
over them. We cleared a little space by the roadside, using our snow-shoes for shovels. The Indians,
with their axes, turned up the moss and leaves, and
levelled the small shoots and brushwood. Then one
went off to cut balsam boughs for bedding, while the
other set up two crotched sticks, with a pole upon
them resting in the crotches, and throwing the canvas of an "A" tent over the frame, he looped the bottom of the tent to small pegs, and banked snow
lightly all around it. The little aromatic branches
of balsam were laid evenly upon the ground, a fur
robe was thrown upon the leaves, our enormous
blankets were spread half open side by side, and two
coats were rolled up and thrown down for pillows.
Pierre, the second Indian, made tiny slivers of some
soft wood, and tried to start a fire. He failed. Then
Alexandre Antoine brought two handfuls of bark,
and lighting a small piece with a match, proceeded
to build a fire in the most painstaking manner, and
with an ingenuity that was most interesting. First
he made a fire that could have been started in a teacup; then he built above and around it a skeleton
tent of bits of soft wood, six to nine inches in length.
This gave him a fire of the dimensions of a high hat.
Next, he threw down two great bits of timber, one
on either side of the fire, and a still larger back log,   ANTOINE S   MOOSE-YARD
89
and upon these he jfieaped split soft wood. While
this was being done, Pierre assailed one great tree
after another, and brought them crashing down with
noises that startled the forest quiet. Alphonse had
opened the provision bags, and presently two tin pails
filled with water swung from saplings over the fire,
and a pan of fat salt pork was frizzling upon the blazing wood. The darkness grew dead black, and the
dancing flames peopled the near forest with dodging
shadows. Almost in the time it has taken me to
write it, we were squatting on our heels around the
fire, each with a massive cutting of bread, a slice of
fried pork in a tin plate, and half a pint of tea, precisely as hot as molten lead, in a tin cup. Supper
was a necessity, not a luxury, and was hurried out of
the way accordingly. Then the men built their camp
beside ours in front of the fire, and followed that by
felling three or more monarchs of the bush. Nothing surprised me so much as the amount of wood
consumed in these open-air fires. In five days at
our permanent camp we made a great hole in the
forest.
But that first night in the open air, abed with nature, with British America for a bedroom ! Only I
can tell of it, for the others slept. The stillness was
intense. There was no wind, and not an animal or
bird uttered a cry. The logs cracked and sputtered
and popped, the horses shook their chains, the men
all snored—white and red alike. The horses pounded
the hollow earth; the logs broke and fell upon the
cinders; one of the men talked in his sleep. But
over and through it all the stillness grew.    Then the 9°
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
fire sank low, the cold became intense, the light was
lost, and the darkness swallowed everything. Some
one got up awkwardly, with muttering, and flung
wood upon the red ashes, and presently all that had
passed was re-experienced.
The ride next day was more exciting than the
first stage. It was like the journey of a gun-carriage
across country in a hot retreat. The sled was actually upset only once, but to prevent that happening
fifty times the Indians kept springing at the uppermost side of the flying vehicle, and hanging to the
side poles to pull the toppling construction down
upon both runners. Often we were advised to leap
out for safety's sake; at other times we wished we
had leaped out. For seven hours we were flung
about like cotton spools that are being polished in
a revolving cylinder. And yet we were obliged to
run long distances after the hurtling sleigh — long
enough to tire us. The artist, who had spent years
in rude scenes among rough men, said nothing at the
time. What was the use ? But afterwards, in New
York, he remarked that this was the roughest travelling he had ever experienced.
The signs of game increased. Deer and bear and
wolf and fox and moose were evidently numerous
around us. Once we stopped, and the Indians became excited. What they had taken for old moose
tracks were the week-old footprints of a man. It
seems strange, but they felt obliged to know what a
man had gone into the bush for a week ago. They
followed the signs, and came back smiling. He had
gone in to cut hemlock boughs; we would find traces of a camp near by. We
did. In a country where
men are so few, they busy
themselves about one an*
other. Four or five days
later, while we were hunting, these Indians came
to the road and stopped
suddenly, as horses do
when lassoed. With a
glance they read that
two teams had passed
during the night, going towards our camp.
When we returned to
camp the teams had
been there, and our
teamster had talked with
the drivers.     Therefore
that load was lifted from the minds of our Indians.
But their knowledge of the bush was marvellous.
One point in the woods was precisely like another
to us, yet the Indians would leap off the sleigh now
and then and dive into the forest, to return with a
trap hidden there months before, or to find a great
iron kettle.
" Do you never get lost ?" I asked Alexandre.
" Me get los'?    No, no get los'."
" But how do you find your way ?"
" Me fin' way easy. Me know way me come, or
me follow my tracks, or me know by de sun. If no
sun, me look at trees.    Trees grow more branches 92
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
on side toward sun, and got rough bark on north
side.    At night me know by see de stars."
We camped in a log-hut Alexandre had built for
a hunting camp. It was very picturesque and substantial, built of huge logs, and caulked with moss.
It had a great earthen bank in the middle for a fireplace, with an equally large opening in the roof,
boarded several feet high at the sides to form a
chimney. At one corner of the fire bank was an ingenious crane, capable of being raised and lowered,
and projecting from a pivoted post, so that the long
arm could be swung over or away from the fire. At
one end of the single apartment were two roomy
bunks built against the wall. With extraordinary
skill and quickness the Indians whittled a spade out
of a board, performing the task with an axe, an implement they can use as white men use a penknife,
an implement they value more highly than a gun.
They made a broom of balsam boughs, and dug
and swept the dirt off the floor and walls, speedily
making the cabin neat and clean. Two new bunks
were put up for us, and bedded with balsam boughs
and skins. Shelves were already up, and spread
with pails and bottles, tin cups and plates, knives and
forks, canned goods, etc. On them and on the floor
were our stores.
We had a week's outfit, and we needed it, because
for five days we could not hunt on account of the
crust on the snow, which made such a noise when
a human foot broke through it that we could not
have approached any wild animal within half a mile.
On the third day it rained, but without melting the   ANTOINES  MOOSE-YARD
95
crust.    On the fourth day it snowed furiously, burying the crust under two inches of snow.    On the
CD
fifth day we got our moose.
In the mean time the log-cabin was our home.
Alexandre and Pierre cut down trees every day for
the fire, and Pierre disappeared for hours every now
and then to look after traps set for otter, beaver, and
marten. Alphonse attended his horses and served
as cook. He could produce hotter tea than any
other man in the world. I took mine for a walk in
the arctic cold three times a day, the artist learned
to pour his from one cup to another with amazing
dexterity, and the Indians (who drank a quart each
of green tea at each meal because it was stronger
than our black tea) lifted their pans and threw the
liquid fire down throats that had been inured to
high wines. Whenever the fire was low, the cold
was intense. Whenever it was heaped with logs, all
the heat flew directly through the roof, and spiral
blasts of cold air were sucked through every crack
between logs in the cabin walls. Whenever the
door opened, the cabin filled with smoke. Smoke
clung to all we ate or wore. At night the fire kept
burning out, and we arose with chattering teeth to
build it anew. The Indians were then to be seen
with their blankets pushed down to their knees,
asleep in their shirts and trousers. At meal-times
we had bacon or pork, speckled or lake trout, bread-
and-butter, stewed tomatoes, and tea. There were
two stools for the five men, but they only complicated the discomfort of those who got them; for it
was found that if we put our tin plates on our knees, 96
on Canada's frontier
they fell off; if we held them in one hand, we could
not cut the pork and hold the bread with the othe*
hand; while if we put the plates on the floor beside the tea, we could not reach them. In a month
we might have solved the problem. Life in that log
shanty was precisely the life of the early settlers of
this country. It was bound to produce great characters or early death. There could be no middle
course with such an existence.
Partridge fed in the brush impudently before us.
Rabbits bobbed about in the clearing before the
door. Squirrels sat upon the logs near by and o-or-
mandized and chattered. Great saucy birds, like
mouse-colored robins, and known to the Indians as
" meat-birds," stole our provender if we left it out-of-
doors half an hour, and one day we saw a red deer
jump in the bush a hundred yards away. Yet we got
no game, because we knew there was a moose-yard
within two miles on one side and within three miles
on the other, and we dared not shoot our rifles lest
we frighten the moose. Moose was all we were
after. There was a lake near by, and the trout in
those lakes up there attain remarkable size and
numbers. We heard of 35-pound speckled trout, of
lake trout twice as large, and of enormous muskal-
longe. The most reliable persons told of lakes farther in the wilderness where the trout are thick as
salmon in the British Columbia streams—so thick as
to seem to fill the water. We were near a lake that
was supposed to have been fished out by lumbermen
a year before, yet it was no sport at all to fish there.
With a short stick and two yards of line and a bass   antoine s moose-yard
99
hook baited with pork, we brought up four-pound
and five-pound beauties faster than we wanted them
for food. Truly we were in a splendid hunting
country, like the Adirondacks eighty years ago, but
thousands of times as extensive.
Finally we started for moose. Our Indians asked
if they might take their guns. We gave the permission. Alexandre, a thin, wiry man of forty years, carried an old Henry rifle in a woollen case open at one
end like a stocking. He wore a short blanket coat
and tuque, and trousers tied tight below the knee,
and let into his moccasin-tops. He and his brother
Francois are famous Hudson Bay Company trappers,
and are two-thirds Algonquin and one-third French.
He has a typical swarthy, angular Indian face and a
French mustache and goatee. Naturally, if not by
rank, a leader among his men, his manner is commanding and his appearance grave. He talks bad
French fluently, and makes wretched headway in
English. Pierre is a short, thickset, walnut-stained
man of thirty-five, almost pure Indian, and almost a
perfect specimen of physical development. He seldom spoke while on this trip, but he impressed us
with his strength, endurance, quickness, and knowledge of woodcraft. Poor fellow! he had only a shotgun, which he loaded with buckshot. It had no
case, and both men carried their pieces grasped by
the barrels and shouldered, with the butts behind
them.
We set out in Indian-file, plunging at once into
the bush. Never was forest scenery more exquisitely beautiful than on that  morning as  the  day ICO
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
broke, for we breakfasted at four o'clock, and started
immediately afterwards. Everywhere the view was
fairy-like. There was not snow enough for snow-
shoeing. But the fresh fall of snow was immacu-
lately white, and flecked the scene apparently from
earth to sky, for there was not a branch or twig or
limb or spray of evergreen, or wart or fungous growth
upon any tree that did not bear its separate burden
of snow. It was a bridal dress, not a winding-sheet,
that Dame Nature was trying on that morning. And
in the bright fresh green of the firs and pines we saw
her complexion peeping out above her spotless gown,
as one sees the rosy cheeks or black eyes of a girl
wrapped in ermine.
Mile after mile we walked, up mountain and down
dale, slapped in the faces by twigs, knocking snow
down the backs of our necks, slipping knee-deep in
bog mud, tumbling over loose stones, climbing across
interlaced logs, dropping to the height of one thigh
between tree trunks, sliding, falling, tight-rope walking on branches over thin ice, but forever following
the cat-like tread of Alexandre, with his seven-league
stride and long-winded persistence. Suddenly we
came to a queer sort of clearing dotted with protuberances like the bubbles on molasses beginning to
boil. It was a beaver meadow. The bumps in the
snow covered stumps of trees the beavers had gnawed
down. The Indians were looking at some trough
like tracks in the snow, like the trail of a tired man
who had dragged his heels. " Moose; going this
way," said Alexandre; and we turned and walked in
the tracks.    Across the meadow and across a lake   ANTOINE S   MOOSE-YARD
103
and up another mountain they led us. Then we
came upon fresher prints. At each new track the
Indians stooped, and making a scoop of one hand,i
brushed the new-fallen snow lightly out of the indentations. Thus they read the time at which the
print was made. " Las' week," " Day 'fore yesterday," they whispered. Presently they bent over
again, the light snow flew, and one whispered, " This
morning.
o
?>
Stealthily Alexandre swept ahead; very carefully
we followed. We dared not break a twig, or speak,
or slip, or stumble. As it was, the breaking of the
crust was still far too audible. We followed a little
stream, and approached a thick growth of tamarack.
We had no means of knowing that a herd of moose
was lying in that thicket, resting after feeding. We
knew it afterwards.    Alexandre motioned to  us to
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ON THE MOOSE TRAIL 104
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
get our guns ready. We each threw a cartridge
from the cylinder into the barrel, making a " click,
click " that was abominably loud. Alexandre forged
ahead. In five minutes wre heard him call aloud:
" Moose gone. We los' him." We hastened to his
side. He pointed at some tracks in which the prints
were closer together than any we had seen.
"See! he trot," Alexandre explained.
In another five minutes we had all but completed
a circle, and were on the other side of the tamarack
thicket. And there were the prints of the bodies of
the great beasts. We could see even the imprint of
the hair of their coats. All around were broken
twigs and balsam needles. The moose had left the
branches ragged, and on every hand the young bark
was chewed or rubbed raw. Loading our rifles had
lost us a herd of moose.
Back once again at the beaver dam, Alexandre
and Pierre studied the moose - tramped snow and
talked earnestly. They agreed that a desperate battle had been fought there between two bull moose a
week before, and that those bulls were not in the
" yard' where we had blundered. They examined
the tracks over an acre or more, and then strode off
at an obtuse angle from our former trail. Pierre, apparently not quite satisfied, kept dropping behind or
disappearing in the bush at one side of us. So magnificent was his skill at his work that I missed him
at times, and at other times found him putting his
feet down where mine were lifted up without ever
hearing a sound of his step or of his contact with
the undergrowth.    Alexandre presently motioned us   ANTOINE S   MOOSE-YARD
107
with a warning gesture. He slowed his pace to
short steps, with long pauses between. He saw
everything that moved, heard every sound; only a
deer could throw more and keener faculties into play
than this born hunter. He heard a twig snap. We
heard nothing. Pierre was away on a side search.
Alexandre motioned us to be ready. We crept close
together, and I scarcely breathed. We moved cautiously, a step at a time, like chessmen. It was impossible to get an unobstructed view a hundred feet
ahead, so thick was the soft-wood growth. It seemed
out of the question to try to shoot that distance.
We were descending a hill-side into marshy ground.
We crossed a corner of a grove of young alders, and
saw before us a gentle slope thickly grown with
evergreen—tamarack, the artist called it. Suddenly
Alexandre bent forward and raised his gun. Two
steps forward gave us his view. Five moose were
fifty yards away, alarmed and ready to run. A big
bull in the front of the group had already thrown
back his antlers. By impulse rather than through
reason I took aim at a second bull. He was half a
height lower down the slope, and to be seen through
a web of thin foliage. Alexandre and the artist fired
as with a single pull at one trigger. The foremost
bull staggered and fell forward, as if his knees had
been broken. He was hit twice—in the heart and
in the neck. The second bull and two cows and a
calf plunged into the bush and disappeared. Pierre
found that bull a mile away, shot through the lungs.
It had taken us a week to kill our moose in a
country where they were common game.    That was io8
ON   CANADAS   FRONTIER
" hunter's luck " with a vengeance.    But at another
CD
season such a delay could scarcely occur. The time
to visit that district is in the autumn, before snow
falls. Then in a week one ought to be able to bag
a moose, and move into the region where caribou
are plenty.
Mr. Remington, in the picture called " Hunting the
Caribou," depicts a scene at a critical moment in the
experience of any man who has journeyed on westward of where we found our moose, to hunt the caribou. There is a precise moment for shooting in the
chase of all animals of the deer kind, and when that
moment has been allowed to pass, the chance of securing the animal diminishes with astonishing rapidity—with more than the rapidity with which the then
startled animal is making his flight, because to his
flight you must add the increasing ambush of the
forest. What is true of caribou in this respect is true
of moose and red deer, elk and musk-ox in America,
and of all the horned animals of the forests of the
other great hemisphere. Every hunter who sees Mr.
Remington's realistic picture knows at a glance that
the two men have stolen noiselessly to wTithin easy
rifle-shot of a caribou, and that suddenly, at the last
moment, the animal has heard them.
Perhaps he has seen them, and is standing—still
as a Barye bronze—with his great, soft, wondering
eyes riveted upon theirs. That is a situation familiar to every hunter. His prey has been browsing in
fancied security, and yet with that nervous prudence
that causes these timid beasts to keep forever raising their heads, and sweeping the view around them iff ^fW^
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with their exquisite sight, and analyzing the atmosphere with their magical sense of smell. In one of
these cautious pauses the caribou has seen the hunters. Both hunters and hunted seem instantly to
turn to stone. Neither moves a muscle or a hair. If
the knee or the foot of one of the men presses too
hard upon a twig and it snaps, the caribou is as certain to throw his head high up and dart into the ingulfing net-work of the forest trunks and brush as
day is certain to follow night. But when no movement has been made and no mishap has alarmed the
beast, it has often happened that the two or more
parties to this strangely thrilling situation have held
their places for minutes at a stretch — minutes that
seemed like quarters of an hour. In such cases the
deer or caribou has been known to lower his head
and feed again, assured in its mind that the suspect- no
ON   CANADAS FRONTIER
ed hunter is inanimate and harmless. Nine times in-
ten, though, the first to move is the beast, which
tosses up its head, and " Shoot! shoot!" is the instant command, for the upward throwing of the head
is a movement made to put the beast's great antlers
into position for flight through the forest.
The caribou has very wide, heavy horns, and they
are almost always circular—that is, the main part or
trunk of each horn curves outward from the skull
and then inward towards the point, in an almost true
semicircle. They are more or less branched, but
both the general shape of the whole horns and of the
branches is such that when the head is thrown up
and back they aid the animal's flight by presenting
what may be called the point of a wedge towards the
saplings and limbs and small forest growths through
which the beast runs, parting and spreading every
pair of obstacles to either side, and bending every
single one out of the way of his flying body. The
caribou of North America is the reindeer of Greenland ; the differences between the two are very slight.
The animal's home is the arctic circle, but in America it feeds and roams farther south than in Europe
and Asia. It is a large and clumsy-looking beast,
with thick and rather short legs and bulky body, and,
seen in repose, gives no hint of its capacity for flight.
Yet the caribou can run " like a streak of wind," and
makes its way through leaves and brush and brittle,
sapless vegetation with a modicum of noise so slight
as to seem inexplicable. Nature has ingeniously
added to its armament, always one, and usually two,
palmated spurs at the root of its horns, and these   grow at an obtuse angle with the head, upward and
outward towards the nose. With these spurs—like
shovels used sideways — the caribou roots up the
snow, or breaks its crust and disperses it, to get at
his food on the ground. The caribou are very large
deer, and their strength is attested by the weight of
their horns. I have handled caribou horns in Canada that I could not hold out with both hands when
seated in a chair. It seemed hard to believe that an
animal of the size of a caribou could carry a burden
apparently so disproportioned to his head and neck.
But it is still more difficult to believe, as all the
woodsmen say, that these horns are dropped and
new ones grown every year.
It is not the especial beauty of Frederic Remington's drawings and paintings that they are absolutely
accurate in every detail, but it is one of their beauties, and gives them especial value apart from their
artistic excellence. He draws what he knows, and
he knows what he draws. This scene of the electrically exquisite moment in a hunter's life, when great
game is before him, and the instant has come for
claiming it as his own with a steadily held and wisely chosen aim, will give the reader a perfect knowledge of how the Indians and hunters dress and equip
themselves beyond the Canadian border. The scene
is in the wilderness* north of the Great Lakes. The
Indian is of one of those tribes that are offshoots of
the great Algonquin nation. He carries in that load
he bears that which the plainsmen call " the grub
stake," or quota of provisions for himself and his employer, as well  as blankets to sleep in, pots, pans, 114
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
sugar, the inevitable tea of those latitudes, and much
else besides. Those Indians are not as lazy or as
physically degenerate as many of the tribes in our
country. They turn themselves into wonderful beasts
of burden, and go forever equipped with a long, broad
strap that they call a " tomp line," and which they
pass around their foreheads and around their packs,
the latter resting high up on their backs. It seems
incredible, but they can carry one hundred to one
hundred and fifty pounds of necessaries all day long
in the roughest regions. The Hudson Bay Company
made their ancestors its wards and dependents two
centuries ago, and taught them to work and to earn
their livelihood. BIG  FISHING
IN October every year there are apt to be more
fish upon the land in the Nepigon country than
one would suppose could find life in the waters.
Most families have laid in their full winter supply,
the main exceptions being those semi-savage families
which leave their fish out—in preference to laying
them in—upon racks whereon they are to be seen in
rows and by the thousands.
Nepigon, the old Hudson Bay post which is the
outfitting place for this region, is 928 miles west
of Montreal, on the Canadian Pacific Railway, and
on an arm of Lake Superior. The Nepigon River,
which connects the greatest of lakes with Lake Nepigon, is the only roadway in all that country, and
therefore its mouth, in an arm of the great lake, is
the front door to that wonderful region. In travelling through British Columbia I found one district
that is going to prove of greater interest to gentlemen sportsmen with the rod, but I know of no greater fishing country than the Nepigon. No single
waterway or system of navigable inland waters in
North America is likely to wrest the palm from this
Nepigon district as the haunt of fish in the greatest
plenty, unless we term the salmon a fresh-water fish,
and thus call the Fraser, Columbia, and Skeena riv- u6
ON   CANADA S FRONTIER
ers into the rivalry. There is incessant fishing in
this wilderness north of Lake Superior from New-
year's Day, when the ice has to be cut to get at the
water, all through the succeeding seasons, until again
the ice fails to protect the game. And there is every sort of fishing between that which engages a
navy of sailing vessels and men, down through all
the methods of fish-taking—by nets, by spearing,
still fishing, and fly-fishing. A half a dozen sorts of
finny game succumb to these methods, and though
the region has been famous and therefore much visited for nearly a dozen years, the field is so extensive,
so well stocked, and so difficult of access except to
persons of means, that even to-day almost the verv
largest known specimens of each class of fish are to
be had there.
If we could put on wings early in October, and
could fly down from James's Bay over the dense forests and countless lakes and streams of western Ontario, we would see now and then an Indian or hunter in a canoe, here and there a lonely huddle of small
houses forming a Hudson Bay post, and at even
greater distances apart small bunches of the cotton
or birch-bark tepees of pitiful little Cree or Ojibaway
bands. But with the first glance at the majestic expanse of Lake Superior there would burst upon the
view scores upon scores of white sails upon the water, and near by, upon the shore, a tent for nearly
every sail.    That is the time for the annual gather-
J o
ing for catching the big, chunky, red-fleshed fish they
call the salmon-trout. They catch those that weigh
from a dozen to twenty-five or thirty pounds, and at BIG   FISHING
117
this time of the year their flesh is comparatively
hard.
Engaged in making this great catch are the boats
of the Indians from far up the Nepigon and the
neighboring streams; of the chance white men of
the region, who depend upon nature for their sustenance ; and of Finns, Norwegians, Swedes, and others wTho come from the United States side, or southern shore, to fish for their home markets. These
fish come at this season to spawn, seeking the reefs,
which are plentiful off the shore in this part of the
lake. Gill nets are used to catch them, and are set
within five fathoms of the surface by setting the inner buoy in water of that depth, and then paying the
net out into deeper water and anchoring it. The
run and the fishing continue throughout October.
As a rule, among the Canadians and Canada Indians a family goes with each boat—the boats being
sloops of twenty-seven to thirty feet in length, and
capable of carrying fifteen pojk barrels, which are at
the outset filled with rock-salt. Sometimes the heads
of two families are partners in the ownership of one
of these sloops, but, however that may be, the custom is for the women and children to camp in tents
along-shore, while the men (usually two men and a
boy for each boat) work the nets. It is a stormy
season of the year, and the work is rough and hazardous, especially for the nets, which are frequently
lost.
Whenever a haul is made the fish are split down
the back and cleaned. Then they are washed, rolled
in salt, and packed in the barrels.    Three days later, u8
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
when the bodies of the fish have thoroughly purged
themselves, they are taken out, washed again, and
are once more rolled in fresh salt and put back in
the barrels, which are then filled to the top with water. The Indians subsist all winter upon this October catch, and, in addition, manage to exchange a
few barrels for other provisions and for clothing.
They demand an equivalent of six dollars a barrel
in whatever they get in exchange, but do not sell
for money, because, as I understand it, they are not
obliged to pay the provincial license fee as fishermen,
and therefore may not fish for the market. Even
sportsmen who throw a fly for one day in the Nepigon country must pay the Government for the privilege. The Indians told me that eight barrels of
these fish will last a family of six persons an entire
winter. Such a demonstration of prudence and forethought as this, of a month's fishing at the threshold
of winter, amounts to is a rare one for an Indian to
make, and I imagine there is a strong admixture of
white blood in most of those who make it. The full-
bloods will not take the trouble. They trust to their
guns and their traps against the coming of that wolf
which they are not unused to facing.
Up along the shores of Lake Nepigon, which is
thirty miles by an air line north of Lake Superior,
many of the Indians lay up white-fish for winter.
They catch them in nets and cure them by frost.
They do not clean them. They simply make a hole
in the tail end of each fish, and string them, as
if they were beads, upon sticks, which they set up
into racks.    They usually hang the fishes in rows SW^tf-
of ten, and frequently store up thousands while they
are at it. The Reverend Mr. Renison, who has had
much to do with bettering the condition of these
Indians, told me that he had caught 1020 pounds
of white-fish in two nights with two gill nets in
Lake Nepigon. It is unnecessary to add that he
cleaned his.
Lake Nepigon is about seventy miles in length,
and two-thirds as wide, at the points of its greatest
measurement, and is a picturesque body of water,
surrounded by forests and dotted with islands.    It is 120
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
a famous haunt for trout, and those fishermen who
are lucky may at times see scores of great beauties
lying upon the bottom; or, with a good guide and at
the right season, may be taken to places where the
water is fairly astir with them. Fishermen who are
not lucky may get their customary experience without travelling so far, for the route is by canoe, on
top of nearly a thousand miles of railroading; and
one mode of locomotion consumes nearly as much
time as the other, despite the difference between
the respective distances travelled. The speckled
trout in the lake are locally reported to weigh from
three to nine pounds, but the average stranger will
lift in more of three pounds' weight than he will of
nine. Yet whatever they average, the catching of
them is prime sport as you float upon the water in
your picturesque birch-bark canoe, with your guide
paddling you noiselessly along, and your spoon or
artificial minnow rippling through the water or glinting in the sunlight. You need a stout bait-rod, for
the gluttonous fish are game, and make a good fight
every time. The local fishermen catch the speckled
beauties with an unpoetic lump of pork.
A lively French Canadian whom I met on the
cars on my way to Nepigon described that region as
" de mos' tareeble place for de fish in all over de
worl'." And he added another remark which had at
least the same amount of truth at the bottom of it.
Said he: " You weel find dere dose Mees Nancy
feeshermans from der Unite State, vhich got dose
hunderd-dollar poles and dose leetle humbug flies,
vhich dey t'row around and pull 'em back again, like BIG   FISHING
121
dey was afraid some feesh would bite it. Dat is all
one.grand stupeedity. Dose man vhich belong dere
put on de hook some pork, and catch one tareeble
pile of fish.    Dey don't give a about style, only
to catch dose feesh."
To be sure, every fisherman who prides himself
on the distance he can cast, and who owns a splendid outfit, will despise the spirit of that French Canadian's speech; yet up in that country many a scientific angler has endured a failure of " bites ' for a
long and weary time, while his guide was hauling in
fish a-plenty, and has come to question " science " for
the nonce, and follow the Indian custom. For gray
trout (the namaycush, or lake trout) they bait with
apparently anything edible that is handiest, preferring pork, rabbit, partridge, the meat of the trout itself, or of the sucker; and the last they take first, if
possible. The suckers, by-the-way, are all too plenty,
and as full of bones as any old-time frigate ever was
with timbers. You may see the Indians eating them
and discarding the bones at the same time; and they
make the process resemble the action of a hay-cutter
when the grass is going in long at one side, and
coming out short, but in equal quantities, at the
other.
The namaycush of Nepigon weigh from nine to
twenty-five pounds. The natives take a big hook
and bait it, and then run the point into a piece of
shiny, newly-scraped lead. They never " play " their
bites, but give them a tight line and steady pull.
These fish make a game struggle, leaping and diving
and thrashing the water until the gaff ends the strug- 122
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
gle. In winter there is as good sport with the namaycush, and it is managed peculiarly. The Indians
-cut into the ice over deep water, making holes at
least eighteen inches in diameter. Across the hole
they lay a stick, so that when they pull up a trout
the line will run along the stick, and the fish will hit
that obstruction instead of the resistant ice. If a
fish struck the ice the chances are nine to one that
it would tear off the hook. Having baited a hook
with pork, and stuck the customary bit of lead upon
it, they sound for bottom, and then measure the line
-so that it will reach to about a foot and a half above
-soundings—that is to say, off bottom. Then they begin fishing, and their plan is (it is the same all over
the Canadian wilderness) to keep jerking the line up
with a single, quick, sudden bob at frequent intervals.
The spring is the time to catch the big Nepigon
jack-fish, or pike. They haunt the grassy places in
little bogs and coves, and are caught by trolling. A
jack-fish is what we call a pike, and John Watt, the
famous guide in that country, tells of those fish of
such size that when a man of ordinary height held
the tail of one up to his shoulder, the head of the
fish dragged on the ground. He must be responsible for the further assertion that he saw an Indian
.squaw drag a net, with meshes seven inches square,
and catch two jack-fish, each of which weighed more
than fifty pounds when cleaned. The story another
local historian told of a surveyor who caught a big
jack-fish that felt like a sunken log, and could only
be dragged until its head came to the surface, when
lie shot it and it broke away—that narrative I will BIG  FISHING
123
leave for the next New Yorker who goes to Nepigon.
And yet it seems to me that such stories distinguish
J o
a fishing resort quite as much as the fish actually
caught there. Men would not dare to romance like
that at many places I have fished in, where the trout
are scheduled and numbered, and where you have
got to go to a certain rock on a fixed day of the
month to catch one.
The Indians are very clever at spearing the jack-
fish. At night they use a bark torch, and slaughter
the big fish with comparative ease; but their great
skill with the spear is shown in the daytime, when
the pike are sunning themselves in the grass and
weeds along-shore. But when I made my trip up
the river, I saw them using so many nets as to
threaten the early reduction of the stream to the
plane of the ordinary resort. The water was so
clear that we could paddle beside the nets and see
each one's catch—here a half-dozen suckers, there a
jack-fish, and next a couple of beautiful trout. Finding a squaw attending to her net, we bought a trout
from her before we had cast a line. The habit of
buying fish under such circumstances becomes second nature to a New Yorker. We are a peculiar
people. Our fishermen are modest away from the
city, but at home they assume the confident tone
which comes of knowing the way to Fulton fish-
market.
The Nepigon River is a trout's paradise, it is so
full of rapids and saults. It is not at all a folly to
fish there with a fly-rod. There are records of very
large trout at the Hudson Bay post; but you may 124
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
actually catch four-pound trout yourself, and what
you catch yourself seems to me better than any one's
else records. I have spoken of the Nepigon River
as a roadway. It is one of the great trading trails to
and from the far North. At the mouth of the river,
opposite the Hudson Bay post, you will see a wreck
of one of its noblest vehicles—an old York boat, such
as carry the furs and the supplies to and fro. I
fancy that Wolseley used precisely such boats to
float his men to where he wanted them in 1870.
Farther along, before you reach the first portage, you
will be apt to see several of the sloops used by the
natives for the Lake Superior fishing. They are distinguished for their ugliness, capacity, and strength;
but the last two qualities are what they are built to
obtain. Of course the prettiest vehicles are the
canoes. As the bark and the labor are easily obtainable, these picturesque vessels are very numerous ; but a change is coming over their shape, and
the historic Ojibaway canoe, in which Hiawatha is
supposed to have sailed into eternity, will soon be a
thing found only in pictures.
There is good sport with the rod wherever you
please to go in " the bush," or wilderness, north of
the Canadian Pacific Railway, in Ontario and the
western part of Quebec. My first venture in fishing
through the ice in that region was part of a hunting
experience, when the conditions were such that hunting was out of the question, and our party feasted
upon salt pork, tea, and tomatoes during day after day.
At first, fried salt pork, taken three times a day in a
hunter's camp, seems not to deserve the harsh things BIG  FISHING
125
that have been said and written about it. The open-
air life, the constant and tremendous exercise of
hunting or chopping wood for the fire, the novel surroundings in the forest or the camp, all tend to make
a man say as hearty a grace over salt pork as he
ever did at home before a holiday dinner. Where we
were, up the Ottawa in the Canadian wilderness, the
pork was all fat, like whale blubber. At night the
cook used to tilt up a pan of it, and put some twisted
ravellings of a towel in it, and light one end, and
thus produce a lamp that would have turned Alfred
the Great green with envy, besides smoking his
palace till it looked as venerable as Westminster
Abbey does now. I ate my share seasoned with the
comments of Mr. Frederic Remington, the artist,
who asserted that he was never without it on his
hunting trips, that it was pure carbonaceous food,
that it fastened itself to one's ribs like a true friend,
and that no man could freeze to death in the same
country with this astonishing provender. We had
canned tomatoes and baker's bread and plenty of tea,
with salt pork as the piece de resistance at every meal.
I know now—though I would not have confessed it
at the time—that mixed with my admiration of salt
pork was a growing dread that in time, if no change
offered itself, I should tire of that diet. I began to
feel it sticking to me more like an Old Man of the
Sea than a brother. The woodland atmosphere began to taste of it. When I came in-doors it seemed
to me that the log shanty was gradually turning into
fried salt pork. I could not say that I knew how it
felt to eat a quail a day for thirty days.    One man 126
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
cannot know everything. But I felt that I was
learning.
One day the cook put his hat on, and took his axe,
and started out of the shanty door with an unwonted
air of business.
" Been goin' fish," said he, in broken Indian. " Good
job if get trout."
A good job ? Why, the thought was like a floating spar to a sailor overboard! I went with him.
It was a cold day, but I was dressed in Canadian
style—the style of a country where every one puts
on everything he owns: all his stockings at once, all
his flannel shirts and drawers, all his coats on top of
one another, and when there is nothing else left,
draws over it all a blanket suit, a pair of moccasins, a
tuque, and whatever pairs of gloves he happens to be
able to find or borrow. One gets a queer feeling
with so many clothes on. They seem to separate
you from yourself, and the person you feel inside
your clothing might easily be mistaken for another
individual.    But you are warm, and that's the main
thing.
I rolled along the trail behind the Indian, through
the deathly stillness of the snow-choked forest, and
presently, from a knoll and through an opening, we
saw a great woodland lake. As it lay beneath its
unspotted quilt of snow, edged all around with balsam, and pine and other evergreens, it looked as
though some mighty hand had squeezed a colossal
tube of white paint into a tremendous emerald bowl.
Never had I seen nature so perfectly unalloyed, so
exquisitely pure and peaceful, so irresistibly beauti-   BIG  FISHING
129
ful. I think I should have hesitated to print my
ham-like moccasin upon that virgin sheet had I been
the guide, but " Brossy," the cook, stalked ahead, making the powdery flakes fly before and behind him,
and I followed. Our tracks were white, and quickly
faded from view behind us; and, moreover, we passed
the signs of a fox and a deer that had crossed during
the night, so that our profanation of the scene was
neither serious nor exclusive.
The Indian walked to an island near the farther
shore, and using his axe with the light, easy freedom
that a white man sometimes attains with a penknife,
he cut two short sticks for fish-poles. He cut six
yards of fish-line in two in the middle of the piece,
and tied one end of each part to one end of each
stick, making rude knots, as if any sort of a fastening
would do. Equally clumsily he tied a bass hook to
each fish-line, and on each hook he speared a little
cube of pork fat which had gathered an envelope of
granulated smoking-tobacco while at rest in his
pocket. Next, he cut two holes in the ice, which was
a foot thick, and over these we. stood, sticks in hand,
with the lines dangling through the holes. Hardly
had I lowered my line (which had a bullet flattened
around it for a sinker, by-the-way) when I felt it jerked
to one side, and I pulled up a three-pound trout. It
was a speckled trout. This surprised me, for I had no
idea of catching anything but lake or gray trout in
that water. I caught a gray trout next—a smaller
one than the first — and in another minute I had
landed another  three-pound speckled  beauty.    My
pork bait was still intact, and it may be of interest to
9 no
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
fishermen to know that the original cubes of pork
remained on those two hooks a week, and caught us
many a mess of trout.
There came a lull, which gave us time to philosophize on the contrast between this sort of fishing
and the fashionable sport of using the most costly
and delicate rods—like pieces of jewelry—and of calculating to a nicety what sort of flies to use in matching the changing weather or the varying tastes of
trout in waters where even all these calculations and
provisions would not yield a hatful of small fish in a
day. Here I was, armed like an urchin beside a
minnow brook, and catching bigger trout than I ever
saw outside Fulton Market—trout of the choicest
variety. But while I moralized my Indian grew impatient, and cut himself a new hole out over deep
water. He caught a couple of two-and-a-half-pound
brook trout and a four-pound gray trout, and I was
as well rewarded. But he was still discontented, and
moved to a strait opening into a little bay, where he
cut two more holes. " Eas' wind," said he, " fish no
bite."
I found on that occasion that no quantity of clothing will keep a man warm in that almost arctic climate. First my hands became cold, and then my
feet, and then my ears. . A thin film of ice closed up
the fishing holes if the water was not constantly disturbed. The thermometer must have registered ten
or fifteen degrees below zero. Our lines became
quadrupled in thickness at the lower ends by the ice
that formed upon them. When they coiled for an
instant upon the ice at the edge of a hole, they stuck BIG   FISHING
131
to it, frozen fast. By stamping my feet and putting
my free hand in my pocket as fast as I shifted my
pole from one hand to the other, I managed to persist in fishing. I noticed many interesting things as
I stood there, almost alone in that almost pathless
wilderness. First I saw that the Indian was not
cold, though not half so warmly dressed as I. The
circulation or vitality of those scions of nature must
be very remarkable, for no sort of weather seemed
to trouble them at all. Wet feet, wet bodies, intense
cold, whatever came, found and left them indifferent.
Night after night, in camp, in the open air, or in our
log shanty, we white men trembled with the cold when
the log fire burned lowT, but the Indians never woke
to rebuild it. Indeed, I did not see one have his
blanket pulled over his chest at any time. Woodcocks were drumming in the forest now and then,
and the shrill, bird-like chatter of the squirrels frequently rang out upon the forest quiet. My Indian
knew every noise, no matter howT faint, yet never
raised his head to listen. " Dat squirrel," he would
say, when I asked him. Or, " Woodcock, him calling rain," he ventured. Once I asked what a very
queer, distant, muffled sound was. " You hear dat
when you walk. Keep still, no hear dat," he said.
It was the noise the ice made when I moved.
As I stood there a squirrel came down upon a log
jutting out over the edge of the lake, and looked me
over. A white weasel ran about in. the bushes so
close to me that I could have hit him with a peanut
shell. That morning some partridge had been seen
feeding in the bush close to members of our party. 132
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
It was a country where small game is not hunted,
and does not always hide at man's approach. We
had left our fish lying on the ice near the various
holes from which we pulled them, and I thought of
them when a flock of ravens passed overhead, crying
out in their hoarse tones. They were sure to see
the fish dotting the snow like raisins in a bowl of
rice.
" Won't they steal the fish?" I asked.
" T'ink not," said the Indian.
11 don't know anything about ravens," I said, " but
if they are even distantly related to a crow, they will
steal whatever they can lift."
We could not see our fish around the bend of the
lake, so the Indian dropped his rod and walked stolidly after the birds. As soon as he passed out of sight
I heard him scolding the great birds as if they were
unruly children.
" 'Way, there !" he cried—" 'way! Leave dat fish,
you.    What you do dere, you t'ief ?"
It was an outcropping of the French blood in his
veins that made it possible for him to do such violence to Indian reticence. The birds had seen our
fish, and were about to seize them. Only the foolish bird tradition that renders it necessary for everything with wings to circle precisely so many times
over its prey before taking it saved us our game and
lost them their dinner. They had not completed
half their quota of circles when Brossy began to yell
at them. When he returned his brain had awakened,
and he began to remember that ravens were thieves.
He said that the lumbermen in that country pack  vr
"a skin for a skin"
The motto of the Hudson Bay Fur-trading Company
THOSE who go to the newer parts of Canada today will find that several of those places which
their school geographies displayed as Hudson Bay
posts a few years ago are now towns and cities. In
them they will find the trading stations of old now
transformed into general stores. Alongside of the Canadian headquarters of the great corporation, where
used to stand the walls of Fort Garry, they will see
the principal store of the city of Winnipeg, an institution worthy of any city, and more nearly to be likened
to Whiteley's Necessary Store in London than to any
shopping-place in New York. As in Whiteley's you
may buy a house, or anything belonging in or around
a house, so you may in this great Manitoban establishment. The great retail emporium of Victoria,
the capital of British Columbia, is the Hudson Bay
store; and in Calgary, the metropolis of Alberta and
the Canadian plains, the principal shopping-place in
a territory beside which Texas dwindles to the proportions of a park is the Hudson Bay store.
These and many other shops indicate a new development ot the business of the last of England's
great chartered monopolies; but instead of marking
the manner in which civilization has forced it to aban- u
A   SKIN   FOR  A   SKIN
v
135
don its original function, this merely demonstrates
that the proprietors have taken advantage of new
conditions while still pursuing their original trade. It
is true that the huge corporation is becoming a great
retail shop-keeping company. It is also true that by
the surrender of its monopolistic privileges it got a
consolation prize of money and of twenty millions of
dollars' worth of land, so that its chief business may
yet become that of developing and selling real estate.
But to-day it is still, as it was two centuries ago, the
greatest of fur-trading corporations, and fur-trading
is to-day a principal source of its profits.
Reminders of their old associations as forts still
confront the visitor to the modern city shops of the
company. The great shop in Victoria, for instance,
which, as a fort, was the hub around which grew the
wheel that is now the capital of the province, has its
fur trade conducted in a sort of barn-like annex of
the bazaar; but there it is, nevertheless, and busy
among the great heaps of furs are men who can remember when the Hydahs and the T'linkets and the
other neighboring tribes came down in their war canoes to trade their winter's catch of skins for guns
and beads, vermilion, blankets, and the rest. Now
this is the mere catch-all for the furs got at posts
farther up the coast and in the interior. But upstairs, above the store, where the fashionable ladies
are looking over laces and purchasing perfumes, you
will see a collection of queer old guns of a pattern
familiar to Daniel Boone. They are relics of the fur
company's stock of those famous " trade-guns " which
disappeared long before they had cleared the plains i%6
■o
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
of buffalo, and which the Indians used to deck with
brass nails and bright paint, and value as no man today values a watch. But close to the trade-guns of
romantic memory is something yet more highly suggestive of the company's former position. This is a
heap of unclaimed trunks, " left," the employes will
tell you, " by travellers, hunters, and explorers who
never came back to inquire for them."
It was not long ago that conditions existed such
as in that region rendered the disappearance of a
traveller more than a possibility. The wretched,
squat, bow-legged, dirty laborers of that coast, who
now dress as we do, and earn good wages in the salmon-fishing and canning industries, were not long
ago very numerous, and still more villanous. They
were not to be compared with the plains Indians as
warriors or as men, but they were more treacherous,
and wanting in high qualities. In the interior to-day
are some Indians such as they were who are accused
of cannibalism, and who have necessitated warlike
defences at distant trading-posts. Travellers who
escaped Indian treachery risked starvation, and stood
their chances of losing their reckoning, of freezing to
death, of encounters with grizzlies, of snow-slides, of
canoe accidents in rapids, and of all the other casualties of life in a territory which to-day is not half explored. Those are not the trunks of Hudson Bay
men, for such would have been sent home to English and Scottish mourners; they are the luggage of
chance men who happened along, and outfitted at
the old post before going farther. But the company's men were there before them, had penetrated the   "A   SKIN   FOR   A   SKIN '
139
region farther and earlier, and there they are to-day,
carrying on the fur trade under conditions strongly
resembling those their predecessors once encountered at posts that are now towns in farming regions,
and where now the locomotive and the steamer are
familiar vehicles. Moreover, the status of the company in British Columbia is its status all the way
across the North from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
To me the most interesting and picturesque life to
be found in North America, at least north of Mexico,
is that which is occasioned by this principal phase of
the company's operations. In and around the fur
trade is found the most notable relic of the white
man's earliest life on this continent. Our wild life
in this country is, happily, gone. The frontiersman
is more difficult to find than the frontier, the cowboy
has become a laborer almost like any other, our Indians are as the animals in our parks, and there is
little of our country that is not threaded by railroads
or wagon-ways. But in new or western Canada this
is not so. A vast extent of it north of the Canadian
Pacific Railway, which hugs our border, has been explored only as to its waterways, its valleys, or its open
plains, and where it has been traversed much of it
remains as Nature and her near of kin, the red men,
had it of old. On the streams canoes are the vehicles of travel and of commerce; in the forests "trails"
lead from trading-post to trading-post, the people
are Indians, half-breeds, and Esquimaux, who live by
hunting and fishing as their forebears did; the Hudson Bay posts are the seats of white population; the
post factors are the magistrates. 140
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
All this is changing with a rapidity which history
will liken to the sliding of scenes before the lens of
a magic-lantern. Miners are crushing the foot-hills
on either side of the Rocky Mountains, farmers and
cattle-men have advanced far northward on the prat
rie and on the plains in narrow lines, and railroads
are pushing hither and thither. Soon the limits of
the inhospitable zone this side of the Arctic Sea,
and of the marshy, weakly-wooded country on either
side of Hudson Bay will circumscribe the fur-trader's
field, except in so far as there may remain equally
permanent hunting-grounds in Labrador and in the
mountains of British Columbia. Therefore now, when
the Hudson Bay Company is laying the foundations
of widely different interests, is the time for halting
the old original view that stood in the stereopticon
for centuries, that we may see what it revealed, and
will still show far longer than it takes for us to
view it.
The Hudson Bay Company's agents were not the
first hunters and fur-traders in British America, ancient as was their foundation. The French, from
the Canadas, preceded them no one knows how
many years, though it is said that it was as early as
1627 that Louis XIII. chartered a company of the
same sort and for the same aims as the English company. Whatever came of that corporation I do not
know, but by the time the Englishmen established
themselves on Hudson Bay, individual Frenchmen
and half-breeds had penetrated the country still farther west. They were of hardy, adventurous stock,
and they loved the free roving life of the trapper and "A   SKIN   FOR   A   SKIN
>)
141
hunter. Fitted out by the merchants of Canada,
they would pursue the waterways which there cut up
the wilderness in every direction, their canoes laden
with goods to tempt the savages, and their guns or
traps forming part of their burden. They would be
gone the greater part of a year, and always returned
with a store of furs to be converted into money,
which was, in turn, dissipated in the cities with devil-
may-care jollity. These were, the coureurs du bois,
and theirs was the stock from which came the voy-
ageurs of the next era, and the half-breeds, who joined
the service of the rival fur companies, and who, by-
the-way, reddened the history of the North-west territories with the little bloodshed that mars it.
Charles II. of England was made to believe that
wonders in the way of discovery and trade would
result from a grant of the Hudson Bay territory
to certain friends and petitioners. An experimental
voyage was made with good results in 1668, and in
1670 the King granted the charter to what he styled
" the Governor and Company of Adventurers of
England trading into Hudson's Bay, one body corporate and politique, in deed and in name, really and
fully forever, for Us, Our heirs, and Successors." It
was indeed a royal and a wholesale charter, for the
King declared, " We have given, granted, and confirmed unto said Governor and Company sole trade
and commerce of those Seas, Streights, Bays, Rivers,
Lakes, Creeks, and Sounds, in whatsoever latitude they
shall be, that lie within the entrance of the Streights
commonly called Hudson's, together with all the
Lands, Countries, and Territories   upon  the  coasts 142
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
and confines of the Seas, etc., . . . not already actually
possessed by or granted to any of our subjects, or possessed by the subjects of any other Christian Prince
or State, with the fishing of all sorts of Fish, Whales,
Sturgeons, and all other Royal Fishes, .... together
with the Royalty of the Sea upon the Coasts within
the limits aforesaid, and all Mines Royal, as well discovered as not discovered, of Gold, Silver, Gems, and
Precious Stones, .... and that the said-lands be
henceforth reckoned and reputed as one of Our
Plantations or Colonies in America called Rupert's
Land." For this gift of an empire the corporation
was to pay yearly to the king, his heirs and successors, two elks and two black beavers whenever and as
often as he, his heirs, or his successors "shall happen to enter into the said countries." The company
was empowered to man ships of war, to create an
armed force for security and defence, to make peace
or war with any people that were not Christians, and
to seize any British or other subject who traded in
their territory. The King named his cousin, Prince
Rupert, Duke of Cumberland, to be first governor,
and it was in his honor that the new territory got its
name of Rupert's Land.
In the company were the Duke of Albemarle,
Earl Craven, Lords Arlington and Ashley, and several knights and baronets, Sir Philip Carteret among
them. There were also five esquires, or gentlemen,
and John Portman," citizen and goldsmith." They
adopted the witty sentence, "Pro pelle cutem" (A
skin for a skin), as their motto, and established as
their coat of arms a fox sejant as the crest, and a 4£
IpR
/m
THE BEAR  TRAP
shield showing four beavers in the quarters, and the
cross of St. George, the whole upheld by two stags.
The " adventurers " quickly established forts on the
shores of Hudson Bay, and began trading with the
Indians, with such success that it was rumored they
made from twenty-five to fifty per cent, profit every
year. But they exhibited all of that timidity which
capital is ever said to possess. They were nothing
like as entei prising as the French coureurs du bois.
In  a  hundred years   they were  no  deeper in   the 144
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
country than at first, excepting as they extended
their little system of forts or " factories " up and down
and on either side of Hudson and James bays. In
view of their profits, perhaps this lack of enterprise
is not to be wondered at. On the other hand, their
charter was given as a reward for the efforts they
had made, and were to make, to find " the Northwest
passage to the Southern seas." In this quest they
made less of a trial than in the getting of furs; how
much less we shall see. But the company had no
lack of brave and hardy followers. At first many
of the men at the factories were from the Orkney
Islands, and those islands remained until recent times
the recruiting-source for this service. This was because the Orkney men were inured to a rigorous climate, and to a diet largely composed of fish. They
were subject to less of a change in the company's service than must have been endured by men from almost
any part of England.
I am going, later, to ask the reader to visit Rupert's
Land when the company had shaken off its timidity,
overcome its obstacles, and dotted all British America with its posts and forts. Then we shall see the.
interiors of the forts, view the strange yet not always
hard or uncouth life of the company's factors and
clerks, and glance along the trails and watercourses,
mainly unchanged to-day, to note the work and surroundings of the Indians, the voyageurs, and the rest
who inhabit that region.    But, fortunately, I can first
Cd J
show, at least roughly, much that is interesting about
the company's growth and methods a century and a
half  ago.    The  information  is  gotten  from  some u
A   SKIN   FOR   A   SKIN
145
English Parliamentary papers forming a report of a
committee of the House of Commons in 1749.
Arthur Dobbs and others petitioned Parliament
to give them either the rights of the Hudson Bay
Company or a similar charter. It seems that England had offered ,£20,000 reward to whosoever should
find the bothersome passage to the Southern seas
via this northern route, and that these petitioners had
sent out two ships for that purpose. They said that
when others had done no more than this in Charles
II.'s time, that monarch had given them " the greatest
privileges as lords proprietors" of the Hudson Bay
territory, and that those recipients of royal favor
were bounden to attempt the discovery of the desired passage. Instead of this, they not only failed
to search effectually or in earnest for the passage,
but they had rather endeavored to conceal the same,
and to obstruct the discovery thereof by others.
They had not possessed or occupied any of the lands
granted to them, or extended their trade, or made any
plantations or settlements, or permitted other British
subjects to plant, settle, or trade there. They had
established only four factories and one small trading-
house ; yet they had connived at or allowed the
French to encroach, settle, and trade within their
limits, to the great detriment and loss of Great
Britain. The petitioners argued that the Hudson
Bay charter was monopolistic, and therefore void,
and at any rate it had been forfeited " by non-user or
abuser."
In the course of the hearing upon both sides, the
"voyages  upon  discovery," according  to  the  com-
10 i46
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
pany's own showing, were not undertaken until the
corporation had been in existence nearly fifty years,
and then the search had only been prosecuted during
eighteen years, and with only ten expeditions. Two
ships sent out from England never reached the bay,
but those which succeeded, and were then ready for
adventurous cruising, made exploratory voyages that
lasted only between one month and ten weeks, so
that, as we are accustomed to judge such expeditions,
they seem farcical and mere pretences. Yet their
largest ship was only of 190 tons burden, and the
others were a third smaller—vessels like our small
coasting schooners. The most particular instructions to the captains were to trade with all natives,
and persuade them to kill whales, sea-horses, and
seals; and, subordinately and incidentally, " by God's
permission," to find out the Strait of Annian, a fanciful sheet of water, with tales of which that irresponsible Greek sea-tramp, Juan de Fuca, had disturbed all
Christendom, saying that it led between a great island in the Pacific (Vancouver) and the mainland
into the inland lakes. To the factors at their forts
the company sent such lukewarm messages as, " and
if you can by any means find out any discovery or
matter to the northward or elsewhere in the company's interest or advantage, do not fail to let us
know every year."
The attitude of the company towards discovery
suggests a Dogberry at its head, bidding his servants to "comprehend' the North-west passage, but
should they fail, to thank God they were rid of a
villain.    In truth, they were traders pure and simple. "A   SKIN   FOR   A   SKIN '
H7
and were making great profits with little trouble and
expense.
They brought from England about ^4000 worth
of powder, shot, guns, fire-steels, flints, gun-worms,
powder-horns, pistols, hatchets, sword blades, awl
blades, ice-chisels, files, kettles, fish-hooks, net-lines,
burning-glasses, looking-glasses, tobacco, brandy, goggles, gloves, hats, lace, needles, thread, thimbles,
breeches, vermilion, worsted sashes, blankets, flannels,
red feathers, buttons, beads, and " shirts, shoes, and
stockens."    They spent, in keeping up their posts
K39m?»W£'*$w**.
Sfcfc^^
™^
**%&,
¥2
■""■ ■%■*■"- "^
.-*«*•* ""*■«*')«;;■
IPS
&'*i-.
-n*
!«*»'
K^l<
HUSKIE  DOGS  FIGHTING 148
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
and ships, about ^15,000, and in return they brought
to England castorum, whale-fins, whale-oil, deer-horns,
goose-quills, bed-feathers, and skins—in all of a value
of about ^26,000 per annum. I have taken the
average for several years in that period of the company's history, and it is in our money as if they spent
$90,000 and got back $130,000, and this is their own
showTinsr under such circumstances as to make it the
course of wisdom not to boast of their profits. They
had three times trebled their stock and otherwise increased it, so that having been 10,500 shares at the
outset, it was now 103,950 shares.
And now that we have seen how natural it was
that they should not then bother with exploration
and discovery, in view of the remuneration that came
for simply sitting in their forts and buying furs, let
me pause to repeat what one of their wisest men said
casually, between the whiffs of a meditative cigar, last
summer: " The search for the north pole must soon
be taken up in earnest," said he. " Man has paused
in the undertaking because other fields where his
needs were more pressing, and where effort was more
certain to be rewarded with success, had been neglected. This is no longer the fact, and geographers
and other students of the subject all agree that the
north pole must next be sought and found. Speaking- only on my own  account and from my knowl-
CD J J J
edge, I assert that whenever any government is in
earnest in this desire, it will employ the men of this
fur service, and they will find the pole. The company has posts far within the arctic circle, and they
are manned by men peculiarly and exactly fitted for "a skin for a skin'
149
the adventure. They are hardy, acutely intelligent,
self-reliant, accustomed to the climate, and all that it
engenders and demands. They are on the spot
ready to start at the earliest moment in the season,
and they have with them all that they will need on
the expedition. They would do nothing hurriedly
or rashly; they would know what they were about as
no other white men would — and they would get
there."
I mention this not merely for the novelty of the
suggestion and the interest it may excite, but because
it contributes to the reader's understanding of the
scope and character of the work of the company. It
is not merely Western and among Indians, it is hyperborean and among Esquimaux. But would it not
be passing strange if, beyond all that England has
gained from the careless gift of an empire to a few
favorites by Charles II., she should yet possess the
honor and glory of a grand discovery due to the nat>
ural results of that action ?
To return to the Parliamentary inquiry into the
company's affairs 140 years ago. If it served no
other purpose, it drew for us of this day an outline
picture of the first forts and their inmates and customs. Being printed in the form our language took
in that day, when a gun was a 1 musquet' and a
stockade was a I palisadoe," we fancy we can see the
bumptious governors—as they then called the factors or agents — swelling about in knee-breeches
and cocked hats and colored waistcoats, and relying,
through their fear of the savages, upon the little
putty-pipe cannon that they speak of as "swivels." 150
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
These were ostentatiously planted before their quarters, and in front of these again were massive double
doors, such as we still make of steel for our bank
safes, but, when made of wood, use only for our refrigerators. The views we get of the company's
" servants "—which is to say, mechanics and laborers
—are all of trembling varlets, and the testimony is
full of hints of petty sharp practice towards the red
man, suggestive of the artful ways of our own Hoi-
landers, who bought beaver-skins by the weight of
their feet, and then pressed down upon the scales
with all their might.
The witnesses had mainly been at one time in the
employ of the company, and they made the point
against it that it imported all its bread (i. e., grain)
from England, and neither encouraged planting nor
cultivated the soil for itself. But there were several
who said that even in August they found the soil
still frozen at a depth of two and a half or three feet.
Not a man in the service was allowed to trade with
the natives outside the forts, or even to speak with
them. One fellow was put in irons for going into
an Indian's tent; and there was a witness who had
" heard a Governor say he would whip a Man without Tryal; and that the severest Punishment is a
Dozen of Lashes." Of course there was no instructing: the savages in either English or the Christian
religion; and we read that, though there were twenty-
eight Europeans in one factory," witness never heard
Sermon or Prayers there, nor ever heard of any such
Thing either before his Time or since." Hunters
who offered their services got one-half what they   "A   SKIN   FOR   A   SKIN '
shot or trapped, and the captains of vessels kept in
the bay were allowed "25 /. per cent!" for all the
whalebone they got.
One witness said: " The method of trade is by a
standard set by the Governors. They never lower
it, but often double it, so that where the Standard
directs 1 Skin to be taken the)'' generally take Two."
Another said he " had been ordered to shorten the
measure for Powder, which ought to be a Pound, and
that within these 10 Years had been reduced an
Ounce or Two." " The Indians made a Noise sometimes, and the Company gave them their Furs again."
A book-keeper lately in the service said that the company's measures for powder were short, and yet even
such measures were not filled above half full. Profits
thus made were distinguished as "the overplus trade,"
and signified what skins were got more than were
paid for, but he could not say whether such gains-
went to the company or to the governor. (As a
matter of fact, the factors or governors shared in the
company's profits, and were interested in swelling
them in every way they could.)
There was much news of how the French traders
got the small furs of martens, foxes, and cats, by intercepting the Indians, and leaving them to carry
only the coarse furs to the company's forts. A witness "had seen the Indians come down in fine French
cloaths, with as much Lace as he ever saw upon any
Cloaths whatsoever. He believed if the Company
would give as much for the Furs as the French, the
Indians would bring them down ;" but the French
asked only thirty marten-skins for a gun, whereas 154
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
the company's standard was from thirty-six to forty
such skins. Then, again, the company's plan (unchanged to-day) was to take the Indian's furs, and
then, being possessed 'of them, to begin the barter.
This shouldering  the  common
grief
upon   the
French was not merely the result of the chronic
English antipathy to their ancient and their lively
foes. The French were swarming all around the
outer limits of the company's field, taking first choice
of the furs, and even beginning to set up posts of
their own. Canada was French soil, and peopled by
as hardy and adventurous a class as inhabited any
part of America. The coureurs du bois and the bois-
brules (half-breeds), whose success afterwards led to
the formation of rival companies, had begun a mosquito warfare, by canoeing the waters that led to
Hudson Bay, and had penetrated iooo miles farther
west than the English. One Thomas Barnett, a
smith, said that the French intercepted the Indians,
forcing them to trade, " when they take what they
please, giving them Toys in Exchange; and fright
them into Compliance by Tricks of Sleight of Hand;
from whence the Indians conclude them to be Conjurers ; and if the French did not compel the Indians
to trade, they would certainly bring all the Goods to
the English?
This must have seemed to the direct, practical
English trading mind a wretched business, and worthy only of Johnny Crapeau, to worst the noble Briton by monkeyish acts of conjuring. It stirred the
soul of one witness, who said "that the way to meet it
was " by sending some English with a little Brandy." A   SKIN   FOR   A   SKIN
j>
155
A gallon to certain chiefs and a gallon and a half
to others would certainly induce the natives to come
down and trade, he thought.
But while the testimony of the English was valuable as far as it went, which was mainly concerning
trade, it was as nothing regarding the life of the natives compared with that of one Joseph La France,
of Missili-Mackinack (Mackinaw), a traveller, hunter,
and trader. He had been sent as a child to Quebec
to learn French, and in later years had been from
Lake Nipissing to Lake Champlain and the Great
Lakes, the Mississippi, the Missouri, the Ouinipigue
(Winnipeg) or Red River, and to Hudson Bay. He
told his tales to Arthur Dobbs, who made a book of
them, and part of that became an appendix to the
committee's report.    La France said:
"That the high price on European Goods discourages the Natives
so much, that if it were not that they are under a Necessity of having Guns, Powder, Shot, Hatchets, and other Iron Tools for their
Hunting, and Tobacco, Brandy, and some Paint for Luxury, they
would not go down to the Factory with what they now carry. They
leave great numbers of Furs and Skins behind them. A good Hunter among the Indians can kill 600 Beavers in a season, and carry
down but 100" (because their canoes were small); "the rest he uses
at home, or hangs them upon Branches of Trees upon the Death of
their Children, as an Offering to them ; or use them for Bedding and
Coverings : they sometimes burn off the Fur, and roast the Beavers,
like Pigs, upon any Entertainments; and they often let them rot,
having no further Use of them. The Beavers, he says, are of Three
Colours—the Brown-reddish Colour, the Black, and the White. The
Black is most valued by the Company, and in England; the White,
though most valued in Canada, is blown upon by the Company's
Factors at the Bay, they not allowing so much for these as for the
others ; and therefore the Indians use them at home, or burn off the
Hair, when they roast the Beavers, like Pigs, at an Entertainment
when they feast together.    The Beavers are delicious Food, but the 156
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
Tongue and Tail the most delicious Parts of the whole. They multiply very fast, and if they can empty a Pond, and take the whole
Lodge, they generally leave a Pair to breed, so that they are fully
stocked again in Two or Three Years. The American Oxen, or
Beeves, he says, have a large Bunch upon their backs, which is by
far the most delicious Part of them for Food, it being all as sweet as-
Marrow, juicy and rich, and weighs several Pounds.
" The Natives are so discouraged in their Trade with the Company that no Peltry is worth the Carriage; and the finest Furs are
sold for very little. They gave but a Pound of Gunpowder for 4.
Beavers, a Fathom of Tobacco for 7 Beavers, a Pound of Shot for 1,
an Ell of coarse Cloth for 15, a Blanket for 12, Two Fish-hooks or
Three Flints for 1 ; a Gun for 25, a Pistol for 10, a common Hat with
white Lace, 7; an Ax, 4; a Billhook, 1 ; a Gallon of Brandy, 4; a
chequer'd Shirt, 7; all of which are sold at a monstrous Profit, even
to 2000 per Cent. Notwithstanding this discouragement, he computed that there were brought to the Factory in 1742, in all, 50,000
Beavers and above 9000 Martens.
" The smaller Game, got by Traps or Snares, are generally the
Employment of the Women and Children; such as the Martens,
Squirrels, Cats, Ermines, &c. The Elks, Stags, Rein - Deer, Bears,.
Tygers, wild Beeves, Wolves, Foxes, Beavers, Otters, Corcajeu, &c,
are the employment of the Men. The Indians, when they kill any
Game for Food, leave it where they kill it, and send their wives next
Day to carry it home. They go home in a direct Line, never missing their way, by observations they make of the Course they take
upon their going out. The Trees all bend towards the South, and
the Branches on that Side are larger and stronger than on the North
Side; as also the Moss upon the Trees. To let their Wives know
how to come at the killed Game, they from Place to Place break off
Branches and lay them in the Road, pointing them the Way they
should go, and sometimes Moss ; so that they never miss finding it.
" In Winter, when they go abroad, which they must do in all
Weathers, before they dress, they rub themselves all over with Bears
Greaze or Oil of Beavers, which does not freeze ; and also rub all the
Fur of their Beaver Coats, and then put them on; they have also a
kind of Boots or Stockings of Beaver's Skin, well oiled, with the
Fur inwards; and above them they have an oiled Skin laced about
their Feet, which keeps out the Cold, and also Water; and by this-
means they never freeze, nor suffer anything by Cold. In Summer,
also, when they go naked, they rub themselves with these Oils or
Grease, and expose themselves to the Sun without being scorched, "A   SKIN   FOR  A  SKIN
»
157
their Skins always being kept soft and supple by it; nor do any
Flies, Bugs, or Musketoes, or any noxious Insect, ever molest them.
When they want to get rid of it, they go into the Water, and rub
themselves all over with Mud or Clay, and let it dry upon them, and
then rub it off; but whenever they are free from the Oil, the Flies
and Musketoes immediately attack them, and oblige them again to
anoint themselves. They are much afraid of the wild Humble Bee,
they going naked in Summer, that they avoid them as much as they
can. They use no Milk from the time they are weaned, and they all
hate to taste Cheese, having taken up an Opinion that it is made of
Dead Mens Fat. They love Prunes and Raisins, and will give a
Beaver-skin for Twelve of them, to carry to their Children; and also
for a Trump or Jew's Harp. The Women have all fine Voices, but
have never heard any Musical Instrument. They are very fond of all
Kinds of Pictures or Prints, giving a Beaver for the least Print; and
all Toys are like Jewels to them."
He reported that " the Indians west of Hudson's
Bay live an erratic Life, and can have no Benefit by
tame Fowl or Cattle. They seldom stay above a
Fortnight in a Place, unless they find Plenty of
Game. After having built their Hut, they disperse
to get Game for their Food, and meet again at Night
after having killed enough to maintain them for that
Day. When they find Scarcity of Game, they remove
a League or Two farther; and thus they traverse
through woody Countries and Bogs, scarce missing
One Day, Winter or Summer, fair or foul, in the
greatest Storms of Snow."
It has been often said that the great Peace River,
which rises in British Columbia and flows through
a pass in the Rocky Mountains into the northern
plains, was named "the Unchaga," or Peace, "because " (to quote Captain W. F. Butler) " of the stubborn resistance offered by the all-conquering Crees,
which induced that warlike tribe to make peace on 158
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
the banks of the river, and leave at rest the beaver-
hunters "—that is, the Beaver tribe—upon the river's
banks. There is a sentence in La France's story
that intimates a more probable and lasting reason
for the name. He says that some Indians in the
southern centre of Canada sent frequently to the
Indians along some river near the mountains " with
presents, to confirm the peace with them." The
story is shadowy, of course, and yet La France, in
the same narrative, gave other information which
proved to be correct, and none which proved ridicu-
lous. We know that there were "all-conquering'
Crees, but there were also inferior ones called the
Swampies, and there were others of only intermediate
valor. As for the Beavers, Captain Butler himself
offers other proof of their mettle besides their " stubborn resistance." He says that on one occasion a
young Beaver chief shot the dog of another brave in
the Beaver camp. A hundred bows were instantly
drawn, and ere night eighty of the best men of the
tribe lay dead. There was a parley, and it was resolved that the chief who slew the doo: should leave
the tribe, and take his friends with him. A century
later a Beaver Indian, travelling with a white man,
heard his own tongue spoken by men among the
Blackfeet near our border. They were the Sarcis,
descendants of the exiled band of Beavers. They
had become the most reckless and valorous members
of the warlike Blackfeet confederacy.
La France said that the nations who" go up the
river" with presents, to confirm the peace with certain Indians, were three months in going, and that f^m
'"X,
&£&^ir'
&*
mzi
Cm
W:
■M
■%m
-m».
l&M'^.V
COUREUR  DU  BOIS
the Indians in question live beyond a range of
mountains beyond the Assiniboins (a plains tribe)~
Then he goes on to say that still farther beyond those
Indians " are nations who have not the use of firearms, by which many of them are made slaves and
sold "—to the Assiniboins and others. These are
plainly the Pacific coast Indians. And even so long
ago as that (about 1740), half a century before Mac- i6o
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
kenzie and Vancouver met on the Pacific coast, La
France had told the story of an Indian who had gone
at the head of a band of thirty braves and their families to make war on the Flatheads " on the Western
Ocean of America." They were from autumn until
the next April in making the journey, and they "saw
many Black Fish spouting up in the sea." It was a
case of what the Irish call " spoiling for a fight," for
they had to journey 1500 miles to meet "enemies'
whom they never had seen, and who were peaceful,
and inhabited more or less permanent villages. The
plainsmen got more than they sought. They attacked
a village, were outnumbered, and lost half their force,
besides having several of their men wounded. On
the way back all except the man who told the story
died of fatigue and famine.
The journeys which Indians made in their wildest
period were tremendous. Far up in the wilderness
of British America there are legends of visits by the
Iroquois. The Blackfeet believe that their progenitors roamed as far south as Mexico for horses, and
the Crees of the plains evinced a correct knowledge
of the country that lay beyond the Rocky Mountains
in their conversations with the first whites who traded
with them. Yet those white men, the founders of an
organized fur trade, clung to the scene of their first
operations for more than one hundred years, while
the bravest of their more enterprising rivals in the
Northwest Company only reached the Pacific, with
the aid of eight Iroquois braves, 120 years after the
English king chartered the senior company! The
French   were   the   true   Yankees   of  that   country. " A   SKIN   FOR  A  SKIN '
161
They and their half-breeds were always in the van as
explorers and traders, and as early as 1731 M. Va-
rennes de la Verandrye, licensed by the Canadian
Government as a trader, penetrated the West as far
as the Rockies, leading Sir Alexander Mackenzie to
that extent by more than sixty years.
But to return to the first serious trouble the Hudson Bay Company met. The investigation of its
affairs by Parliament produced nothing more than
the picture I have presented. The committee reported that if the original charter bred a monopoly,
it would not help matters to give the same privileges
to others. As the questioned legality of the charter
was not competently adjudicated upon, they would
not allow another company to invade the premises of
the older one.
At this time the great company still hugged the
shores of the bay, fearing the Indians, the half-breeds,,
and the French. Their posts were only six in all,,
and were mainly fortified with palisaded enclosures,
with howitzers and swivels, and with men trained to
the use of guns. Moose Fort and the East Main
factory were on either side of James Bay, Forts Albany, York, and Prince of Wales followed up the
west coast, and Henley was the southernmost and
most inland of all, being on Moose River, a tributary
of James Bay. The French at first traded beyond
the field of Hudson Bay operations, and their castles
were their canoes. But when their great profits and
familiarity with the trade tempted the thrifty French
capitalists and enterprising Scotch merchants of
Montreal into the formation of the rival Northwest
11 162
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
Trading Company in 1783, fixed trading-posts began to be established all over the Prince Rupert's
Land, and even beyond the Rocky Mountains in
British Columbia. By 1818 there were about forty
Northwest posts as against about two dozen Hudson
Bay factories. The new company not only disputed
but ignored the chartered rights of the old company,
holding that the charter had not been sanctioned by
Parliament, and was in every way unconstitutional as
creative of a monopoly. Their French partners and
engages shared this feeling, especially as the French
crown had been first in the field with a royal charter.
Growing bolder and bolder, the Northwest Company
resolved to drive the Hudson Bay Company to a
legal test of their rights, and so in 1803-4 they established a Northwest fort under the eyes of the old
company on the shores of Hudson Bay, and fitted
out ships to trade with the natives in the strait. But
the Englishmen did not accept the challenge; for the
truth was they had their own doubts of the strength
of their charter.
They pursued a different and for them an equally
bold course. That hard-headed old nobleman the
fifth Earl of Selkirk came uppermost in the company
as the engineer of a plan of colonization. There was
plenty of land, and some wholesale evictions of Highlanders in Sutherlandshire, Scotland, had rendered a
great force of hardy men homeless. Selkirk saw in
this situation a chance to play a long but certainly
triumphant game with his rivals. His plan was to
plant a colony which should produce grain and
horses and men for the old company, saving the im-   "a skin for a skin '
165
portation of all three, and building up not only a
nursery for men to match the coureurs du bois, but a
strong-hold and a seat of a future government in the
Hudson Bay interest. Thus was ushered in a new
and important era in Canadian history. It was the
opening of that part of Canada; by a loop-hole rather
than a door, to be sure.
Lord'Selkirk's was a practical soul. On one occasion in animadverting against the Northwest Company he spoke of them contemptuously as fur-traders,
yet he was the chief, of all fur-traders, and had been
known-to barter with an Indian himself at one of the
forts~:for a fur.. He held up the opposition to the
scorn of the world as profiting upon the weakness of
the Indians by giving them alcohol, yet he ordered
distilleries set up in his colony afterwards, saying,
" We grant the trade is iniquitous, but if we don't
carry it on others will; so we may as well put the
guineas in our own pockets." But he was the man
of the moment, if not for it. His scheme of colonization was born of desperation on one side and distress on the other.. It was pursued amid terrible
hardship^ and against incessant violence. It was
consummated through bloodshed. The story is as
interesting- as it is important. The facts are obtained mainly from "Papers relating to the Red
River Settlement, ordered to be printed by the
-House of Commons, July 12, 1819." Lord Selkirk
owned 40,000 of the ,£105,000 (or shares) of the
Hudson Bay Company; therefore, since 25,000 were
held by women and children, he held half of all that
carried votes.    He got from the company a grant of 166
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
a large tract around what is now Winnipeg, to form
an agricultural settlement for supplying the company's posts with provisions. We have seen how
little disposed its officers were to open the land to
settlers, or to test its agricultural capacities. No one,
therefore, will wonder that when this grant was made
several members of the governing committee resigned. But a queer development of the moment
was a strong opposition from holders of Hudson Bay
stock who were also owners in that company's great
rival, the Northwest Company. Since the enemy
persisted in prospering at the expense of the old
company, the moneyed men of the senior corporation
had taken stock of their rivals. These doubly interested persons were also in London, so that the
Northwest Company was no longer purely Canadian.
The opponents within the Hudson Bay Company declared civilization to be at all times unfavorable to
the fur trade, and the Northwest people argued that
the colony would form a nursery for servants of the
Bay Company, enabling them to oppose the Northwest Company more effectually, as well as affording
such facilities for new-comers as must destroy their
own monopoly. The Northwest Company denied
the legality of the charter rights of the Hudson Bay
Company because Parliament had not confirmed
Charles II.'s charter.
The colonists came, and were met by Miles McDonnell, an ex - captain of Canadian volunteers, as
Lord Selkirk's agent. The immigrants landed on the
shore of Hudson 'Bay, and passed a forlorn winter.
They met some of the Northwest Company's people   u
A   SKIN   FOR  A   SKIN
169
under Alexander McDonnell, a cousin and brother-in-
law to Miles McDonnell. Although Captain Miles
read the grant to Selkirk in token of his sole right to
the land, the settlers were hospitably received and
well treated by the Northwest people. The settlers
reached the place of colonization in August, 1812.
This place is what was known as Fort Garry until
Winnipeg was built. It was at first called " the
Forks of the Red River," because the Assiniboin
there joined the Red. Lord Selkirk outlined his
policy at the time in a letter in which he bade Miles
McDonnell give the Northwest people solemn warning that the lands were Hudson Bay property, and
they must remove from them ; that they must not
fish, and that if they did their nets were to be
seized, their buildings were to be destroyed, and
they were to be treated " as you would poachers in
England."
The trouble began at once. Miles accused Alexander of trying to inveigle colonists away from him.
He trained his men in the use of guns, and uniformed
a number of them. He forbade the exportation of
any supplies from the country, and when some Northwest men came to get baffalo meat they had hung
on racks in the open air, according to the custom of
the country, he sent armed men to send the others
away. He intercepted a band of Northwest canoe-
men, stationing men with guns and with two field-
pieces on the river; and he sent to a Northwest
post lower down the river demanding the provisions
stored there, which, when they were refused, were
taken by force, the door being smashed in.     For 170
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
this a Hudson Bay clerk was arrested, and Captain
Miles's men went to the rescue. Two armed forces
met, but happily slaughter was averted. Miles McDonnell justified his course on the ground that the
colonists were distressed by need of food. It transpired at the time that one of his men while
making cartridges for a cannon remarked that he
was   making  them   " for   those —
&
— Northwest rascals. They have run too long, and shall run no
longer." After this Captain Miles ordered the stoppage of all buffalo-hunting on horseback, as the
practice kept the buffalo at a distance, and drove
them into the Sioux country, where the local Indians
dared not go.
But though Captain McDonnell was aggressive
and vexatious, the Northwest Company's people, who
had begun the mischief, even in London, were not
now passive. They relied on setting the half-breeds
and Indians against the colonists. They urged that
the colonists had stolen Indian real estate in settling
on the land, and that in time every Indian would starve
as a consequence. At the forty-fifth annual meeting
of the Northwest Company's officers, August, 1814^
Alexander McDonnell said, " Nothing but the complete downfall of the colony will satisfy some, by fair
or foul means—a most desirable object, if it can be
accomplished; so here is at it with all my heart and
energy." In October, 1814, Captain McDonnell ordered the Northwest Company to remove from the
territory within six months.
The Indians, first and last, were the friends of
the colonists,    They were befriended by the whites, IA   SKIN   FOR  A   SKIN "
171
1
and in turn they
gave them sue-
cor when famine
fell upon them.
Many of Captain Miles McDonnell's orders
were in their interest, and they
knew it. Ka-
tawabetay, a
chief, was tempted with a big
prize to destroy
the settlement.
He refused. On
the opening of
navigation in
1815 chiefs were
bidden from the
country around
to visit the
Northwest factors, and were by
them asked to
destroy the colony.    Not only
did they decline, but they hastened to Captain Miles
McDonnell to acquaint him with the plot. Duncan
Cameron now appears foremost among the Northwest Company's agents, being in charge of that company's post on the Red River, in the Selkirk grant.
THE INDIAN  HUNTER  OF   1750 172
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
He told the chiefs that if they took the part of the
-colonists " their camp- fires should be totally extinguished." When Cameron caught one of his own
.servants doing a trifling service for Captain Miles
McDonnell, he sent him upon a journey for which
every engage of the Northwest Company bound himself liable in joining the company; that was to make
the trip to Montreal, a voyage held in terrorem over
-every servant of the corporation. More than that,
he confiscated four horses and a wagon belonging
to this man, and charged him on the company's books
with the sum of 800 livres for an Indian squaw, whom
the man had been told he was to have as his slave
for a present.
But though the Indians held aloof from the great
and cruel conspiracy, the half-breeds readily joined
in it. They treated Captain McDonnell's orders
with contempt, and arrested one of the Hudson Bay
men as a spy upon their hunting with horses. There
lived along the Red River, near the colony, about
thirty Canadians and seventy half-breeds, born of
Indian squaws and the servants or officers of the
Northwest Company. One-quarter of the number
of " breeds' could read and write, and were fit to
serve as clerks; the rest were literally half savage,
and were employed as hunters, canoe-men, " packers '
{freighters), and guides. They were naturally inclined
to side with the Northwest Company, and in time
that corporation sowed dissension among the colonists themselves, picturing to them exaggerated danger from the Indians, and offering them free passage to Canada.    They paid at least one of the lead-   u
A   SKIN   FOR   A   SKIN
>)
175
ing colonists £100 for furthering discontent in the
settlement, and four deserters from the colony stole
all the Hudson Bay field-pieces, iron swivels, and the
howitzer. There was constant irritation and friction
between the factions. In an affray far up at Isle-a-la-
Crosse a man was killed on either side. Half-breeds
came past the colony singing war-songs, and notices
were posted around Fort Garry reading, " Peace with
all the world except in Red River." The Northwest
people demanded the surrender of Captain McDonnell that he might be tried on their charges, and on
June 11, 1815, a band of men fired on the colonial
buildings. The captain afterwards surrendered himself, and the remnant of the colony, thirteen families,
went to the head of Lake Winnipeg. The half,
breeds burned the buildings, and divided the horses
and effects.
But in the autumn all came back with Colin Robertson, of the Bay Company, and twenty clerks and
servants. These were joined by Governor Robert
Semple, who brought 160 settlers from Scotland.
Semple was a man of consequence at home, a great
traveller, and the author of a book on travels in
Spain.* But he came in no conciliatory mood, and
the foment was kept up.    The Northwest Company
* I am indebted to Mr. Matthew Semple, of Philadelphia, a grand-
nephew of the murdered Governor, for further facts about that hero.
He led a life of travel and adventure, spiced with almost romantic
happenings. He wrote ten books: records of travel and one novel.
His parents were passengers on an English vessel which was captured by the Americans in 1776, and brought to Boston, Mass., where
he was born on February 26, 1777. He was therefore only 39 years
•of age when he was slain. His portrait, now in Philadelphia, shows
him to have been a man of striking and handsome appearance. ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
tried to starve the colonists, and Governor Semple
destroyed the enemy's fort below Fort Garry. Then
came the end—a decisive battle and massacre.
Sixty-five men on horses, and with some carts,,
were sent by Alexander McDonnell, of the Northwest Company, up the river towards the colony.
They were led by Cuthbert Grant, and included six
Canadians, four Indians, and fifty-four half-breeds.
It was afterwards said they went on innocent business, but every man was armed, and the " breeds'
were naked, and painted all over to look like Indians. They got their paint of the Northwest officers. Moreover, there had been rumors that the colonists were to be driven away, and that " the land
was to be drenched with blood." If was on June 19,
1816, that runners notified the colony that the others
were coming. Semple was at Fort Douglas, near
Fort Garry. When apprised of the close approach
of his assailants, the Governor seems not to have appreciated his danger, for he said, " We must go and
meet those people; let twenty men follow me." He
put on his cocked hat and sash, his pistols, and shouldered his double-barrelled fowling-piece. The others
carried a wretched lot of guns—some with the locks
gone, and many that were useless. It was marshy
ground, and they straggled on in loose order. They
met an old soldier who had served in the army at
home, and who said the enemy was very numerous,
and that the Governor had better brine: along his two
CD O
field-pieces.
" No, no," said the Governor; " there is no occasion*
I am only going to speak to them." "a skin for a skin '
I77
Nevertheless, after a moment's reflection, he did
send back for one of the great guns, saying it was
well to have it in case of need. They halted a short
time for the cannon, and then perceived the Northwest party pressing towards them on their horses.
By a common impulse the Governor and his followers began a retreat, walking backwards, and at the
same time spreading out a single line to present a
longer front. The enemy continued to advance at a
hand-gallop. From out among them rode a Canadian named Boucher, the rest forming a half-moon
behind him. Waving his hand in an insolent way
to the Governor, Boucher called out," What do you
want ?"
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ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
" What do you want ?" said Governor Semple.
" We want our fort," said Boucher, meaning the
fort Semple had destroyed.
" Go to your fort," said the Governor.
"Why did you destroy our fort, you rascal?" Boucher demanded.
" Scoundrel, do you tell me so ?" the Governor replied, and ordered the man's arrest.
Some say he caught at Boucher's gun. But Boucher slipped off his horse, and on the instant a gun
was fired, and a Hudson Bay clerk fell dead. Another shot wounded Governor Semple;and he called
to his followers,
" Do what you can to take care of yourselves."
Then there was a volley from the Northwest force,
and with the clearing of the smoke it looked as
though all the Governor's party were killed or wounded. Instead of taking care of themselves, they had
rallied around their wounded leader. Captain Rogers, of the Governor's party, who had fallen, rose to
his feet, and ran towards the enemy crying for mercy
in English and broken French, when Thomas McKay,
a " breed " and Northwest clerk, shot him through the
head, another cutting his body open with a knife.
Cuthbert Grant (who, it was charged, had shot
Governor Semple) now went to the Governor, while
the others despatched the wounded.
Semple said, "Are you not Mr. Grant?"
" Yes," said the other.
" I am not mortally wounded," said the Governor,
" and if you could get me conveyed to the fort, I
think I should live." "A   SKIN   FOR  A   SKIN '
179
But when Grant left his side an Indian named
Ma-chi-ca-taou shot him, some say through the breast,
and some have it that he put a pistol to the Governor's head. Grant could not stop the savages. The
bloodshed had crazed them. They slaughtered all
the wounded, and, worse yet, they terribly maltreated
the bodies. Twenty-two Hudson Bay men were killed,
and one on the other side was wounded.
There is a story that Alexander McDonnell shouted for joy when he heard the news of the massacre.
One witness, who did not hear him shout, reports
that he exclaimed to his friends: " Sacre nom de
Dieu!    Bonnes nouvelles; vingt-deux Anglais tuesT
( !   Good news; twenty-two English slain!)    It
was afterwards alleged that the slaughter was approved by every officer of the Northwest Company
whose comments were recorded.
It is a saying up in that country that twenty-six
out of the sixty-five in the attacking party died violent deaths. The record is only valuable as indicating the nature and perils of the lives the hunters and
half-breeds led. First, a Frenchman dropped dead
while crossing the ice on the river, his son was
stabbed by a comrade, his wife was shot, and his
children were burned; " Big Head," his brother, was
shot by an Indian; Coutonohais dropped dead at a
dance; Battosh was mysteriously shot; Lavigne was
drowned; Fraser was run through the body by a
Frenchman in Paris; Baptiste Moralle, while drunk,
was thrown into a fire by inebriated companions and
burned to death; another died drunk on a roadway;
another was wounded by the bursting of his gun; i8o
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
small-pox took the eleventh; Duplicis was empaled
upon a hay-fork, on which he jumped from a haystack ; Parisien was shot, by a person unknown, in a
buffalo-hunt; another lost his arm by carelessness;
Gardapie, " the brave," was scalped and shot by the
Sioux; so was Vallee; Ka-te-tee-goose was scalped
and cut in pieces by the Gros-Ventres; Pe-me-can-
toss was thrown in a hole by his people; and another
Indian and his wife and children were killed by
lightning. Yet another was gored to death by a
buffalo. The rest of the twenty-six died by being
frozen, by drowning, by drunkenness, or by shameful
disease.
It is when things are at their worst that they begin to mend, says a silly old proverb; but when history is studied these desperate situations often seem
part of the mending, not of themselves, but of the
broken cause of progress. There was a little halt
here in Canada, as we shall see, but the seed of settlement had been planted, and thenceforth continued to
grow. Lord Selkirk came with all speed, reaching
Canada in 1817. It was now an English colony,
and when he asked for a body-guard, the Government
gave him two sergeants and twelve soldiers of the
Regiment de Meuron. He made these the nucleus
of a considerable force of Swiss and Germans who
had formerly served in that regiment, and he pursued
a triumphal progress to what he .called his territory
of Assiniboin, capturing all the Northwest Company's
forts on the route, imprisoning the officers, and sending to jail in Canada all the accessaries to the massacre, on charges of arson, murder, robbery, and " high ■
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A  HUDSON  BAY  MAN  (QUARTER-BREED)
misdemeanors." Such was the prejudice against the
Hudson Bay Company and the regard for the home
corporation that nearly all were acquitted, and suits
for very heavy damages were lodged against him.
Selkirk sought to treat with the Indians for his
land, which they said belonged to the Chippeways
and the Crees. Five chiefs were found whose right
to treat was acknowledged by all. On July 18, 1817,
they deeded the territory to the King," for the benefit of Lord Selkirk," giving him a strip two miles
wide on  either side of the  Red  River from Lake 182
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
Winnipeg to Red Lake, north of the United States
boundary, and along the Assiniboin from Fort Garry
to the Muskrat River, as well as within two circles
of six miles radius around Fort Garry and Pembina,
now in Dakota. Indians do not know what miles
are; they measure distance by the movement of the
sun while on a journey. They determined two miles
in this case to be "as far as you can see daylight
under a horse's belly on the level prairie." On
account of Selkirk's liberality they dubbed him "the
silver chief." He agreed to give them for the land
200 pounds of tobacco a year. He named his settlement Kildonan, after that place in Helmsdale, Suther-
landshire, Scotland. He- died in 1821, and in 1836
the Hudson Bay Company bought the land back
from his heirs for ^84,000. The Swiss and Germans of his regiment remained, and many retired
servants of the company bought and settled there,
forming the aristocracy of the place—a queer aristocracy to our minds, for many of the women were
Indian squaws, and the children were " breeds."
Through the perseverance and tact of the Right
Hon. Edward Ellice, to whom the Government had
appealed, all differences between the two great fur-
trading companies were adjusted, and in 1821 a
coalition was formed. At Ellice's suggestion the
giant combination then got from Parliament exclu-
sive privileges beyond the waters that flow into
Hudson Bay, over the Rocky Mountains and to the
Pacific, for a term of twenty years. These extra
privileges were surrendered in 1838, and were renewed for twenty-one years longer, to be revoked, so " A   SKIN   FOR   A   SKIN '
183
far as British Columbia (then New Caledonia) was
concerned, in 1858. That territory then became a
crown colony, and it and Vancouver Island, which
had taken on a colonial character at the time of the
California gold fever (1849), were united in 1866. The
extra privileges of the fur-traders were therefore not
again renewed. In 1868, after the establishment of
the Canadian union, whatever presumptive rights
the Hudson Bay Company got under Charles II.'s
charter were vacated in consideration of a payment
by Canada of $1,500,000 cash, one-twentieth of all
surveyed lands wdthin the fertile belt, and 50,000
acres surrounding the company's posts. It is estimated that the land grant amounts to 7,000,000
of acres, worth $20,000,000, exclusive of all town
sites.
Thus we reach the present condition of the company, more than 220 years old, maintaining 200 central posts and unnumbered dependent ones, and trading in Labrador on the Atlantic; at Massett, on Queen
Charlotte Island, in the Pacific; and deep within the
Arctic Circle in the north. The company was newly capitalized not long ago with 100,000 shares at
^20 ($10,000,000), but, in addition to its dividends, it
has paid back £y in every £"20, reducing its capital
to ,£1,300,000. The stock, however, is quoted at its
original value. The supreme control of the company
is vested in a governor, deputy governor, and five
directors, elected by the stockholders in London.
They delegate their powers to an executive resident
in this country, who was until lately called the " Governor of Rupert's Land," but now is styled the chief 184
ON   CANADAS   FRONTIER
commissioner, and is in absolute charge of the com-
pany and all its operations. His term of office is unlimited. The present head of the corporation, or
governor, is Sir Donald A. Smith, one of the foremost spirits in Canada, who worked his way up
from a clerkship in the company. The business of
the company is managed on the outfit system, the
most old-fogyish, yet by its officers declared to be
the most perfect, plan in use by any corporation.
The method is to charge against each post all the
supplies that are sent to it between June ist and
June ist each year, and then to set against this the
product of each post in furs and in cash received. It
used to take seven years to arrive at the figures for a
given year, but, owing to improved means of transportation, this is now done in two years.
Almost wherever you go in the newly settled parts
of the Hudson Bay territory you find at least one
free-trader's shop set up in rivalry with the old company's post. These are sometimes mere storehouses
for the furs, and sometimes they look like, and are
partly, general country stores. There can be no
doubt that this rivalry is very detrimental to the fur
trade from the stand-point of the future. The great
company can afford to miss a dividend, and can lose
at some points while gaining at others, but the freetraders must profit in every district. The consequence is such a reckless destruction of game that
the plan adopted by us for our seal-fisheries—the
leasehold system—is envied and advocated in Canada.
A greater proportion of trapping and an utter unconcern for the destruction of the game at all ages   ((
A    SKIN  FOR  A  SKIN
IS/
are now ravaging the wilderness. Many districts
return as many furs as they ever yielded, but the
quantity is kept up at fearful cost by the extermination of the game. On the other hand, the fortified
wall of posts that opposed the development of Canada, and sent the surplus population of Europe to the
United States, is rid of its palisades and field-pieces,
and the main strongholds of the ancient company
and its rivals have become cities. The old fort on
Vancouver Island is now Victoria; Fort Edmonton
is the seat of law and commerce in the Peace River
region; old Fort William has seen Port Arthur rise
by its side; Fort Garry is Winnipeg; Calgary, the
chief city of Alberta, is on the site of another fort;
and Sault Ste. Marie was once a Northwest post.
But civilization is still so far off from most of the
" factories," as the company's posts are called, that
the day when they shall become cities is in no man's
thought or ken. And the communication between
the centres and outposts is, like the life of the traders,
more nearly like what it was in the old, old days than
most of my readers would imagine. My Indian
guides were battling with their paddles against the
mad current of the Nipigon, above Lake Superior,
one day last summer, and I was only a few hours
away from Factor Flanagan's post near the great
lake, when we came to a portage, and might have
imagined from what we saw that time had pushed the
hands back on the dial of eternity at least a century.
Some rapids in the river had to be avoided by the
brigade that was being sent with supplies to a post
far north at the head of Lake Nipigon.   A cumbrous, ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
big-timbered little schooner, like a surf-boat with a
sail, and a square-cut bateau had brought the men
and goods to the " carry." The men were half-breeds
as of old, and had brought along their women and
children to inhabit a camp of smoky tents that we
espied on a bluff close by; a typical camp, with the
blankets hung on the bushes, the slatternly women
and half-naked children squatting or running about,,
and smudge fires smoking between the tents to drive
off mosquitoes and flies. The men were in groups
below on the trail, at the water-side end of which wrere
the boats' cargoes of shingles and flour and bacon
and shot and powder in kegs, wrapped, two at a time,,
in rawhide. They were dark-skinned, short, spare
men, without a surplus pound of flesh in the crew,,
and with longish coarse black hair and straggling;
beards. Each man carried a tump-line, or long stout
strap, which he tied in such a way around what he
meant to carry that a broad part of the strap fitted
over the crown of his head. Thus they " packed "
the goods over the portage, their heads sustaining
the loads, and their backs merely steadying them.
When one had thrown his burden into place, he
trotted off up the trail with springing feet, though,
the freight was packed so that ioo pounds should
form a load. For bravado one carried 200 pounds,,
and then all the others tried to pack as much, and
most succeeded. All agreed that one, the smallest
and least muscular-looking one among them, could
pack 400 pounds.
As the men gathered around their " smudge " to
talk with my party, it was seen that of all the parts "A   SKIN   FOR   A   SKIN '
189
of the picturesque costume of the voyageur or bois-
brute of old—the capote, the striped shirt, the pipe-
tomahawk, plumed hat, gay leggins, belt, and moccasins—only the red worsted belt and the moccasins
have been retained. These men could recall the
day when they had tallow and corn meal for rations,
got no tents, and were obliged to carry 200 pounds,
lifting one package, and then throwing a second one
atop of it without assistance. Now they carry only
100 pounds at a time, and have tents and good food
given to them.
We will not follow them, nor meet, as they did, the
York boat coming down from the north with last
winter's furs. Instead, I will endeavor to lift the curtain from before the great fur country beyond them,
to give a glimpse of the habits and conditions that
prevail throughout a majestic territory where the
rivers and lakes are the only roads, and canoes and
dog-sleds are the only vehicles. VII
"TALKING  MUSQUASH"
Concluding the sketch of the history and work of the Hudson Bay Company
THE most sensational bit of " musquash talk'
in more than a quarter of a century among
the Hudson Bay Company's employes was started
the other day, when Sir Donald A. Smith, the
governor of the great trading company, sent a
type-written letter to Winnipeg. If a Cree squaw
had gone to the trading-shpp at Moose Factory
and asked for a bustle and a box of face - powder
in exchange for a beaver-skin, the suggestion of
changing conditions in the fur trade would have
been trifling compared with the sense of instability
to which this appearance of machine-writing gave
rise. The reader may imagine for himself what a
wrench civilization would have gotten if the world
had laid down its goose-quills and taken up the typewriter all in one day. And that is precisely what
Sir Donald Smith had done. The quill that had
served to convey the orders of Alexander Mackenzie
had satisfied Sir George Simpson ; and, in our own
time, while men like Lord Iddesleigh, Lord Kimber-
ley, and Mr. Goschen sat around the candle-lighted
table in the board-room of the company in London,
quill pens were the only ones at hand. But Sir Donald's letter was not only the product of a machine; it " TALKING  MUSQUASH '
ipi
contained instructions for the use of the type-writer in
the offices at Winnipeg, and there was in the letter a
protest against illegible manual chirography such as
had been received from many factories in the wilderness. Talking business in the fur trade has always
been called " talking musquash " (musk-rat), and after
that letter came the turn taken by that form of talk
suggested a general fear that from the Arctic to our
border and from Labrador to Queen Charlotte's Islands the canvassers for competing machines will be
" racing' in all the posts, each to prove that his instrument can pound out more words in a minute
than any other—in those posts where life has hitherto
been taken so gently that when one day a factor
heard that the battle of Waterloo had been fought
and won by the English, he deliberately loaded the
best trade gun in the storehouse and went out and
fired it into the pulseless woods, although it was two
years after the battle, and the disquieted Old World
had long known the greater news that Napoleon was
caged in St. Helena. The only reassuring note in
the " musquash talk' to - day is sounded when the
subject of candles is reached. The Governor and
committee in London still pursue their deliberations
by candlelight.
But rebellion against their fate is idle, and it is of
no avail for the old factors to make the point that
Sir Donald found no greater trouble in reading their
writing than they encountered when one of his missives had to be deciphered by them. The truth is
that the tide of immigration which their ancient monopoly first shunted into the United States is now 192
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
sweeping over their vast territory, and altering more
than its face. Not only are the factors aware that
the new rule confining them to share in the profits
of the fur trade leaves to the mere stockholders far
greater returns from land sales and storekeeping, but
a great many of them now find village life around
their old forts, and railroads close at hand, and Law
setting up its officers at their doors, so that in a
great part of the territory the romance of the old
life, and their authority as well, has fled.
Less than four years ago I had passed by Qu'Ap
pelle without visiting it, but last summer I resolved
not to make the mistake again, for it was the last
stockaded fort that could be studied without a tiresome and costly journey into the far north. It is on
the Fishing Lakes, just beyond Manitoba. But on
my way a Hudson Bay officer told me that they had
just taken down the stockade in the spring, and that
he did not know of a remaining " palisadoe' in all
the company's system except one, which, curiously
enough, had just been ordered to be put up around
Fort Hazleton, on the Skeena River, in northern
British Columbia, where some turbulent Indians
have been very troublesome, and where whatever
civilization there may be in Saturn seems nearer
than our own. This one example of the survival of
original conditions is far more eloquent of their endurance than the thoughtless reader would imagine.
It is true that there has come a tremendous change
in the status and spirit of the company. It is true
that its officers are but newlv bending to external
authority, and   that settlers  have  poured  into the   " TALKING  MUSQUASH "
195
south with such demands for food, clothes, tools, and
weapons as to create within the old corporation one
of the largest of shopkeeping companies. Yet today, as two centuries ago, the Hudson Bay Company
remains the greatest fur-trading association that
exists.
The zone in which Fort Hazleton is situated
reaches from ocean to ocean without suffering invasion by settlers, and far above it to the Arctic Sea is
a grand belt wherein time has made no impress
since the first factory was put up there. There and
around it is a region, nearly two-thirds the size of
the United States, which is as if our country were
meagrely dotted with tiny villages at an average distance of five days apart, with no other means of communication than canoe or dog train, and with not
above a thousand white men in it, and not as many
pure-blooded white women as you will find registered
at a first-class New York hotel on an ordinary day.
The company employs between fifteen hundred and
two thousand white men, and I am assuming that
half of them are in the fur country.
We know that for nearly a century the company
clung to the shores of Hudson Bay. It will be interesting to peep into one of its forts as they were at
that time; it will be amazing to see what a country
that bay-shore territory was and is. There and over
a vast territory three seasons come in four months—
spring in June, summer in July and August, and autumn in September. During the long winter the
earth is blanketed deep in snow, and the water is
locked beneath ice.    Geese, ducks, and smaller birds 196
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
abound as probably they are not seen elsewhere in
America, but they either give place to or share the
summer with mosquitoes, black-flies, and " bull-dogs '
{tabanus) without number, rest, or mercy. For the
land around Hudson Bay is a vast level marsh, so
wet that York Fort was built on piles, with elevated
platforms around the buildings for the men to walk
upon. Infrequent bunches of small pines and a litter
of stunted swamp-willows dot the level waste, the
only considerable timber being found upon the banks
of the rivers. There is a wide belt called the Arctic
Barrens all along the north, but below that, at some
distance west of the bay, the great forests of Canada
bridge across the region north of the prairie and the
plains, and cross the Rocky Mountains to reach the
Pacific. In the far north the musk-ox descends almost to meet the moose and deer, and on the near
slope of the Rockies the wood-buffalo—larger, darker,
and fiercer than the bison of the plains, but very like
him—still roams as far south as where the buffalo
ran highest in the days when he existed.
Through all this northern country the cold in
winter registers 400, and even 500, below zero, and
the travel is by dogs and sleds. There men in camp
may be said to dress to go to bed. They leave their
winter's store of dried meat and frozen fish out-of-
doors on racks all winter (and so they do down close
to Lake Superior); they hear from civilization only
twice a year at the utmost; and when supplies have
run out at the posts, we have heard of their boiling
the parchment sheets they use instead of glass in.
their windows, and  of their cooking the fat out of "TALKING  MUSQUASH
j)
197
beaver-skins to keep from starving, though beaver is
so precious that such recourse could only be had
when the horses and dogs had been eaten. As to
the value of the beaver, the reader who never has
purchased any for his wife may judge what it must
be by knowing that the company has long imported
buckskin from Labrador to sell to the Chippewrays
around Lake Nipigon in order that they may not be
tempted, as of old, to make thongs and moccasins of
the beaver; for their deer are poor, with skins full of
worm-holes, whereas beaver leather is very tough and
fine.
But in spite of the severe cold winters, that are, in
fact, common to all the fur territory, winter is the delightful season for the traders; around the bay it is
the only endurable season. The winged pests of
which I have spoken are by no means confined to
the tide-soaked region close to the great inland sea.
The whole country is as wet as that orange of which
geographers speak when they tell us that the water
on the earth's surface is proportioned as if we were
to rub a rough orange with a wet cloth. Up in
what we used to call British America the illustration is itself illustrated in the countless lakes of all
sizes, the innumerable small streams, and the many
great rivers that make waterways the roads, as canoes
are the wagons, of the region. It is a vast paradise
for mosquitoes, and I have been hunted out of fishing and hunting grounds by them as far south as the
border. The " bull-dog " is a terror reserved for especial districts. He is the Sioux of the insect world,
as pretty as a warrior in buckskin and beads, but car-
13W 198
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
rying a red-hot sword blade, which, when sheathed in
human flesh, will make the victim jump a foot from
the ground, though there is no after-pain or itching
or swelling from the thrust.
Having seen the country, let us turn
to the forts.    Some of them really
were forts, in  so  far as  palisades   and   sentry towers
and double doors and
guns can make a
fort, and one
twenty
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miles below
Winnipeg was
a stone fort. It is still
standing. When the com-
pany ruled the territory as
its landlord, the  defended " TALKING  MUSQUASH '
I99
posts were on the plains among the bad Indians, and
on the Hudson Bay shore, where vessels of foreign
nations might be expected. In the forests, on the
lakes and rivers, the character and behavior of the
fish-eating Indians did not warrant armament. The
stockaded forts were nearly all alike. The stockade was of timber, of about such a height that a
man might look over it on tiptoe. It had towers at
the corners, and York Fort had a great | lookout'
tower within the enclosure. Within the barricade
were the company's buildings, making altogether such
a picture as New York presented when the Dutch
founded it and called it New Amsterdam, except
that we had a church and a stadt-house in our enclosure. The Hudson Bslj buildings were sometimes arranged in a hollow square, and sometimes in
the shape of a letter H, with the factor's house connecting the two other parts of the character. The
factor's house was the best dwelling, but there were
many smaller ones for the laborers, mechanics, hunters, and other non-commissioned men. A long, low»
whitewashed log-house was apt to be the clerks'
house, and other large buildings were the stores
where merchandise was kept, the fur-houses where
the furs, skins, and pelts were stored, and the Indian
trading-house, in which all the bartering was done.
A powder-house, ice-house, oil-house, and either a
stable, or a boat-house for canoes completed the post.
All the houses had double doors and windows, and
wherever the men lived there was a tremendous
stove set up to battle with the cold.
The abode of jollity was the clerks' house, or bach- 200
ON  CANADA S FRONTIER
dors' quarters. Each man had a little bedroom containing his chest, a chair, and a bed, with the walls
covered with pictures cut from illustrated papers or
not, according to each man's taste. The bier room
or hall, where all met in the long nights and on off
days, was as bare as a baldpate so far as its whitewashed or timbered walls went, but the table in the
middle was littered with pipes, tobacco, papers, books,
and pens and ink, and all around stood (or rested on
hooks overhead) guns, foils, and fishing-rods. On
Wednesdays and Saturdays there was no work in at
least one big factory. Breakfast was served at nine
o'clock, dinner at one o'clock, and tea at six o'clock.
The food varied in different places. All over the
prairie and plains great stores of pemmican were
kept, and men grew to like it very much, though it
was nothing but dried buffalo beef pounded and
mixed with melted fat. But where they had pemmican they also enjoyed buffalo hunch in the season,
and that was the greatest delicacy, except moose muffle (the nose of the moose), in all the territory. In
the woods and lake country there were venison and
moose as well as beaver—which is very good eating"
—and many sorts of birds, but in that region dried
fish (salmon in the west, and lake trout or white-fish
nearer the bay) was the staple. The young fellows
hunted and fished and smoked and drank and listened to the songs of the voyageurs and the yarns of
the " breeds' and Indians. For the rest there was
plenty of work to do.
They had a costume of their own, and, indeed, in
that respect there has been a sad change, for all the I
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SETTING A  MINK-TRAP
people, white, red, and crossed, dressed picturesquely.
You could always distinguish a Hudson Bay man by
his capote of light blue cloth with brass buttons. In
winter they wore as much as a Quebec carter. They
wore leather coats lined writh flannel, edged with fur,
and double-breasted. A scarlet worsted belt went
around their waists, their breeches were of smoked
buckskin, reaching down to three pairs of blanket
socks and moose moccasins, with blue cloth leggins
up to the knee. Their buckskin mittens were hung
from their necks by a cord, and usually they wrapped
a shawl of Scotch plaid around their necks and
shoulders, while on each one's head was a fur cap
with ear-pieces. 202
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
The French Canadians and " breeds," who were
the voyageurs and hunters, made a gay appearance.
They used to wear the company's regulation light
blue capotes, or coats, in winter, with flannel shirts,
either red or blue, and corduroy trousers gartered at
the knee with bead-work. They all wore gaudy
worsted belts, long, heavy wToollen stockings — covered with gayly-fringed leggins — fancy moccasins,
and tuques, or feather-decked hats or caps bound
with tinsel bands. In mild weather their Costume
was formed of a blue striped cotton shirt, corduroys,
blue cloth leggins bound with orange ribbons, the inevitable sash or worsted belt, and moccasins. Every
hunter carried a powder-horn slung from his neck,
and in his belt a tomahawk, which often served also
as a pipe. As late as 1862, Viscount Milton and
W. B. Cheadle describe them in a book, The North-
west Passage by Land, in the following graphic language :
" The men appeared in gaudy array, with beaded fire-bag, gay
sash, blue or scarlet leggings, girt below the knee with beaded garters, and moccasins elaborately embroidered. The (half-breed) women were in short, bright-colored skirts, showing richly embroidered
leggings and white moccasins of cariboo-skin beautifully worked
with flowery patterns in beads, silk, and moose hair."
The trading-room at an open post was — and is
now—like a cross-roads store, having its shelves
laden with every imaginable article that Indians
like and hunters need—clothes, blankets, files, scalp-
knives, gun screws, flints, twine, fire-steels, awls, beads,
needles, scissors, knives, pins, kitchen ware, guns,
powder, and shot.    An  Indian who  came  in with " TALKING   MUSQUASH "
203
furs threw them down, and when they were counted
received the right number of castors—little pieces of
wood which served as money—with which, after the
hours of reflection an Indian spends at such a time,
he bought what he wanted.
But there was a wide difference between such a
trading-room and one in the plains country, or where
there were dangerous Indians—such as some of the
Crees, and the Chippeways, Blackfeet, Bloods, Sards,
Sioux, Sicanies, Stonies, and others. In such places
the Indians were let in only one or two at a time,
the goods were hidden so as not to excite their cupidity, and through a square hole grated with a cross
of iron, whose spaces were only large enough to pass
a blanket, what they wanted was given to them.
That is all done away with now, except it be in
northern British Columbia, where the Indians have
been turbulent.
Farther on -we shall perhaps see a band of Indians
on their way to trade at a post. Their custom is to
wait until the first signs of spring, and then to pack
up their winter's store of furs, and take advantage of
the last of the snow and ice for the journey. They
hunt from November to May; but the trapping and
shooting of bears go on until the 15th of June, for
those animals do not come from their winter dens
until May begins. They come to the posts in their
best attire, and in the old days that formed as strong
a contrast to their present dress as their leather
tepees of old did to the cotton ones of to-day. Bal-
lantyne, who wrote a book about his service with the
great fur company, says merely that they were paint- 204
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
ed, and with scalp-locks fringing their clothes; but in
Lewis and Clarke's journal we read description after
description of the brave costuming of these color-and-
ornament - loving people. Take the Sioux, for instance. Their heads were shaved of all but a tuft
of hair, and feathers hung from that. Instead of
the universal blanket of to-day, their main garment
was a robe of buffalo-skin with the fur left on, and
the inner surface dressed white, painted gaudily with
figures of beasts and queer designs, and fringed with
porcupine quills. They wore the fur side out only
in wet weather. Beneath the robe they wore a shirt
of dressed skin, and under that a leather belt, under
which the ends of a breech-clout of cloth, blanket
stuff, or skin were tucked.    They wore leggins of
' J CjCD
dressed antelope hide with scalp-locks fringing the
seams, and prettily beaded moccasins for their feet.
They had necklaces of the teeth or claws of wild
beasts, and each carried a fire-bag, a quiver, and a
brightly painted shield, giving up the quiver and
shield when guns came into use.
The Indians who came to trade were admitted to
the store precisely as voters are to the polls under
the Australian system — one by one. They had to
leave their guns outside. When rum was given out,
each Indian had to surrender his knife before he got
his tin cup.
The company made great use of the Iroquois, and
considered them the best boatmen in Canada. Sir
Alexander Mackenzie, of the Northwest Company,
employed eight of them to paddle him to the Pacific
Ocean by way of the Peace and Fraser rivers, and   "TALKING  MUSQUASH
5J
207
when the greatest of Hudson Bay executives, Sir
George Simpson, travelled, Iroquois always propelled
him. The company had a uniform for all its Indian
employes—a blue, gray, or blanket capote, very loose,
and reaching below the knee, with a red worsted belt
around the waist, a cotton shirt, no trousers, but artfully beaded leggins with wide flaps at the seams,
and moccasins over blanket socks. In winter they
wore buckskin coats lined with flannel, and mittens
were given to them. We have seen how the half-
breeds were dressed. They were long employed at
women's work in the forts, at making clothing and at
mending. All the mittens, moccasins, fur caps, deerskin coats, etc., were made by them. They were also
the washer-women.
Perhaps the factor had a good time in the old
days, or thought he did. He had a wife and servants and babies, and when a visitor came, which was
not as often as snow-drifts blew over the stockade,
he entertained like a lord. At first the factors used
to send to London, to the head office, for a wife, to
be added to the annual consignment of goods, and
there must have been a few who sent to the Orkneys
for the sweethearts they left there. But in time the
rule came to be that they married Indian squaws.
In doing this, not even the first among them acted
blindly, for their old rivals and subsequent companions of the Northwest and X. Y. companies began the custom, and the French voyageurs and cou-
reurs du bois had mated with Indian women before
there was a Hudson Bay Company. These rough
and hardy woodsmen, and a large number of  half- 208
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
breeds born of just such alliances, began at an early
day to settle near the trading-posts. Sometimes they
established what might be called villages, but were
really close imitations of Indian camps, composed of
a cluster of skin tepees, racks of fish or meat, and a
swarm of dogs, women, and children. In each tepee
was the fireplace, beneath the flue formed by the
open top of the habitation, and around it were the
beds of brush, covered with soft hides, the inevitable
copper kettle, the babies swaddled in blankets or
moss bags, the women and dogs, the gun and paddle,
and the junks and strips of raw meat hanging overhead in the smoke. This has not changed to-day;
indeed, very little that I shall speak of has altered in
the true or far fur country. The camps exist yet.
They are not so clean (or, rather, they are more
dirty), and the clothes and food are poorer and harder
to get; that is all.
The Europeans saw that these women were docile,,
or were kept in order easily by floggings with the
tent poles; that they were faithful and industrious, as
a rule, and that they were not all unprepossessing
—from their point of view, of course. Therefore it
came to pass that these were the most frequent alliances in and out of the posts in all that country.
The consequences of this custom were so peculiar
and important that I must ask leave to pause and
consider them. In Canada we see that the white
man thus made his bow to the redskin as a brother
in the truest sense. The old coureurs of Norman
and Breton stock, loving a wild, free life, and in complete sympathy with the Indian, bought or took the "TALKING   MUSQUASH
»
209
.^
1HBP
HI
is
squaws to wife, learned the
Indian dialects, and shared
their food and adventures
with the tribes. As more
and more entered the wilderness, and at last came to
be supported, in camps and
at posts and as voyageurs,
by the competing fur com- |j||
panies, there grew up a class
of half - breeds who spoke
English and French, married Indians, and were as
much at home with the
savages as with the whites.
From this stock the Hudson
Bay men have had a better
choice of wives for more
than a century. But when
these " breeds " were turbulent and murderous—-first in
the attacks on Selkirk's colony, and next during the
Riel rebellion—the Indians
remained quiet. They defined their position when, in A voyageur or canoe-man of
0 , , GREAT   SLAVE   LAKE
1819, they were tempted
with great bribes to massacre the Red River colonists. "No," said they; "the
colonists are our friends." The men who sought to
excite them to murder were the officers of the Northwest Company, who bought furs of them, to be sure,
14
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fff4
g=sr~
iT
3*■   # 2IO
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
but the colonists had shared with the Indians in poverty and plenty, giving now and taking then. All
were alike to the red men—friends, white men, and
of the race that had taken so many of their women
to wife. Therefore they went to the colonists to tell
them what was being planned against them, and not
from that day to this has an Indian band taken the
war-path against the Canadians. I have read General Custer's theory that the United States had to
do with meat-eating Indians, whereas the Canadian
tribes are largely fish-eaters, and I have seen 10,000
references to the better Indian policy of Canada; but
I can see no difference in the two policies, and between the Rockies and the Great Lakes I find that
Canada had the Stonies, Blackfeet, and many other
fierce tribes of buffalo - hunters. It is in the slow,
close-growing acquaintance between the two races,
and in the just policy of the Hudson Bay men towards the Indians, that I see the reason for Canada's
enviable experience with her red men.
But even the Hudson Bay men have had trouble
with the Indians in recent years, and one serious
affair grew out of the relations between the company's servants and the squaws. There is etiquette
even among savages, and this was ignored up at old
Fort St. Johns, on the Peace River, with the result
that the Indians slaughtered the people there and
burned the fort. They were Sicanie Indians of that
region, and after they had massacred the men in
charge, they met a boat-load of white men coming up
the river with goods. To them they turned their
guns also, and only four escaped.    It was up in that   " TALKING  MUSQUASH '
213
country likewise—just this side of the Rocky Mountains, where the plains begin to be forested—that a
silly clerk in a post quarrelled with an Indian, and
said to him, " Before you come back to this post
again, your wife and child will be dead." He spoke
hastily, and meant nothing, but squaw and pappoose
happened to die that winter, and the Indian walked
into the fort the next spring and shot the clerk without a word.
To-day the posts are little village-like collections
of buildings, usually showing white against a green
background in the prettiest way imaginable; for, as
a rule, they cluster on the lower bank of a river, or
the lower near shore of a lake. There are not clerks
enough in most of them to render a clerks' house
necessary, for at the little posts half-breeds are seen
to do as good service as Europeans. As a rule,
there is now a store or trading-house and a fur-house
and the factor's house, the canoe-house and the
stable, with a barn where gardening is done, as is
often the case when soil and climate permit. Often
the fur-house and store are combined, the furs being
tlaid in the upper story over the shop. There is always a flag-staff, of course. This and the flag, with
the letters " H. B. C." on its field, led to the old hunters' saying that the initials stood for " Here before
Christ," because, no matter how far away from the
frontier a man might go, in regions he fancied no
white man had been, that flag and those letters stared
him in the face. You will often find that the factor,
rid of all the ancient timidity that called for " palisa-
does and swivels," lives on the high upper bank above 214
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
the store. The usual half-breed or Indian village is
seldom farther than a couple of miles away, on the
same water. The factor is still, as he always has
been, responsible only to himself for the discipline
and management of his post, and therefore among
the factories we will find all sorts of homes—homes
where a piano and the magazines are prized, and
daughters educated abroad shed the lustre of refine-
ment upon their surroundings, homes where no woman rules, and homes of the French half-breed type,
which we shall see is a very different mould from
that of the two sorts of British half-breed that are
numerous. There never was a rule by which to
gauge a post. In one you found religion valued and
missionaries welcomed, while in o.thers »there never
was sermon or hymn. In some, Hudson Bay rum
met the rum of the free-traders, and in others no rum
was bartered away. To-day, in this latter respect,
the Dominion law prevails, and rum may not be
given or sold to the red man.
When one thinks of the lives of these factors, hidden away in forest, mountain chain, or plain, or arctic
barren, seeing the same very few faces year in and
year out, with breaches of the monotonous routine
once a year when the winter's furs are brought in,
and once a year when the mail-packet arrives—when
one thinks of their isolation, and lack of most of
those influences which we in our walks prize the
highest, the reason for their choosing that company's
service seems almost mysterious. Yet they will tell
you there is a fascination in it. This could be understood so far as the half-breeds and French Canadians (<
TALKING  MUSQUASH
)>
215
were concerned, for they inherited the liking; and,
after all, though most of them are only laborers, no
other laborers are so free, and none spice life with so
much of adventure. But the factors are mainly men
of ability and good origin, well fitted to occupy responsible positions, and at better salaries. However,
from the outset the rule has been that they have become as enamoured of the trader's life as soldiers and
sailors always have of theirs. They have usually retired from it reluctantly, and some, having gone home
to Europe, have begged leave to return.
The company has always been managed upon
something like a military basis. Perhaps the original
necessity for forts and men trained to the use of arms
suggested this. The uniforms were in keeping with
the rest. The lowest rank in the service is that of
the laborer, who may happen to fish or hunt at times,
but is employed—or enlisted, as the fact is, for a
term of years—to cut wood, shovel snow, act as a
porter or gardener, and labor generally about the
post. The interpreter was usually a promoted laborer, but long ago the men in the trade, Indians
and whites alike, met each other half-way in the matter of language. The highest non-commissioned
rank in early days was that of the postmaster at large
posts. Men of that rank often got charge of small
outposts, and we read that they were " on terms of
equality with gentlemen." To-day the service has
lost these fine points, and the laborers and commisr
sioned officers are sharply separated. The so-called
" gentleman' begins as a prentice clerk, and after a
few years becomes a clerk.    His next elevation is to 2l6
ON  CANADA S   FRONTIER
the rank of a junior chief trader, and so on through
the grades of chief trader, factor, and chief factor, to
the office of chief commissioner, or resident American
manager, chosen by the London board, and having
full powers delegated to him. A clerk—or " dark,"
as the rank is called—may never touch a pen. He
may be a trader.    Then again he may be truly an
J CD J J
accountant. With the rank he gets a commission,
and that entitles him to a minimum guarantee, with
a conditional extra income based on the profits of the
fur trade. Men get promotions through the chief
commissioner, and he has always made fitness, rather
than seniority, the criterion. Retiring officers are
salaried for a term of years, the original pension fund
and system having been broken up.
Sir Donald A. Smith, the present governor of the
company, made his way to the highest post from the
place of a prentice clerk. He came from Scotland
as a youth, and after a time was so unfortunate as to
be sent to the coast of Labrador, where a man is as
much out of both the world and contact with the
heart of the company as it is possible to be. The
military system was felt in that instance; but every
man who accepts a commission engages to hold him.
self in readiness to go cheerfully to the north pole, or
anywhere between Labrador and the Queen Char-
lotte Islands. However, to a man of Sir Donald's
parts no obstacle is more than a temporary impediment. Though he stayed something like seventeen
years in Labrador, he worked faithfully when there
was work to do, and in his own time he read and
studied voraciously.    When the Riel rebellion—the TALKING   MUSQUASH
21
.-^5SS^
«**
Mm4
first  one- -disturbed
the country's peace,
he appeared on the
scene as commissioner
for the Government.
Next he became chief
commissioner for the
Hudson Bay Com-
pany. After a time he
resigned that office to
go on the board in
London, and thence
he stepped easily to
the governorship. His
parents, whose home
was in Morayshire, ' 1||
Scotland, gave him at
his birth, in 1821, not
only a constitution of
iron, but that shrewdness   which   is   only
Scotch, and he afterwards developed remarkable foresight, and such a grasp of affairs and of complex situations as to amaze his associates.
Of course his career is almost as singular as his
gifts, and the governorship can scarcely be said to be
the goal of the general ambition, for it has been most
apt to go to a London man. Even ordinary promotion in the company is very slow, and it follows that
most men live out their existence between the rank
of clerk and that of chief factor. There are 200 central posts, and innumerable dependent posts, and the
VOYAGEUR  WITH TUMPLINE 218
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
officers are continually travelling from one to another, some in their districts, and the chief or supervising ones over vast reaches of country. In winter,
when dogs and sleds are used, the men walk, as a
rule, and it has been nothing for a man to trudge
iooo miles in that way on a winter's journey. Roderick Macfarlane, who was cut off from the world up
in the Mackenzie district, became an indefatigable
explorer, and made most of his journeys on snow-
shoes. He explored the Peel, the Liard, and the
Mackenzie, and their surrounding regions, and went
far within the Arctic Circle, where he founded the
most northerly post of the company. By the regular
packet from Calgary, near our border, to the northernmost post is a 3000-mile journey. Macfarlane
was fond of the study of ornithology, and classified
and catalogued all the birds that reach the frozen
regions.
I heard of a factor far up on the east side of Hudson Bay who reads his daily newspaper every morning with his coffee—but of course such an instance is
a rare one. He manages it by having a complete set
of the London Times sent to him by each winter's
packet, and each morning the paper of that date in
the preceding year is taken from the bundle by his
servant and dampened, as it had been when it left the
press, and spread by the factor's plate. Thus he gets
for half an hour each day a taste of his old habit and
life at home.
There was another factor who developed artistic
capacity, and spent his leisure at drawing and painting.    He did so well that he ventured many sketches (t
TALKING  MUSQUASH
jj
219
for the illustrated papers of London, some of which
were published.
The half-breed has developed with the age and
growth of Canada. There are now half-breeds and
half-breeds, and some of them are titled, and others
hold high official places. It occurred to an English
lord not long ago, while he was being entertained in
a Government house in one of the parts of newer
Canada, to inquire of his host, " What are these half-
breeds I hear about ? I should like to see what one
looks like." His host took the nobleman's breath
away by his reply. " I am one," said he. There is
no one who has travelled much in western Canada
who has not now and then been entertained in homes
where either the man or woman of the household was
of mixed blood, and in such homes I have found a
high degree of refinement and the most polished
manners. Usually one needs the information that
such persons possess such blood. After that the
peculiar black hair and certain facial features in the
subject of such gossip attest the truthfulness of the
assertion. There is no rule for measuring the character and quality of this plastic, receptive, and often
very ambitious element in Canadian society, yet one
may say broadly that the social position and attainments of these people have been greatly influenced
by the nationality of their fathers. For instance, the
French habitants and woodsmen far, far too often
sank to the level of their wives when they married
Indian women. Light-hearted, careless, unambitious,
and drafting to the wilderness because of the absence
of restraint there; illiterate, of coarse origin, fond of 220
ON  CANADA S   FRONTIER
whiskey and gambling—they threw off superiority to
the Indian, and evaded responsibility and concern in
home management.    Of course this is not a rule, but
^D
a tendency. On the other hand, the Scotch and
English forced their wives up to their own standards.
Their own home training, respect for more than the
forms of religion, their love of home and of a permanent patch of ground of their own—all these had
their effect, and that has been to rear half-breed children in proud and comfortable homes, to send them
to mix with the children of cultivated persons in old
-communities, and to fit them with pride and ambition
and cultivation for an equal start in the journey of
life. Possessing such foundation for it, the equality
has happily never been denied to them in Canada.
To-day the service is very little more inviting than
J J Cj
in the olden time. The loneliness and removal from
the touch of civilization remain throughout a vast
region; the arduous journeys by sled and canoe remain ; the dangers of flood and frost are undiminished. Unfortunately, among the changes made by
time, one is that which robs the present factor's surroundings of a great part of that which was most
picturesque. Of all the prettinesses of the Indian
•costuming one sees now only a trace here and there
in a few tribes, while in many the moccasin and
tepee, and in some only the moccasin, remain. The
birch-bark canoe and the snow-shoe are the main
reliance of both races, but the steamboat has been
impressed into parts of the service, and most of the
•descendants of the old-time voyageur preserve only
iiis worsted belt, his knife, and his cap and mocca-   " TALKING   MUSQUASH '
223
sins at the utmost. In places the engage has become
a mere deck-hand. His scarlet paddle has rotted
away; he no longer awakens the echoes of forest or
canon with chansons that died in the throats of a
generation that has gone. In return, the horrors of
intertribal war and of a precarious foothold among
fierce and turbulent bands have nearly vanished;
but there was a spice in them that added to the fascination of the service.
The dogs and sleds form a very interesting part of
the Hudson Bay outfit. One does not need to go
very deep into western Canada to meet with them.
As close to our centre of population as Nipigon, on
Lake Superior, the only roads into the north are the
rivers and lakes, traversed by canoes in summer and
sleds in winter. The dogs are of a peculiar breed,
and are called " huskies "—undoubtedly a corruption
of the word Esquimaux. They preserve a closer resemblance to the wolf than any of our domesticated
dogs, and exhibit their kinship with that scavenger
of the wilderness in their nature as well as their
looks. To-day their females, if tied and left in the
forest, will often attest companionship with its denizens by bringing forth litters of wolfish progeny.
Moreover, it will not be necessary to feed all with
whom the experiment is tried, for the wolves will be
apt to bring food to them as long as they are thus
neglected by man. They are often as large as the
ordinary Newfoundland dog, but their legs are shorter, and even more hairy, and the hair along their
necks, from their shoulders to their skulls, stands
erect in a thick, bristling mass.    They have the long 224
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
snouts, sharp - pointed ears, and the tails of wolves,,
and their cry is a yelp rather than a bark. Like
wolves they are apt to yelp in chorus at sunrise and
at sunset. They delight in worrying peaceful animals, setting their own numbers against one, and
they will kill cows, or even children, if they get the
chance. They are disciplined only when at work,
and are then so surprisingly obedient, tractable, and
industrious as to plainly show that though their nature is savage and wolfish, they could be reclaimed by
domestication. In isolated cases plenty of them are.
As it is, in their packs, their battles among themselves are terrible, and they are dangerous when
loose. In some districts it is the custom to turn
them loose in summer on little islands in the lakes,,
leaving them to hunger or feast according as the
supply of dead fish thrown upon the shore is small
or plentiful. When they are kept in dog quarters
they are simply penned up and fed during the summer, so that the savage side of their nature gets full
play during long periods. Fish is their principal
diet, and stores of dried fish are kept for their winter
food. Corn meal is often fed to them also. Like a
wolf or an Indian, a "husky"gets along without food
when there is not any, and will eat his own weight
of it wThen it is plenty.
A typical dog-sled is very like a toboggan. It is
formed of two thin pieces of oak or birch lashed together with buckskin thongs and turned up high in
front. It is usually about nine feet in length by sixteen inches wide. A leather cord is run along the
outer edges for fastening whatever may be put upon "talking musquash'
225
the sled. Varying numbers of dogs are harnessed to
such sleds, but the usual number is four. Traces,
collars, and backbands form the harness, and the dogs
are hitched one before the other. Very often the
collars are completed with sets of sleigh - bells, and
sometimes the harness is otherwise ornamented with
beads, tassels, fringes, or ribbons. The leader, or fore-
goer, is always the best in the team. The dog
next to him is called the steady dog, and the last is
named the steer dog. As a rule, these faithful animals are treated harshly, if not brutally. - It is a
Hudson Bay axiom that no man who cannot curse
in three languages is fit to drive them. The three
profanities are, of course, English, French, and Indian, though whoever has heard the Northwest French
knows that it ought to serve by itself, as it is half-
soled with Anglo-Saxon oaths and heeled with Indian obscenity. The rule with whoever goes on a
dog-sled journey is that the driver, or mock-passenger,
runs behind the dogs. The main function of the
sled is to carry the dead weight, the burdens of tent-
covers, blankets, food, and the like. The men run
along with or behind the dogs, on snow-shoes, and
when the dogs make better time than horses are able
to, and will carry between 200 and 300 pounds over
daily distances of from 20 to 35 miles, according to
the condition of the ice or snow, and that many a
journey of 1000 miles has been performed in this
way, and some of 2000 miles, the test of human endurance is as great as that of canine grit.
Men travelling " light," with extra sleds for the
freight, and men on short journeys often ride in the
15 226
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
sleds, which in such cases are fitted up as " carioles "
for the purpose. I have heard an unauthenticated
account, by a Hudson Bay man, of men who drove
themselves, disciplining refractory or lazy dogs by
simply pulling them in beside or over the dash-board,
and holding them down by the neck while they
thrashed them. A story is told of a worthy bishop
who complained of the slow progress his sled was
making, and was told that it was useless to complain,
as the dogs would not work unless they were roundly and incessantly cursed. After a time the bishop
gave his driver absolution for the profanity needed
for the remainder of the journey, and thenceforth
sped over the snow at a gallop, every stroke of the
half-breed's long and cruel whip being sent home
with a volley of wicked words, emphasized at times
with peltings with sharp-edged bits of ice. Kane,
the explorer, made an average of 57 miles ^a day behind these shaggy little brutes. Milton and Cheadle,
in their book, mention instances where the dogs made
140 miles in less than 48 hours, and the Bishop of
Rupert's Land told me he had covered 20 miles in
a forenoon and 20 in the afternoon of the same day,
without causing his dogs to exhibit evidence of fa-
tigue. The best time is made on hard snow and ice,
of course, and when the conditions suit, the drivers
whip off their snow-shoes to trot behind the dogs
more easily. In view of what they do, it is no wonder that many of the Northern Indians, upon first
seeing horses, named them simply " big dog." But
to me the performances of the drivers are the more
wonderful.    It was a white youth, son  of a factor,   "TALKING  MUSQUASH
j>
229
who ran behind the bishop's dogs in the spurt of 40
miles by daylight that I mention. The men who do
such work explain that the " lope" of the dogs is peculiarly suited to the dog-trot of a human being.
A picture of a factor on a round of his outposts, or
of a chief factor racing through a great district, will
now be intelligible. If he is riding, he fancies that
princes and lords would envy him could they see his
luxurious comfort. Fancy him in a dog-cariole of
the best pattern—a little suggestive of a burial casket, to be sure, in its shape, but gaudily painted, and
so full of soft warm furs that the man within is enveloped like a chrysalis in a cocoon. Perhaps there
are Russian bells on the collars of the dogs, and
their harness is "Frenchified" with bead-work and
tassels. The air, which fans only his face, is crisp
and invigorating, and before him the lake or stream
over which he rides is a sheet of virgin snow—not
nature's winding-sheet, as those who cannot love
nature have said, but rather a robe of beautiful ermine fringed and embroidered with dark evergreen,
and that in turn flecked at every point with snow, as
if bejewelled with pearls. If the factor chats with
his driver, who falls behind at rough places to keep
the sled from tipping over, their conversation is carried on at so high a tone as to startle the birds into
flight, if there are any, and to shock the scene as by
the greatest rudeness possible in that then vast, silent
land. If silence is kept, the factor reads the prints
of game in the snow, of foxes' pads and deer hoofs, of
wolf splotches, and the queer hieroglyphics of birds,
or the dots and troughs of rabbit-trailing.    To him 230
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
these are as legible as the Morse alphabet to telegraphers, and as important as stock quotations to the
pallid men of Wall Street.
Suddenly in the distance he sees a human figure.
Time was that his predecessors would have stopped
to discuss the situation and its dangers, for the sight
of one Indian suggested the presence of more, and
the question came, were these friendly or fierce ?
But now the sled hurries on. It is only an Indian
or half-breed hunter minding his traps, of which he
may have a sufficient number to give him a circuit
of ten or more miles away from and back to his
lodge or village. He is approached and hailed by
the driver, and with some pretty name very often—
one that may mean in English " hawk flying across
the sky when the sun is setting," or " blazing sun," or
whatever. On goes the sled, and perhaps a village is
the next object of interest; not a village in our sense
of the word, but now and then a tepee or a hut peeping above the brush beside the water, the eye being
led to them by the signs of slothful disorder close by
—the rotting canoe frame, the bones, the dirty tattered blankets, the twig-formed skeleton of a steam
bath, such as Indians resort to when tired or sick or
uncommonly dirty, the worn-out snow-shoes hung on
a tree, and the racks of frozen fish or dried meat here
and there.    A dog rushes down to the water-side
CD
barking furiously—an Indian dog of the currish type
of paupers' dogs the world around—and this stirs
the village pack, and brings out the squaws, who are
addressed, as the trapper up the stream was, by
some poetic names, albeit poetic license is sometimes " TALKING  MUSQUASH "
231
strained to form names not at all pretty to polite
senses, " All Stomach ' being that of one dusky princess, and serving to indicate the lengths to which
poesy may lead the untrammelled mind.
The sun sinks early, and if our traveller be journeying in the West and be a lover of nature, heaven
send that his face be turned towards the sunset!
Then, be the sky anything but completely storm-
draped, he will see a sight so glorious that eloquence
becomes a naked suppliant for alms beyond the gift
of language when set to describe it. A few clouds
are necessary to its perfection, and then they take on
celestial dyes, and one sees, above the vanished sun,
a blaze of golden yellow thinned into a tone that is
luminous crystal. This is flanked by belts and
breasts of salmon and ruby red, and all melt towards
the zenith into a rose tone that has body at the base,
but pales at top into a mere blush. This I have
seen night after night on the lakes and the plains
and on the mountains. But as the glory of it beckons the traveller ever towards itself, so the farther he
follows, the more brilliant and gaudy will be his reward. Beyond the mountains the valleys and waters
are more and more enriched, until, at the Pacific,
even San Francisco's shabby sand-hills stir poetry
and reverence in the soul by their borrowed magnificence.
The travellers soon stop to camp for the night,
and while the " breed Ij falls to at the laborious but
quick and simple work, the factor either helps or
smokes his pipe. A sight-seer or sportsman would
have set his man to bobbing for jack-fish or lake 232
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
trout, or would have stopped a while to bag a partridge, or might have bought whatever of this sort
the trapper or Indian village boasted, but, ten to one,,
this meal would be of bacon and bread or dried
meat, and perhaps some flapjacks, such as would
bring coin to a doctor in the city, but which seem
ethereal and delicious in the wilderness, particularly
if made half an inch thick, saturated with grease, well
browned, and eaten while at the temperature and
consistency of molten lava.
The sled is pulled up by the bank, the ground is
cleared for a fire, wood and brush are cut, and the
deft laborer starts the flame in a tent-like pyramid of
kindlings no higher or broader than a teacup. This
tiny fire he spreads by adding fuel until he has constructed and led up to a conflagration of logs as
thick as his thighs, cleverly planned with a backlog
and glowing fire bed, and a sapling bent over the
hottest part to hold a pendent kettle on its tip. The
dogs will have needed disciplining long before this,
and if the driver be like many of his kind, and works
himself into a fury, he will not hesitate to seize one
and send his teeth together through its hide after he
has beaten it until he is tired. The point of order
having thus been raised and carried, the shaggy,
often handsome, animals will be minded to forget
their private grudges and quarrels, and, seated on
their haunches, with their intelligent faces towards
the fire, will watch the cooking intently. The pocket-
knives or sheath-knives of the men will be apt to be
the only table implement in use at the meal. Canada had reached the possession of seigniorial man-   " TALKING  MUSQUASH "
235
sions of great character before any other knife was
brought to table, though the ladies used costly blades
set in precious and beautiful handles. To-day the
axe ranks the knife in the wilderness, but he who
has a knife can make and furnish his own table—
and his house also, for that matter.
Supper over, and a glass of grog having been put
down, with water from the hole in the ice whence
the liquid for the inevitable tea was gotten, the
night's rest is begun. The method for this varies.
As good men as ever walked have asked nothing
more cosey than a snug warm trough in the snow and
a blanket or a robe; but perhaps this traveller will
call for a shake-down of balsam boughs, with all the
furs out of the sled for his covering. If nicer yet, he
may order a low hollow chamber of three sides of
banked snow, and a superstructure of crotched sticks
and cross-poles, with canvas thrown over it. Every
man to his quality, of course, and that of the servant
calls for simply a blanket. With that he sleeps as
soundly as if he were Santa Claus and only stirred
once a year. Then will fall upon what seems the
whole world the mighty hush of the wilderness,
broken only occasionally by the hoot of an owl, the
cry of a wolf, the deep thug of the straining ice on
the lake, or the snoring of the men and dogs. But
if the earth seems asleep, not so the sky. The magic
shuttle of the aurora borealis is ofttimes at work up
over that North country, sending its shifting lights
weaving across the firmament with a tremulous brill-
iancy and energy we in this country get but pale
hints of when we see the phenomenon at all.    Flash- .236
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
ing and palpitating incessantly, the rose-tinted waves
and luminous white bars leap across the sky or dart
up and down it in manner so fantastic and so forceful, even despite their shadowy thinness, that travellers have fancied themselves deaf to some seraphic
sound that they believed such commotion must pro-
<duce.
An incident of this typical journey I am describing
wrould, at more than one season, be a meeting with
some band of Indians going to a post with furs for
barter. Though the bulk of these hunters fetch their
quarry in the spring and early summer, some may
come at any time. The procession may be only that
•of a family or of the two or more families that live together or as neighbors. The man, if there is but one
-group, is certain to be stalking ahead, carrying nothing but his gun. Then come the women, laden like
pack-horses. They may have a sled packed with the
furs and drawn by a dog or two, and an extra dog
may bear a balanced load on his back, but the squaw
is certain to have a spine-warping burden of meat
and a battered kettle and a pappoose, and whatever
personal property of any and every sort she and her
liege lord own. Children who can walk have to do
.so, but it sometimes happens that a baby a year and
a half or two years old is on her back, while a newborn infant, swaddled in blanket stuff, and bagged
and tied like a Bologna sausage, surmounts the load
on the sled. A more tatterdemalion outfit than a
band of these pauperized savages form it would be
difficult to imagine. On the plains they will have
iiorses dragging travoises, dogs with travoises, women u
TALKING  MUSQUASH
»
237
and children loaded with impedimenta, a colt or two
running loose, the lordly men riding free, straggling
curs a plenty, babies in arms, babies swaddled, and
toddlers afoot, and the whole battalion presenting at
its exposed points exhibits of torn blankets, raw meat,
distorted pots and pans, tent, poles, and rusty traps,
in all eloquently suggestive of an eviction in the
slums of a great city.
I speak thus of these people not willingly, but out
of the necessity of truth-telling. The Indian east of
the Rocky Mountains is to me the subject of an admiration which is the stronger the more nearly I find
him as he was in his prime. It is not his fault that
most of his race have degenerated. It is not our
fault that we have better uses for the continent
than those to which he put it. But it is our fault
that he is, as I have seen him, shivering in a cotton
tepee full of holes, and turning around and around
before a fire of wet wood to keep from freezing to
death; furnished meat if he has been fierce enough
to make us fear him, left to starve if he has been docile; taught, aye, forced to beg, mocked at by a religion he cannot understand, from the mouths of men
who apparently will not understand him ; debauched
with rum, despoiled by the lust of white men in every
form that lust can take. Ah, it is a sickening story.
Not in Canada, do you say? Why, in the northern
wilds of Canada are districts peopled by beggars who
have been in such pitiful stress for food and covering
that the Hudson Bay Company has kept them alive
with advances of provisions and blankets winter after
winter.     They are  Indians who in their strength 238
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
never gave the Government the concern it now fails
to show for their weakness. The great fur company
has thus added generosity to its long career of just
dealing with these poor adult children ; for it is a fact
that though the company has made what profit it
might, it has not, in a century at least, cheated the
Indians, or made false representations to them, or
lost their good-will and respect by any feature of its
policy towards them. Its relation to them has been
paternal, and they owe none of their degradation
to it.
I have spoken of the visits of the natives to the
posts. There are two other arrivals of great consequence— the coming of the supplies, and of the
winter mail or packet. I have seen the provisions
and trade goods being put up in bales in the great
mercantile storehouse of the company in Winnipeg
—a store like a combination of a Sixth Avenue
ladies' bazaar and one of our wholesale grocers' shops
—and I have seen such weights of canned vegetables
and canned plum-pudding and bottled ale and other
luxuries that I am sure that in some posts there is
good living on high days and holidays if not always.
The stores are packed in parcels averaging sixty
pounds (and sometimes one hundred), to make them
convenient for handling on the portages—" for packing them over the carries," as our traders used to
say. It is in following these supplies that we be
come most keenly sensible of the changes time has
wrought in the methods of the company. The day
was, away back in the era of the Northwest Company, that the goods for the posts went up the Ottawa   "TALKING   MUSQUASH
?)
241
from Montreal in great canoes manned by hardy voy-
ageurs in picturesque costumes, wielding scarlet paddles, and stirring the forests with their happy songs.
The scene shifted, the companies blended, and the
centre of the trade moved from old Fort William,
close to where Port Arthur now is on Lake Superior,
up to Winnipeg, on the Red River of the North.
Then the Canadians and their cousins, the half-breeds,
more picturesque than ever, and manning the great
York boats of the Hudson Bay Company, swept in a
long train through Lake Winnipeg to Norway House,
and thence by a marvellous water route all the way
to the Rockies and the Arctic, sending off freight for
side districts at fixed points along the course. The
main factories on this line, maintained as such for
more than a century, bear names whose very mention
stirs the blood of one who knows the romantic, picturesque, and poetic history and atmosphere of the old
company when it was the landlord (in part, and in
part monopolist) of a territory that cut into our Northwest and Alaska, and swept from Labrabor to Vancouver Island. Northward and westward, by waters
emptying into Hudson Bay, the brigade of great boats
worked through a region embroidered with sheets
and ways of water. The system that was next entered, and which bore more nearly due west, bends
and bulges with lakes and straits like a ribbon all
curved and knotted. Thus, at a great portage, the
divide was reached and crossed; and so the waters
flowing to the Arctic, and one—the Peace River —
rising beyond the Rockies, were met and travelled.
This was the way and the method until after the Ca-
16 242
' ^
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
nadian Pacific Railway was built, but now the Winnipeg route is of subordinate importance, and feeds only
the region near the west side of Hudson Bay. The
Northern supplies now go by rail from Calgary, in
Alberta, over the plains by the new Edmonton railroad. From Edmonton the goods go by cart to Atha-
basca Landing, there to be laden on a steamboat,
which takes them northward until some rapids are
met, and avoided by the use of a singular combination of bateaux and tramway rails. After a slow progress of fifteen miles another steamboat is met, and
thence they follow the Athabasca, through Athabasca Lake, and so on up to a second rapids, on the
Great Slave River this time, where oxen and carts
carry them across a sixteen-mile portage to a screw
steamer, which finishes the 3000-mile journey to the
North. Of course the shorter branch routes, distributing the goods on either side of the main track,
are still traversed by canoes and hardy fellows in
the old way, but with shabby accessories of costume and spirit. These boatmen, when they come
to a portage, produce their tomplines, and " pack"
the goods to the next waterway. By means of these
" lines" they carry great weights, resting on their
backs, but supported from their skulls, over which
the strong straps are passed.
The winter mail-packet, starting from Winnipeg in
the depth of the season, goes to all the posts by dog
train. The letters and papers are packed in great
boxes and strapped to the sleds, beside or behind
which the drivers trot along, cracking their lashes
and pelting and cursing the dogs.    A more direct "talking musquash'
243
course than the old Lake Winnipeg way has usually
been followed by this packet; but it is thought that
the route via Edmonton and Athabasca Landing will
serve better yet, so that another change may be made.
This is a small exhibition as compared with the brigade that takes the supplies, or those others that
•come plashing down the streams and across the country with the furs every year. But only fancy how
•eagerly this solitary semi-annual mail is waited for !
It is a little speck on the snow-wrapped upper end of
all North America. It cuts a tiny trail, and here and
there lesser black dots move off from it to cut still
slenderer threads, zigzagging to the side factories and
lesser posts; but we may be sure that if human eyes
could see so far, all those of the white men in all that
vast tangled system of trading centres would be watching the little caravan, until at last each pair fell upon
the expected missives from the throbbing world this
side of the border. VIII
CANADA S   EL   DORADO
i
it
HERE is on this continent a territory of imperial extent which is
one of the Canadian sisterhood of
States, and yet of which small account has been taken by those
who discuss either the most advantageous relations of trade or
that closer intimacy so often referred to as a possibility in the future of our country and its north-
ern neighbor. Although British
Columbia is advancing in rank
among the provinces of the Dominion by reason of its abundant
natural resources, it is not remarkable that wre read and hear little
concerning it. The people in it
are few, and the knowledge of it is
even less in proportion. It is but
partially explored, and for what
can be learned of it one must catch
up information piecemeal from blue-books, the pamphlets of scientists, from tales of adventure, and from
the less trustworthy literature composed to attract
travellers and settlers.
WJk
T*flf CANADA S   EL   DORADO
245
It would severely strain the slender facts to make
a sizable pamphlet of the history of British Columbia.
A wandering and imaginative Greek called Juan de
Fuca told his people that he had discovered a passage
from ocean to ocean between this continent and a
great island in the Pacific. Sent there to seize and
fortify it, he disappeared—at least from history. This
was about 1592. In 1778 Captain Cook roughly surveyed the coast, and in 1792 Captain Vancouver, who
as a boy had been with Cook on two voyages, examined the sound between the island and the mainland with great care, hoping to find that it led to the
main water system of the interior. He gave to the
strait at the entrance the nickname of the Greek,
and in the following year received the transfer of
authority over the country from the Spanish commissioner Bodega of Quadra, then established there.
The two put aside false modesty, and named the
great island " the Island of Vancouver and Quadra."
At the time the English sailor was there it chanced
that he met that hardy old homespun baronet Sir
Alexander Mackenzie, who was the first man to cross
the continent, making the astonishing journey in a
canoe manned by Iroquois Indians. The main-land
became known as New Caledonia. It took its present name from the Columbia River, and that, in turn,
got its name from the ship Columbia, of Boston, Captain Gray, which entered its mouth in 1792, long
after the Spaniards had known the stream and called
it the Oregon. The rest is quickly told. The region passed into the hands of the fur-traders. Vancouver Island became a crown colony in 1849, and 546
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
British Columbia followed in 1858. They were
united in 1866, and joined the Canadian confederation in 1871. Three years later tire province exceeded both Manitoba and Prince Edward Island in
the value of its exports, and also showed an excess of
exports over imports. It has a Lieutenant-governor
and Legislative Assembly, and is represented at Ottawa in accordance with the Canadian system. Its
people have been more closely related to ours in business than those of any other province, and they entertain a warm friendly feeling towards "the States."
In the larger cities the Fourth of July is informally
but generally observed as a holiday.
British Columbia is of immense size. It is as extensive as the combination of New England, the
Middle States and Maryland, the Virginias, the Caro-
linas, and Georgia, leaving Delaware out. It is larger
than Texas, Colorado, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire joined together. Yet it has been all but overlooked by man, and may be said to be an empire
with only one wagon road, and that is but a blind
artery halting in the middle of the country. But
whoever follows this necessarily incomplete survey
of what man has found that region to be, and of what
his yet puny hands have drawn from it, will dismiss
the popular and natural suspicion that it is a wilderness worthy of its present fate. Until the whole
globe is banded with steel rails and yields to the
plough, we will continue to regard whatever region
lies beyond our doors as waste-land, and to fancy that
every line of latitude has its own unvarying climatic
characteristics.    There is an opulent civilization in CANADA S   EL  DORADO
247
what we once were taught was " the Great American Desert," and far up at Edmonton, on the Peace
River, farming flourishes despite the fact that it is
where our school-books located a zone of perpetual
snow. Farther along we shall study a country
crossed by the same parallels of latitude that dissect
inhospitable Labrador, and we shall discover that as
great a difference exists between the two shores of
the continent on that zone as that which distinguishes California from Massachusetts. Upon the coast
of this neglected corner of the world we shall see
that a climate like that of England is produced, as
England's is, by a warm current in the sea; in the
southern half of the interior we shall discover valleys
as inviting as those in our New England; and far
north, at Port Simpson, just below the down°reaching
claw of our Alaska, we shall find such a climate as
Halifax enjoys.
British Columbia has a length of 800 miles, and
averages 400 miles in width. To whoever crosses
the country it seems the scene of a vast earth-disturbance, over which mountains are scattered without system. In fact, however, the Cordillera belt is
there divided into four ranges, the Rockies forming
the eastern boundary, then the Gold Range, then the
Coast Range, and, last of all, that partially submerged
chain whose upraised parts form Vancouver and the
other mountainous islands near the main-land in the
Pacific. A vast valley flanks the south-western side
of the Rocky Mountains, accompanying them from
where they leave our North-western States in a wide
straight furrow for a distance of 700 miles.    Such ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
great rivers as the Columbia, the Fraser, the Parsnip,
the Kootenay, and the Finlay are encountered in it.
While it has a lesser agricultural value than other
valleys in the province, its mineral possibilities are
considered to be very great, and when, as must be the
case, it is made the route of communication between
one end of the territory and the other, a vast timber
supply will be rendered marketable.
The Gold Range, next to the westward, is not bald,
like the Rockies, but, excepting the higher peaks, is
timbered with a dense forest growth. Those busiest
of all British Columbian explorers, the " prospectors,"
have found much of this system too difficult even for
their pertinacity. But the character of the region is
well understood. Here are high plateaus of rolling
country, and in the mountains are glaciers and snow
fields. Between this system and the Coast Range is
what is called the Interior Plateau, averaging one
hundred miles in width, and following the trend of
that portion of the continent, with an elevation that
grows less as the north is approached. This plateau
is crossed and followed by valleys that take every direction, and these are the seats of rivers and watercourses. In the southern part of this plateau is the
best grazing land in the province, and much fine agricultural country, while in the north, where the climate is more moist, the timber increases, and parts
of the land are thought to be convertible into farms.
Next comes the Coast Range, whose western slopes
are enriched by the milder climate of the coast; and
beyond lies the remarkably tattered shore of the
Pacific, lapped by a sheltered sea, verdant, indented CANADA S   EL   DORADO
249
by numberless inlets, which, in turn, are faced by uncounted islands, and receive the discharge of almost
as many streams and rivers—a wondrously beautiful
region, forested by giant trees, and resorted to by
numbers of fish exceeding calculation and belief.
Beyond the coast is the bold chain of mountains
of which Vancouver Island and the Queen Char-
lotte Islands are parts. Here is a vast treasure in
that coal which our naval experts have found to
be the best on the Pacific coast, and here also are
traces of metals, whose value industry has not yet
established.
It is a question whether this vast territory has yet
100,000 white inhabitants. Of Indians it has but
20,000, and of Chinese about 8000. It is a vast land
of silence, a huge tract slowly changing from the
field and pleasure-ground of the fur-trader and sportsman to the quarry of the miner. The Canadian Pacific Railway crosses it, revealing to the immigrant
and the globe-trotter an unceasing panorama of
grand, wild, and beautiful scenery unequalled on this
continent. During a few hours the traveller sees,
across the majestic canon of the Fraser, the neglected
remains of the old Cariboo stage road, built under
pressure of the gold craze. It demonstrated surprising energy in the baby colony, for it connected Yale,
at the head of short steam navigation on the Fra-
ser, with Barkerville, in the distant Cariboo country,
400 miles away, and it cost $500,000. The traveller
sees here and there an Indian village or a " mission,"
and now and then a tiny town; but for the most
part his  eye scans   only the   primeval  forest, lofty 2SO
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
mountains, valleys covered with trees as beasts are
with fur, cascades, turbulent streams, and huge sheltered lakes. Except at the stations, he sees few
men. Now he notes a group of Chinamen at work
on the railway; anon he sees an Indian upon a
clumsy perch and searching the Fraser for salmon,,
or in a canoe paddling towards the gorgeous sunset
that confronts the daily west-bound train as it rolls
by great Shuswap Lake.
But were the same traveller out of the train, and
gifted with the power to make himself ubiquitous,
he would still be, for the most part, lonely. Down in
the smiling bunch - grass valleys in the south he
would see here and there the outfit of a farmer or
the herds of a cattle-man. A burst of noise would
astonish him near by, in the Kootenay country,,
where the new silver mines are being worked, where
claims have been taken up by the thousand, and
whither a railroad is hastening. Here and there, at
points out of sight one from another, he would hear
the crash of a lumberman's axe, the report of a hunter's rifle, or the crackle of an Indian's fire. On the
Fraser he would find a little town called Yale, and
on the coast the streets and ambitious buildings and
CD
busy wharves of Vancouver would astonish him.
Victoria, across the strait, a town of larger size and
remarkable beauty, would give him company, and
near Vancouver and Victoria the little cities of New
Westminster and Nanaimo (lumber and coal ports
respectively) would rise before him. There, close together, he would see more than half the population
of the province. **<
r*S£
Ihk.
kp^-
m
AN IMPRESSION  OF  SHUSWAP LAKE,
BRITISH  COLUMBIA
♦oWi
M<-/5.r»-
Fancy his isolation as
he looked around him in
the northern half of the territory, where a few trails lead to fewer posts of the
Hudson Bay Company, where the endless forests and
multitudinous lakes and streams are cut by but infrequent paddles in the hands of a race that has lost
one-third its numerical strength in the last ten years,,
where the only true homes are within the palisades
or the unguarded log-cabin of the fur-trading agents,
and where the only other white men are either washing sand in the river bars, driving the stages of the
only line that penetrates a piece of the country, or
are those queer devil-may-care but companionable
Davy Crocketts of the day who are guides now and
then, hunters half the time, placer-miners when they
please, and whatever else there is a call for between-
times! 25:
ON   CANADA S  FRONTIER
A very strange sight that my supposititious traveller would pause long to look at would be the herds
of wild horses that defy the Queen, her laws, and her
subjects in the Lillooet Valley. There are thousands
of them there, and over in the Nicola and Chilcotin
country, on either side of the Fraser, north of Washington State. They were originally of good stock,
but now they not only defy capture, but eat valuable
grass, and spoil every horse turned out to graze. The
newspapers aver that the Government must soon be
called upon to devise means for ridding the valleys
of this nuisance. This is one of those sections which
promise well for future stock-raising and agricultural
operations. There are plenty such. The Nicola
Valley has been settled twenty years, and there are
many cattle there, on numerous ranches. It is good
land, but rather high for grain, and needs irrigation.
The snowfall varies greatly in all these valleys, but in
ordinary winters horses and cattle manage well with
four to six weeks' feeding. On the upper Kootenay,
a valley eight to ten miles wide, ranching began a
quarter of a century ago, during the gold excitement.
The " cow - men " raise grain for themselves there.
This valley is 3000 feet high. The Okanagon Valley is lower, and is only from two to five miles wide,
but both are of similar character, of very great length,
and are crossed and intersected by branch valleys.
The greater part of the Okanagon does not need
irrigating. A beautiful country is the Kettle River
region, along the boundary between the Columbia
and the Okanagon. It is narrow, but flat and smooth
on the bottom, and the land is very fine.   Bunch-grass CANADA S   EL  DORADO
253
covers the hills around it for a distance of from four
hundred to five hundred feet, and there timber begins. It is only in occasional years that the Kettle
River Valley needs water. In the Spallumcheen Valley one farmer had 500 acres in grain last summer,
and the most modern agricultural machinery is in use
there. These are mere notes of a few among almost
innumerable valleys that are clothed with bunch-
grass, and that often possess the characteristics of
beautiful parks. In many wheat can be and is raised,
possibly in most of them. I have notes of the successful growth of peaches, and of the growTth of almond-trees to a height of fourteen feet in four years,
both in the Okanagon country.
The shooting in these valleys is most alluring to
those who are fond of the sport. Caribou, deer, bear,
prairie-chicken, and partridges abound in them. In
all probability there is no similar extent of country
that equals the valley of the Columbia, from which,
in the winter of 1888, between six and eight tons of
deer-skins were shipped by local traders, the result
of legitimate hunting. But the forests and mountains are as they were when the white man first saw
them, and though the beaver and sea-otter, the marten, and those foxes whose furs are coveted by the
rich, are not as abundant as they once were, the rest
of the game is most plentiful. On the Rockies and
on the Coast Range the mountain-goat, most difficult
of beasts to hunt, and still harder to get, is abundant
yet. The "big-horn," or mountain-sheep, is not so
common, but the hunting thereof is usually successful if good guides are obtained.     The cougar, the ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
grizzly, and the lynx are all plentiful, and black and
brown bears are very numerous. Elk are going the
way of the " big-horn "—are preceding that creature,
in fact. Pheasants (imported), grouse, quail, and
water-fowl are among the feathered game, and the
river and lake fishing is such as is not approached
in any other part of the Dominion. The province
is a sportsman's Eden, but the hunting of big game
there is not a venture to be lightly undertaken. It
is not alone the distance or the cost that gives one
pause, for, after the province is reached, the mountain-
climbing is a task that no amount of wealth will
lighten. And these are genuine mountains, by-the-
way, wearing eternal caps of snow, and equally eternal deceit as to their distances, their heights, and as
to all else concerning which a rarefied atmosphere
-can hocus-pocus a stranger. There is one animal,
king of all the beasts, which the most unaspiring
hunter may chance upon as well as the bravest, and
that animal carries a perpetual chip upon its shoulder, and seldom turns from an encounter. It is the
grizzly-bear. It is his presence that gives you either
zest or pause, as you may decide, in hunting all the
others that roam the mountains. Yet, in that hunter's dream-land it is the grizzly that attracts many
sportsmen every year.
From the headquarters of the Hudson Bay Company in Victoria I obtained the list of animals in whose
skins that company trades at that station. It makes
a formidable catalogue of zoological products, and
is as follows: Bears (brown, black, grizzly), beaver,
badger,  foxes  (silver, cross,  and  red), fishers,  mar- CANADA S   EL   DORADO
255
tens, minks, lynxes, musk-rat, otter (sea or land), panther, raccoon, wolves (black, gray, and coyote), black-
tailed deer, stags (a true stag, growing to the size of
an ox, and found on the hills of Vancouver Island),
caribou or reindeer, hares, mountain-goat, big-horn
(or mountain-sheep), moose (near the Rockies), wood-
buffalo (found in the north, not greatly different from
the bison, but larger), geese, swans, and duck.
The British Columbian Indians are of such unprepossessing appearance that one hears with comparative equanimity of their numbering only 20,000 in
all, and of their rapid shrinkage, owing principally to
the vices of their women. They are, for the most
part, canoe Indians, in the interior as well as on the
coast, and they are (as one might suppose a nation
of tailors would become) short-legged, and with those
limbs small and inclined to bow. On the other
nand, their exercise with the paddle has given them
a disproportionate development of their shoulders
and chests, so that, being too large above and too
small below, their appearance is very peculiar. They
are fish - eaters the year around; and though some,
like the Hydahs upon the coast, have been warlike
and turbulent, such is not the reputation of those in
the interior. It was the meat-eating Indian who
made war a vocation and self-torture a dissipation.
The fish-eating Indian kept out of his way. These
short squat British Columbian natives are very dark-
skinned, and have physiognomies so different from
those of the Indians east of the Rockies that the
study of their faces has tempted the ethnologists into
-extraordinary guessing upon their origin, and into a 256
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
contention which I prefer to avoid. It is not guessing to say that their high cheek-bones and flat faces
make them resemble the Chinese. That is true to
such a degree that in walking the streets of Victoria,
and meeting alternate Chinamen and Siwash, it is
not always easy to say which is which, unless one
proceeds upon the assumption that if a man looks
clean he is apt to be a Chinaman, whereas if he is
dirty and ragged he is most likely to be a Siwash.
You will find that seven in ten among the more
intelligent British Columbians conclude these Ind-
ians to be of Japanese origin. The Japanese current is neighborly to the province, and it has drifted
Japanese junks to these shores. When the first
traders visited the neighborhood of the mouth of the
Columbia they found beeswax in the sand near the
vestiges of a wreck, and it is said that one wreck of
a junk was met with, and 12,000 pounds of this wax
was found on her. Whalers are said to have frequently encountered wrecked and drifting junks in
the eastern Pacific, and a local legend has it that in
1834 remnants of a junk with three Japanese and a
cargo of pottery were found on the coast south of
Cape Flattery. Nothing less than all this should excuse even a rudderless ethnologist for so cruel a reflection upon the Japanese, for these Indians are so
far from pretty that all who see them agree with Captain Butler, the traveller, who wrote that " if they are
of the Mongolian type, the sooner the Mongolians
change their type the better."
The coast Indians are splendid sailors, and their
dugouts do not always come off second best in rac- CANADA S   EL   DORADO
257.
BkrC
m*
ing with the boats of white men. With a primitive
yet ingeniously made tool, like an adze, in the construction of which a blade is tied fast to a bent
handle of bone, these natives laboriously pick out the
heart of a great cedar log, and shape its outer sides
into the form of a boat. When the log is properly
hollowed, they fill it with water, and then drop in
stones which they have heated in a fire. Thus they
steam the boat so that they may spread the sides and
fit in the crossbars which keep it strong and preserve its shape. These dugouts are
sometimes sixty feet long, and are
used for whaling and long voyages
in rough seas. They are capable
of carrying tons of the salmon or
oolachan or herring, of which these
people, who live as their fathers
did, catch sufficient in a few days
for their maintenance throughout
a whole year. One gets an idea
of the swarms of fish that infest
those waters by the knowledge
that before nets were used the herring and the oolachan, or candle-
fish, were swept into these boats
by an implement formed by studding a ten-foot pole with spikes or
nails. This was swept among the fish in the water,
and the boats were speedily filled with the creatures
that were impaled upon the spikes. Salmon, sea-
otter, otter, beaver, marten, bear, and deer (or caribou
or moose) were and still are the chief resources of
17
i
THE TSCHUMMUM, OR
TOOL USED  IN  MAKING
CANOES 258
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
most of the Indians. Once they sold the fish and
the peltry to the Hudson Bay Company, and ate
what parts or surplus they did not sell. Now they
work in the canneries or fish for them in summer,
and hunt, trap, or loaf the rest of the time. However,
while they still fish and sell furs, and wThile some are
yet as their fathers were, nearly all the coast Indians-
are semi - civilized. They have at least the white
man's clothes and hymns and vices. They have
churches; they live in houses; they work in canneries. What little there was that was picturesque
about them has vanished only a few degrees faster
than their own extinction as a pure race, and they
are now a lot of longshoremen. What Mr. Duncan
did for them in Metlakahtla—especially in housing
the families separately—has not been arrived at even
in the reservation at Victoria, where one may still
see one of the huge, low, shed-like houses they prefer,
ornamented with totem poles, and arranged for eight
families, and consequently for a laxity of morals for
which no one can hold the white man responsible.
They are a tractable people, and take as kindly
to the rudiments of civilization, to work, and to cooperation with the whites as the plains Indian does
to tea, tobacco, and whiskey. They are physically
but not mentally inferior to the plainsman. They
carve bowls and spoons of stone and bone, and their
heraldic totem poles are cleverly shapen, however
grotesque they may be. They still make them, but
they oftener carve little ones for white people, just as
they make more silver bracelets for sale than for wear.
They are clever at weaving rushes and cedar bark CANADA S   EL   DORADO
259
into mats, baskets, floor-cloths, and cargo covers. In
a word, they were more prone to work at the outset
than most Indians, so that the present longshore career of most of them is not greatly to be wondered at.
To any one who threads the vast silent forests of
the interior, or journeys upon the trafficless waterways, or, gun in hand, explores the mountains for
game, the infrequency with which Indians are met
becomes impressive. The province seems almost
unpeopled. The reason is that the majority of the
Indians were ever on the coast, where the water
yielded food at all times and in plenty. , The natives
of the interior were not well fed or prosperous when
the first white men found them, and since then smallpox, measles, vice, and starvation have thinned them
terribly. Their graveyards are a feature of the scenery which all travellers in the province remember.
From the railroad they may be seen along the Fraser, each grave apparently having a shed built over
it, and a cross rising from the earth beneath the shed.
They had various burial customs, but a majority
buried their dead in this way, with queerly-carved or
painted sticks above them, where the cross now testifies to the work at the " missions." Some Indians
marked a man's burial-place with his canoe and his
gun; some still box their dead and leave the boxes
on top of the earth, while others bury the boxes.
Among the southern tribes a man's horse was often
killed, and its skin decked the man's grave; while in
the far north it was the custom among the Stickeens
to slaughter the personal attendants of a chief when
he died.    The Indians along the Skeena River ere- 26d
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
mated their dead, and sometimes hung the ashes in
boxes to the family totem pole. The Hydahs, the
fierce natives of certain of the islands, have given up
cremation, but they used to believe that if they did
not burn a man's body their enemies would make
charms from it. Polygamy flourished on the coast,
and monogamy in the interior, but the contrast was
due to the difference in the worldly wealth of the
Indians. Wives had to be bought and fed, and the
woodsmen could only afford one apiece.
To return to their canoes, which most distinguish
them. When a dugout is hollowed and steamed, a
prow and stern are added of separate wood. The
prow is always a work of art, and greatly beautifies
the boat. It is in form like the breast, neck, and
bill of a bird, but the head is intended to represent
that of a savage animal, and is so painted. A mouth
is cut into it, ears are carved on it, and eyes are
painted on the sides; bands of gay paint are put
upon the neck, and the whole exterior of the boat is
then painted red or black, with an ornamental line
of another color along the edge or gunwale. The
sailors sit upon the bottom of the boat, and propel
it with paddles. Upon the water these swift vessels,
with their fierce heads uplifted before their long,
slender bodies, appear like great serpents or nondescript marine monsters, yet they are pretty and
graceful withal. While still holding aloof from the
ethnologists' contention, I yet may add that a bookseller in Victoria came into the possession of a packet
of photographs taken by an amateur traveller in the
interior of China, and on my first visit to the prov- CANADA S   EL   DORADO
26l
j®r.
Wk
w
jSF
0
ince, nearly four
years ago, I
found, in looking through
these views, several Chinese
boats which
were strangely
and remarkably
like the dugouts of the provincial Indians.
They were too -A
small in the
pictures for it to
be possible to
decide whether
they were built
up or dug out,
but in general
they were of the
same external
appearance, and
each one bore
the upraised animal-head prow, shaped and painted like those I
could see one block away from the bookseller's
shop in Victoria. But such are not the canoes
used by the Indians of the interior. From the
Kootenay near our border to the Cassiar in the far
north, a cigar-shaped canoe seems to be the general
native  vehicle.    These   are  sometimes   made  of  a
za*a%!Sm$m,
m
L*"«fe-J
\$*»
W
yp
&
ri*
THE FIRST OF THE SALMON RUN, FRASER
RIVER
m 262
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
sort of scroll of bark, and sometimes they are dugouts made of cotton-wood logs. They are narrower
than either the cedar dugouts of the coast or the
birch-bark canoes of our Indians, but they are roomy,
and fit for the most dangerous and deft work in
threading the rapids which everywhere cut up the
navigation of the streams of the province into separated reaches. The Rev. Dr. Gordon, in his notes
upon a journey in this province, likens these canoes
to horse-troughs, but those I saw in the Kootenay
country were of the shape of those cigars that are
pointed at both ends.
Whether these canoes are like any in Tartary or
China or Japan, I do not know. My only quest for
special information of that character proved disappointing. One man in a city of British Columbia is
said to have studied such matters more deeply and
to more purpose than all the others, but those who
referred me to him cautioned me that he was eccentric.
" You don't know where these Indians came from,
eh ?" the savant replied to my first question. " Do
you know how oyster-shells got on top of the Rocky
Mountains ? You don't, eh ? Well, I know a woman
who went to a dentist's yesterday to have eighteen
teeth pulled. Do you know why women prefer artificial teeth to those which God has given them?
You don't, eh? Why, man, you don't know anything."
CD
While we were—or he was—conversing, a laboring-man who carried a sickle came to the open door,
and was asked what he wanted. CANADA S   EL   DORADO
263
" I wish to cut your thistles, sir," said he.
" Thistles ?" said the savant, disturbed at the interruption.    " the thistles !    We are talking about
Indians."
Nevertheless, when the laborer had gone, he had
left the subject of thistles uppermost in the savant's
mind, and the conversation took so erratic a turn
that it might well have been introduced hap-hazard
into Tristram Shandy.
"About thistles," said the savant, laying a gentle
hand upon my knee. " Do you know that they are the
Scotchmen's totems ? Many years ago a Scotchman,
sundered from his native land, must needs set up his
totem, a thistle, here in this country; and now, sir,
the thistle is such a curse that I am haled up twice a
year and fined for having them in my yard."
But nearly enough has been here said of the native
population. Though the Indians boast dozens of
tribal names, and almost every island on the coast
and village in the interior seems the home of a separate tribe, they will be found much alike — dirty,
greasy, sore-eyed, short-legged, and with their unkempt hair cut squarely off, as if a pot had been upturned over it to guide the operation. The British
Columbians do not bother about their tribal divisions, but use the old traders' Chinook terms, and call
every male a " siwash " and every woman a " klootch-
man."
Since the highest Canadian authority upon the
subject predicts that the northern half of the Cordil-
leran ranges will admit of as high a metalliferous development as that of the southern half in our Pacific 264
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
States, it is important to review what has been done
in mining, and what is thought of the future of that
industry in the province. It may almost be said that
the history of gold-mining there is the history of British Columbia. Victoria, the capital, was a Hudson
Bay post established in 1843, and Vancouver, Queen
Charlotte's, and the other islands, as well as the mainland, were of interest to only a few white men as
parts of a great fur-trading field with a small Indian
population. The first nugget of gold was found at
what is now called Gold Harbor, on the west coast
of the Queen Charlotte Islands, by an Indian woman,
in 1851. A part of it, weighing four or five ounces,
was taken by the Indians to Fort Simpson and sold.
The Hudson Bay Company, which has done a little
in every line of business in its day, sent a brigantine
to the spot, and found a quartz vein traceable eighty
feet, and yielding a high percentage of gold. Blasting was begun, and the vessel was loaded with ore;
but she was lost on the return voyage. An American vessel, ashore at Esquimault, near Victoria, was
purchased, renamed the Recovery, and sent to Gold
Harbor with thirty miners, who worked the vein
until the vessel was loaded and sent to England.
News of the mine travelled, and in another year a
small fleet of vessels came up from San Francisco;
but the supply was seen to be very limited, and after
$20,000 in all had been taken out, the field was
abandoned.
In 1855 gold was found by a Hudson Bay Company's employe at Fort Colville, now in Washington
State, near the boundary.     Some Thompson River CANADA S   EL  DORADO
265
(B. C.) Indians who went to Walla Walla spread a report there that gold, like that discovered at Colville,
was to be found in the valley of the Thompson. A
party of Canadians and half-breeds went to the region
referred to, and found placers nine miles above the
mouth of the river. By 1858 the news and the authentication of it stirred the miners of California, and
an astonishing invasion of the virgin province began.
It is said that in the spring of 1858 more than twenty
thousand persons reached Victoria from San Francisco by sea, distending the little fur-trading post
of a few hundred inhabitants into what would even
now be called a considerable city; a city of canvas,
however. Simultaneously a third as many miners
made their way to the new province on land. But
the land was covered with mountains and dense
forests, the only route to its interior for them was the
violent, almost boiling, Fraser River, and there was
nothing on which the lives of this-horde of men could
be sustained. By the end of the year out of nearly
thirty thousand adventurers only a tenth part remained. Those who did stay worked the river bars of
the lower Fraser until in five months they had shipped
from Victoria more than half a million dollars' worth
of gold. From a historical point of view it is a peculiar coincidence that in 1859, when the attention
of the world was thus first attracted to this new
country, the charter of the Hudson Bay Company expired, and the territory passed from its control to become like any other crown colony.
In i860 the gold-miners, seeking the source of the
"flour" gold they found in such abundance in the bed 266
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
of the river, pursued their search into the heart and
almost the centre of that forbidding and unbroken territory. The Quesnel River became the seat of their
operations. Two years later came another extraordinary immigration. This was not surprising, for 1500
miners had in one year (1861) taken out $2,000,000
::::::::::::•.--:;::-.!:
Ji»
mwm
INDIAN  SALMON-FISHING IN THE THRASHER CANADA S   EL   DORADO
267
in gold-dust from certain creeks in what is called the
Cariboo District, and one can imagine (if one does
not remember) what fabulous tales were based upon
this fact. The second stampede was of persons from
all over the world, but chiefly from England, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. After that there
were new "finds" almost every year, and the miners
worked gradually northward until, about 1874, they
had travelled through the province, in at one end
and out at the other, and were working the tributaries of the Yukon River in the north, beyond the
60th parallel. Mr. Dawson estimates that the total
yield of gold between 1858 and 1888 was $54,108,804;
the average number of miners employed each year
was 2775, and the average earnings per man per
year were $622.
In his report, published by order of Parliament, Mr.
Dawson says that while gold is so generally distributed over the province that scarcely a stream of any
importance fails to show at least "colors" of the
metal, the principal discoveries clearly indicate that
the most important mining districts are in the systems of mountains and high plateaus lying to the
south-west of the Rocky. Mountains and parallel in
direction with them.
This mountain system next to and south-west of
the Rockies is called, for convenience, the Gold
Range, but it comprises a complex belt "of several
more or less distinct and partly overlapping ranges'
—the Purcell, Selkirk, and Columbia ranges in the
south, and in the north the Cariboo, Omenica, and
Cassiar ranges.    "This series or system constitutes 268
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
the most important metalliferous belt of the province.
The richest gold fields are closely related to it, and
discoveries of metalliferous lodes are reported in
abundance from all parts of it which have been explored. The deposits already made known are very
varied in character, including highly argentiferous
galenas and other silver ores and auriferous quartz
veins." This same authority asserts that the Gold
Range is continued by the Cabinet, Cceur d'Alene,
and Bitter Root mountains in our country. While
there is no single well-developed gold field as in California, the extent of territory of a character to occasion a hopeful search for gold is greater in the province than in California. The average man of business
to whom visitors speak of the mining prospects of the
province is apt to declare that all that has been lacking is the discovery of one grand mine and the enlistment of capital (from the United States, they generally say) to work it. Mr. Dawson speaks to the
same point, and incidentally accounts for the retarded
development in his statement that one noteworthy
difference between practically the entire area of the
province and that of the Pacific States has been occasioned by the spread and movement of ice over the
province during the glacial period. This produced
changes in the distribution of surface materials and
directions of drainage, concealed beneath "drifts"the
indications to which prospectors farther south are used
to trust, and by other means obscured the outcrops of
veins which would otherwise be well marked. The
dense woods, the broken navigation of the rivers, in
detached reaches, the distance from the coast of the   CANADA S   EL   DORADO
271
richest districts, and the cost of labor supplies and machinery—all these are additional and weighty reasons
for the slowness of development. But this was true of
the past and is not of the present, at least so far as
southern British Columbia is concerned. Railroads are
reaching up into it from our country and down from
the transcontinental Canadian Railway, and capital,
both Canadian and American, is rapidly swelling an
already heavy investment in many new and promising
mines. Here it is silver-mining that is achieving
importance.
. Other ores are found in the province. The iron
wThich has been located or worked is principally on
the islands—Queen Charlotte, Vancouver, Texada,
and the Walker group. Most of the ores are magnetites, and that which alone has been worked—on
Texada Island—is of excellent quality. The output
of copper from the province is likely soon to become
considerable. Masses of it have* been fpund from
time to time in various parts of the province—in the
Vancouver series of islands, on the main-land coast,
and in the interior. Its constant and rich association
with silver shows lead to be abundant in the country,
but it needs the development of transport facilities to
give it value. Platinum is more likely to attain importance as a product in this than in any other part
of North America. On the coast the granites are of
such quality and occur in such abundance as to lead
to the belief that their quarrying will one day be an
important source of income, and there are marbles,
sandstones, and ornamental stones of which the same
may be said. 2 7.2
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
One of the most valuable products of the province
is coal, the essential in which our Pacific coast States
are the poorest. The white man's attention was first
attracted to this coal in 1835 by some Indians who
brought lumps of it from Vancouver Island to the
Hudson Bay post on the main-land, at Milbank Sound.
The Beaver, the first steamship that stirred the waters
of the Pacific, reached the province in 1836, and used
coal that was found in outcroppings on the island
beach. Thirteen years later the great trading company brought out a Scotch coal-miner to look into
the character and extent of the coal find, and he was
followed by other miners and the necessary apparatus
for prosecuting the inquiry. In the mean time the
present chief source of supply at Nanaimo, seventy
miles from Victoria and about opposite Vancouver,
was discovered, and in 1852 mining was begun in
earnest. From the very outset the chief market for
the coal was found to be San Francisco.
The original mines are now owned by the Vancouver Coal-mining and Land Company. Near them
are the Wellington Mines, which began to be worked
in 1871. Both have continued in active operation
from their foundation, and with a constantly and
rapidly growing output. A third source of supply
has very recently been established with local and
American capital in what is called the Comox District, back of Baynes Sound, farther north than
Nanaimo, on the eastern side of Vancouver Island.
These new works are called the Union Mines, and, if
the predictions of my informants prove true, will produce an output equal to that of the older Nanaimo CANADA S  EL  DORADO
273
collieries combined. In 1884 the coal shipped from
Nanaimo amounted to 1000 tons for every day of the
year, and in 1889 the total shipment had reached
500,000 tons. As to the character of the coal, I quote
again from Mr. Dawson's report on the minerals of
British Columbia, published by the Dominion Government:
I Rocks of cretaceous age are developed over a considerable area
in British Columbia, often in very great thickness, and fuels occur in
them in important quantity in at least two distinct stages, of which
the lower and older includes the coal measures of the Queen Charlotte Islands and those of Quatsino Sound on Vancouver Island, with
those of Crow Nest Pass in the Rocky Mountains; the upper, the
coal measures of Nanaimo and Comox, and probably also those of
Suquash and other localities. The lower rocks hold both anthracite
and bituminous coal in the Queen Charlotte Islands, but elsewhere
contain bituminous coal only. The upper have so far been found to
yield bituminous coal only. The fuels of the tertiary rocks are, generally speaking, lignites, but include also various fuels intermediate
between these and true coals, which in a few places become true
bituminous coals."
It is thought to be more than likely that the Comox District may prove far more productive than the
Nanaimo region. It is estimated that productive
measures underlie at least 300 square miles in the
Comox District, exclusive of what may extend beyond
the shore. The Nanaimo area is estimated at 200
square miles, and the product is no better than, if it
equals, that of the Comox District.
Specimens of good coal have been found on the
main-land in the region of the upper Skeena River,
on the British Columbia water-shed of the Rockies
near Crow Nest Pass, and in the country adjacent to
the Peace River in the eastern part of the province.
18 274
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
Anthracite which compares favorably with that of
Pennsylvania has been found at Cowgitz, Queen
Charlotte Islands. In 1871 a mining company began
work upon this coal, but abandoned it, owing to difficulties that were encountered. It is now believed
that these miners did not prove the product to be of
an unprofitable character, and that farther exploration is fully justified by what is known of the field.
Of inferior forms of coal there is every indication of
an abundance on the main-land of the province. " The
tertiary or Laramie coal measures of Puget Sound
and Bellingham Bay" (in the United States) " are continuous north of the international boundary, and must
underlie nearly 18,000 square miles of the low country about the estuary of the Fraser and in the lower
part of its valley.', It is quite possible, since the
better coals of Nanaimo and Comox are in demand
in the San Francisco market, even at their high price
and with the duty added, that these lignite fields may
be worked for local consumption.
Already the value of the fish caught in the British
Columbian waters is estimated at $5,000,000 a year,
and yet the industry is rather at its birth than in its
infancy. All the waters in and near the province
fairly swarm with fish. The rivers teem with them,
the straits and fiords and gulfs abound with them,
the ocean beyond is freighted with an incalculable
weight of living* food, which must soon be distributed
among the homes of the civilized world. The principal varieties of fish are the salmon, cod, shad, white-
fish, bass, flounder, skate, sole, halibut, sturgeon,
oolachan, herring;, trout, haddock, smelts, anchovies, ell MliralMiraAn^WmSi^
■ssig
ggHiij
h
tWrl'
insIM
Mi
-*^s
iK\
m
K
-S(fc<&^?
M ~=-  if
THE SALMON  CACHE
dog - fish, perch, sardines, oysters, crayfish shrimps,
crabs, and mussels. Of other denizens of the water,
the whale, sea-otter, and seal prove rich prey for those
who search for them.
The main salmon rivers are the Fraser, Skeena,
and Nasse rivers, but the fish also swarm in the inlets
into which smaller streams empty.     The Nimkish, 276
ON   CANADA S FRONTIER
on Vancouver Island, is also a salmon stream. Setting
aside the stories of water so thick with salmon that
a man might walk upon their backs, as well as that
tale of the stage-coach which was upset by salmon
banking themselves against it when it was crossing a
fording-place, there still exist absolutely trustworthy
accounts of swarms which at their height cause the
largest rivers to seem alive with these fish. In such
cases the ripple of their back fins frets the entire
surface of the stream. I have seen photographs that
show the fish in incredible numbers, side by side, like
logs in a raft, and I have the word of a responsible
man for the statement that he has gotten all the
salmon needed for a small camp, day after day, by
walking to the edge of a river and jerking the fish
out with a common poker.
There are about sixteen canneries on the Fraser,
six on the Skeena, three on the Nasse, and three
scattered in other waters—River Inlet and Alert Bay.
The total canning in 1889 was 414,294 cases, each
of 48 one-pound tins. The fish are sold to Europe,
Australia, and eastern Canada. The American market
takes the Columbia River salmon. A round $1,000,000
is invested in the vessels, nets, trawls, canneries, oil-
factories, and freezing and salting stations used in
this industry in British Columbia, and about 5500 men
are employed. " There is no difficulty in catching
the fish," says a local historian, "for in some streams
they are so crowded that they can readily be picked
out of the water by hand." However, gill-nets are
found to be preferable, and the fish are caught in
these, which are stretched across the streams, and CANADA S   EL   DORADO
277
handled by men in flat-bottomed boats. The fish are
loaded into scows and transported to the canneries,
usually frame structures built upon piles close to the
shores of the rivers. In the canneries the tins are
made, and, as a rule, saw-mills near by produce the
wood for the manufacture of the packing-cases. The
fish are cleaned, rid of their heads and tails, and then
chopped up and loaded into the tins by Chinamen
and Indian women. The tins are then boiled, soldered, tested, packed, and shipped away. The industry
is rapidly extending, and fresh salmon are now being
shipped, frozen, to the markets of eastern America
and England. My figures for 1889 (obtained from
the Victoria Times) are in all likelihood under the
mark for the season of 1890. The coast is made ragged by inlets, and into nearly every one a watercourse empties. All the larger streams are the haven
of salmon in the spawning season, and in time the
principal ones will be the bases of canning operations.
The Dominion Government has founded a salmon
hatchery on the Fraser, above New Westminster. It
is under the supervision of Thomas Mowat, Inspector
of Fisheries, and millions of small fry are now annually turned into the great river. Whether the unexampled run of 1889 was in any part due to this process cannot be said, but certainly the salmon are not
diminishing in numbers. It was feared that the refuse from the canneries would injure the " runs" of
live fish, but it is now believed that there is a profit
to be derived from treating the refuse for oil and
guano, so that it is more likely to be saved than
thrown back into the streams in the near future. ON   CANADA S  FRONTIER
The oolachan, or candle-fish, is a valuable product
of these waters, chiefly of the Fraser and Nasse
rivers. They are said to be delicious when fresh,,
smoked, or salted, and I have it on the authority of
the little pamphlet " British Columbia," handed me
by a government official, that " their oil is considered
superior to cod-liver oil, or any other fish-oil known."
It is said that this oil is whitish, and of the consistency of thin lard. It is used as food by the natives, and is an article of barter between the coast
Indians and the tribes of the interior. There is so-
much of it in a candle-fish of ordinary size that when
one of them is dried, it will burn like a candle. It
is the custom of the natives on the coast to catch
the fish in immense numbers in purse-nets. They
then boil them in iron-bottomed bins, straining the
product in willow baskets, arid running the oil into
cedar boxes holding; fifteen gallons each.    The Nasse
O Cj
River candle-fish are the best. They begin running;
in March, and continue to come by the million for a
period of several weeks.
Codfish are supposed to be very plentiful, and to-
frequent extensive banks at sea, but these shoals have
not been explored or charted by the Government,
and private enterprise will not attempt the wrork*
Similar banks off the Alaska coast are already the
resorts of California fishermen, who drive a prosperous trade in salting: large catches there.   The skil, or
^D CD
black cod, formerly known as the "coal-fish," is a
splendid deep-water product. These cod weigh from
eight to twenty pounds, and used to be caught by
the Indians with hook and line.    Already white men CANADA S   EL   DORADO
279
are driving the Indians out by superior methods.
Trawls of 300 hooks are used, and the fish are found
to be plentiful, especially off the west coast of the
Queen Charlotte Islands. The fish is described as
superior to the cod of Newfoundland in both oil and
meat. The general market is not yet accustomed to
it, but such a ready sale is found for what are caught
that the number of vessels engaged in this fishing in-
creases year by year. It is evident that the catch of
skil will soon be an important source of revenue to
the province.
w
U-&ECIIUC REJWfffioN-
AN  IDEAL OF THE  COAST
Herring are said to be plentiful, but no fleet is yet
fitted out for them. Halibut are numerous and common. They are often of very great size. Sturgeon
are found in the Fraser, whither they chase the salmon. One weighing 1400 pounds was exhibited in
Victoria a few years ago, and those that weigh more
than half as much are not unfrequently captured.
The following is a report of the yield and value of
the fisheries of the province for 1889: Salmon in cans lbs.
fresh lbs.
salted bbls.
|       smoked lbs.
Sturgeon, fresh
Halibut,
Herring,      "
"        smoked
Oolachans, "
" fresh
salted bbls.
Trout, fresh lbs.
Fish, assorted
Smelts, fresh
Rock cod
Skil, salted bbls.
Fooshqua, fresh
Fur seal-skins No
Hair
Sea-otter skins
Fish oil gals.
Oysters sacks
Clams
Mussels      "
Crabs No.
Abelones boxes
Isinglass lbs.
Estimated fish consumed in province	
Shrimps, prawns, etc	
Estimated  consumption  by  Indians—
Salmon	
Halibut	
Sturgeon and other fish . . .
Fish oils	
Approximate yield....
3<
14,025
322,725
52,100
39>25°
1,560
268,350
33.570
7,000
115
141,420
3,000
3>5°°
250
175,000
100
5,000
$2,414,655 36
218,700 00
37,460 00
2,580 00
15,930 00
30,152 50
9,500 00
3,300 00
8,250 00
1,340 00
3,800 00
1,402 50
16,136 25
3,126 00
1,962 50
18,720 00
13417 50
335,700 00
5,250 00
11,500 o'o
70,710 00
5,250 00
6,125 °°
500 00
5,250 00
500 00
1,750 00
100,000 00
5,000 00
2,732,500 00
190,000 00
260,000 00
75,000 00
$6,605,467 61
When it is considered that this is the showing of
one of the newest communities on the continent,
numbering only the population of what we would
call a small city, suffering for want of capital and
nearly all that capital brings  with   it, there   is   no CANADA S  EL   DORADO
28l
longer occasion for surprise at the provincial boast
that they possess far more extensive and richer fishing-fields than any on the Atlantic coast. Time and
■enterprise will surely test this assertion, but it is already evident that there is a vast revenue to be
wrested from those waters.
I have not spoken of the sealing, which yielded
$236,000 in 1887, and may yet be decided to be exclusively an American and not a British Columbian
source of profit. Nor have I touched upon the extraction of oil from herrings and from dog-fish and
whales, all of which are small channels of revenue.
I enjoyed the good-fortune to talk at length with a
civil engineer of high repute who has explored the
greater part of southern British Columbia—at least
in so far as its main valleys, waterways, trails, and
mountain passes are concerned. Having learned not
to place too high a value upon the printed matter
put forth in praise of any new country, I was especially pleased to obtain this man's practical impressions concerning the store and quality and kinds of
timber the province contains. He said, not to use
his own words, that timber is found all the way back
from the coast to the Rockies, but it is in its most
plentiful and majestic forms on the west slope of
those mountains and on the west slope of the Coast
Range. The very largest trees are between the
Coast Range and the coast. The country between
the Rocky Mountains and the Coast Range is dry by
J CD J J
comparison with the parts where the timber thrives
best, and, naturally, the forests are inferior. Between
the Rockies and the Kootenay River cedar and tarn- ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
aracks reach six and eight feet in diameter, and at-
CD
tain a height of 200 feet not infrequently. There
are two or three kinds of fir and some pines (though
not very many) in this region. There is very little
leaf-wood, and no hard-wood. Maples are found, to
be sure, but they are rather more like bushes than
trees to the British Columbian mind. As one moves
westward the same timber prevails, but it grows
shorter and smaller until the low coast country is
reached. There, as has been said, the giant forests
occur again. This coast region is largely a flat
country, but there are not many miles of it.
To this rule, as here laid down, there are sdme notable exceptions. One particular tree, called there
the bull-pine—it is the pine of Lake Superior and
the East—grows to great size all over the province.
It is a common thins: to find the trunks of these
trees measuring four feet in diameter, or nearly thirteen feet in circumference. It is not especially valuable for timber, because it is too sappy. It is shortlived when exposed to the weather, and is therefore
not in demand for railroad work: but for the ordinary
uses to which builders put timber it answers very
well.
There is a maple which attains great size at the
coast, and which, when dressed, closely resembles
bird's-eye-maple. It is called locally the vine-maple.
The trees are found with a diameter of two-and-a
half to three feet, but the trunks seldom rise above
forty or fifty feet. The wood is crooked. It runs
very badly. This, of course, is what gives it the
beautiful grain it possesses, and which must, sooner   CANADA S   EL   DORADO
28S
or later, find a ready market for it. There is plenty
of hemlock in the province, but it is nothing like so
large as that which is found in the East, and its bark
is not so thick. Its size renders it serviceable for
nothing larger than railway ties, and the trees grow
in such inaccessible places, half-way up the mountains, that it is for the most part unprofitable to
handle it. The red cedars—the wood of which is consumed in the manufacture of pencils and cigar-boxes
—are also small. On the other hand, the white cedar
reaches enormous sizes, up to fifteen feet of thickness at the base, very often. It is not at all extraordinary to find these cedars reaching 200 feet above
the ground, and one was cut at Port Moody, in clearing the way for the railroad, that had a length of 310
feet. When fire rages in the provincial forests, the
wood of these trees is what is consumed, and usually
the trunks, hollow and empty, stand grimly in their
places after the fire would otherwise have been forgotten. These great tubes are often of such dimensions that men put windows and doors in them and
use them for dwellings. In the valleys are immense
numbers of poplars of the common and cottonwood
species, white birch, alder, willow, and yew trees, but
they are not estimated in the forest wealth of the
province, because of the expense that marketing
them would entail.
This fact concerning the small timber indicates at
once the primitive character of the country, and the
vast wealth it possesses in what might be called heroic
timber—that is, sufficiently valuable to force its way
to market even from out that unopened wilderness.- 286
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
It was the opinion of the engineer to whom I have
referred that timber land which does not attract the
second glance of a prospector in British Columbia
would be considered of the first importance in Maine
and New Brunswick. To put it in another way, riverside timber land which in those countries would fetch
fifty dollars the acre solely for its wood, in British
Columbia would not be taken up. In time it may
be cut, undoubtedly it must be, when new railroads
alter its value, and therefore it is impossible even
roughly to estimate the value of the provincial forests.
A great business is carried on in the-shipment of
ninety-foot and one-hundred-foot Douglas fir sticks to
the great car-building works of our country and Canada. They are used in the massive bottom frames of
palace cars. The only limit that has yet been reached in this industry is not in the size of the logs, but
in the capacities of the saw-mills, and in the possibilities of transportation by rail, for these logs require
three cars to support their length. Except for the valleys, the whole vast country is enormously rich in this
timber, the mountains (excepting the Rockies) being
clothed with it from their bases to their tops. Vancouver Island is a heavily and valuably timbered country.
It bears the same trees as the main-land, except that it
has the oak-tree, and does not possess the tamarack.
The Vancouver Island oaks do not exceed two or
two-and-a-half feet in diameter.    The Douglas fir
CD
(our Oregon pine) grows to tremendous proportions,
especially on the north end of the island. In the old
offices of the Canadian Pacific Railway at Vancouver
are panels of this wood that are thirteen feet across, CANADA S   EL   DORADO
287
showing that they came from a tree whose trunk was
forty feet in circumference. Tens of thousands of
these firs are from eight to ten feet in diameter at the
CD
bottom.
Other trees of the province are the great silver-fir,
the wood of which is not very valuable; Englemann's
spruce, which is very like white spruce, and is very
abundant; balsam-spruce, often exceeding two feet in
diameter; the yellow or pitch pine; white pine; yellow
cypress; crab-apple, occurring as a small tree or
shrub; western birch, common in the Columbia region ; paper or canoe birch, found sparingly on Vancouver Island and on the lower Fraser, but in abundance and of large size in the Peace River and upper
Fraser regions; dogwood, arbutus, and several minor
trees. Among the shrubs which grow in abundance
in various districts or all over the province are the
following: hazel, red elder, willow, barberry, wild red
cherry, blackberry, yellow plum, choke-cherry, raspberry, gooseberry, bearberry, currant, and snowberry,
mooseberry, bilberry, cranberry, whortleberry, mulberry, and blueberry.
I would have liked to write at length concerning
the enterprising cities, of the province, but, after all,
they may be trusted to make themselves known. It
is the region behind them which most interests
mankind, and the Government has begun, none too
promptly, a series of expeditions for exploiting it. As
for the cities, the chief among them and the capital, Victoria, has an estimated population of 22,000. Its business district wears a prosperous, solid, and attractive
appearance, and its detached dwellings—all of frame, 288
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
and of the distinctive type which marks the houses of
the California towns—are surrounded by gardens. It
has a beautiful but inadequate harbor; yet in a few
years it will have spread to Esquimault, now less than
two miles distant. This is now the seat of a British
admiralty station, and has a splendid haven, whose
water is of a depth of from six to eight fathoms. At
Esquimault are governme nt offices, churches, schools,
hotels, stores, a naval " canteen," and a dry-dock 450
feet long, 26 feet deep, and 65 feet wide at its entrance. The electric street railroad of Victoria was
extended to Esquimault in the autumn of 1890. Of
the climate of Victoria Lord Lome said, " It is softer
and more constant than that of  the south of Ensr-
CD
land."
Vancouver, the principal city of the main-land, is
slightly smaller than Victoria, but did not begin to
displace the forest until 1886. After that every
house except one was destroyed by fire. To-day it
boasts a hotel comparable in most important respects
with any in Canada, many noble business buildings
of brick or stone, good schools, fine churches, a really
great area of streets built up with dwellings, and a
notable system of wharves, warehouses, etc. The
Canadian Pacific Railway terminates here, and so
does the line of steamers for China and Japan. The
city is picturesquely and healthfully situated on an
arm of Burrard Inlet, has gas, water, electric lights,
and shows no sign of halting its hitherto rapid growth.
Of New Westminster, Nanaimo, Yale, and the still
smaller towns, there is not opportunity here for more
than naming. CANADA S   EL   DORADO
In the original settlements in that territory a peculiar institution occasioned gala times for the red men
now and then. This was the "potlatch," a thing to
us so foreign, even in the impulse of which it is begotten, that we have no word or phrase to give its
meaning. It is a feast and merrymaking at the expense of some man who has earned or saved what he
deems considerable wealth, and who desires to distribute every iota of it at once in edibles and drinkables among the people of his tribe or village. He
does this because he aspires to a chieftainship, or
merely for the credit of a "potlatch "—a high distinction. Indians have been known to throw away such
a sum of money that their " potlatch" has been given
in a huge shed built for the feast, that hundreds have
been both fed and made drunk, and that blankets and
ornaments have been distributed in addition to the
feast.
The custom has a new significance now. It is the
white man who is to enjoy a greater than all previous
potlatches in that region. The treasure has been
garnered during the ages by time or nature or whatsoever you may call the host, and the province itself
is offered as the feast.
J9 IX
DAN   DUNNS OUTFIT
AT Revelstoke, 380 miles from the Pacific Ocean,
in British Columbia, a small white steamboat,
built on the spot, and exposing a single great paddle-
wheel at her stern, was waiting to make another of her
still few trips through a wilderness that, but for her
presence, would be as completely primitive as almost
any in North America. Her route lay down the
Columbia River a distance of about one hundred
and thirty miles to a point called Sproat's Landing,
where some rapids interrupt navigation. The main
load upon the steamer's deck was of steel rails for a
railroad that was building into a new mining region
in what is called the Kootenay District, just north of
our Washington and Idaho. The sister range to the
Rockies, called the Selkirks, was to be crossed by the
new highway, which would then connect the valley of
the Columbia with the Kootenay River. There was
a temptation beyond the mere chance to join the first
throng that pushed open a gateway and began the
breaking of a trail in a brand-new country.     There
CD J
was to be witnessed the propulsion of civilization beyond old confines by steam-power, and this required
railroad building in the Rockies, where that science
finds its most formidable problems. And around and
through all that was being done pressed a new popu- DAN   DUNN S   OUTFIT
291
lation, made up of many of the elements that produced our old-time border life, and gave birth to some
of the most picturesque and exciting chapters in
American History.
It should be understood that here in the very heart
of British Columbia only the watercourses have been
travelled, and there was neither a settlement nor a
house along the Columbia in that great reach of its
valley between our border and the Canadian Pacific
Railway, except at the landing at which this boat
stopped.
Over all the varying scene, as the boat ploughed
along, hung a mighty silence; for almost the only life
on the deep wooded sides of the mountains was that
of stealthy game. At only two points were any human
beings lodged, and these were wTood-choppers who
supplied the fuel for the steamer—a Chinaman in one
place, and two or three white men farther on. In this
part of its magnificent valley the Columbia broadens
in two long loops, called the Arrow Lakes, each more
than two miles wide and twenty to thirty miles in
length. Their prodigious towering walls are densely
wooded, and in places are snow-capped in midsummer.
The forest growth is primeval, and its own luxuriance
crowds it beyond the edge of the grand stream in the
fretwork of fallen trunks and bushes, whose roots are
bedded in the soft mass of centuries of forest, debris.
Early in the journey the clerk of the steamer told
me that wTild animals were frequently seen crossing
the river ahead of the vessel; bear, he said, and deer
and elk and porcupine. When I left him to go to
my state-room and dress for the rough journey ahead ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
of me, he came to my door, calling in excited tones for
me to come out on the deck. " There's a big bear
ahead!" he cried, and as he spoke I saw the black
head of the animal cleaving the quiet water close to
the nearer shore. Presently Bruin's feet touched the
bottom, and he bounded into the bush and disappeared.
The scenery was superb all the day, but at sundown
nature began to revel in a series of the most splendid
and spectacular effects. For an hour a haze had
clothed the more distant mountains as with a transparent veil, rendering the view dream-like and soft
beyond description. But as the sun sank to the summit of the uplifted horizon it began to lavish the most
intense colors upon all the objects in view. The snowy
peaks turned to gaudy prisms as of crystal, the wooded summits became impurpled, the nearer hills turned
a deep green, and the tranquil lake assumed a bright
pea-color. Above all else, the sky was gorgeous.
Around its western edge it took on a rose-red blush
that blended at the zenith with a deep blue, in which
were floating little clouds of amber and of flame- lit
pearl.
A moonless night soon closed around the boat, and
CD '
in the morning we were at Sproat's Landing, a place
two months old. The village consisted of a tiny cluster of frame-houses and tents perched on the edge
of the steep bank of the Columbia. One building was
the office and storehouse of the projected railroad,
two others were general trading stores, one was the
hotel, and the other habitations were mainly tents.
I firmly believe there never was a hotel like the DAN   DUNN S   OUTFIT
293
hostlery there. In a general way its design was an
adaptation of the plan of a hen-coop. Possibly a box
made of gridirons suggests more clearly the principle
of its construction. It was two stories high, and contained about a baker's dozen of rooms, the main one
being the bar-room, of course.    After the framework
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AN INDIAN  CANOE ON THE  COLUMBIA
had been finished, there was perhaps half enough
"slab" lumber to sheathe the outside of the house,
and this had been made to serve for exterior and interior walls, and the floors and ceilings besides. The
consequence was that a flock of gigantic canaries
might have been kept in it with propriety, but as a
place of abode for human beings it compared closely
with the Brooklyn Bridge.
They have in our West many very frail hotels that
the people call "telephone houses," because a tenant
can hear in every room whatever is spoken in any ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
part of the building; but in this house one could
stand in any room and see into all the others. A
clergyman and his wife stopped in it on the night
before I arrived, and the good woman stayed up until
nearly daylight, pinning papers on the walls and laying them on the floor until she covered a corner in
which to prepare for bed.
I hired a room and stored my traps in it, but I
slept in one of the engineers' tents, and met with a
very comical adventure. The tent contained two
cots, and a bench on which the engineer, who occupied one of the beds, had heaped his clothing. Supposing him to be asleep, I undressed quietly, blew out
the candle, and popped into my bed. As I did so one
pair of its legs broke down, and it naturally occurred
to me, at almost the same instant, that the bench
was of about the proper height to raise the fallen end
of the cot to the right level.
" Broke down, eh ?" said my companion—a man,
by-the-way, whose face I have never yet seen.
" Yes," I replied. " Can I put your clothing on the
floor and make use of that bench ?"
" Aye, that you can."
So out of bed I leaped, put his apparel in a heap
on the floor, and ran the bench under my bed. It
proved to be a neat substitute for the broken legs,
and I was quickly under the covers again and ready
for sleep.
The engineer's voice roused me.
" That's what I call the beauty of a head-piece," he
said.    Presently he repeated the remark.
" Are you speaking to me ?" I asked. DAN   DUNN S   OUTFIT
295
" Yes; I'm saying that's what I call the beauty of a
head-piece. It's wonderful; and many's the day and
night I'll think of it, if I live. What do I mean ? Why,
I mean that that is what makes you Americans such
a great people—it's the beauty of having head-pieces
on your shoulders. It's so easy to think quick if
you've got something to think with. Here you are,
and your bed breaks down. What would I do?
Probably nothing. I'd think what a beastly scrape
it was, and I'd keep on thinking till I wrent to sleep.
What do you do ? Why, as quick as a flash you says,
' Hello, here's a go !' ' May I have the bench ?' says
you. ' Yes,' says I. Out of bed you go, and you
clap the bench under the bed, and there you are, as
right as a trivet. That's the beauty of a head-piece,
and thafs what makes America the wonderful country she is."
Never was a more sincere compliment paid to my
country, and I am glad I obtained it so easily.
There was a barber pole in front of the house, set
up by a "prospector" who had run out of funds (and
everything else except hope), and who, like all his
kind, had stopped to " make a few dollars " wherewith
to outfit again and continue his search for gold. He
noted the local need of a barber, and instantly became one by purchasing a razor on credit, and painting a pole while waiting for custom. He was a jocular fellow—a born New Yorker, by-the-way.
" Don't shave me close," said I.
" Close ?" he repeated. " You'll be the luckiest
victim I've slashed yet if I get off any of your beard
at all.    How's the razor?" 296
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
"All right."
" Oh no, it ain't," said he; " you're setting your
nerves to stand it, so's not to be called a tender-foot.
I'm no barber. I expected to 'tend bar when I
bumped up agin this place. If you could see the
blood streaming down your face you'd faint."
In spite of his self-depreciation, he performed as
artistic and painless an operation as I ever sat
through.
While I was being whaved the loungers in the
barber-shop entered into a conversation that revealed, as nothing else could have disclosed it, the
deadly monotony of life in that little town. A hen
cackled out-of-doors, and the loungers fell to questioning one another as to which hen had laid an egg.
" It must be the black one," said the barber.
" Yet it don't exactly sound like old blacky's
cackle," said a more deliberate and careful speaker.
" 'Pears to me 's though it might be the speckled
un," ventured a third.
"She ain't never laid no eggs," said the barber.
" Could it be the bantam ?" another inquired.
Thus they discussed with earnestness this most interesting event of the morning, until a young man
darted into the room with his eyes lighted by excitement.
" Say, Bill," said he, almost breathlessly, " that's
the speckled hen a-cackling, by thunder! She's laid
an egg, I guess."
In Sproat's Landing we saw the nucleus of a railroad terminal point. The queer hotel was but little
more peculiar than many of the people who gathered *w
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on the single street on pay-day to spend their hard-
earned money upon a great deal of illicit whiskey and
a few rude necessaries from the limited stock on sale
in the stores. There never had been any grave disorder there, yet the floating population was as motley
a collection of the riffraff of the border as one could
well imagine, and there was only one policeman to 298
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
enforce the law in a territory the size of Rhode Island. He was quite as remarkable in his way as any
other development of that embryotic civilization. His
name was Jack Kirkup, and all who knew him spoke
of him as being physically the most superb example
of manhood in the Dominion. Six feet and three
inches in height, with the chest, neck, and limbs of a
giant, his three hundred pounds of weight were so
exactly his complement as to give him the symmetry
of an Apollo. He was good-looking, with the beauty
of a round-faced, good-natured boy, and his thick hair
fell in a cluster of ringlets over his forehead and upon
his neck. No knight of Arthur's circle can have
been more picturesque a figure in the forest than this
" Jack." He was as neat as a dandy. He wore high
boots and corduroy knickerbockers, a flannel shirt
and a sack-coat, and rode his big bay horse with the
ease and grace of a Skobeleff. He smoked like a fire
of green brush, but had never tasted liquor in his life.
In a dozen years he had slept more frequently in the
open air, upon pebble beds or in trenches in the snow,
than upon ordinary bedding, and he exhibited, in his
graceful movements, his sparkling eyes and ruddy
cheeks, his massive frame and his imperturbable goodnature, a degree of health and vigor that would seem
insolent to the average New Yorker. Now that the
railroad was building, he kept ever on the trail, along
what was called " the right of way"—going from camp
to camp to "jump' whiskey peddlers and gamblers
and to quell disorder—except on pay-day, once a
month, when he stayed at Sproat's Landing.
The echoes of his fearless behavior and lively ad- DAN   DUNN S   OUTFIT
299
ventures rang in every gathering. The general tenor
of the stories was to the effect that he usually gave
one warning to evil-doers, and if they did not heed
that he " cleaned them out." He carried a revolver,
but never had used it. Even when the most notorious gambler on our border had crossed over into
" Jack's I bailiwick the policeman depended upon his
fists. He had met the gambler and had " advised"
him to take the cars next day.    The gambler, in re-
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JACK  KIRKUP, THE MOUNTAIN  SHERIFF 300
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
ply, had suggested that both would get along more
quietly if each minded his own affairs, whereupon
Kirkup had said, " You hear me: take the cars out
of here to-morrow." The little community (it was.
Donald, B. C, a very rough place at the time) held
its breathing for twenty-four hours, and at the approach of train-time was on tiptoe with strained
anxiety. At twenty minutes before the hour the
policeman, amiable and easy-going as ever in appearance, began a tour of the houses. It was in a tavern
that he found the gambler.
" You must take the train," said he.
" You can't make me," replied the gambler.
There were no more words. In two minutes the
giant was carrying the limp body of the ruffian to a
wagon, in which he drove him to the jail. There he
washed the blood off the gambler's face and tidied,
his collar and scarf. From there the couple walked
to the cars, where they parted amicably.
" I had to be a little rough," said Kirkup to the
loungers at the station, "because he was armed like
a pin-cushion, and I didn't want to have to kill him."
We made the journey from Sproat's Landing ta
the Kootenay River upon a sorry quartet of pack-
horses that were at other times employed to carry
provisions and material to the construction camps..
They were of the kind of horses known all over the
West as " cayuses." The word is the name of a once
notable tribe of Indians in what is now the State of
Washington. To these Indians is credited the introduction of this small and peculiar breed of horses,
but many persons in the West think the horses get DAN   DUNN S   OUTFIT
301
the nickname because of a humorous fancy begotten
of their wdldness, and suggesting that they are only
part horses and part coyotes. But all the wildness
and the characteristic " bucking" had long since been
""packed' out of these poor creatures, and they
needed the whip frequently to urge them upon a slow
progress. Kirkup was going his rounds, and accompanied us on our journey of less than twenty miles to
the Kootenay River. On the way one saw every
stage in the construction of a railway. The process
of development was reversed as we travelled, because
the work had been pushed well along where we started, and was but at its commencement where we ended
our trip. At the landing half a mile or more of the
railroad had been completed, even to the addition of
a locomotive and two gondola cars. Beyond the
little strip of rails was a long reach of graded roadbed, and so the progress of the work dwindled, until
at last there was little more than the trail - cutters'
path to mark what had been determined as the "right
of way."
For the sake of clearness, I will first explain the
steps that are taken at the outset in building a railroad, rather than tell what parts of the undertaking
we came upon in passing over the various " contracts ' that were being worked in what appeared a
confusing and hap-hazard disorder. I have mentioned
that one of the houses at the landing was the railroad
company's storehouse, and that near by were the
tents of the surveyors or civil engineers. The road
was to be a branch of the Canadian Pacific system,
and these engineers were the first men sent into the 302
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
country, with instructions to survey a line to the new
mining region, into which men were pouring from the
older parts of Canada and from our country. It was
understood by them that they were to hit upon the
most direct and at the same time the least expensive
route for the railroad to take. They went to the
scene of their labors by canoes, and carried tents,
blankets, instruments, and what they called their
" grub stakes," which is to say, their food. Then they
travelled over the ground between their two terminal
points, and back by another route, and back again by
still another route, and so back and forth perhaps
four and possibly six times. In that way alone were
they enabled to select the line which offered the
shortest length and the least obstacles in number and
degree for the workmen who were to come after
them.
At Sproat's Landing I met an engineer, Mr. B. C.
Stewart, who is famous in his profession as the most
tireless and intrepid exponent of its difficulties in the
Dominion. The young men account it a misfortune
to be detailed to go on one of his journeys with him.
It is his custom to start out with a blanket, some
bacon and meal, and a coffee-pot, and to be gone for
weeks, and even for months. There scarcely can have
been a hardier Scotchman, one of more simple tastes
and requirements, or one possessing in any higher
degree the quality called endurance. He has spent
years in the mountains of British Columbia, finding
and exploring the various passes, the most direct and
feasible routes to and from them, the valleys between
the ranges, and the characteristics of each section of
CD   DAN  DUNN S   OUTFIT
305
the country. In a vast country that has not otherwise been one-third explored he has made himself
familiar with the full southern half. He has not
known what it was to enjoy a home, nor has he seen
an apple growing upon a tree in many years. During
his long and close-succeeding trips he has run the
whole gamut of the adventures incident to the lives
CD
of hunters or explorers, suffering hunger, exposure,
peril from wild beasts, and all the hair-breadth escapes
from frost and storm and flood that Nature unvan-
quished visits upon those who first brave her depths.
Such is the work and such are the men that figure
in the foremost preliminaries to railroad building.
Whoever has left the beaten path of travel or gone
beyond a well-settled region can form a more or less
just estimate of that which one of these professional
pioneers encounters in prospecting for a railroad. I
had several " tastes," as the Irish express it, of that
very Kootenay Valley. I can say conscientiously that
I never was in a wilder region. In going only a few
yards from the railroad " right of way " the difficulties
of an experienced pedestrianism like my own instantly became tremendous. There was a particularly choice spot for fishing at a distance of three-quarters of a mile from Dan Dunn's outfit, and I travelled
the road to it half a dozen times. Bunyan would
have strengthened the Pilgrims Progress had he
known of such conditions with which to surround
his hero. Between rocks the size of a city mansion
and unsteady bowlders no larger than a man's head
the ground was all but covered. Among this wreckage
.trees grew in wild abundance, and countless trunks
20 306
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
of dead ones lay rotting between them. A jungle as
dense as any I ever saw was formed of soft-wood saplings and bushes, so that it was next to impossible to
move a yard in any direction. It was out of the
question for any one to see three yards ahead, and
there was often no telling when a foot was put down
whether it was going through a rotten trunk or upon
a spinning bowlder, or whether the black shadows
here and there were a foot deep or were the mouths
of fissures that reached to China. I fished too long
one night, and was obliged to make that journey after
dark. After ten minutes crowded with falls and false
steps, the task seemed so hopelessly impossible that
I could easily have been induced to turn back and
risk a night on the rocks at the edge of the tide.
It was after a thorough knowledge of the natural
conditions which the railroad men were overcoming
that the gradual steps of their progress became most
interesting. The first men to follow the engineers,
after the specifications have been drawn up and the
contracts signed, are the " right-of-way " men. These
are partly trail-makers and partly laborers at the
heavier work of actually clearing the wilderness for
the road-bed. The trail-cutters are guided by the long
line of stakes with which the engineers have marked
the course the road is to take. The trail-men are
sent out to cut what in general parlance would be
called a path, over which supplies are to be thereafter
carried to the workmen's camps. The path they cut
must therefore be sufficiently wide for the passage
along it of a mule and his load. As a mule's load
will sometimes consist of the framework of a kitchen DAN   DUNN S   OUTFIT
307
range, or the end boards of a bedstead, a five-foot
swath through the forest is a trail of serviceable
width. The trail-cutters fell the trees to right and
left, and drag the fallen trunks out of the path as-
they go along, travelling and working between a mile
and two miles each day, and moving their tents and
provisions on pack-horses as they advance. They
keep reasonably close to the projected line of the
railway, but the path they cut is apt to be a winding
one that avoids the larger rocks and the smaller
ravines. Great distortions, such as hills or gullies,,
which the railroad must pass through or over, the trail
men pay no heed to; neither do the pack-horses, whose
tastes are not consulted, and who can cling to a rock
at almost any angle, like flies of larger growth. This-
trail, when finished, leads from the company's storehouse all along the line, and from that storehouse, on
the backs of the pack-animals, come all the food and
tools and clothing, powder, dynamite, tents, and living
utensils, to be used by the workmen, their bosses,,
and the engineers.
Slowly, behind the trail-cutters, follow the " right-
of-way" men. These are axemen also. All that they
do is to cut the trees down and drag them out of the
way.
It is when the axemen have cleared the right of
CD
way that the first view of the railroad in embryo is
obtainable. And very queer it looks. It is a wide
avenue through the forest, to be sure, yet it is little
like any forest drive that we are accustomed to in the
realms of civilization.
Every succeeding stage of the work leads towards Dunn's camp
on the Kootenay we saw
the rapidly
developing
railroad in
each phase
of its evolution from the
rough surface
of the wilder-
ness. Now
we would
come upon a
long reach of
finished roadbed on comparatively
level ground
all ready for
the rails, with
carpenters at work in little gullies which they were
spanning with timber trestles. Next we would see a
battalion of men and dump-carts cutting into a hill
of dirt and carting its substance to a neighboring
valley, wherein they were slowly heaping a long and
symmetrical wall of earth-work, with sloping sides
and level top, to bridge the gap between hill and hill. DAN   DUNN S   OUTFIT
309
Again, we came upon places where men ran towards
us shouting that a " blast" was to be fired. Here
was what was called " rockwork," where some granite
rib of a mountain or huge rocky knoll was being
blown to flinders with dynamite.
And so, through all these scenes upon the pack-
trail, we came at last to a white camp of tents hidden
in the lush greenery of a luxuriant forest, and nestling
beside a rushing mountain torrent of green water
flecked with the foam from an eternal battle with a
myriad of sunken rocks. It was Dunn's headquarters—the construction camp. Evening was falling,
and the men were clambering down the hill-side trails
from their work. There was no order in the disposition of the tents, nor had the forest been prepared for
them. Their white sides rose here and there wherever there was a space between the trees, as if so
many great white moths had settled in a garden.
Huge trees had been felled and thrown across ravines
to serve as aerial foot-paths from point to point, and
at the river's edge two or three tents seemed to have
been pushed over the steep bluff to find lodgement on
the sandy beach beside the turbulent stream.
There were other camps on the line of this work,
and it is worth while to add a word about their management and the system under which they were maintained. In the first place, each camp is apt to be
the outfit of a contractor. The whole work of building a railroad is let out in contracts for portions of
five, ten, or fifteen miles. Even when great jobs of
seventy or a hundred miles are contracted for in one
piece, it is customary for the contractor to divide his 3io
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
task and sublet it. But a fairly representative bit of
mountain work is that which I found Dan Dunn
superintending, as the factotum of the contractor who
undertook it.
If a contractor acts as " boss' himself, he stays
upon the ground; but in this case the contractor had
other undertakings in hand. Hence the presence of
Dan Dunn, his walking boss or general foreman.
Dunn is a man of means, and is himself a contractor
by profession, who has worked his way up from a
start as a laborer.
The camp to which we came was a portable city,
complete except for its lack of women. It had its
artisans, its professional men, its store and workshops,
its seat of government and officers, and its policeman,
its amusement hall, its work-a-day and social sides.
Its main peculiarity was that its boss (for it was like
an American city in the possession of that functionary also) had announced that he was going to move
it a couple of miles away on the following Sunday.
One tent was the stableman's, with a capacious "corral " fenced in near by for the keeping of the pack
horses and mules. His corps of assistants was a
large one; for, besides the pack-horses that connected
the camp with the outer world, he had the keeping of
all the "grade-horses," so called—those which draw
the stone and dirt carts and the little dump-cars on
the false tracks set up on the levels near where " filling" or "cutting" is to be done. Another tent was
the blacksmith's. He had a " helper," and was a busy
man, charged with all the tool-sharpening, the care of
all the horses' feet, and the repairing of all the iron- DAN   DUNN S   OUTFIT
311
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work of the wagons, cars,
and dirt - scrapers. Near
by was the harness-man's
tent, the shop of the leather-mender. In the centre
of the camp, like a low
citadel, rose a mound of
logs and earth bearing on
a sign the single word
" Powder," but containing
within its great sunken
chamber a considerable
store of various explosives — giant, black, and
Judson powder, and dyna-
mite.
More tremendous force
is used in railroad blasting
than most persons imagine. In order to perform
a quick job of removing a
section of solid mountain,
the drill-men, after making
a bore, say, twenty feet in
depth, begin what they call
" springing " it by exploding little cartridges in the bottom of the drill hole
until they have produced a considerable chamber
there. The average amount of explosive for "which
they thus prepare a place is 40 or 50 kegs of giant
powder and 10 kegs of black powder; but Dunn
told me he had seen 280 kegs of black powder and
DAN DUNN ON HIS WORKS ■■
312
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
500 pounds of dynamite used in a single blast in
mountain work.
Another tent was that of the time-keeper. He journeyed twice a day all over the work, five miles up
and five down. On one journey he noted what men
were at labor in the forenoon, and on his return he
tallied those who were entitled to pay for the second
half of the day. Such an official knows the name of
every laborer, and, moreover, he knows the pecuniary
rating of each man, so that when the workmen stop
him to order shoes or trousers, blankets, shirts, tobacco, penknives, or what not, he decides upon his
own responsibility whether they have sufficient money
coming to them to meet the accommodation.
The " store ' was simply another tent. In it was
kept a fair supply of the articles in constant demand
— a supply brought from the headquarters store at
the other end of the trail, and constantly replenished
by the pack-horses. This trading-place was in charge
of a man called " the book-keeper," and he had two
or three clerks to assist him. The stock was precisely like that of a cross-roads country store in one
of our older States. Its goods included simple medicines, boots, shoes, clothing, cutlery, tobacco, cigars,
pipes, hats and caps, blankets, thread and needles,
and several hundred others among the ten thousand
necessaries of a modern laborer's life. The only legal
tender received there took the shape of orders written
by the time-keeper, for the man in charge of the store
was not required to know the ratings of the men
upon the pay-roll.
The doctor's tent was among the rest, but his office   DAN   DUNNS   OUTFIT
315
might aptly have been said to be " in the saddle." He
was nominally employed by the company, but each
man was " docked," or charged, seventy-five cents a
month for medical services whether he ever needed a
doctor or not. When I was in the camp there was
only one sick man—a rheumatic. He had a tent all
to himself, and his meals were regularly carried to
him. Though he was a stranger to every man there,
and had worked only one day before he surrendered
to sickness, a purse of about forty dollars had been
raised for him among the men, and he was to be
" packed " to Sproat's Landing on a mule at the company's expense whenever the doctor decreed it wise
to move him. Of course invalidism of a more serious
nature is not infrequent where men work in the paths
of sliding rocks, beneath caving earth, amid falling
forest trees, around giant blasts, and with heavy tools.
Another one of the tents was that of the " boss
packer." He superintended the transportation of supplies on the pack-trail. This " job of 200 men," as
Dunn styled his camp, employed thirty pack horses
and mules. The pack-trains consisted of a " bell-
horse ' and boy, and six horses following. Each
animal was rated to carry a burden of 400 pounds of
dead weight, and to require three quarts of meal three
times a day.
Another official habitation was the " store-man's '
tent. As a rule, there is a store-man to every ten
miles of construction work; often every camp has
one. The store-man keeps account of the distribution of the supplies of food. He issues requisitions
upon the head storehouse of the company, and makes 3i6
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
out orders for each day's rations from the camp store.
The cooks are therefore under him, and this fact suggests a mention of the principal building in the camp
—the mess hall, or " grub tent."
This structure was of a size to accommodate two
hundred men at once. Two tables ran the length of
the unbroken interior—tables made roughly of the
slabs or outside boards from a saw-mill. The benches
were huge tree - trunks spiked fast upon stumps.
There was a bench on either side of each table, and
the places for the men were each set with a tin cup
and a tin pie plate. The bread was heaped high on
wooden platters, and all the condiments — catsup,
vinegar, mustard, pepper, and salt—were in cans that
had once held condensed milk. The cooks worked
in an open-ended extension at the rear of the great
room. The rule is to have one cook and two
" cookees " to each sixty men.
While I was a new arrival just undergoing introduction, the men, who had come in from work, and
who had " washed up " in the little creeks and at the
river bank, began to assemble in the " grub tent" for
supper. They were especially interesting to me because there was every reason to believe that they
formed an assembly as typical of the human flotsam
of the border as ever was gathered on the continent.
Very few were what might be called born laborers;
on the contrary, they wrere mainly men of higher origin who had failed in older civilizations; outlaws
from the States; men who had hoped for a gold-mine
until hope was all but dead; men in the first flush of
the gold fever; ne'er-do-wells ; and here and there a DAN   DUNN S   OUTFIT
317
working-man by training. They ate as a good many
other sorts of men do, with great rapidity, little etiquette, and just enough unselfishness to pass each
other the bread. It was noticeable that they seemed
to have no time for talking. Certainly they had
earned the right to be hungry, and the food was good
and plentiful.
»8^
,.*»
mm
'ZWSSKmm
A SKETCH  ON  THE WORK
©&
Dan Dunn's tent was just in front of the mess
tent, a few feet away on the edge of the river bluff.
It was a little "A" tent, with a single cot on one side,
a wooden chest on the other, and a small table between the two at the farther end, opposite the door.
" Are ye looking at my wolverenes ?" said he.
" There's good men among them, and some that ain't
so good, and many that's worse.    But railroading is 3i8
ON   CANADA S  FRONTIER
good enough for most of 'em. It ain't too rich for
any man's blood, I assure ye."
Over six feet in height, broad-chested, athletic, and
carrying not an ounce of flesh that could be spared,
Dan Dunn's was a striking figure even where physical strength was the most serviceable possession of
every man. From never having given his personal
appearance a thought—except during a brief period
of courtship antecedent to the establishment of a.
home in old Ontario—he had so accustomed himself
to unrestraint that his habitual attitude was that of a.
long-bladed jack-knife not fully opened. His long
spare arms swung limberly before a long spare body
set upon long spare legs. His costume was one that
is never described in the advertisements of city clothiers. It consisted of a dust-coated slouch felt hatv
which a dealer once sold for black, of a flannel shirt,
of homespun trousers, of socks, and of heavy " bro-
gans." In all, his dress was what the aesthetes of Mr.
Wilde's day might have aptly termed a symphony in
dust. His shoes and hat had acquired a mud-color,,
and his shirt and trousers were chosen because they
originally possessed it. Yet Dan Dunn was distinctly a cleanly man, fond of frequent splashing in
the camp toilet basins—the Kootenay River and its
little rushing tributaries.    He was not shaven.    As
CD
a rule he is not, and yet at times he is, as it happens.
I learned that on Sundays, when there was nothing*
to do except to go fishing, or to walk over to the engineer's camp for intellectual society, he felt the unconscious impulse of a forgotten training, and put on
a coat.    He even tied a black silk ribbon under his DAN   DUNN S   OUTFIT
319
collar on such occasions, and if no one had given
him a good cigar during the week, he took out his
best pipe (which had been locked up, because whatever was not under lock and key was certain to be
stolen in half an hour). Then he felt fitted, as he
would say, " for a hard day's work at loafing."
If you came upon Dan Dunn on Broadway, he
would look as awkward as any other animal removed
from its element; yet on a forest trail not even Davy
Crockett was handsomer or more picturesque. His.
face is reddish-brown and as hard-skinned as the top
of a drum, befitting a man who has lived out-of-doors
all his life. But it is a finely moulded face, instinct
with good-nature and some gentleness. The witchery of quick Irish humor lurks often in his eyes, but:
THE MESS  TENT  AT NIGHT 320
ON  CANADA S   FRONTIER
can
quickly
give
pi
ace
wni
n occasion
lich is best read in connection
strong sweep of his massive under-j
see his fitness to command small
to a firm light,
with the broad.
aw
Ther
y
armies, even
ou
of
what he calls "wolverenes."    He is willing to thrash
CD
any man who seems to need the operation, and yet
he is equally noted for gathering a squad of rough
laborers in every camp to make them his wards. He
collects the money such men earn, and puts it in
bank, or sends it to their families.
" It does them as much good to let me take it as
CD
to chuck it over a gin-mill bar," he explained.
As we stood looking into the crowded booth,
where the men sat elbow to elbow, and all the knife
blades were plying to and from all the plates and
mouths, Dunn explained that his men were well fed.
" The time has gone by," said he, " when you could
keep an outfit on salt pork and bacon. It's as far
gone as them days when they say the Hudson Bay
Company fed its laborers on rabbit tracks and a stick.
Did ye never hear of that ? Why, sure, man, 'twas
only fifty years ago that when meal hours came the
bosses of the big trading company would give a
workman a stick, and point out some rabbit tracks,
and tell him he'd have an hour to catch his fill. But
in railroading nowadays we give them the best that's
going, and all they want of it—beef, ham, bacon, potatoes, mush, beans, oatmeal, the choicest fish, and
game right out of the woods, and every sort of vegetable (canned, of course). Oh, they must be fed well,
or they wouldn't stay."
He said that the supplies of food are calculated on DAN   DUNN S   OUTFIT
321
the basis of three-and-a-half pounds of provisions to
a man—all the varieties of food being proportioned
so that the total weight will be three-and-a-half
pounds a day. The orders are given frequently and
for small amounts, so as to economize in the number
of horses required on the pack-trail. The amount to
be consumed by the horses is, of course, included in
the loads. The cost of " packing' food over long
distances is more considerable than would be supposed. It was estimated that at Dunn's camp the
freighting cost forty dollars a ton, but I heard of
places farther in the mountains where the cost was
double that. Indeed, a discussion of the subject
brought to light the fact that in remote mining
camps the cost of "packing" brought lager-beer in
bottles up to the price of champagne. At one camp
on the Kootenay bacon was selling at the time I
was in the valley at thirty cents a pound, and dried
peaches fetched forty cents under competition.
As we looked on, the men were eating fresh beef
and vegetables, with tea and coffee and pie. The
head cook was a man trained in a lumber camp, and
therefore ranked high in the scale of his profession.
Every sort of cook drifts into camps like these, and
that camp considers itself the most fortunate which
happens to eat under the ministrations of a man who
has cooked on a steamboat; but a cook from a lumber camp is rated almost as proudly.
" Ye would not think it," said Dunn, " but some of
them men has been bank clerks, and there's doctors
and teachers among 'em—everything, in fact, except
preachers.    I never knew a preacher to get into a
21 railroad  gang.
CD CD
The men  are
I   always chang-
— coming
and  going.
IPS' gPSIlLg
THEY  GAINED  ERECTNESS  BY  SLOW  JOLTS
We don't have
to advertise
for new hands.
The wToods is
full of men out
of a job, and
out of everything—pockets, elbows, and all. They
drift in like peddlers on a pay-day. They come here
with no more clothing than will wad a gun. The
most of them will get nothing after two months'
work. You see, they're mortgaged with their fares
against them (thirty to forty dollars for them which
the railroad brings from the East), and then they have
their meals to pay for, at five dollars a week while
they're here, and on top of that is all the clothing
and shoes and blankets and tobacco, and everything
they need—all charged agin them.    It's just as well DAN   DUNN S   OUTFIT
323
for them, for the most of them are too rich if they're
a dollar ahead. There's few of them can stand the
luxury of thirty dollars. When they get a stake of
them dimensions, the most of them will stay no
longer after pay-day than John Brown stayed in
heaven. The most of them bang it all away for
drink, and they are sure to come back again, but the
' prospectors' and chronic tramps only work to get
clothes and a flirting acquaintance with food, as well
as money enough to make an affidavit to, and they
never come back again at all. Out of 8500 men
we had in one big work in Canada, 1500 to 2000
knocked off every month. Ninety per cent, came
back. They had just been away for an old-fashioned
drunk."
It would be difficult to draw a parallel between
these laborers and any class or condition of men in
the East. They were of every nationality where news
of gold-mines, of free settlers' sections, or of quick
fortunes in the New World had penetrated. I recognized Greeks, Finns, Hungarians, Danes, Scotch,
English, Irish, and Italians among them. Not a man
exhibited a coat, and all were tanned brown, and
were as spare and slender as excessively hard work
can make a man. There was not a superfluity or an
ornament in sight as they walked past me; not a
necktie, a finger-ring, nor a watch-chain. There were
some very intelligent faces and one or two fine ones
in the band. Two typical old-fashioned prospectors
especially attracted me. They were evidently of
gentle birth, but time and exposure had bent them,
and silvered their long, unkempt locks.    Worse than 324
ON   CANADA S   FRONTIER
all, it had planted in their faces a blended expression
of sadness and hope fatigued that was painful to see.
It is the brand that is on every old prospector's face.
A very few of the men were young fellows of thirty,
or even within the twenties. Their youth impelled
them to break away from the table earlier than the
others, and, seizing their rods, to start off for the fishing in the river.
CD
But those who thought of active pleasure were few
indeed. Theirs was killing work, the most severe
kind, and performed under the broiling sun, that at
high mountain altitudes sends the mercury above
ioo° on every summer's day, and makes itself felt as
if the rarefied atmosphere was no atmosphere at all.
After a long day at the drill or the pick or shovel in
such a climate, it was dnly natural that the men
should, with a common impulse, seek first the solace
of their pipes, and then of the shake-downs in their
tents. I did not know until the next morning how
severely their systems were strained ; but it happened
at sunrise on that day that I was at my ablutions
on  the edge of the river when  Dan Dunn's gong
O CD CD
turned the silent forest into a bedlam. It was called
the seven-o'clock alarum, and was rung two hours
earlier than that hour, so that the men might take
two hours after dinner out of the heat of the day,
"else the sun would kill them," Dunn said. This
was apparently his device, and he kept up the transparent deception by having every clock and watch
in the camp set two hours out of time.
With the sounding of the gong the men began to
appear outside the little tents in which they slept in DAN   DUNN S   OUTFIT
325
couples. They came stumbling down the bluff to
wash in the river, and of all the pitiful sights I ever
saw, they presented one of the worst; of all the
straining and racking and exhaustion that ever hard
O CD
labor gave to men, they exhibited the utmost. They
were but half awakened, and they moved so painfully
and stiffly that I imagined I could hear their bones
creak. I have seen spavined work-horses turned out
to die that moved precisely as these men did. It was
shocking to see them hobble over the rough ground;
it was pitiful to watch them as they attempted to
straighten their stiffened bodies after they had been
bent double over the water. They gained erectness
by slow jolts, as if their joints were of iron that had
rusted. Of course they soon regained whatever elasticity nature had left them, and were themselves for
the day—an active, muscular force of men. But that
early morning sight of them was not such a spectacle
as a right-minded man enjoys seeing his fellows take
part in.
THE    END  Interesting Works
of
Travel and Exploration
Allen's Blue-Grass Region.
The Blue-Grass Region of Kentucky, and other Kentucky Articles.
By JAMES LANE ALLEN.     Illustrated.    8vo, Cloth, Ornamental,
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Miss Edwards's Egypt.
Pharaohs, Fellahs, and Explorers. By AMELIA B. EDWARDS.
Profusely Illustrated.     8vo, Cloth, $4 00.
Hearn's West Indies.
Two Years in the French West Indies. By LAFCADIO HEARN.
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Miss Scidmore's Japan.
Jinrikisha Days in Japan. By ELIZA RUHAMAH SCIDMORE.
Illustrated.     Post 8vo, Cloth, Ornamental, $2 00.
Child's South America.
Spanish-American Republics. By THEODORE CHILD. Profusely
Illustrated.    Square 8vo, Cloth, $3 50.
The Tsar and His People.
The Tsar and His People; or, Social Life in Russia. By THEODORE
CHILD, and Others. Profusely Illustrated. Square 8vo, Cloth,
Uncut Edges and Gilt Top, $3 00.
Child's Summer Holidays.
Summer Holidays. Travelling Notes in Europe. By THEODORE
CHILD.    Post 8vo, Cloth, $1 25.
Warner's Southern California.
Our Italy. An Exposition of the Climate and Resources of Southera
California. By CHARLES DUDLEY WARNER. Illustrated. 8vo,
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Warner's South and West.
Studies in the South and West, with Comments on Canada. By
CHARLES DUDLEY WARNER.     Post 8vo, Half Leather, $1 75- " Interesting Works of Travel and Exploration.
Curtis's Spanish America.
The Capitals of Spanish America. By WILLIAM ELEROY CURTIS.
With a Colored Map and 358 Illustrations.    8vo, Cloth, Extra,
$3 5°-
Bridgman's Algeria.
Winters in Algeria. Written and Illustrated by FREDERICK ARTHUR BRIDGMAN.     Square 8vo, Cloth, Ornamental, $2 50.
Pennells' Hebrides.
Our Journey to the Hebrides. By JOSEPH PENNELL and ELIZABETH ROBINS PENNELL. Illustrated. Post 8vo, Cloth, Ornamental, $1 75.
Miss Bisland's Trip Around the World.
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With Portrait.     i6mo, Cloth, Ornamental, $1 25.
Mrs. Custer's Two Volumes.
BOOTS AND SADDLES; or, Life in Dakota with General Custer.
With Portrait—FOLLOWING THE GUIDON. Illustrated.—By Mrs.
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Captain King's Campaigning with Crook.
Campaigning with Crook, and Stories of Army Life. By Captain
CHARLES KING, U.S.A.    Illustrated.    Post 8vo, Cloth, $1 25..
Mrs. Wallace's Travel Sketches.
The Storied Sea.    By SUSAN E. WALLACE.   i8mo, Cloth, $1 00.
Meriwether's A Tramp Trip.
A Tramp Trip. How to See Europe on Fifty Cents a Day. By
LEE MERIWETHER.    With Portrait.     i2mo, Cloth, Ornamental,
$1 25.
Nordhoff's California.
Peninsular California. Some Account of the Climate, Soil, Productions, and Present Condition chiefly of the Northern Half of Lower
California. By CHARLES NORDHOFF. Maps and Illustrations.
Square 8vo, Cloth, $1 00;   Paper, 75 cents.
Published by HARPER & BROTHERS, New York.
JiHr HARPER & BROTHERS mil send any of the above works by mail,postage
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