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The Remarkable History of the Hudson's Bay Company
CHAPTER XXXVI. - THE PRAIRIES: SLEDGE, KEEL, WHEEL, CAYUSE, CHASE


A picturesque life—The prairie hunters and traders—Gaily-caparisoned dog trains—The great winter packets—Joy in the lonely forts—The summer trade—The York boat brigade—Expert voyageurs—The famous Red River cart—Shagganappe ponies— The screeching train—Tripping—The western cayuse—The great buffalo hunt—Warden of the plains—Pemmican and fat—the return in triumph.

The great prairies of Rupert's Land and their intersecting rivers afforded the means for the unique and picturesque life of the prairie hunters and traders. The frozen, snowy plains and lakes were crossed in winter by the serviceable sledge drawn by Eskimo dogs, familiarly called "Eskies" or "Huskies." When summer had come, the lakes and rivers of the prairies, formerly skimmed by canoes, during the fifty years from the union of the Companies till the transfer of Rupert's Land to Canada, were for freight and even rapid transit crossed and followed by York and other boats. The transport of furs and other freight across the prairies was accomplished by the use of carts—entirely of wood—drawn by Indian ponies, or by oxen in harness, while the most picturesque feature of the prairie life of Red River was the departure of the brigade of carts with the hunters and their families on a great expedition for the exciting chase of the buffalo. These salient points of the prairie life of the last half-century of fur-trading life we may with profit depict.

SLEDGE AND PACKET.

Under the regime established by Governor Simpson, the communication with the interior was reduced to a system. The great winter event at Red River was the leaving of the North-West packet about December 10th. By this agency every post in the northern department was reached. Sledges and snowshoes were the means by which this was accomplished. The sledge or tobogan was drawn by three or four "Huskies," gaily comparisoned; and with these neatly harnessed dogs covered with bells, the traveller or the load of valuables was hurried across the pathless snowy wastes of the plains or over the ice of the frozen lakes and rivers. The dogs carried their freight of fish on which they lived, each being fed only at the close of his day's work, and his allowance one fish.

The winter packet was almost entirely confined to the transport of letters and a few newspapers. During Sir George Simpson's time an annual file of the Montreal Gazette was sent to each post, and to some of the larger places came a year's file of the London Times. A box was fastened on the back part of the sledge, and this was packed with the important missives so prized when the journey was ended.

Going at the rate of forty or more miles a day with the precious freight, the party with their sledges camped in the shelter of a clump of trees or bushes, and built their camp fire; then each in his blankets, often joined by the favourite dog as a companion for heat, sought rest on the couch of spruce or willow boughs for the night with the thermometer often at 30 deg. or 40 deg. below zero F.

The winter packet ran from Fort Garry to Norway House, a distance of 350 miles. At this point the packet was all rearranged, a part of the freight being carried eastward to Hudson Bay, the other portion up the Saskatchewan to the western and northern forts. The party which had taken the packet to Norway House, at that point received the packages from Hudson Bay and with them returned to Fort Garry. The western mail from Norway House was taken by another sledge party up the Saskatchewan River, and leaving parcels at posts along the route, reached its rendezvous at Carlton House. The return party from that point received the mail from the North, and hastened to Fort Garry by way of Swan River district, distributing its treasures to the posts it passed and reaching Fort Garry usually about the end of February.

At Carlton a party of runners from Edmonton and the Upper Saskatchewan made rendezvous, deposited their packages, received the outgoing mail, and returned to their homes. Some of the matter collected from the Upper Saskatchewan and that brought, as we have seen, by the inland packet from Fort Garry was taken by a new set of runners to Mackenzie River, and Athabasca. Thus at Carlton there met three parties, viz. from Fort Garry, Edmonton, and Athabasca. Each brought a packet and received another back in return. The return packet from Carlton to Fort Garry, arriving in February, took up the accumulated material, went with it to Norway House, the place whence they had started in December, thus carrying the "Red River spring packet," and at Norway House it was met by another express, known as the "York Factory spring packet," which had just arrived. The runners on these various packets underwent great exposure, but they were fleet and athletic and knew how to act to the best advantage in storm and danger. They added a picturesque interest to the lonely life of the ice-bound post as they arrived at it, delivered their message, and again departed.

KEEL AND CANOE.

The transition from winter to spring is a very rapid one on the plains of Rupert's Land. The ice upon the rivers and lakes becomes honey-combed and disappears very soon. The rebound from the icy torpor of winter to the active life of the season that combines spring and summer is marvellous. No sooner were the waterways open in the fur-trading days than freight was hurried from one part of the country to another by moans of inland or York boats.

These boats, it will be remembered, were introduced by Governor Simpson, who found them more safe and economical than the canoe generally in use before his time.

Each of these boats could carry three or four tons of freight, and was manned by nine men, one of them being steersman, the remainder, men for the oar. Four to eight of these craft made up a brigade, and the skill and rapidity with which these boats could be loaded or unloaded, carried past a portage or decharge, guided through rapids or over considerable stretches of the lakes, was the pride of their Indian or half-breed tripsmen, as they were called, or the admiration of the officers dashing past them in their speedy canoes.

The route from York Factory to Fort Garry being a long and continuous waterway, was a favourite course for the York boat brigade. Many of the settlers of the Red River settlement became well-to-do by commanding brigades of boats and carrying freight for the Company. In the earlier days of Governor Simpson the great part of the furs from the interior were carried to Fort Garry or the Grand Portage, at the mouth of the Saskatchewan, and thence past Norway House to Hudson Bay. From York Factory a load of general merchandise was brought back, which had been cargo in the Company's ship from the Thames to York. Lake Winnipeg is generally clear of ice early in June, and the first brigade would then start with its seven or eight boats laden to the gunwales with furs; a week after, the second brigade was under way, and thus, at intervals to keep clear of each other in crossing the portages, the catch of the past season was carried out. The return with full supplies for the settlers was earnestly looked for, and the voyage both ways, including stoppages, took some nine weeks.

Far up into the interior the goods in bales were taken. One of the best known routes was that of what was called, "The Portage Brigade." This ran from Lake Winnipeg up the Saskatchewan northward, past Cumberland House and Ile a la Crosse to Methy Portage, otherwise known as Portage la Loche, where the waters part, on one side going to Hudson's Bay, on the other flowing to the Arctic Sea. The trip made from Fort Garry to Portage la Loche and return occupied about four months. At Portage la Loche the brigade from the Mackenzie River arrived in time to meet that from the south, and was itself soon in motion, carrying its year's supply of trading articles for the Far North, not even leaving out Peel's River and the Yukon.

The frequent transhipments required in these long and dangerous routes led to the secure packing of bales, of about one hundred pounds each, each of them being called an "inland piece." Seventy-five made up the cargo of a York boat. The skill with which these boats could be laden was surprising. A good half-breed crew of nine men was able to load a boat and pack the pieces securely in five minutes.
The boat's crew was under the command of the steersman, who sat on a raised platform in the stern of the boat. At the portages it was the part of the steersman to raise each piece from the ground and place two of them on the back of each tripsman, to be held in place by the "portage strap" on the forehead. It will be seen that the position of the captain was no sinecure. One of the eight tripsmen was known as "bows-man." In running rapids he stood at the bow, and with a light pole directed the boat, giving information by word and sign to the steersman. The position of less responsibility though great toil was that of the "middlemen," or rowers. When a breeze blew, a sail hoisted in the boat lightened their labours. The captain or steersman of each boat was responsible to the "guide," who, as a commander of the brigade, was a man of much experience, and consequently held a position of some importance. Such were the means of transport over the vast water system of Rupert's Land up to the year 1869, although some years before that time transport by land to St. Paul in Minnesota had reached large proportions. Since the date named, railway and steamboat have directed trade into new channels, for even Mackenzie River now has a Hudson's Bay Company steamboat.

CART AND CAYUSE.

The lakes and rivers were not sufficient to carry on the trade of the country. Accordingly, land transport became a necessity. If the Ojibeway Indians found the birch bark canoe and the snowshoe so useful that they assigned their origin to the Manitou, then certainly it was a happy thought when the famous Rod River cart was similarly evolved. These two-wheeled vehicles are entirely of wood, without any iron whatever.

The wheels are large, being five feet in diameter, and are three inches thick. The felloes are fastened to one another by tongues of wood, and pressure in revolving keeps them from falling apart. The hubs are thick and very strong. The axles are wood alone, and even the lynch pins are wooden. A light box frame, tightened by wooden pegs, is fastened by the same agency and poised upon the axle. The price of a cart in Red River of old was two pounds.

The harness for the horse which drew the cart was made of roughly-tanned ox hide, which was locally known as "shagganappe." The name "shagganappe" has in later years been transferred to the small-sized horse used, which is thus called a "shagganappe pony."

The carts were drawn by single ponies, or in some cases by stalwart oxen. These oxen were harnessed and wore a collar, not the barbarous yoke which the ox has borne from time immemorial. The ox in harness has a swing of majesty as he goes upon his journey. The Indian pony, with a load of four or five hundred pounds in a cart behind him, will go at a measured jog-trot fifty or sixty miles a day. Heavy freighting carts made a journey of about twenty miles a day, the load being about eight hundred pounds.

A train of carts of great length was sometimes made to go upon some long expedition, or for protection from the thievish or hostile bands of Indians. A brigade consisted of ten carts, under the charge of three men. Five or six more brigades were joined in one train, and this was placed under the charge of a guide, who was vested with much authority. He rode on horseback forward, marshalling his forces, including the management of the spare horses or oxen, which often amounted to twenty per cent. of the number of those drawing the carts. The stopping-places, chosen for good grass and a plentiful supply of water, the time of halting, the management of brigades, and all the details of a considerable camp were under the care of this officer-in-chief.

One of the most notable cart trails and freighting roads on the prairies was that from Fort Garry to St. Paul, Minnesota. This was an excellent road, on the west side of the Red River, through Dakota territory for some two hundred miles, and then, by crossing the Red River into Minnesota, the road led for two hundred and fifty miles down to St. Paul. The writer, who came shortly after the close of the fifty years we are describing, can testify to the excellence of this road over the level prairies. At the period when the Sioux Indians were in revolt and the massacre of the whites took place in 1862, this route was dangerous, and the road, though not so smooth and not so dry, was followed on the east side of the Red River.

Every season about three hundred carts, employing one hundred men, departed from Fort Garry to go upon the "tip," as it was called, to St. Paul, or in later times to St. Cloud, when the railway had reached that place. The visit of this band coming from the north, with their wooden carts, "shag-ganappe" ponies, and harnessed oxen, bringing huge bales of precious furs, awakened great interest in St. Paul. The late J. W. Taylor, who for about a quarter of a century held the position of American Consul at Winnipeg, and who, on account of his interest in the North-West prairies, bore the name of "Saskatchewan Taylor," was wont to describe most graphically the advent, as he saw it, of this strange expedition, coming, like a Midianitish caravan in the East, to trade at the central mart. On Sundays they encamped near St. Paul. There was the greatest decorum and order in camp; their religious demeanour, their honest and well-to-do appearance, and their peaceful disposition were an oasis in the desert of the wild and reckless inhabitants of early Minnesota.

Another notable route for carts was that westward from Fort Garry by way of Fort Ellice to Carlton House, a distance of some five hundred miles. It will be remembered that it was by this route that Governor Simpson in early days, Palliser, Milton, and Cheadle found their way to the West. In later days the route was extended to Edmonton House, a thousand miles in all. It was a whole summer's work to make the trip to Edmonton and return.

On the Hudson's Bay Company reserve of five hundred acres around Fort Garry was a wide camping-ground for the "trippers" and traders. Day after day was fixed for the departure, but still the traders lingered. After much leave-taking, the great train started. It was a sight to be remembered. The gaily-comparisoned horses, the hasty farewells, the hurry of women and children, the multitude of dogs, the balky horses, the subduing and harnessing and attaching of the restless ponies, all made it a picturesque day. The train in motion appealed not only to the eye, but to the ear as well, the wooden axles creaked, and the creaking of a train with every cart contributing its dismal share, could be heard more than a mile away. In the Far-West the early traders used the cayuse, or Indian pony, and "travoie," for transporting burdens long distances. The "travoie" consisted of two stout poles fastened together over the back of the horse, and dragging their lower ends upon the ground. Great loads—almost inconceivable, indeed—were thus carried across the pathless prairies. The Red River cart and the Indian cayuse were the product of the needs of the prairies.

PLAIN HUNTERS AND THE BUFFALO.

A generation had passed since the founding of the Selkirk settlement, and the little handful of Scottish settlers had become a community of five thousand. This growth had not been brought about by immigration, nor by natural increase, but by what may be called a process of accretion. Throughout the whole of Rupert's Land and adjoining territories the employes of the Company, whether from Lower Canada or from the Orkney Islands, as well as the clerks and officers of the country, had intermarried with the Indian women of the tribes.

When the trader or Company's servant had gained a competence suited to his ideas, he thought it right to retire from the active fur trade and float down the rivers to the settlement, which the first Governor of Manitoba called the "Paradise of Red River." Here the hunter or officer procured a strip of land from the Company, on it erected a house for the shelter of his "dusky race," and engaged in agriculture, though his former life largely unfitted him for this occupation. In this way, four-fifths of the population of the settlement were half-breeds, with their own traditions, sensibilities, and prejudices —the one part of them speaking French with a dash of Cree mixed with it, the other English which, too, had the form of a Red River patois.

We have seen that tripping and hunting gave a livelihood to some, if not the great majority, but these occupations unfitted men for following the plough. In addition there was no market for produce, so that agriculture did not in general thrive. One of the favourite features of Red River, which fitted in thoroughly with the roving traditions of the large part of the population, was the annual buffalo hunt, which, for those who engaged in it, occupied a great portion of the summer.

We have the personal reminiscences of the hunt by Alexander Ross, sometime sheriff of Assiniboia, which, as being lively and graphic, are worthy of being reproduced.

Ross says: 'Buffalo hunting here, like bear baiting in India, has become a popular and favourite amusement among all classes; and Red River, in consequence, has been brought into some degree of notice by the presence of strangers from foreign countries. We are now occasionally visited by men of science as well as men of pleasure. The war road of the savage and the solitary haunt of the bear have of late been resorted to by the florist, the botanist, and the geologist; nor is it uncommon nowadays to see officers of the Guards, knights, baronets, and some of the higher nobility of England and other countries coursing their steeds over the boundless plains and enjoying the pleasures of the chase among the half-breeds and savages of the country. Distinction of rank is, of course, out of the question, and at the close of the adventurous day all squat down in merry mood together, enjoying the social freedom of equality round Nature's table and the novel treat of a fresh buffalo steak served up in the style of the country, that is to say, roasted on a forked stick before the fire; a keen appetite their only sauce, cold water their only beverage. Looking at this assemblage through the medium of the imagination, the mind is led back to the chivalric period of former days, when chiefs and vassals took counsel together. . . .

"With the earliest dawn of spring the hunters are in motion like bees, and the colony in a state of confusion, from their going to and fro, in order to raise the wind and prepare themselves for the fascinating enjoyments of hunting. It is now that the Company, the farmers, the petty traders are all beset by their incessant and irresistible importunities. The plain mania brings everything else to a stand. One wants a horse, another an axe, a third a cart; they want ammunition, they want clothing, they want provisions; and though people refuse one or two they cannot deny a whole population, for, indeed, over-much obstinacy would not be unattended with risk. Thus the settlers are reluctantly dragged into profligate speculation.

"The plain hunters, finding they can get whatever they want without ready money, are led into ruinous extravagances; but the evil of the long credit system does not end here. . . . So many temptations, so many attractions are held out to the thoughtless and giddy, so fascinating is the sweet air of freedom, that even the offspring of the Europeans, as well as natives, are often induced to cast off their habits of industry and leave their comfortable homes to try their fortunes in the plains.

"The practical result of all this may be stated in a few words. After the expedition starts there is not a man-servant or maidservant to be found in the colony. At any season but seedtime and harvest-time, the settlement is literally swarming with idlers; but at these urgent periods money cannot procure them.

"The actual money value expended on one trip, estimating also their lost time, is as follows:—

Money value on one trip

"From Fort Garry, June 15th, 1840, the cavalcade and followers went crowding on to the public road, and thence, stretching from point to point, till the third day in the evening, when they reached Pembina (sixty miles south of Fort Garry), the great rendezvous on such occasions. When the hunters leave the settlement it enjoys that relief which a person feels on recovering from a long and painful sickness. Here, on a level plain, the whole patriarchal camp squatted down like pilgrims on a journey to the Holy Land in ancient days, only not quite so devout, for neither 6crip nor staff were consecrated for the occasion. Here the roll was called and general muster taken, when they numbered on this occasion 1,630 souls; and hero the rules and regulations for the journey were finally settled. The officials for the trip were named and installed into office, and all without the aid of writing materials.

"The camp occupied as much ground as a modern city, and was formed in a circle. All the carts were placed side by side, the trams outward. Within this line of circumvallation, the tents were placed in double, treble rows, at one end, the animals at the other, in front of the tents. This is the order in all dangerous places, but where no danger is apprehended, the animals are kept on the outside. Thus the carts formed a strong barrier, not only for securing the people and their animals within, but as a place of shelter and defence against an attack of the enemy from without.

Value

"There is another appendage belonging to the expedition, and these are not always the least noisy, viz. the dogs or camp followers. On the present occasion they numbered no fewer than 542. In deep snow, where horses cannot conveniently be used, dogs are very serviceable animals to the hunters in these parts. The half-breed, dressed in his wolf costume, tackles two or three sturdy curs into a flat sled, throws himself on it at full length, and gets among the buffalo unperceived. Here the bow and arrow play their part to prevent noise. And here the skilful hunter kills as many as he pleases, and returns to camp without disturbing the band.

"But now to the camp again—the largest of the kind, perhaps, in the world. The first step was to hold a council for the nomination of chiefs or officers for conducting the expedition. Ten captains were named, the senior on this occasion being Jean Baptiste Wilkie, an English half-breed, brought up among the French, a man of good sound sense and long experience, and withal a fine, bold-looking, and discreet fellow, a second Nimrod in his way.

"Besides being captain, in common with the others, he was styled the great war chief or head of the camp, and on all public occasions he occupied the place of president. All articles of property found without an owner were carried to him and he disposed of them by a crier, who went round the camp every evening, were it only an awl. Each captain had ten soldiers under his orders, in much the same way as policemen are subject to the magistrate. Ten guides were likewise appointed, and here we may remark that people in a rude state of society, unable either to read or write, are generally partial to the number ten. Their duties were to guide the camp each in his turn—that is day about—during the expedition. The camp flag belongs to the guide of the day; he is therefore standard bearer in virtue of his office.

"The hoisting of the flag every morning is the signal for raising camp. Half an hour is the full time allowed to prepare for the march ; but if anyone is sick or their animals have strayed, notice is sent to the guide, who halts till all is made right. From the time the flag is hoisted, however, till the hour of camping arrives it is never taken down. The flag taken down is a signal for encamping. While it is up the guide is chief of the expedition. Captains are subject to him, and the soldiers of the day are his messengers; he commands all. The moment the flag is lowered his functions cease, and the captains and soldiers' duties commence. They point out the order of the camp, and every cart as it arrives moves to its appointed place. This business usually occupies about the same time as raising camp in the morning; for everything moves with the regularity of clockwork.

"All being ready to leave Pembina, the captains and other chief men hold another council and lay down the rules to be observed during the expedition. Those made on the present occasion were:—

(1) No buffalo to be run on the Sabbath day.
(2) No party to fork off, lag behind, or go before, without permission.
(3) No person or party to run buffalo before the general order.
(4) Every captain with his men in turn to patrol the camp and keep guard.
(5) For the first trespass against these laws, the offender to have his saddle and bridle cut up.
(6) For the second offence the coat to be taken off the offender's back and to be cut up.
(7) For the third offence the offender to be flogged.
(8) Any person convicted of theft, even to the value of a sinew, to be brought to the middle of the camp, and the crier to call out his or her name three times, adding the word 'Thief' at each time.

"On the 21st the start was made, and the picturesque line of march soon stretched to the length of some five or six miles in the direction of south-west towards Cote à Pique. At 2 p.m. the flag was struck, as a signal for resting the animals. After a short interval it was hoisted again, and in a few minutes the whole line was in motion, and continued the route till five or six o'clock in the evening, when the flag was hauled down as a signal to encamp for the night. Distance travelled, twenty miles.

"The camp being formed, all the leading men, officials, and others assembled, as the general custom is, on some rising ground or eminence outside the ring, and there squatted themselves down, tailor-like, on the grass in a sort of council, each having his gun, his smoking bag in his hand, and his pipe in his mouth. In this situation the occurrences of the day were discussed, and the line of march for the morrow agreed upon. This little meeting was full of interest, and the fact struck me very forcibly that there is happiness and pleasure in the society of the most illiterate men, sympathetically if not intellectually inclined, as well as among the learned, and I must say I found less selfishness and more liberality among these ordinary men than I had been accustomed to find in higher circles. Their conversation was free, practical, and interesting, and the time passed on more agreeably than could bo expected among such people, till we touched on politics.

"Of late years the field of chase has been far from Pembina, and the hunters do not so much as know in what direction they may find the buffalo, as those animals frequently shift their ground. It is a mere leap in the dark, whether at the outset the expedition takes the right or the wrong road; and their luck in the chase, of course, depends materially on the choice they make. The year of our narrative they travelled a south-west or middle course, being the one generally preferred, since it leads past most of the rivers near their sources, where they are easily crossed. The only inconvenience attending this choice is the scarcity of wood, which in a warm season is but a secondary consideration.

"Not to dwell on the ordinary routine of each day's journey, it was the ninth day from Pembina before we reached the Cheyenne River, distant only about 150 miles, and as yet we had not seen a single band of buffalo. On July 3rd, our nineteenth day from the settlement, and at a distance of little more than 250 miles, we came in sight of our destined hunting grounds, and on the day following we had our first buffalo race. Our array in the field must have been a grand and imposing one to those who had never seen the like before. No less than 400 huntsmen, all mounted, and anxiously waiting for the word 'Start!' took up their position in a line at one end of the camp, while Captain Wilkie, with his spyglass at his eye, surveyed the buffalo, examined the ground, and issued his orders. At eight o'clock the whole cavalcade broke ground, and made for the buffalo; first at a slow trot, then at a gallop, and lastly at full speed. Their advance was over a dead level, the plain having no hollow or shelter of any kind to conceal their approach. We need not answer any queries as to the feeling and anxiety of the camp on such an occasion. When the horsemen started the cattle might have been a mile and a half ahead, but they had approached to within four or five hundred yards before the bulls curved their tails or pawed the ground. In a moment more the herd took flight, and horse and rider are presently seen bursting in among them. Shots are heard, and all is smoke, dash, and hurry. The fattest are first singled out for slaughter, and in less time than we have occupied with the description, a thousand carcases strew the plain.

"The moment the animals take to flight the best runners dart forward in advance. At this moment a good horse is invaluable to his owner, for out of the 400 on this occasion, not above fifty got the first chance of the fat cows. A good horse and an experienced rider will select and kill from ten to twelve animals at one heat, while inferior horses are contented with two or three. But much depends on the nature of the ground. On this occasion the surface was rocky, and full of badger holes. Twenty-three horses and riders were at one moment sprawling on the ground. One horse, gored by a bull, was killed on the spot, two men disabled by the fall. One rider broke his shoulder blade; another burst his gun and lost throe of his fingers by the accident; and a third was struck on the knee by an exhausted ball. These accidents will not be thought over-numerous considering the result; for in the evening no less than. 1,375 buffalo tongues wore brought into camp.

"The rider of a good horse seldom fires till within three or four yards of his object, and never misses. And, what is admirable in point of training, the moment the shot is fired his steed springs on one side to avoid stumbling over the animal, whereas an awkward and shy horse will not approach within ten or fifteen yards, consequently the rider has often to fire at random and not infrequently misses. Many of them, however, will fire at double that distance and make sure of every shot. The mouth is always full of balls; they load and fire at the gallop, and but seldom drop a mark, although some do to designate the animal.

"Of all the operations which mark the hunter's life and are essential to his ultimate success, the most perplexing, perhaps, is that of finding out and identifying the animals he kills during a race. Imagine 400 horsemen entering at full speed a herd of some thousands of buffalo, all in rapid motion. Riders in clouds of dust and volumes of smoke which darken the air, crossing and recrossing each other in every direction; shots on the right, on the left, behind, before, here, there, two, three, a dozen at a time, everywhere in close succession, at the same moment. Horses stumbling, riders falling, dead and wounded animals tumbling here and there, one over the other; and this zigzag and bewildering melee continued for an hour or more together in wild confusion. And yet, from practice, so keen is the eye, so correct the judgment, that after getting to the end of the race, he can not only toll the number of animals which he had shot down, but the position in which each lies—on the right or on the left side—the spot where the shot hit, and the direction of the ball; and also retrace his way, step by step, through the whole race and recognize every animal he had the fortune to kill, without the least hesitation or difficulty. To divine how this is accomplished bewilders the imagination.

"The main party arrived on the return journey at Pembina on August 17th, after a journey of two months and two days. In due time the settlement was reached, and the trip being a successful one, the returns on this occasion may be taken as a fair annual average. An approximation to the truth is all we can arrive at, however. Our estimate is nine hundred pounds weight of buffalo meat per cart, a thousand being considered the full load, which gives one million and eighty-nine thousand pounds in all, or something more than two hundred pounds weight for each individual, old and young, in the settlement. As soon as the expedition arrived, the Hudson's Bay Company, according to usual custom, issued a notice that it would take a certain specified quantity of provisions, not from each fellow that had been on the plains, but from each old and recognized hunter. The established price at this period for the three kinds over head, fat, pemmican, and dried meat, was two pence a pound. This was then the Company's standard price; but there is generally a market for all the fat they bring. During the years 1839, 1840, and 1841, the Company expended five thousand pounds on the purchase of plain provisions, of which the hunters got last year the sum of twelve hundred pounds, being rather more money than all the agricultural class obtained for their produce in the same year. It will be remembered that the Company's demand affords the only regular market or outlet in the Colony, and, as a matter of course, it is the first supplied."


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