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Ocean to Ocean
Along the North Saskatchewan to Edmonton


The Thickwood Hills. — The soil. — Slough of despond. — Bears Paddling Lake. — Indian Missions-results.—Pemmican.—Jack-fish Lake.—The Crees and Blackfeet.—Change in vegetation.—Resemblance to Ontario.—The Red-deer Hills.—Rich uplands and Valleys.—Fort Pitt.—The Horse Guard.—Fresh Buffalo meat.—Partially wooded country. — Cree guests. — Shaganappi. — Glorious view. — Our Longitude. — The Isothermal lines. —Scalping raids.— The flora.—Victoria Mission.—Indian school.— Crops raised—A lady visitor.—Timber.— Horse Hill.—Edmonton.—Coal.—Wheat and other crops.—Gold-washing.—Climate.—Soil.—Indian Races.—Water.—Fuel.—Frosts.

August 17th.—The distance from Fort Garry to Edmonton is nine hundred miles, and is usually regarded as consisting of three portions; two hundred and fifteen miles to Fort Ellice on the Assiniboine; three hundred and nine more to Fort Carlton; and about three hundred and eighty up the North Saskatchewan to Edmonton. On this third part of the journey we were now-entering.

It rained this morning, but we rose early, as usual, and prepared to start. There was a good deal of confusion and delay, however, as Horetsky, who had employed the new men and made the arrangements, had remained over night at the fort. The new horses could not be found for some time; and, with one thing and another, it was seven o'clock before we got off on this stage of our journey. The sky soon cleared and the day turned out as sunny and breezy as any of its predecessors.

The road follows the upward course of the Saskatchewan, but as the river soon makes an almost semi-circular sweep, first south and parallel to the South Saskatchewan, then northerly as far as Fort Pitt, the road strikes across the chord of the arc, over a broken and hilly country called the "Thickwood Hills." Lakes are always in sight,—one of them very large and very salt —and extensive views of fine pasture lands are had from every elevation. The soil and its productions, greatly to the disappointment of our Botanist, resembled what we had everywhere seen for the last fortnight. The soil in some places was equally rich and deep; but generally not quite as good. Everything indicated a cool and moist climate. There were few of the prairie flowers, but a great variety of grasses, of wild peas and beans all green, succulent herbage; a country better adapted for stock-raising than for wheat. The road was rough with roots, stones, and occasionally deep ruts, and so hilly that the jog-trot had often to be exchanged for a walk. Mr. Clark's horses, with the exception of a span attached to a large waggon of his own that he had kindly lent us, turned out to be miserable beasts; stiff-jointed or sore-backed, and obstinately lifeless; so that we would have fared badly, had it not been for the six government horses brought on from Fort Ellice. The two Carlton half-breeds, employed to drive the carts or horses, were old and stupid, incurable smokers and talkers. The one called Legrace was dried up as a mummy; the other "fat and greasy," popularly known among us as "Haroosh." He owed the name to Terry, who, hearing him drive his red horse with frequent howls of "Ho Rouge! Ho Rouge!" took for granted that this was the "Haroosh" familiar to himself in early days, and the proper north-west cry to lazy horses. Terry, accordingly, never whacked his unfortunate white nag without yelling "Haroosh!" The only acquisition to the party from Carlton, was the young hunchbacked Indian called Keasis or the "little bird."

Our breakfast-place was fifteen miles from camp, beside a marsh or pool on the road, twenty feet wide, and so deep that the water came into the buck-boards and up to the axles of the carts. It is well enough named the "Slough of Despond." Often have carts stuck, and whole brigades come to grief in it. Why the H. B. Company has never bridged it is a puzzle, except on the principle that no company cares to do any work that will be a public benefit to others as well as to itself, for it has lost enough by it to build ten bridges. Where there is any considerable traffic, nothing is so expensive as a slough, a hole, or any serious obstruction on the road.

We took dinner fifteen miles further on, beside a pretty little running stream, and camped before sunset, after making only eight miles more, beside "The Bears Paddling Lake," a good place to stay over Sunday, as there is abundance of wood, water, and pasture. The lake is very shallow but has a firm sandy bottom, and the Indians have often seen bears about its shores, enjoying themselves in the water. Hence its name, a translation of which is sufficient for us.

Every one from the Saskatchewan that we previously met, had spoken so enthusiastically of this river and of the great country it waters, that we were somewhat disappointed with what we had seen to-day. True, we had passed over only a speck comparatively, and that so elevated that much could not be looked for from it. The soil appeared good, and the grasses were so thick that they almost formed a sward; but the larger wood had been burnt, and willow bushes, scattered all round, indicated an indifferent sub-soil. Besides, we had not got rid of the salt lakes. Mr. McDougal, however, ridiculed our doubts: we had only to go out of our road a little, to find a rich and beautiful country, extending north to the line of continuous forest, and to-morrow and every successive day, as we journeyed west, would show pretty much the same.

Faith in the future of the Saskatchewan and its "fertile belt" is strong in the mind of almost every man who has lived on it, and it is impossible to see even the little of the two great branches of the river that we saw, without being convinced that they are natural highways along which many steamers will soon be plying, carrying to market the rich produce of the plains that extend to the east, west, and north from them. When the tents were pitched Souzie went down to the lake and shot four or five ducks, as a contribution to our Sunday dinner. The night was cool, as we had expected at the elevation; but there was no frost.

August 18th.—Took a much-needed long sleep, as usual on Sunday mornings; breakfasted at nine o'clock and had service at eleven, Mr. McDougal assisting. We are all much pleased with Mr. McDougal, and think ourselves fortunate in having fallen in with him. In his conversation and by his actions he shows himself thoroughly acquainted with the country, a man of ready resources and an obliging fellow traveller.

Widely different opinions have been expressed, about the value of missionary work among the Indians, by the half dozen persons we have hitherto met who profess to be less or more acquainted with the subject. One gentleman's information was very decided: —"The Protestant Missionaries had made no converts; the Roman Catholic Missionaries had made some, and they were the greatest scoundrels unhung." Another was equally emphatic on the other side; and, as positive evidence is worth infinitely more than negative, we were more disposed to listen to him. One witness was doubtful, thinking that something could be said on both sides, and he was, therefore, subjected to a little cross-examination : —"Many of the Indians are now professing Christians; but, no doubt, some of them are great hypocrites." Asked if there was not a share of hypocrisy in all of us, and if such a charge was not made against Christians everywhere. Admitted that it was so. Pressed on the point, whether the old child-like frankness on the part of the Indian along with a vast fund of reserve on the part of the trader, made the commercial transactions equally fair to both parties; admitted that it did not, and that thus the charge of hypocrisy might be retorted in the wigwam on the trader, or explained in the store on the part of the Indian. Asked if he could name any positive improvement in morality, that had resulted from the Missionaries' labours. "Yes; Christianized Crees would not steal your horses,—at least not openly—when you were passing through their country." Well, you could not say much more for Christianized Englishmen or Yankees, if so much. Could he mention any other improvement?" Yes; they had all been polygamists to as great an extent as they could afford, (a new wife being bought for a horse or a blanket) and they used to exchange wives to suit each others' convenience; but such practices among several tribes had passed away, or were considered disreputable." Urged, to remember what they were when he first went among them so as to say fairly if there was any other gain. "Yes; away to the north the Dogribs and other tribes on the McKenzie, had a practice of strangling or smothering all their infant daughters after the first; even the mother would stuff a handful of grass into the mouth of the poor little thing and choke it; now the practice was unknown." A decided gain for the daughters. Any more. "Yes; some of them did keep the Lord's Day after a fashion, treated their women rather better, were more comfortable, a little cleaner, sent their children to school for a while, and—well, there had been improvement, but after all, if, you only knew how superstitious they still are, how dirty, vicious, miserable, you would not consider them much better than pagans."

The style of argument seemed ungenerous. Here were men, self-exiled, toiling all their lives without prospect of earthly promotion or reward, from the Blackfeet on the Bow River to the Loocieux on the Yucan, from Winnipeg to where the McKenzie empties into the Arctic sea; among the Indians of the lakes and the plains, and the still more degraded Indians of the woods; living, many of them, in frozen wildernesses, where the year is made up of a six weeks' summer of West India heat; six or seven weeks more of warm days and cold nights; and nine months of stern and dreary winter; and when they see some results of their labour, some small improvements struggling to show themselves in spite of all the dismal surroundings, they find that the necessarily slow process has made men forget the raw material they had to begin upon; they are sneered at as making hypocrites, or are pointed only to what remains to be done, because their converts are not equal to the descendants of fifty generations of Christian forefathers. It is so easy to forget what once was, or to kick away the ladder by which we ourselves have risen. Changes take place so imperceptibly that even those living among them do not notice there has been change, and they assume that nothing has been done, when a great work is going on around them. Missionaries on the plains say, now that there has been peace for the last two or three years, they can call to mind, only with an effort, the once familiar scenes of bloodshed, and the universal craving for scalps.

The uniform policy of the Hudson's Bay Company was to encourage Missionary effort among the Indians. Their charter bound them to this, and, especially since 1820, they did so to a considerable extent. Sir George Simpson always offered the protection of the Company to Missionaries, on condition that they attended to their own business and did nothing prejudicial to the interests of the Company. When a Missionary was stationed near a Hudson's Bay Fort, he had the position also of Chaplain to the Fort, free passage in and out of the country by the Company's boats, and £50 a year. For some time the Anglican and the Roman Catholic were almost the only churches that entered on the work, perhaps because the Company was most ready to invite and to assist these. During the last quarter of a century the Wesleyans also have worked in this field with their usual energy. They have now nine Missionaries in it, and it is much to the credit of the two Protestant Churches, that they do not interfere with the stations of one another. The Presbyterians have only one mission, that at Prince Albert, and, though in a prosperous state, its work is in a great measure confined to a congregation of half-breed and white settlers.

A practical vindication both of the general dealings of the Company with the Indians and of missionary work among them is the fact that, the survey of the Canada Pacific Railway, from the Upper Ottawa to the Pacific coast, has in no case been interfered with. The engineers and others have been welcomed; and, very often, the Indians have proved extremely serviceable. The contrast with the state of things on the other side of the boundary line,—where surveys have been summarily stopped, engineers killed, and where every Indian scalp is estimated to have cost the country $100,000,—is marked indeed.

Of course the missionary work has another and altogether higher aspect, from which it is only fair to look at it also. We must judge it from its own as well as from the world's standpoint. Christian men and women give their means, their labours, and their lives to the heathen, not for the social, political, or economical results, though they believe that such follow on their success, but for Christ's sake, because the heathen are their brethren, dear to them because dear to their Lord. It is not fair, therefore, to leave the decision as to the value of their labours wholly to men of the world, who judge only from the lower point of view, -whose immediate interests may be injured, or on whose passions a bridle may be put by "the impertinent intermeddling" of Missionaries, or who may even be bitterly opposed to true Christianity—for it is not extravagant to suppose that there have been such men. To preach the Gospel of the wonderful love of God to a few degraded Indians, may seem a small thing in the eyes of tourist or trader, in comparison with the gospel of plenty of tobacco for peltries. Far otherwise is it in the eyes of the Missionary and his Master; far otherwise when weighed in the balances of eternity.

August 19th.—Rose at 3 A.M., thanks to the Sunday rest, and got away from camp before sunrise.

Our first 'spell' was thirteen miles, over a rich undulating country, little wooded, but, judging from the strong green grasses and vetches, well suited either for stock-raising or cereals. We breakfasted in a lovely hollow, watered by springs of delicious water, the banks lined with balsam poplars from one to two feet in diameter. The road here is about forty miles from the river on account of the bend, to the south, that the latter makes. The Thickwood Hills are not more than two hundred feet high.

Terry gave us pemmican for breakfast, and, from this date, pemmican was the staple of each meal. Though none of us cared for it raw at first, we all liked it hot. Cooked for a few minutes in a frying pan with a little water and flour, and a dust of pepper and salt, onions added if you have any, it is called "richaud" and a capital dish it is, looking like Rodney, and tasting not very differently from well roasted beef. Pemmican and sun-dried, thin, flitches of buffalo-meat are the great food-staples of the plains, so much so that when you hear people speak of 'provisions' you may be sure that they simply mean buffalo-meat, either dried or as pemmican.

The second 'spell' was twenty miles over round or sloping hills, enclosing lakes and affording good pasturage, though the most of the land was sandy or gravely and not up to the average. The country resembled the Cheviots and the south of Scotland—two or three places reminding us much of Drum-lanrig. The road followed the high lands where the streamlets or 'creeks' that flow into the Saskatchewan, take their rise. We crossed one of these three times, and then halted beside it for dinner. In the afternoon we followed along its course, through a succession of very pretty lakes, that are almost covered with wild fowl, till it issued from the largest of these "Jack Fish Lake." We should have crossed it there, but the water was too high, and we had to follow down its left bank to a ford three miles to the south. When within quarter of a mile of the ford,—the big waggon and buck-boards going before, the carts following at some distance, and the horses driven behind them,—the humpbacked Indian galloped to the front, and pointed back. There was Souzie crossing the river in his light waggon, and the carts and the horses following lead. They floundered across pretty well, except the cart of "Haroosh," which stuck in the mud. Though angry at the "cheek" of the thing, it was thought best to follow, and master Souzie being recalled, and "rowed up" for his impudence, most of the articles that a wetting would damage, were transferred from the buckboards to his waggon and sent safely across. The big waggon, with the Chief and the Doctor mounted on the highest pinnacle, followed; but, when near the other side, its iron wheels sank in the black muddy bottom, and the horses while struggling to extricate them, broke the whipple-tree and parts of the harness, leaving the waggon and contents in the middle of the stream. Maxime and "the little bird" rushed to the rescue and untackled the horses. The Chief and the Doctor, stripping from feet to waist jumped down into the water, and putting their shoulders to the wheels while the other two pulled, amid cheers from the rest of us on the other side, and countless bites from the mosquitoes, shoved the big thing to the bank. The buckboards followed, and then "Greasy," who had been left all the time in the middle of the stream, cudgelling his horse, and yelling "Ho Rouge! Ho Rouge!" supplicated help, as his arm and throat had quite given out. He was told to help himself, and to our great satisfaction, the old fellow had to jump down into the water and shove his cart out. All got safely across, nothing had been hurt, only Souzie looked woebegone for the night, and Greasy continued sulky for two days. We camped at once on the bank, for it was after sunset, though the mosquitoes, that always haunt woods and streams, tormented our horses so much that the poor brutes could not eat, but crowded round the smoke of our fires, making the place look even more like a gipsy encampment than usual.

The Jackfish-lake River runs, through a beautiful park-like country from this point, into the Saskatchewan, fifteen miles to the south. It would be a good location for a missionary or general settlement, for the lakes above are filled with jackfish or pike, and with white fish,—the finest fresh water fish, perhaps, in the world. There is also good water power, as the stream descends about a hundred and fifty feet in the course of the next fifteen miles, and the land is slightly rolling and of excellent quality. It is the favourite ground of a large mixed band of Crees and Salteaux, whom we did not see as they were all away hunting buffalo. On a little hill, near the stream, a great annual "powwow," is held in the spring, by the heathen Crees and Salteaux who come from long distances to have a high time. Their "medicine men" who have still much influence among them, take the lead and hold a "revival meeting." All the old incantations and wild dances are practised, and as the excitement gets up, they abandon themselves to the foulest licentiousness.

We had driven forty-eight miles to-day, the longest journey yet made. Except the first and last part, the land was not of the best quality.

August 20th.—Instead of following up the right bank of the stream to the main road near Jack-fish Lake, we struck a new trail direct for Tortoise River, twenty-five miles distant. On the way we saw a fine duck and two or three antelopes, but they were too far off for a shot. In the spring, several varieties of deer come in great numbers to this part of the country, but at this season, most of them are away with their young on the treeless prairies to the south. Halted on the road for breakfast; but, after having unharnessed the horses, found, to our disgust, that the water was salt. A breakfast of dry bread and dry pemmican was hurriedly made; and we found that, on the plains, any meal without tea, is as poor an affair as bacon and beans without the bacon.

At Tortoise River had a most reviving swim and a long halt. Beyond it is Horse Hill, so called from a fight between the Crees and Blackfeet, forty years ago. The Crees were encamped near a thicket at the foot of the hill, and a party of Blackfeet, that had made a successful raid far from their own borders, discovered them and charged. But the Crees were prepared, and, a still larger body of them on the slope of the hill hidden by a ravine, swept round and drove their enemies into it; and though many of the Blackfeet escaped, all their spoil was retaken, and forty horses were killed, an extraordinary number, for the aim is always to capture the horses,—horses, and buffalo being the all-in-all to the Indians of the plains. In their wars the Blackfeet often suffered from similar haste and over-boldness. Not long ago, a party a hundred strong, that was out raiding in the winter time, discovered a Cree camp among the hills, and rushed on it; but as they entered the pass, a second and a third camp appeared on each side of the pass. Their only hope was escape, and they dashed straight on, only to find that they had rushed into a deep hollow, the opposite rim of which was topped high with snow-banks that curled over in folds, so that there was no possibility of mounting it. The Crees closed round with yells of triumph, and' for once they had their will on their enemies. It was not a fight but a massacre. Seventy were killed in a few minutes, and then the Crees in a fit of generosity, or because they were glutted with blood, opened out and let the rest go.

Not that the Blackfeet disdain to exercise strategy. Cunning is natural to every Indian, in war and peace, in hunting and trading. We were told of a successful ambuscade of theirs at "the Round Hill," so like a New Zealand pah, on the other side of the Saskatchewan. A large body of Crees had camped by one of the lakes near the open. Towards evening they espied a buffalo grazing on the top of the inner hill. He fed so quietly, that they were a little suspicious at first, but soon others emerged from the coppice in the dip between the two hills. Hungry Crees could be suspicious no longer. They drew near quietly, and were all ready to "run" the buffalo, when every bush opened fire and a score of them dropped. The buffalo became Blackfeet and turning the tables 'ran' the Crees to some purpose.

The characteristic of the Blackfeet braves, however, is daring. Many a stirring tale of headlong valour they tell round their camp fires, as, long ago in moated castles, bards sang the deeds of knights-errant, and fired the blood of the rising generation. Such a story we heard of a Chief called " the Swan," once the bravest of the brave, but now tho' in the prime of life, dying of consumption. Dressing himself one day in all his bravery, he mounted his fleet horse and rode straight for the Cree camp. A hundred warriors were scattered about the tents, and in the centre of the encampment two noted braves sat gambling. Right up to them "the Swan" rode, scarcely challenged, as he was alone, clapped his musket to the head of one and blew his brains out. In an instant the camp was up; dozens of strong arms caught at the reckless foe, dozens of shots were fired, while others rushed for their horses. But he knew his horse, and, dashing through the encampment like a bolt, made good his escape, though chased by every man that could mount.

Many a story of this kind we heard from poor old mummy Legrace, or from others of our party, who boasted for himself in a dignified way that in his time he had killed two Blackfeet, but how much is truth and how much fiction, deponent saith not.

This afternoon we drove sixteen miles, from Tortoise River to English River, another stream running south into the Saskatchewan, and so called from the fact that an Englishman had been drowned while crossing it in the spring time, when very insignificant 'Creeks' are dangerous. The soil all the way was sandy and mossy, except in patches or near either of the rivers where it was excellent; the country was undulating and suited for sheep grazing. At one point, the road ran within two or three miles of the Saskatchewan, and a prominent hill on the other side was recognized by Souzie. 'Ah!' said he to his master, 'I know now where I am'; and, on arriving at the camp, he went up to Frank and formally shook hands with him, to indicate that he welcomed him to his country. He had established confidential relations with Frank from the first, taught him Cree words, and told him long stories, explaining his meaning by expressive gesticulations of fingers, hands, shoulders, mouth, and eyes.

A clump of tall pointed white spruce and branching poplar spruce, on the banks of English River, was the first variety from the universal aspen or occasional balsam poplar, that we had seen since leaving Fort Garry, with the exception of a few white birches on the banks of the Saskatchewan. The aspen, as far as seen by us, is certainly the characteristic tree, just as the buffalo is the characteristic animal of our North-west; the other trees have in great measure been burnt out. Fortunately the aspen is good wood for carpenter work; good also for fuel, being kindled easily and burning without sparks.

In the course of the afternoon "the little bird" having gone in too extensively for pemmican became so sick that he gave out altogether; this generally happens with the new men that are picked up at the forts along the route. They are often half-starved, except when employed, and then it takes them a week to go through the surfeiting and sick stages before shaking down into proper condition. Legrace and Haroosh were far too old hands to get sick, no matter what the quantity they ate. One of us took ' the little bird's' work, and made him get into a buckboard where he lay prone, head wrapped up in his blanket, till the camping ground was reached. Then he stretched himself beside the fire, the picture of utter wretchedness. The Doctor prescribed castor oil, and Terry put the dose to his mouth. As "the little bird" took the first taste, he looked up and, noticing the comical look about Terry's countenance, thought that a practical joke was being played at his expense, and with a gleam of fire in his eyes spit it out on him. The Doctor had now to come up and with his most impressive Muskeekee ohnyou (chief medicine man) air, intimate that the dose must be taken. 'The little bird' submitted, drank it as if it were hemlock, and roiled himself up in his blanket to die. But in the morning he was all right again though weak; and gratefully testified that castor oil was the most wonderful medicine in the world.

August 21st.—Our destination to-day was Fort Pitt on the Saskatchewan, but learning that a visit to it involved twelve or fifteen miles additional travelling, as the main road keeps well to the north of the river, it was decided that Horetzky, and Macaulay, one of the Hudson's Bay officers that joined our party at Carlton, should ride ahead to the Fort for supplies, and meet us if possible in the evening at "the guard." Every station of the Hudson's Bay Company has a "guard," or judiciously selected spot, well supplied with good water, wood, pasturage, and shelter, where the horses are kept. From this depot we expected to be furnished with fresh horses and men in place of those brought from Carlton.

To-day's travel was through a hilly well-watered country. The first 'spell' brought us to the base of the Red Deer Hill, close to a spring of cold clear water beside a grove. The soil was of excellent quality all the way, a deep loam. The grasses and flowers resembled those of Ontario and the Lower Provinces rather than the prairie flora. Such common wild fruits as currants, gooseberries, choke-cherries, &c., were in abundance. We seemed to have taken leave of the prairie and its characteristic flowers since crossing the North Saskatchewan, but they were not far off to the north or south. The road from Carlton runs among the sandy hills, that skirt the course of the river, up to Fort Pitt. The nearer the river in this part the more sandy the soil, and the less adapted for cereals, because of droughts, and early frosts which are attributed to the heavy mists that cling about the river banks.

After breakfast, the road ran through a still more broken country and along a more elevated plateau. The windings of the Red Deer and its little tributaries have cut out, in the course of ages, great valleys and enormous 'punch bowls,' resembling the heaviest parts of the south of Scotland, on the rich grassy sides of which thousands of cattle or sheep ought to be grazing to make the resemblance complete. At a point where the plateau is about 400 feet above the level of the Saskatchewan, a round sugar-loaf hill rises abruptly from the road, nearly 200 feet, and is called the Frenchman's Knoll, because long ago a Frenchman had been killed here. We cantered or walked to the top, and had a far extending view of level, undulating, and hilly country. Most of the wood was small because of recent fires, and it was all aspen, except a few clumps of pines far away. The sky line beyond the Saskatchewan was an elevated range with distinct summits, several of which must have been as high as "the mountain" behind Montreal. The smallness and sameness of the wood gave monotony to the view, which was redeemed only by its vastness.

Near this, the trail to Fort Pitt branched off. Keeping the main road for another mile, we halted for dinner, and then moved on, first descending the long winding slopes of a hill to the south, and then going west up a valley that must have been formerly the bed of a river, or more probably cut out by an overflow of the Saskatchewan. In the course of the afternoon, we crossed three clear streamlets running over soft black bottoms; in spite of this abundance of good water the lakelets in the lowest hollows were saline. The soil everywhere was of the rich loam that had become so familiar to our eyes; uplands and valleys were equally good. The grasses were thick and short, almost forming a sward; still green and juicy though they had been exposed to all the summer's heat. In the marshes the grass was from four to six feet high, and of excellent quality for hay.

After crossing the last 'creek,' a handsome young Indian came galloping towards us, to say that Horetzky and Macaulay were already at "the guard" ahead, with Mr. Sinclair the Hudson's Bay agent at Fort Pitt. This was good news, for the probabilities were that the location of the "guard" had been changed; and, at all events, we had calculated on having to wait several hours for our two outriders. Getting to the "guard" before sunset, the tents were at once pitched. We had ridden more than 40 miles, and our avant-couriers about 52, besides attending to all our commissions at the Fort.

This was the first "guard" we had seen. They are usually at a distance from the Forts, but it so happened that this one although ten miles from the Fort was by the roadside. We could not have seen a better specimen, for, on account of the grasses being so good, more horses are kept at Fort Pitt than at any other post on the Saskatchewan. There are 300 now, and they increase rapidly though the prairie wolves destroy many of the foals. All were in prime condition and some of them very handsome. Not one in ten of those horses had ever got a feed from man, summer or winter. They cropped all their own food; and sleek and fat as they are now, they are equally so in midwinter: pawing off the dry snow they find the grasses abundant and succulent beneath. Better witnesses to the suitableness of this country for stock raising on an extensive scale, than those 300 horses, could not be desired. When weak or sickly, or returned from "a trip," knocked up with hard driving and cudgelling, for the half-breed looks upon cudgelling as an essential and inevitable part of driving, they may be taken into the barn at the Fort for a time and fed on hay, but not otherwise. At the "guard," only one Indian is in charge of the whole herd. The horses keep together and do not stray, so fond are they of one another. The chief difficulty in selecting some for your journey is, to get those you want away from the pack. There is a thick grove of aspens where they take shelter in the coldest weather, and near it is the tent of the keeper. His chief work seems to be making little inclosures of green logs or sticks, and build fires of green wood inside to smoke off the mosquitoes. Round these fires the horses often stand in groups, enjoying the smoke that keeps their active tormentors at a little distance. In considering this fact of horses feeding in the open all winter, it is well to remember that Fort Pitt is between two and three hundred miles farther north than Fort Garry.

After inspecting the horses, we were taken into the keeper's tent to see how he was housed. It was a roomy lodge, called 'a fourteen skin,' because constructed of so many buffalo hides stretched and sewed together; the smallest lodges are made of five or six, and the largest of from twenty to twenty-five 'skins.' The fire is in the centre, and the family sleep round the side, each member having his or her appointed corner. The smoke of the fire dries the skins thoroughly, keeps out the mosquitoes, and gives the inmates sore eyes. We all pronounced it ' very comfortable,' but most of us would probably prefer for our own use a house with more than one room.

Mr. Sinclair showed us the utmost kindness in every way, giving us good advice, good horses, good men, and with no more show than if he had merely run down to the "guard" on his own business. The kindness we appreciated most at the time, it must be confessed, was a huge shoulder of fresh buffalo meat, some tongues, and a bag of new potatoes. Terry was at once set to work on the fresh meat with orders to cook enough for twenty, with a corresponding allowance of potatoes. None of us had ever tasted fresh buffalo before, nor fresh meat of any kind since leaving Red River; and as we had resolved not to go out of our way to hunt, though Mr. Sinclair told us that buffalo were in vast numbers twenty miles to the south of Fort Pitt, it was only fair that our-self denial should be repaid by a good supper at the "guard." And that supper was an event in our journey. Falling to with prairie appetites, each man disposed of his three portions with ease. The prairie wolves were yelping not far off, but nobody paid any attention to them. Tender buffalo steak, and new potatoes in delicious gravy, absorbed every one's attention. The delights of the table when you are in the best of health and keen-set are certainly wonderful; and as a junior member of the party remarked, handing in his plate for a fourth or fifth helping, ' man, what a lot more you can eat when the things are good'! Getting out of the tent after supper with an effort, a spectacle to gladden a philanthropist's heart was presented round Terry's fire. The men were cooking and eating, laughing and joking, old Haroosh presiding as king of the feast. He sat on a hillock, holding tit-bits to the fire on a little wooden spit, for Terry's frying pan could not keep up to him, while his greasy face shone in the ruddy light; so they continued till we went to bed. That they were at it all night cannot be positively affirmed, but in the morning the first sight that met our eyes was Haroosh in the same place and attitude, cooking and eating in a semi-comatose state.

August 22nd.—There was at least an hour's racing and chasing of the "guard" horses this morning, before our quota could be caught; but, we got such good horses in exchange for our poorest that the delay was not grudged; and three smart Indians, Louis, Cheeman (the little fellow), and Kisanis (the old man), in stead of the Carlton three. We breakfasted at sunrise and said 'goodbye' to Mr. Sinclair at 7 o'clock. On account of the lateness of the start, we divided the day's journey into two 'spells,' one of nineteen and the other of twenty-one miles.

The country round the "guard" is fertile, and beautiful in outline; Mr. Sinclair said that it would yield anything. At the Fort and along the sandy banks of the river, their crops often suffered from Indians, droughts, and early frosts; but it was impossible to have their farm ten miles away from where they lived.
Our first "spelling-place" to-day was Stony Lake; after dinner we crossed Frog Creek, Middle Creek, and Moose Creek, and camped on the banks of the last named.

This was one of our best days. Everything contributed to make it supremely enjoyable. We had fresh spirited horses under us, a cloudless sky and bright sun above; and an atmosphere exhilarating as some pure gentle stimulant, The country was of varied beauty; rich in soil, grasses, flowers, wood, and water; infinitely diversified in colour and outline. From elevated points, far and wide reaches of the same could be seen; here was no dreary monotonous prairie such as fancy had sometimes painted, but a land to live in and enjoy life. And last but perhaps to us most important item, Terry had in his cart new potatoes and buffalo steak, good as any porter-house or London rump steak, enough even for our appetites; man could want nothing more for animal enjoyment. In the forenoon, we rode up two or three hill-sides to get wider views. With all the beauty of former days, there was now what we had often craved for, variety of wood. Clumps and groves of tall white spruce in the gullies and valleys, and along lake sides, branching poplars with occasional white birch and tamarack, mingled with the still prevailing aspen. The sombre spruces were the greatest relief. They gave a deeper hue to the landscape, and their tall pointed heads broke the distant sky line. Recent fires had desolated much of the country, but there was enough of the old beauty left to show what it had been and what it could soon be made. Sometimes our course lay across a wide open, or up or down a long bare slope; and, sometimes through a forest where the trees were far enough apart for easy riding, while a little beyond the wood seemed impenetrably close. In the afternoon we crossed plateaus extending between the different streams that meander to the south; and here the trail ran by what looked like well cultivated old clearings, hemmed in at varying distances by graceful trees, through the branches of which the waters of a lake, or the rough back of a hill gleamed, while high uplands beyond gave a definite horizon. The road was not very good in many places because of the steep little hills near the creeks, or boulders, deep ruts, mole and badger holes; but ten dollars a mile would put it in good repair, and, as it was then, our carts did their usual forty miles easily.

After dinner we came on our first camp of Crees—a small body, of five or six tents, that had not gone after the buffalo, but had remained quietly beside some lakes, living on berries and wild ducks. Two broad-backed healthy young squaws met us first, coming up from a lake with half-a-dozen dogs. One squaw had a bag, filled with ducks, on her neck, and the other had tied her game around the back of a dog. Some of the men came up to shake hands all round and to receive the plug of tobacco they looked for. Others, mostly manly looking fellows, lounged round in dignified indifference, with blanket or buffalo robe, folded gracefully about them,—evidently knowing or hoping that every attitude was noticed. Not a man was doing a single hand's turn, and not a woman was idle. The women wished to trade their ducks for tea or flour; but if we stopped the carts and opened the boxes there would be no getting away from them that night, so the word was passed to push ahead; we were not, however, to be let off so easily. Eight or ten miles further on, two elderly men on horseback—evidently Chiefs,— overtook us, and riding up to our Chief with all the grace of gentlemen of the old regime, again extended their hands. Being welcomed and invited to ride on and camp with us, they bowed with an ease and self-possession that any of us might have envied, and joined our party. There was not the slightest appearance of obsequiousness, although they were really begging for their supper. At the camp, the Chief treated them with great civility, ordering pemmican, as they preferred it to fresh buffalo, and handing them the fragrant tea they love so well; not a muscle of their faces moved, though their souls were rejoicing; a soft smile when they first came upon us, and a more melancholy smile in the morning when departing, were the only indications of feeling that either gave. With the exception of the dull, half-opened, Mongolian, cross-eyes, they were handsome fellows, with well cut, refined Italian features—handsomer than any of us or even than the young English trader, who "never allowed an Indian to enter his rooms; if a Chief came along, he might sit in the kitchen awhile"—so far below the "salt," have the "sons of the soil" to sit now. But "Rolling Mud" and the "Walker with out-turned feet," as our two guests were called, were entitled to move in the highest circles, as far as appearance and a perfect nil admirari manner were concerned. They could be guaranteed to look on, without opening their eyes, even at a modern ball.

In the afternoon's drive, the big Carlton waggon, drawn by the span, broke down. The iron bolt, connecting the two fore wheels with the shaft, broke in two. Shaganappi had been sufficient for every mishap hitherto, but this seemed too serious a case for it; but, with the ready help of Mr. McDougal, shaganappi triumphed, and we were delayed only an hour. No one ever seems non-plussed on the plains; for every man is a "Jack of all trades," and accustomed to make-shifts. When an axle broke, the men would haul out a piece of white birch, shape it into something like the right thing, stick it in, tie it with shaganappi, and be jogging on at the old rate before a professional carriage builder would make up his mind what was best to be done.

Both, yesterday and to-day, the sasketoon berries, that are put in the best or "berry pemmican," were pointed out to us, and the creeper which the Indians make into "kinni-kinnick," when they can't get the bark of the red willow to mix with their tobacco. The sasketoon are simply what are known in Nova Scotia as "Indian pears," and the kinni-kinnick creeper is our squaw-berry plant.

Just as the sun was setting behind the Moose Mountain, we had ascended the high ridge that rises from Middle Creek, and were crossing the narrow plateau that separates it from Moose Creek. Getting across the plateau to the edge of the descent to Moose Creek, a glorious view opened out in the glowing twilight. To our immediate left, coming from the west, and winding south and east, the Saskatchewan, not quite so broad as at Carlton, but without any break or sand-bar, flowed like a mass of molten lead, between far extending hills, covered with young aspens; like the Rhine with its vine-clad slopes near Bingen. Right beneath, was the deep rugged valley of Moose Creek, broken into strange transverse sections by its own action and by swirling overflows of its great neighbour, and running round north and north-west into the heart of the mountain that fed it, and that formed our horizon. Crossing the creek we camped on its bank. Our tents were pitched and fires burning brightly, long before the twilight had forsaken the west. Then a mighty supper of buffalo steak for us, and limitless pemmican for our Cree visitors, rounded off one of the pleasantest days of the expedition.

August 23rd.—Up early and away from camp before sunrise. The sun usually rose and set in so cloudless a sky on the prairies that the Chief had all along roughly determined the longitude of our camps and the local time in a simple way, that may as well be mentioned. His watch kept Montreal time, and he knew that the longitude of Montreal was 73° 33'. Sunset last night was at 9.34 P.M., and sunrise this morning at 7.26 A.M., by his watch. That gave fourteen hours and eight minutes of sunlight: the half of that added to the hour of sunrise made 2.30 P.M, on his watch, to be mid-day. We were thus two hours and a half behind Montreal time, and as four minutes are equal to a degree of longitude, we learned that we were 37° 30' west of Montreal, or in longitude 111°. At the same time we were in latitude 54°, that is 7° or 350 miles north of the boundary line, and 700 miles north of Toronto. Yet the vegetation was of the same general character as that of Ontario; and Bishop Taché told us that at Lac La Biche, 100 miles further north, they had their favourite wheat ground, where the wheat crop could always be depended on. But we can go still farther north. Mr, King, the second H. B. officer who had joined our party at Carlton, told us that he had never seen better wheat or root crops than are raised at Fort Liard on the Liard river—a tributary of the MacKenzie, in latitude 60°. This testimony is confirmed by Sir John Richardson who says "wheat is raised with profit at Fort Liard, latitude 60° 5' North, longitude 122° 31' West, and four or five hundred feet above the sea." And numerous authorities from MacKenzie in 1787, who gave his name to the great river of the Arctic regions, down to H. B. officers and miners of the present day, give similar testimony concerning immense tracts along the Athabaska and the Peace rivers.

There are several reasons why the isothermal lines should extend so far north in this longitude, and why there should be the same flora as farther south, though the summers are shorter. The low altitude of the Rocky Mountains, as they run north, permits the warm moisture-laden air of the Pacific to get across; and, meeting then the colder currents from the north, refreshing showers are emptied on the plains. These northern plains of ours have also a comparatively low elevation, while farther south in the United States, on the same longitude, the semi-desert rainless plateaus are from five to eight thousand feet high. Combined with these facts, another may be suggested, that,—the summer days being much longer as you go north,—plants get more of the sun, more light and warmth within the same period of growing weather. The summer days where we are now, for instance, must be two hours longer than at Toronto.

But these and such like general reasons by no means determine the fitness of every section of the country for cereals. Much land south of 54° is unsuited for wheat because of drought or early frosts. Probably this is so with much along the banks of the Saskatchewan. It has been proved at any rate that there is less or more risks, in places; but those places areas a rule splendidly adapted for stock-raising, and, in such a country as this, cattle and sheep are just as much needed as. flour.

To-day we travelled 42 miles. The first ' spell,' ten miles to 'the Little Lake,' was over a cold and moist soil as shown by the more northern character of the vegetation. The ground was profusely covered with the low scrub birch, which is found everywhere in the extreme north. The second 'spell' was fourteen miles, over ground that improved as we journeyed west, across Dog-rump Creek and, up the opposite hill, and, four miles farther on, to two beautiful lakes well stocked with wild fowl. The creek gets its peculiar name from a bluff, projecting beyond a bold ridge that bounds the valley to the west. A lively fancy sees in the bluff a resemblance to a dog's rump. Beavers had built a dam a few days before, across the creek below the road, and in consequence the water was too deep for the buckboards. Untackling the horses we ran the buckboards across a slight bridge of willow rods that some good Samaritan had made for foot passengers. The road then wound up to the top of the ridge and gained the plateau beyond, through an extremely picturesque narrow steep pass. From the summit, we had a good view of the creek meandering through valley and lake towards the Saskatchewan.

At the second 'spelling-place' we caught up to a large 'brigade' of Hudson's Bay carts, that had left Carlton for Edmonton a week before us, heavily laden with stores. They were driven by several of Mr. McDougal's people, half-breeds and Crees, from Victoria, an united family of husband, wife, and half-a-dozen young children being at the head of the brigade. The expense of bringing anything into or sending anything out of the country by this old fashioned way is of course enormous. The prime cost of the articles is a bagatelle. Transport swallows up everything. No wonder that the price of a pound of tea, sugar, or salt, is here exactly the same. They weigh the same, and cost the same for carriage. One of the Crees in this brigade, called Jack, was pointed out to us as having in the last Indian war done a very plucky thing. A company of Crees and half-breeds from Victoria were hunting buffalo on the plains. One morning Jack and an old man were left behind to bring up the kitchen and baggage carts, while the main body started ahead for another camp. Just as they got over the first ridge, a war-party of Blackfeet swooped down on them with their usual terrific yells. They turned campwards, from the mere instinct of flight, though there was no relief there. The Blackfeet had just got up to them, shot and scalped the two hindmost, and would soon have massacred every one, but at this moment Jack, who had heard the yells, appeared over the ridge, and firing his gun at the enemy, shouted to an imaginary force behind him, "hurrah! here they are boys; we've caught them at last." The old man at the same moment was seen hurrying up, and the Blackfeet imagining that they had fallen into a trap, turned tail, and fled precipitately.

The third 'spell' was eighteen miles, over fine meadow land, covered with rich pasturage that extended without break for fifty miles to the north. On the road the Doctor shot some ducks for the pot. Every lakelet had at least one flock among the reeds, or swimming about; but it was unsatisfactory work shooting them, unless they were close to the shore, not having a dog to bring them out. A little after sunset, we camped near the Riding or Snake Lake.

As we were now only 110 to 120 miles from Edmonton, it was proposed at supper that Horetzky should ride ahead with our letters of introduction to Mr. Hardisty; order pack-saddles, secure a guide, and make as many arrangements as possible, for our journey over the mountains. At Edmonton, or at any rate at Lake St. Ann's, fifty miles farther west, wheels must be discarded and everything carried on pack horses. A different outfit is required and as some of it has to be made to order, time would be gained for the whole party if one got to the Fort before the others. Macaulay who had been away on a visit to Scotland for the last twelve months, and whose wife and family were at Edmonton, offered to accompany Horetzky. So it was decided that after an early breakfast next morning, the two should ride on rapidly, each taking two horses, a blanket, and some pemmican.

August 24th.—Rose early, but as we breakfasted at the camp, for the sake of Horetzky and Macaulay, it was 6 o'clock before all got away. Our two couriers preceded us by half an hour, but expected to be at Edmonton a day and a half before us. Passed the Riding or—as it is called on Palliser's Map—the Snake Lake. The smell of decaying fish-offal explained the object for which a number of log shanties had been erected, at two points near its shores. The lake swarms with white-fish. Soon after, we crossed the creek that issues from the lake. The cellar of a deserted shanty by the roadside showed the character of the soil; eighteen inches of black loam, and then successive layers of tenacious clay, through the first of which the tissues of plants extended.

The country now became more hilly; the hill-sides covered with heavy wood, and the hollows with marshes or lakelets. Vegetation everywhere was wonderfully luxuriant. Flowers re-appeared, but the general colour was blue in place of the former yellow or lilac; mint, blue bells, a beautiful tall larkspur, but principally light blue and dark blue asters. Our Botanist was disappointed by finding that, amid such wealth of vegetation, there were but few new species. The same plants have kept by us for a thousand miles. Mint and a saxifragaceous plant had accompanied us from Rainy Lake; gentians, asters, castilia, anemones, and golden rods from the eastern verge of the prairie.

We divided the day into two 'spells;'—sixteen miles of the richest soil and pasturage; and twenty-four miles to Victoria over a great deal of inferior ground. One large section of this showed little but scrub birch. Another, ten miles broad, near Victoria, was a sandy ridge producing scrub pine, or as the people here called it 'cypress;' very like the country between Bathurst and Miramichi, N. B., that was burnt over by the great Miramichi fire, and where in the Lower Provinces the scrub pine is chiefly found. The ground was literally covered with cranberries, bearberries, the uva ursi, and other creepers.

In the forenoon the water was in lakes; in the afternoon in streams, all of which fortunately for us were bridged, roughly indeed, but the worst bridge was a great improvement on deep black quagmire. Pine, White Mud, and Smoking Lake Creeks were the suggestive names of the chief streams, names that we had heard before and probably would again. America has been called the country of inventions,—but it cannot invent names. In the North-west, there are half-a-dozen 'Red Deers,' 'White Muds' 'Vermilions'; and several other names are nearly as popular.

The first part of the day was bright and pleasant as usual, but at two o'clock heavy clouds gathered in the north-west. The wind drifted the thickest masses completely to our right, while all to the left the sky remained a clear bright blue. ' It thundered on the right'; and then we could see the rain falling in half-a-dozen places while intervening districts escaped. At one point, not very far from us, the rain must have been terrific, and right thankful were we that our course had not taken us there, or we would have had Rat Creek over again. The central mass of cloud hung over this point, and all at once seemed to have the bottom knocked out of it, when a deluge either of rain or hail —probably of both—descended, like a continuous pillar, to the ground for a quarter of an hour, uniting the earth to the clouds as if by a solid band. The end of the tail of this cloud swept round over our heads, and gave us first a gust of wind, and then a smart shower of rain and hail for two or three minutes. The sky cleared completely at 3 o'clock; but, two hours later, as we crossed Smoking Lake Creek, and entered again on good land, thundery clouds rose the second time from the western horizon, and soon covered the sun and sky before us. We were now in the bounds of Mr. McDougal's old mission settlement; and at his word we "hustled up," that is, pushed our horses to their utmost speed, to reach a good camping ground before the storm would burst. We got to the spot aimed at in time, our course for two miles being up a rich valley that is now behind the northern ridge or bank of the Saskatchewan, but that formerly, when the river was higher, must have been one of its beds, the intervening ridge being then an island. The settlement and Hudson's Bay fort of Victoria is on the river slope of this ridge, and thus travellers, passing along the main trail up the valley, might be in entire ignorance that there was a settlement near. When we rode up, however, two or three men were making hay in the valley, and, hailing the sight as a sure sign that civilized beings and dwellings must be not far off, we camped at a spring beside them; and, with a rapidity that astonished them and ourselves, had everything made tight before the rain commenced. After all the threatening the shower did not amount to much, in half an hour the sky was clear again, and the Doctor and Mr. McDougal drove over to the fort, a mile distant, for supplies, and to announce that there would be service in the church next day. They returned after dark with beef, bread, and milk. Mr. Tait the Hudson's Bay agent, had no fresh meat; but, hearing of our arrival, with oriental hospitality, had ordered a young ox to be killed and a quarter sent over for our use.

August 25th.—Another day of rest, and a long sleep to begin it with. At 10 A. M. walked over the ridge to service, at Victoria. The church, (which is also used as a school-room) the Mission House, and Fort are all at the west end of the settlement. The log-houses of the half-breeds, (English and Scotch) intermingled with the tents of the Crees, extend in a line from this west end along the bank of the river, each man having a frontage on the river, and his grain planted in a little hollow that runs behind the houses, beneath the main rise of the ridge. Most of their hay they cut in the valley, on the other side of the ridge where we had camped.

The farming is on a very limited scale, as the men prefer hunting buffalo, fishing, or freighting for the Company to steady agricultural labour, and neither farming nor gardening can succeed well, when the seeds are merely thrown into the ground in spring, and the ground is not looked at again till autumn, when every thing is expected to be ripe and ready for ingathering. The settlement is seven years old, and consists now of between twenty and thirty families of half-breeds and from ten to a hundred tents of Crees, according to the time of the year, each tent housing on an average, seven or eight souls. It owes its origin to Mr. McDougal who selected the place as a Mission field because the Crees resorted to it; and as a suitable locality for a half-breed settlement, on account of its advantages of soil, river, lakes abounding in fish and wild fowl, and nearness to the plains where the buffalo are always found. Last year Mr. McDougal was removed to Edmonton, and the charge of Victoria given to Mr. Campbell who had been conducting a successful Mission among the Stonies at Woodville to the south-west Mr. Campbell was at present on his way home from Red River, where he had gone to attend the first Wesleyan conference of Manitoba, and consequently there had been no one attending to the Mission for some weeks, except the schoolmaster. This removal of Missionaries from one tribe or even station, where they have gained the confidence of the Indians, to another locality, seems a mistake to outsiders. The personal influence of the Missionary is the only thing that can be counted upon in work among heathen, or any rude and primitive people, and personal influence can be gained only after long intercourse with them.

When we arrived at the church it was almost filled with about eighty whites, half-breeds, and Crees. The men sat on one side, the women on the other, and the children in a little gallery or loft with the schoolmaster and monitors. The service was in English, but some Cree hymns were sung, and Mr. McDougal announced that there would be service in Cree in the evening, through the medium of an interpreter. The conduct of all present from first to last was most devout, notwithstanding that many present understood but imperfectly what was said. The children led the singing, and though there was lack of bass-voices on account of the absence of the principal members of the choir, it was singularly sweet and correct. Some of us were moved more than we cared to show, when the first Cree hymn was sung.

Service over two of our party dined at the Mission House, and the others at the Fort; and, after a walk through the settlement along the bank of the river, we returned to the church to see the Sunday School. Mr. McKenzie the teacher was about to leave for another mission, and his successor Mr. Snyder was also present. There were sixty names, forty of them half-breeds, and twenty Indians, on the roll; but only thirty-two were present, as whole families were absent, freighting or hunting. We examined the three advanced classes, numbering twenty-one, of the biggest boys and girls. All read the English Bible more Or less fluently and with understanding, for they answered every question put to them. Their knowledge of hymns was such as could be found only in a Methodist school; if any of us named a hymn in the collection, the tune was at once raised and all joined in without books. The more ambitious tunes were of course the favourites with the children. The Indians delight in hymn singing, the Missionaries take advantage of this and make it one great means of reaching their hearts. Heathen Crees who come to Victoria only for a few weeks send their children to the school; they pick up some hymns at any rate, and sing them when far away on the plains.

Mr. Snyder had been schoolmaster for the last few years at White-Fish Lake, a settlement of Crees fifty miles to the north, where every one acknowledges that good work has been done. He had eighty Cree children at his school there. When the Indians moved out to the plains to hunt buffalo, the master would pack up his spelling books and slates, and go off with them, setting up his establishment wherever they halted. He spent from two to six months of the year, teaching in this rotary style,—and liked it as every man with a love of the picturesque in him would—hunting half the day, teaching the other half. The Crees at White-Fish Lake are all Christianized and value the school highly. They are beginning to settle down to steady farming-work too, several families not going to the plains now, but raising wheat, barley and potatoes instead. At Victoria wheat has been sowed for seven successive years, and was a failure only once, the cause then being an extreme local drought. At White-Fish Lake it has never been a total failure. Victoria is on the most northerly bend of the North Saskatchewan; the plateau is very elevated; and many of the plants in the country round, have more of the sub-arctic character than in any other part of the "fertile belt;" so that we were not surprised when told that there were generally light frosts in July and August. Indeed Mr. McDougal had been warned in planting the settlement, that he was choosing one of the worst spots on the river; the future may show that he was wiser than his friends.

In the evening, we went to church again; more Crees were present than in the forenoon, but not so many of the half-breeds. Mr. Tait acted as interpreter and also led the meeting, with modesty and fervour, in prayer in Cree. It must be a great advantage to a Missionary to have such a man in charge of the Fort.

We had seen enough to-day to convince us, more than all the arguments in the world, that missionary labour among the Indians is a reality, and that the positive language on the other side is the language of ignorance, self-interest or downright opposition to the Gospel. The aims of traders and Missionaries with regard to the Indians are different; the former wish that they should continue hunters, the latter that they should take to steady employment. It is not wonderful then that some traders should feel annoyed at what they regard as a steady working against their interest. But, as the Indian has no chance of existence except by conforming to civilized ways, the sooner that the Government or the Christian people awake to the necessity of establishing schools among every tribe the better. Little can be done with the old, it may be two or three generations before old habits among a people are changed; but, always taking hold of the young, the work can be done. A Mission without schools is a mistake, almost a crime. And the Methodists deserve the praise of having seen and vigorously acted on this, and they can, therefore, point to more visible proofs of success in their Indian Missions than perhaps any other church.

It is greatly to the credit of the Indians in British America, that they have never injured or stolen from any Missionary. They have plundered posts, stripped traders naked, and murdered some who perhaps had given them cause; but even when at war, the Missionary is allowed to enter and speak in their great Councils and is everywhere treated with respect. Reverence is a strong trait in the Indian character. His own language supplies no words for profane swearing; if he wishes to blaspheme, he must borrow from the French or English. Is not his dignity of speech and manner connected with this veneration for Deity?

We invited Mr. Tait and the schoolmasters to walk over the ridge and have supper with us. Mrs. Campbell also did us the honour of coming, and, so for the first time, our camp was graced with the presence of a lady. Her presence lighted up everything, and had a very appreciable effect on our style of passing things round the table; every one was as anxious to help her to something as if she had been Her Majesty in person; Terry, naturally and nationally the soul of politeness, was especially attentive. Rather than let her put preserved peaches on the plate beefsteak had been on, he removed the plate and whipping out his pocket handkerchief, that had not been washed since he left Fort Garry, proceeded to clean it. Luckily the Doctor noticed him in time to snatch the plate away, or—but we must draw a veil over Terry as cook or table-maid; in no house is it wise to look too closely into how things are done in the kitchen. Since the commencement of our journey, Sundays had invariably been our most pleasant and profitable days, and this was no exception. The kindness of every one at Victoria was something not soon to be forgotten. They welcomed us for our own sakes, and for the end the expedition had in view, as they had long prayed for the opening up of the country. It was in our favour also here as elsewhere that a Doctor was with us. He visited and prescribed for all the sick in the settlement, and, finding in the Fort a medicine chest that had been sent out as a present by Dr. Ray but had never been used, he explained to Mr. Tait how and when to give the different medicines, and wrote out general directions that could be easily understood and acted upon.

August 26th.—Rose very early, the Doctor acting as camp-master and making every one fly round, so that we got off half an hour before sunrise. The thermometer then stood at thirty degrees, and heavy hoar-frost lay on the rich deep grass. A dense fog rose as the frost exhaled in dew, and, the sun's rays striking on this, formed a beautiful fog-bow that hung before us during fully an hour's travelling. Passing up the valley parallel to the river, to where it turns southerly in a somewhat different direction, we ascended the plateau on the other side and skirted its edge for some distance, going through tall heavy grass and a country which seemed to possess every qualification for successful stock-raising. The road showed the influence of recent rains that, the Victoria settlers told us, had been so heavy this August as to have completely stopped haying operations. Every marsh was a bog, every creek swollen, and as good soil makes bad roads, our progress was necessarily slow. Still by getting a good start, and by "pegging away" we made forty-four miles in our three "spells." The first was to the Wassetenow, (or opening in the bank) so called from the cleft it has made, in the ridge, to get to the Saskatchewan. The cleft, instead of showing the usual broad rounded valley, is cut sharp and clean as if with a knife, partly by the force of the stream and partly by land slides. We next passed successively "Sucker" "Vermilion" and "Deep" Creeks, besides several smaller ones, and camped at the last named. The road descended twice to the Saskatchewan, which showed the same clayey look as at Carlton, and ran with almost as great a volume though more than three hundred miles nearer its source. For thirty miles to-day the trail was through thick woods of aspen, poplars, birch, tamarack, spruce and pine. Much of the wood was good timber, from one to two feet in diameter with tall straight shafts, as thick fifty or sixty feet up as when five or six feet from the ground. There are occasionally alternate sections of aspen and spruce for half a mile or so; in one place the underbrush thick and green; in another the soil so bare and the trees so branchless, that movement in any direction is easy.

Camped before sunset within twenty-seven miles of Edmonton, and in honour of the event brought out our only bottle of claret. As we had no ice, Terry shouted to "Souzie" to bring some cold water, but no Souzie appearing he varied the call to "Pimmican!" This brought Souzie to the front, and great was his indignation when a bucket was put into his hands, instead of the rich pemmican he was never tired of feasting on. Terry had a decidedly Irish contempt for Indians, half-breeds, or "coloured -entlemen" of any kind; and Souzie was especially obnoxious, because of his magnificent appetite, and because with Indian carelessness he often mislaid the belongings of the party, as if, remarked Terry confidentially to the Secretary:-"I carried tillygraph wires in my head."

August 27th.—Off this morning again before sunrise, and breakfasted fourteen miles from camp at a little Creek near "Horse Hill," where the "guard" of Edmonton was formerly located. On the way crossed a strong rapid-running stream called Sturgeon Creek, from which twenty-five pound fish are often taken. We had left the thick woods last evening, and the country to-day was open and elevated. Thirty miles to our left the Beaver Hills, on the other side of the Saskatchewan, formed a bold background of deep blue. Mr. McDougal pointed out a spot near our breakfast "spelling place," where his predecessor had ' a remarkable escape when travelling. He had intended to camp on Horse Hill but when within a mile of it, so furious a storm came on that he dismounted and crouched for protection under a bank with overhanging low willow bushes. When the storm passed over, he rode on to the hill and found on the very spot he would have camped on, a horse that had just been killed by the lightning.

At eleven o'clock, arrived at Edmonton and found that Horetsky had made arrangements to enable us to start next day-Mr. Hardisty in the quiet business-like way, and with the same kindness that many a traveller has experienced before, had done everything to forward our views. We pitched tents on the bank three quarters of a mile down the river from the Fort, near Mr. McDougal's house and the new Church he is building, and had the whole party photographed; tents, carts, buck-boards, with Terry, seated on his pots and pans, mending his pants and smoking the inevitable inseparable cutty, in the foreground.

The first great half of our journey, the prairie as distinguished from the mountain part, was over. It had not been all prairie or anything like it, and the second part would not be all mountain. We were not obliged to discard our carts for another, fifty miles, and the mountains were still two hundred miles distant. But, Edmonton may be considered the end of the journey across the plains and the beginning of the woods; and is the point at which to prepare for crossing the Rocky Mountains. It is the headquarters of the Company's posts on the Saskatchewan, and here we were to take our leave of the great river Up to this point it had been all plain sailing, but now we were told to expect toil and trouble.

At Edmonton we looked with great interest for the section of coal that crops out on the river bank. 'Is it coal or not', was the question. Some had called it bitumenous shale, with very little bitumen, and others lignite. A bushel or two was brought up from the river side at our request; it looked like shale, or dull dried stuff from which most of the bitumen had leaked out. Trying it in the smiddy, it burnt well and gave a good heat when the bellows was applied,, but it would be very difficult to kindle without the bellows. It keeps burning a long time and leaves a great deal of dirt, dust and ash, worse in this respect than the Pictou coal, that Captain Davidson used to declare yielded "at the rate of two ton of ashes to one of coal." The section at Edmonton is only three feet thick, and it crops out in several places, with a conglomerate beneath it that resembles ironstone in nodules; but, at the Pembina river, seventy miles to the west there is a seam ten feet thick that we would see; and Mr. Hardisty informed us that at the Rocky Mountain House, one hundred and forty miles distant to the south-west, the seam is ten feet, the coal of a much superior quality, and used regularly in the forge. Many other seams are found over a wide extent of country, and it is but reasonable to infer that several of these will yield good fuel, for even in the richest coal countries there is no such abundant outcrops as here. What we tried was picked up from the river or from the outcrop; and was hard and shaly and therefore inferior as fuel; but had it not been very hard it would probably have crumbled away by exposure to the air and rain and snow and frost, and its face been covered up completely with earthy and vegetable matter, so that no surface traces of its presence would have been left. A little boring would soon settle the question, for the beds are horizontal and not very deep. It is desirable that the whole truth should soon be known on the subject, for if there Is abundance of good coal, the point most important, next to the water supply on the plains, in the future of our North-west will be decided in our favour. The Edmonton specimens being evidently inferior, we resolved not to make up our own minds until we saw the Pembina seams.

The Company works a large farm at Edmonton, and with a success that is very encouraging, especially when it is remembered that the methods are comparatively rude, and that there is much better land to the north, south and east. They have raised wheat for thirty years, and it has failed only two or three times; barley and potatoes and turnips are sure crops. The usual difficulties from the Indians camping near a Fort have been experienced. A band of strange Indians come along, and, without the slightest idea that they are doing anything objectionable, use the fences for tent poles or fuel; and their horses then getting into the fields destroy much of the crop. But in spite of these and other hindrances, a thousand bushels of wheat are usually stored from a sowing of a hundred; and last year, two hundred and fifty kegs of potatoes (eight gallon kegs used instead of bushels) were planted, and about five thousand were dug. The same land has been used for the farm for thirty years, without any manure worth speaking of being put on it. Part is intervale and part upland.

The uplands do not yield such good crops because there is a slight infusion of alkali in the surface soil, which subsoil ploughing would probably do away with.

In the evening the Secretary held Divine service in "the ball room" of the Fort. About fifty men, most of them 'employed about the post, were present. There were also some miners who had recently arrived from Peace River, and whose reports of the Ominica gold-mines were not very encouraging. The men who wash the Saskatchewan sand bars for gold make on an average four dollars per day, but that does not satisfy them; five dollars a day is called "wages." This year there are only fifteen miners on the Saskatchewan.

Three or four intend starting to-morrow for the Red Deer, a tributary of the Bow River, in some canyons of which heavier grains of gold than usual have been found.

On the North Saskatchewan the gold miners or washers range up and down for about one hundred and thirty miles, Edmonton being the central point of this distance. It was for a long time supposed that all the gold in the Saskatchewan and the other rivers—in the same longitude—came from the Rocky Mountains, and these were diligently 'prospected' near their sources. But not a trace of gold has been found there, and it is now thought more probable that a stratum of gold-bearing quartz extends across the country, some distance on the west side of the mountains. "Float" silver is also found in some of the rivers, but not in sufficient quantities to encourage prospecting.

This seems the proper place, before going on with our diary, for some general observations on the country, between the North-west Angle of the lake of the Woods and Edmonton; particularly with a view to its capabilities as a great field for colonization. We can speak positively only of what we saw, and that includes a very narrow strip. All admit that the line of our route does not show the best land, however much they differ as to the quantity that is available for settlement. Some observers, long resident in the country, declare that the fertile belt practically means the whole distance between the North and South Saskatchewan, and other vast regions to the east, north, and west, especially a broad belt along the bases of the Rocky Mountains to the south of Edmonton, two hundred miles long by fifty broad, the home of the Blackfeet, and pronounced by many to be the garden of the North-west. Others maintain that, as far as the Saskatchewan country is concerned, only a narrow belt along such rivers as the Battle, Vermillion, and Red Deer can be cultivated with success. It is not necessary to decide between those views now. We know on the authority of Captain Palliser, who crossed and re-crossed the plains several times, that the central American desert does extend a short way into British Territory forming a triangle, having for its base the forty-ninth parallel from longitude 100° to 114°W., with its apex reaching to the fifty-second parallel of latitude. But the first emigrants will select land along the courses of streams, especially the navigable rivers, and they will soon find out all about the intervening districts.

Speaking generally of Manitoba and our North-west, along the line we travelled, it is impossible to doubt that it is one of the finest pasture countries in the world, and that a great part of it is well adapted for cereals. The climatological conditions are favourable for both stock raising and grain producing. The spring is nearly as early as in Ontario; the summer is more humid and therefore the grains, grasses, and root crops grow better; the autumn bright and cloudless, the very weather for harvesting; and the winter has less snow and fewer snow-storms and though, in many parts colder, it is healthy and pleasant because of the still dry air, the cloudless sky, and bright sun. The soil is almost everywhere a peaty or sandy loam resting on clay. Its only fault is that it is too rich. Crop after crop is raised without fallow or manure.

As regards the practical experience of farmers on the subject there is little to appeal to, and that little is chiefly favourable. The only large settlement is about Red River. The farms there are most inconveniently shaped, being very narrow, very long strips; none of the people were skilled farmers to begin with, and, till the last two or three years, they had no market except what the H. B. Company took from them. But the Scotch farmers there are all making money now, and their testimony is uniformly in favour of the country being the best in the world for farming purposes.

The other settlements are few and far between, on the edges of rivers or lakes, where wood and water are easily obtainable. The population of these consists entirely of half-breeds, and their method of farming is unique. They are farmers, hunters, fishermen, voyageurs, all in one; the soil is scratched, three inches deep, early in May, some seed is thrown in, and then the whole household go off to hunt the buffalo. They get back about the first of August, spend the month haying and harvesting, and are off to the fall hunt early in September. Some are now so devoted to farming that they only go to one hunt in the year. It is astonishing that, though knowing so well 'how not to do it,' they raise some wheat and a good deal of barley, oats and potatoes. There is a great difference, however, between the Scotch and French half-breeds. The French who intermarried with the Indians in some respects became as the Indians; just as the Spaniards in Mexico and South America who intermarried with the natives, sank to their level. The squaw was treated as his wife. Her people became his people, but his God her God. The children have all the Indian characteristics, the habits, weaknesses, and ill-regulated passions of nomads. They excel the Indian in strength of body and endurance. They beat him on his own field of hunting, running, riding, power of eating or when necessary of abstinence; with these are united much of French vivacity, love of amusement, hospitality, patience, courtesy of manner, and warmth of affection. When a Scotchman married a squaw, her position, on the contrary, was frequently not much higher than a servant's. He was 'the superior person' of the house. He continued Christian after his fashion, she continued pagan. The granite of his nature resisted fusion in spite of family and tribal influences, the attrition of all surrounding circumstances, and the total absence of civilization; and the wife was too completely separated from him to be able to raise her self to his level. The children of such a couple take more after the father than the mother. As a rule they are shrewd, steady and industrions. A Scotch half-breed has generally a field o! wheat before or behind his house, stacks, barn, and provision for a year ahead, in his granary. The Metis has a patch of potatoes or a little barley, and in a year of scarcity draws his belt tighter or starves. It is interesting as one travels in the great Northwest to note, how the two old allies of the middle ages have left their marks on the whole of this great country. The name of almost every river, creek, mountain or district is either French or Scotch.

The climate and the soil are favourable! What about water, fuel, and the summer frosts, the three points next in importance?

A large population cannot be expected unless there is good water in the form of rivers, lakes, springs, or wells. In many parts of the prairies of the U. S., dependence is placed mainly on rain water collected in cisterns; but such a supply is unwholesome, and to it may be attributed much of their prairie sickness. In connection with this question of water, the existence of the numerous saline lakes, that has been again and again noted, forces itself on our attention; the wonder, is that former observers have said so little about them. Palliser marks them on his map in two places, but they are really the characteristic feature of the country for hundreds of miles. In many parts they so completely outnumber the fresh water lakes, that it is

"Water, water, everywhere
And not a drop to drink."

Some of them are from five to twenty miles long, others only little pools. Some are so impregnated with salt that crystals of sulphate of soda are formed on the surface, and a thick white incrustation is deposited round the shores. Others are brackish or with a salt taste that is scarcely discernible. We noted several facts about these lakes that may be stated. (1) That they have no outlet. (2) That they are often side by side with fresh water lakes, and that, in these cases, the latter occupy the higher situation and their outflow consequently falls into the former. (3) That a few feet away from their immediate shores, on which marine plants grow, the usual flora and grasses of the country flourish. (4) That the tracks of the buffalo show that the water is drank by them, and horses drink it when they cannot get fresh water, though it acts medicinally on them.

Whence have they originated? Several theories may be suggested. Here is one that explains all the facts so far as known to us. Suppose that formerly a superabundant quantity of alkaline matter was diffused through the soil generally, over our Northwest, as we know it is over a wide extent of the American desert and in sections on the Pacific coast. We found it so in some places where there are no lakes, and where it could be carried off by rivers. On the bank of the Assiniboine near Fort Ellice, similarly on the Saskatchewan near Edmonton, and at other points it was observed. If it had once been generally diffused through the soil what must have happened in the course of centuries wherever there was an ordinary rainfall? The water, percolating through the soil, would carry off the alkali matter into lakes and rivers, and it would be retained only in those lakes that had no outlet. This theory explains all the features of the case, and starts no new difficulties. It suggests too, that the one great reason why the American Desert must remain both desert and bitter is, that there is no rainfall on it, while farther north in the same longitude there is abundance of rain.

Apart from those saline lakes, is there a sufficient supply of water? In brief we must answer that, in many parts there is, in others we do not know yet. Test wells must be sunk and then we can speak positively; in the meantime all the indications are in our favour.

The question of fuel is next in importance in a country where the winters are severe, for corn cannot be grown for fuel in our North-west as it has been on the prairies of Illinois. At present, on account of the destructive prairie fires for successive years, there is little wood except along the rivers and creeks, and on some of the hills, until we go back to the continuous forest on the north, or to within two hundred miles of the Rocky Mountains. This scarcity of wood is of little consequence, if the vast coal-measures, that extend from the Red Deer and Bow Rivers to the McKenzie, prove to contain good coal in large enough seams to be worked with profit. By river or rail, coal can be carried in all directions for every purpose; and it is highly probable, as will be pointed out hereafter, that we have the most extensive, perhaps the finest, coal fields in the world. The importance of definitely ascertaining the quality of each prominent seam is very great. But even though wood may not be absolutely required for fuel, every encouragement for its growth should be given. Wood is needed for many purposes, and the plains would be warmer in winter if they were not treeless.

The remaining difficulty is the recurrence of summer frosts. In many localities these are dreaded more than anything else. At one place in June or July, at another in August, sharp frosts have nipped the grain, and sometimes even the potatoes. At Edmonton, 2088 feet above the sea, there is invariably a night or two of frost between the 10th and 20th of August. At Victoria and Fort Pitt to the east, and still more so at the R. C. Mission of Lake St. Albert and Lake St. Ann to the west of Edmonton, the grain has suffered more or less frequently from the same cause. This enemy is a serious one, for against it man seems powerless. But admitting to the full that there are such frosts, admitting that they cannot be avoided, that no improvement will ensue on the general cultivation of the land, the draining of bogs, and the peopling of the country, there remain large and fertile tracts free from them, and, where the frosts are frequent, other crops than wheat can be raised, and the pasturage remains unhurt and unrivalled.

It is only fair to the country to add, that the power of those frosts to injure must be judged not by the thermometer, but by actual experience. It is a remarkable fact, that frost which would nip grain in many other countries is innocuous on the Red River and the Saskatchewan. Whatever the reason, and Mr. Spence in a recent pamphlet on ' Manitoba and the North-west of the Dominion,' has assigned several,—such as the dryness of the atmosphere, the heat-retaining character of the soil, and the sudden change of temperature that enables vigorous plants to bear an atmosphere at 20° better than at 35° when the latent heat of the earth and the plants has been given off,—the fact is undoubted. Due regard to times and seasons will also enable the farmer to escape very often the dangers peculiar to a locality. Thus, at Edmonton, if they sow late and the wheat is in the milk when the frost comes, it is injured. Of course the remedy is to sow early.

Looking fairly at all the facts, admitting all the difficulties— and what country has not its own drawbacks, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that we have a great and fertile North-west, a thousand miles long and from one to four hundred miles broad, capable of containing a population of millions. It is a fair land; rich in furs and fish, in treasures of the forest, the field, and the mine; seamed by navigable rivers, interlaced by numerous creeks, and beautified with a thousand lakes; broken by swelling uplands, wooded hill-sides, and bold ridges; and protected on its exposed sides by a great desert or by giant mountains. The air is pure, dry and bracing all the year round; giving promise of health and strength of body and length of days. Here we have a home for our own surplus population and for the stream of emigration that runs from northern and central Europe to America. Let it be opened up to the world by rail and steamboat, and in an incredibly short time the present gap between Manitoba and British Columbia will be filled up, and a continuous line of loyal Provinces extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific.


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