CALGARY, at the time of my
arrival, was in much the same stage of development as Medicine Hat; a town
in the making, consisting almost entirely of tents. These were all east of
the Elbow River — a tributary of the Bow — and close to the C.P.R.
road-bed. West of the Elbow, and bordering on it, were the Mounted Police
barracks; and the stores of I. G. Baker & Company — a large American
trading company. The Hudson's Bay Company had a small post east of the
Elbow near its junction with the Bow.
Burpee's camp was located
alongside the storehouse then being used for supplies for engineers'
camps, in charge of Colvin, a former Mounted Policeman. It was about
three-quarters of a mile south of the C.P.R. roadbed, on the route between
Calgary and MacLeod known as the MacLeod trail; and near the present site
of the Riverside Iron Works. The office staff consisted of two young
Welshmen, one of whom was Jack Griffith. He was Burpee's chief office
assistant, and was in charge of the camp. The name of the other was
Walters. There was also the cook, and the teamster who looked after
My work at this camp was,
for the most part, helping to prepare the monthly estimates of work done
by the contractors. But I was not many days on this job, for Doane and
Thompson arrived soon after I did; and another tent was set up in which I
resumed my former position with them. We had plans and bills of material
to make for the bridges to be built ahead of the track-laying, and this
work took up most of our time.
Close to the camp there
resided a homesteader named Carney. I visited him one evening and had an
interesting talk with him. His homestead was, in after years, acquired by
the City of Calgary, and became the city cemetery.
Track-laying was making
rapid progress. Some five miles were laid in one day on a stretch about
ten miles east of Calgary. This was considered a record for the time; and
perhaps for all time in track-laying done entirely by manual labour.
I cannot give the exact
date on which the track reached Calgary; but it was in the early part of
August, 1883. The laying of the track to this point completed the contract
of Langdon & Shepard, an American firm which had the contract to build the
railway across the plains to Calgary. The stations Langdon, and Shepard —
the last two before reaching Calgary — were so named by the C.P.R. in
honour of the members of that firm.
The construction of the
Railway was being continued by sub-contractors under the direction of the
North American Construction Company.
It had been the expectation
of those who had set up tents east of the Elbow, on Section 14, that the
station would be located there. But the C.P.R. had other plans in view.
Through its subsidiary, the Canada North West Land Company, it had a
town-site of its own to develop, about a mile farther west on Section 15.
On this section a telegraph office was located, and headquarters
Our camp on the MacLeod
trail was moved there too, and made part, as before, with Curran's camp.
It would seem that by this
time Lougheed had lost faith in Medicine Hat, for he also arrived on the
scene, and again took up his quarters with us. So the camp consisted of
very much the same personnel as at Medicine Hat, including of course,
Quite a large portion of
the area in which this camp was situated, was used as a material yard; and
also for a large warehouse and store for camp supplies, such as
provisions, clothing, blankets, buffalo-robes, etc.; everything, in fact,
that might possibly be needed. In length, this area extended approximately
from the site of the present station to about the site of the present
Robin Hood Mills; and in breadth it reached from the C.P.R. track north to
about the rear of what is now the site of that well-patronized
institution, the Alberta Government Liquor Store.
The laying out of the
sidings to serve the material yard was my first work after moving from the
MacLeod trail. The ground was slightly low-lying, and was a rich hay
meadow. The grass was so long that the stakes with which I started to lay
out these sidings could not be seen. So I had to hunt up longer stakes —
no easy matter, for wood with which to make stakes was none too plentiful
there at the time.
The stock of material in
the yard was practically all imported: timber from the States; and steel
rails from the Krupp works in Germany. Some of these rails are still in
use on the siding which serves the Robin Hood Mills, and probably also on
other sidings in that vicinity. They may be recognized by the words: "KRUPP
C.P.R. STEEL. 1883." which are moulded on them in relief.
It was about this time that
The Calgary Weekly Herald made its bow to the public. The proprietors,
Armour and Braden, set up their printing press in a tent, a short distance
from the left bank of the Elbow, south of the railway. I well remember
seeing the press at work. And I bought a copy of the first issue of the
The company had decided to
make a divisional point at the 14th siding — numbering from Medicine Hat.
This siding was about sixty miles east of Calgary, and bordered on the
Blackfoot Indian Reserve.
The laying out and
superintending the construction of a round-house and turntable there, with
the necessary side tracks, devolved on me, with Thomson as my assistant.
So we gathered together a small camp outfit, consisting of tent and
bedding and provisions for the few days we had calculated it would take us
to do the preliminary work. These we loaded on a flat-car of a train ready
to start, and took our places on the car beside our outfit. We had quite a
long time to wait before the train actually started, as the conductor was
waiting for orders. Waiting for orders was the usual answer given by the
conductor of a construction train which might be waiting — for no apparent
reason — at some siding, when anyone ventured to remark: "What are we
waiting here for?"
We reached our destination
all right, but my mind is a blank on the greater part of what we did
there. A few incidents, however, I still clearly remember. We pitched our
tent on the north side of the track, and then proceeded to carry in the
box containing our provisions. It was rather heavy for one to carry, so we
both took hold. But just as we were nearing the tent one of us — I don't
remember which — stumbled on a badger or gopher hole, and down dropped the
box, scattering the contents on the prairie. However, after we had picked
everything up, we got comfortably settled in our tent.
Whether it was at our noon
or our evening meal, I can't now say; but a number of Indians gathered
around us at one or the other. They were quite friendly; in fact, too
friendly, for they made it very clear by their expressive sign language,
that they wanted to share in our feast. But this was met by a prompt
refusal. To have given them any encouragement would most likely have
resulted in our supplies giving out before we had completed our work.
Still they hung around for a while.
One of them — in a gorgeous
Hudson's Bay blanket — lay outside in the lee of our tent, all night,
close against the wall. This happened to be the side of the tent where I
slept; so there was nothing between us but the canvas. Thomson had the
misfortune to be hard of hearing; but on this occasion he had the
advantage over me, for he was able to sleep soundly without being
disturbed by any outside noises. But I passed a restless night; and seemed
to sleep with one ear open, for I could hear the rustling of the canvas as
the Indian lying outside turned himself over from time to time. However,
nothing untoward happened; we got busy with our work the next day, and in
a few days more we had everything ready for the carpenters to commence
work on the round-house. We then returned to Calgary.
The construction of this
round-house was not done by contract, but by a crew of carpenters employed
by the company, under the superintendence of Horace Haney. We had many
goings and comings during its construction; but as the carpenters had a
good camp established, we didn't have to take a tent with us, but only our
blankets. We had our meals at their camp; and always found a place there
in which to sleep. Blankets, I may here note, formed our essential baggage
on all trips of this kind when we expected to be away from our own
These carpenters were a
fine set of men, and I thoroughly enjoyed the evenings I spent with them.
Some had musical instruments, and many of them were good singers; there
were good story-tellers among them too. So they could furnish the talent
to make a pleasant evening.
It was at this siding that
I first met the Venerable Archdeacon Tims, now the highly respected
Chaplain of the Southern Alberta Pioneers' and Old Timers' Association. He
was then a Church of England Missionary among the Blackfoot Indians. I
happened to be there on a Sunday when he held a service in the station
building which had just been completed; and I attended that service along
with my friends the carpenters.
A year, or possibly two
years after the establishment of this divisional point, it was given the
name of "Gleichen" by the C.P.R. directorate, after a German Count of that
name who had played a prominent part in financing the company. But the
pronunciation of the name from the start was, and still is "Gleesh'n" — a
wide departure from the pronunciation of the German name, "Gleichen". This
shows the futility of giving a foreign name to any place, with the
expectation that its proper pronunciation will be preserved, particularly
among people who have never heard the name pronounced as it was intended
it should be.
Construction of the railway
from Calgary westward had been proceeding rapidly, and by the time the
carpenters had finished work on the Gleichen round-house, the track had
about reached Canmore — the next projected divisional point. So they were
moved there to build another round-house on the same plan as the one at
Gleichen; and Thomson and I had the work of laying out and superintending
the construction of this one too.
On our first trip to the
mountains in connection with this work, we stayed a night with Odell — one
of the division engineers. He, however, was about to move camp. So the
next day we took up our quarters — as we had done at Gleichen — at the
One Sunday, when there, we
climbed the mountain lying directly opposite the round-house, to the
north. It was not a very difficult one to climb; but as it was our first
attempt at mountaineering, we felt we could rightly pat ourselves on the
back at having accomplished what we considered, at the time, to be quite a
At our camp at Calgary, we
not infrequently had visitors of note; and among these I clearly remember
meeting Father Lacombe, pioneer Catholic Missionary; and Major Rogers of
Roger's Pass fame, both of whom paid a visit at the same time. The latter
had finished his exploratory surveys for the railway company, and was on
his way east.
Among other pioneers much
spoken of in those days were the Rev. John McDougall, Methodist
Missionary; and his brother David who was a trader with the Stoney
Indians. Both lived at Morley, some forty miles west of Calgary. I did not
happen to meet them at the time I was camped at Calgary, but came to know
them in after years. David had the reputation of being a particularly tall
I never heard him tell any
of the stories with which he was credited; but according to these he must
have rivalled in fantasy even the famous Baron Munchausen.
Be that as it may, the
engineers who were camped near Morley during the construction of the
railway through that district, spoke highly of both him and Mrs.
McDougall, in appreciation of their hospitality.
The location of the railway
through the mountains was being carried on well ahead of construction by
different surveying parties under the direction of A. L. Hogg, the Chief
Shaw was the engineer in
charge of one of these parties. He had been on location on the prairies,
and had located the line to Calgary the year before; and because of his
prairie experience, was dubbed by Major Rogers — rather sarcastically —
the "Prairie Gopher".
But he soon showed Rogers
that a Prairie Gopher could be just as expert in the mountains as on the
prairies. There was a mountain, then known as Tunnel Mountain — which
still bears that name — through the side of which it had been projected to
drive a tunnel. But Shaw found a way to avoid a tunnel by locating the
railway through a pass to the north of this mountain. So, although the
name "Tunnel Mountain" is still given to it, it lacks the tunnel.
Tunnel Mountain is some
eighty miles west of Calgary, and now forms one of the attractive features
of Banff — a town not in existence at the time the railway was being
built; nor, as far as I know, was there even one projected there.
I did not know Shaw then,
but it was he himself who told me, many years later, of his experiences on
location surveys, and of the nickname which Rogers had given him.
Continuing his surveys up
the Bow River, Shaw ran a trial line to the Howse Pass to determine
whether this would be a better route for the railway to follow than the
one projected by way of the Kicking Horse Pass.
While engaged on this
survey, the winter closed in on him, and he and his party had a long and
arduous time digging their way through deep snow back to the End of Track,
which was then at what was long known as Laggan, but is now called Lake
Louise. He, however, had obtained sufficient information to decide against
adopting the Howse Pass route.
Between occasional trips to
Canmore, our work in the office at Calgary was varied, but for the most
part consisted in preparing plans for the abutments and piers for steel
bridges to take the place of the temporary pile bridges which had been
erected on the first three crossings of the Bow River; and the one over
the Elbow River.
This was before the age of
concrete; and suitable stone for masonry was not available; so it was
decided to build these piers and abutments of timber on pile foundations.
As the winter drew near,
trips to Canmore lost much of their attraction. It was out of the question
to ride outside in the cold on a flat-car. So we had to take to the
caboose and it was generally packed — standing room only.
It was on one of these
trips that I first met Major Walker, one of the pioneers of the day,
better known in after years in Calgary as "the Colonel". He and I had got
wedged together in a corner of the caboose; and I well remember how his
tall figure towered above me as we endeavoured, in our strained positions,
to carry on a conversation.
That, I think, would be the
last trip of the kind that Thomson made with me; for he left about that
time to finish his course at the Toronto School of Applied Science.
Later in the year, Doane
and I had a rather chilly experience. We had gone up to the 3rd Crossing
of the Bow to lay out the position of the abutments and pier for the steel
bridge to be erected there. This crossing is a few miles west of the
station now called Cochrane. After we had finished our work, we had to
wait there two days before we could get a train back to Calgary; and it
was 30 below zero. Fortunately, however, we found refuge in the
section-house which had but recently been built, and was occupied by the
section-men. We were most hospitably entertained. We had our own blankets,
and spread them on the floor of the dining-room at nights. But our sleep
was very broken, for we never knew when a train might come along so had to
be continually on the watch. But our nightmare ended when a train did
finally arrive and took us back to Calgary.
By this time work on the
construction of the railway was being closed down for the winter; and
contractors, engineers, and other officials were leaving for the East. Our
headquarters' camp was broken up, and Curran and his staff were moved to
Winnipeg. Holt too, went to Winnipeg; and Doane left for his home in
Meadville, Pennsylvania. So I was the only engineer of our party remaining
My duties were to look
after the building of the piers and abutments for the steel bridges,
during the winter. This work was being done by the company's own crew of
carpenters — and other necessary labour — under Haney's direction. There
was placed at his disposal for this work, a work-train composed of an
engine and a track pile driver, together with a flat-car or two, and a
boarding-car. This work-train was the only train that ran west of Calgary
Langham was chief clerk on
this work; he made out the payrolls and statements of cost. Howard
Douglas, who had been in charge of the material yard during the summer and
fall, also remained on the job.
I was furnished with a
track velocipede for getting to the different crossings of the Bow where
the work might be in progress. It was quite a stiff pull to the 3rd
crossing — some twenty-three miles — all up grade, and often against a
strong head wind; but I came sailing back in good style. Sometimes I got a
ride to that crossing on Haney's engine, when it happened to be taking
material there. But the velocipede was my stand-by.
Lougheed, for a time, had
taken up his abode with me in my tent. One day he went to Medicine Hat to
attend court, and it so happened that when he was there a strike of the
locomotive engineers took place. This put a stop, for the time being, to
the running of trains between Winnipeg and Calgary. So Lougheed could not
get back to Calgary by train. News, however, reached Calgary that he and
some others were pumping their way back on a hand-car.
The night following this
report, I was wakened from a sound sleep by Lougheed as he came crawling
into our tent. Between many moanings and groanings, he gave me his account
of this trip. He and his party had managed to get as far as Shepard with
the hand-car, but a sleet storm they encountered there had made the track
so slippery, with the sleet freezing to the rails, that they could not get
the car to go any farther. They therefore abandoned it, and walked the
rest of the way — some eight or ten miles — to Calgary.
It was several days before
he was able to straighten out the bend in his back, which he had got
through pumping the hand-car.
Just how long I stayed in
this tent I don't remember, but at some time during the winter I got an
invitation from Langham to stay with him in a small shack, close by, which
he occupied as his office and sleeping-quarters. For meals, he and I went
to the Royal Hotel which had been moved from Medicine Hat by the
proprietor, Molton, to a site east of the Elbow, near the site of the
present east Calgary fire hall.
One rather cold morning, as
we were walking along the track to breakfast at this palatial hotel, we
faced a bitter east wind. We had enough to do to keep ourselves warm, so
we were not doing much talking, until one of us — I don't remember which —
turned to the other and abruptly asked:
"How's my nose?"
"It's frozen," was the
prompt but unmistakable answer.
"So is yours," was the
equally unmistakable retort, shot back.
Then we each picked up a
handful of snow, with which we gave our noses a good rubbing. This seemed
to prove effective; and we proceeded on our way to breakfast.
One morning, about this
time, while we were at breakfast at this hotel, we were surprised by the
arrival of Shaw and his party which we had last heard of as being snowed
up in the Howse Pass. They had managed to dig themselves out and had got
to the End of Track, as already noted; but by the time they got there no
trains were running to take them any farther. Fortunately Bender, who was
in charge of the company's transport teams, was wintering there with his
equipment; and he drove the party to Calgary in sleighs.
Their tattered and
odd-looking garb showed what they had come through; some of them even had
gunnysacks wrapped about their feet. But I had no opportunity to have any
conversation with them, for they left after breakfast for the East, by the
first train they could get. Shaw, as I have already mentioned, I met many
years afterwards, and I told him then that when I first saw him he had
gunnysacks on his feet. "Yes," he said, "that's right."
Matthew Neilson was Shaw's
transitman. I did not meet him then, but in after years he was my Chief,
and I became intimately associated with him, not only professionally, but
socially. I got many stories from him of his experiences on Shaw's party
when locating the line on the prairie. From one of these stories, the
Blackfoot Indians would appear to have their own peculiar sense of humour.
They pulled up the engineers' stakes, and the story goes that they
reported to the Indian agent that there was a band of crazy white men
walking to the mountains, and driving stakes in the ground as they went,
so as to find their way back. So the Indians thought they would have the
joke on these whites by pulling up the stakes that marked their trail.
On the completion of the
piers and abutments for the various bridges, the carpenters were paid off
and the crew disbanded.
Langham then went to
Winnipeg. But I still remained in possession of the shack, waiting for
orders from Holt. I got one of the carpenters who had worked on these
bridges to take the bunk vacated by Langham. Thus I still had company in
The erection of the steel
bridge at the first crossing of the Bow had been started as soon as the
pier and abutments were completed. This work was being done by an American
bridge company, the name of which I don't remember now.
My duties in this
connection were very light: simply to show the superintendent in charge
the points which I had already marked for the bed-plates. But I kept in
close touch with the work as it progressed, and so got well initiated in
the methods of erection there employed.
The first time that I tried
walking on the top chord — quite a height above the river — I was brought
to a stop by what seemed an impassable barrier. This was the end of a rope
lying on the chord. It was quite an ordinary rope, but it hypnotized me so
that it looked like a huge log. I felt I could not lift my foot to step
over it. I felt more like getting down on my hands and knees and crawling.
But I did not want to show the white feather before a lot of nimble-footed
bridge men. So I made a supreme effort and with apparent calmness, raised
my foot and stepped over it. The charm was thus broken; and what a relief
In later years I became
able to walk on much narrower spaces at much more dizzy heights, without a
While on the subject of
this bridge, I must mention two men, Hunter, and Grant, whose job it was
to gather large stones on the river bottom for riprapping the pier. They
were furnished with a team and a stone-boat which they loaded with stones,
and then unloaded it on the ice around the pier. I had many conversations
with them. They both became permanent residents of Calgary. Hunter carried
on his trade as a baker, and Grant for many years drove the Hudson's Bay
Company's delivery rig.
By the end of 1883, or
early in 1884, the C.P.R. had its town-site surveyed and was ready to
start selling lots. Major John Stewart, who owned that portion of the
north-west quarter of Section 14 lying east of the Elbow, had had his
town-site surveyed too, and had already held a sale of lots. As it was on
his town-site that most of the tents and small buildings had been located,
he felt confident of holding them there. But his confidence in this led
him to ask too high a price for his lots, in the opinion of the
prospective purchasers. So the sale was not a success.
McTavish, the C.P.R. land commissioner, accompanied by Holt, arrived from
Winnipeg to hold a sale of the company's lots. Holt looked me up and in
the course of conversation he asked me if I intended to buy any lots. I
was not at all keen to venture on any real estate speculation; I still had
in mind the disastrous results of the collapse of the Winnipeg boom.
However, I attended the sale, with Holt.
I don't remember where this
sale was held, but I well remember being impressed with the fair way in
which it was conducted. The company, for some time previous, had been
taking applications to purchase, and each applicant had been given an
identifying number according to the order of his application.
At the sale, the applicant
who was the first to apply was called upon to mark with pencil — on a plan
of the town-site tacked to a wall — the lots he desired to purchase. The
first applicant happened to be John Glen, pioneer settler at Fish Creek,
some ten miles south of Calgary. I can see him yet as he stepped forward
and marked the corner lots on what is now Centre Street and 9th Avenue
In due course Holt, who
also was an applicant, was called upon to show his choice; and he did this
by marking with one sweep of the pencil all the lots on the north side of
8th Avenue between Centre Street and 1st Street East. When he had done
this, he said to me that I could have two of these lots if I wished. I
fully appreciated his kind offer, and seeing he showed such confidence in
Calgary real estate as an investment, I concluded I could not do better
than follow his example. So I accepted, and thus became the owner of the
two lots on 8th Avenue East on which the Thomson Block is now built.
Objection, however, was
said to have been raised by the higher officials of the company to Holt's
taking part in the purchase of lots. Be that as it may, he relinquished
his claim on the lots he had chosen. But no objection was raised against
my purchasing; and I was allowed to retain the two lots he had offered to
The terms of sale were most
reasonable: $300 for inside lots and $450 for a corner lot. One-third of
the price was payable on signing the agreement of sale; and the balance in
two annual instalments with interest at 6 per cent. The company further
undertook to give a rebate of 50 per cent on all payments, provided a
building was erected on the lots and occupied before a specified date in
W. T. Ramsay was the
company's agent handling the sale. He had an office in a car on a siding
near the station, and, following the public sale, continued selling lots
to any purchaser who came along.
Then began an exodus from
east of the Elbow which was certainly unique. For not only was it an
exodus of people, but of tents, buildings and shacks moving to the C.P.R.
town-site. Although the waters of the Elbow did not part in two to let
them cross on dry land, they did what amounted to the same thing — they
froze. So the crossing was made on sleds, on the ice, and the buildings
then hauled to their new sites.
One of the first buildings
to be moved was James Bannerman's flour and feed store. This building was
the post office, and Bannerman was the postmaster. The moving of the post
office was said to have been done by the C.P.R., so as to stimulate the
sale of lots on its town-site. It was moved to a lot adjoining my lots; so
it really looked as if things were coming my way.
Moving of buildings was
not, however, the only activity at that time. The erection of new
buildings was also being carried on briskly. A hotel was built on 9th
Avenue almost opposite the site of the present Palliser Hotel. It was
called, I think, the Alberta House. It was close to my shack, so I went
there for my meals.
The dining-room of this
hotel was simply an adjunct with log walls and a canvas roof, more fitted
to be called a refrigerator than a dining-room. It was certainly a chilly
breakfast that one got there.
One of the delicacies
supposed to be served for breakfast was apple sauce. A glass bowl
containing this sauce, was a permanent feature of the dining table, and
boarders were supposed to help themselves. But it was impossible to put a
spoon into it; it was frozen hard. So we passed it by. Still, we made out
on the whole pretty well.
One of the star boarders at
this hotel with whom I got intimately acquainted, was S. A. Ramsay who in
after years became an alderman of the City of Calgary; and ended up as
mayor. His name must not be confused with that of W. T. Ramsay, the C.P.R.
town-site agent already mentioned.
It was about this time that
I first met George Murdoch who, when the Town of Calgary was incorporated
shortly afterwards, became Calgary's first Mayor; and Dr. N. J. Lindsay
and I. S. Freeze who became members of the first Council. James Reilly —
"the people's James", as he was called — was one of Calgary's pioneer
citizens whom I also met. He too eventually became Mayor.
When stating where my own
lots and others I have mentioned were located, I used the present names of
the avenues and streets, in order that the location of these lots could be
readily visualized. But these names were quite unknown when the C.P.R.
town-site was laid out, and for many years afterwards. The names chosen by
the company for the streets and avenues may therefore be of some historic
interest. The avenue adjoining the north side of the railway right of way
was named Atlantic Avenue; and the one adjoining the south side of the
right of way was named Pacific Avenue; names well chosen to epitomize the
story of the C.P.R. Other avenues and streets were named after the
directors and other officials of the company.
The following tabulation
shows the original names of some of the avenues and streets, together with
the names by which they are now known.
Among the new arrivals who
were almost daily coming to Calgary at that time, was a young man named A.
D. Rankin. He came to see me at my shack, with a view to getting me to
build a store on my lots, according to a sketch plan he had made. He was
willing to rent a building of that kind as a dry goods store. He had, he
said, been employed in the dry goods department of the Hudson's Bay
Company's store at Winnipeg, and intended starting in business for himself
After discussing with him
the pros and cons of his proposal, I agreed to erect the building and
lease it to him at the rental he had offered to pay. I bought the lumber
from S. J. Hogg, a well-known lumber dealer, who became one of the members
of the first Town Council. I got Haney to do the work — he had finished
his work for the C.P.R. by that time — and the building was completed and
occupied within the time limit set by the C.P.R. land department entitling
me to the 50 per cent rebate on the price of the lots. So I had good
reason to feel pleased that my speculation gave promise of turning out all
Rankin took in with him as
partner Alexander Allan who also had been employed along with him in
Winnipeg by the Hudson's Bay Company. Their business was carried on under
the firm name of Rankin and Allan.
One night, after my
carpenter companion and I had gone to bed, we were roused by a violent
thumping on the door and a voice demanding with authority to know how many
were in the shack. The voice further added that it was the police who
wanted this information. So we opened up to let them see for themselves,
and were confronted by two mounted policemen. The spokesman then told us
that a murder had been committed, and that they were searching for the
murderer. He asked us if we had seen anyone passing the shack going west
that evening. We had heard, we told him, a hand-car going that way, but
had not seen it. We could not give them any further information, so they
left, with profuse apologies for having disturbed us.
The suspected murderer, a
Negro, was caught the next morning in an Indian camp at Shaganappi Point
on the Bow River, some two miles west of Calgary.
The victim of the murder
was a young man named Adams, who had recently come to Calgary. He was
murdered when working alone in the evening in McKelvie's store.
The murder was a most
brutal one, and so horrified the people of Calgary that a meeting was
immediately called to discuss the question of forming a vigilance
committee, after the manner of some western communities in the United
I attended that meeting.
The chairman was General Strange, a well-known rancher on the Bow River
about thirty miles east of Calgary. At one stage of the meeting, a
wild-eyed individual who seemed to be against everything and everybody,
opened a tirade against the ranch leases. This was a clear hit at the
chairman. But General Strange calmly called him to order, telling him that
the meeting was being held to discuss the formation of a vigilance
committee, not ranch leases.
I don't remember what
conclusion the meeting came to; but the necessity for forming a vigilance
committee lost its force with the arrival, a few days later, of Colonel
MacLeod from Fort MacLeod to try the murder case by a jury.
I attended the trial.
Bleeker was the lawyer who prosecuted; and Lougheed looked after the
interests of the accused. I. S. Freeze, I remember, was one of the
jurymen. The trial was short, and the jury found the accused guilty of
murder. Colonel MacLeod then sentenced him to be hanged. Thus the law was
enforced without any vigilance committee. And no attempt has since been
made to form such a committee.
I was not in Calgary when
the murderer was hanged, for before his execution took place I received a
telegram from Holt — who was at Winnipeg — telling me in the usual concise
telegraphic language, to "go to The Summit and report to Sykes".
The Summit was the name
generally used to designate the headquarters which had been established at
the End of Track. The track, however, was still a few miles from the
actual summit of the Kicking Horse Pass.
So I made haste to carry
out instructions, and after arranging with W. T. Ramsay to act as my agent
and look after my property, I left Calgary by the first train I could get.
It was then spring, for I remember that the gophers were out.