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Canadian Life as I Found It
Chapter VIII October, 1904


THE weather began to get much colder, and we had had very severe blizzards, so I thought it best to take Mabel and the boy into Saskatoon, and settle them in the small cottage.

We chose a beautifully fine day to start on the journey. We left our place at 10 a.m., having had to load the wagon and dismantle the beds before starting. We stopped an hour at the half-way house to feed ourselves and the pony, and got to Saskatoon about 6.30 p.m., glad to arrive, for the trail was very difficult to navigate. Captain R----, who is the best-hearted neighbour possible, brought in our beds, stoves, trunks, and other paraphernalia in his wagon, and his nephew drove ours, with a good load of dry wood, which will be a great saving, as it is very dear in town. They meant to come in for a big load of stores before winter set in, and timed their journey in, to suit our convenience. It took them a day and a half to get in. We put them up whilst in town, on the floor it is true, but it was more clean and comfortable than it would have been at many other places.

I took a long day getting back, and had a fire it sight all the way, I could see the smoke in the town, and thought that it was quite close, but it kept on in front of me all the time. It turned out to be within 4 miles of my place. You can fancy what a sight it was when I got close to it, a straight line of fire, for about 6 miles, and flames quite 7 feet high; it was a grand sight. So far I have not heard that any one was burnt out, but fancy being able to see it 45 miles away. When I got back I was greeted with the news that during my absence there had been another big fire 2 miles west of me, and section i6 was all ablaze on Tuesday night. I trust it is the last bonfire we shall have so close.

It was very lonely when I got back to my deserted shack. However, I went off the next day to the bush to get firewood, and made several journeys with loads into Saskatoon, to save the expense of buying fuel. The railway surveyors have been round again, and from what they said there is a great chance that we shall have a railroad passing within a few miles if not nearer. I wish I could buy more land, for it is sure to go up in price; every one is much excited about it. I told my neighbour I would start a town on the chance of the railway reaching us, and stand for mayor of it. You see we talk nonsense out here too. I think we should go mad if we did not try to keep each other's spirits up.

Sunday was a fearful day, a regular blizzard blowing, and we had a 3-inch fall of snow, but since then it has been glorious weather, cold at night, and in the morning, but in the daytime just fine. I worked till 5 p.m., and then I saddled my pony and had a good gallop. It was quite exciting the way she jumped over the badger and gopher holes and mounds. She is a splendid herder, she nearly had me off the other day by being too quick; my oxen had strayed so I had to herd them back. I was at it as hard as the pony could lay legs to the ground. Whilst I headed one I called to the other by name, and before I could say knife, my pony was down on her haunches, wheeled round, and was off after the one I had called; she knows their names, and I have only to sit tight, and call them out, and she is off like a dog after them.

I did not know that she was so cute, so it came rather as a surprise, and I had a near shave of taking a seat on the prairie.

I set to getting all together that I could, stacked my hay, and then one morning when I went out about 7 a.m. I was just in time to prevent the flames from a prairie fire jumping the fire-guard and destroying both hay and shack. I fought the flames desperately till late in the afternoon, helped only by a young man who was on the trail and came to my assistance. At one time I nearly despaired of saving anything, but I am thankful to say I did save my belongings, only it was a terrible experience, and for miles around there was nothing but a blackened expanse to be seen where the day before beautiful green grass had waved.

I was much exhausted as I had run short of stores, and had had nothing but rolled oats and tea for several days.

The weather began to get much colder, and the wolves to grow bolder. I had to be up a great portion of each night, to look after my cow and calf, so I thought it wiser to take them over to my neighbour, who had good stabling, board up my shack, and go into town before a heavy fall of snow made the journey too difficult.


 


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