SWIMMING our horses, and
crossing in a small boat, we resaddled and repacked and rode into the fort,
where we were received kindly by the Hudson's Bay Company's officers and
invited to partake of their fare, which was just then pounded meat
straight—no bread, no vegetables, nothing else. Pounded meat with marrow-fat
is very good fare, but alone it becomes monotonous, even before you get
through the first meal.
At this time Edmonton was
without provisions, and only now was sending a party out to the plains to
trade with the Indians for some.
The next meal we dined on
duck straight. No carving by the gentleman who served; he put a duck on each
plate, and we picked the bones clean—at least, I did those of mine.
Edmonton then consisted of
the Hudson's Bay Company's fort, and this was all in the vicinity. Out
north, about nine miles distant, was a newly commenced Roman Catholic
mission; but here the four walls of the fort enclosed everything. Stores and
dwelling-houses were packed in a small space, and when the trip-men and
voyageurs were home for the winter the post would be crowded.
I had now seen three Hudson's
Bay Company's forts in the Saskatchewan—Canton, Pitt, and Edmonton—all
situate in one of the richest agricultural districts in Canada, but each and
all striking evidence that the Hudson's Bay Company was nothing more than a
fur-trading organization; they were not settlers nor farmers. Pelts and not
bread, furs and not homes, were what they aimed at.
Though only a boy, I could
readily see that before many years this would be changed, for no power under
heaven could keep settlement out of this country I had already been
privileged with seeing a portion of.