Saskatchewan Gen Web Project - SASKATCHEWAN AND ITS PEOPLE by JOHN HAWKES Vol 1I 1924

Volume II




The following is a short sketch of the early days of Qu'Appelle by A. C. Paterson, who was born at Iona, Elgin County, Ontario, 1853. Mr. Paterson took a trip to Manitoba in 1881. In February, 1882, he resigned his position as Principal of Palmerston Public Schools, Ontario. He and his partner, Dick Johnston, arrived by train at Brandon and outfitted with oxen for the trip. In the party were also James Milne and Jim Blair and after a most adventurous journey via Rapid City, Birtle, Shoal Lake and Fort Ellice, through mud and across swollen rivers and streams, last- ing six weeks, they finally landed at Qu'Appelle and decided to settle there.

Mr. Paterson writes

"Having been one of the first settlers, I have frequently been asked to write the early history of Qu'Appelle, a town on the Canadian Pacific Railway about thirty-five miles east of the Capital of the Province- Regina.

"As I have no particular talent in this direction I have declined, but after mature consideration I have decided to compile some facts with reference to those early days in the hope, that when the pioneers who struggled against many hardships in laying the foundations of those in- sititutions that have contributed to the welfare and happiness of so many of the present generation shall have passed to the great beyond, someone anxious to know who we were may enjoy a perusal of this manuscript. These early settlers were largely from Ontario and were under middle age and young men, and were in every respect as high a class of citizen as ever settled in any part of the Great Northwest.

"They lived together as one big family enjoying the confidence of each other, and respecting the rights of all, to such an extent that outside of occasionally recommending the Lieutenant-Governor to issue a liquor per- mit to the individual who was fortunate enough to have $5.00 to spare for two gallons of the best, the business of the Justice of the Peace was about as important as that of a jack rabbit. A quarrel between two men in those days, much less a fight, was never known.

"No doubt I have overlooked many interesting events of those strenu- ous days, but forty years have passed since we erected our tents in old Qu'Appelle, and I may be pardoned if what I have omitted would have been as interesting as what I have written.

"In the Fall of 1881, about a year in advance of the Canadian Pacific Railway, Mr. S. H. Caswell, accompanied by his father, James Caswell, and two men, Grant Thorburn and A. Stoddard, located about a mile north of what is now the Qu'Appelle Townsite. Here he built two small shacks and returned to Poplar Point, Manitoba, where he remained until the spring of '82. Thorburn and Joe Doolittle remained behind and took a contract to cut wood for the Canadian Pacific Railway. They did not find this work congenial and only cut enough to keep themselves from freezing. On Mr. Caswell's return he brought a stock of groceries and general merchandise and opened up business in a tent located near the shacks built the previous year. This point was later called Troy. The C. P. R. track was laid through in the early Fall, and Caswell moved to the Townsite, where he carried on his store business in a tent until the Spring of '83, when he built a store and residence which he occupied until his death. "Late in the Fall of 1882 the following places of business were opened- "Restaurant by J. Stoddard. "Pool hall by Love & Raymond. "Livery and feed by Johnston & Paterson. "Livery and feed by Joe Doolittle. "Harness shop by John Milliken.

"The Government built an Immigration Hall in the winter of '82 which was burned in May, '83, and a new one was erected the following winter. The Immigration Agents at that time were A. J. Baker and G. Miquelon. Later Mr. Baker was transferred to Brandon and Mr. Miquelon to Calgary.

"The above were the business places for the winter, and trading was particularly quiet as most of the homesteaders who came that year, after doing some breaking and building small dwellings and stable, returned to the East for the winter.

"A considerable number of young men remained here the first winter, and were chiefly employed in keeping warm, getting something to eat and drink and finding amusements, which were not overlooked. We had our cricket club and hunt club, the first west of Winnipeg, with the pos- sible exception of Cannington Manor. Dances were common, or I should have said one of the chief sources of amusement. The fox trot and many of the modern dances would not have been tolerated in those days, much less the abbreviated gowns. Ladies were so scarce that men often had to play the female parts in the quadrilles.

"The Immigration Hall was utilized for all public entertainments, and Mr. Baker, the genial Agent, contributed largely to the social life of the settlement.

"Horse racing was probably the most attractive sport, and the annual races were patronized from Winnipeg to the Rocky Mountains by lovers of 'the sport of kings.' Harness races were in their infancy in the West and the thoroughbreds were scarce, but we had many splendid horses that furnished keen competition, and gave us more excitement than the races of today.

"A few of the horses whose names are familiar to the old timers were Grey Eagle, Wood Mountain Dan, Little Dan, Sugar Foot, Black Diamond, La Bleau. Harness horses: Mable S., Dick French,Minnie W.

"Grey Eagle and Little Dan in a matched race, half mile heats, fur- nished the most exciting race ever run in Regina to the present day. A blanket would have covered both horses in every heat and there were five thousand dollars in the pool box. This race was arranged by the Qu'Ap- pelle racing enthusiasts who secured Little Dan and backed him, but the race was won by Grey Eagle.

"What was known as the Wright Farm was started in 1882, by two men from Ottawa, W. Thistle and Thos. Wright. They purchased four sections of land and broke a large area the first year. They also brought in a quantity of cattle, the intention being to go into mixed farming. In the Fall of 1884 they moved their stock to Wood Mountain. The winter was severe and most of their stock perished, so they abandoned the idea of stock raising and devoted their attention to grain growing for a num- ber of years.

"In the Fall of '82 the C. P. R. laid the track through to Regina, and the villages of Indian Head and Qu'Appelle were each nearly the same distance from Fort Qu'Appelle and the Prince Albert Trail, so naturally a strong rivalry took place for the base of supplies for the north country. Qu'Appelle had the advantage of a somewhat better road and a few miles nearer, and it became the distributing point for the North. Early in '88 a mail contract was awarded to Jim McLane, better known as Flatboat McLane, who shortly afterwards transferred the contract to Leeson & Scott, and they kept the line in operation until the Regina and Long Lake and also the Calgary and Edmonton Railways were built.

"This stage line was splendidly managed. All along the trail from Qu'Appelle. to Prince Albert, and in fact to Edmonton, at intervals of forty miles, road houses were erected with a man in charge during the winter months, where not only the stage drivers and their passengers, but other travellers who were journeying on the long, long trail, found comfortable lodgings for the night at reasonable cost. In addition to the mail sacks carried, a considerable amount of express was also handled. A four horse team was always used and frequently two of these teams went out and horses were always changed at the forty mile stations. The wagons used were especially built, with comfortable seats for passengers and with space for mail and express. This line, together with all the freight for the Northern points passing through made Qu'Appelle one of the busiest points on the line.

"The men who drove on this stage line were expert horsemen and sturdy resourceful fellows, and many a blizzard they had to fight their way through. Of these I just recall Jack Art, Ab Craig and GordonMclver.

"This stage line was well patronized, as Prince Albert even in those days was the centre of an old settlement, and quite a village, besides being headquarters for a large detachment of North West Mounted Police.

"In 1882 Dr. Haggerty of Portage La Prairie sent out four men to homestead, which they did near Qu'Appelle. They were under contract with him to perform the homestead duties and hand over the land to him when patented. He found, however, that the regulations would not per- mit of this contract being carried out, and the men were left in peace- able possession of the homesteads. They were George Hudson, Patrick Uniack, Phil Breen and Daddy McCarthy.

"Major Walsh of the North West Mounted Police built a Police Bar- racks in the same year. It was a small log building possibly 20x24, and erected at the modest outlay to the Government of $5,000.00. Contracts by tender were not known in those days, and the freight rates for hard- ware for such a colossal structure possibly affected the cost of the build- ing. Bibliography follows:

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