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

Volume II



The following extracts are taken from a diary kept by Lizzie McFad- den, as she travelled from Winnipeg to Prince Albert with her parents in the early days of 1879. She was then fourteen years of age. Subsequently Lizzie McFadden has been for many years known to a large circle of friends as Mrs. Joseph Coombs, of East Prince Albert.

Thursday, July 3, 1879: Left Winnipeg. The horses balked; went about 100 yards and the harness broke and it rained about ten minutes. Two hours getting through a mud-hole. Got about two miles and the cart axle broke and we had to camp for the night.

Friday, July 4: Ben and Tom went on horse back to Winnipeg for a new axle. After getting rigged up we started, and we had good roads for about four miles; then we came to another mud-hole about a mile long. There we went through a man's yard to shun the mud-hole and paid him a dollar. Then we camped for the night. The mosquitoes were awful bad.

Saturday, July 5: Started early in the morning: had splendid roads all the way, forded three creeks about three feet deep; camped for noon, rested two hours, then started again. The cart ox fell down twice. Came to a man ploughing. Came thirteen miles that day and passed through a beautiful country. Camped for the night, saw sixty cattle and 60 native horses.

Sunday, July 6: It rained all night. A man came and laid down by the fire at night: got breakfast and then the children and I started to pick strawberries and the women made pies of them and baked biscuits. We had a splendid dinner: then picked some more strawberries for tea. Baked our pies in a dutch oven.

Monday, July 7: It rained all Sunday night, so we did not start very early, but when we did we had splendid roads all the way and no trouble with the oxen. There were two cart trains passed us on the road. One train contained over 76 horses and carts; crossed one creek. It was pretty deep. We camped about 7 o'clock beside some half-breeds and slept soundly all night.

Tuesday, July 8: Started early in the morning, expecting to have a good day's journey, but we failed. The men waded up to their knees in water all day. There was nothing but mud and water all day. There was no wood and our bread ran out and we could not bake, so we had oatmeal and water and sugar for our dinner; then at supper time we got some wood and water and had some porridge and meat. A man came in with his team (?). He had some meat and cakes and all we could I give him was a cup of tea. He travelled on foot.

Wednesday, July 9: Started early without our breakfast. Had some oatmeal and water on the road. We forded three creeks; had to double at one of them. It was hard work to get across. Camped at 11 o'clock and let the horses feed, but we could not feed ourselves as there was no wood to be got, so we had a little more oatmeal and water. The children cried for bread, and we could not get any wood to bake with; had not seen any wood for the last three days. Camped at three o'clock where there was lots of wood and water. Made lots of bannock and cakes, boiled rice for our tea and had meat and beans. We had all we could eat and were prepared to last longer. Camped at Poplar Point. Mos- quitoes awful bad.

Thursday, July 10: Started to look for our oxen this morning: they got away in the night. The boys tramped all the morning and found them about five miles away. We started about 10 o'clock. Had a good many mud holes to go through. Our pony got down in a hole coming through a great slough and the oxen had to pull us out. We camped on a beautiful hill with white poplar at the back of us. It is the nicest place we have seen yet. The mosquitoes are not so bad, and it is very pleasant.

Friday, July 11: Started early in the morning; had a few mud-holes, but not very bad ones. We had to cross a bridge and paid a man a dollar for going over it. It was across Long Lake. Camped for dinner and got some milk from a half breed. Started at 2 o'clock; had splendid roads. It was very hot. Stopped and got strawberries, then went on and came out on the main road through the village of Poplar Point; had splendid roads all the way and are likely to. Camped on a bank by a creek; looks like rain. Got some milk.

Saturday, July 12: Started at 5 o'clock in the morning and made seven miles by nine o'clock. Camped and fed the horses at High Bluff. Saw the Orangemen pass on their way to Portage La Prairie. Started again at 12 o'clock; had good roads, then we had to double over a mud- hole; then had good roads all the way to Portage. Arrived there at 7 p. m. Mr. Carruthers met us as soon as we got there, and I went to buy some bread. It was four loaves for 25c. Camped by a house and got lots of water there. Looks like rain.

Sunday, July 13: Thunder, lightning and wind through the night, but it did not rain much. It was very warm. Some gentlemen came in the evening and we went to church. It was a big one. There was a melodeon and a choir. heard a splendid sermon. The minister was from Toronto.

Monday, July 14: We did not start on our journey today but rested. Washed all the forenoon; in the afternoon we went to see Mrs. Haggerty; had a very pleasant time. Went shopping and saw a man from London who was a clerk in Walker & Sons. Came home and pa and ma went and got some pemmican.

Tuesday, July 15: Ma baked all the morning and went up town. At noon we started on our journey; had splendid roads; camped at Rat Tail Creek by Mr. McKenzie's farm. An old Indian came begging that night. Mosquitoes awful bad.

Wednesday, July 16: Started early this morning and saw beautiful farms and scenery and fed the oxen about 8 o'clock. Passed several trains. Had very good roads. Fed again at 4 o'clock. Camped at Sand Creek. Very cool tonight. Came about 15 miles.

Thursday, July 17: Started very early, good roads all the way. We are in the North West Territory. Looks like rain. There are half-breeds camping here at the corner.

Friday, July 18: Rained in the morning; did not start until pretty late. Went up McAnnon's field and over a bridge about a mile long. Camped for noon at a creek. It rained all the morning; got some berries, saw beautiful fields and prairie, great hills and dales. Talked with some Indians; I did not understand what they said.

Saturday, July 19: Started off early before the sun was up without breakfast. Came four miles to Pine Creek and fed the oxen and started again over hills, and hollows. Had beautiful roads all the way. Had dinner at 11 o'clock in the middle of the prairie. No wood or water to be got. Saw some farms. Camped at night at Boggy Creek. Came 18

Sunday, July 20: Rested today. Very pleasant day. Baked cakes and pies all morning. Read all the afternoon. A minister came to see us in the middle of our cooking. Went for a walk in the evening. Mos- quitoes nearly ate us up. There were lots of trains passed us today. Cool this evening.

Monday, July 21: Rained all night; very muddy in the morning. Had a hard time crossing the creek; had to double and pay to cross a bridge. Had a disagreeable day. Had to ford two creeks. Camped in the evening. Lost our Englishmen; they went another road.

Tuesday, July 22: Had a better day today. Started pretty early, camped and had dinner about 11, then came to Rapid City. It is a very small place. A squaw wanted to sell us some berries, but we did not buy them. It was very stony coming over the hills. Struck on the road for Shoe Lake; camped for the night. I banked the tent up with sod, but the mosquitoes got in in the night in spite of all we could do.

Wednesday, July 23: It rained all night and we did not start until 10 o'clock. Had bad roads and it was very cold. Camped for noon in a strawberry bed, and picked strawberries all the time we stayed there. Got a good few. Started and had a very hard time with the horses. We had one in front of the other and they did not work well. Had berries and pancakes for tea. Camped on a hill by a lake. It is very cool. No

Friday, mosquitoes tonight. The boys shot a muskrat and it sunk. They could not get it.

Thursday, July 24: No entry.

Friday, July 25: The roads are not very good today. We made about four miles before noon and then camped and had dinner. Rest about two hours and started again. The horses did not get along verywell. They fell down twice. Crossed Salt Lake. It is a very pretty lake, but very salt water. Camped on the hill by a bluff of poplars. The mosquitoes are very bad.

Saturday, July 26: Started pretty early. Had a fearful time with the horses. Had a great many sloughs to cross. Camped and had dinner. Rested about two hours; then started and got to Shoal Lake about five miles. Had to cross the lake. It was up to the wagon box. Camped near the barracks. Had the police visiting us this evening trying to find out if we had any liquor about us.

Sunday, July 27: Rested today. Very nice day. No church in the village. The police was around all day. In the evening we visited Mr. Marchel's. Had a very nice time. I got sick coming home and was sick all night. Very cool.

Monday, July 28: Started very early this morning before the sun was up. Came to a dreadful slough about a mile wide. Got the wagon stuck and had to unload. Had breakfast, rested two hours and started. Had a great many sloughs to ford. Camped, had dinner, baked bannock and started again. Came 10 miles today. Camped in the evening. Mos- quitoes were pretty bad, but did not get into the tent. Slept pretty well.

Tuesday, July 29: Started very early. Had very bad roads today. Camped at a creek and had breakfast. Had a good many creeks to cross. Had to double crossing an old bridge. Crossed over a creek with two great holes on both sides. At Bird Tail Creek it was very stony on the banks. Had a very bad time on the bank. It was very steep. It is a very pretty place but not very well settled. Camped on the bank. It is very pleasant.

Wednesday, July 30: Started very early and came over 28 sloughs before dinner. After dinner we had splendid roads. When we came in view of Fort Ellice there were great hills to go up and we had to cross a bridge over the Assiniboine; then climb high hills and reach the top of them at 7 o'clock. I was frightened by some Indians on the road. Fort Ellice is a very pretty place, but no farming country. It is very cool tonight.

Thursday, July 31: Rested today. The very first thing in the morn- ing we had three Indians come to stare at us. Mrs. Plaxton and ma went to the Fort and did some shopping. Bought me a pair of moccasins. When getting the luggage we emptied the wagon. Bought a new cart, pony and harness. The Indians stole three oxen today and killed them. They were nearly starved. The children and I went to the Fort and all around the hills. Everything is very dear. Very cool tonight. Friday, August 1: The Indians' dogs got the meat out of the cart. Pa got out and scared them away. Put the meat away and got the re- volver and shot twice at them, but did not hit them. We startedaway early in the morning. As we passed the Indians they all came out and laughed at us. We were going down hill all the way. Had very stony roads all down to the river. Got lots of raspberries on the road. Crossed the Qu'Appelle. It was very high and the bridges very bad. Had a great many sand banks to go through that day. Camped by a spring and a bluff. Very cool today.

Saturday, August 2: Started very early. Had a great many sand banks and sloughs to cross. Passed the McDougal party today. Mr. McDougal is going to preach tomorrow, and we are going to camp near them. Made a very big day. Mosquitoes very bad tonight. It was about 9 o'clock when we camped. Had a hard time to find a place to camp. We are about two miles from Cut-Arm Creek.

Sunday, August 3:Rested today; very pleasant day. In the morn- ing Mr. Wm. Miller and son came up. They were going home to Huron after his mother-in-law, expecting to be back in September. He is from Prince Albert. Gives a good account of it. Had dinner with us. In the evening we went to hear Mr. McDougal preach. Had a splendid sermon.

Monday, August 4: Started very early. Very rutty roads. Had a hard time crossing Cut-Arm Creek and climbing the hills on the. other side. McDougals crossed us by there; again we passed them as they stopped for dinner. We camped for dinner by a bluff. After dinner we started and came over some prairie. Had to camp for the night with no wood to be got, except that which we had with us. Very cool.

Tuesday, August 5: Started early; came to the bush where we passed McDougals; got some milk there; had breakfast. Lots of wood, got wood and water there and started out to cross the Pheasant Plain. Travelled on the Plains today; camped tonight about five miles from the bush.

Wednesday, August 6: Had breakfast before we started. We reached Touchwood Hills Plains and had dinner. It is a very hilly place and pretty stony. Travelled very late this evening and the mosquitoes are very bad.

Thursday, August 7: We are still in the Touchwood Hills and likely to be. They are very long. We have not so many sloughs as we used to have, but the roads are very rough. We have a party of half-breeds with us who are going to Prince Albert and have lots of company. They have a cow and we have lots of milk. Travelled very late tonight.

Friday, August 8: Did not start as early in the morning as we usually do. Something got at Mrs. Plaxton's bird cage and killed the hen and hurt the rooster, but he is getting along very nicely. Travelled over hills and hollows all the time and through bush. Have not seen the McDougals since Monday. The days are not so warm as they were. Ma lost her shawl and it could not be found. One of the half-breeds went back to look for it but could not find it.

Saturday, August 9: Had breakfast before we started. Had a good many sloughs to take; passed some travellers. We have had very good luck this week. We are still in the hills about eight miles from the Hud- son Bay Fort. The cattle ate a half-breed's flour in the night and they have had to borrow from us. Mr. Plaxton lost his ox tonight and Bennie will go back for it tomorrow. Travelled a little late tonight and got in a great slough in the dark. Had to double up to get out. Mosquitoes were worse than usual and we were nearly crazy. After I got in bed there was a lizard crept over my arm and nearly scared me to death. We killed it and fixed the tent so no more could get in.

Sunday, August 10: Rested today. It is very warm. About three o'clock we started and went about two hours and then camped on high ground. It is very cool this evening and we can sleep well.


Monday, August 11: Started very early this morning; travelled about four miles, then caught up to McDougals. They brought us milk and said there were 300 camps went from where they were camped on Sunday morning. We got to the Fort at noon. Got some things there. Paid 36c a pound for butter. Camped there at noon. We had some of our freight taken up the rest of the way by some half-breeds. Camped by a hill on a bluff tonight.

Tuesday, August 12: Started early. The mosquitoes were very bad for a while. The ox is very lame. Had berries at noon. It has been very dismal all day. The breeds are with us yet. It is cool tonight and the mosquitoes are not as bad as usual.


Wednesday, August 13: Did not start as early as usual this morning. Fixed an axle. Ox was pretty lame. We went and got wood and water and prepared to cross the crossing. Had dinner on a hill. The breeds are with us yet. In the morning we crossed a great gully and slough. Climbed the hill and are on level prairie. No wood to be seen at all. There is a great deal of alkali here. Had dinner and started again and travelled until late. The ox is better this afternoon.

Thursday, August 14: Started very early and crossed the plains. Ox is much worse today. It seems to be lamer. This morning there were two policemen passed by and in the afternoon we met them. One, S. J. Donaldson, was sick. Mother gave him some painkiller. In the eve- ning Honorable Matthew Ryan passed on his way to Battleford to council. We travelled very late this evening and the mosquitoes were terrifying. Pa had to come slower with the ox. Camped by Mr. Ryan's this eve-ning.

Friday, August 15: We started about 7 o'clock in the morning and came to wood. Could not travel very fast on account of the ox. Passed several trains for Winnipeg. Camped early. The ox! The ox!

Saturday, August 16: The ox seems to be much worse today, so we had to travel very slowly. Passed a man going to Winnipeg from Glencoe, Ont. He knew Uncle James well. Then we passed another man, a brother-in-law of the breed. We got to Humboldt at noon and camped there. The breeds came along and went on without us as they were in a hurry to reach Prince Albert. In the afternoon Captain Moore came to visit us. He came down to Prince Albert to telegraph. Had a visit from Maggie Leggett and brother-in-law. She brought us over to see her sister. They are very friendly people. We did not start tonight.

Sunday, August 17: Rested today. We could not find the lame ox for a long time. He was in a bluff. The sore foot had broken out and was running and we opened it up. Went for a walk in the afternoon. The rest of the folks came to the station for tea. In the evening Maggie and I came home and I went back and stayed all night with her.

Monday, August 18: Did not start until 9 o'clock. Left the ox and cart and we came at pretty good speed. Got dinner on a hill. In the evening Jim played out (that is Mr. Plaxton's horse). After tea we started and there came up a thunder storm which lasted about ten min- utes. We had to camp without water that night. It is very cool.

Tuesday, August 19: Started very early. Passed some hunters. It was very cold. Had breakfast by a lake; we made across the plains today.

Wednesday, August 20: Early start as usual and made a good way today. Had a good deal of brush wood to go through. Camped at night about three miles from the level.

Thursday, August 21: Did not start until after breakfast. Reached the level about 10 o'clock. There were lots of Indians there and the men got four of them to help them. We got over the ferry about 2 o'clock; got up the hill. Found a Shagnappi bag full of tent pegs. Camped on the top of the hill. We baked and went to water the cattle and there were the Indians coming across the ferry, so we picked 'up and went up three miles.

Friday, August 22: Started very early. Made a good way before breakfast. Had a good many hills to climb. Camped at night by St. Larent Mission. Went to the house and got some potatoes from Father Andrews. We was very kind and gave them to us for nothing. There was a thunder storm at night.

Saturday, August 23: Started early and got breakfast in the woods. Had a good deal of bush to go through. The surveyors were talking to us. Camped for dinner after fording the creek. Met Mrs. McKay and several others today. Camped at night by Mr. Jos. McFarland's farm. He and Mr. Oliver visited us. Lost our frying pan today.

Sunday, August 24: Rested today.

Monday, August 25: Started about 10 o'clock today as it was rain- ing. Got to the commencement of the settlement where we camped. Rained all morning.

Tuesday, August 26: Started after breakfast and came through the village. Camped at noon the other side of Captain Moore's hill. Had the Captain and McKenzie to see us after dinner. (This was Fighting Jack McKenzie). Then we started and went to Captain Young's and there we had to stay as we could get no further on account of the smallpox. We stayed there at night and have been there ever since. The policeman who placed us under quarantine was Mr. J. D. Hanafin of Prince Albert. Bibliography follows:

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