EVOLUTION OF TOWNS AND VILLAGES.
MAIL AND PASSENGER STAGES.
With just one line of railroad running through a country of vast
extent, dotted with settlements some of which were two or three hundred
miles from the mail cars, it is evident that the Post Office department
had quite a task in keeping the settlers in any kind of convenient touch
with the outside world. At first a distant settlement which could get a
weekly mail was fortunate, but before long a fairly efficient service by
"stage" was organized. The total population (exclusive of Indians) in
1886, of the Northwest Territories was about 25,000 and these were scat-
tered from north of Prince Albert, Battleford and Edmonton to the Amer-
ican line, and from Manitoba to Banff in the Rocky Mountains. The three
points named were old established settlements-that is relatively-with a
considerable population, and the mails for these places left the C. P. R.
at Troy (Qu'Appelle Station), Swift Current and Calgary respectively.
Then there were numerous smaller routes, of anything like a hundred
miles and more to thirty or forty as the case might be. The principal
contractors for the long routes were Scott and Leeson whose names were
a household word in the Territories in the early days. They also had a
considerable ranch and were a very enterprising firm. Great hardships
were endured on these mail delivery routes in the winter. There were
no roads, only trails. Rivers had to be forded and often at very consider-
able danger at high water. It was wonderful how the stage drivers man-
aged to get through sometimes in the winter, over blizzard-drifted trails.
When storms were blowing the minds of the people would centre on the
mail-man. Could he get through? And when he did get through, as he
invariably did sooner or later, he was received like a hero. The Yorkton
route of nearly ninety miles was a difficult one; and on one occasion we
remember when J. G. Lyons pulled successfully into Whitewood, in the
face of a three days' blizzard, the people of the little town gave him a
public dinner in recognition of the feat he undoubtedly performed. None
but a first class horseman, with an iron nerve and endurance could have
brought a team through in that terrific storm. At that time there were no
covered vehicles; the buckboard, the light democrat wagon, the lumber
wagon in summer were the only vehicles; and in winter, although there
were home made jumpers and cutters, the usual mode of travel was with
a wagon box on bob-sleighs. Now the mail goes by motor car.