Research Trip: Trails of 1885 Part 2
by Anita Mae Draper
This post is a continuation of my research trip following the Trails of 1885 locations of Canada's NorthWest Rebellion. In Research Trip: Trails of 1885 Part 1, I showed the:
- Original Humboldt Telegraph Station
- Saskatchewan Railway Museum
- Wilkie Press
- Fort Battleford NorthWest Mounted Police Cemetery
- Fort Battleford National Historic Site
It was supper time when I finished touring Fort Battleford and the skies were darker than they'd been all day. I wanted to tour the Hudson's Bay Fur Trading Post of Fort Carlton next so needed to find a motel somewhere close by for the night. The problem was that Fort Carlton lay in an area filled with campgrounds, but no hotels, etc. As if the only people visiting the Trails of 1885 locations were there for family vacations.
Since Fort Carlton lay east of me, I also had to make the choice of going cross-country on gravel roads or dipping down for a couple hours on a double highway to Saskatoon, and then heading north-northeast - still on a paved road. With dark, rumbling clouds closing in, I chose the latter. The last thing I wanted was to get stuck in muck on a deserted road.
Halfway to the the city of Saskatoon, the clouds opened and I had to slow down because my wipers couldn't keep up with the deluge. Talk about praising God for helping me make the right decision! The storm was short-lived and I drove on to Saskatoon with the setting sun behind me, and turned onto the road that would take me into the heart of the Trails of 1885 territory. My immediate concern was somewhere to sleep, but when I finally found a motel, it was full. That meant I had 3 choices: drive the 40 mins back to Saskatoon, drive another hour up the road to Prince Albert, or stay in a hotel where I had to register in the bar. I chose the bar with hotel attached since a decent-looking restaurant was part of the establishment and the price was half what I would've paid in the city.
After a filling breakfast, I headed north to Duck Lake where a new museum had opened to display all the artifacts found when Parks Canada was cleaning the Fort Carlton site in preparation for the current fort. The artifacts include items from the NorthWest Rebellion, the Duck Lake Massacre, and other items pertaining to the settlement of the area.
|Duck Lake Historical Museum, Duck Lake, SK|
Just west of Duck Lake, I came up to the sign that said, 'Water Over the Road'. I'd never seen the sign until last spring. Now, they're everwhere. I found out later that this lake is really a farmer's field. He hasn't seen his soil since last spring.
|Flooded field west of Duck Lake, SK|
This is half way across the lake/field where a road leads off on either side. With the water logged ground, it won't take much for the water to cover this road again.
|Road through flooded field west of Duck Lake, SK|
Soon after, I reached Fort Carleton. To see where I had to go to get this view of the fort, check out my post, Pushing My Limits.
|The reconstructed Hudson's Bay Company fort of Fort Carlton|
|Looking in the gate of Fort Carleton.|
In 1885 when the NorthWest Rebellion was being fought just north of the fort, the HBC became concerned for its employees and ordered the fort to be evacuated. In the haste and confusion that followed, a lantern was knocked over and Fort Carlton burned to the ground. The HBC did not rebuild it. However, in 1967, Parks Canada reconstructed the fort. As such, it is not a recreation and it contains no antiques nor artifacts. Those are all housed in the Duck Lake Historical Museum.
If you look at this photo taken inside the walls of Fort Carleton, you can see the lines on the ground that show where more buildings had been before 1885 when the fort burned down.
|A red river cart sits inside the walls of Fort Carlton|
Furs and provisions were kept in the storehouse until needed. The photo shows a felted beaver hat which was the height of fashion for the well dressed gentlemen in the North American east and in Europe.
|Beaver hat on furs in the For Carlton storehouse.|
The trading post carried everything from needles and flint to ready made coats and other articles of clothing.
|Trading Post at Fort Carlon|
These windows were a fabulous find, because it was the first time I had a chance to see authentic rawhide windows.
|Rawhide covered windows at Fort Carelton|
I left Fort Carlton and drove back to Duck Lake. I wanted to see Russell Hanson's Mounted Police Museum, housed in the old Duck Lake Museum, because nothing had been set up when I went through last year. What a difference. Everything was on display from Mountie uniforms to a very old Mammoth tusk found in the area years ago.
One of the most interesting items for research purposes was this 1882 Main + Winchester saddle with a sign that said, "100 of these saddles were purchased in 1883 by the NWMP".
Do you see the guns in the foreground? The one on the right is the one Russell let me hold and open last year when I came through. I felt the weight of it, and saw how it opened for cleaning purposes. To hold a weapon that old was something I couldn't get from a book or photograph.
By now it was 5:30 pm and there was only one thing left on my immediate agenda... take a ferry across the South Saskatchewan River. Both the North and South Saskatchewans were important rivers during the early years and are still in use but for recreational purposes only due to shifting sandbars and progress such as the Diefenbaker Dam.
But the ferries still exist, some in the original locations of the Trails of 1885. I wanted to experience what it was like to cross the river on a small ferry.
The closest ferry to Duck Lake, however, was closed. I headed south hoping one of the two remaining area ferries in the area were open. A highway sign said the Hague Ferry was open, so I zipped east. I drove over a rise and there it was. The ferryman must've heard me coming because he was already standing there with a stop sign.
I drove down and followed his directions onto the centre of the ferry. Technically it holds 6 vehicles, but since he crosses on demand, and I was his only customer, I got centre spot.
As soon as I parked, I left my vehicle and put my camera mode to record. I wanted to latch onto as much information as I could get out of the ferry man. I was blessed, because the guy was a talker and even finished my sentences for me when I was too slow to get them out. I did get some great info though. I taped the complete ride to remind myself of the width and depth of this historic river.
Have you ever taken a ferry ride? Where? What river? What size of ferry?
Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and 2 of their 4 kids. She writes stories set on the prairies of Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. Anita Mae has semi-finaled in the Historical Romance category of the ACFW's 2011 Genesis contest and finaled in the Inspirational category of the 2011 Daphne du Maurier, the 2011 Fool for Love, the 2011 Duel on the Delta and 2009 Linda Howard Award of Excellence contests. Anita Mae is represented by Mary Keeley of Books and Such Literary Agency. You can find Anita at http://www.anitamaedraper.com/