Quest in Roots:
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THE OX AND CART
As the settlers pushed west along the Saskatchewan Trail they used the ox and Red River Cart as a means of transporting their possessions and supplies.
The ox was a ponderous, slow moving animal.
The ox, however, was much cheaper than a horse and capable of pulling twice the load. Ateam of oxen cost $100 as compared to $200 for a team of horses.
This method of transportation was so slow that many pioneers preferred walking miles to towns for supplies.
The Red River Cart was an excellent vehicle for early prairie transportation because it worked well on soft, rough, or trackless ground. If a creek was encountered it could double as a boat by taking off the wheels and strapping them to the bottom. It was made of prairie hardwoods, elm for the hubs and maple for the axle. The deeply dished wheels were from 5·6 feet high composed of 8-12 spokes.
Sometimes rawhide was used to bind the wheel rims. The 500-1,000 pound loads were carried on a wooden platform enclosed by a light railing. An ox was hitched between the two wooden shafts of the cart.
The early pioneers who settled this area would come as far as Portage La Prairie by train. As it was a large centre they would purchase their cart, oxen and supplies and head west along the ox-cart trail.
No one knows how long it would take them to reach the local area by this route. The railway reached Carberry in 1881, but Portage La Prairie would still be the largest centre to purchase supplies. As Carberry grew and Brandon was founded in 1882 some of the pioneers would take the train and travel out from these centres into the area of history.
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