Quest in Roots:
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THE SASKATCHEWAN TRAIL
As the Indians crisscrossed the plains in search of food they created many trails. These hunting trails were later used by the Metis on their annual buffalo hunt. In 1840 over one million pounds of buffalo meat was carted over the trail when 1600 men, women, and children went on the hunt.
In the early days of the fur trade it was the main highway of ox -cart travel used extensively by the Hudson Bay Company. The furs were sent from Fort Carlton to Fort Garry over the trail and then on down to St. Paul.
In the ox-cart convoys one man looked after several carts hitching each succeeding cart to a rear corner of the front one. One wheel of each cart would travel in the same rut. This lessened the danger of getting stuck and the ruts from becoming too deep. Thus the main trails were not a single set of ruts wide but numerous ruts side by side.
The Saskatchewan Trail started at Winnipeg and forked into two branches at Portage La Prairie, the North and South Branch. The South Branch of the trail crossed our area and rejoined the North Branch of the trail southwest of the present site of Newdale.
The trail came into our area as it crossed Boggy Creek in the Oberon district. In the early days the creek was called Willow Creek. A Mr.
Haskett operated a ferry and a stopping house at this crossing. It would be located just north of Highway Number Five on Boggy Creek. It crossed S. 27 -12-15 the land owned by Mrs. M. Edmundson.
It then cut the corner of S.E. 28·12·15 (R.Baker), up iinto N.W. 28-12·15 (J. Jakubowski Sr.). Then it crossed the north part of N. 9-12-15 (A. Drader) and N.E. 30-12-15 (E. May). It went into N.W. 30-12-15 (H. Drader) before swinging north across Highway 353 and across S. 36-12-16 (C. Swanson). There was a campsite at this location just south of Andrew Dodd''s buildings. It continued west across S. 35-12-16 (W.A. Ramsay) andS. 34-12-16 (J. Olmstead). Then the trail swung north across the N. 33-12-16 (L. Lepp) cutting the corner of S.W. 4-13-16 (L. Stewart).
There was also a campsite located at this corner. It angled northwest across S.E. 5-13-16 (W. McKee) and N.W. 5-13-16 (E. Redlin). It then crossed S.
7-13-16 (B. McKee and Ed Redlin), S.E. 12-13-17 (R.
Jardine) before angling northwest across W. 12-13-17 (W. McKee) and out of our area.
Mr. Thomas McKenzie has told how he could remember the cart ruts were 10-12 inches deep and 20 or more ruts wide on land that he helped to break at Oberon.
The pioneers jostled and bounced along this trail in their squeaky Red River carts as they headed west in their quest for land in the Northwest Territories. The trail had many names depending upon the destination of the traveller. It was the Fort Ellice Trail to Fort Ellice, from there the Carlton Trail to Fort Carlton, then the Edmonton Trail and finally the Rocky Mountain Trail. .
When the C.P.R. was completed to Brandon in 1881 and the M.N.W.R. branch was constructed along the North Trail in 1883 the usefulness of the trail ended.
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