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CHAPTER ELE1/EN

THE EARLY SNOVV STORM THAT DROVE A HERD TO DISASTER

There was no hint of trouble that September night in 1903, but before morning a blizzard had struck and death disaster came riding in the wind

By H. G. Duncan

A stiff northeast wind sent low, dark clouds scudding along over the shallow water of Whitewater Lake in Southwestern Mani­ toba as Tom Stephenson gathered his cows and steers from their feeding ground along the shore of the lake and headed them for the home corral a mile and a half to the north.

It was the twelfth day of September, 1903, just fifty years ago this fall, and the darkening sky heralded an event that was to live long in the memories of residents of the district at that time.

Stephenson had been running a herd along the north shore of Whitewater for three years, and was doing quite well at it. Each spring he gathered cattle from the settlers, most of whom had a number of head but hadn't gotten around to doing much fencing at that time, and herded them till fall on the unbroken prairie sur­ rounding the lake.

The usual charge of herding was fifty cents a head per month and if a herder could gather a fair sized herd he got a pretty good return for his summer's labor.

The cattle shook their heads as Stenhenson headed them into the wind and some of the half-wild spookier ones tried to turn them back but his two good dogs kept the flankers up in their place and by riding hard and swinging his rope on any laggards he soon had the herd in the corral.

A few big, soft snow-flakes splattered against the poles of the corral gate as he swung it shut and he cussed the country as he headed for his shack to get his supper.

Some time after finishing his meal he looked out to see what the weather was doing. It was still snowing but not very hard, though the wind seemed to have increased a little. Stephenson shut the door and went to bed sure the weather would probably be clear by morning. After all, it was only the middle of September.

But Tom Stephenson, like every other person in the country,

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