This page is a text version of the Beckoning Hills History Book. This is the story of the Turtle Mountain Area of Manitoba. You can get a PDF copy of the book on our full version page. The PDF copy is an exact page by page representation of the original book. This text version has been reformated for the web and contains text recognition mistakes. These mistakes do not appear in the full version. The full version also includes each image in the original book.

Page Index of Beckoning Hills History Book

Previous - Page 16 or Next - Page 18

ing areas, mustering two thousand fighting men. The smallpox epidemic in 1792 had taken a heavy toll and in 1836 the disease struck again and some 4,000 perished. 'Nhole villages were wiped out and evidence of mass burial can be found in an Indian cemetery South of Wassewa. The first contact that Indians of our area would have with the fur companies would probably be around 1785, when Brandon House was erected near Souris Mouth, North of Lang's Valley.

In 1795, Ash Fort was built in the Lauder area by the North West Fur Company. This was followed by Fort Grant owned by the Hudson Bay and then by a private fur trader by the name of Desjarlais in 1836. These were all in the same district on the banks of the Souris River. John Pritchard mentions visiting fur houses in the Whitewater Lake area in 1805, and it is assumed they were located on the South side and owned by the Hudsons Bay and North West Companies. At this time also Alexander Henry mentions in his diary visiting Lena's House located some sixty miles from Brandon House on the slopes of the Turtle Mountains. It is known from information given us by early settlers in the Wakopa district, although there seems to be no written record of it, that the Hudson Bay Company had a post due West of Old Wakopa. This may have been the one in question. Possibly this post was located at this point in an effort to halt the flow of furs to the South via the Missouri Fur Trail. Joseph Ducharme, who was well known by the people of the Wassewa and Old Desford districts in later years, drove many wagon trains of furs, first to St. Louis and later to St. Paul. His father was one of Alexander Henry's guides in 1805-06.

The beaver seems to be the most sought-after pelt in early times, although other short haired furs were popular too, and as time went on the demand for the buffalo, its pemmican and hide increased.

Most of the later hunters and their families would leave the Red River settlement in June and chase buffalo until their carts were full. They would then follow the North West Fur Trail, later known as the Commission, back to Fort Garry. These hunters were of many nationalities, among them were the Metis, well skilled in the art of hunting on their Indian ponies. They were well organized under the leadership of an appointed member of the group. These were the men who supported Riel's cause in the rebellion of '85, and were equal to the best the government could muster.

In 1840, approximately 1630 hunters with 1200 carts were used.

In most cases ten buffalo were needed to fill a cart once the meat had been converted into pemmican. These hunts increased to between four and five thousand carts until 1874, when the great herds had been pushed off the Souris Plains to the West of Sask­ atchewan. The Red River hunts were then abandoned.

Early settlers found many camp sites of these hunters,