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It is a wonder that there was not considerable trouble with the Indians swooping down on these loaded ox-carts and seizing every thing. The only protection was the few Mounted Police.
I remember on April 10th, 1880 when I was walking from Winnipeg to Portage Ia Prairie, I met a Scotsman on the trail who was walking to Saskatchewan. We walked along together for two and a half days from Winnipeg to Portage, nibbling at hard-tack on the way. We parted at Portage la Prairie and I have never heard of him since." (End of quote).
We are privileged to be able to revive the words penned by one of our Portage pioneers. And the information he imparted will grow even more precious as time passes.
A few unanswerable questions enter our minds when we read the last paragraph of Mr. Eadie's narrative; such as, why didn't he take the stage-coach from Winnipeg to Portage? Was the service not convenient, the ride too rough, or the fare too costly? Records show that Michael Blake established a regular stage service with Winnipeg as early as 1875.
STREAMERS ON THE ASSINIBOINE
Ninety-three years before Manitoba's Centenary the first steam boat safely navigated the Assiniboine River as far as Portage la Prairie, thereby opening an era in transportation in the west.
The steamer was the 120-ton tug Prince Rupert, owned jointly by the Kittson and Hudson's Bay Company shipping interests and operated by their joint company, Northwest Navigation.
The Prince towed three scows or flat boats loaded with cargo consigned to Pra tt's Landing.
Only limited use was made of the water route that first year, but in the three succeeding years three steamers, the Marquette, the Cheyenne, and the Manitoban went into regular service on the As siniboine travelling past Portage, and at times of high water even discharging cargo at Fort Ellice as well as in upper reaches of the Assinibolne.
This was the point in history that the famous Red River Cart, which had borne numerous settlers here, started to dwindle in numbers. Their exit was even more rapid when the steamers started