REAL DAYS OF DERRING DO
R. G. MacBETH
FOR some ten stirring and formative years, the mounted police had been riding their gallant steeds over the virgin sod of the untracked prairie before the iron horses, crossing the Red river, hit the steel trail for the mountains and the western sea.
The Indians saw in the advent of the railway the coming disappearance of big game from the plains which would pass into the possession of the settler. More than once the Indians would have blocked the way of the railway builders or swooped down in the night and torn up the rails but for the restraining presence of authority. And besides all these, there were some amongst the huge gangs of navvies and general trackmakers who had alien tastes and lawless habits.
For the settlers who made the continuance of the rail. way possible the mounted policeman was a sort of guardian angel, and the well-known painting by Paul Wickson which hangs in the premier’s office at Ottawa shows how the patrol went about asking the homesteader if he had any complaints. Only those perhaps who have lived on these far-sundered homesteads know how much this meant to these lonely men and their isolated families.
Fighting prairie fires, when the mad battalions of flame wheeled with the gale and charged at the humble dwelling or the precious hay or wheat-stacks of the settlers, was the willingly-assumed duty of many a scarlet rider of the plains.
Constable Conradi, while on patrol one fall day when the dry grass was inflammable as tinder, asked a settler if there was any homesteader living in the direction where a fire was rushing. The settler replied that there was a man named Young, his wife and children living out that way, but it would be impossible to reach them through the fiery wall that was so plainly visible.
“Impossible o: not,” cried thî constable, “1 am going to try.”
Putting spurs to his horse he was soon lost to sight in the rolling smoke.
The horse was so badly burned that he had to be shot but Conradi saved the family.
He found Mr Young, the settler, almost exhausted. Together they fought the fierce flames, and, when hope of saving the home was gone, the constable, plunging through the fire, found Mrs. Young and the children standing in the water of a slough. He saw that they would be suffocated when the fire encircled it; so he plunged in and carried the children to the burnt ground, the mother following.
From the settler’s grateful letter to headquarters I make this extract:—“His pluck and endurance I cannot praise too highly, fighting till he was nearly suffocated, his hat burned off his head, hair singed and vest on fire. My wife and family owe their lives to him and I feel with them we shall never be able to repay him for his brave conduct.”
Eastern contractors and workmen on the railway who had not been used to seeing war-paint were somewhat alarmed when a band of Indians would swoop down with the air of people who owned the earth and in all such cases the police were quickly called by wire or otherwise. Superintendent Shurtcliffe tells of a rather odd case in which an Indian chief with the appropriate name of “Front Man” stopped a railway contractor from getting out ties and caused the whole outfit to leave the bush in panic. Shurtcliffe, a capable officer, immediately sent for “Front Man” and told him how dangerous a thing it was to interfere with the progress of work authorised by Canada. “Front Man” realised that he had rushed in where he had no business and on his promising Shurtcliffe that he would behave himself, the contractor and his men went back to their peaceable but very important tie business.
The Taming of Mr. Pie-a-Pot
’ K 'HEN there was the case of Pie-a-Pot, who, from the earliest days of treaty-making, was crochety and rather defiantly opposed to the incoming of anybody or anything^ that would interfere with his nomadic habits and general inclinations to please himself. He showed a disagreeable ten• dency to leave his reserve and wander with his camp-following and general entourage, much to the discomfort of others who were not hankering for his presence. One day this chief took it into his head that he would wander out on to the right of way being mapped out for the Canadian
H Pacific railway and by spreading his camp across it put a damper on the enterprise. He succeeded up to a certain point.
The engineers worked up to his camp and politely asked him to move, but he laughed at them enjoying their discomfiture, while his braves circled around with their ponies, keeping up a rifle fire to indicate what they could do to the engineers in case of emergency. Of course, the engineers were glad to retire as gracefully as possible; but they wired the lieutenant governor that they were at a standstill.
The governor sent word to police headquarters, whence a telegram went to the nearest police post: “Trouble on
railway. Tell Indians to move on.”
There were only two men there, a sergeant and a constable. They rode off at once, and when they arrived at the camp of the Indians and delivered the order, Pie-aPot and his headmen, who had not been much in contact with the police, only laughed, while the braves performed their usual firearm feats and the squaws jeered. Then the sergeant indicated, by showing his watch, that he would give fifteen minutes for them to start moving. At this, the braves, on signal, circled closer, backed their ponies against the troop-horses and made every effort to get the police to start trouble, the idea being to force them to take the offensive and be wiped out. But the police were never to be drawn that way. In this case the two scarlet-coated men sat coolly on their horses which stood at the door of Pie-a-Pot’s tent. When the time was up, the sergeant throwing the lines to the constable, sprang off his horse, leaped past the surly chief, entered the tepee and kicked out the centre-pole, thus bringing the wigwam down nearly on the head of the defiant Indian.
Without waiting, the sergeant moved to the next tent and repeated the operation with great precision and then said to the chief and his men, “Now move—and move quick!”
The chief was very angry, but he was no fool, and so in a very short time he and his whole outfit were on the trek to their reserve. The engineers went on with the transcontinental, and the two plucky athletes in scarlet and gold, whose names were not even given out, rode back to their post, having made one more unadvertised contribution from the police to the making of the West.
How Sam Steele Held a Bridge
THE BEAVER, in the mountains, while the Canadian Pacific was under construction, was, for the time being, a terminus where all manner of lawless, desperate and disorderly characters gathered to prey upon the navvies, many of whom were foreigners and a good many of whom were just as reckless and offensive as could well be imagined. To keep these rough men in order—and there were several hundreds of them mostly armed—there were only eight mounted police, but they were under the leadership of the redoubtable Superintendent Sam. B. Steele who had as his non-commissioned assistant, Sergeant Fury, a short,heavy set, bull-dog type of a man whom I remember well, quiet, determined and undemonstrative, but who could while keeping cool at the same time be everything his name suggested if occasion required. When the strike was starting Steele did not interfere, but warned the strikers that they must keep the peace and not commit any acts of violence or he would punish them to the full extent of the law. When the strike did start, Steele was in bed with mountain fever and Sergeant Fury had only six men. One of them, Constable Kerr, who had gone for a bottle of medicine for the Inspector, found on his way back a riotous crowd with a desperate character, well-known to the police, inciting the mob to violence and especially to an attack” on the barracks. Kerr, who was not a man to stand nonsense, promptly arrested the man, but a score of men overpowered him and released the prisoner.
Sergeant Fury at once reported .to Steele, who said*
The above article includes several selections from the forthcoming book of Rev. R. G. MueBeth, entitled “Policing the Plaine.’’
“It will never do to let the gang think they can play with us.” Then Fury and another man tried to make the arrest without resorting to using weapons, but in a little while returned with their uniforms torn, to report that once again the rioters had taken the prisoner from them by force. Steele said, “This is too bad.
Go back armed and shoot any man who interferes with the arrests.” He started off again with Constables Fane, Craig and Walters, while the other four constables with their Winchesters stood ready to guard the barracks which were slated for attack by the mob.
Johnston, a magistrate, was there to read the Riot act if necessary.
In a few minutes there was a shot. Steele got up and went to the window. Craig and Walters were dragging the prisoner across the bridge, the desperado fighting like a demon and a woman of the crowd was following them with cries and curses.
Fury and Fane were in the rear trying to hold back the gang of some three hundred men. Steele called on Johnston to come with him to read the Riot act and then rushed out, got a rifle from one of the guard, and ignoring his fevered condition ran across the bridge covering the crowd with the rifle and saying he would shoot the first man who dared to cross.
In the meantime the desperate prisoner was struggling fiercely with the men who had him, but when on the bridge Walters raised his powerful fist and struck him over the temple and with Craig trailed him like a rag into the barracks. As the woman passed screaming “You red-coated devil,” Steele shouted “Take her along too.” Then Johnston read the Riot act and Steele made a straight statement that the police, though few, would not flinch, and that if he saw more than twelve rioters together he would open fire and mow them down. The eight mounted police stood under Sergeant Fury with magazines charged, ready to act when ordered.
The riot collapsed right there; the ring-leaders were sentencëd next day and there was no more trouble. The roughs at the Beaver had tried the game of rioting with the wrong men.
The Second Riel Rebellion
SOME years ago a well-known Senator told me that he was at a dinner party in Sir John Macdonald’s house in Ottawa when a telegram was delivered to the premier at the table. He read it and put it under his plate. Nothing could be gained by throwing that bombshell in the midst of his guests. But in a few minutes as the friends were saying goodnight, Sir John came to the door with the senator and said, “Mac, there’s the very mischief to pay in the northwest.” The wire had communicated the
news of the Duck Lake fight by which the rebellion under that mad egoist Louis Riel was publicly staged in its opening act. And the senator told me, he recalled for all the years that followed, the look on the premier’s face as one of pained surprise and unexpected shock.
The outbreak of rebellion was a surprise to western residents only in the sense that the resort to arms was considered unlikely. But everyone knew something of the discontent. The Mounted Police saw it coming to a head and Superintendent Crozier who was in command at Fort Carlton on the North Saskatchewan had reported in July 1884, some eight months before the outbreak, that Riel had been brought from Montana to champion the “rights” of the half-breeds. The causes of the discontent were not far to seek. Many of the half-breeds on the South Saskatchewan were the same who had taken part in Riel’s first rebellion on the Red river fifteen years before. They were not people of a settled temperament.
Gagnon was quite right when he stated later that the main cause of the discontent amongst the half-breeds was the introduction by the government of the rectangular survey of land on the prairie. Under this system settlers had to hold their farms in square blocks of 160 acres or more, and in consequence such settlers would be necessarily some distance apart. This was not to the mind of the halfbreeds who were more given to social gatherings than to agriculture, and who preferred the old survey that they knew on the Red river and the Assiniboine, where their holdings were in narrow strips fronting on the river and running two miles back. To introduce this on the prairie, the government contended, would lead to confusion and so it was easy for the agitator to stir up discontent amongst these inflammable people, who had always been accustomed to the freedom of the plains. It was easy for the orator to say that the government was trying to break up their old social customs, and when such a statement was followed up by saying that their patents,
giving them title to land, were being long delayed and that possibly they would never be granted at all, a live coal had fallen on material as combustible as the dry grass on the prairie.
Riel down at Batoche on the South Saskatchewan refusing to acknowledge the authority of either church or state, looked on himself as a sort of Divinely-ordained leader. Rattle-brained as he was, he possessed elements of strength and magnetism that secured him a large following in a short time, and assuming the name of “Louis ‘David’ Riel, Exovede,” he took the aggressive by plundering a number of stores, arresting the Indian agent and others and sending a flamboyant message to Superintendent Crozier to come with his men and surrender to the rebel chief. Crozier, who had done splendid service at Wood Mountain, Cypress Hills and elsewhere, was not the kind of man to surrender, but with the hope that he might avert trouble and incidentally give the government time to mobilize the long-delayed reinforcements, he offered personally to meet Riel and discuss the whole matter with him. Riel however would not venture out, so Crozier sent Thomas McKay, a well-known Prince Albert man and native of the country, to see him at his headquarters. When McKay reached Riel’s council-room at Batoche he found things at white heat. Riel told him excitedly that there was to be a war of extermination during which the “two curses”—the government and the Hudson’s Bay Company—as well as all who sympathised with them, were to be driven out of the country.
“You don't know what we are after” shouted Riel to McKay, “we want blood, blood—it's blood we want.”
McKay had a cool head and so sparred for time, till the rebel sobered down somewhat and then McKay left and returned to Carlton where he reported to Crozier. Next day in answer to a request from Riel, McKay and Mitchell, a merchant of Duck Lake, with Crozier's consent, met two of Riel’s men, Nolin and Maxime Lepine—a brother of Riel’s adjutant in the Red River revolt—who demanded again the surrender of Fort Carlton. This, of course, was refused, and in a few days rebellion was rampant with this man, half-knave, half-madman, at its head.
Civil War Breaks Loose
THE first clash came on March 26, 1885, when Crozier sent out a small detachment of police with a few civilian volunteers from Prince Albert, under the general direction of that experienced and fearless frontiersman, Thomas McKay, above named, to bring in to Fort Carlton some government stores from Mitchell’s trading place above mentioned. This little detachment of some twenty all told were met when near Duck Lake by that mischievous Indian, Chief Beardy, with his warriors and Riel’s fighting lieutenant, a famous half-breed plainsman, Gabriel Dumont. This rebel force was est ¡mated by Duck Lake residents at between 300 and 400 men, all well armConlinued on page 61
Continued, from, page 11
ed, though the full force did not appear then on the field. A “confab” took place, Beardy and Dumont being very insolent, and endeavoring evidently to get Crozier’s men to begin hostilities so that the rebels might wipe them out. But McKay though boldly standing his ground, would not be drawn, and, after a somewhat stormy interview, retired to Carlton, daring the rebels to follow.
In the meantime the commissioner, Col. A. G. Irvine, a careful and conscientious officer, who had succeeded MacLeod in command of the police in 1880, wired from Regina to Ottawa and got orders to take all available men, less than 100 and proceed to Prince Albert as that whole section of country was exposed to the utmost danger.
Irvine made a record march through slush and snow, and outwitted Riel’s forces at South Saskatchewan by going through their zone. He and his men arrived at Prince Albert with horses so used up by the spring roads that a day had to be taken to get them in shape to go further. He had received word from Carlton that there was no immediate likelihood of trouble, but he lost no time in pressing on to that point, reaching there in the afternoon of March 26, only to find that Crozier had gone out that day to Duck Lake with his handful of police and civilian volunteers and had just returned after experiencing a reverse.
At that time and later in his formal report, Irvine expressed keen regret that Crozier, knowing the commissioner to be within fifty miles with reinforcements, had not waited. But Crozier had been true to the police record of not counting odds when duty seemed clear. And so when his first small detachment under Thomas McKay had come back the superintendent doubtless felt that unless he acted at once, the rebels would say that the police could be bluffed and would thus be able to call to the cause of the revolt hundreds of half-breeds and Indians who would take courage from the apparent apathy or weakness of the government forces. Besides this it became known later that the volunteers from Prince Albert were anxious to settle with the rebels, as their own homes were menaced by the uprising.
So the Duck Lake fight took place between Crozier, Inspector Howe, nephew of the famous Hon. Joe Howe, with Surgeon Iller and fifty three men of the mounted police aided by forty-one civilian volunteers from Prince Albert, under Captains Moore and Morton, a total of 99 on the one side against Gabriel Dumont, Chief Beardy and a force of nearly four hundred half-breeds and Indians on the other. The rebels first used a flag of truce and under cover of conference partially outflanked the police and volunteers on the one side, while the rest of their forces were well concealed under cover of log buildings and brush. The thing was too unequal, and the loyalists after fighting in the open with the utmost coolness and courage, against a practically hidden enemy,gathered up their nine dead and five wounded and retired in good order to Carlton.
The loss of the rebels who concealed their dead, was not known, but Gabriel Dumont was wounded by a bullet which plowed along his head and felled him to the ground. A few years later Roger Goulet, a famous loyalist French half-breed landsurveyor in Winnipeg, who was on the commission to inquire into the question of half-breed rights said to me, “The Duck Lake fight was worth while; because Gabriel Dumont’s wound, which I saw later when he took off his hat to make an affidavit, cooled his ardor to such an extent that he was timid for the rest of the campaign. Otherwise the rebellion might have lasted much longer.”
Goulet’s theory possibly accounts for the fact that Dumont, whose judgment was for a night attack on Middleton’s camp at Fish Creek, gave up the idea rather swiftly when Riel did not seem to see its advisability.
When Colonel Irvine reached Carlton as related and found out how things stood, the immediate thing to settle was as to whether he should hold that post or not. This was not hard to decide. Carlton was simply a Hudson’s Bay post without population, while Prince Albert was the largest white community in the whole
region. The people there must be protected as a first duty, and it was only fair to the Prince Albert volunteers, who had left their homes and had come so splendidly to the aid of the little body of police, that the latter in turn should not leave those homes exposed to the barbarities of the rebels now intoxicated by a certain success. Accordingly, Fort Carlton was abandoned. It took fire from a hospital mattress and an over-heated stove, just as the police were leaving, and burned to the ground. Irvine and his men, with their wounded, arrived in due course at Prince Albert which they found full of refugees from surrounding homesteads as well as the town. Most of these refugees were hudd’ed in the church there, which they had surrounded with a wall of cordwood in dread of attack. The women and children were wild with apprehension of possibly falling into the hands of Beardy’s tribe. And there was a band of Sioux to the north that it was feared might at any moment assert their traditional love of the warpath.
The Duck Lake fight with its balance in favor of the rebels encouraged Big Bear up near Fort Pitt to rebel and do all the damage he could, starting in with the massacre of nine white men, government agents, etc., on the reserve, and the imprisonment of the rest, including the Hudson’s Bay factor and his family, who gave themselves up to the Indians at Fort Pitt. It stirred up the powerful Cree element under Poundmaker at Battleford, where depredations were committed and where the white people, barricaded behind stockades, suffered seige and the imminent danger of famine and attack for many weeks. It sent its echoes down into the south-west part of the territories, where the warlike Blackfeet confederacy had its centre. At each of these points, as at Prince Albert, the few mounted police that were on duty became a tower of strength.
Ottawa Sends Reinforcements
WHEN the rebellion started with the fight at Duck Lake the government despatched General Middleton from Ottawa to the west. The plan of campaign outlined had three objectives. General Middleton was to attack Kiel at Batoche where the rebel headquarters were. Colonel Otter was to march from Swift Current to the relief of Battleford where Poundmaker’s band was in arms, and General Strange, a veteran of many years service, was to mobilize at Calgary whatever forces he could muster and go northward into the Big Bear country to relieve the Edmonton district, settle with Big Bear and release the prismers he had taken at Frog Lake and Fort Pitt, Middleton, a good soldier and a brave man personally, was in the supreme command of all the forces in the field, including the police, and it is not too much to say that he asserted that fact very strongly all through the campaign, part y because of natural disposition and partly because he under-estimated the value of the raw of Canada as he called them in a
famous despatch ,,, .__
Hence it was that General Middleton never intimated in any way to Colonel Irvine that he or any of his men should leave Prince Albert and come to the seat of war at Batoche. On the contrary, Majors Bedson and Macdowell who made their way to Prince Albert from Middleton’s camp by way of Carrot river told Irvine that the general wished the police to stay where they were and look out lor the scattered half-breeds. Then one day when things had quieted around Prince Albert, Irvine made a reconnaisance in force to the south as far as Scott s, some fourteen miles out. He was met by one of Middleton’s scouts with a message to return to Prince Albert.
That the above represents General Middleton’s general attitude is further attested by the fact that when RieWs stronghold fell and Middleton was on his way by Prince Albert to close the campaign by proceeding against Chiefs Poundmaker and Big Bear, he declined Irvine’s offer to escort him with his trained plainsmen who knew the country and the Indians at first-hand. Irvine offered to take his men, carrying their own rations, and go a day ahead of the general, or to go on the
other side of the river. But he was flatly refused. Yet orders came back to Iryme a few hours later to go to Carlton, which he did, arriving there before Middleton, and sending out scouting parties in search of Big Bear’s band that had been scattered by Strange’s column. It was not long before one of these police scouting parties had captured Big Bear with some others and landed them in the jail at Prince Albert. And it is rather interesting to recall that it was big Tom Hourie, a police interpreter, accompanied by two police scouts, Armstrong and Diehl, who captured Riel and took him into Middleton s tent at Batoche.
I have gone ahead of the history in mentioning the capture of Big Bear, the pursuit of whom is the record of General Strange’s column which as already noted, mobilized at Calgary. In addition to the 65th rifles of Montreal, the Winnipeg light infantry, with whom I served, and some irregular scouts under Majors Hattm and Osborne, we had two mounted police detachments—one from the mountains under Inspector Sam. B. Steele and the other from Fort MacLeod under Inspector A. Bowen Perry, the present able commissioner of the force. Both these officers coming at that time under the command of General Strange in the militia, were given the militia rank of Major. Steele enlisted a number of men, mostly ex-mounted policemen, as scouts; his whole corps, thus augmented being generally called Steele’s scouts. Perry, who was selected by Superintendent Cotton on account of special fitness, brought with him a nine-pounder gun, which did unique service in demoralizing and scattering Big Bear’s murderous and pillaging band, to whose outrages we have already referred. These two police detachments became the tentacles of our column and the mainspring of its ultimate success.
How Perry Conquered a Freshet
THE news from the north coming to us at Calgary, indicated that the whole country north of the Red Deer river to Edmonton and beyond was full of rath e surly and hostile Indians, who would rise at any moment if they thought there were any chances of success. Hence General Strange, a thorough-going soldier greatly beloved by all of us, determined to push on to Edmonton with all speed, accompanied by Steele. . . . .
We of the Winnipeg light infantry waited a few days till Perry could reach us from MacLeod and then we also started north under his guidance. We forded the Bow river, but when we got to the Red Deer we found it flooded by the spring freshets into what our Adjutant Constantine, who later did such splendid service with the mounted police, called, in warning the men, “a wide swift-flowing and treacherous stream.” Strange had crossed before the river rose, but how we were to get over was a problem.
Our chances of getting on to the north looked slim. It was well that Perry, whose service with the royal engineers meant something, was along in command of the column. He decided to throw a rope across with the little skiff which was the only thing in sight and then construct and cross by a swinging raft. The raft was constructed under his direction and his own detachment of police with the gun and ammunition and harness put on board. Of course he went himself as he never asked his men to go anywhere without him.
Things went fairly well till they were near the other side, when the rope, made out of the picketing lines of the horses, broke by binding round the tree from which it was being paid out, and the raft began to go down the raging current. At the risk of their lives, Perry and Constable Diamond, grasping another rope, plunged into the torrent and managed to reach the shore and fasten it to a tree. But the current was too strong and this rope also gave way. The boat went down a mile or so and being caught in an eddy was beached and the stuff on board dragged up a steep cut bank. Then Perry commandeered lumber from a primitive saw-mill down the river and built a ferry on which in a day or two the rest of us crossed.
In the meantime, while we were in the hostile Indian country, Perry had accomplished the difficult task of crossing the 65th regiment in the little skiff, taking a whole dark night to do it. He kept our regiment on the south side till the ferry
was built. He thus had both sides guarded against any attack.
Once over the river we made a quick march one hundred miles to Edmonton, where General Strange paid a high compliment publicly to Major Perry for the splendid way in which he had overcome obstacles and got our relief column through in such good time. The people of Edmonton gave us a hearty welcome, as their position in the midst of a big Indian country was very serious for a time.
On the Trail of Big Bear
DIG Bear with the prisoners was now treking away to the north and it was our business to overtake him. The infantry went down the river while the mounted men went by trail near the river bank or our clumsy open flatboats might have come under ambuscaded fire. Forced marching from Fort Victoria by Frog lake to Fort Pitt brought us to the scene of Big Bear’s atrocities and we saw from the Sun-dance lodge, the mutilated body of Constable Cowan and the charred remains of the nine white people who had been massacred at Frog Lake reserve. Fort Pitt was burning, but we saved two buildings.
Big Bear and his marauding band in large force had kept up their retreat and vanished;' but whether it was on the north side of the river or the south side that they would effect a junction with Poundmaker could only be ascertained by scouting parties. Accordingly, General Strange at this point detailed Major Perry and seventeen men of his detachment to cross the river to the south side and move towards Battleford. It was not an enviable duty, and as the men crossed the river in the darkness and started their ride through a region that was supposed to be infested with hundreds on the warpath, it looked rather like a last patrol. After a hard ride they made Battleford to find that Poundmaker had surrendered, Middleton having just then arrived. Perry reported to Middleton that he was certain Big Bear must be on the north side. He arranged for a steamer to go up with supplies, which we needed very badly, and got on the steamer to return with his men. When part way back, he got word that we were engaged with Big Bear; and so he landed his men and sent the steamer back to Battleford for reinforcements.
After one of the most severe and risky rides of the campaign, Perry and his men rejoined us to find that his gunners, under Sergeant O’Connor, and the 9-pounder had made fine gun practice, and been mainly instrumental in demoralizing the forces of Big Bear, with whom we had been in contact for two hot days. General Strange was much pleased with the way in which Major Perry had carried out the difficult reconnaisance with a handful of
Meanwhile after our fight with Big Bear and his flight from Frenchman’s Butte where he had a strong and well fortified position, Major Steele with his mounted detachment had made a rush to Loon Lake, where, in a rattling encounter during which Sergeant Fury was severely wounded, he completed the defeat of Big Bear. Two days or so afterwards, our scouts crossed Cold Lake in birch canoes and secured the release of the remaining prisoners of Big Bear, the others having come into our lines after the fight at French man’s Butte, where, Constable McRae though wounded, refused to leave the field till he had exhausted his ammuni-
Preceding the surrender of Poundmaker, at Battleford, the fight at Cut Knife Hill occurred. Colonel Otter had made a swift march from Swift Current to Battleford and relieved the beleaguered garrison and civilians there. With Otter came Superintendents W. M. Herchmer and Neale with a few mounted police. And when Otter decided to go out and attack Poundmaker, these with the few who had been at Battleford and those who had come from Fort Pitt under Inspector Dickens, made up seventy five police who set out on that errand with Otter and some two hundred of his infantry and artillery.
Just why Otter went out has never been very clear except that he possibly wished to punish the band of Indians and prevent a possible junction of Poundmaker and Big Bear. Anyway, the police were under his command and they went in obedience to orders, as was their fashion. And the police, being the advance guard to CutKnife and both the advance and rear guard on the return as well as in the hot-
test part of the fight for seven hours, where they behaved with great gallantry, lost heavily in killed and wounded in proportion to their numbers. It is not any reflection on the gallantry of the other corps who were totally unused to Indian warfare, to say that it was the masterly tactics of the police which extricated the column from the ravine after Colonel Otter saw that it was not advisable to continue the conflict against the large force of Indians who had every advantage in position.
A few days after this, Poundmaker, who was a splendid-looking Indian, and who had given the order to cease fire, when Otter was retiring, came in and surrendered to General Middleton. It was still a few days before Big Bear was captured as already related, and the rebellion was practically over.
The Stampede to Yukon
Xl/'HEN in 1894 the first rumors of a ’ j probable rush into the Yukon gold region came to the outside, the Dominion government felt that to prevent lawlessness, as well as to protect the interests of Canada in respect to the area within her boundary, the famous corps, that had policed all the western frontiers shou’d be represented immediately in the gold regions of the far north. It was vitally important that a man should be sent in as officer commanding who would he specially fitted for such an unprecedented and extraordinary task. That man was found in the person of Inspector Charles Constantine, and he took with him as his picked men. Inspector D. A. E. Strickland, Assistant Surgeon A. E. Wells, StaffSergt. Brown and twenty non-commissioned officers and constables. They left for their distant field of action in the month of June.
It was in the hot weather that Strickland and his picked men went up the Yukon. They encountered that extreme enervating heat of the far north in midsummer, not to mention those terrible pests known as the black fly and the deer fly. They had much work ahead of them. They cut down trees, trimmed them into dove-tailed logs and floated them by water to the site of Fort Constantine. They rushed up the building before the extremely cold weather set in. The men who stayed with Constantine cleared the ground of moss and brush with great effort. The muskey moss there varied from one to three feet in depth. Below it was ice, so that the report says the men worked most of the time up to their knees in water.
There was a time when it was generally believed that most of the gold-hearing creeks in the Yukon were on the United States side of the line, but a survey made under direction of the police revealed the opposite to be the case and Constantine notified the miners on Miller, Glacier and other creeks that they were on Canadian territory, subject to British law and amenable to the regulations governing mining fees. Constantine’s modesty and determination are illustrated in one quiet paragraph in which he says—“A few miners denied Canada’s jurisdiction and right to collect fees on the ground that there was a possibility of error in the survey. However, I went up to Miller and Glacier Creeks and all dues were paid without any trouble except that of a hard trip; but, as all trips in this Country are of that nature, it was part of the bargain. On Glacier Creek, a number of miners undertook to run matters in accordance with their own ideas of justice and set themselves up as the law of the land. The trouble ended, however, by the Canadian law being carried out.”
Constantine was clearly serving notice on all and sundry that the mounted police were on hand to live up to their reputation of seeing justice done and playing no favorites.
Then he speaks in 1896 of new discoveries which began to cause the mad rush from all parts of the world as the news percolated through to the outside; “In August of this year a rich discovery of coarse gravel was made by one George Carmack on Bonanza Creek, a tributary to the Klondike. His prospect showed $3.00 to the pan.” Not bad picking for George, who became wealthy. But George’s shovel and pick and pan, clattering as he worked, awakened echoes at far distances and the wild stampede of all kinds of people, prominently the adventurous and the get-rich-quick class, began with a vengeance.
Constantine got ready for it.