Sunday, 21 October 2012

Crossing the Prairies for a week

We are home and well, but resting, after the long-haul back across Canada and over the Rocky Mountains.  We settled in at our favorite lake and the fishing was good.  It was a good time to rest and relax.  Being in your home area is always a good thing.  We like the arid climate here.  But.....I have been negligent with the blogging.  Well we couldn't get an Internet connection up at the lake so I have an excuse.

So I will go back over our prairie travels and choose some highlights from those two weeks.  First we crossed through Manitoba and skirted Winnipeg to go slightly north of it to Selkirk.  Manitoba is #7 on the map.  I wanted to visit Lower Fort Garry and find out more about the Selkirk settlers.  I knew they mostly immigrated from Great Britain and many married local First Nations after settling on a homestead.  The Fort was originally a fur trading place of commerce with stone walls built as protection from the Americans who kept trying to invade and liberate the loyalists (who didn't want to be liberated, thank you very much).  This is the River Gate open to visitors.  The British Factors who ran the forts insisted on stone buildings as they were stronger and did not need as much upkeep as wooden buildings.  So the big-shots got to live in a lovely "Big House".  It was also in the middle of the fort in the most protected spot.

Canadians still call the main house on a ranch the "Big House", even if it is a modest house, it is the boss'.  Across the buggy road was the general trading post that is now a museum.  I was interested in all the different barrels of grog shipped in from England.  Glass beads and liquor were valued trading goods.  They shipped in china dinner sets floating in barrels of molasses.  What a chore that must have been to clean your china when it finally arrived. 

The York boats were of a design that worked well on the Red River for transporting workers, goods and furs.  What I didn't understand was that these Selkirk Settlers did not come down the St. Lawrence through Ontario and the Great Lakes as most of the immigrants did. 

All the rivers here flow north which discombobulates my British Columbia (#10) brain.  The British ships brought the indentured servants though Hudsons Bay above Ontario, to work here.  They rowed UP the rivers from the north to the south to fur trading forts such as Lower Fort Garry.  It was a lovely autumn day for touring on foot and doing self-guided tours.  Some features had been closed for the winter, but they still had many actors wandering around in period dress who were very friendly and trained to share important information as if you had been transported back to those tough times.  They talked like they were living there at that pioneering time.  It is weird to try to talk to someone who is living in the past.

We are cheap folk so we had an inexpensive lunch prepared in our little galley in our RV.  We then skirted around Winnipeg and took a highway north of the Trans-Canada #1 to the small town of Stonewall to camp for the night. 

The camp was by an historic quarry that supplied the rock-works for many of the buildings and for the Selkirk Settlers for miles around.  It was all fascinating to me.  Old Man is not so impressed  by history unless it is about cowboys and ranching.  He is history himself now so I let it pass and just enjoy myself.  He usually only sees half of what I want to see before he leaves to go have a nap in the RV.  It is a great way to travel for older folk.  I am skipping a lot of interesting places and people now, but just want to get caught up to our present days.

The next stop is at Moose Jaw in the province of Saskatchewan.


  1. So good to hear from you, Karyn, and catch up on your travels! I'm quite intrigued about shipping china in molasses! I always learn something new from your posts! Thanks!

    One of my Multiply (now Blogger) friends lives in Saskatchewan. Looking forward to your next installment!! Safe travels!

  2. I am sorry but we are still resting from the long drive across Canada and over the Rocky Mountains. We have moved into a B/B which is accommodating us for a long term rental. Old Man loves being in one spot with a good bed. He likes the Internet consistency also. We are home in an arid area but it will take prayers and time to be settled here again. We put a FOR SALE sign on the fence today. SIGH It is a sad time.

  3. What is it you're selling, Karyn? Your old house?

    1. We have the bigger RV motorhome for sale and our cottage house on the river. It is time to downsize and stop long travels. I am sure that when spring starts to warm up our area in April we will want to go off exploring again, but for now we just want to get under blankets and read or coccoon as they say until the daffodils raise their heads.

  4. Great read! I love history. If I could do it over I would have studied history instead of French language/lit. About equally useful:). Just read Caesars of the Wilderness, the middle one of Peter C Newman's history of the Hudson Bay Company. So your exploration of the historic fort really resonated.