EVOLUTION OF TOWNS AND VILLAGES.
MEMORIES OF QU'APPELLE.
The following is a short sketch of the early days of Qu'Appelle by
A. C. Paterson, who was born at Iona, Elgin County, Ontario, 1853. Mr.
Paterson took a trip to Manitoba in 1881. In February, 1882, he resigned
his position as Principal of Palmerston Public Schools, Ontario. He and
his partner, Dick Johnston, arrived by train at Brandon and outfitted
with oxen for the trip. In the party were also James Milne and Jim Blair
and after a most adventurous journey via Rapid City, Birtle, Shoal Lake
and Fort Ellice, through mud and across swollen rivers and streams, last-
ing six weeks, they finally landed at Qu'Appelle and decided to settle there.
Mr. Paterson writes
"Having been one of the first settlers, I have frequently been asked
to write the early history of Qu'Appelle, a town on the Canadian Pacific
Railway about thirty-five miles east of the Capital of the Province-
"As I have no particular talent in this direction I have declined, but
after mature consideration I have decided to compile some facts with
reference to those early days in the hope, that when the pioneers who
struggled against many hardships in laying the foundations of those in-
sititutions that have contributed to the welfare and happiness of so many
of the present generation shall have passed to the great beyond, someone
anxious to know who we were may enjoy a perusal of this manuscript.
These early settlers were largely from Ontario and were under middle
age and young men, and were in every respect as high a class of citizen
as ever settled in any part of the Great Northwest.
"They lived together as one big family enjoying the confidence of each
other, and respecting the rights of all, to such an extent that outside of
occasionally recommending the Lieutenant-Governor to issue a liquor per-
mit to the individual who was fortunate enough to have $5.00 to spare
for two gallons of the best, the business of the Justice of the Peace was
about as important as that of a jack rabbit. A quarrel between two men
in those days, much less a fight, was never known.
"No doubt I have overlooked many interesting events of those strenu-
ous days, but forty years have passed since we erected our tents in old
Qu'Appelle, and I may be pardoned if what I have omitted would have
been as interesting as what I have written.
"In the Fall of 1881, about a year in advance of the Canadian Pacific
Railway, Mr. S. H. Caswell, accompanied by his father, James Caswell,
and two men, Grant Thorburn and A. Stoddard, located about a mile
north of what is now the Qu'Appelle Townsite. Here he built two small
shacks and returned to Poplar Point, Manitoba, where he remained until
the spring of '82. Thorburn and Joe Doolittle remained behind and took
a contract to cut wood for the Canadian Pacific Railway. They did not
find this work congenial and only cut enough to keep themselves from
freezing. On Mr. Caswell's return he brought a stock of groceries and
general merchandise and opened up business in a tent located near the
shacks built the previous year. This point was later called Troy. The
C. P. R. track was laid through in the early Fall, and Caswell moved to
the Townsite, where he carried on his store business in a tent until the
Spring of '83, when he built a store and residence which he occupied
until his death.
"Late in the Fall of 1882 the following places of business were opened-
"Restaurant by J. Stoddard.
"Pool hall by Love & Raymond.
"Livery and feed by Johnston & Paterson.
"Livery and feed by Joe Doolittle.
"Harness shop by John Milliken.
"The Government built an Immigration Hall in the winter of '82 which
was burned in May, '83, and a new one was erected the following winter.
The Immigration Agents at that time were A. J. Baker and G. Miquelon.
Later Mr. Baker was transferred to Brandon and Mr. Miquelon to Calgary.
"The above were the business places for the winter, and trading was
particularly quiet as most of the homesteaders who came that year, after
doing some breaking and building small dwellings and stable, returned
to the East for the winter.
"A considerable number of young men remained here the first winter,
and were chiefly employed in keeping warm, getting something to eat
and drink and finding amusements, which were not overlooked. We had
our cricket club and hunt club, the first west of Winnipeg, with the pos-
sible exception of Cannington Manor. Dances were common, or I should
have said one of the chief sources of amusement. The fox trot and many
of the modern dances would not have been tolerated in those days, much
less the abbreviated gowns. Ladies were so scarce that men often had
to play the female parts in the quadrilles.
"The Immigration Hall was utilized for all public entertainments, and
Mr. Baker, the genial Agent, contributed largely to the social life of the
"Horse racing was probably the most attractive sport, and the annual
races were patronized from Winnipeg to the Rocky Mountains by lovers
of 'the sport of kings.' Harness races were in their infancy in the West
and the thoroughbreds were scarce, but we had many splendid horses
that furnished keen competition, and gave us more excitement than the
races of today.
"A few of the horses whose names are familiar to the old timers
were Grey Eagle, Wood Mountain Dan, Little Dan, Sugar Foot,
Black Diamond, La Bleau. Harness horses: Mable S., Dick French,Minnie W.
"Grey Eagle and Little Dan in a matched race, half mile heats, fur-
nished the most exciting race ever run in Regina to the present day. A
blanket would have covered both horses in every heat and there were five
thousand dollars in the pool box. This race was arranged by the Qu'Ap-
pelle racing enthusiasts who secured Little Dan and backed him, but the
race was won by Grey Eagle.
"What was known as the Wright Farm was started in 1882, by two
men from Ottawa, W. Thistle and Thos. Wright. They purchased four
sections of land and broke a large area the first year. They also brought
in a quantity of cattle, the intention being to go into mixed farming. In
the Fall of 1884 they moved their stock to Wood Mountain. The winter
was severe and most of their stock perished, so they abandoned the idea
of stock raising and devoted their attention to grain growing for a num-
ber of years.
"In the Fall of '82 the C. P. R. laid the track through to Regina, and
the villages of Indian Head and Qu'Appelle were each nearly the same
distance from Fort Qu'Appelle and the Prince Albert Trail, so naturally
a strong rivalry took place for the base of supplies for the north country.
Qu'Appelle had the advantage of a somewhat better road and a few miles
nearer, and it became the distributing point for the North. Early in '88
a mail contract was awarded to Jim McLane, better known as Flatboat
McLane, who shortly afterwards transferred the contract to Leeson &
Scott, and they kept the line in operation until the Regina and Long Lake
and also the Calgary and Edmonton Railways were built.
"This stage line was splendidly managed. All along the trail from
Qu'Appelle. to Prince Albert, and in fact to Edmonton, at intervals of
forty miles, road houses were erected with a man in charge during the
winter months, where not only the stage drivers and their passengers,
but other travellers who were journeying on the long, long trail, found
comfortable lodgings for the night at reasonable cost. In addition to
the mail sacks carried, a considerable amount of express was also handled.
A four horse team was always used and frequently two of these teams
went out and horses were always changed at the forty mile stations. The
wagons used were especially built, with comfortable seats for passengers
and with space for mail and express. This line, together with all the
freight for the Northern points passing through made Qu'Appelle one
of the busiest points on the line.
"The men who drove on this stage line were expert horsemen and
sturdy resourceful fellows, and many a blizzard they had to fight their
way through. Of these I just recall Jack Art, Ab Craig and GordonMclver.
"This stage line was well patronized, as Prince Albert even in those
days was the centre of an old settlement, and quite a village, besides
being headquarters for a large detachment of North West Mounted Police.
"In 1882 Dr. Haggerty of Portage La Prairie sent out four men to
homestead, which they did near Qu'Appelle. They were under contract
with him to perform the homestead duties and hand over the land to him
when patented. He found, however, that the regulations would not per-
mit of this contract being carried out, and the men were left in peace-
able possession of the homesteads. They were George Hudson, Patrick
Uniack, Phil Breen and Daddy McCarthy.
"Major Walsh of the North West Mounted Police built a Police Bar-
racks in the same year. It was a small log building possibly 20x24, and
erected at the modest outlay to the Government of $5,000.00. Contracts
by tender were not known in those days, and the freight rates for hard-
ware for such a colossal structure possibly affected the cost of the build-