Woman and Wheat by Georgina Binnie-Clark





from Page 82

" Another interesting family who were friendly and kind to us were the married and
unmarried children of Mr. Archibald Macdonald, a man of great distinction, not only as being
the last of the chief factors of the Hudson Bay Company, but as one who played his part well
in Imperial matters during the historic days of the treaties and periods of disturbance
with the Indians.

It was he who stood for intelligence and integrity on the historic occasion in 1857 when
the general affairs of the Hudson Bay Company passed under the review of the House of
Commons, and in answer to a leading question as to what class of men the officials were
sending out to Canada this prompt answer came from Mr. Ellice, M.P. for St. Andrews, Fife, "
such men as Archibald Macdonald of Invergary." At that time he had barely reached his
twentieth year. Nearly thirty years later, in 1885, during the final phase of the Riel
Rebellion, the people of the Prairie Provinces were in great anxiety over the fear of the
ill-will of the Indians. The Government looked to Lord Strathcona and the Hudson Bay Company
for help and advice in dealing with the Tribes, and they looked to Archibald Macdonald, the
boy of Invergary and the man of Fort Qu'Appelle. Relief came in his one sentence, "We can
manage the Indians."

We were deeply interested in him long before we had passed the "good day" stage of
acquantaince, because he seed the patriarch of the village and was obviously the
principal white man "

Page 83

"friend and adviser of the Indians, of whom there were always few or many customer in the
Hudson Bay Store. He talked to them in friendlist fashion in their own tongue, was polite to
the squaws and petted the charming dark-eyed children. The world and his wife called him
Mr.Macdonald with great respect in his presence and "auld Archie" with the same marked
respect in his absence; but absent or present he was always "Chief" in Fort Qu'Appelle. He
was profoundly interesting; in all those years in the North-West he had gathered a wide
experience of human nature; he knew men and motives well, and he had an excellent memory.
One could listen to him with pleasure for hours on end. But he was also na´vely and frankly
inquisitive, and very deaf. I remember on one occasion whilst he ruled over the Hudson Bay
as last of the chief factors, in the process of a particularly bad time it became imperative
that I bought horses, and therefore, it was impossible that I could settle a Hudson Bay
account. When I had been compelled to shout the explanation of my embarrassment on a top
note and in full detail several times over, I lost all sense of guilt, and found the courage
of the situation whilst doubtless every one whithin earshot seized on its humour. However, I
obtained time for my bill and bought my horses, but although Mr. Macdonald served his adopted
country, his sovereign, and the Empire with fine service, he always served the Hudson Bay
first, and it was not the smallest tribute to his most attractive personality that much was
easily forgiven in the last of the cheif factors. His wife, whose lamented death occurred in
December 1912, had been a "

Page 84

"Miss Ellen Inkster, and the daughter of a brother officer of the Hudson Bay Company. She
was a woman of great charm, in whose quiet courtesy dignity and gentleness seened always
peculiarly one. Isolated as were the greater number of the pioneer families of the
North-West, the many official and distinguished persons who 'stopped off' to visit the
historic and beautiful neighborhood of Fort Qu'Appelle, or passed through on their way to
that paradise of sportsmen known as 'the Head of the Lakes", seldom missed the opportunity to
pay their respects to Mr. and Mrs. Macdonald who, through a period extending over forty
years, have shown much kindly hospitality to the English, and some of the most attractive
leaves in the "last of the chief factors'" book of memory are associated with British names
of which we have good reason to be proud.

Of his several children two sons were prominent in the movement of affairs in Canada --
the elder, John A. Macdonald, being Conservative member for North Qu'Appelle in the
Saskatchewan Chamber of Legislature from 1908-1913; and another, Donald H. Macdonald, well
known in Western Canada as being one of the biggest landowners and of particular perspicacity
and knowledge in financial affairs, has also a place in the history of my farming experience."


Page Back A Summer on the Canadian Prairie Saskatchewan Gen Web Wheat and Woman Next Page
WHEAT & WOMAN

BY
GEORGINA BINNIE-CLARK
AUTHOR OF
"A SUMMER ON THE CANADIAN PRAIRIE"



ILLUSTRATED


TORONTO
BELL AND COCKBURN
1914
Please comment on the pictures if they remind you of any of your family stories, or if you would like to contribute information about them in regards to Saskatchewan history or current practices.

In regards to Mr. Archibald Macdonald please also visit the web page...Comunn Chlann Domhnaill Dun Eideann The Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh (1891):Clan Donald Magazine No9 (1981): Online
A Hudson's Bay Company Pioneer - Chief Factor Archibald McDonald of Fort Qu'Appelle by Norman H. MacDonald and Ellice McDonald Jr.


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