The Gull Reef Club

2/13/2013

Spring is Springing or Traveling by Doglsled

Filed under: — Jaime @ 11:59 pm

We have had record rainfalls this week in Savannah. It already nearly being mid-February, these rains mean spring must be here. We’re already seeing the early bloomers bloom – daffodils, redbuds, carolina jessamine. Even the azaleas have made an early appearance.

All of this spring time makes me appreciate even more an old family story I came across very recently. It was a dispatch sent by my 3rd great-grandfather to the St. Cloud Journal, dated January 18, 1872. At the time, he was living at or near Lower Fort Garry, Manitoba. He was a steamboat engineer for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Based on other writings I’ve found from him, I can presume he mostly had winters off due to the Red River freezing over entirely (thus, no steamboating). Having winters off might explain why he chose to embark on a months long journey to remote places like the Saskatchewan River and Lake of the Woods, apparently by dog sled. It’s almost hard to believe he and my delicate southern-by-choice self are related.

From The St. Cloud Journal, January 18, 1872, 2nd column, lower third:
From RED RIVER—A private letter from
Mr. E. R. Abell, at Fort Garry, Manitoba,
gives an account of the mode of traveling
most in use in that hyperborean region.
He says:
“I have had some experience this winter
in traveling by dog sleds, having spent
some two months on an exploring expedition
to the Saskatchewan river north, and
to the Lake of Woods east of this settlement.
The covering was the blue canopy
of heaven and the bedding the downy snow,
improved a little by pine boughs when they
could be had. With the exception of one
night I had a rousing fire, which made even
the wild forest look cheerful. At one time on
the Little Saskatchewan river I was for
four days with little or nothing to eat,
when I luckily came upon an Indian village
on the banks of Martin’s Lake. The Indians
gave me two large white fish and sixteen
potatoes, the whole of which I ate at
one meal.”

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