Monday, July 07, 2008

Young Artist Documents Early Area




View of the two company forts (fur trading companies, Hudson Bay on the left and the Northwest Company on the right) on the level prairie at Pembina on the Red River of the North, with the smaller tributary the Pembina River between the two forts.  As seen on May 25, 1822, and painted by Peter Rindisbacher (1806-1834).

I have seen other artistic renditions of the early fur trading posts on the Red and Pembina rivers (where Pembina and St. Vincent are today), but never such a well done one before. This perspective shows what is now considered south Pembina and Pembina proper (on the right), the Pembina River branching off the Red River in the foreground, dividing the two.


This is a rough sketch by Rindisbacher, of the interior of the HBC post at Pembina in the 1820's.

It shows (from left to right) a Swiss wife, German man, Swiss husband with children, a Scottish Highlander, and a Metis man.

A fascinatingly diverse group, which was not uncommon at trading posts across the region during the fur trade era.



The painting below shows a winter scene at Pembina in the 1820s, of men fishing out on the ice (another Rindisbacher).


As this documentary painting shows, not all buffalo hunting was done in the summer, on horseback, as is often assumed.  Many times, hunters would be on foot, sometimes disguising themselves under animal skins and slowly creeping towards a grazing animal, using stealth, patience, and skill to eventually bring the giants down.  At other times - like above and below - they would go out, and using their dogs to chase, surround, and weaken an animal, would then come in for the kill shot.  It is easy to imagine a big animal like the American Bison, that they may weaken, get shot and go down, but that the hunter may have had to cut a throat to end the life entirely.  Note that all these particular scenes were painted from events that Rindisbacher the artist, witnessed himself in the Pembina area [Images:  Google Image Search, various sources].