Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Portals of Power

An exciting TV series will premiere tonight. Portals of Power, a three-part series featuring the movers and shakers of the Red River Valley will air at 7:30 p.m. on Prairie Public Television.

The series will provide an informative and engaging look at business, commerce and entrepreneurship in the Mid-Continental Trade Corridor.

Portals of Power opens the doors to many inspiring and intriguing stories about what’s been imagined and accomplished in the mid-continental region and showcases the innovative spirit that has created many success stories on both sides of the border.

Filming of the first episode was completed in May, 2009, and now viewers in Canada and the U.S. will be treated to the fruit of months of careful research, artful direction and insightful writing.

Episode one will preview on Sept. 25,” said executive producer Bill McCaughey. “The rest of the series will be premiering over the winter, probably starting in December. Each show is about 30 minutes long and will air six to eight times on Prairie Public.”

From Prairie Public Television series premieres tonight

I apologize for being late on sharing this, but from the article quoted above, it appears that the series will repeat thankfully. It sounds pretty exciting to have our area featured in such a progressive and forward-looking manner! By the way, the executive producer of the piece is Bill McCaughey, of Emerson.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Captured Moments

Marion was Louis' sister, and assisted him at the Neche Post Office as assistant postmaster
Marion Johnson Strong Spink, Sister of Louis Philip Strong, born Scipio, New York, May 26, 1874, married Benjamin E. Spink [Neche, ND - Circa 1902]



Genevieve Mullins Strong and Elaine Marion Strong, twin daughters of Louis Philip Strong and Julia Mullins Strong, born October 26, 1898 [Neche, ND - Circa 1901]


Julia was the wife of the Neche postmaster in 1900...

Julia Ann Strong, taken alone - a rather striking pose, very natural, which is probably what she was going for. Very nice... [Neche, ND - Circa 1900]





Julia Ann Strong and son Otis, [Neche, ND - Circa 1900]

From Who's Who and Why: A Biographical Dictionary of Men and Women of Canada and Newfoundland

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Smithsonian First Postal Object

The man standing to the left of the open door is Charles Turner Cavileer. One of the two women to the right of the door is probably his wife, Isabell; the other woman and the tall man may be two of his five living children.

A history of the region published during the elder Cavileer’s lifetime called him “the father of Pembina” and “the oldest living settler of that locality,” adding that “he was a regular correspondent to the Smithsonian Institute.” It is likely, then, that the postmaster sent the photograph to us from his own post office. It was received in 1882, making it the first postal object added to the Smithsonian’s collection.

From Object of the Month, National Postal Museum, Smithsonian Institution

Sunday, September 20, 2009

BORDERTOWNS: Chapter 9

Late in the afternoon Mary heard the kitchen door open, then close. Finally bustling noises came from the kitchen. Knowing her mother had returned home, she dipped a cloth into the pitcher of cold water on the washstand to wipe her face and eyes. Checking her face in the small mirror, she found she had removed all traces of her devastating experience at the hotel. She descended to the kitchen and began setting the table, pretending all the while not to notice her mother's silent appraisal.

Kirby arrived just as her father, Jerold and Mike returned home. Glancing out the rear window, she saw them accompany Kirby to the barn while he put up his horse.

She soon heard conversation, accompanied by laughter and the thumping of stomping boots as they opened the door. A cold blast of air rolled across the kitchen before Mike finally closed the door behind them.

"Pat, where have you and the boys been? You've been away for hours."

Her man looked sheepish and evasive. Jerold began to smile, waiting for his father's explanation.

"Well, we stopped at Cowan's, then at Charley Robinson's, and finally we ended at Jack McGlashans. Oh, he's a hard one to get away from!"

"It was well we left there, Mother," Mike asserted importantly, "Jack had a gallon of real Scottish whiskey. He wanted Pa to stay."

Pat's eyes crinkled, "Good stuff, too, love. I broke down and had a couple with him." He grinned foolishly and winked.

She knew it was more than a couple, but smiled good-naturedly at Kirby. "At least he had a good time this afternoon."

Mary forced herself into a semblance of humor. "Why Mother, you just got home yourself. Don't put upon Pa so."

"Ah, but I was helping Mrs. McKinnon with her sewing, not having a wee drop with the neighbors."

At that moment Mary saw Kirby glance at his Christmas gift; she had pinned it to her blouse. Approaching him, she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and kissed his cheek. "Thank you for the lovely present!" Her voice was low and throaty, causing inquisitive looks from the others. To explain matters, she turned toward her family, putting her hand to the watch. "It's a Christmas gift from Kirby. Isn't it gorgeous?"

Kirby reached out to encircle her waist, pulling her close. "Well, that peck was better than nothing, but it wasn't much of a Christmas kiss." Smiling, he bent to fully kiss her lips. He detected only a passive response and felt disappointed.

Laughter came; Jerold clapped his hands in approval.

Mary felt confused by the kiss, but she forced a smile to cover her feelings.

Sounds came from the outer door and Robert entered through the kitchen. His appearance was jovial enough, but Mary knew his nonchalant pose was an effort to appear as if nothing had happened between them. Her embarrassment at the hotel had fueled feelings of anger, compounded by his failure to escort her home. He had disappointed her, and, perversely, she wanted to punish him. She decided she would focus her attention upon Kirby.

Robert's gaiety and conviviality fell short of bolstering his pride. The frosty reception he was getting from Mary was disheartening. He realized his shortcomings at the hotel and knew Mary was justified in her anger. The sudden appearance of the intruder at the door, and Mary's reaction, had frozen him into immobility. He knew his mistake, and determined to make it up to her if she would allow it. The indifferent manner in which she was treating him and the occasional caustic glances she gave him spoke only too eloquently. He knew their love affair was on the brink of destruction and that the fault was entirely his.

Robert noted Maggy's searching glance, indication she suspected something wrong between them. He attempted to allay her fears by being over-solicitous.

Mary, on the other hand, pointedly ignored him. She inquired of Kirby's doings at the fort, and made much of his cold ride from there. She almost relented when Robert announced, "I'm returning to Winnipeg tomorrow morning on the stage. There won't be much to do on the Selkirk-Emerson line next summer after we complete the final surveys, except perhaps supervise the construction. The contractor isn't required to turn the line over to us until the summer of '79, but the road will probably be in operation by next December. We suspect the contractors will run it for an additional profit -- that is, if they can make a deal with Jim Hill of the Saint Paul & Pacific.

Kirby held off mentioning the Emerson New Year dance, planning to ask Mary after Robert left the house. He determined to outstay Robert, hopeful that Mary would accept his invitation.

It was 9 p.m. when Robert expressed his regret at leaving, and Mary escorted him to the door. He felt embarrassed and frustrated. Their final kiss was cool, with no passion. Both were tense until Robert said softly, "I'll be back in April, but I'll write often." It was an uneasy truce, and Mary suddenly realized how quickly a wide gulf could present itself.

Robert felt an odd hollowness. He knew he was leaving a bad situation and had hoped for charity and consideration. He had received none.

Closing the door behind him, Mary stood pensively gazing at the panels. She wanted more from him, but hadn't asked, for fear of being refused. When she had mentioned marriage at the hotel room, he had not responded.

Finally Kirby drew her attention. He approached from behind as he drew on his buffalo coat. "Mary, will you honor me by going to the party at the Emerson Ball next Friday?"

She turned slowly to face him, her reverie broken. Her face gradually turned to a warm smile. "Oh, Yes!"

For seconds they stood face to face until he leaned to kiss her gently on the lips. Curiously, she felt herself returning the kiss, although it was not a kiss of passion; it was more a kiss of obligation. She puzzled over it later.

While walking back to the hotel, Robert found himself brooding about his reception at the McLaren home. Conflicting thoughts antagonized him to the point of hostility. Just who was Mary to treat him so shabbily? After all, he was an engineer and had proven himself this past summer. Even if they did marry, where would they live? Perhaps Winnipeg, for he would be working in the camps east of the Canadian Shield. He already knew his future work on the Emerson-Selkirk line would last only a couple of months or more, and then it would be back to the Rat Portage area, or possibly to the Western division. Word of mouth had indicated they were surveying several passes in the Rocky Mountains, seeking the most favorable rail route to the west coast.

Approaching the hotel, he noted that the small restaurant was still open, the windows so heavily frosted that it was impossible to see inside. Chilled to the core, he felt he would try for a cup of coffee. Finding the exterior door locked, he entered the lobby of the hotel to try the inner door. The wave of heat that greeted him as he entered the cafe seemed like a pleasant greeting.

Unbuttoning his coat, he tossed it across a chair and took the only cleared table. It was still damp, indicating it had just been wiped. The fragrant odor of fresh baking overpowered the usual greasy smell. He wondered who would be cooking this late on Christmas day.

Annie's face suddenly popped up in the kitchen-serving window. She seemed surprised to see him. "Thought I heard the door. Coffee, Robert?"

"Guess so, please."

He seemed so vague and subdued that she sensed something wrong. "Want sugar or cream?"

"No. Just black and hot will be fine."

Moments later she placed the cup and saucer before him, and then proceeded to sit on the opposite side of the table. She watched him intently as he lifted the cup to his lips and detected the biting-sweet odor of rum mixed in the coffee. He eyed here questioningly as he tasted the mixture.

"It's rum toddy. You looked so cold." She fluffed her hair nervously as she smiled. "After all, it is Christmas evening and still early. What's the matter? Have you and Mary had a fight?"

He studied the cup before answering, "Just a misunderstanding."

Annie looked at him accusingly, "Did she come to your room at the hotel this afternoon?"

He looked up in surprise. "How did you know?"

A grim look appeared on her face. "'Cause I was accused of it. Someone told Ma I visited your room. Mary and I look a lot alike and we're the same height. I figure it had to be her. I told Ma it wasn't me, but she doesn't believe me." She looked at him archly, "I've been accused before. I'm a grown woman now and can do as I please."

He interpreted her remark to mean that she had been with men before and that she was experienced. Yet he felt no desire to become involved with her. Seeking to defuse the trend of talk, he suggested, "It's a mighty small town. Everyone must know everything that goes on."

She arose to her feet and smiled roguishly at him, "Not everything. Heck, I feel like a toddy myself." She turned to the kitchen door, returning moments later with an enameled coffee pot, a cup, and a nearly full bottle of rum. Placing them in the center of the table, she turned to lock the door, and then pulled the inner curtain over the glass. Returning to the table, she poured a generous portion of rum into her cup, then reached over to pour an additional dollop into his. After adding coffee to her cup, she picked it up for a toast. "Merry Christmas Robert!"

Lazily, he raised his cup to touch hers. "Merry Christmas to you too, Annie!"

They sipped their drinks for long moments. Finally Annie casually arose to extinguish the hanging lamps, leaving one to barely light the room. After she returned to the table there was a total silence between them as they sipped their drinks. Now and then she surreptitiously studied his face, casually refilling their cups as they became low. He seemed unaware of her close scrutiny.

Since the very second Annie had seen him, she had dreamt of nothing else. She had memorized every line of his face that day. Then, when Mary brought him back to the restaurant that same afternoon, her thoughts were shameful. She didn't care. All's fair in love and war. She knew she would do anything to have this man for her own. All thoughts of friendship with Mary ceased to exist. This man was for her!

Each time she added rum and coffee to his cup, he knew he should refuse. Still, the silence and warm lethargy creeping over him left a sense of release and total relaxation.

"I suppose your misunderstanding was about something that happened this afternoon." Annie probed.

"She's mad at me." Robert answered disgustedly. "She pushed Ralston in my face tonight."

"What happened this afternoon?"

“Nothing! That's the trouble. Not a damned thing!"

Annie moved her chair beside him and put her hand on his shoulder. "Too bad. Perhaps she's too young for you."

He wished she would say no more. He wanted an inner quietness, neutrality that would negate his depression. Her hand brushed his cheek gently and she asked, "Is there anything I can do to smooth your troubles?"

He looked into her eyes and saw another Mary. Until now, he never realized how much Annie resembled his love. Why, the only real difference between them was that Mary had dark hair, while Annie's was a fiery red.

Emboldened by the drink and her closeness, he put his arm around her waist. His voice was becoming slurred. "You're a beautiful girl. How come you're not married?"

She cupped his face with both hands. "'Cause I've been waiting for the right man." Her voice had taken on a maudlin quality as she caressed his lips with her finger.

Finally he grasped her, pulling her onto his lap. She was surprised at her own boldness and slipped one hand into his shirt as she continued caressing his face. He responded by roughly kissing her neck and cheek, finally seeking her lips. She found herself responding as he insinuated his tongue between her lips.

A sudden sense of caution came to her; they must not be caught here; they must get out of the cafe.

"You're getting drunk. We have to get you to your room and into bed."

"Thassa good idea." He tried to stand, but she was still sitting on his lap. Giggling, she stood and helped him to his feet. Picking up the bottle of rum, she guided him to the door. Unlocking it, she removed the key, steering him into the hotel lobby -- then she relocked the door. Both lobby and hallway were vacant as they moved toward his room.

"Which room?" she asked.

"Room 10." He staggered and nearly fell, saved only by the proximity of the wall.

"Gotta light a lamp." Robert was fumbling at the dresser.

She grasped at his arm. "Don't need a light to sleep." She steered him to the bed, where he sat down heavily. Sitting beside him, she swayed against him. "Whassa matter, Robert? Don't like me?"

He put his arm around her. "Sure do." Then he puzzled, him mind wandering. "She's not too young, too afraid."

"Remember me? I'm Annie. Want me to leave?"

He wasn't sure. He had been celibate these past months in the bush. Perplexed, he hesitated, and then her hand slid to his inner thigh.

"Maybe I should leave you."

He reacted by grasping her shoulders, forcing her back on the bed.

"Wait, Robert! You're making me spill the bottle." She was attempting to keep the rum bottle upright. Roughly he felt for and took the bottle from her hand. Raising it to his lips, he drank the remainder. The bottle thumped on the floor as he clasped the warm hand that was insidiously exciting him. Was he afraid of what might happen? Swaying unsteadily, he realized, no, no, I don't want her to leave. He felt himself harden at the thought.

She coyly rolled from under his arm and slipped her dress over her head. Leaning forward, she began to unbutton his shirt. "We've got to get you to bed." Her full, rounded breasts touched his hands and Robert could stand no more. Tearing at the remaining buttons of his shirt, he cast it to the floor. Grasping her, he twisted, lowering her under him. Any sense of conscience or guilt he might have had disappeared magically in the next moments. Annie's abandonment was complete, almost wild. Barely raising herself, she lifted her chemise, and then tugged at his belt. His lips were seeking her breasts even as she thrust them to his face. Rising over her, he entered with a quick thrust. For moments he remained imbedded within her, and then his body began insistent movements that gained in vigor.

Her response was instant, gaining in intensity as her legs spread to engulf him fully. Her rhythm matched his perfectly as she clung to him, head thrust back, seeking more. Gasping with delight, she demanded more and more of him. She strained as the magnitude of their climax approached. Then came the tightness and the explosion.

Gently he held within her in their last diminishing movements that brought them to rest. Then her face relaxed and she opened her eyes to the dark room. "Robert! Oh, God! That was wonderful, almost like heaven! What a heavenly gift! Now we can get married and enjoy this forever."

Slowly he recoiled from her, his mind hazy. Marriage? Marriage? What in hell is she talking about? "Mary!"

"Don't talk now Robert. I've waited for a man like you for years. Aggressively rolling over him, she covered his body with hers. Her warmth began another surge of excitement and she accepted him into her, locking her legs under his.

Robert awoke in the morning to find he was alone. Slowly he pieced together the past night. Rising from the bed, he saw the empty bottle on the floor. His head throbbed and he was sick at heart. Had she been drunk, too? He couldn't remember who had finished the rum. How could he ever have been so stupid as to do such a thing, to even think Annie could replace Mary? Yet, enough of the encounter remained in his mind that he knew it would haunt him forever. The rumpled bed attested to the fact that he had been soddenly drunk, something he had never done before. My God! There was something about marriage, too!

Then he saw the blood stains on the sheets. Holy Hell! She must have been a virgin! And I thought she was experienced.

He picked up his scattered clothes, disgusted with himself. The thought ran through his mind -- she had been willing.

His musing turned to Mary, and he shook his head in disgust. Why am I thinking of Mary?” The stage leaves at nine this morning. Crimminy! How can I face Annie in the restaurant at breakfast?

He was saved that embarrassment when he found a strange girl waiting tables. When the cutter appeared to take the passengers to the stage at West Lynne, he found himself a nervous wreck.

Three days after Christmas Ian brought Susan home to meet his family. At first she seemed shy, but she soon warmed up to Mike, Jerold and Mary. They chatted together excitedly. Mary found an instant rapport with Susan. In their conversation she found they were nearly the same age and had similar interests.

Against her wishes, Maggy was taken with the girl. She could immediately see why Ian had fallen in love. The girl's high cheekbones were part of her Indian heritage, but her nose was straight and delicate, with none of the swollen, pudgy looks with which Maggy was familiar. Her racial features were exceptional, her manner calm; it was obvious she had pride. Maggy could see the girl would retain that youthful beauty even into her late years. The similarity between the girls as they sat side by side was almost unbelievable. Why, they could pass for sisters. Both were of the same height and coloring; both had long, shiny, coal black hair and high cheekbones. The striking difference was that while Mary's eyes were a deep blue, Susan's were a striking deep jet. The girl's manners and polished usage of the English language put Maggy to shame, since she knew that she herself had a strong brogue. She was relieved when Susan spoke freely of her father and mother. Golly, Maggy thought, this youngster is not a bit ashamed of her heritage – and why should she be?

Maggy felt a sudden indignation with herself. What did I expect? This is a lovely, sensible girl! Dispelling her prejudices, she took Susan into her confidence, mentioning that her birthing was due in January.

Susan's next words came as a surprise. "There are no doctors in Emerson or Pembina -- only occasional ones who come infrequently. But if you need someone experienced in accouchements, my Mother will help."

Maggy looked to Pat for help. The word accouchement was beyond her vocabulary.

Susan sensed her confusion and smiled. "I mean my mother often serves as a midwife."

Patrick began to laugh aloud, for he could see Maggy was suddenly self-conscious. "By gee, we'll just keep that in mind." Then he had second thoughts. "Is she experienced?"

"Oh, yes, she has delivered many children. Just ask anyone in Saint Vincent."

Ian brought up the subject of the Emerson dance. "How about the two of us going? We can double with Kirby and Mary."

Susan frowned. "Ian, I can't go! First of all I haven't a suitable dress; secondly, there will be folks there who look upon we part-bloods as trash. I won't put up with their stares and snobbery. It isn't fair." She turned to Mary. "So you're going to the ball with Lieutenant Ralston. I've never met him, but mother says he is a real gentleman; he's well liked at the fort." By way of explanation, she added, "Mother works at the laundry out there." She hesitated momentarily, "I haven't asked Ian as yet, but we've been invited to a house party in Pembina. It will give him an opportunity to meet some of my friends. It's to be held at the LaMoore home and several important people have been invited. Marguerite and I are to present a skit. We are dressing as the New Year and the Old Year."

"Which one are you to represent?" Patrick asked.

"Oh, I'm to be the New Year. Marguerite is three years my senior; she's already nineteen." She tossed her head back and smiled. "We settled that argument weeks ago." She turned to Ian and teased, "How about it? Will you accompany me, or must I find another escort?"

"I'm easily convinced. I wonder if Charley Brown will be there?"

"I doubt he will come, although I know he's been invited. He never takes Marguerite out publicly." A rueful expression appeared on her face.

The fact that Mary had attended the fort dance wrapped in her sheepskin coat bothered Maggy. She brought it to Patrick's attention at bedtime. "We can't have Mary going to the Emerson Ball dressed like a frump. She needs a wool overcoat, something dressy, and one that she can wear in town and to school. Patrick reached from the bed to turn out the lamp.

"Well, tell her to get one. She should be able to find one at Jasper's or Mrs. Trayner's. How much do you 'spose it will cost?"

"I'll pay for it from the egg and butter money -- shouldn't be more than five dollars or so."

When the matter was mentioned at the breakfast table, Mary seemed delighted. "I've been thinking of a new coat too, but I've enough money saved to buy one. Mrs. Trayner has some full-length kersey coats that are lovely. I really should buy from her, for she gave me that gorgeous dress."

"That's best, but Pat and I will pay for the coat. We've talked it over and you deserve it.” Maggy was emphatic.

When Kirby arrived to escort Mary to the New Year's Eve ball, she had never looked more exquisite. When she came down the stairs to the living room, Maggy noted Kirby's smile, his love for her daughter so obvious. She could almost see the bittersweet ache within him. Mary wore the same yellow silk gown that Mrs. Trayner had given her for the fort ball. With its slim, fluid lines, Kirby realized she would be a striking contrast to any other woman at the soiree. Her long black hair was braided and set in circular coils atop her head, almost like a crown. Small, shiny, glistening specks set it off. He was puzzled.

"What's that in your hair, Mary? It certainly adds a mysterious touch."

Mary and Maggy exchanged smiles, and then Mary explained. "It's bits of mica, Kirby. It's an old Irish secret – not so secret any more. The only trouble is, that it itches when it trickles down your neck."

"It looks like snowflakes. I like it!"

Getting her coat from the hallway, Mary handed it to Kirby, who spread it for her arms. Tucking her scarf around her neck, she turned to smile at him. "I'm ready, are you?"

"Now that they're gone, what are we doing tonight?" Patrick looked at Maggy fondly. "I'll bet Pa and Ma are celebrating in Orillia, for New Years and Twelfth Night are the feasting days of the Scots."

Maggy nodded, "I imagine your Father is playing his violin in one of the pubs and your Mother is watching. Personally, I'm nearly ready for bed. The babe is wearing me down." She smiled weakly, "It won't be many more days." She was glad for the dim lamplight and finally being alone with Patrick. It gave her a safe, warm feeling as she bent forward to kiss him. "I'll make us a cup of coffee, or would you rather have a hot toddy?"

He looked at her lovingly. "Coffee will be just fine."

The holiday season brought a plenitude of excitement.

After going to bed that evening, Maggy ran her hands over her distended belly, touching it lightly, fondling the thrusting occupant with loving hands. She had grown immense, and now the baby hung low, forcing her knees and toes outward. Maggy was almost positive she was carrying a girl, for the violent movements of elbows and feet of the three sons she had carried were absent. Instead, the rollings and movements in her womb were of a gentle nature. It was when she was lying in bed that her baby rolled in the liquid world, awakening Maggy, forcing her to seek a new position. She would gently support the subtly shifting form with both hands as she turned from one side to the other. Her most comforting thought was that it would be only another three weeks until the delivery. She had no fear of the birthing, having already carried four children to term. Her only apprehension was that it might be another boy. Can’t be she thought! She'll be a girl, and I'll call her Kate, or Kathleen, after Pat's Mother.

Upon their arrival at the dance, Kirby found that word of mouth had traveled to Emerson how this girl had captivated everyone at the Fort Pembina ball. He had difficulty booking four dances on her card for she was inundated with admirers, so many that she was embarrassed to the point of wanting to escape to the women's room. It was Kirby's resourcefulness at fending off the young men that gave her a sense of confidence and security. Even so, she wished her father and mother had come along for moral support.

Her sleek dress, lacking a bustle, evoked expressions of envy from many of the younger participants. Even Mrs. Fairbanks, the wife of one of the founders of the town, made a point of complimenting her.

"You are exquisite, Mary!" Taking Mary's hand, she turned toward her husband. "Isn't she, William?"

"A bonny lass indeed!" He exclaimed. "Enough so to set the lads a-fighting!" He smiled at Mary, as he turned to Kirby. "Watch her, lad. The competition is mighty fierce."

Mrs. Fairbanks added, "We must not monopolize you any longer. I can see the Lieutenant is anxious to get you into line for the grand march. We'll miss you when your family moves over to Minnesota, but we'll see you often; it's only a short way off."

From time to time during the schottisches, polkas, quadrilles, waltzes and square dances, Mary noticed Annie Gillis in the crowd and attempted to gain her attention. Annie turned away each time they made eye contact, seemingly occupied. At the time Mary didn't think it strange, for everyone was charged with excitement.

She sensed what was in Kirby's mind, but gave him no chance to bring it up. While in the sleigh on their way to the party, he attempted a serious conversation, but she deftly fended off his approach with light chitchat. She felt guilty for not loving him; he was a girl's ideal dream. He was solid and dependable, good-looking, extremely so. His features and actions made her wonder if she wasn't out of her mind for not marrying this man who wanted her so. He had a magnetism that attracted her, yet, she puzzled why she was still thinking of Robert, even while Kirby held her in his arms. Now that Robert was gone, perhaps for months, she wanted nothing to happen that would change their relationship.

Mary felt relieved to be so much sought after that Kirby was unable to monopolize her time, even between dances. When he did manage dances with her, Kirby knew he held the most beautiful girl at the ball in his arms. His pride was discernible to all.

When midnight came, the orchestra broke into 'Auld Lang Syne.' At the first sounds of it, Kirby whirled her to the center of the dance floor and stopped suddenly. He pointed upward. Lifting her eyes, she saw the hanging sprig of mistletoe. Kirby's strong hands grasped her waist, drawing her tightly to him. Before she could lower her head, his lips quickly closed on hers, not lightly as she expected, but firmly, with passion. At the touch of his lips and the pressure of his hands, all brotherly thoughts she had of him faded into obscurity. She suddenly felt lonely and insecure. Every pore of her body came alive and she found herself answering his lips with an unbidden passion. Her arms tightened around his neck and her fingers entwined in his hair, forcing his lips closer and tighter. She lost track of time until she felt him release her.

He seemed astounded. "My God, Mary! Did you really mean it?"

Still aroused by his kiss, but mortified by her reaction, she shrank back. Glancing around, she could see no one who realized that their long kiss was anything but perfunctory; everyone around them was singing. A slow smile came. "Oh, Kirby, it was the mistletoe and the strong punch."

On the ride home Mary's mind seemed in a blur; she was dimly aware of anything but her fervent response to Kirby's kiss. Am I just lonesome for Robert, or is it my body responding to Kirby? After all, he has kissed me before and I never felt such sudden fire. Is this how it feels to be a woman? What brought about that tremulous, turbulent force?

Lying in bed, she found herself unable to sleep. Kirby was on her mind. Other then having a slight Eastern accent, he had adapted to being a mid-westerner to perfection. Perhaps she had missed something in her first assessment of him. There was a mystery about him that was beginning to intrigue her. He had never once mentioned his family or past. But then, she had never had the opportunity to share confidences with him. A new feeling swept over her and she realized that perhaps Robert wasn't the only man in the world for her. She hugged her pillow when she remembered the feeling of Kirby's kiss under the mistletoe.

During the following days she found little time to dwell upon her disturbing encounter with Kirby. Now that the hustle and bustle of Christmas and the New Year was over, she was to teach school again. She must plan her days, making schedules based on each student's grade, and judging how much each child could absorb. She knew she had given Kirby an indication that he meant more to her than just a friend, yet she also knew he would never force attentions upon her. She felt guilty in giving him false hope. Even now she was looking forward to a letter from Robert. Yet, strangely, she found herself anticipating Kirby's visits. She knew her father and mother considered him favorably.

Maggy was not blind to the change in Mary. When Kirby's name came up, as it often did, her daughter raised her eyes in interest. She made sure that Kirby had complete freedom to visit Mary, and never interfered when they were together. She would have had to be blind not to see that Kirby was head over heels in love with Mary, and she admired his tact when dealing with her reticent daughter.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pembina in Art

LYNN, WASHINGTON FRANK, artist, journalist, and author; b. c. 1827 or c. 1837 in Chelsea (London), England, second son of William Bewicke Lynn; m. 2 Sept. 1874 Elizabeth Charlotte Tarren in Winnipeg, and they had two sons and a daughter; d. there 20 July 1906.
The Royal Colonial Institute of London, which he had helped found in 1868, was probably responsible for directing his attention to the Canadian northwest as an alternative to the United States. In the spring of 1872, soon after having attended a meeting of the institute concerning Manitoba, he departed for the northwest via Kansas. He had originally intended to report his findings to the institute in October, but arrived in Manitoba too late to return to London for that purpose. Interested in the varied composition of the province’s society, he stayed on, thinking that he would “find enough to employ both pen and pencil for some time.”

Lynn’s informative letters continued to appear in the Globe. He also began a series of paintings, among them The forks of the Red and Assiniboine, The Dakota boat, Fort Pembina, Fort Pelly, Archbishop Taché [Alexandre-Antonin Taché*], and The Barber house, all dating from 1872 to 1877. Lynn’s work is that of a professional who combined a fine sense of colour and composition with a keen eye for the significant features of his subjects. Although adequate, his genre figures are less successful. Most of his later paintings were variations of these earlier pieces. The popularity of Lynn’s work is demonstrated by the number of versions extant.

From Dictionary of Canadian Biography

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Reader Memories: Desperado receives Frontier Justice

Ernest Gunerius shares some more memories...
When my father purchased the Wardwell house in 1933, I was presented with a boys dream come true.

A thirteen room house with a Den with fire place and an attached shed. The attic had access holes to explore and the attached shed had a large walk-in Ice Box with a small cranny above, between the slant of the roof and the top of the box.

As I carefully explored my new domain I found Treasure above the Ice Box. Shoved way in the back were two sets of Mounted Buffalo Horns and as I brushed away the accumulated dust I found the best prize of all a real working .22 Caliber six shot Iver Johnson Saturday Night Special Revolver.

I was quick to realize that this prize would make me the undisputed winner of all games of "Cops and Robbers" or the more violent games of "Cowboys and Indians". I already had a Shetland Pony now I was complete with a Pistol.

Naturally I begin to carry the Pistol not only in games with my buddies but also in my daily rounds about town (access to cookies could be had at any kitchen door). This was my undoing. My six year old buddies, out of envy I suppose, had not kept quiet about my good fortune and one day the worst happened.

I ran afoul of the LAW.

Percy Slagerman was the Town Constable in those 1930 days. Percy was a large man and gruff as befits a Constable. He had a supposed reputation, at least among us children for being a violent man.

While on my way up-town one summer day in 1935, I walked around the Bank Building Corner and just about in front of Scotty's Saloon, Constable Slagerman stopped me with a severe question.

He said:"Are you carrying a Pistol, Boy."

I replied:"Yes, Sir."

He gruffly ordered:"Give it to me and come with me."

Then he went back around the bank Corner to the alley by Elmer Barry's garage (I believe it is now the Rose Garage-2009) and then down the alley to the back door of the City Hall that led to the room that held the Wheeled Manual Fire Pump and the Jail Cell.

I was sure he was going to lock me up. But instead he put the Pistol in a vice and proceeded to file the firing pin off the Hammer.

Then he handed the non-functioning Pistol back to me and told me to go on about my business (or words to that effect). I did as I was told and had great success with the mutilated firearm in all my games.

Imagine the same situation today and ponder the different outcome with the new attitudes about firearms.

Even more serious criminal matters were were disposed of in a "Keep it within the Town" fashion. I know of two incidents that were adjudicated in this way. Both involved theft and both were settled by the Town Council in a closed meeting with the Accused and the Aggrieved present.

In one case the sentence was Community Service for a specified time and in the other it was suggested that a career in the Armed Forces would be beneficial to all. In each case the Aggrieved was satisfied. Of course the alternate for the miscreants was Charges and the County Sheriff.

I was only aware of these incidents because I knew the malefactors and they told me the details. There were probably more incidents of this kind but they were never made public knowledge as the Council meetings were Closed.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Reader Memories: Blizzard of 1941

I heard once again from Ernest Gunerius this morning. Ernest shares that he first sent this story to the online list BUFFALO-HUNTERS-L@rootsweb.com; it concerns the infamous blizzard of 1941, which he experienced first-hand. Here are his memories, and amazing they are...
While waiting for inspiration to answer Marilyn's questions on Clergy and the Social scene in 1850's North Dakota, I thought I would comment on Weather in that region both historically and my personal experiences. This little story will also have elements in it that touch a little on some of her other questions, such as the ethnic heritage of the people that immigrated to the Red River Valley and the type of people they were. At least to show the mettle of the people in 1940. The men that enlisted in the armed forces from Pembina on December 8, 1941.

In Pembina, while still a resident, there was a saying : The only thing that can be said for sure about Pembina weather is: "It never snows in August". Once, in the late 1930's, I saw it snow during the Baseball game at the Pembina Ball Park on the Fourth of July.

The great Blizzard of 1888, while not the first recorded, was the most disastrous recorded. 400 lives were lost and uncounted cattle and other animals. I would suppose the Buffalo survived well. I have seen it claimed that cattle from North Dakota, drifting with the north wind were eventually shipped home from Texas where they stopped. That may be an exaggeration.

Saturday, March 15, 1941 began as a normal morning. I recall the sparrows in the ivy on the north wall of the house to the right of the door off the porch (on the old Wardwell house) were making their normal annoying, loud, twittering. The sky was generally clear. Around four in the afternoon, I noticed that the sparrows were silent. Looking to the west out the bay window on the south wall of the kitchen, I could see, on the horizon a faint black cloud.

My sister and I were planning to go to the movie that evening. The movie was shown in the auditorium of the City Hall. Which was one and a half blocks north and across the street on that block that was "kitty corner" from our block.

When we left for the movie the black cloud had moved much closer to town, but my sister was fifteen and I was twelve and we had no worry. The movie was over around 10 PM. However as the lights came on someone, probably the town Marshall, announced that no one was to leave the hall as there was a really bad Blizzard raging outside.

The adult men present organized our exit by alternating adults and children as a chain all holding hands, actually I was not so much holding hands as being held by two adults at either hand. With one of the "Iron Men", possibly George Renville, leading the way we went out, down the long straight staircase that led down to the sidewalk. I was almost immediately disoriented.

I sort of realized we had turned left and then left again and were moving south , but could see nothing , not even the person leading or following, or for that matter, my own hands. I had to keep my eyes shut because if they were open they soon filled with icy snow. The visibility was such that I could not see my hands held six inches from my face.

The chain of people was led south to the corner, then left to the middle of the block to Mrs. Cassidy's restaurant which was open. At this point my sister and I were about 300 feet from our house. We were not allowed to go home by ourselves. We waited till about Midnight when there was a lull in the storm and a group of men led us and some of our friends that lived in that direction to our homes. At that time it was still snowing hard, but the wind had died a little.

In the morning my father woke me to tell me he had a chore for me. And it was to dig a way out of the house through the porch door. The porch was glassed in all round the two open sides and snow covered all windows. Fortunately, probably by design, the door opened in. When opened, a solid hard packed wall of snow appeared.

I tunnelled up, making steps, as I reached the surface, I was treated to a most wondrous sight. All that was visible in the whole town as far as I could see was the roofs of the two story houses and nothing of the single story dwellings. The eaves of our house were about 16 feet from the ground, maybe a little more. I was standing even with the roof on the hard snow. The snow was hard packed and I could walk on it. In the center of the street the snow rose to 20 feet.

My friend Bill Borg (he with the Buffalo skin coat) called me to ask if I would take his Sunday paper delivery. I recall telling him I would lend him my skis so he could deliver his own papers. The train could not get to Pembina that morning so there were no papers to deliver and it wasn't a problem.

Snow removal in the city was a major project. The entire city was buried so the snow had to be loaded on trucks and carried out of town. The crews started from some where out side of town where the snow cover was thin on the highway and plowed to the point where it was necessary to start loading. The clearing as I remember took more than a week.

The Northern Pacific Railroad sent an Engine from Grand Forks to force a way through the snow drifts and to clear the tracks. This engine found a grim and most heartbreaking and sad reminder of the deadly force of the winter blizzards.

Katherine(21 yrs) and Florence(14 yrs) daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Mike Howry of Pembina had attempted to walk into town to help their mother, Mrs. Mike Howry, who was working at Mrs. Cassidy's Cafe, walk home from work.

The girls lost their way in the storm and turned south on the tracks and were apparently frozen to death on the tracks. Their bodies were picked up by the "cowcatcher" on the engine and were discovered when the engine arrived at the depot.

Myself and a few of my friends attended the funeral because their younger brother Frank was our friend. The funeral was to my young years most impressive and solemn. It was held in the old Ukrainian Church in South Pembina. I remember being very impressed and moved by the service and especially by the deep bass voices of the choir who were fathers of my other friends in town, now seen in another light. Because it was spoken and sung in the Ukranian language it added to the mysterious quality.

In the blizzard of 1941, 72 were known dead by Friday March 21. Many people were forced to spend the night in their cars away from home.

During the winter of 1888 and prior to that there were storms of equal or greater fury. I don't know of any record of those storms. I can only assume that the hardship was greater. Later as inspiration urges, we can consider the clothing worn by the early "First People", Metis and settlers.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Early Boundary Marker

Marker at the International Boundary and principal meridian, Pembina area, Manitoba. In background Cree medicine man with pipe leads procession to willow enclose for a dog dance ritual. Cree camp at right. Midewiwin ritual.

Sketch by Major G. Seton (of the Royal Canadian Rifles)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Images of Emerson

Train in Emerson, Manitoba (Date unknown...)Main Street, Emerson (Sketch, artist unknown - 1876)Customs house at Emerson, Manitoba. (1877)Article about the Emerson riots of 1872 with images of the newspaper offices of the Manitoban that were vandalized. I searched around and have found that they were related to election violence that began in St. Boniface near Winnipeg and spread throughout the province in connection with the Metis and the many injustices against them.Exterior of Manitoban office after destruction, Emerson, Manitoba.
(October 24, 1872)