Today’s guest blog post ticks a couple of boxes. It hits two National Historic Sites in Saskatchewan and it tells an important story that is due to be shared and reflected on.
It is written by Cyndi whose Instagram name is cyndiwanderer and she does like to travel. She’s also a fellow history buff who volunteers for several causes. I’m very pleased to post her first of two posts in the Canada 150 series.
The Trails of 1885
My husband and I decided that Canada’s 150th was a great opportunity to check out parts of Saskatchewan that we had never visited before. I grew up in the central and northwest part of the province, and he grew up in the south. Neither of us had explored each other’s “turf” so we decided we would be each other’s tour guides.
Our northwest tour took us to St Walburg to visit the Imhoff Museum, then to Frenchman’s Butte, Fort Pitt, and on to Lloydminster for the night. My husband was blown away by how lush, green and hilly the area was.
The next day we visited Fort Battleford, the Crooked Bush near Hafford, and Redberry Lake before returning home to Saskatoon.
I’ll feature Frenchman’s Butte and Fort Battleford in this blog, being the National Historic Sites, but Fort Pitt is definitely part of the story, so I’ll take you along there, as well. These sites, along with another dozen or so in the province, are collectively known as the Trails of 1885. The Batoche Rebellion is well-known to all, but another rebellion was developing near the Battlefords. First Nations peoples, starved and deprived of their treaty promises, moved towards Fort Battleford and Fort Pitt seeking aid and justice. The townspeople of Battleford abandoned the town and fled to the fort. The bands, seeing the town deserted, helped themselves to provisions. Near the same time, a group of starving warriors attacked the town of Frog Lake, killing 9 people and taking 3 hostage. They went on to Fort Pitt, besieging it. The British military responded by sending troops to several places in Saskatchewan. That spring, besides the battle at Batoche, skirmishes took place at Cut Knife Hill, Fort Battleford, and Frenchman’s Butte, near Fort Pitt. The Frenchman’s Butte battle was the last of the resistance.
The loss of life on both sides was a tragedy, as was the systematic starvation of an entire race of peoples. Saskatchewan’s history and culture has been shaped by the cruel policies of a greedy empire. Let’s hope we can all reconcile and move forward to a future of better understanding by learning about our past.
Cyndi and I had a brief discussion about the last paragraph and how it would “read”. I have been doing some listening and reading on Reconciliation and feel that this is a timely topic for here on the blog. It may turn out that I do a few blogs about this important Canadian issue.
This post demonstrates the line we walk and live in here in Canada. Cyndi and Jeff walked the rebellion trail and learnt a small piece of the history of the Indigenous of this area. They explored the natural beauty and bounty of the area that had been home to them.
They then toured the forts and appreciated the architecture and the history. It was a harsh environment 150+ years ago and these men and women brought European standards to an outpost. They changed the landscape of the prairies and with it the history of all.
Complex and compelling that we all understand what occurred and try to understand that all sides of our countries past.