I have yet to find mention of the monetary value of a dog at Red River, but there is plenty of evidence that people placed a high value on their dogs.
Posts Tagged ‘Archibald McDonald’
There were other purposes for dogs. In August of 1812, Miles Macdonell writes about Fort Alexander that, although it was on a river (the Winnipeg) key to commerce, the river “was a scarce place for provisions. The Canadians killed two dogs for their supper.”
The winter of 1825-6 was a bitter winter. The Bison disappeared, and travel across the massive drifts of snow was nearly impossible. Dogs became a part of the diet of the starving colonists.
There is no question that dogs were essential to life at Red River. But their working days were mostly winter days. These were hardy dogs, fit and perhaps high-strung – in terms of energy, at least. So, the major problems began when the snow and ice disappeared and the main method of dissipating all that energy melted away with the arrival of spring.
The working dogs of Red River pulled another type of vehicle in the winter, too – the carriole. The carriole was a miniature version of the vehicle of the same name used with horses, and as such was more decorative in appearance than the usual toboggan-like dog sledge.
As I have read through the literature researching this topic, it has become apparent that, in the early days of the RRS – and well into its history – man’s best friend functioned mainly as the sled dog. A good breeding stock must have been in the area before the settlers arrived. Although there is mention of dogs being used at York Factory, I didn’t see any reference to them being brought down in the boats.
I’m just back from this year’s Annual Reunion. I think it was one of the best we’ve had in a long time! I think I’ll spend this week writing about it, because a number of interesting issues were raised.
“Sunday got our last boats off in company with one of the Compy’s Crafts this afternoon exclusive of the people’s baggage & provisions they have brought few kegs of Spirits and Bales of Blankets.” – Archibald McDonald’s Journal
“party could not start till 5 owing to some snow falling from the S.W. which detained the Steersmen in case it might come on more heavy & steady as the leather sails & coverings we have answers wet weather badly from the great quantity of water they absorbe-” – Archibald Macdonald Journal
“Party warned to be ready to-morrow by 4 O’Clock & not to Breakfast till 10- but still that it may be partly cooked to-night so as to detain us in the morning as little as possible.- The Rice, pease, Meat &c. can be cooked & made warm at Breakfast time.- In the morning gave every one of the party a pair of shoes & the Men had theirs worn out already.” – Archibald Macdonald Journal
“After some consideration with Mr. Cook last night he would not take upon himself to advise me comply with the request of the people though he saw the propriety of some of their demands, such as they Tobacco.- Consequently I have this morning received 9 1/4 lbs Tobacco from Y.F. for their use on my own responsibility.- The Rum they are not to have a regular allowance of , but that they have refused to my own generosity. The Trowsers I must deny them entirely & as for the additional allowance of provisions I have made them sensible that they will have what will be sufficient if they only exert themselves to make a quick passage of it- So that everything is settled to their satisfaction in the best manner we can- and at 7 O’Clock in the morning the two Boats got under weigh with fair wind-” Archibald Macdonald Journal