Monday, August 15, 2016

Battleford, SK - Fort Battleford

To Battleford, Saskatchewan today. Saskatchewan is agricultural and their main crop must be wheat - for all the fields we saw.

Two days here since they have a very nice campground and a National Historical Site. So, this will be a historical blog with lots of pictures. We are in a really nice campground - so nice that we have extended a day. Lots of trees, green grass, sun with a breeze blowing through the RV to keep us cool and several paths around town that we can use - with an ending at the ice cream shop. But - did I get a picture? Nope. We usually take a picture so that we remember where we were and how we liked it. Oh, well. We liked it a lot.

One of the trails near the park leads right into the National Historical Park next door - about a block away. And, that’s where we walked today. It’s an old fort that the Canadians built to protect settlers from Native attacks. Sound familiar? Yes, the Canadians also found the Natives fighting to keep their land just like we in America. But, without weapons and without numbers, they were as destined to lose as the American Natives.

We arrived just in time for a guided tour, led by a young man in uniform. He whipped us through people, places and dates using this map as if he had lived in those times. Of course, we didn’t know if he was giving us facts or fiction since none of us knew the history. He could have been making it all up for all we knew. No, he was the real deal. He knew the history and could answer all our questions.
They have built several of the buildings since only the commander’s house was still intact since it has been lived in since the fort was abandoned. They have lots of original artifacts since, when the fort opened, those who had 'liberated' them returned them. Beautiful clock but I was more interested in the Xerox machine on the table. This is how they made copies. Ink up the original, make a reverse image by pressing a clean sheet of paper to the original. Then make a correct image by pressing a clean sheet against the backwards copy. It took a long time but it could be done.

The commanding officer’s desk and his assistant. Both Gary and I were astounded that the artifacts on the desks were originals and there was not always a guide in the room.

Faded red ribbons around the correspondence - that’s where we get the phrase ‘red’ tape. Funny, we had one of the envelope holders in our house, too. I kept my parents love letters there and especially the one where my dad proposed to my mom.

One day long ago, Gary’s parents showed us the letters his father sent to his mother when he was in the Navy in Hawaii during the war. They were on the very thin onion-skin paper and some had words blacked out (censored.) He was quite an artist and had drawn lots of pictures on the envelope and that is why they were showing them to us. Gary’s mother died in 2001 and, when his father died, we scoured the house trying to find those envelopes: every cabinet, every closet, every shoe box. We never found them and so those love letters are lost to the world. They would have been great to have.
Here’s what the enlisted men’s barracks looked like with one man’s belongings on his bed. Note the boots with spurs and the white dress hat on the shelf above the bed. And, of course, all of the possessions (and those not shown) had to fit into the trunk at the foot of the bed. He also carried his brushes for his horse with him.

In the stable, we were impressed with the ‘track’ lighting. They didn’t want people carrying kerosene lanterns into the stable since there was lots of hay around and fires could start easily. Thus, in the stable they hung the lanterns on the track and could move them to wherever they needed.
The office of the vet was also in the stable. Horses were worth more than soldiers salaries. Thus there was a real temptation to say that a horse died when a soldier had actually sold it. To prevent this, every horse had its number carved into its hoof and the soldier had to return the hoof when a horse died.
We were intrigued by the bed that the prison guards slept in. Looks tilted doesn’t it? Well, that was so that they didn’t sleep well and would awaken quickly if there were trouble in the jail.
They also had on display a log from the jail, listing the names, the infractions and what was done. One guy was arrested for ‘illegal possession of a stove.’ Huh? He was just discharged. Others were arrested for murder and executed.
The commanders home was very nice. They even had the uniform of one of the commanders on display. Now, here, we could not go into the room and there was a guide present. Although, she was watching the 3 rowdy kids that wanted to touch everything more than she watched us. Funny, the parents didn't seem to be watching the 3 kids much at all.
Officers’ quarters in 1901 and now.

Nice fort and excellent telling of the history of relations between the natives and the British. So similar to the story of the relations in America.

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