Back to the Turtle Mountain Land Office; on to La Riviere’s and then to Pembina Crossing

At sunrise we bid goodbye to our pioneer friends, the Johnsons, and travel back over the road we had come from on the previous day. A short stay was made at Lang’s Valley to water our horses where the mosquitoes used this opportunity to have some of our blood. After noon we again camped for dinner near a pond of water. Before leaving our camp we were overtaken by a severe thunderstorm but concluded we might just as well take what was coming on the road as to remain in camp with no shelter. Besides this, our horses were greatly frightened and appeared to be as anxious to move on. Therefore it did not take long before our solitary campground was left far behind.

As the storm cleared off, the Turtle Mountains came into view and the distance gradually decreased. As we travelled on, the houses of the settlers could be dimly made out. At sundown we arrived at Tregent and Beck’s store where we were informed of the arrival of an English party in charge of Mr. L. O. Armstrong. They had arrived the day previously and, with the exception of a few young bachelors who had a desire to look around a little more, they were all located and settled. Some had remained at Clearwater, but the majority come on to the Turtle where we sincerely hope they will meet with success in carving out their future homes in this great western country. The next day, before commencing our return trip, our horses were given a day’s rest. They needed this badly as they had been constantly on the road since leaving West Lynne.

Towards evening we were joined by Mr. L. O. Armstrong, but long before we had seen him or any of his party, we heard his cheery voice singing “There’s One More River to Cross”. After some time we saw Mr. Armstrong and his pony coming over the top of the bank out of the coulee, a rather bad ford, which had to be crossed before reaching the store. However, a regular Indian pony, if he is able to swish his tail and you convince him by a favourable argument that you won’t stand his laziness, will go through any amount of work with pluck and endurance.

This last specimen had been driven over bad roads more than forty miles in a buckboard carrying two men with their traps. To look at him as he stood tied to the hind wheels of the rig eating some hay, you would have thought he was fit for nothing but the boneyard. The endurance of the Indian ponies is truly something remarkable. The next morning we drove to the land office in company with Mr. Armstrong who, from this point, joined our party. We were sorry to part with our friend Mr. Gauvreau, but the object of our present trip being accomplished, we had to return to West Lynne. Bidding adieu to Messrs. Newcombe and Gauvreau, we faced, for the second time on our journey, towards the east. Stopping at the store, we made a farewell call on Mr. Beck and his genial companions, the Messrs. Sankey.i Mr. Armstrong disposed of one of his rigs here and with my team and “Shagannapy”, the Indian pony, we proceeded on our way, arriving towards evening at Mr. J. P. Alexander’s residence about a mile from La Riviere’s.

Mr. Armstrong and I were received by Mr. and Mrs. Alexander in a most hospitable manner. Mr. Alexander, we found, is a well educated man who had left Glasgow, Scotland to come and settle in the Northwest and learn farming. He had homesteaded, was doing well and had become an enthusiastic admirer of the country. This gentleman had arrived with his wife and family to settle in the Turtle a year ago last November. Mrs. Alexander had walked the whole distance along side of her husband from West Lynne to the Turtle at that inclement period of the year.ii It is this kind of material our lands to the west are filling up with and speaks well for the future of the country. The Turtle Mountain district has lately been formed into an electoral division and we have lately learned that Mr. Alexander has been requested by a large number of his neighbours to represent them. This shows that the sterling qualities of the man are appreciated in the settlement.

The next day our stock of horse flesh was increased by an additional pony of more respectable appearance than “Shaganappy” and with an early start and the kind wishes of our host and hostess, we took the trail for Clearwater. We arrived there at 11 o’clock at night after driving through one of the most severe and drenching rainstorms it was ever my misfortune to be caught out in. We had made some stops on the road. One of these was at Pancake Lake where, thanks to the day’s weather, we fully appreciated the benefit of the government hut. We found it occupied by another traveller who was making himself comfortable under the circumstances by enjoying a hot bowl of tea, which he had just cooked, on the small stove with which the hut had been provided. Nothing loath to refuse his request, we supped with him before parting. Our next stay was at Badger Creek with our old friend McKibbon but being anxious to go on we refused his pressing invitation to remain all night. In company with Mr. Waugh, the proprietor of the Badger Creek Crossing, we started for Clearwater. Both our horses and ourselves were severely fatigued by the time we arrived at Clearwater.

In the morning we found that since our previous visit to Clearwater, great preparations were going on for the building of a mill, and the people of the town were jubilant over it. The hard work of the previous day had told heavily on our horses; they required shoeing which was attended to by the blacksmith at Clearwater, delaying us so it was dinner before we made our start. A short drive and we reached Crystal City. Here too great preparations were underway for the building of the mill. On the other side of Crystal City we passed Latimer’s, (where we had camped on our way out), Ruttanville and finally arrived at Pembina Crossing where we intended to camp for the night.


. Emerson International, 8 September 1881


Emigrants and Travellers will save money and time by purchasing their goods at the


Range 21, (twenty-one), where an extensive stock of plain and fancy

Groceries, Drugs, Dry Goods

Carpets, Boots, Shoes

Flour, Crockery

Stoves, Sash and Doors

– also –

Waggons & Agricultural Implements

Of the very best makes, including the New Brantford Mower and Reaper, etc., and everything that a settler requires are kept for sale. Our prices are low and we will not be undersold. There is a good stopping place here.

NOTE. Take the North or Boiler Trail after leaving LaRiviere’s place, Range 18, and thus secure the only good trail through to Turtle Mountain City and the Land Office.

Lands inspected and located at reasonable rates.

Money to loan on reasonable terms.

Insurance effected on farm property



. Dr. Matthew Young, V.S. of Pembina Crossing and later of Bonnie Doon Farm, Manitou, was a close friends of Mr. and Mrs. James Peterkin Alexander. The editor of these notes, a great grandson of Dr. Young, often heard mention of Mrs. Alexander’s walking from Emerson to the Turtle Mountains from his great aunt, the late Mrs. Mabel Mackintosh of Manitou, the eldest daughter of Dr. Young. In 1900 and 1901, Mabel Young had lived with the Alexanders in Deloriane where Mr. Alexander was then the owner and publisher of a newspaper known as the Deloraine Advertiser. She studied piano from Mr. Alexander and voice from his wife.


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