The site of Lloydminster was originally decided by Isaac M. Barr, and called the Barr Settlement. It was on the present day Saskatchewan, Alberta border. George Lloyd led the expedition to start the colony.
Both men had visions of a good, solid English settlement rather than the many settlements being created by other European countries, mainly German and Ukrainian. Unfortunately the settlement was doomed for failure. Unlike the European immigration who were farmers escaping for religious and political reasons, the English farmers were content and not about to leave their homes in pursuit of the harsh Canadian west. So, consequently most the settlers were from the streets of London, people escaping poverty. There weren’t many farmers. It is said that most had to be taught how to harness a horse and had little idea of what farming involved.
The unrest in the area culminated into the Frog Lake Massacre, where eight people were killed. The Frog Lake Massacre was headed by Big Bear and Wandering Spirit and part of the 1885 Riel Rebellion. Most settlers sold their lands and moved elsewhere.
In my story Paradise on the Horizon, I have my hero and heroine go to the Barr Settlement to escape their pasts – a Russian princess and soldier.
A little history of Western Canada – the main characters in the Riel Rebellion
I don’t know why but Big Bear was a fascinating person to me. Unlike most of the others who willingly took a government Reservation, Big Bear has his reservations. Almost psychic he predicted the starvation and loss of a way of life that wasn’t for the better. He wanted so badly for the white man to go away and for the buffalo to return, both of which were dreams.
Refusing to take a reservation Big Bear took his people to Montana where they could have their life of freedom and live the way they wanted. That is until the USA army kicked them out – calling them Canadian Indians. That might have been confusing as well. The Native borders were not so defined and a Canadian or American Indian wasn’t so cut and dried.
He knew he couldn’t fight the American army so he came back to take a reservation near Frog Lake. When the Metis declared their own nation in the west, Big Bear (Peace Chief) and especially Wandering Spirit (War Chief) willingly left their reservations to reclaim their land. The Frog Lake Massacre occurred. Instead of joining their allies in Batoche however, Wandering Spirit seemed happy to just wander around pillaging and plundering.
Both Big Bear and Wandering Spirit were hung in Regina for their activities in the Rebellion.
In Hawk’s Gift, my characters Damien and Roberta spend time in Big Bear’s Montana camp.