Canada’s Civil War

Batoche

Batoche

The Metis (part white and part native) were a group of people who started the first settlements in Western Canada.  They combined both cultures very efficiently.  They farmed and they hunted as well.  Again, like most settlers in the west, history books don’t often tell of their part in settling the west.

Their villages, like other settlements consisted of shops, homes and churches. Set along the picturesque slopes of the North Saskatchewan River, the village is set in the park-lands area of Saskatchewan, not the flat south most people are familiar with.

Batoche stands out as where The Riel Rebellion of 1885  took place. Batoche is the site Louis Riel chose to set up the ‘Provisional Government of Saskatchewan’.

In ‘Hawk’s Gift – a western romance, – I go into depth as to the causes that both the Metis and Natives felt as a need to separate from Canada. Even to this day Canada’s west is often overpowered by rules and regulations made in the East. And by people who sometimes don’t understand Canadian Western people.    Hawks Gift by Mary M. Forbes

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Finding Fridays – the Metis in Canada

History in the Canadian West

The courageous voyagers created a group of people known in Canada as the Metis. In those times political correctness was not even thought of.  It is probably one of the most difficult things  I find when writing historical romances and wanting the story to be accurate. Many voyagers were gone at least a year at a time.  Many had wives either in the east or in Europe.  But they would take ‘wives for the winter’ – picking from the Cree who were mainly friendly to the voyagers.   There are so many stories untold and imagined about those men who used the Native women and then abandoned them – or fell in love and stayed with them.  Some probably juggled and separated their lives as well and returned to the same woman each year – living out their lives with two wives.Fort MacLeod - Church

The Metis are an example of my theory we should have integrated instead of segregating.  Half white/half native, the Metis set up farming communities and adjusted well to the modern Canada being created.  Mainly the French or Scottish were more inclined to integrate.  For a time the NorthWest Fur Traders dominated the fur trade.   These men were only interested in the lucrative business of getting furs and their exploration was secondary. Occasionally someone wanted to find the western route to India again because of the rich trade in the east.  But unlike some governments no one was interested in the west, except exploiting it.  The English owned Hudson’s Bay Company and were more inclined to remain segregated.

The Metis, established villages and towns as well as farms.  Most gathered near and around the North Saskatchewan River to farm.  They set up their farms like the French in Quebec – each plot, long and running to the river.  This created a problem when Canada bought the western lands from the Hudson’s Bay as the plans were made instead (by an Eastern government) to have square plots of land instead on the flat prairies. It was another cause for Canada’s Civil War.

The Metis lived mainly like homesteaders do everywhere – building houses, wells, animal shelters, churches, schools and villages.  But they still utilized and used the buffalo for food and clothing.  They became so proficient and organized that wealthy people from Europe and England came to participate in a Metis Buffalo Hunts.

Although Winnipeg was the first established Metis settlement in the west, Batoche is the most famous in Canada.

Batoche, Saskatchewan

The village of Batoche, Saskatchewan

 

The Metis were a perfect example of combining two different cultures and living in harmony.

Setting of Hawk’s Gift

On an isolated farm in middle Saskatchewan, I grew up surrounded by four reservations,  prairie sloughs and near the North Saskatchewan river. I visited my cousins in the Eagle Hills, which I found beautiful with cliffs, forests and high hills. I wondered why Battleford was called Battleford and what battle had occurred there. I learned that one reservation, led by Chief Poundmaker during the Riel Rebellion of 1885 attacked and took over a fort situated there.

My favorite occupation growing up was riding my horse, herding cows and imagining I was living in the wild west.  I was more than willing to absorb the research and reading involved as I loved reading and I had a passion for accuracy.  I was fascinated.  A civil war – nearby.  This was little known civil war, overwhelmed by the American Civil war. It stimulated my interest because I never wanted to be the same.  I love reading about the American Civil war – both fiction and documentary.  But I didn’t want to write another story that has been written so many times and everyone in North America knows about. I wanted something new and different.

The settlers of the Northwest Territories (now Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan  – predominately Metis (people of French and Native blood) were unhappy with the eastern Government of Canada. The natives were all confined to reservations, often abused by Agents and very rarely investigated.  Most settlers were established along the rolling hills and valleys of the North Saskatchewan River.  When Prime Minister McDonald decided to build the Canadian railroad in the hostile south lands where no one lived it was the final straw.  The Natives didn’t want a railroad because the spewing smoke stacks of the locomotives caused endless prairie fires and they were tired of starving.  Some left their reservations to fight.  The settlers in the north were furious as they had no way to get their produce to the railroad without travelling endless miles of nothing but hostile lands.  Gabriel Dumont of Batoche called on his good friend Louis Riel to help.  The settlers of Batoche declared themselves separated from Canada and their own nation. Riel wrote McDonald continually requesting schools, hospitals and especially that the train would come further north.  It was to no avail.  McDonald and the east ignored the west.  Sometimes that still happens in modern times.

The settlers and natives were charged with treason and McDonald organized an army to suppress them.  The Riel Rebellion of 1885 began.

Teaser Trailer – Hawk’s Gift

Hawk’s Gift – Historical Romance  Canada’s Civil War – 1885

Peaceful Beginnings

     Wind spirits spoke softly through the dried grasses.  Rustling reeds swayed in rhythm with a soaring hawk overhead.  Sun-bleached bones were first revealed, and then concealed by the undulating prairie foliage.  The smell of freshly butchered meat mingled with the warm winds.  A monarch butterfly, now forgotten, fluttered away to another sweet, fresh buttercup.

First Meeting

     He was the son of a Metis hunter.  She was the daughter of an aristocrat.  How he knew this, Damien wasn’t sure.  Maybe it was the way she stood, tall and arrogant, although she wasn’t much over five feet.  Perhaps it was the way she was wringing her slender, white fingers or the look of utter confusion in her green, cat-like eyes.  That bewitching gaze was turned in his direction, begging him to help her.  And Damien, being the true gentleman he knew himself to be, raised his hand and quietly bid one thousand dollars for the little wench.

He had no idea where he was going to get that kind of money.  Nor did he care.  The gleaming metal pistol he held ominously in his low-slung holster and his huge roan horse, tied outside the saloon were more than sufficient to ensure he got whatever he desired.  He had no use for money and a thousand dollars was a ludicrous amount to pay for a bit of fluff, virgin or not.

Unrest and Conflicts

“And so what happens now?  Will your hatred and bitterness help put everything back the way it was?”

He shook his head, glaring at her sullenly.

“Then what’s left, except to go forward and adapt?  You have to accept the way things are now.”  She couldn’t stop the niggling guilt inside.

“Don’t patronize me!”  He stepped forward to yank her to her feet, digging his lean fingers into her soft upper arms.

Then, as though realizing he was hurting her, he stopped.  He rubbed the bruised flesh with tenderness.  “So will you allow us heathens into your elite world?  Where will you place us – a step above your cattle, hopefully -but a hundred steps below you I’m sure?”

Reality

Misgivings clouded her eyes as Bobbie searched around Piapot’s pathetic little village.  They were back in Canada.  The gaunt people who greeted them, with torn clothing hanging on skeletal frames, all looked like they were starving.  They looked like refugees from a war-torn country, not residents of Canada.  In contrast, Big Bear’s people looked healthy and even well dressed.  Their ponies were loaded with buffalo meat.  A large herd of horses followed the group into the village.

Unwanted reunion

He wore tight jeans, as though denim had been invented specifically for him.  A black shirt was unbuttoned halfway down his chest.  He was as tantalizing and primitive exciting as ever.  She felt the jolts wracking her body.

Fighting her tortured equilibrium valiantly, she refused to look into his eyes – his bewitching, devil eyes.  Instead she studied the heavy gold chain around his neck.  A golden cross dangled from the chain.

Sacrilegious heretic!  He was not a Christian.  He had made that perfectly clear – three years ago.  Damien loathed the white man’s churches.

A raw, futile moan clogged her throat.  She fought for composure.  She didn’t want to see him.  Closing her eyes, she tried to ignore the longings washing throughout her body.

“Here’s your wine, mignonne.”  His voice was that same husky sound, like water running over pebbles, gravel and soft simultaneously.

There was nowhere to hide.

“Did you know?”  Bobbie whispered.  She looked up helplessly into his eyes.  She could feel his magnetic heat immediately.

“Did I know what?”  Damien smiled.  He didn’t look surprised to see her.

“That I was coming?”

“Of course I knew.  I always knew when you were coming.”  His voice was smooth rapture.  He moved with catlike grace, closer…

…“Mrs. Watson,” Damien’s voice turned hard.

“Yes, I was married.”  Bobbie’s voice trailed off as she noticed Damien watching her lips with special interest.  Oh my GodPlease help me.  “He was killed… tragically… by savage Indians…”

“Didn’t you say he died at sea?”  Marie turned from the hall, looking startled.

“Perhaps she’s had two more husbands.”  Damien’s sensual mouth quirked, revealing his dimples.  Bobbie wanted only to touch those lovely creases – with her lips.  “That makes three, doesn’t it?  Take your wine, mignonne.”

“I don’t drink.”  With stiff reserve, Bobbie forced her shaking legs to move over to the chair.  She needed to sit down.  What game is he playing now?

“I know you don’t drink.”  Damien moved over to the chair.  He leaned down, his breath tickling her ear with erotic skill.  She winced.

He carefully placed the wine glass into her hand and Bobbie automatically downed the contents.

“Where’s Pierre?”  Bobbie whispered.  The wine sank, thankfully soothing, into her belly.

“He’s in the kitchen.”  Damien shrugged his shoulders, still holding her gaze with his mesmerizing eyes.

“Is that your carriage in the driveway?”  Bobbie laughed softly, as the warmth of the wine penetrated.

“Yes.  My horse was brutally murdered by savage Indians.”  Damien grinned, raising an eyebrow.  He walked over to the sideboard, bringing a bottle back to her chair.  Holding her hand, he carefully poured some red liquid into her empty glass.

Come into Damien and Roberta’s world of War and Peace and in the end their love that conquers all.