Doomed for failure? Lloydminster, Saskatchewan or Alberta

The site of LloydminsteFarm Fence, Big Sky Saskatchewanr 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.  Paradise on the Horizon  by Mary M. Forbes

Canada’s Civil War



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

Finding Friday – Louis Riel

A little history of the Canadian West

Louis Riel

Louis Riel is considered the head of the Riel Rebellion – western Canada’s civil war.  My research shows Gabriel Dumont was the actual leader – with Gabriel getting Louis Riel to come help him send letters and requests to the government. Gabriel could neither read nor write.  Louis Riel was a very educated man, but no longer a gunfighter.  From the accounts I can see Riel was completely immersed into religion and considered himself a prophet of the Lord.  It is said he wouldn’t even touch a gun.

And Gabriel Dumont had no intentions of fighting either.  He just wanted the government to fulfill some of its’ promises.  Of course the government made no attempt to even reply, let alone carry through on any promises.  So, it’s probably true the whole Rebellion could have been prevented, had the government had the decency to even answer the letters.

But Louis Riel was hung in Regina as the ‘ringleader’ of the Riel Rebellion.  Possibly because Gabriel Dumont had escaped the noose and couldn’t be found to punish?

Hawk's Gift by Mary M. Forbes

Roberta is a heroine I love and Damien, well, he’s dangerous but oh, so addicting.…. I envy your ability to write unforgettable characters ….Rachelle Ayala – author of  Michal’s Window, Historical Romance.

Finding Friday – Gabriel Dumont

A little history of Canada – the main characters in the Riel Rebellion of 1885

Many people think Louis Riel as the head figure of the Riel Rebellion.   By the time troubles started in the west Louis Riel had changed drastically.  He was a peace-loving, religious man who wouldn’t even carry a gun anymore.

Gabriel Dumont, Mayor and Saloon owner in the Metis village of Batoche, was the true head of the Riel Rebellion. In 1873 Dumont was elected President of the short-lived Republic of St. Laurent. After frustrating years of fighting the eastern government and getting nowhere he was determined they were better off without eastern intervention.

Gabriel went to MontaGabriel Dumontna and brought his good friend (Louis Riel) back to Canada to write the eloquent,  letters to McDonald.  He was adjutant general in the provisional Métis government declared in the District of Saskatchewan in 1885.  He commanded the Métis forces in the North-West Rebellion.  Gabriel could not read or write.  But his skill with a gun or rifle was known throughout the west.

Oddly, Gabriel Dumont is the only leading figure of the rebellion who managed to escape and fled to the USA.  He was hired by Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show – as a sharp-shooter of course.

Hawk’s Gift

A story that takes place around the time of the Riel Rebellion.  But ultimately Hawk’s Gift is a romance first.

Hawks's Gift by Mary M. Forbes

Finding Friday – Big Bear

Big Bear

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.

Hawks's Gift by Mary M. Forbes

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.

Publishing Companies and Guidelines


5. Any story that only allows for one type of genre (such as comedy, drama, action, etc).

This was  in the list Sean gave for over-used story lines.  The predictable story in Genre writing could be a drawback to future readers.  Perhaps it is time to remove some of the necessary stories/characters that publishing companies require.  Does anyone else feel that genres might be stifling the creativity of writers?

Mainstream gives some flexibility but is often stifled by ‘content’ – although the rigid storyline might not be silented often the story-line might not be allowed – which brings many of my points in over-used story lines into play as well. 

This is a bit of advice when considering writing Genre. 

Always get a copy of the guidelines from the publishing company or companies you are targeting.  The publishing companies have a guideline of do’s and do not’s that might be a surprise – and they change.  So remember to get ‘up-to-date’ guidelines as well.  Some topics they don’t deal with might surprise you.

While they might accept a struggling heroine in Romance – she shouldn’t be homeless.  To have a hero as struggling – is not their type of hero. The hero is usually successful in his career as well as being older.

In Romance – although they accept certain types of musicians that is limited as well. It would be a lot of work to write about a Rap singer as an example – only to discover he was not an acceptable hero.  I was surprised to discover that sports weren’t accepted most places as well.  I would have thought that they would often fall into the category of a Romance hero.   He would be their ‘formula’ of a man who builds himself up – becomes wealthy and often keeps himself grounded as well. I don’t know if his age and wisdom comes into play.  Most sports figures are young.

My second suggestion would be not to have your characters just fall into bed with each other because they can’t control their physical attraction.  Although there are certain sub-genres even in Harlequin which often make me think I’m reading porn – and just as often I wonder if this is what the public wants and asking for today.  These types of books have been on the market a few years now – so I would assume there is a demand for them. This would be an example of changing guidelines.

Historical Romances are somewhat different – but I would still suggest you get the company’s guidelines.  I have been advised by companies they are not interested in Canadian content for example.  Canada, like every other country in the world, has some interesting history often like the USA – and even interesting history that has never been used in fiction writing.  I would think it would be something different – but I would be thinking wrong by publishing company standards.  I cannot begin to count the number of times I have been told that.

‘Boy meets girl in Winnipeg – and so what?’ was actually a line I read once – and so my ‘Hawk’s Gift’ was born.  The Riel Rebellion was a Civil War – not nearly as long or devastating as the American Civil War – but I’m sure to the people involved – it was disturbing for them.

In Canada there is a mine reputed to have as much gold as the gold found in the Yukon.  This mine – called the Lost Lemon Mine – is supposed to be in the Crowsnest Pass area of Alberta.  It is said that anyone touching the gold will suffer dire consequences.  The curse was put on by the Indian Tribes of southern Alberta.  And so my ‘Alberta Wild Rose’ was born.

Again, while researching I discovered a large group of Doukhobors migrated to Canada – then a few years later many of this group ‘cracked’ under the strain of hardships they suffered – and went marching across the barren prairies searching for Utopia – naked.  They called themselves the ‘Sons of Freedom’. At the same time Canada was fighting in a war – the Boer War in South Africa with the British.  As this was an unpopular war a British leader – Kitchener – decided to set up his soldiers for any imagined or unimagined slight – and feed them to the press to take the pressure off fighting the war.  There was also a man who decided to set up farmlands using only good English stock instead of foreigners.  This settlement failed as I imagine any successful farmer in England was content to continue farming in England.  When I combined all these fascinating incidents – ‘Paradise on the Horizon’ was born.

There was a point during my insecurities I thought of changing ‘locations’ to please the publishing companies.  Now, I am glad I didn’t. I have learned it is best to write what you love and what you enjoy rather than follow ‘guidelines’.

I will not take away from writer’s that do follow guidelines.  To me it is an example of our individualism. There are many ‘genre’ books I read and enjoy.  Just as there are times when the ‘accepted’ form is ignored by a writer and still published.

Good luck to all writer’s regardless of their preferences.