Finding Friday – Canadian West Beginnings

History in the Canadian West.

As a child I found the natives with their nomadic lives spoke to me clearly as a life of true freedom.  I realized when I got older that they too, followed rules, but it never seemed to be so many as we have now.  I grew up on a farm surrounded by four reservations in Northern Saskatchewan.  I went to school with, played with and had native friends.  I often feel that if we had integrated instead of making reservations Canada wouldn’t be having the problems they are now.  But that’s my opinion and it’s too late to change the past anyway.

Fort MacLeod - Buffalo

The Cree were the largest groups and occupied most of Saskatchewan and northern Alberta.  Like all other nomadic tribes, they roamed around, following buffalo herds.  In southern Alberta were a group of tribes – which we called the Blackfoot Confederacy.  They were the Niitsítapi (meaning “original people”).  Knowing no borders they roamed and ruled the area of southern Alberta and a large portion of Montana.

For a better understanding of lives long ago on the plains, I suggest visiting Head-Smashed-in Buffalo Jump in southern Alberta.  It is an extensive, great interpretation of Native living and culture.

Today, Waterton/Glacier Park covers part of Montana and part of Alberta.  In 1932, the United States and Canada joined together to create the world’s first International Peace Park: Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.  Besides being proud of our two countries that created this, does anyone know of the influence the Blackfoot Confederacy had in its’ creation?

Fort MacLeod - Indian Head Dress  

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Finding Friday – What’s in a name?

History in the Canadian West

Did you know Saskatchewan (a Cree word) and Calgary (A Gaelic word) mean the same thing?  Both mean ‘swift waters or currents’ in English.

Although Saskatchewan has two rivers named ‘swift waters’ as both the North and South Saskatchewan rivers run through the province, Calgary has no river called Calgary.  The two rivers that run through the city of Calgary are the Bow and the Elbow River.   The Bow River was named because of the trees that lined the river creating branches which made excellent bows for the Natives.  The Natives often camped alongside what is known as Calgary today. The warm chinook winds created relief from cold, harsh winters. Both rivers get their clear, pristine waters from glacier fed Lake Louise, considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world.Carol's Picture & Tim Horton's

Alberta was named after Princess Alberta, Queen Victoria’s daughter. It was originally part of Rupert’s Land, a vast area owned by Prince Rupert one of the owners of the  famous Hudson’s Bay Company. The Hudson’s Bay Company is the oldest mercantile company still in operation today. Their trading posts were scattered all over western Canada.  Alberta became part of the Northwest Territories when Canada purchased the western lands from the Hudson’s Bay Company.  In 1905 Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces.

Edmonton, the other large city in Alberta  is an English name and has a long history in England. Edmonton, was established as a town in 1892. The town was named after Fort Edmonton which had been established by 1795. The name of the fort was suggested by John Peter Pruden after Edmonton, London, which was his home in England as well as the home of Sir James Winter Lake, the deputy governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company at the time.

Finding Friday

History in the Canadian West.

Finding Friday are blogs about historical facts as they pertain to Western Canada.

In my travels throughout North America as a Canadian I discovered there is little known about the Canadian West both south of the border or in Eastern Canada.  Originally it appears as though the west was set up as a colony where westerners supplied easterners from their vast resources.

Three words can destroy western Canada almost immediately.  National Energy Program.  It has happened twice – when Canada first started – Sir John A. MacDonald, our first Prime Minister, implemented it – a big reason for Canada’s Civil War and more recently Pierre Elliott Trudeau again tried it in the early 80’s.  I watched houses abandoned, homeless wandering the streets and saw the results of the dreaded National Energy Program. It seems simply a method of punishing the west for prospering.  I hope it won’t happen a third time.

Recently I have read a few articles where Canadian magazines have actually bragged about how Canada didn’t have troubles with their natives like the USA did.  One magazine actually went on to say – Canada had no Indian Wars.  How this article was ever published, by a Canadian magazine to boot, I’ll never know.  It’s simply not true.

I now live in Calgary, Alberta.  There were two states in my travels who seemed to know much about Calgary, Texas and Georgia.  Texans knew that Calgary hosts the largest outdoor rodeo in the world, the Calgary Stampede. Many Texans are participants in this huge event. Combine that with Calgary being the oil capital of Canada and we understand why Texas might know all about Alberta.  When my husband worked in the moving industry, there was a steady flow of Canadians going to Texas and Texans coming to Calgary to work in the oil-field Head Offices.

In 2013 Calgary had the worst flood here in recorded history.  Two weeks before the Stampede the grounds and downtown Calgary were flooded.  Two weeks later everything was ready for the Stampede.  Yeah Calgary.  We are Calgary

Georgia has people who are well aware Calgary purchased their Atlanta Flames hockey team, to become our proud Calgarians Calgary Flames instead.  Calgary also has the largest population of Americans who live outside the United States. Many of the settlers who started ranches near Calgary were originally from the USA.

Join me in reliving and learning about Western Canada’s fascinating past.  Meet individuals as notorious as Jesse James and learn of some legends that appear might be true and not legends at all.

Welcome to Calgary, The New West:

Ah my beautiful home again - Calgary