Saturday, March 4, 2023


     Yesterday I told you of my interest in family  and local history. However, my real passion is for Western Canadian history. I read every book I can find on Western Canadian history. 

     I wrote about the family farm I grew up on. Running across some of that land was the Carlton Trail. This trail and a number of others that connected to it ran from Winnipeg , Manitoba to Edmonton Alberta a distance of about 900 mi or 1450 km. When I was a kid in the 40's and 50's you could still see the ruts from this trail. I still know where to find some evidence of the trail. 

     The transportation system using the trail started in the 1870's . There were no railroads so supplies and trading goods were hauled from Winnipeg to Edmonton by ox cart. Each cart carried about 1000 lb and was pulled by one ox. The cart was made completely of wood and hide. 

      Western Canada was basically empty at the time. There were a few bands of first nations who roamed the area looking for buffalo. There were a few  traders. There was the odd farm.  There were no railroads and very little farming had been developed. Farm products were consumed locally as there was not transportation to send it to a place to sell it. . Local flour mills milled flour. 

      The oxcarts started at Winnipeg in the spring heading to Edmonton. Usually one man had several oxcarts. Oxen were used as they didn't need grain whereas horses needed grain. Too much grain would have to be hauled in place of freight. The men made and ate bannock and salt pork. Some game was taken and some wild berries were also available. Pemmican was also used for food. 

     So finally all the oxcarts got to Edmonton. So did they turn their oxcarts around and go back to Winnipeg? No way. The oxen were left at Edmonton to be used for beef. The ox cart drivers walked back to Winnipeg. 

     All this seems hard to believe. The men were tough...very very tough.

     So I like learning about the developments in Western Canada which wasn't that long ago. 

    My ancestors came here in 1905. There were railroads but none where they settled.