The Shanty Sled

In the North of Canada, where it was impossible to travel in winter, an old woman had to cook for men.

Her daughter who lived in New York decided to go up north, following the team. But no woman usually goes in these countries and it takes precautions to protect herself.

Do you want to follow her in her journey ? Imagine being 500 miles away from civilization. Would you be willing  to be part of this expedition ?

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At Bear Coulée

The Letter to her Daughter

Supper at the Old Woman's

One Photo Missing!

At the Landing

In New York

Lester arrived


He asked her

Lester Returned to his Partners

The Meeting

The Fight

Hugh versus Lester

The Start

Over the Ice

First Night at the Establishment

Intimations of Danger

The Night in the Settlement

The Attack

The Long Portage

The Mother

A Long Deferred Meeting

The Hand of Maccubbin

Putting on the Screws

Increasing Pressure

The Chinook

The Decision

Marriage by Contract

And Last


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Supper at the Old Woman's

Hugh Bell and Billy Penrose sat on a bench outside the Old Woman's shack waiting for the summons to supper. The sun had gone down and a chill was falling on the valley, but inside the shack it was a little too warm, for the Old Woman was in one of her "stews."

When that happened they all kept close to the ground. What there was of Bear Coulée  was spread before their eyes. There was the Old Woman's shack. And a hundred yards away Maccubbin's group of buildings. Store, dwelling, mill, and stables. Two or three more shacks at intervals of a quarter-mile or so down the little valley. That was all.

All the buildings were of logs with sod roofs. Musquasepi or Bear Creek a small stream threaded its way down the valley to meander away to the north-west, where it fell into a great river, they said. Nobody had been out there. The fields of golden stubble stretched along both sides of the creek.

"We'll have a fine day for the start," remarked Hugh.

It had cleared at sundown, and the sky was a lucent sea of aquamarine and topaz above the western hills. The surrounding hills were not hills really, but merely the escarpments of the prairie. On top it was bald, and gently rolling for hundreds of miles in every direction.

Bear Coulée  was a place where the deep trough, cut by the little stream in the prairie, had widened out to something less than a mile. The extraordinarily rich bottom lands of this hole in the prairie stretched along the stream for six miles or so.

"The richest land in the north!" Maccubbin would cry; "twenty-four inches of black loam!" Unfortunately, the bottom lands were even more liable to frost than the bench above. "What matter?" said Maccubbin. "The land is so rich that one crop out of three will pay you." Well, to the involved farmers it didn't quite seem to work out that way.

The door to the shack opened, and the angry voice of the Old Woman came out with a burst.

"What do you s'pose started her off today?" asked Billy, with an anxious glance through the window. Billy was the youngest member of the community, a stripling of seventeen, with the rosy, innocent face of a child, and a man's length of limb.

"I suppose she's had a scrap with Maccubbin," said Hugh, scowling. "It's a damn shame!"

Hugh was some eight years Billy's senior, a big fellow. Blonde, slow, and diffident. The two batched together half a mile down the valley.

"What about?" asked Billy.

"What about? You know. She was trying to get money to send out to her daughter."

"Why does she stay here?" asked Billy.

"For the same reason that we're all chained here. She has a quarter section of land that her husband left her, and it's all she has in the world."

"It's a rotten shame!" said Billy.

"She and her husband were among the first to come in twenty years ago," Hugh went on. "I've heard say that she was above him in station. They had a baby just able to walk. The first spring after they came in, the man was killed by the fall of a spruce-tree he was cutting.

Seems they had put every cent they possessed into their outfit, and she didn't know what to do. Maccubbin persuaded her to stay, with his talk of the future of the country — you know his style. What he was after really was a cook.

He would have been glad to marry her then, but she wouldn't. She was one of these fierce widows. All other men were horrible to her alongside the memory of her husband. But she sent the child outside to her sister by a missionary's wife from the Crossing, and she stayed to cook. She's never seen her daughter since. She's still here cooking. You see what she's got out of it."

"It's a shame!" said Billy.

"So we don't mind if she gives us the rough side of her tongue occasionally," said Hugh. "I'd do anything to serve the Old Woman. Only she won't let me. Proud as Lucifer!"

The well-dressed Maccubbin presiding with dignity at the head of the table. The Old Woman in her red flannel dress at the foot. Four men in more or less nondescript garments down each side. Such was the entire white population of Bear Coulée.


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Mots clés : The Shanty sled, Hulbert Footner, Hubert Footner, Bear Coulée, richest land in the North