This is more nostalgia than an actual ghost story. But, it fits in with Tuesday’s theme of ghosts of the past, and in this case, those ghosts stretch back hundreds of years before my lifetime.
I’m going to show you a couple of pictures to start it all off.
That is not an authentic Native American arrow head, it’s only a replica. But a friend gave it to me, and I like it a lot, but as you can see it’s broken so I can’t wear it right now. All of that aside, this brought back a very old memory for me.
In 1977, my family moved from Saskatoon out to my grandparents farm near Outlook. Some thought it was an exchange, but we were moving from a single story, two bedroom bungalow with a finished basement into a two story, three bedroom house on a quarter section of land. So, we basically bought each other’s property. We had a lot of pasture land around the main homestead, which was surrounded by trees that my great grandfather had planted after settling there in 1906.
I had no cable television, there was satellite TV, no cellphones, the Internet as we know it today hadn’t even been fully realized nor was it offered to the public as it is now. So there wasn’t much to do for a seven year old boy out on the prairie. I had my bike with the banana seat which I’d ride into town on and get the mail from the post office/coffee shop/general store. I’d make snow mazes in the yard during winter. Don’t get excited, they really weren’t that amazing. Just me, dragging my feet in the snow and making intricate designs. We had cats, so I’d often play with the cats and the kittens (the ones that didn’t go wild, at least). We also had cattle, so it was nice to see the new born calves. And, as I said before, we had lots of pasture land.
I’d go walking out into the pasture from time to time. Some of it was set aside for hay and my dad and I (reluctantly) would swath it and bale it and then toss it on the ’49 Chev half ton flatbed and haul it to the loft of the barn. There was an area where there was a dugout, which there was a small hill and a tree growing on top of it, which made a nice area just to be lazy. Almost like a late 20th Century Tom Sawyer.
Of course, during my walks, I’d often be looking around on the ground, and quite a few times I’d find objects of interest. Like a Coke bottle cap from goodness knows what era. Or trying to find my dad’s wallet that he lost while swathing (it’s still lost, and most likely now gone forever). Even finding what looked like old Native American arrow heads.
Now, admittedly, some of those “arrow heads” were just pieces of rock that had chipped and became a shape that was recognizable as an arrow head, but from time to time I would actually find a real arrow head.
decades and even centuries before my great grandfather settled his home, centuries before anyone every heard of the Town of Outlook, the Village of Conquest or the Hamlets of Ardath and settlement of Bounty, there was a lot of activity in the area. There was no dam at Diefenbaker Lake. As a matter of fact, there was no lake. The South Saskatchewan River flowed uninhibited. There was wildlife, there were plants and there were people. Many of the people who lived in this area well before European settlers came through, were the Cree, in particular the Plains Cree. Woods Cree and Swampy Cree traditionally live east of the South Saskatchewan River into Manitoba and North Western Ontario. The Plains Cree would have had a good number of their hunting areas that followed the river, and seeing how my great grandfather’s homestead was only eighteen miles from the river, it makes sense that arrow heads, along with other old relics, might be found in pasture land.
The history of Saskatchewan, and the history of the North West Territories which Saskatchewan used to be a part of, doesn’t begin with European settlement. It doesn’t start with the rebellion at Duck Lake and Batoche, nor does it start with the settlement near Maidstone in the Eldon district. It begins much, much further back than that. Much of that is lost, though there are those who have kept some of it’s history intact. But a lot of it is becoming legend and ghost stories. In order to keep it alive, we have to make sure to keep the history alive. Teach it in schools, let future generations know what came before.