An historical survey of southwestern Manitoba to 1899

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Wright, Norman Ernest
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"Probably no other section of the province is so rich in the romance of hope or so tragic in its disappointments as is Southwestern Manitoba." The story of man's attempts to exploit the resources of the Southwestern plains of Manitoba can be divided into two fairly distinctive periods. The first period ends and the second begins with the disappearance of the buffalo, which coincides in time almost exactly with the arrival of the first agricultural immigrants. However, as in all history, a large part of the one period is taken up with developments which lead, almost inexorably, to the transformation which begins the next. Indeed, the supplanting of the hunting economy by an agricultural economy, which took place on the Souris plains in 1880, can be traced back, without too much difficulty, directly to Cartier's discovery in 1534 that "furs were to be had from the natives, and at the usual initial bargain prices, measured in trade goods." The transfer of European civilization to the North American continent could, it seems, lead to only one conclusion, namely, that every available piece of fertile ground would one day be cultivated, regardless of the obstacles which climate could, and did, place in the way. This study of Southwestern Manitoba, therefore begins with an analysis of the climate and of the soil which was formed by the action of that climate upon the material left by the continental glacier, for the combination of the climate and the soil it produced has had a profound effect upon all the people who, in succession, came to the region to exploit its resources. Little is known of the mound-builders, the first people to leave behind them concrete evidence of their stay in the vicinity of the Souris River. Fortunately, however, the way of life established by those who presumably replaced them, the Assiniboins, is fairly adequately portrayed in the journals of the fur-traders, who arrived in the Souris basin while it was still occupied by these Indians. La Verendrye, in 1738, was the first European known to cross the plains between Turtle Mountain and the Souris River....