Trek 73

Students Filming the 1874 NWMP Trek West

Some background - by one of the Trek 73 students

An Update - 25 Years Later

Background on the N.W.M.P.

Journal of Henri Julien - 1874 - N.W.M.P. Trek West

May 12,1973

The trek was to begin at 7:30, but so many pictures were being taken we didn't get away till 8:00. Twenty-five minutes later we stopped at the Chin service station. The gas cap on Quartermaster Stanford's car was locked and he had forgotten to bring the key. The lock had to be broken. Troops "F" and "B" remained there while our troop ("C" Troop) went on to Medicine Hat to inform the news media of our coming.

In Taber we, "C" Troop, were planning to stop for gas whan we were passed by "B" Troop. So we turned and followed them. Later "F" Troop was spotted behind us.

At 10:27 we reached Medicine Hat. The troop leaders stopped to discuss what we were to do next. The decision was made to go to a nearby service station. At the station the troop went for refreshment and visited among themselves. Commissioner Haig cleaned out the back of his van where water had accumulated. While all this was going on, "C" Troop leader "Doc" Kitson (Mrs. Donna Coulter) phoned the newspaper.

At 10:45, Frank Webber from the Medicine Hat newspaper arrived and took our picture. Constable Stephen Michie did his "Atlas" pose but Mr. Webber clicked the camera too late. After he asked questions and we presented him with a souvenir newspaper and a buffalo chip.

We were at the service station 30 minutes before we left and went to the tourist information bureau. We were there only a few minutes and then we left for Reesor Lake and lunch.

On the way to the lake we spotted numerous patches of snow alongside the road.

It was almost 12:00 when we stopped alongside the road to wait for "B" Troop. "F" Troop had gone on ahead already. We went on. The road was rough. Spotted Bull trail.

At 12:00 we pulled off the road alongside "F" troop. They had stopped to take pictures. There was a marker there and down below was Reesor Lake. Troop "C" went down to the lake for lunch. The others ate where they were.

About an hour later Troops "B" and "F" drove down to where we were and we all took off for Fort Walsh.

Stopped for pictures at Granburn Coulee. Troops "B" and "F" stayed on to film. Troop "C" went on ahead to find the fort. The roads were rough. Passed by Graburn's grave.

Arrived at the fort and stopped to wait for others. Troop "F" had trouble with the food trailer and walked the latter part of the way. Later Quartermaster Stanford went back and brought the trailer across.

We had three guides at the Fort all to ourselves and so were given the grand tour. Posed for a picture in front of the flagpole in the same manner as the Mounties.

Commissioner Haig obtained permission to take tPole_Walsh.htmlhe pictures by Henri Julien out of the building in which they were kept and take pictures of them. Meanwhile the troops dispersed to explore. Some visited the cemeteries situated nearby. Others went to look at the beaver dam.

While most of the troops were at the cemetery with the Commissioner, Troop leaders Coulter, Stanford and I drove to Solomon's Post.

The posts were closed up. Doc and I waited on the bridge between Solomon's Post and another while Quartermaster Stanford went exploring.

The rest of the troops arrived on the hill and began filming. Then they came down and filmed the inside of the trading posts by getting on the roofs.

At 5:30 we headed out again. Mr. Corne Martens accompainied "C" Troop.

Half an hour later, while waiting for the rest of the troops, "C" Troop and Mr. Martens stopped for a snowball fight. Some rocks were found suitable for making into tomahawks.

We started on our journey again a few minutes later and began to wonder if we were lost. We were prepared to turn around and go back when along came "F" Troop. We found out we were going the right way but that Commissioner Haig was worried about gas.

We followed "F" Troop along the road they had just covered and met up with "B" Troop. They were checking out the road ahead. A large patch of water lay across it. "F" Troop decided to go around the water on the left, but got stuck. Troops "C" and "B" went around the other side and were successful. All troops pitched in to help free the distressed "F" Troop vehicle. Our first attempt was to tie Mr. Marten's rope around the bumper, but the road broke. So we got a rope out of our supply trailer and Sub Constable House crawled under the van to attach it. We all helped pull and yanked it out.

We started out again but were soon to be met with yet another patch of water across the road. Still others lay ahead.

The Commissioner's decision was to turn back. This meant we had to get by the first patch of water again. This time we all decided to go around to side "B" and "C" Troops had been successful with before.

"B" Troop had already managed to get by and were going down the road when "F" Troop made its attempt. The great bearded wonder did it again and once again we all had to lend our help to get his van out. We were unable to pull it out the front so we had to back it out. The Commissioner then drove it around the puddle. "C" Troop followed with no problems.

7:35 - reached Maple Creek. Troops "F" and "C" went for gas. Troop "B" had gone on ahead already.

8:15 - a tired group of travellers arrived at camp. "B" Troop was already there. They tried to undo the lock on the supply wagon but failing to do so cut it.

Had our supper in the dark, cooking it by flashlight. Each tent cooked their own.

10:00 - everybody gathered around the adults' table and listened to the tapes of the day. We had to cut them off after awhile because they were too loud.

Most of "C" Troop went to bed. The rest stayed up and made a bonfire.


May 13, 1973 (Mother's Day)

6:00 - "C" Troop got up.

A couple of members of "F" Troop were pulled from their tent and so awakened.

Everybody ate breakfast and then packed up to begin the second day of the trek.

8:35 - set out. Only a few minutes later we stopped to check out the supply trailer's headlights. "C" Troop stopped to wait for "F" Troop. They had driven around the camping grounds. "B" Troop had already gone ahead.

9:00 - stopped alongside the road to look at a marker.

9:20 - "B" Troop stopped for gas. Troops "F" and "C" stopped to wait but a few minutes later "C" Troop drove to the Maple Creek police station. "Doc" went in.

9:30 - left the police station. Met up with Troops "F" and "B" and found out we were going the wrong way. Got going the right way and headed for a graveyard. When we got there the troops dispersed to look for signs of a detachment. At a nearby farm the location was found. Also many artifacts were found.

Meanwhile, Assistant Commissioner Hoyt and Constable Lendrum were quelled by "C" Troop in their attempt to shoot a slingshot at a gopher.

11:50 - set out once more. The trailer's signal lights weren't working.

12:20 - pulled into a picnic spot for lunch. Very desolate.

1:00 - troops divided up into two groups. One group under the head of Quartermaster Stanford went directly to Regina. The rest under the head of "Doc" and Commissioner Haig set off for Old Wives' Lake.

2:00 - the second group arrived at Swift Current. Went to gas station.

Back on the highway again we stopped to film a whirlwind, but it went too fast.

Stopped to take pictures of cemetary in Gravelbourg. Then we went to the Cathedral there. The interior was all hand painted. Went to gas station again to feed the horses. Took off from there to Old Wives' Lake.

Asked directions at an interection of someone who used to live around there. Filmed the lake from the highway it being too late to go down to it. While turning around to head back, stopped at a farmhouse to ask about the cairn that was supposed to be there. Found out it was on the main highway.

We found it but the sign was off. Doc's car went on. Commissioner Haig's van and its contents stayed to film. Arrived at the campgrounds we had arranged to stay in to find that their waterlines had froze. Stanford's group had gone on to another campground. We turned back and saw Commissioner's van. Stopped and told him what had happened. Then went to the campgrounds. When we got there the Commissioner found out where we were supposed to set up and attempted to lead us to the spot. Went around the campground about three times before the Commissioner finally found it.

When we finally did arrive there, we discovered that the others had already eaten. Some of us were lucky enough to have had people from our tent in that group so our tents were already set up for us.

10:30 - most of "C" Troop bedded down. The rest of the troops followed a little later on.

One of our neighbours was Fred Bagley's grandson. "Doc" had earlier gone over and interviewed him.


Continued....Students Filming the 1874 NWMP Trek West

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