Thursday, September 12, 2019

Native Sons in W W I

Frank Beaton and W W I

In the early ‘60s I worked on a couple of ranches on the south side of the Peace River and one of those I worked with was a man named Frances Beaton Jr. better known as Frank. He was the son of a long-time Hudson’s Bay Company Factor at Fort St. John. Frances Beaton Sr. was a Scott and his wife and Frank’s mother was a Dane-zaa, better known to we pale-face as Beaver Indians – probably because the HBC could usually depend on them delivering high quality pelts.
Dane-zaa group near Fort St. John 1914

Dane-zaa men near Fort St. John about 1910

          Frank had many stories to tell about his up-bringing and because of a couple of those stories I gave him and his father a cameo appearance in “The Making of Jake McTavish.”
          One of the stories he told was about he and several other young native men meeting in Grande Prairie, Alberta and signing up for service with the Royal Canadian Army in World War I. As I recall he said he thought he was the oldest of the lot and he would have been 21 or 22 when they took this eventful trip.
          I thought at the time that it must have been a monstrous cultural shock for these young men. Subsequent statements and responses to questions by Frank affirmed my suspicion but he was certainly not known for his talkative nature.
          I was thinking of it again recently and wrote the following rhyme, gave it to Karen and she took some of the bumps out of it.

Native Sons in World War One
By D.M. McGowan and K.L. McGowan
© 2019

Seventeen native boys left the Upper Peace
The only land they’d known, all in their teens.
They’d all grown up wild out among the trees.
Knew where to find pelts, beaver ponds or streams.
They hunted for their supper, trap or single shot
And only their mothers gave safety a fleeting thought

After two hundred years of Scott and Fleur de Lis
They knew some other talk, sometimes two or three,
English, French and German were spoken in the land,
And whatever tongue was spoken by their particular band
Some of them could read and write more than just their name
But the army didn’t care, green privates all the same

An amazing great adventure for young trapper men
From freedom of the wild to a Canadian Army pen
Across the land in trains, something never seen.
Mistreated by a Sergeant, but still bright and keen.
Dropped off in camps and marched around a square
“Dig some dirt from here and put it over there.”

On the trains again east to Canada’s Maritimes
March down to the docks in perfect double lines
Then up a gangplank to a big steel canoe
Then told to put their kit where you couldn’t fit a shoe
A dozen ships in convoy from the Bedford shore
But count on German U boats sinking two or more.

More camp time in England, weeks without the sun
Then finally sent to France to show them how it’s done
Trenches that collapse from rains that never end
Bodies on the wire or sprawled out in no man’s land.
All caked in mud, “Are they ours? Are they theirs?”
Days and weeks of boredom, then terror and despair.

Vimy Ridge, the Somme or maybe Regina Trench
Maybe English on the left other times the French
High Wood or Kitchener’s, Avion as well
With the Aussies at Gallipoli, some lived to tell
Passchendaele, Arras, knowing each the end
If not for the war, surely for the men

Metis, Cree and Dane a total of Seventeen
On a great adventure, young, naive and keen
But the Great War wasn’t a great place to learn
For seventeen go but only two returned.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Something uplifting for a change?

Looking for up instead of down?
You have things that are important to you. Maybe number one is a partner that supports you even if that partner disagrees with you. Perhaps it’s a collection of things such as the ‘right’ decisions (whatever your definition of ‘correct’ might be), happy thoughts, loved ones, and your favorite car or perhaps a good horse or dog. They support you in the good times and the bad.
How did they become your most important ‘support’ as you travel through life? Is it the way you were raised? Is it something you learned in school or picked up along the way? Maybe you read the Bible at some point and thought, “That’s the way things should be.”
Is it important for you to confront those destructive aspects of society – liars, bullies, thieves, and other immoral fools? Have you had enough of religious fundamentalists, supremacists and other terrorists?
Perhaps you just ignore the unhappy or destructive you see around you – despite knowing that ignoring them allows them to propagate and prosper.
Try some support for humour, moral actions and true growth with some entertainment that shows what COULD be or might have been.

True, money won’t buy these things except in my novels and its cheap!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Videos of Knowing What Matters and That Woman

In my last posting from the end of April I said I would recite and video the rhyme "Knowing What Matters" and I finally managed to get to it.
I also recorded a song I wrote but I see the system I'm using has some trouble handling the sound. Unlike the last song I recorded there is no back ground noise, but the system cuts out a little when I ask too much of it. However, here they are.

Knowing What Matters

That Woman

Three of my stories, one of them a noval are available on Amazon for nothing of at least very little.
Simply click on the links.

Into The Mountains
By Dave McGowan
A short story about the aftermath of the Métis Rebellion and an escape to the North West.

The Yearlings
By Dave McGowan
A short story about a woman rancher and pioneer, alone and faced with theft, rape and perhaps …
And with a connection to “Into the Mountains” a generation later

Cattle Business 

Someone is stealing Sully Wheeler’s cattle. Are they trying to force him out? Or are they after him because he’s an old time gun hand hiding from his past? And who is this red-coated Constable Theason who insists on investigating? Is this just cattle rustling or something else?

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Knowing What Matters

At the open mike on Saturday night (April 27) I recited one of my rhymes that apparently struck a chord with a couple of ladies visiting from the Lower Mainland. I promised I would post it for them but then became very busy with a variety of things but, though late, will have it on site.
I fully intend to video a recital of this and post it but it will have to wait until I can eliminate the background noise I'm presently contending with.

Knowing What Matters
By D.M. McGowan
© 2018

He rode an old McClellan that had seen better days
But he sat up there like a king who controlled all he surveyed
His mount a buckskin mare as pretty as you’ve seen
With legs meant for working and eyes bright and clean
Behind him trailed a mule, a fine example of the breed
A pack piled high with goods but no halter or a lead

I asked him where he’s headed and where he might have been
The reason for his travel and what he might have seen
“I’ve seen the greatest country that God ever made
Sometimes mountain vistas, sometimes a grassy plain.
I’ve seen family members who make me feel ashamed
And many fellow workers who lie their way to fame

I’ve seen herds of caribou clicking cross the plain
Massive Mountain Grizzlies, great horses wild and tame.
I’ve seen massive progress ended by greedy fools
Or by those who need control and impose silly rules
And others stopping growth by thinking with their heart
When simple logic tells ‘em the horse is behind the cart.

We all get our little chance but others need a turn
The younger need some room to grow to build to learn
When I’ve done my time, my life here is thru
I don’t want my final vision to be only gloom and fools.
I’ll be free of all that as will the mule and mare
We’ve trod the greatest land, together scenery shared

It all makes my former life shallow and pale
And now where I travel nothing is ever stale
I’ve had my days of wealth measured in dollars and cents
With days, weeks and years surrounded by wall and fence
But now I have much more, a far greater treasure
Surrounded by natures wonders, beauty that can’t be measured
Any measure of success may not be right for all
The test that has some rise up will make others fall
I hope the path I travel and the message that I preach
Will be heard and understood by people that I meet
No one has the right to say that my view is wrong
Nor do I have the right to condemn another’s song

But enjoy the journey and help your fellow man
Have a laugh and learn, and make a proper stand
For something you believe, give it a proper fight
And if you should lose and you know you might
Within your heart you’ll know you did your very best
And did what you thought right when put to the test.

Friday, April 12, 2019

How pioneers survived – Partners

Cypress Hills

The pioneers who explored and settled North America were from a variety of backgrounds. Some were young, a few were old (middle-aged in the standards of today), some were educated and most were not.
Many ventured out alone and if they had some experience in protecting and feeding themselves they managed to survive. If they happened to be extremely fast learners they might survive. If they had neither skill or could not find someone who did they often perished.
Having company often helped. With two people or a group each will have different skills which will help and they can also watch each other’s back in a crisis. There where instances when a married couple managed to make a living on a western farm when neither was experienced or fitted for the life in the beginning but working together managed to prosper. There are also examples of such couples not surviving.
Most of those who trod the prairie and mountains in those early days were men. Groups would have been from a variety of backgrounds with a wide range of education, How did the young get along with the old or the illiterate with the professor?
That was my concept when I wrote “Partners” my second published novel, access to which has changed, mostly without my knowledge.
Amazon still has it listed as a Kindle (and as a book at a price no one in the world would pay) but the printed version can still be found through the SBP web site which is or simply click on the book cover to the right.
I suspect to change this availability soon but not for a few months since I have other things on my plate.
The story begins near “Old Wives Lake” which is now a migratory bird sanctuary on the eastern edge of the Cypress Hills. Near the lake (which covers a fairly large area but is not that deep) there is just the beginning of a rise in elevation from the prairie to the east. This rolling landscape continues to rise to where the hills become much more extensive. It is there that two main characters come back to them later in the story, further west in the hills.
This central to western area of the Cypress Hills has been used in several stories the most famous of which is “The Englishman’s Boy” by Guy Vanderhaegue. The story (and the movie) climax is the historic Cypress Hills Massacre where a mixed group of whites (Americans and Canadians and Métis) attacked a village of peaceful Assiniboine resulting in the death of twenty and one of the Americans. This battle took place in 1873 and was the push the accelerated the establishment of the North West Mounted Police that the “great leaders” in Ottawa had been talking about for years (as politicians still do) but had done little to achieve. (And as they still do.)

Cypress Hills, where the story starts.
A beautiful area in south west Saskatchewan.

In 1866 the area which now includes Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta was called Rupert’s Land and was under the control of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Those in the east who where trying to form a country from the British Colonies hadn’t done much to change that since they were concentrating on Upper Canada (Ontario), Lower Canada (Quebec), New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. They like-wise had not opened communication with the Colony of British Columbia. Two years later (1868) Canadian Confederation was achieved for the east under the British America Act and Rupert’s Land became the North West Territories except for a small area around Winnipeg becoming and embryo Manitoba.

Wild Horse Creek
          One of many small gold rush towns in British Columbia that are either ghost towns, show traces of habitation or have ceased to exist. B.C. Colonial Police Constable Jack Lawton was stationed here when he was murdered.

Barkerville street scene
          At the time it was said to be the largest center west of Chicago and north of San Francisco. A gold rush town with people coming and going and many refusing to acknowledge their own presence it is hard to find accurate numbers but 8 thousand for 1867 is probably fairly close. There were several small communities in the Cariboo Country where gold was being extracted (Kellyville, Antler Creek, Van Winkle, Harvey Creek and Quesnel Forks) but Barkerville was the center and even during the winter would usually hold five hundred people.

It has been claimed that there were no serious battles between whites and aboriginals in Canada’s history. However there were two in B.C. (colonial days), several in the early days along what is now the St. Lawrence Seaway and two battles between whites and Métis. There were also innumerable confrontations between individuals and small groups.

The various governments and law enforcement agencies would like everyone to think that there where few violent confrontations between any individuals during the building of Canada. It is true that there were not many recorded or quelled by the authorities. However, people being people I’m sure there where as many confrontations as in any other land, a large portion of those being between different races. The one advantage in the Canadian west, after 1874 at least, was the existence of a Federal Police force (the NWMP) although they were half the size required and therefore sometimes a little more “abrupt” than should have been necessary.

There is a ‘Heritage Moment’ on Canadian television which depicts Inspector Sam Steele of the North West Mounted Police explaining to an American visitor to the Klondike Gold Fields that “Men don’t wear firearms in Canada”. It upsets me. Not many could afford handguns but those who could buy them did so and wore them though almost never within an established community or town. Our pioneers where no dumber than those from other countries; anyone who ventures into the wilds alone or who works and lives with wild animals and doesn’t have a personal means of protection or of attaining protein is a fool.

There used to be (perhaps 20 years ago?) a show on Canadian TV called ‘Bordertown.’ Good actors, good directing but the concept upset me. The Mounted Policeman (for the north side of the town) was a law abiding, caring, thoughtful figure. Had he been indicative of policemen of the time they would have all been beaten or murdered by the not so nice people evident in any place or time including this one.
The town Marshal (for the south side of the town) was rough, tough, uncaring and a shoot-first-ask-questions-later sort. He too would have been eliminated by the people of the time, but in this case the law abiding element.

Below are the historical notes from the last pages of ‘Partners’.

Old Woman Lake
Located in what is now south-central Saskatchewan. Aboriginal legend claims that a group of Assiniboine (or Cree or Blackfoot or Crow, depending on the storyteller) were surrounded here by a group of Blackfoot (or Cree or Crow, again depending on the narrator). An old woman in the group volunteered to keep the fires burning while the rest slipped away in the night. The end of the legend, again depending on the narrator, has the old woman killed by the attackers, adopted, or the campsite vacant with no sign of the old woman.

Probably in an effort at political correctness it has been renamed and now appears on Saskatchewan maps as ‘Old Wives Lake’.

Actually a confederacy of three Algonquin nations, the Kainai, Sitsika, and Peigan, the name “Blackfoot” supposedly placed on them by the Lakota or Sioux. Outnumbered by everyone except the whites, (and by the mid-1800s them too) they made up in ferocity what they lacked in population. The fear they engendered in other peoples was only equaled by the Kiowa and later the Apache far to the south.

Colonel Coleman
It is true that Colonel Coleman is a figment of my imagination. However, during the time period depicted and because there was nothing to stop them, there were several individuals who attempted to create their own kingdom in what is now Southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. According to the Hudson Bay Company’s charter (and the British Crown) the entire area was part of that company’s area of operation and thus under their protection until 1869. However, practically speaking, this area was buffalo country with a white population consisting of about 500 whiskey traders and a few trappers. Thus the company held very little interest in the area and had no force capable of stopping or even slowing incursions.

As mentioned above, the North West Mounted Police, formed to prevent incursions, eliminate whiskey, and protect the population, did not arrive in the area until 1874.

Captain McDougal
Like Colonel Coleman, Captain McDougal is a completely fictional character. However, the U.S. Army of the day was populated with officers (and troopers) who took demotions following the end of the Civil War in order that they might have a home. A few of these officers and their men were of less than stellar character, but many, such as the fictional Captain McDougal, completed almost impossible tasks despite being virtually ignored by Washington.

Bear Child
He was known by the white man as Jerry Potts, but his Kainai name was Bear Child. He was the son of a Scott, Andrew Potts, an American Fur Company clerk at Fort McKenzie and Namo-pisi (Crooked Back) a member of Black Elk’s band.

Jerry Potts has been called the greatest scout and guide of the old west, which, considering the competition may or may not be completely true. There is no doubt that the two people most responsible for the early survival of the North West Mounted Police, and thus the continuing longevity of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are Colonel J.F. Macleod and Jerry Potts.

British Columbia
Actually, the ‘Colony of British Columbia’ was very short lived and for much of the time before joining Canada was “The Colony of Vancouver Island” and “The Colony of New Caledonia”. At the time these two colonies joined confederation another “New Caledonia” (a French territory in the South Pacific) existed so the “Province of British Columbia” came into existence. I chose to use the British Columbia name in an attempt to avoid confusion.

Constable Jack Lawson
Constable Lawson, a rookie with the British Columbia Police force was the second police officer to be killed in the line of duty in what is now Western Canada. A few days before his death on July 18, 1867, Canadian Confederation had been achieved, but British Columbia had not joined at that point and was still a British colony. While investigating the theft of horses from Oregon Territory, Lawson was shot by ‘One Ear Charlie’.

Charles H. (One Ear Charlie) Brown
One Ear Charlie was a totally despicable thug with a long criminal career that covered the Western United States and the Colony of British Columbia. During one of his many incarcerations he attempted to overpower a prison guard at Victoria who shot off his ear.

Charlie’s last crime was the killing of Constable Lawson who was widely liked by the miners of Wild Horse Creek. Since no other officers were immediately available, four miners trailed Brown south into Oregon where they shot him out of the saddle on July 20, 1867.

Despite diligent research, I could find no mention of the names of the four vigilantes and so I have given them names.

From the back cover of “Partners”

Thomas Brash is trying to escape but knows he never will. Pursuing him is the memory of the family he lost to cholera. Perhaps he believes that traveling alone in a wild, dangerous land will end all his memories; there is no doubt he wishes to be alone.
Whatever his intentions the appearance of Frank Clement and the circumstances of that meeting upset those plans. Brash views Clement as an uneducated child who requires fatherly protection and guidance. Clement views Brash as a tenderfoot and cannot understand how anyone who knows so little could live so long. These two loners are joined by others and they all become partners.
Having achieved relative sanctuary and surrounded by civilization
their wilderness past comes back to haunt them.

Once again ... leave a comment.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Immigration and the proliferation of crime.

     And to go along with this post, "Inclusion" from the last posting;

     It has been five years since I shared this letter. I thought it was important at the time, captured and saved it. Following further actions demonstrating serious stupidity by those incapable of logical thought and a complete disregard for the security of Canadians I believe it is time to share it again.
     That sounds like it only applies to those claiming to be Canada's "leaders" but it is directed at all those who believe in the "global" systems. We need national borders so we can slow travelers down long enough to determine if they are terrorists (or criminals of any stripe) and therefore need to be stopped.
            The Canada that exists today is the result of immigration. However that growth and development is due to certain established standards and those standards MUST be maintained if it is to continue to grow.
            So here is the excellent letter from six years ago …
                  Congratulations to our fellow Canadians in Quebec who
had the courage and conviction to exhibit their common
sense in officially banning the hijab for certain
transactions where identity is mandatory. It's a start.
It's a privilege to be allowed to immigrate and to live
in this country - Not a right. When this hit the e-news
a few weeks ago, there was overwhelming support by the
readers who AGREED with Quebec's action.
                  The letter below says it all. Keep it going....
                  A Letter to the Editor (excellent letter)
                  So many letter writers have explained how this land is
made up of immigrants. Maybe we should turn to our
history books and point out to people why today's
Canadian is not willing to accept the new kind of
immigrant any longer.
                  Back in 1900 when there was a rush from all areas of
Europe to come to Canada , people had to get off a ship
and stand in a long line in Halifax and be documented.
Some would even get down on their hands and knees and
kiss the ground. They made a pledge to uphold the laws
and support their new country in good and bad times.
                  They made learning English a primary rule in their new
Canadian households and some even changed their names to
blend in with their new home. They had waved good bye to
their birth place to give their children a new and
better life and did everything in their power to help
their children assimilate into one culture.
                  Nothing was handed to them. No free lunches, no welfare,
no labour laws to protect them. All they had were the
skills, craftsmanship and desire they had brought with
them to trade for a future of prosperity.
                  Most of their children came of age when World War II
broke out. Canadians fought along side men whose parents
had come straight over from Germany, Italy, France,
Japan, China, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Sweden, Poland and
so many other places. None of these first generation
Canadians ever gave any thought about what country their
parents had come from. They were Canadians fighting
Hitler, Mussolini and the Emperor of Japan. They were
defending the Freedom as one people. When we liberated
France, no one in those villages was looking for the
Ukrainian-Canadian or the German-Canadian or the
Irish-Canadian. The people of France saw only Canadians.
                  And we carried one flag that represented our country.
Not one of those immigrant sons would have thought about
picking up another country's flag and waving it to
represent who they were. It would have been a disgrace
to their parents who had sacrificed so much to be here.
These immigrants truly knew what it meant to be a
Canadian. They stirred the melting pot into one red and
white bowl.
                  And here we are in 2013 with a new kind of immigrant who
wants the same rights and privileges, only they want to
achieve it by playing with a different set of rules -
one that includes a Canadian passport and a guarantee of
being faithful to their mother country. I'm sorry,
that's not what being a Canadian is all about. Canadians
have been very open-hearted and open-minded regarding
immigrants, whether they were fleeing poverty,
dictatorship, persecution, or what ever else makes us
think of those aforementioned immigrants who truly did
ADOPT our country, our flag, our morals and our customs,
and left their wars, hatred, and divisions behind. I
believe that the immigrants who landed in Canada in the
early 1900s deserve better than that for the toil, hard
work and sacrifice of those legally searching for a
better life. I think they would be appalled that they
are being used as an example by those waving foreign
country flags, fighting foreign battles on our soil,
making Canadians change to suit their religions and
cultures, and wanting to change our country's fabric by
claiming discrimination when we do not give in to their
                  Its about time we get real and stand up for our
forefathers rights.
                  We are CANADIAN.  I am a Native of this Country and
proud of it!
                  And while we're on the subject - Allow CHRISTMAS back in
stores and our schools!
                  I want back the country of my birth!
                  P.S. -- Please pass this on to everyone you know!!!
                  KEEP THIS LETTER MOVING!!
                  Hope this letter is read by millions of people all
across Canada !!
                  We are letting people live here that HATE our way of

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Rhymes, Songs and Videos

Well, truly it's about learning to make videos and post them on YouTube.

          I’ve been experimenting with a video camera and attempted to save some of the rhymes and songs I’ve written in the digital world. Apparently I need to practice a bit more, not only on posting but on my presentation.
          “Cattle Business” seems to be doing all right over at Amazon; you can take a look and even read a sample by clicking on the book cover over to the right. I’ve also put together some of my short stories in a collection I’m calling (for now anyway) “People of the West: A Timeline”. It includes several stories from 1798 to 1967. I just sent it off to a good friend/editor/reader for his perusal and comments.
          But back to the videos;
          One of my rhymes entitled “Inclusion”. I wrote this in the spring of 2018 when I was asked to perform at a multi-cultural festival in Dawson Creek and recited it in between a couple of songs.
Inclusion by D.M. McGowan 2018
          The next rhyme was a result of someone commenting on the types of characters I create as the main protagonists in my stories. Yes, there are “black hats” but I like to create a situation where morality and integrity triumph thereby creating some hope for readers in their own future.
A Real Man by D.M. McGowan 2018
          This third one is a song I took 17 years to write. On June 20th 1972 I was driving a Mack truck from Cassiar BC to Watson Lake, Yukon Territory. I was having trouble seeing the road since the sun was shining in my eyes. I looked at my watch and it was 11:30 pm. Within a few miles I had the course in my head and for some reason it stayed there – most of the time I have to check my license to get my name but somehow I remembered those few lines.
          In 1989 Karen and I put together a tape which we sold at the many venues where we performed. Karen had dozens of songs but I didn’t have many so I sat down with the course and added a couple of verses.
          Speaking of memory, I wish I could remember the lines to “Come See the Willow Weep”!
To Compare With You by D.M. McGowan 1989