Thursday, December 24, 2015

Finding the Cariboo Women, Installment 2

Finding the women who helped open the Cariboo Country has been difficult for one main reason; most of those involved, including the women, didn’t rate their efforts as being important. Personally I think that attitude is a mistake, but even as late as the mid 1950s the majority of women would say the same thing.
For those researching and writing about the nineteenth century information about the women is very difficult to find. It is necessary to cross-reference several sources such as census records, birth and marriage records, business licenses and newspaper accounts.
When information is discovered in one source the next can prove the first inaccurate. Census records, for example may not have been filled out by a household or if they were, (particularly in the case of prospectors or trappers) perhaps they left immediately after recording their presence. Many births were not recorded until many years after the event and sometimes not at all. When Mary Pioneer’s name appeared on a mining claim was that because she worked the claim (sometimes the case) or was it because her husband Sam Pioneer wanted a claim twice the size of what he was allowed under his own name?(often the case).  Many women had their names on mining licenses and some, such as Margaret Cusheon and Eliza Ord actively worked a claim.
Records from newspapers require particular mention and attention. Richard Wright (writer of the previously mentioned “Barkerville and Cariboo Goldfields”) mentions two excerpts/quotes from the Cariboo Sentinel; from June 18, 1866, “Birth, at Barkerville, 15 inst., wife of William A. Meacham, a son.” and from Nov. 27, 1869, “Mr. Fick, proprietor of the New England Bakery has returned with his wife.” Perhaps the Sentinel was keeping up with local news but definitely short on information.
Richard Wright is responsible for much of what I’m about to quote here. I have some of the numbers from other sources such as the Barkerville archives (marvelous resource) but a couple I have found in no other location.
Wright has, for example compiled the names of 400 women who appeared in the Cariboo between 1862 and 1882. He also assures us that during the first full summer of mining along Williams Creek, 1862, nine prostitutes patrolled the canyon and women opened saloons, boarding houses and restaurants.
Here is a list of residents that comes directly from a count made in the spring of 1869. Keep in mind that this is after the Great Fire (Sept. 16, 1868) and before everyone had arrived for “the season”.
919 white males
69 white females
720 Chinese males
6 Chinese females
27 “colored” males
4 “colored” females

The first time I saw this list two things surprised me. I didn’t think there would be that many Chinese females since very few (perhaps 1 in 500 males) came to North America (or the “Shining Mountain”) in those years. Second, considering the number of free African-Americans who came to BC from California I would have thought 10 or 12 “colored” females would have been more likely.
One of those four women was Rebecca Gibbs who operated a laundry in Cameronton and who had arrived on Williams Creek by herself. With such a separation in the numbers of males and females (and undoubtedly due to her industry) she didn’t stay single.
With such a large difference in the numbers few women, unless they were particularly unsavory stayed single for long. Jennifer Morris came to Cariboo with her husband and they ran a general merchandise until he died. The Victorian “period of mourning” which was a year had barely passed when she became Mrs. Allan. Actually, through out her name changes she was well known and recorded as “Scotch Jennie” because she was famous for her administrations to the ill and injured. This was also true of prostitute Joanna Maguire who as a member of the oldest profession usually meant mention - only when necessary - by first name alone.
A small clue as to the class distinction that existed in the Cariboo in the 1860s; prostitutes and hurdy gurdy girls are known by their first names and businesswomen – including madams – are know by their lasts names.
Despite the presence of a doctor early on and more than one in the later part of the 1860s (and a hospital) illness was a continual problem in the mining towns of the Cariboo. In Barkerville and Cameronton, for example, those mine shafts which proved unproductive became toilets. The water which flowed down Williams Creek and under it also flowed through those old shafts. Typhoid and cholera were a continuing problem and one of the seven women who stayed over that first winter of 1862 – ’63 Sophia Cameron, (wife of John or Cariboo Cameron) died that winter. John’s promise to see she was buried at home (Eastern Canada) led to a two year long trip and contributed to several stories.
Those seven women from the winter of 1862 where;
Rosa Donnelly – miner’s wife
Anna Cameron – hotel keeper (Richard Cameron)
Elizabeth (Lizzy) Roddy (Anna Cameron’s sister, later Mrs. A.D. McInnes).
Sophia Cameron, wife of John Cameron (who, as mentioned, died that winter of typhoid.)
Mrs. Janet Allan (aka Scotch Jenny), merchants wife.
Mary Winnard (blacksmith William Winnard)
I was not aware of the seventh woman but R. Wright identifies her as an “unnamed French woman.”
Anna Cameron gave birth to the first child, Allan Richfield Cameron on October 26, 1862 in the Pioneer Hotel in Cameronton.
This last, the birth of a child is the type of information I’m looking for when I want background around which I can write my novel. This is a human event, as is the need for a hospital, food and some understanding of hygiene.
Although, considering the era, rudimentary understanding of germs (or more accurately non-existent) and wilderness conditions about all one could expect is some degree of cleanliness.
However, if we all keep a full set of records perhaps novelists a hundred years from now will be able to write fiction that can deliver a more enlightening understanding of today’s conditions and attitudes.
Remember, thousands came to the gold fields for gold but few found enough to be considered rich. Those that didn’t find riches left. Those few who did find riches most spent it and died broke. Of that small number who did find a gold an even smaller number held onto it long enough to put it to their own use but by that time they had left the Cariboo.

The women who followed the men did not, in most cases, leave their names. But they did, with their businesses and their children, build a country.
No, I have no idea who these women are but they are representative of the era.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Finding the Cariboo women

“The Making of Jake McTavish” is the forth novel where bits of my imagination have escaped out into view of the general public.
I don’t believe any of those escapees will hurt anyone and hopefully they will be entertaining and even informative.
I know I’m tired of seeing how Western Canada’s police officers of the 19th century where all paragons of virtue and/or the “geeks” or “nerds” of that age. I’m sure (and research supports my idea) that they were men (in all cases that part is 100% true) with good and bad qualities who were looking for a regular place to bunk and, in later years, a small pension.
There have been a few writers who have tried to portray the pioneers of Western Canada as people with “warts and all”. Those that come to mind are Guy Vanderhaeghe and Bill Gallaher. Years ago I read some mountain man tales that included some mention of travel through those mountains that are now within Canada but much of what I read and view today about Canada’s pioneer days carries the danger of inciting diabetes due to the excessive sweetness.
The reason I was thinking of this was the research that I’m doing for another novel I’m working on. I may have mentioned in an earlier post that a few readers have contacted me through the connection on this blog and on the street asking what might have become of the five men who became partners in the novel “Partners”. With the intent of creating an answer to that question I’ve started a story that begins the spring after the events of “Partners” come to a close.
What I’m saying is that I really don’t have an answer to the question but will by the time I finish writing the story. One thing I want to happen is for at least four of the “Partners” to find mates. What I’ve written so far includes the marriage of one of the partners and his temporary move to Victoria. I also have lady friends for two more of the partners and was looking for more information of females of the time and era.
I decided, while writing the first few chapters of what I am, at this point, calling “Underbelly” that it would be good to include some information about the real people who worked and lived in Barkerville back in the late 1860s.
For instance these facts from a few sources I’ve found about the first gold discoveries in BC.
The first indication of gold was through a collection made by Hudson’s Bay factors in the Colony of British Columbia who had accepted gold in payment for goods. The HBC did not encourage information on such trade to be made public since they expected (and were proven correct) that such information would interfere with their fur trade. However, after several trades the accumulated gold had to be reported and banked.
In a letter written by the Chief Factor for HBC, James Douglas on April 16,1856 he reported to the British Colonial Secretary that “gold has been discovered on the Upper Columbia.”
On December 28, 1857 Chief Factor Douglas issued a proclamation instituting a system of licenses for prospectors at a fee of 10 shillings or 5 US dollars.
On July 1, 1858 Factor Douglas, after 37 years with the HBC became an employee of the British government and Governor of both the Colony of British Columbia and the Colony of Vancouver Island. He exercised his management duties primarily from Fort Victoria but did make a few trips to Fort Langley.
Through out 1858 and ’59 both colonial capitals, Victoria and Langley grew. Victoria from a relatively stable population of around 600 to an estimate (but violently fluctuation according to season) of five or six thousand to a winter low of around 2000. Fort Langley also grew but not as large and unlike Victoria the town of Langley was not on the site of the original trading post.
The big finds on Williams Creek (named after “Dutch Bill” or William Dietz), the location of Barkerville did not take place until 1862 and only after several other discoveries. First, the thousands of gold seekers who descended on the colonies panned the sand bars of the Fraser River where the gold proved to be very fine and hard to separate from the gravel. By the fall (end of season) of 1860 they where working the tributaries of the Quesnelle River such as Keithley, Harvey and Cunningham Creeks (named after men who found gold on the creeks). In the spring of 1861 there were 1200 men on Antler Creek. Also in the spring of 1861 was when Williams Creek was discovered five men traveling the country together.
The day the partners discovered the gold each of the five was successful in their efforts. Dutch Bill however retrieved the most with an average of $1.25 per pan. It is because of his larger return that the creek is named for him. Despite the actual discover in 1861 the five claims where not registered until March 22, 1862.
During that first winter there were only 90 men and 7 women who stayed on the creek for the winter. By the time the first claims were registered however there where thousands on the trails to the Cariboo Country and to Williams Creek. By the fall of 1862 several “towns” had been formed and many had disappeared. Horsefly Landing, Likely, and Quesnelle are still around from that era but up on Williams Creek those that still exist (thanks to great efforts by many volunteers) are Richfield and Barkerville.
In 1862 Billy Barker (“English Bill”) after chasing the elusive yellow metal for 16 years took on eight partners. On August 17, 1862 they found the lead and took 124 ounces from their shaft in 10 hours.
Now, what I was originally looking for was some of the actual people who developed Williams Creek, Barkerville, Richfield, Cameronton and Marysville. I’m particularly interested in are the women but they are very hard to find since few recorded any information about them.
With the help of several writers and researchers, most notably R.T. Wright and his book, “Barkerville and the Cariboo Goldfields” I’ve found info on some of those women. I’ll get to that in my next posting.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

What is “The Making of Jake McTavish” about?

Before I get up on my soap box, here are videos for four novels, the latest, (and best one) first … and they didn’t spell my name wrong as they did with “Liquor War.”

Available in print now and in several formats as an ebook by mid-December.

“Jake McTavish” is about a man waking up to the need to look after himself.
It’s about the responsibility all of us have in making our homes safe not only for those close to us and ourselves but, having accomplished that, for our neighbors.
Yes, we have hired people to care for our safety, but sometimes it isn’t possible for them to ensure that task can be completed. Sometimes, and probably most often, they can’t carry out their assigned tasks to a successful conclusion because of timing; they just aren’t on-site when the support is needed. Sometimes it’s because a law can not be enforced because to do so will conflict with another one, or perhaps more than one.

If our society begins to deteriorate – or is deteriorating - it will be because those who make up that society – each one of us – did not live up to our responsibility.
Yes, that includes the large destructive actions made by groups such as the Canadian Government and the RCMP in Winnipeg in 1919 (actually still the North West M.P at that time), in Estevan in 1933 and Regina in 1935.
Actions I don’t think either body is sufficiently ashamed of.
Or the refusal of the Western World to allow the many Jewish refugee ships to dock during their attempt to escape from Nazi Germany in 1939.
Actions I don’t think any of the countries (primarily England, USA, and Canada) involved have realized how disgusting that was.
If everyone actually did realize how many deaths were the ultimate results of those actions of 1939, perhaps the response to world events in the late months of 2015 would be a little different.
Immigration has always created work for those already within the country accepting the immigrants. In the latter years of the 1950s for example Canada accepted refugees from Hungary which resulted in growth in the early years of the ‘60s.
This is partly due to an increase in jobs and a slight decrease (as a percentage) in those trained for some jobs. However it also pulls dollars out of government bodies that are holding OWR money for their pet projects (many of which we don’t think they should be involved in) and spending it in areas that don’t do the general populous much good.

Can someone tell me why we spend millions of dollars each year for pension plans for retired politicians, non of whom did anything that would entitle them to any more consideration (often less) than any other citizen?
I’ll stop right there. If I don’t I’ll be into the mistreatment of veterans and those in retirement homes and many other subjects that will just increase my blood-pressure and be off topic.

So, what is “The Making of Jake McTavish” about? It’s about doing your job. If someone isn’t doing their job, you may have to step up and take part (or all) of that job as well. If some of the rules you are expected to live by prove to interfere with a moral responsibility perhaps some of those rules will have to be bent a little.
Yes, I did and still do in small ways such as writing this. However, I’ve put in enough years and effort that it is now your turn.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Press Release for The Making of Jake McTavish

I've just recieved a copy of the new press release with a link to the video trailer

Contact: Ellen Green, Press Manager, Strategic Book Group -
Western Forges a New Man in ‘The Making of Jake McTavish’
In 1890s Canada, Jake McTavish learns what he is
made of when his world falls apart.
Jake left his home in central Canada in his early
teens. After working ships on the Great Lakes,
feeding cattle, and shooting wolves on the prairie, he
starts his own cattle operation out West, where he
meets Anna, his life-long partner. Jake and Anna are
happily married for three years when everything
comes crashing down. Anna is raped and murdered,
the image of which haunts Jake. To escape the vision
of his butchered wife and all that he lost, Jake travels
deep into the mountains and becomes a mountain
man, spending three years trapping and panning for
When two outlaws try to rob him and leave him for
dead, Jake finally wakes up from the stupor he’s
been in and starts to fight back. The time has come to
face his past and find his wife’s killer. Maybe then
he can finally escape the images in his head. But to
find the killer, he comes across even more surprises.

D. M. McGowan has hit a bullseye with The Making of Jake McTavish.

Watch the video at:

About the Author: After a variety of work experiences, D. M. McGowan
has now returned to work as a commercial driver and lives near Mile “0” of
the world-famous Alaska Highway. His books bring Canadian history to
life. This is his fourth published book.

“This intense novel will not only hook fans of Westerns, but everyone who
loves a story of redemption. We are most pleased to announce its release,”
said Robert Fletcher, CEO of Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Agency.
THE MAKING OF JAKE MCTAVISH (ISBN: 978-1-68181-088-1) is now available for $15
and can be ordered through the publisher’s website: or at or
WHOLESALERS: This book is distributed by Ingram Books and other wholesale distributors.
Contact your representative with the ISBN for purchase. Wholesale purchase for retailers,
universities, libraries, and other organizations is also available through the publisher; please email
Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co, LLC
ABOUT: Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co, LLC provides book publishing, book marketing, and e-Book services to over
10,000 writers around the world. Our books are available through Ingram, the largest book distributor in the world, as well as in
bookstores, through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all online channels. Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co, LLC attends
and exhibits at the major book expositions in London, New York, China, and Germany each year.

Monday, December 7, 2015

David Milton McGowan: A few more weapons from Canada's past

David Milton McGowan: A few more weapons from Canada's past: In an earlier post I mention the Adams revolver that the North West Mounted Police were originally issued and that they eventually wound u...

A few more weapons from Canada's past

In an earlier post I mention the Adams revolver that the North West Mounted Police were originally issued and that they eventually wound up with the Colt SA Army but over the years they have been subject to a variety of “issue” weapons.

My “Cattle Business” story which might see release in 2016 and tells a story from 1896 (yes, as usual there are some historical aspects) mentions several weapons. Within that story is mention of the British military and the Enfield revolver they issued (and used by some NWMP officers). The Adams and Enfield were replaced by the Colt SA Army and within a few years by the Colt Double Action Army. The first issue of the DA Army was in .44-40 to offer continuance of cartridge but then the .38 Smith & Wesson Special or .38 Special became popular and later Colt DAAs were in that cartridge. Eventually the Smith & Wesson Model 10 became the standard for many police forces.
Enfield Mk II .476
Replaced by the Colt Frontier Double Action (Model 1895)
Replaced by the S&W Model 10

In 1885 the Remington – Lee was being sold in .45 – 70 Government in North America and in at least two other calibers world wide. It has been called the first “modern military” rifle and was supplanted by another weapon with the James Lee magazine, the Lee Enfield, primarily in .303 British.

The armorers who train and advise the RC Mounted Police come from a variety of backgrounds. Their training and what they attempt to pass on to police officers is unsurpassed. However they are subject to pressure from politicians looking for votes and caring little for practical requirements and find themselves issuing weapons that at best are only marginal for the task.
Such is the case with a weapon chambered for either a .38 S&W Special or 9mm; a perfectly adequate cartridge for a trained officer in an urban setting but outclassed by several other cartridges in a rural setting.
I mentioned Elmer Keith in an earlier post and his attachment to both the .357 Magnum and the .44 Magnum. Keith was a prospector, cowboy, guide and hunter who over-loaded .38 Special brass back in the late 1920s which resulted in the development of the .357 cartridge and the discovery that it was by far the caliber best suited for most rural police forces. Later Keith overloaded .44 Special cartridges in his Colt SA Army for the hunting of Elk and deer.
That is to say, several Colt SAAs since his hot loads tended to break the top strap at the front of the cylinder and destroy the weapon even though he was successful most years with his hand-gun hunting.
Keith went to several companies attempting to have them design a .44 brass slightly longer than the .44 Special and eventually Remington agreed to do so. Then he went to S&W and convinced them to make the S&W Model 29 in .44 Magnum which they did. However, Bill Ruger heard about the impending release of the new pistol cartridge intended for hunting and released the Ruger Super Blackhawk before the S&W Model 29 made it to sales.
A stainless steel Ruger Blackhawk .357 M
A nickled (except for the cylinder) Ruger Super Blackhawk in .44M
Note the heavy top straps.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The tools presented in GLW and Homesteader

There are not many weapons specified in either “The Great Liquor War” or “Homesteader: Finding Sharon”. First I’ll take a look at those mentioned specifically and then move on to those that would be probable.
Hank James and most of those he dealt with carried the Colt Single Action Army also called the “New Army”, the “Peacemaker”, the “Frontier Single Six” and a host of other names derived from the depths of some super salesman’s imagination. It was designed for the US Army which called for a 7 ½” barrel and chambered for .45 Government. This was quickly followed by .44-40 which allowed the user to have one cartridge for both his Colt and his Winchester Model 1873. During its first production cycle of 68 years it was available in a total of 27 calibers and in almost any barrel length imaginable including perhaps a half dozen with 12” barrels for Edward Judson, Jr. who wrote dime novels under the name Ned Buntline. True West Magazine contributors have done extensive research and found that a few of these “Buntline Specials” actually did exist. Several more have been made for TV and Hollywood productions.
In “The Making of Jake McTavish” I have included a “Sheriff’s Special” or “Storekeeper’s Model” which did not have an ejector housing (no room) and came with a 4” barrel although 2 ½” and 4 ½” were also made. Also mentioned in the “Jake” story is the Colt .36 Navy and since this was long after percussion weapons it would probably be the 1861 model.
Below are the Colt SAA (this is a second generation model meaning it was made for smokeless  powder sometime popularity forced Colt to make them again.)
A Colt Navy .36, 1861
A Colt SAA Sheriff's Model.

            The British Columbia Provincial Police were not issued weapons until many years after the time depicted in these two novels but most carried the Colt “New Army” although some preferred the S&W .44 American or the Remington Model 1875 Single Action Army. Some carried one of the many .38 calibers available at the time in both single action and (after the BCP Police had already been around for 25 years) double action revolvers. Since they often bought them out of their own money what was chosen could be almost anything.
Here is a S&W .44 American and underneath it a Remington 1875 Army

            The North West Mounted Police who also feature prominently in “GLW” where first issued the Snider-Enfield .577 carbine and a .450 Adams revolver. However by the time of this story they had changed to the Winchester Model 1876 military carbine in .45-70 and the Colt Single Action Army.
This is the Snyder-Enfield action. Snyder was an American inventor who developed a way to make the muzzle loader a breach loader.

The Adams .455

Winchester 1876 .45-70

            Near the climax of The Great Liquor War Hank’s friend Harry Gilmore saves Hank with a shot from his “.50 Springfield”. From 1794 until 1968 many rifle models manufactured at the Springfield, Massachusetts Armory were referred to as “Springfields” but with the caliber specified it probably would be a .50 trap-door single shot US Army rifle Model 1873 made in the Springfield Armory starting in 1873. Designed for the US Army (with carbines for the Cavalry) many made their way into civilian hands.
Springfield .50

            Probably the longest production run for a “Springfield” would be the M1 Garand (4.5 million copies) (.30-06 produced from 1936 to ‘57) and the last would, I think, be the M14 in the NATO 7.62mm (.308 produced 1959 – ’64 and upgraded variations still made).

            At the end of the GLW Hank collects a set of Remington 1875 Single Actions with a nickel finish. In the early 1870s Remington lost out to Colt in the US Army contract (a year late) but they did manage to attain contracts for other government orders including one for the US Ministry of the Interior who issued nickel plated Remington revolvers to many of the tribal police forces. These were first issued in .44 Remington Centerfire and later in .44-40.
In later years Remington also released updated versions which I touch in on a story I'm working that, right now, I call "Cattle Business."
A rare 1888 version in .44-40

A Remington 1890

            My last release, “The Making Of Jake McTavish” takes place in 1898 and by this time the bolt action rifle was becoming popular and available in new calibers. It was also at this time that smokeless powder was introduced. Another weapon that I introduce in this story is the Remington Double Deringer which was chambered for .41 rimfire short.

            During the years depicted, the mid 1880s, there would have been a variety of weapons available in both British Columbia and over the mountains in the North West Territories and many where the same weapons found south of the 49th parallel and most other places in the world. Most of those living in the area, native, European, rural or urban fed themselves from the available wild life. Victoria and New Westminster were actual towns so many people there would rely on others to supply their meat but most became familiar with most aspects of preparing their own food. Some weapons where more popular than others, whether through availability, price or access to ammunition but any rifle that one may have heard of could be found somewhere in the west.
            Avocation could also have influence on what a person might want for a weapon. Trappers for example would want something of a small caliber to dispatch their “catch” both quickly and humanly without excessive damage to the pelt and therefore often chose something like a .22. If they could afford it (or thought they could) they might have a .22 revolver for trapping and a rifle in a much larger caliber for bringing down meat. I’ve heard and read stories where a trapper decided to back away from one of his traps and let “Mr. Bear” clean it out since all he had on his hip was a .22 pistol.

            As pictured in “Homesteader” many of those working the wild cattle and horses of the time would want a pistol with a fairly large bore. An 800 lb cow or steer can charge a man very quickly and it takes something with serious impact to slow him or her down. If you are being dragged through the brush by one foot hung up in a stirrup you don’t want that to go on very long. (I can personally attest to that!) Grizzly bears, timber wolves and coyotes can also view a 50 lb. calf as a very tasty morsel and although these species have been taken with small calibers it is probably best not to count on it. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The tools presented in Partners

            My thoughts, feelings and understanding of firearms should be obvious to regular readers. Let me dispel any question by stating that I believe the well made firearm demonstrates the absolute apex of man’s ability to design, engineer and manufacture a tool which can be both functional and pleasing to view. The results of use by man can be the ugliest and destructive of scenes but that is not the fault of either the tool or its designer.
            There are firearms in all of my novels that have been released and many of the short stories. The first mentioned in “Partners” is the Colt revolving shotgun and later in the narrative its brother the Colt revolving rifle shows up. As with the Paterson Colts first seen by the public in 1837 these long guns were revolutionary and their production actually preceded the production of the hand guns. The First Model Ring Lever Rifle was produced in .34, .36, .38, .40 and .44 with 8 shot and 10 shot cylinders although the 10 shot may be impossible to find. This First Model was followed by replacement models with several improvements and the first shotgun in 16 gauge with a 6 shot cylinder in 1839.

            All these early Colt revolving rifles, despite improvements suffered from similar problems. They were all very inaccurate with only slight improvements in each new model. The gap between the cylinder and the base of the barrel was larger than necessary and allowed too much propulsion gas to escape thereby reducing the power behind the bullet in turn reducing impact and distance. They had in most cases (except for an inadequate strap on one model) no frame component above the cylinder giving the weapon a short life. They also required time, effort and good tools to disassemble for cleaning.
Walker Colt of 1847

The biggest improvement in the revolving rifle and the Colt Company in general did not start in either New Jersey or Connecticut but down south in the Republic of Texas. With very little money the Republic created a (primarily) volunteer army they called the Texas Rangers. These men volunteered because bands of men where needed throughout West Texas to protect their families and neighbors from raids by the Comanche and the bands of Comanche, Mexican and whites called Comancheros. It also gave the volunteers an opportunity to eat on occasion in a country that was short on everything but beans and wild beef.
            The Rangers lost many men in those early battles with the Comanche. The Indian would taunt the white, perhaps fire an arrow or two and throw a spear and the young (mostly teenage) whites would fire their muzzle loading weapons. The Comanche would then fire a half a dozen arrows while the Rangers re-loaded … or tried to.
            One of the Ranger captains or leader of what had been designated a Company; a man named Samuel Hamilton Walker saw the answer to this problem in Samuel Colt’s invention with the revolving cylinder. It may be that he owned a Paterson Colt although few men had extra money for “frills” and it would be a few years before a repeating handgun would be seen as a necessity and worth more than a “reliable” single-shot, muzzle loading pistol.
If Captain Walker did own or even borrow a Paterson he would have quickly determined that the .31 or even the .36 caliber Model #5 was no match for what the Comanche could do with his arrows. He therefore drew up a design enlarging the dimensions of Sam Colt’s early weapons and self-funded a trip to New York to meet Sam Colt.  The weapon they built was intended to be a “horse pistol”, to be carried in a holster mounted on a Rangers saddle. It would hold six, .44 caliber balls and be large enough to contain the explosion from a load of black powder that would send the ball much farther than a Comanche arrow … if the shooter could learn to hold the weapon and the horse did not die from fright.
The first Walker Colt was manufactured in 1847. The ft.-lbs. of energy it was capable of transmitting would not be exceeded by a hand-gun until Elmer Keith (the cartridge) and Smith & Wesson (the weapon) produced the .44 Magnum 108 years later in 1955.
(Yes, Ruger released the first weapon chambered for .44 Mag but S&W was working on it first and had built a prototype. The cartridge and the weapons where intended for hunting Elk and deer. I’ll come back to why S&W and Ruger made the first .44 Mags and how the load came to be created … but later.)
Samuel H. Walker was killed during October, 1847 during one of the battles of the Mexican-American War. He was thirty years old and may not have had the opportunity to fire one of his Walker Colts.
1855 Colt Revolving Rifle in .56
The development of the Walker and its subsequent success lead to changes in other Colt models. The Model 1855 revolving rifles and shotguns, those depicted in “Partners” had a much stronger frame with a “top-strap” or frame member over top of the cylinder and tolerances had been reduced so that less propulsion was lost between cylinder and barrel. They were generally accurate out to 100 yards and some to twice that distance. With very little adaptation to lock-screws and center pins cylinders could be pre-loaded and changed fairly quickly during action, although not as effective with shot loads as with the .44 or .56 caliber ball used in the rifle.
One of the bad men encountered near the start of Partners is carrying a Smith & Wesson. This would be the Model # 1 ½ or a “first issue revolver” in .32 rimfire. About 23 thousand where made from 1865 to ’68. S&W had purchased a patent for a “bored-through” cylinder which allowed them to be the first to sell cartridge firing hand-guns. They did not produce a “heavy” revolver until the Model No. 3 First Model Single Action of 1870 in .44 S&W American (centre fire) and a few in .44 Henry (rimfire).
S&W also sold a revolving rifle from 1879 to ’87. It was the Model 320 (in .320 S&W rifle caliber). However, due to the experience the public had with the Colt revolving long guns and some of the less than uplifting talk about the then 25 year old weapon the S&W 320 did not do particularly well and less than a thousand examples were produced.
One of the bad men has a “Springfield .56” which Frank simply fires over the lake to unload. This would be a U.S. Model 1861 Percussion Rifle or Musket made for the Federal Government by a variety of contractors some even made by Springfield Armory.  Thousands of this model rifle (and musket) were made and carried throughout North America and regardless of what might be stamped on the weapon – Alfred Jenks & Sons, William Mason, Remington, Savage or almost two dozen contractors – was usually called a Springfield.
S&W Model 1 1/2 Second Issue in .32
One of the partners and one of the bad men carry a “Spencer.” This would be two of 107,000 Spencers produced between 1863 and ’67. Those produced during the Civil War (and receiving an endorsement from President Lincoln) fired a .52 caliber rimfire cartridge, seven of which where held in a tube magazine in the stock and fed to the breach by a lever which also served as a trigger guard. Despite their hurried and mass production for use by Federal or Northern soldiers these weapons were very accurate and well regarded. As is the case even with today’s rifles where one is mystifying in its accuracy and the next supposedly identical weapon can’t be counted on to hit the wall of a barn from inside some of the Civil War Spencers supplied uncanny accuracy at distances only expected from weapons used for plains buffalo hunts.
Spencer Model 1860 carbine
In addition to his Spencer carbine Frank is also carrying, in a holster, a Colt Model 1860 Army Revolver. From 186 to ’73 more than 200 thousand were produced in .44 with either a 7 ½ or 8 inch barrel.
Colt 1860 Army Civilian Model .44
The one other firearm that comes to mind from the Partners novel is the Henry, or “Golden Boy” as it was sometimes called before the 1866 Winchester which also had a brass receiver, took over that name. The Henry is only mentioned once or twice (and not carried by a character) and appears on the front cover, so I’ll include a little information about it.
The Henry was developed from the Volcanic. The Volcanic was built for a .38 rimfire Smith & Wesson style cartridge. The Henry was built for a .44 caliber rimfire cartridge (24 grains of black powder) designed specifically for it. About 13 thousand were produced from 1860 to ’66 when Winchester (who owned the patents) produced the Model 1866. The Winchester was also made in .44 rimfire and about 170 thousand were made between 1866 and ’98.
While chasing down the man who murdered BC Police officer Jack Lawson the partners, now four in number have a variety of weapons but the action is confined to a variety of double barrel shotguns as was the case with the actual or historical chase. The bad guy, One Eared Charlie Brown uses a Manhattan .36 or “Navy Type” which  were made from 1859 – ’68 and had some similarities to both the Colt ’51 Navy and the Colt ’61 Navy.
That pretty well covers the weapons in Partners. The weapons in The Great Liquor War and Homesteader: Finding Sharon are naturally very different since the stories take place 20 years later and many changes where made in those years. Another decade passes before The Making of Jake McTavish and Cattle Business so there are many changes again. For example, by 1900 bolt action rifles where replacing lever actions in popularity and national defense ministries and their governments where learning that it was cheaper to issue good weapons to soldiers than to replace and retrain them when they were inadequately equipped.
More about the weapons in other novels later.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Last year and for hundreds of years

Below is a repeat of something I posted a year ago to honor (specifically) two remarkable and (generally) a few hundred thousand.
Since November 11th has only been "Remembrance Day" (under more than one name) since 1919 and the end of WWI we tend to think it only applies to those who lost their lives in the wars since that date.
I disagree!
It applies to all those who put themselves in danger for their fellow citizens (not for some fool who told them it was "their duty.") and most especially to those who did not survive. That is to say it applies to many "enemies" as well as "allies" and includes those who came back.
Remember that those who came back seldom did so in the same way they left. All were wounded in some manner either physically or mentally. That is why the figure from above (a few hundred thousand) should probably be changed to a few million.
Remembering war and death will do more than anything else to ensure it does not happen again. Paying attention to my last post might help to make it not happen again.
Having ranted for awhile, here is the post from lasts year.
On October 22, 2014 a man shot one of Canada’s soldiers who at the time stood guard over the memorial for those who have defended our country and way of life and whose sacrifice is otherwise not recorded. He was also representing those men and women who have died to maintain the country and the freedom its citizens enjoy. As a serving member of Canadian forces he also represented those who did serve, survived and returned to life as a citizen and part of the fabric of this great country.
Corporal Nathan Cirillo. If you are a Canadian he represented YOU.
Corporal Nathan Cirillo. If you live in a country where you have the opportunity to express your views, however small and fleeting or large and long-standing that opportunity may be, then he represented YOU.
Corporal Nathan Cirillo. An attack on him was an attack on civilization.
Kevin Vickers, Sergeant-at-Arms within the Canadian Parliament buildings shot the attacker and brought to a halt this atrocity.
In Canada we have some of the best armourers and security training personnel to be found anywhere in the world. We have people with the fortitude – the “parts” if you will – and training to handle any situation that they may face.
Therefore the fact that Mr. Vickers stopped the attack before it became a massacre does not particularly surprise me.
The fact that Mr. Vickers had the training necessary does not surprise me too much since he is old enough to have, perhaps, received proper training such as is not usually enjoyed by some entering the security professions in the last few years. Perhaps he has had time to privately and at his own expense augment whatever initial training he did receive.
What does surprise me is that with the illogical and antiquated attitude toward firearms that is usually broadcast by the Canadian media Mr. Vickers was not only allowed to carry a firearm it was actually loaded and useful. I do expect our politicians will continue to spread false, misleading and un-supported information about firearms because they see such statements bringing votes ... even though it is obvious some of their lives were saved by a man with a firearm who knew how to use it.
I do hope a few real people (those who actually contribute thereby assuring the country grows and prospers) remember this event the next time firearms are vilified.
But more important, remember Corporal Nathan Cirillo.
Remember Sergeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers.

The attacker? Forget him. He was either a fool who believed lies or he was unbalanced ... probably both. His only contribution was to provide a focal point to show how important real Canadians can be to each other and the continuation of the country.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Firearms with thought instead of what feels good.

There are statements made day in and day out about firearms that have nothing to do with reality. The "traditional" media (they are having trouble maintaining that title, but they still may) and politicians continue to make statements that may project a "warm fuzzy feeling" but have nothing to do with logic, truth or what is actually happening around the world. They continue to repeat these statements, that go right to the listeners heart because they improve rating and/or increase votes.
That isn't to say that some don't believe these statements; often they truly do but only because they haven't looked (never mind studied) the available information.
Which shouldn't actually be a reason or "good excuse." What are people who claim to be our "leaders" and those keeping us informed doing making statements that have not been properly researched?
Below is some information that has been researched and verified. This isn't the first time I've posted this information but apparently I have to keep doing it until it is read and repeated by others.

Firearm statistics from 2012
 In the US Guns are used 80 times more often to protect a life than to take one. This is comparing self defence against suicide, homicide and accident combined.

There are approximately 270 million privately owned firearms in the USA
Each year in the USA a gun is used about 200 thousand times by a woman to avoid sexual abuse.
3 out of 5 felons say they will not mess with an armed person.
 Gun ownership rate per 100 residents
USA            88.8
Yemen         54.8
Switzerland  45.7
Finland        45.3

Highest Homicide rates per 100 thousand residents

Honduras              91.6
El Salvador            69.2
Côte d'Ivoire         56.9
Jamaica                 52.2
The USA is way down this list at #103 with 4.8 per 100 thousand.

A recent study published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy concluded that there is a negative correlation between gun ownership and violent crime in countries internationally (more guns = less crime).

Nations with strict gun control laws have substantially higher murder rates than those who do not in general. In fact, the 9 European nations with the lowest gun ownership rate have a combined murder rate 3x that of the 9 European nations with the highest gun ownership rate!

In the UK where handgun ownership is illegal, there have been 2034 violent crimes per 100 thousand versus the USA where there were 466 violent crimes per 100 thousand during the same period.

An analysis of FBI crime statistics reveals that those states which have adopted conceal carry laws have reduced
Murders by 8.5%
Rapes by 5%
Aggravated assaults by 7%
Robberies by 3%

With few exceptions, most public mass shootings in the USA since 1950 have taken place where citizens are banned from carrying guns. Despite strict gun regulations, Europe has had 3 of the worst 6 school shootings.
 US Police                                      VS     US Armed Citizen
794,300                                             80,000,000 gun owning          
police officers13                                            citizens

11%  error rate                                                         2%error rate
14.3                                                            2.3 average deaths
avg. deaths of a shooting                           of a shooting rampage
rampage stopped by police
15                                                         stopped by citizens
606                                                             1,527
criminals killed each year                           criminals killed each year

In 1982, Kennesaw, Georgia passed a law requiring heads of households to keep at least one firearm in the house. The residential burglary rate subsequently dropped 89% in Kennesaw, compared to just 10.4% drop in Georgia as a whole

Today, the violent crime rate in Kennesaw is still 85% lower than Georgia's or the national average.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Press Release for GLW (2)

Strategic has finally sent out a press release for the re-release of my first novel from 1998 which now has the new look and a new source. It's in PDF and looks a bit different than what I'm posting here -- a picture of the book cover which is over to the right and a pic of me which also appears on the back of the book. What I'm posting here is just the text.
What do you think of it?

Contact: Ellen Green, Press Manager, Strategic Book Group -


Ex-Gold Miner Caught in Power Struggle in Exciting Western

In the 1880s, prospective gold miners flooded the
West trying to find the motherlode. Realizing that the
life of a miner isn’t as rewarding or romantic as he
expected, Hank James is ready to quit panning for
gold in British Columbia and look for other
When he hears a prizefight will be fought in town, he
attends, and with the help of the fight referee, wins big
betting on the bout. Hank takes his winnings and
heads for a new job, hauling freight with pack horses
for contractors building the transcontinental railroad.
As two opposing factions of the police fight for
control of the project, including the liquor sales, Hank
tries to steer clear of their turf war.
While the police are fighting their own battles, no one
is looking for the real crooks, particularly those
stealing Hank’s horses. Does he need to take the law
into his own hands? This action-packed Western really
“This Western hits all the right notes for fans of the popular genre. We are thrilled to announce
its release,” said Robert Fletcher, CEO of Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Agency.

Watch the video at:

About the Author: After a variety of work experiences, D.M. McGowan has
now returned to work as a commercial driver and lives near Mile “0” of the
world-famous Alaska Highway. His stories bring Canadian history to life. “I
believe in seeing morality and societal responsibility rewarded. Too much of
today’s fiction seems to lead into the dark instead of the light.”
Author websites: and

THE GREAT LIQUOR WAR (ISBN: 978-1-68181-085-0) is now available for $13.95 

and can be ordered through the publisher’s website: or at or
WHOLESALERS: This book is distributed by Ingram Books and other wholesale distributors.
Contact your representative with the ISBN for purchase. Wholesale purchase for retailers,
universities, libraries, and other organizations is also available through the publisher; please email
Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co, LLC

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A peek at Jake

“The Great Liquor War” is available once again and now we are working on “The Making of Jake McTavish”. It was going to be “Jake’s Justice” but there are at least two efforts out there with that title and one of them is a SF or perhaps fantasy which might upset a reader who got something he wasn’t expecting.
Perhaps another four weeks and you’ll be able to read about Jake and what happened to him after he ran away from home in Upper Canada.

Here is a little clipping from Chapter 6

Southern Manitoba, 1887

 It was May 16, 1887 when Egan and four other men rode up to the cabin. Jake had just finished having lunch and was on his way out, intending to ride around the cattle.
Jake was feeling cocky and proud of himself. Of the hundred and fifty cows he first started out with he still had one hundred and four. They had also increased their numbers with sixty-three calves, which was not a great rate of reproduction, but considering that the cows were all malnourished and many had wounds, it was a good number. Besides, other people Jake had talked with had lost far more. Some had lost most of their herds.
When the five men rode up Egan opened his mouth as if he was about to say something but the man riding beside him, the only one with a full beard, spoke first. “You get out of here saddle tramp, and be damn careful what you take with you. Everything here is mine.”
Jake hung his jacket on the saddle horn, turned slowly, jacked a round into his rifle and fired a round under the man’s horse. A dirt geyser peppered the horse’s belly slightly. The mount liked neither the blast nor the geyser, reared slightly and then bucked. By the time it hit the ground Jake had chambered another round and fired again. When Jake fired the third round the horse took off bucking across the prairie. The other four horses were backing, humping, and dancing. Jake’s mount, used to him shooting wolves, coyotes and wounded cattle turned his head to watch the antics of his equine brethren with some interest.
“Damn it, Jake,” Egan complained. “Settle down. I lost everything to him in a poker game. It’s his.”
Jake looked over to see if the other three riders were close enough to hear, then asked, “Everything? What about the pay you promised me? If I’m lookin’ fer a place t’ live, I’d say I’m in a bit of a pickle.”
“Now just settle down and keep quiet. I’ve a plan for that, but don’t interrupt. I expect it’ll take me a few minutes, now that you’ve upset Carter.”
They sat in silence for a few moments as the other men brought their mounts under control.
“As far as that goes, you could have had no place to live over the winter,” Egan pointed out.
“Now that’s true,” Jake admitted. “But I did a damn fine job on these cows an’ figure I deserve some recognition.”
“Well, you won’t get any from Hal Carter. As for me, I certainly appreciate it as I’ve already said. Not that your efforts will help me much now.
“My own fault. I know better than to gamble. I’m a good card player, but when I take chances, I lose. If I had followed my own rules I’d still own this herd.”
The other four riders returned with jumpy, snorting, head-shaking mounts. Jake still held a loaded rifle in his hands so they came up in such a way as to keep Egan between them and the wild man with the weapon.
“Now, Hal, you just take it easy for a minute,” Egan said. “Jake here has managed to make it through the winter with about three quarters of the animals he started out with and that’s a lot better than many have done.”
“Cattle ‘r damn thin,” Carter observed.
“They’re alive,” Jake said.
“That’s enough,” Egan said, glancing at Jake. “He’s right, though, they’re alive. I’ll get back to that in a minute.
“As for you owning everything, Hal, I put up the cattle and horses I own out here. That includes anything wearing an E C connected brand and most of the horses are wearing Bar 2. There are four horses here aren’t wearing either brand. Jake’ll be taking them when he leaves. And there are several other things around here that aren’t wearing those two brands I mentioned, like the food in the cabin.”
Egan paused, turned his gaze and unreadable expression from Hal to Jake, and then looked back at Hal. “What do you say you and your men take a look at the cattle and I’ll help Jake pack up?”
Hal chewed on the ends of his moustache for a moment and then nodded. He let his eyes flicker to the Winchester Jake still held under his arm, nodded again and said, “Reckon that sounds like a good idea.” He turned his mount away and the three other men followed.

 And here is a look at Tracy's work:
Check here out at 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Changing Plans, Driving, Braking, Waiting your turn.

Apparently my title “Jake’s Justice” is not a good idea since there are at least two others out there and may lead to confusion about my novel. The other two have nothing to do with Jake McTavish looking for justice for the rape and murder of his wife. Nor do they appear to be located in the North West Territories in the 1890s although I have read neither of them. Therefore we (I have a couple helping me including Tracy Wandling; looker her up on Google and try one of her services) have to come up with a new title.
More info to follow, such as what the title will be.
I’ve also been working on another new one, same local and era as Jake’s story and, so far, I’m calling that one “Cattle Business.”
A couple of ideas for a cover:

There is seldom a day goes by that I am not cut off by someone as I’m rolling along with a load of Diesel fuel or gasoline; certainly not less than once a week. Therefore I’m posting something I believe important for the health and welfare of all.

Semi-truck driver, Eric Boling Bracey, posted what he labeled as a public service announcement to his Facebook page.
His objective: To show people how difficult it is to stop a semi-truck and what fellow drivers on the road should or should not do when they encounter a large tractor-trailer.
According to Bracey, it takes 414 feet of road for a 10 foot, 44,000 pound semi-truck to come to a complete stop when traveling at 60 miles per hour.
“I’m telling you this so that the next time you’re on the road, on the express way, and you see a truck, don’t pull in front of it and hit your breaks. Because you could die.” Eric explains. “And I would have to live with the fact that I killed somebody.”
Eric also suggests that when a driver is coming off an exit ramp and a semi-truck is coming down the far right lane, either hit the gas or hit the brakes because a truck can’t move, but “you can.”

Remembering these important tips on the road will make the highways and byways safer places for cars and trucks alike.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Review of GLW from Cold Coffee Cafe

Cold Coffee Cafe has just posted their review of The Great Liquor War and I present it here/ The first part, that which appears under the cover picture is the press release . Following that is the review which includes a short excerpt. They also offer a connection to access but an even easier method is to click on the book covers to the right.

 Just Released!
The year is 1885. Hank James has been in Canada several months panning gold from a stream near Roswell, British Columbia. When he hears a prizefight will be held in town, he attends along with everyone for miles around. With a little help from the fight referee, he wins big betting on the fight. Having realized that the life of a miner isn't nearly as romantic or rewarding as he expected, and with advice from the policeman who helped him win money on the fight, Hank goes to Farwell to haul freight with pack horses for contractors building the transcontinental railroad.
The railroad's security, a detachment of North West Mounted Police, have maintained across the West that no liquor be allowed one mile on either side of the rail bed. Provincial authorities disagree. Hank James believes in honoring and repaying his debts, but that doesn't mean he should be involved in a war between the BC Provincial Police and the North West Mounted.
He and his partners have trouble enough running their freight business, they don't need to be caught between competing policemen. They are already stuck between Canada's transcontinental railroad people and the contractors doing the actual construction. While the police are fighting one another, who is looking for criminals, particularly those stealing Hank's horses? Despite a variety of jobs, D.M. McGowan now works as a commercial driver and lives near Mile "0" of the world-famous Alaska Highway.
His stories bring Canadian history to life. "I believe in seeing morality and societal responsibility rewarded. Too much of today's fiction seems to lead into the dark instead of the light."
Great Liqour War by D. M. McGowan is a western pioneering era saga that combines great story telling, true-to-life cowboy experience with US and Canadian history combined with legends from the 1800’s.
The main character Hank James was born in Canada and migrated south into the US with his family after the Civil War. Hank’s father headed towards Oregon in search of a farmstead while protecting his family from raids by outlaws and Indians. They made it as far as Kansas to find that the land was too dry to farm so pushed on to Oregon to find the land was too wet. With Mother Nature as their biggest obstacle and many mouths to feed young Hank James set out on his own. He settled down with his own gold mine claim near Rossland, British Columbia in 1984.
Hank wasn’t afraid of hard work, but he wanted more out of life than to eke out a living on his claim. With tenacity Hank took advantage of the Transcanada Railroad, found some partners and started his own freight business. Life should be good, but where there is industry, technology, commerce and economy, there are criminals.
In all my reviews I quote a passage so readers can get a feel for the authors writing style. I quote from page 37.
“It didn’t take a detective to know that the horse thief had played a little joke on the Provincial Police. Constable Art Hubbard was over six feet tall and probably ten pounds lighter than the one eighty mentioned in the description. Not only was he a long way from round, he was also clean shaven.
I gave Constable Hubbard my story, ending with the recovery of the bay gelding and the description I had from Miller. “An’ the fella called himself Art Hubbard,” I added.
The Constable’s expression didn’t change. He worked his chew around into one cheek and sent a stream of tobacco juice into the waste basket. “Feller with a sense o’ humor,” he noted, and then added. “It’ll be one ‘o Bulldog Kelley’s outfit. They work out o’ some of the illegal saloons t’ be found back in the bush. We catch one or two of ‘em every now an’ then, but we can’t get Kelley, an’ he’s the head o’ the snake. I can think of one or two that might fit your description, but not a one that had a full beard. An’ this fella’s probably shaved by now.”
I wrote out my story, signed it, and returned to work.”
Between the horse thieves, authority over liquor sales and a war between the BC Provincial Police and the North West Mounted Hank is he in over his head? Only time will tell if he makes the right choices and will he win the heart and loyalty of Sharon Dalton?
Saddle up your horse, holster your gun and join a rugged western cast of characters that will take you back to the reality and the legends of the Wild West.
Cold Coffee Press endorses Great Liqour War by D. M. McGowan for the nuggets of history told within a great story of human experience in the Wild West. This book was given to us in a PDF for review. This review was completed on August 11, 2015. For more information, please visit Cold Coffee Press.