John Rowand was
chief factor at Fort Edmonton from 1826 until his death
in 1854. He was nicknamed "One-Pound-One" by his employees
because of a limp, as well as "Big Mountain" by the Cree,
who considered him fierce, larger-than-life, egotistical yet likable with both a fiery temper and good
life at the fort was filled with hard work and trade, but
on special occasions, such as Christmas, grand celebrations and feasts were
held, where dishes such as beaver tail, moose nose and buffalo meat were heartily enjoyed.
Dancing, like everyday life, was a cross-cultural experience, as artist
and explorer Paul Kane discovered in 1847:
. . . having led her into the centre of the room,
I danced round her with all the agility I was capable of exhibiting, to
some highland-reel tune which the fiddler played with great vigour, whilst
my partner with grave face kept jumping up and down, both feet off the
ground at once . . .
Religious observances perhaps received less attention on such occasions,
at least in the opinion of Robert Rundle. On Christmas day, 1843, the
missionary noted in his diary, "Xmas Day. Read prayers in forenoon but only 2
present except my own boys. The Scotch do not keep Feast Days."
Fur Trade Christmas, Part 1: The Groaning Table
Fur Trade Christmas. Part 2: Dances and the Kissing Line
Fur Trade New Year Begins with a Drink of Old Man's Milk
Robert Rundle »
Thomas Woolsey »
George McDougall »
Dolphin, Ric. "Pass
the rum and moose nose, please Mr. Rowand." Edmonton Journal. Dec.
Rundle, Robert Terrill. Edited by Hugh A. Dempsey. The Rundle Journals,
1840-1848. Calgary: Alberta Records Publications Board, Historical
Society of Alberta and Glenbow-Alberta Institute, 1977.