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The naming of Southesk River

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The Southesk River flows into the Brazeau River, about 90 kilometres southeast of Jasper.

According to historian Merrily Aubrey, the river was named in 1907 after one of Alberta's earliest and most eccentric travellers, James Carnegie, the ninth Earl of Southesk.

In the spring of 1859, Carnegie, at the ripe old age of 32, left England for Rupert's Land in British North America, in an attempt to help his ailing health.

He wasn't feeling very well, so I guess he thought there's nothing like a vigorous jaunt in the Rocky Mountains, through uncharted territory, to build-up the strength.

He was a literate person and he spent his evenings, after a long day on the trail, reading Shakespeare and writing in his journal.

Carnegie was not known for travelling light. His entourage included trained guides, trackers, horses, dogs and guns.

And he also employed an Iroquois cook, Toma, for whom Carnegie had much regard. Toma had also done some work for Sir George Simpson as well.

He was especially appreciated for his mastery in making Saskatoon jelly.

Carnegie did not leave home without some other creature comforts, including a portable table and camp stool, and his India Rubber Bath.

During that summer in 1859, the Earl of Southesk travelled in the same vicinity as the Palliser Expedition, but his troop never actually met-up with the famous crew of explorers.

After the extensive exploration of the Rockies and foothills areas, his party returned to Fort Edmonton on October 12. And it is here that he drafted "Saskatchewan and the Rocky Mountains," describing his travels along the mighty river to the mountains.

However, it was another sixteen years before Carnegie, the ninth Earl of Southesk, published his travelogue.

And, as for his ailing health, the rugged adventure through the wild west must have been just the cure he needed, because he lived another 46 years.

On the Heritage Trail, I'm Cheryl Croucher.


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