"On the 11th we set off for Athabasca Landing, accompanied by a
little fleet of trippers' and traders' canoes, and passed during the
day immense banks of shale, the tracking being very bad and the water
still high. We noted much good timber standing on heavy soil, and on the
14th passed a curious hump-like hill, cut-faced, with a reddish and yellow
cinder-like look, as if it had been calcined by underlying fires. Near it
was an exposure of deep coloured ochre, and, farther on, enormous black
cut-banks, also suggestive of coal.|
The Calling River - 'Kitoósepe' - was one of our points of
distribution, and upon reaching it we found the river benches covered with
tepees, and a crowd of half-breeds from Calling Lake awaiting us. After
the declarations and scrip payments were concluded, we took stock of the
surroundings, which consisted, so far as numbers went, mainly of dogs.
There was an adjunct of the half-breed camp, however, more interesting
than the dogs, namely, Marie Rose Gladu, a half-sister of the Catherine
Bisson we met at Lesser Slave Lake, but who declared herself to be older
than she by five years. From evidence received she proved to be very old,
certainly over a hundred, and perhaps the oldest woman in Northern Canada.
She was born at Lesser Slave Lake, and remembered the wars of her people
with the Blackfeet, and the 'dancing' of captured scalps. She
remembered the buffalo as plentiful at Calling Lake; that it was then a
mixed country, and that their supplies in those old days were brought in
by way of Isle a la Crosse, Beaver River, and Lac la Biche, as well as by
Methy Portage. After our long talk through an interpreter she readily
consented to be photographed with me, and, seating ourselves on the grass
together, she grasped my hand and disposed herself in a jaunty way so as
to look her very best."
Reprinted from Through the Mackenzie Basin: An Account of
the Signing of Treaty No. 8 and the Scrip Commission, 1899 by Charles Mair.