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Bruce Peel Special Collections Life, Events, and Players in the North-West Series
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NWMP & the Liquor Question

Approximately twenty (20) items regarding the regulation of liquor in the North West Territories of Canada in the late 1880s and early 1900s. The difficulties faced by the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) in enforcing the unpopular permit-based liquor laws of the time are given particular attention.

North-West Mounted Police

Rev. John Smithurst Correspondence

The bulk of this collection of correspondence was written between 1838 and 1862, and addressed to Reverend John Smithurst, “Indian Settlement, Red River, North America.” The “Indian Settlement” was the home of Chief Peguis and his people, the Saulteaux, located at Netley Creek, a branch of the Red River south of Lake Winnipeg. Following his resignation in 1851, Rev. Smithurst immigrated to Canada West and settled in Elora and then Minto in what is now Ontario.

Rev. Smithurst was an Anglican missionary sent by the Church Missionary Society from England to Rupert’s Land to convert the First Nations and Metis peoples of the area known broadly as the Red River Settlement; modern-day Winnipeg, Manitoba encompasses many sites that made up the settlement. Ministering to the “Indians” and “Half-Breeds,” Rev. Smithurst was one of the handful of missionaries west of Canada during a period of social and political unrest, economic upheaval, starvation, disease, racism and classism. Rev. Smithurst was in contact with many influential people of the time, including Henry Budd and James Settee, the first Indigenous men to be ordained by the Anglican church in North America; Reverend William Cockran; Reverend Ezekiel Gilbert Gear, chaplain at Fort Snelling in modern-day Minnesota; Reverend William Mason, Rossville Mission Press printer; David Anderson, first bishop of Rupert’s Land; and Duncan Finlayson, governor of Assiniboia.

In the correspondence within this collection, missionaries privately share personal frustrations with their efforts to “civilize” and convert Indigenous peoples, while struggling to survive the landscape and navigate social conflicts.

Acquired with Rev. Smithurst's letters, and included here, are several miscellaneous letters, as well as correspondence for the Reverend C.E. Thomson, who succeeded Rev. Smithurst at the Elora parish, and correspondence for the Reverend Adam Townley, step-father to Rev. Thomson. Correspondents include: John Strachan, first bishop of Toronto; Alexander Neil Bethune, second bishop of Toronto; F.D. Fauquier, first bishop of Algoma; and George Whitaker, first provost of Trinity College in Toronto.

Fort Chipewyan Photographs and HBC Journal

The photographic archive comes from Louise Rourke’s working papers used to illustrate her book “Land of the Frozen Tide,” published in London, 1928. Photographs are mounted on paper, many with typed captions. Some are mocked up with borders and decoration, or are marked up to silhouette individuals. Various notations in ink and pencil appear on most items. Most photographs are of Fort Chipewyan, Lake Athabasca, and Fond-du-Lac, SK. There are many photographs of boats on Lake Athabasca. Of note are two photographs accompanied by newspaper clippings.

  • Photograph of John Hornby in front of a cabin. Photograph is accompanied by an undated newspaper clipping describing the tragic discovery of Mr. Hornby, dead by starvation.
  • Photograph of two men captioned as the "factor" and "Mr. Mercredi, local boatbuilder." Accompanied by photograph clipped from a 1996 newspaper, captioned “Assembly of First Nations chief Ovide Mercredi looks toward aboriginal Korean War veteran Leon Fontaine from Manitoba Monday in Ottawa.”

Also included is an unpublished Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading post journal. Contains daily manuscript entries written by Louise Rourke's first husband, accountant Douglas Musgrave Rourke, who worked at Ft. Chipewyan. Entries are from between January 1, 1926 and January 7, 1927. The entries are preceded by a page of comments probably written by Louise Rourke. A carbon typescript biography of Louise Rourke and her second husband, Alwyn H.B. Dawson, is included as a loose sheet of paper.

Rourke, Louise

T. A. Patrick Letters & Correspondence

An archive of 52 interesting and significant letters by Thomas “Alf” Patrick and his wife Marion (1889-1904). Almost all letters come with their original stamped mailing envelopes (49 envelopes in total). 44 letters are by Thomas and 8 by Marion.
Most of the letters are handwritten and signed, ranging from a single page up to five pages, often closely written. 3 are typed and signed.
In the case of letters by Thomas Patrick, many of the letters to his wife are almost in diary form recording events as they happened [often mailed from Regina]. Some letters are written when Patrick was physically sitting in the Legislative Chambers waiting for events to unfold there. These are usually on embossed North West Territory Legislative stationery.
Three themes run through the archive:

  • Significant political matters and events surrounding the period when Patrick served in the North West Territories Legislature
  • Historical events on the Prairies
  • Issues relating to a lack of infrastructure and a changing societal and political landscape due to heavy immigration into the
    Prairies.
  • Life on the Prairies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries
  • The close personal relationship and related family matters between two early pioneers in Saskatchewan
    Topics covered include: medical, legislative matters, Indians and half-breeds, railway events, life in Saltcoats and Regina, Saskatchewan, land investments, illnesses on the prairies, people (Clifford Sifton and Frederick Haultain) and related topics, immigration, Mennonites, Hungarians, Doukhobors, infrastructure, visiting patients, and much more.

Patrick, Thomas Alfred