By Jim Blanchard
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Extra resources for A Thousand Miles of Prairie: The Manitoba Historical Society and the History of Western Canada
It was now about midnight, but we crossed the river by an extra dollar to the ferryman, and, to Ritchie's -43 — GILBERT McMICKEN message sent into the sergeant, he promptly responded. He told me he knew Major Watson, who was in command of the Fenians; that he came upon them on his way in at Old Crossing where they were encamped for the night. He ridiculed the movement to Watson and laughed at their meagre force. Watson said it would be all right at Fort Garry, that O'Donnahoe and the whole native population would be ready to greet their arrival, and their ranks would be filled up at Pembina.
His success there and the contacts he formed made him finally decide to give up homesteading and leave Manitoba for good. In his later years he became an international figure because of his illustrations and writings, and because of the Woodcraft movement he founded to teach boys about outdoor life. In this charming piece about prairie chickens, we are given a glimpse of the great naturalist at the beginning of his writing career, a young homesteader observing and noting his impressions in that sympathetic and clear style that would make him beloved of readers all over the world.
But he had other work to do as 1. Carl Betke, "Gilbert McMicken," Dictionary of Canadian Biography (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1965-). — 34 — The Abortive Fenian Raid on Manitoba well, watching the Fenians believed to be preparing an invasion of Manitoba. B. O'Donoghue [whom McMicken calls "O'Donnabue"], a former member of Riel's Provisional Government, and the same John O'Neill ["O'Neil" in McMicken's account] who had fought at the Battle of Ridgeway. 4 McMicken, however, portrays Riel as a traitor, "haranguing" his followers and offering to help Lieutenant-Governor Archibald only after the Fenians were arrested by the American army.
A Thousand Miles of Prairie: The Manitoba Historical Society and the History of Western Canada by Jim Blanchard