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On the s[a]me day, May 26th, the families whose places remained
inhabitable and who lived near the barracks left for their homes ...
But there were many of us who were homeless and penniless, unable to
buy food even if food could be obtained. We were permitted to remain
where we were until something could be arranged for us. As
everything had been either carried away or destroyed, clothes had to
be replaced from what had been found or recovered by the scouting
parties and patrols. Webs of white cotton and colored print had been
left hanging on trees by the exultant Indians an[d] th[e]se were
washed and made up into garments by the refugees. The material was
sometimes startling in hue and hardly suitable for the uses to which
it had been put. Still we utilized it all gratefully and cheerfully.
Cheerfulness, indeed was the prevailing note that made our sojourn in the barracks bearable. The women seemed to realize that their sympathy and fortitude would help the men to hold out until reinforcements arrived. The men knew full well the danger their families faced and knew, too that all their possessions had been ruthlessly plundered, but they held on grimly to the routine. Brief periods of rest kept the monotony of confinement from becoming intolerable.
General Middleton’s next task as officer commanding the entire expedition [was] to continue in pursuit of Big Bear33 and to secure [the] release of the captives ... Big Bear had retreated to the north ... Further pursuit and renewed fighting now gave several of the captives34 a chance to escape. The two women, Mrs. Delaney35 and Mrs. Gowanlock,36 who had been prisoners since the Frog Lake massacre,37 were assisted by friendly half-breeds who, tiring of the losing fight managed to elude the Indian party by lagging behind. Attempting to circle back to Fort Pitt they were surprised by a scouting party. Indians and half-breeds were now submitting freely and white flags were often seen. The rank and file were disarmed and allowed to depart. Those implicated in the massacre were sent to Regina for trial. The dead on both sides were buried and the wounded taken down the river by the steamer “Alberta” to Battleford …
Still pursuing the rebel chief but unable to force an encounter, General Middleton re- organized the column ... After three weeks while the column were hunting through almost impassable muskeg country, word was brought into Fort Pitt that the Wood Crees had parted company with Big Bear’s Plains Crees38 and were coming in to surrender, bringing the remaining prisoners with them. It was the morning of June 22nd that they arrived in Fort Pitt …
Big Bear was finally run to earth by North West Mounted Police without serious resistance. A sergeant and eleven constables of this column affected the arrest of this rebel chief, his young son and eleven councilors. Big Bear was badly shaken by the long flight and immediately disavowed any share in the massacre. It was against his instructions, he insisted,39 that the white men had been killed by young braves whom he could not control. Immediately after General Middleton had interviewed Big Bear that chief with his councilors were sent to Regina to join Poundmaker and his aides.
Meanwhile back in Battleford, one evening in June the steamer “Baroness” arrived from Fort Pitt with the widows from Frog Lake massacre, Mrs. Delaney and Mrs. Gowanlock, aboard. Being friends of ours they received a heartfelt welcome, and shared our accommodations at the barrackes for two weeks while waiting for the government to arrange their transportation to their former homes in Ontario.
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University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. 2006. E-mail me