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Old Timers, Old Tete Jaune Cache, and Small Frye Makes a Choice
Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 00:00 Leonard Lea Frazer
Old Timers - (from August 18, 1976 – Robson Valley Courier)
I'll just mention a few of the real industrious ones (and of course old timers include some exciting characters).
We shall start with Dave Henry. A lot of you know him or about him and what he did to open up this country and also what he did for the North Thompson Valley. He and Fulton Alexander McKirdy came up the Canoe Valley in a scow from Revelstoke as far as they could, then took to the woods along the Canoe River and at last made their way to Old Cranberry Lake (now Valemount). Here is where they could again take to the water and so they made a canoe and came down the McLennon to the Fraser at old Tete Jaune, then on down to McBride. But, as they did not like the rough country, they again took off on foot back to Tete Jaune, then up the Fraser (there was no railway then). They went as far as Henry House (out of Jasper). Here they stocked up with food and headed back to Cranberry Lake, and again took off down the Canoe river again in a home made canoe, landing at Boat Encampment and then on back to Revelstoke. Here Dave Henry went on foot, most of the way, to Rollete County, North Dakota. Fulton McKirdy stayed at Revelstoke for a while and then went back to Cranberry Lake, where he settled on a piece of land and stayed there.
From what I can gather Dave got a lot of the ranchers in Rollete wildly interested in the vast possibilities of homesteading in the Rocky Mountains, telling them of all the game to be had for the taking and the rich land for farming. That is where he ran into my Dad (Fred Frye) and he talked him into coming back with him to have another look at the rich country. So Dad and Dave, with my grandfather, Bronson, saddled up horses and made the trip up to Tete Jaune by way of the Yellowhead Pass and from there on through what is now called Valemount. Following the 89'ers path to Albreda, here they were enthralled by the beauty of the valley and mountains. They stopped there for awhile. When they started running out of grub, they had to head back.
Now, as it took the best part of two days to get to Tete Jaune, where they could get food, they shot and ate one of the horses, then got grub at Tete Jaune and traveled back (to Rollete) and organized some five families and made up a wagon train of thirty wagons, and slowly moved up to the virgin country, taking six years to do so. This is the people who brought the first cattle down to McBride on scows from Tete Jaune to be butchered for the construction crews working on the new railway (Grand Trunk Pacific).
Old Tete Jaune Cache - (from September 7, 1977 – Robson Valley Courier)
Tete Jaune, Or Mile 49 as it was known, was on the right of way surveyed in 1910. That was some 66 years ago. What a change in such a short period of time!
Sadie (Mike’s Wife) and I just had the pleasure of being invited to attend the long waited opening of the new Tete Jaune Community Hall. And what a grand opening and what a lovely crowd of sociable people and what food and drink! I'll tell you, it was a very festive time.
This brought to my mind all of the past memories that I have of Tete Jaune. I felt very bad that not many of the real old timers were there. Some gone to pioneer in other places, such as Heaven, and possibly some went the other way and are busy contracting the shovelling of coal and such.
Now, as my grand old grandfather, Bronson, told to me, and I shall try to put in writing for you to meditate on… he and my Dad saw Tete Jaune (though at the time it had no name) after the '89ers came through and they made their way up from North Dakota by pack horse and fought their way through the Yellowhead Pass and on to Tete Jaune. They travelled from there, on through to Cranberry Lake (now Valemount) and then on to Albreda, the summit between Thompson and Canoe Rivers.
Here they thought they had found their utopia at last. Beaver, mink, and muskrat abounded in a river (Camp Creek, now called Summit River) and they stopped here, enjoying the scenery, surrounded by magnificent mountains on both sides. An outstanding glacier, Albreda Glacier, seemed to guard the entire valley and there was game all over (deer, bear, mountain goat, and, at that time, elk).
After filling up on good deer meat and fish they decided to return to North Dakota and sell all their holdings (a huge cattle ranch they owned there), and move up into this glorious country.
On their return Trip, they had to kill and eat one of the horses at Tete Jaune but made it back where they soon had the place sold and, as far as I can understand, in 1906 they were on their way back, bag and baggage by a large train of covered wagons. Their stock included pigs and chickens in crates, and cattle that was driven behind. Kids, women and all lived right in the wagons fighting their way north. Building their own roads as they came, they reached Tete Jaune in 1911, September 22. There, they stopped and my mother gave birth to Yours Truly on the south shore of the Fraser. The next morning she made breakfast for her crew and started for Albreda. (Here I shall have to bring in a bit of humour). It is said that in the morning they looked for the new born child but he had crawled out of his crib (an empty apple box) and got mixed up with the Indian kids and all of them were so dirty that mom could not tell which one was her kid and so just picked up the first one she came to and put it in the crib (wooden apple box) alongside her on the wagon.
So, it is possible that Small Frye is a Blackfoot Indian. That is the way I first saw Tete Jaune.
Small Frye makes a Choice - (from June 30,1976 – Robson Valley Courier)
Just what would you do if you had to decide to save a life, say, either between your own brother, and someone else's life?
Well, I had to. It goes back a long way, I think it was around 1922, or near there. It was a very cold winter, and I am sure the thermometer was down to around thirty below or worse, but this did not stop us hardy souls from going on a bender, and when we went on a bender in those days, that is just what we did.
As I have mentioned in some of my articles, my folk had immigrated to Canada from Rollete, North Dakota, by covered wagon, most of the way, cutting their own road as they came, stopping in the winter any place that winter caught them, and in some places building shelters for themselves and the stock.
I guess there were about thirty wagons in all, including two other families and their stock.
I think I mentioned that I was born on the way in a covered wagon as they reached Tete Jaune, in 1911 in the late fall, with around thirty more miles to go. They were building road as they went, and still had to build a house or houses for themselves and barns for the stock when they reached their destination, so they only stopped long enough for Mom to give birth and then continued on the go next morning.
She drove the big Concord wagon with the blacksmith shop, plough, and other tools, and in an apple box rode the newborn along side her to supervise her driving and, later on the way, her wagon upset. The baby, still in the box, landed along side her, right side up, but a bit shook up.
We landed at Albreda, a beautiful spot in the Rocky Mountains, and faced by the outstanding Albreda Glacier. I can remember as the old sun beat down on us in the summer we would always welcome a fresh cool breeze from the glacier.
We all grew up in the new country as rough as the wilderness that surrounded us. None of us young kids had ever seen a train till two years after we reached Albreda. None of us went anyplace very far from our primitive home, but soon learned to raise as much mischief as we could.
Of course, all us kids went to any party that was going on and enjoyed ourselves as much as we could.
At the time I mentioned (1922) we had a small general store at Albreda station. We had a fair sized hall to celebrate any special occasion, and there, in that lonely village, anything to make a special occasion was done. That day, we were going to celebrate getting a school in our community; this meant Pete Stewart's store, and that night it was all stag, no women allowed. In other words, it was a drinking party. Us kids had learned about these parties early in life, so some of us boys sneaked into the party and got the odd drink. But, my older brother got so high and lost control of his feet and passed out on us.
Now, as the night wore on, we all got tired and begun to think of calling it off for the night, but we had no way to get the ones home that had passed out on us. So, I told the Section Foreman and he said he would haul us all home in a handcar. We tried to load them onto the handcar, but we found they would roll off, so he decided to hook the flat car on behind the handcar. This was a car that ran on the railway behind the handcar to haul tools and ties.
There were three of them that had lost their feet (intoxicated) so we loaded them on, and, as us kids could run near as fast as they could go with the hand car, we ran home about one mile from the store. We got there ahead of the Section Foreman and the handcar, as they were all drunk and the car was off the rails as much as it was on. When they did get to our house alongside the railway, they brought one fellow in, but he was not our brother, at all. At once, I got worried about Charlie and knew he must have fallen off on his way down, so I grabbed a fusie from the handcar and ran back up the tracks. Why I grabbed the fusie, I don't know. A fusie is a torch that you strike with a flint and it bursts into a red flame and burns for half an hour. On the end of it is a spike that was to be driven into the dirt or tie to signal any train coming along, and it was an order to stop at once.
Halfway back, I could see two people laying on the tracks sound asleep. As I passed the first one, I could see it was not my brother, so I tore the fusie out of my pocket and just as I lit it I heard the train whistle. Horror of horrors, it was the silk train, and really coming! I knew I didn't have time to get them both off the track. Which one would I pull off? I took a heave at the first one and found he was more than I could drag off over the rails, but my brother was a lot lighter so I ran on and got him off and down over the grade, too scared to look back. I was sure the other poor fellow had gotten smashed under the fast train. I heard the brakes howl and squeal and the old motor pounding in reverse. It was a nightmare! I covered my head in my poor brother's shirt and just lay there, shaking with fright, till someone came down the bank and told me it was alright. By now I was crying, but I was sure glad Charlie was alright. The train men helped me get him on the caboose (that was the last car on any train, where the brakeman stayed while enroute). They then backed the train up to near our home and helped me get him into the house. They all knew us and knew right where our house was alongside the railway. They don't do that now, though; times have changed.
This taught me a lesson. Never indulge in alcohol. It was a good thing for me that I was too young at the time to do any drinking, but my poor brother had nearly gotten smashed by that fast train, and if I had failed to get that fusie lit, it would have been curtains for them both, and possibly myself, as I was running and didn't look back at the fast moving train.
So again, it sure proves that drinking does not pay in any man's books.
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