by Olive Holloway
My father was a tinsmith in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba. When I was 5 years old, he decided that he was not going to work in the city anymore. The local newspapers were full of “Go West, Young Men”, which may have influenced him. My father went on ahead to Swan River, Manitoba and built a small log cabin in the country. In those days, the log cabins were built with a special axe, and split in such a way that they looked like boards on the outside. The cabin had paper partitions dividing the rooms on the inside.
Some time later, we came out on the train to join my Dad.
After we had been on the farm for several months, my father asked some Indians who lived nearby to find him a matched team, perfect in size and colour.
Sometime later, there was a knock on the door and I rushed to open it, thinking a neighbour had come to visit. I opened the door and there was a beautiful black team held by two huge Indians in buffalo robes. I took one look, turned around and rushed through the paper partition, landing on my parents’ bed, and leaving a huge gap behind me.
The Indians were very distressed at my reaction and told my mother through sign language and broken English that they wanted me to know they would not hurt me or anyone else. They were such good neighbours and were always ready to put themselves out to help others.
I still feel the same fear and surprise whenever I think of that incident so many years later.