The Beaver Pelts

By Linda C Butler

Allen Vance, (1879-1921) my grandfather, arrived in the Northwest Territories (Saskatchewan) in the fall of 1899 with his father.  He was only twenty at the time and had to wait two months to file for a homestead. They selected lands near the Cut Arm Creek close to Spy Hill SK and built a log cabin.

Allen married my Grandmother, Emily Priscilla Turner in 1907.  He was granted the title to his homestead in 1908 and they had six children.  Allen had a reputation as being a good hunter and trapper.  His trapping income supplemented the meager existence they made from early prairie farming and his hunting skills kept them in fresh meat.

There were game guardians who patrolled vast areas of Saskatchewan at the turn of the century but in the rural communities, strangers were regarded with suspicion.

Steve Vance recalled this story:

One morning the telephone rang and it was Mr. Painter from the country store in Tentallon.  He told Dad that a game guardian had enquired about the road to Al Vance’s place and he suggested that Dad get rid of any beaver pelts that he had trapped after the season closed.  In those days the local storekeeper purchased furs from trappers, so he had an interest in ensuring that Dad was not fined.

Dad ran out to the shed and came back with the beaver hides and deposited them face down on the ground near the woodpile.  We had recently sawed a pile of wood and Dad took his axe and started chopping firewood as fast as he could while Charlie and I piled the blocks of wood on top of the hides.

In those days roads were poor and it was a couple hours later when the game wardens arrived and by that time Dad was back in the house enjoying a cup of coffee.  There was about a cord of wood piled on top of the beaver skins and Charlie and I were the only ones puttering around the woodpile.

The wardens questioned Dad and searched the entire farm but they never looked under the woodpile. The hiding place was secure.
© Linda C Butler 2013


About Linda C Butler

I write pioneer stories from the Herb Lake Ghost Town in Manitoba. Please do not re-blog this material or re-publish without my permission.
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