Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Touchwood Hills

Though not as well known as the Cypress Hills, the Touchwood Hills in Saskatchewan are another height of land left by the glacier as it receded. The Touchwood Hills are the point of land at which Henry Kelsey, the great overland explorer, turned back east after his epic travel (1690-1692), a century before any other white man visited the area. There is a cairn to mark his furthest point of exploration. I grew up in the Touchwood Hills. Our little town became sequestered from the Muskowekwan Reserve when the Grand Trunk Railway was built and a depot was needed. The original land treaty was signed by the Cree Chief Muscowequan in 1874 at Fort Qu'Appelle with the other Chiefs of Little and Big Touchwood Hills! Ken Edwards and I, both of us from town, played midget hockey with the Indian team from the Oblate Fathers Mission school. The Cree Nation boys from the Muskowekwan reserve welcomed the two of us and we felt part of things! We never felt white when we were there. There is nothing like sport, to unite young men. We were a good team, but we only had two forward lines and two defense men. We must have been in good shape. The outdoor rink we practiced on was at the Mission and the roads were not good in the winter. A farmer, Lyle Reichert, used to take us out to practice, on the back of his tractor, in November. He went to "the coast" after November for the winter. He told us it didn't snow in Burnaby. I remember thinking about Burnaby as we bucked through the drifts and the wind and driving snow whistled by our cheeks as we stood behind him on the tractor, holding onto the tractor seat for dear life. One day, I said to myself, I will go to Burnaby!

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