Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - October 13, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta
Wodneidoy, October 13, 1971 THE tETHBRIDGE HERA1D 5 Iialtie I. Chester When oxen delivered the groceries pAUL F. SHARP, in his book "Whoop-Up Country" recounts the following from the comment of an observer: "Some distance away, it must have been at least five miles, we could hear the sound of voices, ever and anon raised in a hoarse shout. At. first we could sec nothing. Then from a large coppice, or clump of trees, we saw emerge some toiling, plodding oxen. We could see them plainly llirough our field glasses, swinging along in that peculiar gait of the bovine. As they walked, the dust drifted from their plod- ding hoofs in little clouds. Team after team came into view, until there was nearly a half mile of them stretched out." So was pictured the bull- train, a feature of western Ca- nadian life that has appealed to the imagination of many. It was necessary to the economic life of this bare land in the early days before tire railroad came. Lacking industries, ex- cept coal-mining and ranch- ing, the southern Alberta area had to get from other areas the supplies needed to sustain life and develop the country. Most of the necessities of life in the Mounted Police posts and min- ing and ranching settlements had to be freighted in by those plodding beasts. It must have created quite a stir in the set- tlement when the shouts and the creaking of wagons her- alded the approach of the train that had travelled two hun- dred and forty miles across the empty prairie from Fort Ben- ton to the southern Alberta out- posts. The bulltrains were usually comprised of eight to ten "teams." A team consisted of three heavy five-foot gauge wagons, "1 e a and and had ten to twelve yokes of oxen to pull each team. The oxen were harness- ed by heavy wooden yokes that passed over the necks of two oxen, hence a "yoke'1 of oxen. Chains from the yokes lu'tched the oxen to the wagons. The wheel oxen were first driven into place, then the next pair, the first and after that the first, second and third "swings." The wagons were hitched in tandem in threes, the tongue of the rear wagon run under the bed of the wagon ahead and secured by heavy chains. The loads were heavy, each wagon carrying from to pounds of cargo; often as much as pounds of freight was brought in by a train. The cargo consisted of whiskey, tobacco, salt pork and bacon, and other staples of pio- neer times, as well as cloth- ing, blankets, weapons, tools, and other merchandise needed in the settlements. It is said that one train arrived at a set- tlement with forty barrels of whiskey and one barrel of flour. A bystander was heard to remark, "What in h----- do they want with all that On the return trip the wagons were loaded with hides and after Sheran's coal mines at Coalbanks, (now Lethbridge) began producing coal, it was carried by the wagons to Fort Benton. The bullwhackcrs, as the drivers were called, were some of the most colorful of plains characters. Inured to the hardships of their rough life, they plodded beside their teams along the weary miles, slept on the ground without comforts, tormented by in- numerable mosquitoes and oth- er insects, their eyes smarting from the smudge smoke, lips cracked and painful from alka- li, and subsisting on a monot- onous diet of sowbelly, beans, and trail bread, spread with prairie butter (grease mixed with with an occasional treat of dried apples or tinned peaches for dessert. The bulhvh.icker walked on the left side of the oxen, guid- ing them by shouts of (turn (turn (stop.) Other commands to gel the loam moving were, "Catch up! Stretch All commands were accompanied by ing epithets and oaths, and the cracking thunder of the Lull whip. A driver who lacked a rich vocabulary of expletives, foul and profane, was helpless against the sluggish ox, be- cause the molion of whip and oaths, Paul F. Sharp says, "had lo be as skilfully co-or- dinafcd as a symphony and as unyielding as slccl." Soon after the Indians had become fam- iliar with Ihc trains, they be- gan to call the oxen "wohaws" and the wagons "goddams." The bull whip used by the drivers cost a dollar or two. It. had a short hickory handle, alMtut two feet long, a braided lash, twelve to fwonly feet long and a hurki-kin p.tppcr. An ex- port bullwhackcr could knock a Cy olt tho cor of an ox twenty feet away without injuring the animal. The bullwhackcr never injured an animal with the whip; the oxen were far too valuable, and the whip wielder far too accomplished at his trade. He could pop the whip exactly where he wanted it, at the ear of any beast in the string. Tile whip was some- times used too, in fights with other drivers. lie could cut the eyes out of lu's adversary's face, or slash him to helpless pulp, if the man didn't close in where the force of the whip couldn't be used. The train was in the charge of a train boss, an expert bull- whacker, whose vocabulary had to excell that of the best, and, who could, as well, com- mand men. Under him was a second in command usually called a lieutenant. Sometimes the boss rode on horseback, back and forth along the train. Progress of the train was slow, an average of twelve miles a day being considered a fair rate, and fifteen to twenty days were required to make the journey from Fort Benton to Fort Macleod. Time had to be given at halts for the oxen to graze along the trail, since hay or feed was seldom car- ried, though barrels of water were loaded, for the oxen need- ed plenty of water to do this heavy work, and water was not available at all points along the way. Little was done by the gov- ernment toward upkeep of the trail. There were no military posts on the route that might have secured a federal grant for road building. Luckily the country it traversed was main- ly flat. Out of Fort Benton the trail followed the Teton River to Whoop-Up Crossing. It then stretched out across the prai- rie, past Pen D'Oreille Springs and across Yeast Flat. It cross- ed the Marias River near old Fort Conrad, where there was a small trading post. Beyond the Marias, the wagons cross- ed 18-Mile Coulee, then across a wide stretch of alkali known as Big Alkali Flat. Near mod- ern Sweetgrass was Rocky Springs where three separate springs flowed together into a You were right, it didn't pollute the environment it only eliminated it. Tax proposals threaten co-ops is a fundamental difference between a co- operative and a privately-owned enterprise: the co-operative principle means that rnember- patron." share earnings accord- ing to the extent of their pa- tronage of their own business, but in the private corporation, earnings are paid out to share- holders who may or may not have the slightest interest in the corporation in which they invest, beyond the collection of dividends on their shares. The member of a co-opera- tive, on the other hand, has in- terests in common with his fel- low members. They set up their co-ops to provide them- selves with goods and services at cost; they do not expect any return on whatever they have invested in their own business. They agree at tile outset that the equity tlwy build up in their co-op is not the same as shares in a privately owned company, in the sense that they will not receive interest on this type of investment. Their gains, rath- er, will be directly related lo the extent to which they pa- tronize their own business, and these will accrue to them in the form of refunds on their purchases from their own busi- ness. That principle is basic to the existence of a co-operative, and UK findings of countless com- missions and investigations in Canada and in other countries have shown on many occasions that the principle is as sound, applied to the present-day co- operative, as it was when the movement first got under way. It is hardly necessary to re- mind our readers that co-oper- atives, operating under that same principle (as they must) have made and arc still mak- ing an incalculable contribution to the building up of Canada, particularly the Prairie region. The great producer co-ops, the western wheat pools, were re- sponsible for bringing about a revolution in the grain business in the early 1920s a revolu- tion that brought farmers a measure of economic justice they had never known before. If happened because farmers decided they must run their own show, and the obvious way to achieve tills was through co- The Western Producer operation again operating on the principle that a member benefit, not according to how much money he had in- vested in his co-op, but how much he used it. It is almost unbelievable that any intelligent person should fail to recognize that that fund- amental principle is basic to the success of any co-operative enterprise. To abandon the principle would in fact, be to destroy the co-operative move- ment as we know it. And that would be precisely the effect of Fianace Minister Edgar Ben- son's new tax proposal con- cerning co-operatives, should that particular feature of the tax reform legislation be ac- cepted and passed by Parlia- ment. The proposal we refer to would shift the emphasis to payment of dividends on capi- tal, rather than on patronage. The present system of taxing co-operatives on the basis of three per cent of capital em- ployed would be changed to five per cent of capital em- ployed; tire formula for calcu- lating capital employed would be changed in such a way as to greatily increase the amount of taxes paid by a co-operative. The burden of taxation on co- operatives would be such that their very survival would be seriously threatened. The group of co-operatives that recently met the federal government stated their objec- tions to the new proposals in these terms: "Co-operatives are very concerned about the cash flow problem created by the proposed capital employed concept. Co-operative capital is by its nature refundable and it is therefore necessary for co-operatives to secure So They Say Lord Jesus, Son of (iod grace us with a solution to tlu's dramatic problem, and protect our brethren who are sorely tried by the modernistic spirit of these contemporary western invaders. -Prayer issued by Greek Or- thodox t'luux'h in Athens in wake of invasion by touring U.S. students. continuous contributions to- ward equity capital. "This is normally done by having members of the co-op- erative reinvest patronage re- funds in the co-operative. This reinvestment is used to retire the equity of members who no longer use the ser- vices of the co-operative and to provide facilities for addi- tional services to members. "It should be pointed out that co-operative ownership shares have no attraction on the public market, since re- turn, if any, on shares is lim- ited and capital gain has no applicability to co-operative snares. Thus a public sale of co-operative shares to secure additional capital is not prac- tical; nor is it in keeping with co-operative principles. "With the proposed capital employed concept and the consequent reduced flow of patronage refunds, this source of equity capital for a co-operative will be substan- tially reduced or eliminated. It should also be pointed out that a system of declaring stock dividends in respect of member equity will not pro- vide a fixed, stable equity for the co-operative. "Any stock dividend will bo in proportion to equity which will result in persons who have contributed more capi- tal to the co-operative re- ceiving t'ne greatest return." In oilier complete denial of the co-operative prin- ciple, without which co-opera- tives as such such would cease to exist, or have reason to exist. Is this the intent of the gov- ernment, advised and abetted by T'osc who, for their own selfish gain, actively seek the destruction of the co-ops in Canada? We can scarcely be- lieve if, but the evidence is I here in the form of proposals that echo the prejudiced views of anti-co-op groups whose sole purpose is to undermine these institutions which producers and consumers own and oper- ate, on their own behalf and to their own advantage. Co-operntors in Canada dare not rest until these incredibly bad features are removed from tho tax reform proposals. pleasant sweet-wafer .stream. The frail crossed the Border near here, forded the Milk River, then branched into three. The east branch went to the coal mines at Coalbanks, the central branch led to Fort Whoop-Up, and a western route crossed the Mary's River at Slideout and went on to Foil Macleod. Rivers were the most serious difficulties of the trains. They were often swollen from melt- ing snow, or cloudbursts in the mountains, when a sluggish lit- tle stream became a tumultu- ous torrent. Streams like the Marias, Milk and Oldman Rivers changed their depths as the sandy bed became eroded and shifted making it neces- sary to find new fords. Some bridges were built in the 1880's, but these often disappeared in the spring when ice or floods swept the footing away. Fer- ries, too, transported pas- sengers and light freight, but could not handle the heavy freight wagons which had to be forded across. Other dangers and hazards were encountered by the wag- on drivers. Frontier newspa- pers carried stories of mishaps along the trail that resulted in broken limbs, and sometimes a dramatic account of primitive surgery. Some of the mishaps were due to the freakish weather of the area. Unexpect- ed snowstorms in early fall or late spring brought extremely low temperatures. Some lost their way to perish in the con- fusion of the blizzard, and snowblindness, frozen hands and feet were other results of these fierce storms with their swirling, blinding snow and raging winds. Only complete knowledge of this great flat land and its vagaries of cli- mate prevented more of these tragedies. In summer the dust storms, especially on the alkali flats, were a great problem, but the hordes of insects caused terrific discomfort to (lie men and oxen. Smudges had to be kept going whenever the train was halted. Alkali wa- ter caused parched and crack- ed lips, cramps and diarrhea, and failed to quench thirst. Except in summer when the heat made it necessary to travel at night, the wagons were corralled when the train halted in the evening. This was done by turning the wagons al- ternately, the first right, the second left, and so on alternately until a circle was formed, with the tongue of the lead wagon in each team over- lapping the wheels of the last tandem wagon of the team ahead. The oxen were unhitch- ed and turned out to graze, while the men sat about the buffalo chip fire swapping yarns of the Civil War, tales of Indians and settlement brawls or saloon fights. The freighting companies like I. G. Baker in Fort Benton had heavy investments in the wagon trains. A single wagon train required an investment of to S30.000. The wagons were especially built to carry the heavy loads and were cost- ly. Warehouses to store the cargoes awaiting shipment, and large crews of men were needed to carry on the opera- tion. B1 a c k s m i t h s, wheel- wrights and harness-makers were employed constantly in repairing wagons and gear. Oxen were shod either with iron or rawhide shoes; the wagons often needed new wheels and axles and a supply of those was carried by each train. But the companies made money and kept the goods roll- ing across the plains to supply settlers in a new land. W hen the trains passed through a settlement, the in- habitants turned out lo watch while clouds of dust rose, and oaths and expletives made the air blue as the creaking wag- ons moved along with bells on lead teams ringing. But towns- people also resented the arri- val of the freighters. After the hardships of the trail, the teamsters were ready for a rowdy celebration that dis- turbed the peace and often caused costly damage. In Fort licnton 1876, two big freight trains arrived at the same time. During the resulting cele- bration the teamsters marched up and down Front Street, shooting into the air, scream- ing and yelling, kicking in doors and shattering windows. H was no wonder that the arri- val of a hulllruin was not an altogether welcome event. Wilh the coming of the rail- road in the hulll.rains van- ished, and with them went much of Ihc colorful rowdincss for which the West was fa- mous. Anyone dreaming of tho romance of those days can fancy they hear the crack of the bull whip and the creak of wagons, or the faint low of a weary ox, as the imaginary train moves across tho prai- rie into the sunset. A. proposal lo save rural America The Great Falls Tribune A bill to revitalize rural America and slow Uie movement of farm families io the cities was introduced in Congress recently. Rep. Jolin Mclcher of Montana joined other congressmen in introducing the bill designed to broaden loan authorization and development incentives for communi- ties outside metropolitan areas. The bill calls for expansion of Farmers Home Administration loan authority to en- courage general development, including community centres and purchasing of fire, rescue and ambulance equipment. It proposes broadening of Soil Conserva- tion Service authority to permit cost shar- ing in creating municipal and industrial water supplies ami for soil and water pol- lution abatement projects. It would create an Agricultural Land De- velopment Corp. to assist with orderly de- velopment of zones between rural and ur- ban areas. K also would give rural areas first preference for the location of new federal facilities and offices. Since it is becoming apparent Urat tlw crisis of our urban centres gcus more in- tense each year, it makes sense for Con- gress to help rural areas keep their fami- lies. Commenting on the bill, Representative Melchcr asked for a genuine national focus on rural America. He hopes his urban col- leagues in Congress will support the bill be- cause it should help slow down the migra- tion of rural people to tho cities. Urban congressmen will find it in their own interest to back such a bill. Their ci- ties can't stand more people, more unem- ployment, more crime more welfare and the many other problems caused by rapid growth. Lower birth rate., higher population The Hamilton Spectator A STUDY BASED on the 1970 U-S. cen- sus has shown a steep decline in the number of American children under five years of age. In fact, there has never been such a sharp drop in this particular age group since the nation started gathering statistics ]20 years ago. The present decline is almost twice as steep as a similar one which took place in the Great Depression of the 1930s and which provoked all sorts of gloomy prognostica- tions from people who should, perhaps, have known better. The obvious cause of this sharp reduc- tion in the number of under-fives is the Pill. At: the end of its first decade, it is having a significant impact on the birth rate. But the real reasons are the ones that lie behind the popularity of the Pill. These are to be found, no doubt, in the sociolo- gical conditions in the U.S. By now the Vietnam war has been cursed so often and blamed for so many American ills that it seems a little super- fluous to blame it for one more a record decline in birth rate. Yet there is no doubt that the war and the social unrest it has produced have matte many young married couples hesitate to establish a family, or perhaps to have more than one child. Nor has the constant threat of the draft helped. There is a possibility that the constant pounding in the media about the popula- tion explosion may be having an effect, though not, alas, in Asia, where it is more needed than the U.S. The first effects of this sudden decline in the number of under-fives are alreadi being felt by toy manufacturers, and mak- ers of such essential articles as baby bug- gies and children's clothing. Some gaps are appealing in kindergarten classrooms. As the years pass, these gaps are bound to appear in elementary schools, then in high schools and finally in universities. There are limits lo the possibilities of statistical projections. Things should not be carried too far into the future. If they are, they can easily be nrade to look ridi- culous by changing conditions or unfore- seen events. In 1940, for example, after nearly a decade of declining birth rates, there were people who were predicting a levelling off for the U.S., not only economically, but also in population. That year births ex- ceeded deaths by about 18 to 11, and, based on recent past experience, the gap prom- ised to narrow. That year a U.S. Census Bureau senior officer predicted that the American population would reach s peak of 136 million and then slowly decline until it reached 126 million in 1980. How far wrong this official was can be judged by the present population of the U.S., which is about 207 million. A projec- tion for 1980 now estimates the population Trill be 232 million. So many changes take place in human altitudes in ways which are not predic- table. Some people feel that constantly in- creasing population creates critical pres- sures on the quality of life. For, after all, when all the shouting dies away, it is people that are pollution. And, in the final analysis, there will only be less of that in the world when there are fewer people. Very necessary equipment The Victoria Daily Times A LTHOUGH unable to cope with mas- sive oil spills, the Victoria-born slick- licker is playing an increasingly significant role in helping to curtail the effects of oil pollution at sea. Agreements have been signed or arc planned for production and distribution of the slicklicker or Olecvator in 45 countries. The deceptively simple machine lifts the oil on a belt which squeezes the oil out for future use. The device is the result of the inventive genius of Mr. Richard Sewell of the Defence Research Board's Pacific Na- val Laboratory at Esquimau, it is reported to be 98 per cent effective in recovering oil from spills in medium ocean swell condi- tions. The federal government has bought fivs machines to cope with the oil-spill threat but the machine is capable of handling only gallons of oil per day. The tanker collision last January in San Francisco Bay involved almost 2 million gallons. The next step, clearly, is to develop Mr. Swell's machine to make it an even more effective agent in a world of gigantic pol- lution statistics. If Alaska oil comes south by tanker we may need a good many of them. A radical view? Ted Blachar, in The Toronto Globe and Mail AT any social gathering there's always a comer where save-the-wilderness types are expounding on how to cure our dirty world and preserve our natural heritage. "Oh. you're from northern Ilicy say. "You fish and hunt, what do you think of allowing lumber companies to cut timber in our The shocked, unbelieving, you-traitor-you look begin when I say I think the log- ging operations should be expanded, as long as they are strictly controlled. The fact that most of my inquisitors have never seen an "unspoiled" forest is evident in their questions. A deep spruce forest is dead. No bright flowers or pretty birds or playful animals, only dark piles of rotting needles lying un- der the trees that cut off sunshine to the earth. If is only in tlw second growth those created by forest fire or by logging the forest becomes alive. (Na- ture's cure for an overcrowded forest is a lightning bolt and a purging fire.) Here is the beauty of the moose and deer, squirrels and outdoors. Here is the home of foxes, partridge and songbirds. It is because I love the outdoors and spend as nvuch time as I possibly can fish- ing and hunting or just walking there that I am concerned for the health and pre- servation of our woods. Years back we aside areas to be In- violate, where axe and gun would never sound. But tlw unpleasant sight of par- asites sweeping through herds of protect- ed animals brought a change in thinking, and many so-called game preserves were opened to hunters on a limited, controlled basis buffalo in Alberta and moose in northwestern Ontario and, Io and be- hold, the herds did not perish but tlirived. And now, full circle, the voices say we should let our forests be unspoiled, once more we should let our animals eat them- selves out of house and home, crowd them- selves out of range ground so that Moth- er Nature Hill step in with disease and parasite lo restore a balance. Personally, I'd rather see logging and hinting or. as zoologist Ian McTaggart- Cowan, brother of the man in charge of cleaning up the Arrow oil spill, suggested recenlly: Let forest fires bun) in our parks. Don't spend millions fighting fires when all Hat is threatened is wilderness. The wilderness will come back, healthier than it was when it was destroyed. It's about time somebody snid if. Not with it By Dong Walker jllY family has a very low opinion of the degree of my awareness of what transpires in our midst. They all take it for granted that T will have been prevent- ed by precoc'iipalion from hearing all the bits of vital information that float around. Tho other day, Judi Announced that a boy was about to deliver our Kiwnm's ap- ples at the door. As I moved to answer the doorlwll, Elspclh said, "For goodness sake, act as Ihough you know what it's all And some readers Iliiiik I give Elspolh bad time!