Friday, February 17, 2012

A Whiskey Shaking Patron visits Goldwin Smith, 1890s

Alcohol consumption is embalmed in a host of societal mores.  For the upper crust, it is only socially acceptable to drink certain types of alcohols at certain times, paired with the correct plates, and never to overindulgence.  A visitor to Goldwyn Smith's Toronto home in the late nineteenth-century, shows that different drinking customs could appear strange to the uninitiated, but it was not always high-class customs that perplexed.


"Goldwin Smith at 40" by G.E. Perine. NAC
Goldwin Smith moved to Toronto in 1871, and began a long career in Canadian public life, which in the words of Ramsay Cook, was "designed to make Canada over in the image of his mid-Victorian liberal mind." (Cook, The Regenerators, 27)  Cook lists the causes that Smith embraced as: "Canada First, contintentalism, voluntary relief of poverty, Sunday streetcars, and, above all, an improved intellectual life."  It was to promote these causes in 1896, that Smith had acquired The Canada Farmers' Sun, a newspaper controlled by the farmer's political party, the Patrons of Industry.


Joe Haycock is described by Cook as an "ineffectual" leader of the Patrons of Industry in the late 1890s.  He had failed to reconcile the agrarian and labour elements in the Ontario party, and what power they had in the legislature would soon come to an end.  When Smith invited Haycock to his Toronto home, it became apparent that, "his guests were not always familiar with the standards of the Oxford common room." 
Death serves a stiff one in an early temperance cartoon.   Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1989-406-45 Source: Molson Portrait Collection, Molson Archives, Montreal, Quebec


A bottle of whiskey was procured and when set upon the table the curious customs of the farm leader were observed.  Edward Farrer, who had introduced the two men from different walks of life, had to explain to Smith the farm leader's customs.  A witness of the event reported:


"Joe took the bottle and shook it vigorously before pouring out the whiskey into his glass.  Afterward the Professor [Smith] asked Farrer how it was that Haycock shook the bottle so.  Farrer told him that in the country hotels the whiskey was often adulterated and that the water rose to the top and it was customary for farmers, when getting a drink at the bar, to shake the bottle before pouring out the whiskey into their glass and that Joe had acquired the habit..." (Cook, 27-28)


It may be assumed that Smith was serving unadulterated whiskey, but it seems when it comes to drinking, old habits die hard despite the demands of respectability.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Adventures of Johnny Canuck: WWII Dime Comics

Canadian patriotism inspired by the Second World War led to the birth of the big three of Canadian nationalist super-heroes.  Nelvana of the Northern Lights, Johnny Canuck, and Canada Jack, would all battle the Nazis and their sympathizers at home and abroad.  War economies also played a role in the publication of home-grown Canadian comics. Concern about balancing the exchange of American dollars lead the the 1941 War Exchange Conservation Act, which banned the import of American "fiction periodicals" into Canada.  The need for Canadian heroes, and concern over a balance of foreign currency led to the dawning of the Golden Age of Canadian comic books.


Nelvana of the Northern Lights, Adrian Dingle,
front cover, Nelvana of the Northern Lights,
ca. 1945 © National Archives of Canada/Nelvana Ltd.

In August, 1941, the first super-hero with a distinctly Canadian identity was introduced.   Adrian Dingle's Nelvana of the Northern Lights, co-created with Franz Johnston of Group of Seven fame, was a super-symbol of the Canadian North. As Mary Louise Adams noted, in The Trouble with Normal: "based on a character from Inuit mythology, Nelvana was, nevertheless, portrayed as a white goddess, the personification of the North. She drew her supernatural powers from the Northern Lights and dressed in a short, fur-hemmed skirt, tall boots, and a cape. She had just about everything a superhero could want: she was immortal, she could fly, travel at the speed of light, melt metal, disrupt radio communications, make herself invisible, and alter her own shape and that of her brother (with whom she communicated telepathically). She put her powers to use fighting supernatural villains with nasty ties to the Nazis." (Adams, 143)  Nelvana stands out from her heroic Canadian cohorts in that she had bonafide super powers.  The following two nationalist super heroes were just plain tough.

The next national super hero to arise was the now legendary Johnny Canuck.  Johnny or Jack Canuck had been portrayed in Canadian political cartoons, beginning in the nineteenth-century.  Once portrayed as a French-Canadian habitant, the figure became increasingly western, donning high leather boots and a stetson.  
"Canada's Answer to Nazi Oppression", Leo Bachle, Dime Comics No. 2, p. 23, March 1942
© National Archives of Canada/Nelvana Ltd.
 Johnny Canuck's Second World War reboot has an interesting origins story of its own.  In 1942, the sixteen-year-old Leo Bachle was browsing some Dime Comics when that company's financial backer John Ezrin asked the young man what he thought of the comics.  Bachle candidly criticized the artwork, and when asked to produce a better depiction of two men fighting, he promptly did.  Ezrin told him to dream up a new comic book character, and that night Johnny Canuck was born.

Leo Bachle (script and art), Dime Comics No. 1, p. 23, February 1942  Super ITCH
Unlike Nelvana, Johnny Canuck had no super powers to speak of, but travelled to exotic climes, met with the resistance (and inevitably a beautiful woman), and usually escaped from his Nazi captors by highly improbable means. While Canuck fought evil overseas, a super-hero soon emerged to keep the home-front safe from Nazi sympathizers.

Canada Jack appeared in 1943, and was the first fictional addition to the Canadian Heroes comic books.  Canadian Heroes was the creation of Montreal's Educational Products, which had a wholesome educational mandate legitimized by letters of endorsement by Canadian cabinet ministers.  Canada Jack's exploits were largely restricted to foiling the dastardly plans of saboteurs on the Canadian home-front.

When the war ended, the ban of American comics in Canada also ceased, and the fledgling industry all but collapsed.  The transition to colour was another barrier to a home-grown comics industry.  Crime and mystery comics began to grow in popularity, and were the subject of considerable backlash from those who felt their message was unsavoury.  By 1947, the Golden Age of Canadian comics had all but come to an end.

Sources/Links
Adams, Mary Louise (Author). The Trouble with Normal: Postwar Youth and the Making of Heterosexuality.
Toronto, ON, CAN: University of Toronto Press, 1997. p 144.
http://site.ebrary.com/lib/calgarypublisher/Doc?id=10200841&ppg=171

Johnny Canuck's entire adventures summarized on an archived Library and Archives Canada page:
http://epe.lac-bac.gc.ca/100/200/301/lac-bac/guardians_north-ef/2009/www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/superheroes/t3-301-e.html

English Canadian Comic Books from the Canadian Encyclopedia:
http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/comic-books-in-english-canada

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hunting Jackals as the Cure to the Scholar's Stoop: ELM Burns at Quetta, 1928-29

Emblem of the Quetta Staff College.
The hunched back of the scholar may be considered a trait contradictory to the ramrod soldierly disposition, but with the considerable schooling to be completed as the army officer climbs through the ranks, a peace-time staff-officer may be more likely to suffer from a papercut than a thrusting bayonet.  In the interwar years, there must have been numerous casualties of book smarts in the ranks of the fifty-odd Canadian officers sent overseas to British Staff College to learn lessons in the military art.  ELM Burns noted in his memoirs, General Mud, that his 1928-29 service in Quetta, India was typified by sporting events of upper-middle class respectability.  Burns claimed that such gentrified leisure could prevent the strains of scholarship from wearing a young officer down:

"These were very pleasant years, during which the military instruction was ingested in a fairly relaxed atmosphere, wherein the students, mostly of the rank of captain with twelve or more years service and war experience, were encouraged to maintain their physical fitness with tennis, golf, polo, riding to hounds (after the jackal) and other exercises suited to ward off myopia and the scholar's stoop."
Hunting Jackals at Quetta.  Date Unknown.  Swetenham Ancestors.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Father Lacombe's C.P.R Presidency

Father Albert Lacombe looms large in the early history of the Canadian West. Born in St. Sulpiche, Lower Canada, he left for the West in 1850, when he took a posting in Pembina, joining the Metis on the buffalo hunt the following year.  In 1853, Lacombe was sent far into the North West Territories, to assume a position at Lac St. Anne, and set up an "Indian Mission" several years later, in direct competition with the Methodist McDougalls at Pakan (Victoria Settlement).  Lacombe's involvement with the railway may have begun in 1880 as the CPR pushed west from Winnipeg.  As Raymond Huel notes, "he assumed responsibility for ministering to railway workers along a section of the transcontinental line being built east of Winnipeg, and in the camps he found that blasphemy, drunkenness, and immorality were rife. “My God, send me back to my old Indian mission,” he wrote in his diary."
File number: NA-4209-2
Title: Father Albert Lacombe en route to Calgary from Blackfoot reserve, Alberta.
Date: Autumn 188
 Lacombe's role as moderator for the railway was evidenced in 1883.  As surveyors plotted the location of the railway near Blackfoot Crossing, Lacombe negotiated with the Blackfoot chiefs, giving them gifts of sugar, tobacco, tea, and flour, and noting that Lt. Gov. Edward Dewdney would hear their protests personally.


Pierre Berton's popular history The Last Spike recalls that the directors of the CPR were so pleased with Lacombe's negotiations with the Natives that they made the priest president of the CPR for an hour.  Lacombe decided to immediately vote himself two lifetime passes on the railroad, and free transport of goods for Oblate missions.  Not stopping there he also guaranteed himself free use of the telegraph for life.  The directors were pleased to grant him the priveledges.


Lacombe was said to loan his passes out rather frequently, and one incident recorded by Berton is worth relating:
"On one occasion the two passes, which became familiar along the line, were presented by two nuns, newly arrived in the west.  'May I ask,' the conductor politely inquired, 'which one of you is Father Lacombe?' He let the blushing sisters go on their way."
"Blackfeet at Earnscliffe." 1886  "Front row", left to right: North Axe, Peigan Chief, One Spot, Blood sub-chief. "Middle row", left to right: Three Bulls, half brother of Crowfoot, Crowfoot, Blackfoot Chief, Red Cloud, Blood Chief. "Back row", left to right: Father Lacombe, John L'Heureux, interpreter. Credit: Canada. Dept. of the Interior / Library and Archives Canada / PA-045666

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hard Working Tramps: Second World War Canadian Tank Transients, 1942

The romantic image of the hobo is well entrenched in the North American mind.  The ideal of the good-natured transient, riding the rails with a gunny sack tied to a pole, paints a pastoral scene which fails to capture the hunger, squalor, and desperation of unemployment.  The pages of a Canadian Second World War service magazine, however, link the techniques of survival in the Great Depression to the lived experience of modern warfare.

The Tank was the Canadian Armoured Corps' magazine, operating out of the Armoured Fighting Vehicles School in Borden, Ontario.  A self-styled "transient", wrote in to express the not-so-patriotic motivations behind his enlistment.
"DEAR MR. EDITOR:
     One dollar and thirty cents a day, in which you get three meals, a roof over your head, and clothing on your back.  That's why I'm in the army.  The C.A.C. just happened.
     It's a lot better than being a transient.  I joined up at the first place that would take me.
     I was on the trek for three years.  You ride the rods, hitch-hike or tramp.  You work when you can get it.  You eat when you can get it, sleep where you are, panhandle when you've got to, and duck the bulls.
  [...]
I was a good transient and good transients are not lazy.  I do my work, keep clean, and I'll show them how a transient can fight if I get the chance.  But, if they'd had those work camps, I'd had to work harder than I do in the army.
     We'll win the war.  Do you think we'll win some common sense?
 * * * * * TRANSIENT"
The Tank - Canada, June 1942


Another letter from the Ontario Regiment overseas noted that the skills of the homeless were particularly useful on the many schemes and exercises.  In August 1942 The Tank reported:
"Living as we did in the open, old time campers and men who had seen "civilized-jungle" life were great teachers.  On one occasion a civilian car killed a duck in the road, one minute later it was in a tank, a few minutes later on reaching a harbour it was over a fire, and shortly after that, inside the tank crew.  It is not that starvation rations had been issued, but who wouldn't prefer roast duck to bully-beef?"

It seems that the techniques of scrounging were as applicable to Second World War army life as they had been to unemployment in the 1930s.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Digestive Seating Plan: The Liberals absorb the Progressives, 1926

Analysis of the social aspects of Canadian parliament are usually confined to the bad behaviour of representatives hurling abuse at each other like belligerent drunks.  Socialization between members of parliament, however, appears to have played a role in the final demise of the federal Progressive party.  W.L. Morton, noted in The Progressive Party in Canada that the Liberal whips of 1926 realized that fostering a human comradery could help King's Liberals absorb the crumbling Progressive Party. Morton wrote:

"In 1926 the Liberals had swallowed the Manitoban Progressives, wholly or in part, except for those who had return to their original home in the reviving Conservative party.  To the digestion of these Progressives the party now addressed itself with adroitness and alacrity.  [...] The Liberal-Progressives henceforth attended the Liberal caucus, although, having stipulated that they should maintain their identity, they also met separately.  They did not, however, insist on being seated as a separate group, but allowed the Liberal whips to seat them in rows of seats sandwiched from front to rear between rows of Liberal members.  The consequent fellowship of neighbourhood, of the whispered aside, of parliamentary jokes and confidences, greatly aided the process of digestion."
King Campaigns in 1926.
Credit: Library and Archives Canada / C-024763
With 116 seats of the 245 available in the Commons, King would rely on the eleven Progressive seats for support.  The return of eight "Liberal-Progressives", eleven United Farmers of Alberta candidates, and a single United Farmers of Ontario candidate, shows how the party of agrarian protest was chopped and ready for Liberal consumption by 1926.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dr. Seuss' Wartime Political Cartoons, 1941-43

Thedor Seuss Geisel (1904-1991), is best known for his delightfully illustrated children's books, but during the Second World War, Dr. Seuss' hand was used to prod Americans into action.  From 1941-43, Seuss penned political cartoons for the leftist New York paper PM.  An excellent website has made his drawings, held at the University of California, San Diego, available for perusal.

29 April 1941, PM. UCSD
Early drawings in 1941, show Seuss firmly chastising isolationist policy.  Picturing Americans with their heads in the sand and ignoring the war in Europe, Seuss suggests that the "Hitler headache" will necessitate stronger medicine.  Charles Lindbergh, an early proponent of American isolationism, was the target of Seuss' early agitation.  Note the purveyors of these fantastic ostrich hats was one "Lindy Ostrich Service Inc.".

Most shocking for those familiar with Seuss' childrens material is his racist portrayal of the Japanese.  As Richard H. Minear, author of Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel, wrote,

 Perhaps it is no surprise that American cartoonists during the Pacific War painted Japan in overtly racist ways. However, it is a surprise that a person who denounces anti-black racism and anti-Semitism so eloquently can be oblivious of his own racist treatment of Japanese and Japanese Americans. And to find such cartoons - largely unreproached - in the pages of the leading left newspaper of New York City and to realize that the cartoonist is the same Dr. Seuss we celebrate today for his imagination and tolerance and breadth of vision: this is a sobering experience.

12 December 1941. JM UCSD

As Minear suggests, Seuss took a liberal stand towards the inclusion of African-Americans in the war effort.  In a 1942 cartoon, Uncle Sam chides "War Industry" that "if you want to get real harmony, use the black keys as well as the white."

30 June 1942, JM. UCSD
As Seuss' cartoons were targeted at the American home front there is no surprise that enemies are made of shirkers, wasters, and the corrupt.  The final cartoon in the collection uses the theme of familial recollection, also present in Great War propaganda posters, to chide those complaining about wartime shortages.  The cartoon shows an old timer telling his grandson of how his contribution to the "Battle of 1943" was composed of sitting around and complaining about fuel shortages.

5 January 1943,

Browse the rest of the University of Califonia San Diego's collection, complete with contextual introduction by Richard Minear, here:
http://libraries.ucsd.edu/speccoll/dswenttowar/#intro

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bible Bill's Boyhood: William Aberhart's Childhood Memories

William "Bible Bill" Aberhart took Alberta by storm in 1935, defeating the United Farmers of Alberta with a majority in the range of 90%.  Aberhart came by his nickname honestly, spreading the spurious doctrine of Social Credit across Alberta via radio, with evangelical zeal and religious fervour.  As Social Credit seemed to offer the bankers as scapegoats for the Great Depression, and a cure in the form of a dividend paid to each citizen monthly, it may be said that he was preaching to the choir.
William Aberhart Standing, far right; His father William Aberhart Sr., seated, far right.
Image No: NA-4454-12 Glenbow Museum Archives
Title: William Aberhart's family in Ontario.
Date: [ca. 1890s]
Aberhart's reminiscences of his childhood in Huron County, Ontario, reveal the influence of his agrarian roots and religion in his formative years. John Irving's Social Credit in Alberta (1959) traces the movement by analyzing the group psychology of those who appealed to Aberhart's rising oratory.  Irving noted that in one of his last speeches before he died, delivered at his Calgary Prophetic Bible Institute, he recalled a favourite anecdote of his childhood.  On a spring day in 1943, Aberhart called out to the crowd,

"My father used to tell us boys on the farm, in our younger days, that we could never plow a straight furrow if we did not focus our attention on a particular post or tree or other landmark away at the end of the field.  He warned us again and again not to allow a big stick or clump of brush or a tree to distract us as we passed along." (Irving, 9)

Aberhart worked hard on his father's dairy farm, and attended the Egmondville Presbyterian Church, but he recalled that his religious inspiration had a more humble source.  After a meeting in Calgary when he had been pounding on a somewhat rickety table he apologized for his fervour:

"Excuse my pounding this table.  It reminds me of the fact that when I was a boy we had protracted revival meetings in our district.  I sat in those meetings night after night and marvelled at the power of the preacher over the people.  The preacher was very emphatic and he pounded the pulpit heavily.  I was so impressed that I went out into a woodlot, day after day, and practised speaking and pounding a pine stump with my clenched fists. I had discovered the power of words and gestures over people, and I have never forgotten the power of that preacher to dominate those people." (Irving, 12)

Title: William Aberhart broadcasting from radio station, CFCN, Calgary, Alberta.
Date: late 1930sFile number: NA-2771-2 GMA

Aberhart's religious zeal, broadcast across Alberta from his headquarters in Calgary, would draw a large number of people into confidence long before he adopted Social Credit ideology as the means to salvation during the Great Depression.


Everything you ever wanted to know and more on Aberhart and Social Credit, including a number of audio clips of the preacher-politician's speeches and radio broadcasts, can be found at:
The Canadian Encyclopedia offers, as is expected of this excellent resource, a brief overview of the man's life:

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Proving Up Frauds: Speculators vs. Bonafide Homesteaders

The land speculator was the scourge of Canadian administrators who hoped to rapidly settle the west with bonafide agrarians.  Free 160 acre homesteads under the Dominion Lands Act were far too lucrative a prize for those wishing to profit off future land sales.  In 1884, in hopes to increase the pace of settlement, the six month residency requirement for title to a homestead was reduced to a mere three months.  The homestead entry could be "proved up" variously by cultivation, building a residence, or putting a certain number of livestock on the land.  It was hoped that by necessitating settlers to "prove up", lands would be patented by actual settlers, who would cultivate the land and ship their produce via the CPR.

Title: Que [sic] for land at Dominion Lands Office, Lethbridge, Alberta.Date: May 1 1912 File number: NA-3092-3
As Chester Martin noted in his "Dominion Lands" Policy (1938), the system of "proving up" the land was meant to prevent land speculators grasping deeds to lands and leaving them unproductive.  He notes that in the early days this bureaucracy was not without its loopholes.  Martin noted, "'Land for the actual settler' may have been the most plausible of policies, but no system of land policy has ever been proof against fraudulent manipulation; and for many years whole districts in the vicinity of every frontier town and village were devastated rather than populated by the free-homestead system." (Martin, 406).

William Pearce LandSurveyingHistory
William Pearce, inspector of Dominion Lands agencies from 1882, is enlisted to testify on the methods which speculators avoided the gruelling and time-consuming toil of actually proving up a homestead.  Pearce noted:

"The 'habitable house' was a shack that could be put on a wagon and drawn any place, one shack would do duty for a dozen different applications for patent [...] for cultivation [,] stock to the value of a few hundred dollars was substituted.  A homesteader would purchase a small band of stock up to the requisite amount, and give his note for it.  After he obtained his recommendation for patent, his note becoming due, the holder of the note took the stock back.  The same stock would do to prove title by homestead right to any number of quarter sections." (Martin, 406)

Land companies and individual speculators thus proved Martin right in his assessment of the difficulty in enforcing land policies.  It seems that for the land speculator, such rules were made to be broken.

Friday, February 3, 2012

1885 Rebellion and Dry Farming

The development of dry farming methods, were imperative for farming in the Canadian West, especially as the optimistic reports of those such as Henry Youle Hind, were far from the mark in terms of precipitation.  A.S. Morton noted in his History of Prairie Settlement (1938), Hind, touring the West in 1855-56, reported 82 inches of precipitation, while normal rates were closer to 20-25 inches.  Morton notes that the development of summer fallowing, a key dry farming method, may have been influenced by happenstance and the 1885 Rebellion.
Transport train en route from Swift Current to Saskatchewan Landing with supplies for General Middleton and Lt. Col. Otter. Photo donated by Reg. No. 4072, ex-S/Sargeant White.
RCMP Museum, Regina 34.25.III
Summer fallow ploughing on Indian Head farm of Francis, J. H.
Credit: Topley Studio / Library and Archives Canada / PA-026134
The Bell farm near Indian Head, where one of the major experimental farms would evolve, lost a number of horses to the service of General Middleton's column.  Because of this, much of the ploughing had to wait until June.  In 1885, many of the fields were left on summer fallow as these were too late to plant.  Crops on these fields in 1886, a drought year, were remarkably productive, and summer fallow would later be proven to hold soil moisture for the following year.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Charles Mair: Red River Rabble-rouser, 1868

Charles Mair
Tensions in the Red River settlement rose to a feverous pitch in the years leading up to the transfer of Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay Company to the Dominion government.  The premature survey of the road from the Lake of the Woods to Red River in 1867 proved to be an event which exacerbated tensions between the Metis and the growing number of Canadians.  Arriving with the road crew was a literary figure who would add fuel to the growing fires on the banks of the Red.  That man was the expansionist, Canadian nationalist and "warrior bard", Charles Mair.

Mair's letters home were published in that great liberal rag the Toronto Globe, and his condescending chauvinism was not in favour with the people of Red River.  Arthur S. Morton wrote in the language of his time that the letters, "brought the indignation of the settlers to boiling point, for in the Settlement the half-breeds were a respectable middle class, rather than the outcasts the Canadian public envisaged by the term.  Governor Mactavish's wife was an educated half-breed of remarkable grace and dignity, and he protested in indignant terms that she was fit to grace any table."  (Morton, History of Prairie Settlement, 41)
Charles Mair
As George Stanley wrote in his classic The Birth of Western Canada, "the female part of the population, about whom Mair had made many uncomplimentary remarks, was particularly angry.  One pulled his nose, another his ears, while a third, the wife of a leading citizen of the Settlement, drove him from the Post Office with a horse whip!" (Stanley, 1992, 1936, p.55).  Drought and grasshoppers would further aggravate the citizens of Red River, whose resistance against the expansionist Canadians could best be symbolized by Louis Riel standing on the surveyor's chains, and preventing the measurement for the meridian line.  Mair was paymaster for the original road crew, and would be sentenced to death by Riel and his followers before escaping and fleeing to Minnesota.

Buffalo Wool at the Selkirk Settlement

Merino Ram.  Powerhouse Museum 1953 Samuel Sidney.
The problems of transportation and production were major factors in the slow start of Lord Selkirk's Red River Colony.  Early frosts and drought meant that, in the words of A.S. Morton, "transforming the prairies into fields of golden grain" was not an option. (Morton, History of Prairie Settlement, 26)  Morton notes that wheat and flour were much too bulky, and their low price not worth shipping back to Britain. Attempting to get a herd of cattle established proved equally difficult. Selkirk turned his mind to wool, as industrial machinery in England had outpaced supply, and it was fetching a good price.  Merino sheep from Spain had, at this time been sent to Austrailia, and Selkirk would attempt to export some to his far distant colony.  Morton claims that the lack of industry and intelligence of the settlers, however, led to the experiment's ruin.

George Back Sketchbook 1820-21  Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1994-254-1.53R
An attempt to use the resources at hand is observed in the founding of the Buffalo Wool Company to use buffalo hair as a weavable garment.  Morton notes that the mix of fine and coarse hairs made weaving difficult, and the wool's dark colour would not dye easily.  Chester Martin in his "Dominion Lands" Policy (1938) wrote that the Buffalo Wool Company was "the first and surely the most bizarre industrial venture of the West.  Lady Selkirk introduced the buffalo wool shawl into Scottish society but though remarkably soft and durable it would not take the vegetable dyes of those days." (Martin, 206)  The idea was eventually abandoned.  Interestingly, a modern company seems to have taken up the name, and sells buffalo yarn and garments, noting the institution was established in 1812, and re-established in 2011.

Further attempts to get sheep to the settlement met with disaster.  When a flock of over one thousand  was purchased in Kentucky and driven across country, they travelled through country rife with spear grass.  As Morton notes "the spears entered their flesh in such quantity as to make the whole body a festering sore.  The carcasses of the dead marked the way across the plains northward." (Morton, 27)   Morton sums up these efforts with a grim assessment: "all attempts to find an exportable product thus failing, the colony was necessarily reduced to playing the modest part of handmaid to the furtrade."