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Starting over: settlers return by 1886

Bresaylor Happenings
bresayalor telegraph
Metal telegraph poles, once commonplace on the prairies, were mostly repurposed after becoming obsolete. Bresaylor Heritage Museum has two intact poles in its collection. Photo submitted

By 1886 most of the Bresaylor settlers had returned to the settlement and were hard at work growing crops while submitting claims to the claims commission for rebellion losses including burned homes, destroyed machinery and lost animals.

A new telegraph line was built from Battleford to Fort Pitt crossing the Bresaylor settlement. This line replaced the old one that had been built from Battleford to Edmonton. The new line was built with iron poles, an innovation for its time. These poles were hollow cylinders 15 feet high and two and a half inches in diameter, with double ground plates to hold them in the ground. They were prairie fire and lightning resistant.

These telegraph poles had been manufactured in England in 1881 and 1882 then shipped across the ocean to probably Montreal where they were loaded and transported by rail to Winnipeg or Swift Current. If the poles had been unloaded at Swift Current, they would have been freighted up to the settlement. If they had been unloaded in Winnipeg, the poles would have been transported the rest of the way by paddle wheeler and unloaded at Battleford, Fort Pitt and points in between.

When the telegraph line was abandoned 40 years later, most of the poles were cut up for iron by the farmers. The Bresaylor museum is fortunate to have two of these poles, which are still in good condition.

Eventually script land was given to anyone who had served in the Battleford home guard. This consisted of an $80 script note or two quarters of land that had to be either homesteaded or sold to someone who would homestead it.

The North-West Mounted Police K Division established an outpost on the west side of the settlement. The outpost operated for a few years.

On Jan. 1, 1889 the post office finally reopened in a new building, with mail service restored after a three-year delay. By 1888 a new school had been built after three years of no schooling in the area. A formal Church of England congregation was organized. The Bresaylor settlers were finally getting back on their feet.

In 1889, the new lieutenant governor of the Northwest Territories, Joseph Royal, travelled down the North Saskatchewan River from Edmonton by steamer. He stopped at Taylors’s landing and travelled by buggy through the Bresaylor settlement to Battleford, so he could see first-hand one of the finest settlements in the district and the beautiful countryside between the rivers.

By 1895 a telegraph office was set up at the “Harry” Sayers’ home.

The gold rush in the Klondike was in full swing in 1897 and some of the young Bresaylor men left for the Klondike. By 1898 dogs were in high demand, with their prices as high as those for horses. Good trained dogs sold for $25 to $30 each to people on their way to the Klondike.

Almost two decades had passed since the settlers came to the area and the Bresaylor settlement was about to enter the new century.

Check out the Bresaylor Heritage Museum Facebook page for more information. The museum is open by appointment only from June 9 to Aug. 31. Please phone 306-895-4813.