Vantage Points Flashback - Jimmy Jock at Minto - An 1886 Adventure
Please scroll down to the bottom of this article for the audio recording of this story with local historian, David Neufeld.
Welcome to Vantage Points Flashback - highlighting personalities, places and opportunities in history – through the stories that shape us as a region. Thank-you municipal councils of Southwest Manitoba and MB Heritage for your support.
Jimmy Jock at Minto
My neighbours arrived from the east, Ontario mostly, to settle around Minto. Me? I went to BC first. Thought I'd try out the coast and mountains. When I arrive here, with all my fingers and toes I might add, it was from the west. I'm James (Jimmy) Jock. I'm, famously, the first resident of Minto cemetery,
The BC gold rush was over when I got there. I was more interested in living off the land anyway. But the weather got to me. So, when I met some friendly travelers heading to Manitoba, I told them I'd catch up and began sorting my affairs.
The sky was clear on the trail, but something felt amiss. No one I met, had seen my group of travelers. Oh well. I had my gun, my horse and I knew the way. What I didn't calculate was how quietly my horse could be untied and stolen while I slept. I awoke, completely alone. What now? I still had my gun, and my determination. So I walked, mostly by night, shooting game, crossing Kicking Horse pass and down the Bow River. I was clearly the intruder here, and a vulnerable one at that.
What was the most beautiful sight along the way? The flat, open prairie! Odd, perhaps, being from Scotland. But, I had no time to linger. I still had several weeks of walking and surviving to do, until finally arriving on the Souris river. It was 1886. All the good farm land was taken. No matter. I secured a quarter section on the north side of the valley. Built a modest home in a broad ravine. Settled in to live my life.
Not every citizen is driven to succeed in the same way. I could chop wood,
hunt and gather food, and trap for cash. If I needed company, or anything extra, I worked for neighbours, the Lisk Campbells. Lisk was a hunter too, and a businessman. He ran the ferry. When Riverside Bridge was built, he didn't pout for a second. He built a store, dance hall and baseball diamond. Intriguing for sure, but for me, I didn't need that much. Every day was a success! Especially when I survived with all my digits! Okay, okay. I'll tell you the story. The one that really made me famous around here.
It was a cold winter. Brilliant sun dogs. Very deep snow. Hunting was tough, so I went farther and sat longer. I returned one day with a pheasant, and, a few frozen toes. I had violated the first rule of being alone. Don't hurt yourself! I warmed, massaged and restored feeling in all digits, except one big toe. And gangrene began setting in. Sheesh! No doctor nearby. So, I sharpened the axe, placed my big toe securely on the chopping block and took a quick, well-aimed swing.
Yup. Don't think too long on it. You'll survive, a little bit smarter. I sure did.
I adapted “Jimmy Jock” from a story in Vantage Points 5.
Vantage Points is a 5-book series of stories about layers of history in southwest Manitoba.
Please contact Turtle Mountain Souris Plains Heritage Association.
Our website is www.vantagepoints.ca for contact and book-purchasing information.
To read and listen to more in the Vantage Points Flashback series, click HERE!
See ya’ later!
Turtle Mountain-Souris Plains Heritage Association