Vantage Points Flashback - Kicking Up Our Heels at Billy’s Point!
Please scroll to the bottom of this story to hear the audio recording, voiced by local historian, David Neufeld.
Welcome to another Vantage Points Flashback where we highlight personalities, places and opportunities in history – the stories that shape us as a region. Thank-you municipal councils of Southwest Manitoba and the Manitoba Heritage Society for supporting our work.
Kicking Up Our Heels at Billy’s Point!
The floor literally bounced as dancers stepped and stomped to the fiddler’s tune! Aunt Ethel grabbed my hand and dragged me to the middle of the living room to give another go at the Red River Jig! I did my best, but I couldn't match my Aunt Ethel! Heel to toe with quick little steps. Then a shuffle and a stomp on the wooden floor!
She'd kid me that I had 2 left feet like my Grandpa. He just couldn’t jig, but he'd play guitar to compliment the fiddler. The fiddler – he was the one who set the pace, and that was Billy Gosslin! No one got folks going like Billy!
Billy Gosslin was a hunter and a trapper - and a Red River Metis. He had moved to Lake Metigoshe from North Dakota and settled on the west side of Turtle Mountain.
In 1928 he married his sweetheart, Rosanna Goodon. Times were tough in the 30’s. Billy and ‘Rosna’ couldn’t pay the land taxes - so had to move off their property. A small peninsula on nearby Lake Dromore caught Billy’s eye. He went and built a house right there on the public road allowance! Out of the way and out of trouble!
Everybody around Metigoshe liked Billy and everyone came to know Billy’s Point. That was our favorite meeting place. If the weather permitted, we'd all meet nearby for a Sunday afternoon baseball game. The Metis players were good at baseball and they often won! They'd hit that ball far into the bush then run like they had a grizzly on their tail! After the game, we’d head to the lake for a cool down and an evening picnic.
Then, we’d prepare Billy and Rosna’s for the evening dance. It didn’t take long to carry out the furniture. We had to have a dance floor! Billy would pick up his fiddle – tune 'er up and away he’d go!
My Aunt Ethel would smile and give me that look from across the room. She’d grab my hand before I knew what hit me! We would step and stomp to the Red River Jig! I’d give her a twirl and then we’d be back to stepping to Billy’s fast and furious fiddling!
Yep, Billy’s Point was a special place. Many a weekend night, folks would dance until dawn, and many a young couple met and courted at Billy’s. In fact, that’s where I met my sweetheart. She was also quite the dancer and fun to watch as she kicked up her heels to the Red River Jig.
Ahh, but that’s a story for another time!
Betty Sawatzky and I adapted “Kicking up our Heels at Billy’s Point” from a story written for Vantage Points 1.
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See ya’ later!
Turtle Mountain-Souris Plains Heritage Association