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Irene's Adventures

Saskatchewan - Paradise Hill

CANADA | Thursday, 25 September 2014 | Views [301]

The giant ox and cart was what caught our attention. The interpretive station beside it was amazing!

Red River Cart 

First of all, the cart is a very unique vehicle. It is constructed entirely of wood with all the joints being mortised and doweled together (similar to Ikea furniture with a sunken bolt that holds pieces together).

Strips of rawhide were used to wrap the rims. The rawhide formed a very durable tire when it shrunk and dried hard. The wheel usually had 12 spokes and 5 feet in diameter. The two shafts were each about 13 feet long, with the back part accommodating the body of the cart and the front serving to hitch the ox or pony. The railing surrounding the plank bottom was usually willow staves which were bored into the shafts and held at the top by strips of oak. In bad weather, the entire thing could be covered with buffalo hide. They weighed about 500 pounds and were capable of carrying 1000 pounds. It was very buoyant and fairly navigable raft for river crossings. The main advantage was that they cold be repaired on the trail wherever there was a tree to fell or buffalo hide wrap the wheels. Axles, knives and other essential tools were always carried on the trek. 200-500 carts would travel in a train, and there is a report of 2500 traveling to st. Paul in 1869. It is said that the squeal of the wheels could be heard for miles, as no grease as used because it would pick up the sand and wear the axles and hubs away.


There as a large map showing the Carlton trail - 900 miles from fort Garry (Winnipeg) to fort Edmonton. It was the principal overland trade route in the North-Wes for much of the 19th century. It was used extensively by Metis freighters driving the red river cart. It also served early explorers and surveyors. By 1890 the trail was largely superseded by railways. Flanking this huge map was a settlement legend, dating from 1774 and a list of Carlton trail trekkers, dating back to 1815. Wow! Another thing on my back doorstep. I had never even heard of this trail.

 Carlton Trail


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