Herb Lake Trappers, MB Hydro Settlement

The Manitoba Metis Federation reached a settlement with Manitoba Hydro for compensation to trappers who lost their livelihood when the Grand Rapids Generating Station was built and became operational. (1940-1964). Many of the claims of the trappers directly affected have been paid.

There is a second list of trappers who were invited to trap on the Summerberry Marsh and this affected some from Herb Lake. Since the town became a ghost town in the late 1950s, and many of the trappers have passed on, it is a challenge for the Manitoba Metis Federation to make contact. The list of trappers or families are: Bert Calcutt, Tel Cote, James Fergus, John Folster, Henry Makonse, Louis Revaire, Bertram Rowe. The Thicket Portage list contains Joe Taylor who may also have been at Herb Lake.

Information concerning the settlement is at: http://www.mmf.mb.ca/summerberry.php There is a full list of names on the site. For information please contact the Manitoba Metis Federation at the contact info provided. As I understand it, an application for compensation can be made by the trapper, his spouse, or children, but clarification as to who can apply should be obtained from the Metis Federation.

I spoke to Isabelle F, who is related to Bert Calcutt, Tel Cote and Louis Revaire (a misspelling of Revoird). I believe that James Fergus died in the Second World War. There were families of Folsters at Herb Lake Landing and at Herb Lake, and some members of these families lived in The Pas, Henry Makonse was probably “Henry the Hook”, a man who had a steel hook for a hand. For some of these trappers, this settlement goes back seventy years so it will be interesting to see if families can be located.

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Requiem for Ted Taylor

By Emily Crosby

Dear Red Squirrel,
I’ll miss you here at The Lake,
Tho’ I saw so little of you of late.

Remembering now the crib you won,
Community C.B.’s, and lots of fun.

Your Dad was my beau, so long long ago,
And you often remind me of him you know.

Your Grandparents too, come to mind,
They lived just two doors down from mine.

In all my years of growing up I saw them daily,
and got along fine.

Two miles to school with all the crew,
Roberts, Cote’s, Kobars, and Maxwells too.

All these folks will miss your going,
Remembering courage in all your doings.

You handled the knocks, and hurts and bashing,
Your “guts” and pride we’ll be rememberin.

May the place you’ve gone be a happy retreat,
And replace this life with heavenly sweets.


Note: Red Squirrel was Ted’s CB name.

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Remembering Ted Taylor

Remembering Ted Taylor

Ted Taylor, of Herb Lake Landing, was born in The Pas MB on March 10, 1938 and died on October 9, 1988 at the age of fifty. He was the son of Ted and Dulcie Taylor and received his early schooling at Herb Lake and Snow Lake and later in The Pas and Winnipeg. He was the grandson of Ben Maxwell of Herb Lake.

At sixteen, he worked for CN Telegrams and had the misfortune of being in an accident when a truck ran over him.  He survived his injuries and later worked in Alberta as a ranch hand.

In 1963 Ted returned to Manitoba and worked for Inco in the Thompson mine.  In 1966 he was in a mine accident and got muck in his left eye, which left him with only 5% vision in that eye.  He later became a surface foreman for Inco.

On June 2, 1967 he was involved in an underground accident when a crane moving timber swung and hit him on his blind side, knocking him thirty feet below, shattering his jaw and eye socket. He was transferred to a hospital in Winnipeg where he remained in a coma for 15 ½ months and was not expected to survive.  The doctors said that even if he came out of the coma he would not live, however Ted proved them wrong and he came out of the coma and showed signs of recovery.

Eventually he left the hospital and lived with his sister Brenda.  He was bedridden, but his condition slowly started to improve.  He was never expected to walk or talk again. However, about a year later, he went to live with his brother Barrie, who constructed ropes along the walls to help Ted learn to stand.  Later Ted moved to be with his Dad and eventually they moved back to Thompson.

In December 1973 Ted moved to his trailer at Herb Lake Landing.  At this time he stood with crutches only, but he was content and thankful.  He worked on his hands and knees to fix up his yard. He purchased a garden tractor and modified it so he could travel back and forth to visit his neighbors.  He then got a snowmobile and that became his means of travel in the winter.

In 1983 he obtained a restricted driver’s licence which allowed him to drive into Snow Lake and not be dependent upon others. Ted’s constant companion was his dog “Pal” who travelled everywhere with him.  Ted’s mobility and speech continued to improve as the years went by.

Ted grew up in the wilderness and he loved the outdoors and his home at Herb Lake Landing. He suffered much pain and grief in his life but despite this, he met his struggles with an inner strength and courage and a smile upon his friendly face.

It isn’t easy plodding on, Along an uphill road
It’s hard to keep your shoulders square,
Beneath a heavy load.
Still, you can smile, if you’ve a few
Sweet memories to take with you.
– (unknown author)

Reference: from his obituary published in the Snow Lake News Nov 1988

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Winter in Herb Lake

By Linda C Butler
Told by Millie McLaughlin

Winter was a lot of fun in Herb Lake, and as soon as the swamps froze we started skating.  Sometimes we played crack the whip, with the older kids taking the lead and the rest forming a line behind, with the younger kids at the end.  The older kids would skate fast and we hung on as long as we could.  The leaders would turn and crack the whip and the kids at the end of the line would go flying into the willow bushes.  I was one of those little kids that usually landed in the willows.

When the lake froze, and before much snow had fallen, we skated on the ice, which was the biggest skating rink that anyone could wish for.  The town of Herb Lake was spread out over a distance of about a mile and a half, from Stoltz’s place on the south to Bryenton’s Island on the north.  People of all ages skated back and forth along the shoreline.  On bright moonlight nights there would be skating parties with large groups of people on the ice.  Sometimes people along the shore would light bonfires so we could warm up if we were cold.

Usually in February there would be a few days of warm weather and we would have winter bonfires, much like a picnic, with everyone joining in.  We ate potatoes roasted in the coals with hot dogs and had a fun time.  Herb Lake in the winter was never dull.

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The Packsack Baby

The Packsack Baby
By Linda C Butler
Told by the late Norman Leslie

When my mother and grandmother got off the train at Mile 82 to make their way to Herb Lake, they had to walk the twelve-mile portage to the south end of Wekusko Lake.  I was a baby then, and George Bartlett, met the train, put me into his packsack, adjusted the straps so that my head was sticking out, and carried me the entire twelve miles of rough trail.

Our family lived on an island close to the Herb Lake settlement and there were many times as a boy that I made the trip across the twelve-mile portage.  I have no recollection of traveling by horses, but I probably did when I was very young.

George Bartlett was the first that I knew of to have a stopping place at the South End, or the Portage, as it was called then.  Later, I recall staying overnight at the settlement at Folsters, Cote’s and Hales.  Sometime when the train arrived early in the morning at Wekusko we stayed overnight at Rainville’s at Mile 81 or with Ducharme’s.

Note: The train originally stopped at Mile 82 but then the stop was moved to Mile 81.

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Ballard’s Island

Ballard’s Island
by:  L. M. Ballard

God shaped a little island,
The fairest he could make,
He covered it with Starbloom,
And set it in Herb Lake.

He blessed this little island,
And counted every tree,
He bade it smile a welcome,
And then he sent for me.

On summer nights the fairies,
Help make the gardens grow,
And angels flash their signals,
Across the winter snow.

O lovely, lonely island,
My feet may reach and roam,
But always in the springtime,
My heart has called me home. 

Herb Lake, Manitoba
November 7, 1929.
This poem was discovered in an old book at Herb Lake by Paul Hawman.  Thanks Paul for preserving it.

The Delphinium Plant
By Linda C Butler
Delphiniums are a perennial flower that thrive in northern gardens and in some cases, they survive long after a home and its occupants have moved on.  They are usually blue flowers and grow on a tall stalk. One time in the 60s Mom and Dad took me to the old town of Herb Lake.  It was already a ghost town with only a couple people living in the area.  Behind a deserted building we found a beautiful blue delphinium and mom dug up a piece of the root and transplanted it to our garden in Snow Lake.  It was a living souvenir of where we had once lived.

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Kathleen Rice, Prospector

Kathleen Rice, Prospector
by Linda C Butler

Kathleen Rice was recently inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame for her early prospecting work and her discovery of the first nickel deposits in Manitoba.  There are a few people living who remember her and this recent honor has generated some conversation about her.

Comments from Gus Olson March 2014: Gus said that Kathleen Rice came across the winter ice from her island to the community of Herb Lake with her white pony, Billy.  He said Billy was an attractive pony, more like a racehorse than the workhorses common in the area.  Kathleen would park the horse on the lake, close to Roberts place, and then walk to the store and post office.  Gus Olson’s folks lived nearby. (His dad was Charlie Olson.) Kathleen would stop for tea and visit with either Roberts or with Gus’ folks, before she made the trip home.

Gus said that he doesn’t recall Rice visiting Herb Lake in the summertime, and said that she never came with a canoe.  He recalls Dick Woosey, her partner, coming across to town in a canoe with a motor that sputtered.  (Woosey was one of the founders of the Herb Lake mine, approx 1914. He died a number of years before Rice.)

I spoke to Georgette Major (Mar 2014) about Rice’s horses as I thought that Majors had given Old Blue to Rice, but Georgette was uncertain and thought that Old Blue had gone to George Bartlett and one of their other horses had gone to Rice. Gus said that the horse Billy was an earlier horse, before Georgette Major moved to Herb Lake in the 1940s.

Gus said that there had been an early snowmobile on Rice’s Island, probably purchased about 1928, which was not used by Rice.  In approx 1944, George Bartlett purchased it and it was still in almost new condition.  Johnny Folster worked on it and got it running.  It was then sold to Roy Gray.

Gus said that his family would stop in the summertime to visit Rice and get strawberries from her.  They would have a cup of tea.  She always carried her rifle with her, even when entertaining friends.  Gus said that he assumed she carried the gun to protect the mineral deposits on her island from other prospectors. She raised a white flag if she wanted someone to stop who was passing by on the lake.

Doris Jacobsen (Bryenton) made these comments:  I did like to go and visit with Miss Rice.  She was always so kind to take me out and let me eat strawberries or whatever was growing in her garden.  And she told me interesting stories that I loved to hear but I now realize were part of the health issues she was dealing with.   Dad often stopped there if we were going across to Snow Lake to see if she needed supplies.  In return she supplied us with fresh vegetables.

These comments are interesting because they provide more insight into Rice’s life.

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