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Southern Saskatchewan tour

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ascinating place in south western Saskatchewan, tucked in a valley in the lush Cypress Hills.

This is where a maverick cop – James Walsh – built a fort in 1875, controlled the whiskey trade, patrolled the border with the US and shaped the destiny of the North West Mounted Police (original name of the RCMP). He also became a master diplomat, enforcing Canada’s native policy among people not used to external control. Walsh had just 300 police yet he dealt with 3,000 Indians, some of whom were hardened warriors under their leader Sitting Bull.

When Sitting Bull fled the US in 1876 after the Battle of the Little Bighorn (his victory causing a huge embarrassment for the US on the eve of their centenary) he spent time in Wood Mountain and Fort Walsh.

In 1881 Sitting Bull went back to the US, driven there by starvation and promises of food. Jean-Louis Legaré, a Wood Mountain trader, was hired by the US government to accompany Sitting Bull on his return and to provide his supplies. He did but was never paid. That claim for payment is still before the US courts, now pursued by Legaré’s descendants. The original bill of $15,000 is now worth about $275,000.