Alexis Gauthier, a well-known Metis of Chetwynd, vouches for this story. Since boyhood Alexis had seen a lot of his friend Treadwell. “He just about raised me,” said Alexis. Alexis and his father trapped on the other side of Tuscola Mountain, beyond Treadwell’s place at Bakers’ Cabins. But the Gauthiers had built a cabin a few miles from Treadwell’s on the south side of Long Lake.
One winter as Alexis was moving out to their trapline, he went over to pay a call on the old man. There were six inches of snow on the ground, untrampled. Treadwell had not been seen for some weeks, and had not been encountered between this spot and his main cabin at Twidwell Bend. More alarming was the fact that the door was locked from the inside. Alexis called and called but there was no answer except the growling of some animals.
At last Treadwell unlocked the door but he was too weak to speak. Three starving dogs and the stench of frigid, foul air greeted Alexis. Man and dogs had been “denned” up for two weeks! There was no fire, no water, and no wood. Treadwell was wrapped in a single blanket. He had frozen his feet while in the bush getting out some logs. Now they were grotesquely swollen and the toes turning gangrenous. He had barely dragged himself to the door.
Alexis wanted to take his friend back at once, but Treadwell refused, “I can’t walk,” he said.
“I have good dogs and a toboggan at my cabin”, insisted Alexis. “My trapping can wait.” He set about chopping open the waterhole and getting some water, and got enough wood out of the pile to last the night. Tea, a little food, and a lot of warmth revived the old man a little, but he still refused to be moved. Then Alexis unceremoniously bundled him up and took him to the Gauthier’s cabin. It took a long time with only the three emaciated dogs to help.
Alexis kept Treadwell for four nights at his Long Lake place, and then with four big huskies he made his way to the Middle-Fork (Sukunka) River, which he followed down to Treadwell’s home place at “Twidwell bend.” After an early start, they covered the nearly four miles by 3 p.m.
Treadwell went at once to a money cache under the floor, and insisted on paying the young Indian. There were seventy-five dollars there.
“Whatever I have to do, I’ll do!” said Treadwell. “I’m not hard up!”
The young Indian refused. To have accepted pay for doing what pioneers expected of each other would have broken his code of honour.
“I saved him,” said Alexis Gauthier simply, when he told the story nearly fifty years later.
Treadwell was bundled up and boosted on the back of a horse. Bob Fry took him to the Pouce Coupe Outpost Hospital, a hundred miles away. Details of that part of the trip are not known, but it is known that the injured man “made it.” Parts of his feet were amputated, but as another Metis put it, “With half a foot Treadwell could climb those mountains faster than I could. Just like a mountain goat.”