A whole keg of spruce gum for patching canoes was collected, besides what was used on the canoes. They hauled hay from the hills nine hundred feet above for the first horses ever mentioned in the Peace River country. They made dried meat and collected enough pemmican to take the canoe brigades past Methye Portage to the Saskatchewan River. In the spring, gardens were planted but it was a bad year both for vegetables and for game. There was great hunger until July when ten women of the Flux Indian band arrived loaded with 1182 lbs. of dried meat, 721 pounded for pemmican and 170 lbs. of grease – over a ton in total. If all the women of the world made such good burden-bearers, who would have needed trucks?
That summer’s fur trade journal also mentioned the first overland trail cut in the Peace River Country. On the rich prairie, lying in a great flat, there was another large post, one of several “St. Mary’s” which moved from place to place frequently. Indians occupied the flats. Gardens were planted by the traders, the first attempt at farming. It was known as the Shaftesbury Settlement. Indian camps and Metis houses on long plots of land faced the river in the French Canadian fashion of the voyageurs’ home province of Quebec. Later the first settlers “homesteaded” there. In 1806, a road was cut but whether or not it was a cart road is not clear. Probably it was made a little wider than the moose and deer that laid it flat – just enough wider to accommodate a laden horse – a pack trail. Soon cart or sledge trails were made in the settlement.
The supply of packhorses was a problem until 1821. For some reason — or for lack of reason – all of those coming into the country had been geldings. With the annual loss from bears and accidents and no increase by colts, the situation became acute. With characteristic decision the new Hudson’s Bay Company governor, Simpson, demanded that 20 mares and 10 stallions be sent up from the prairies. By 1824 even some of the Beaver Indians had horses. Pack or “pitching” trails began to appear through the forests along the rivers and across the prairies.