McFarlane, a Grande Prairie settler whose homestead is located on Cut Bank Lake a few miles north of Beaver Lodge Post Office, arrived in the city on Tuesday.
“There were eleven teams which came out from Grande Prairie at the same time I came”, said Mr. McFarlane, “and of that number not a team will return over the Edson Trail. They have all been shipped in to the city, and will go back by the long route, over the ice from Athabasca Landing.” Mr. McFarlane, who is the brother of W. G. McFarlane, the surveyor, and who has been located on his homestead for two summers, came to Edmonton en route to Toronto, Ont. where he will spend Christmas with his family. The other men who came out with him were Pat Murphy and Alex. McDonald, homesteaders on Deep Lake, and Messrs. Gladu and Calahoo. Mr. McFarlane brought three teams in carrying Orville Rolfson’s surveying outfit. Mr. Rolfson has been working during the summer in the vicinity of Fort St. John.
“I left Grande Prairie on Dec. 1st,” said Mr. McFarlane, “and arrived at Edson on Dec. 13th. The trail was in such condition that I think it most unwise for settlers to use it. Besides the stumps and stones that strew it from one end to the other, the succession of hills makes it practically impossible for a load of any size. We used sleighs coming in, and while there was not a great depth of snow, I consider that even with a foot or more the trail will not be greatly improved, for the hills will remain until they are graded down.
“The provincial government has had road gangs on the trail all summer, and at present there is a large crew at work, cutting the stumps and removing stones, but a good road cannot be made in a week, nor without a very large expenditure of money. Another important feature in the use of this trail is the scarcity of food. It is necessary for any man coming out or going in over this trail to carry feed for his horses from the Sturgeon to Edson. This is a distance of about 160 miles. There are stopping places on the way, but they are not well supplied with food. At one of these I paid at the rate of $100 per ton for a bale of hay.
s”I think it has been most unfortunate this manner in which this trail has been misrepresented during the past summer. Along the trail on both sides cache after cache of settlers’ effects are to be seen. These tell their own story of the difficulties experienced by settlers who essayed to use this trail during the summer. Because of the scarcity of feed the horses have given out, and finally the prospective settler has been forced to cache his goods, his money having also disappeared. When a man is compelled to turn back for these reasons, it is most unlikely that he will ever go into the country to live.
“Last week, three Stettler farmers, who decided to go into the Grande Prairie, shipped goods and teams to Edson, and started in over this trail. When they got 20 miles out, they decided to turn back, and they have reshipped their goods to Edmonton, and will go in by the long route.”
Mr. McFarlane stated that the crops in the Grande Prairie country this year were very large. He estimates that there are 15,000 bushels of good seed oats in the vicinity of Saskatoon Lake. Oats at the present time are finding a ready market at $1.00 to $1.25 a bushel; wheat, $1.50 to $2.00 per bushel; and potatoes, which were an exceptionally large crop, at $1.00 per bushel.
Edmonton Bulletin, December 21, 1911 — Page 10