When the railway reached Edson, Miller had lived around Edmonton for three years. In 1911, there was a trail leading into a new wilderness where there was no railroad and no roads worthy of the name. The family built and then abandoned a stopping place that should have been a paying proposition and set out on the incredibly horrendous Edson Trail which ended at Saskatoon Lake, a hamlet on the Grande Prairie. They “had the intention of staying there”, but Miller heard of another prairie where the Tremblay family had lived for four years. Said his son, Everett, “My father couldn’t resist. He said he hadn’t come to the end of the road yet.”
There was only a shack or two where Pouce Coupe would be. The Millers stopped for a meal with the Tremblays, but Miller had seen another trail leading still further during his reconnaissance trip the previous autumn. A trail it was, cut for a pack horse — no ruts for a wagon. But on the travelers went to a place they later named Rolla in honour of their Missouri roots. They set up their tent at 4:30 in the afternoon and stayed.
Why there? Simply that Lee Miller liked the looks of it. He had found what he wanted — rich black loam, patches of prairie that could be broken at once for a first crop and some vegetables — nearby trees for a log home — and a superb view.
The Milers were the first white family to come, not to trade or trap, but expressly to farm. Their establishments became showplaces as the years passed.
Further references in:
South Peace River District and Dawson Creek, BC by M. Coutts