INTERVIEWER: What is your full name?
PETER HOUSE: That’s all, Peter House.
INTERVIEWER: And do you remember your father’s name?
PETER HOUSE: Alec House.
INTERVIEWER: So, Manning was known as what, Battle…
PETER HOUSE: No, that’s Manning, that used to be Battle River.
INTERVIEWER: Do you remember when they changed the name?
PETER HOUSE: Well, not too long ago now. When they started building a town there at Manning, that’s when they changed the name.
INTERVIEWER: You can’t remember the year, hey?
PETER HOUSE: It must have been around 1940 I guess.
INTERVIEWER: In 1940 they changed it to Manning. And, did you build railroad up there?
PETER HOUSE: Yes. They did about six years ago — now, they built a railroad up there. When we used to live in Paddle, we used to get truck to haul our grain to Grimshaw from Paddle Prairie. That’s 140 miles, we didn’t make hardly anything. The truckers make money, but not us.
INTERVIEWER: How much land did your father acquire?
PETER HOUSE: Just a quarter.
INTERVIEWER: And, he acquired it by squatting there, hey? And they gave it to him, the government gave it to him?
PETER HOUSE: Yes, they finally gave it to him.
INTERVIEWER: Did your Father when he was living, farming in this land, how did he raise you kids.
PETER HOUSE: Well, we wasn’t farming in this land, just living on it and there was nobody here, hardly anybody around there at that time. There was no road, well there was just a wagon road you know. You can’t haul nothing so nobody was farming there at that time. When he died there was nothing going on yet.
INTERVIEWER: What was the name of the mission you went to?
PETER HOUSE: Oh, it was in Peace River, I don’t know now. About ten miles up Peace River, High Prairie, the mission was, used to be.
INTERVIEWER: You don’t remember the name hey?
PETER HOUSE: No, I don’t remember.
INTERVIEWER: What was it run by, the R.C.’S?
PETER HOUSE: No, I don’t know how it was run.
INTERVIEWER: It was a Catholic mission…?
PETER HOUSE: Yes, it was a Catholic mission.
INTERVIEWER: And as a boy, what did you do for a pastime when you were a boy?
PETER HOUSE: Well, we used to work lots, me and my brother, the oldest one used to haul freight, pack horses and trap. We were pretty young then too. We used to trap together. We got a lot of fur one winter and my uncle went up north and finally my mother stayed with a man and he went up north trapping. He left us there and we got a bunch of fur and when we come back, well, we went to the store and when we come back all our fur was gone, he stole them all, but he used to be good to us, he was pretty hard to beat for a man like that to kids. He was good to us.
INTERVIEWER: Your Father was one of the first up here in at that time at Battle River, which is now known as Manning. He was one of the first ones.
PETER HOUSE: Yes, the other one was Savard, and the other was Johnny Arnold and Charlie Plavine and, well, that’s all there was out there I guess at that time. My grandfather, I can remember my grandmother, she was, she lived a long time, she lived until 114 I think, when she died.
INTERVIEWER: Your grandmother did?
PETER HOUSE: Yes.
INTERVIEWER: What did your grandmother mostly live on?
PETER HOUSE: Oh, she had some old age pension, twenty dollars a month at that time.
INTERVIEWER: No, I actually meant for food, for grub.
PETER HOUSE: Well, she would still do everything, rabbits you know. She was a good worker. We had a bunch of cattle — she had a bunch of cattle too, when my Dad died. She had lots of horses and cattle. We lived on milk from the cows too.
INTERVIEWER: You’re Cree aren’t you, from the Cree?
PETER HOUSE: Yes
INTERVIEWER: Where did your Dad originate, where did he come from?
PETER HOUSE: Well, around the Athabasca, that’s where we come from, that’s where he was raised I think.
INTERVIEWER: In Athabasca.
PETER HOUSE: Yes, High Prairie, I got some relations up there, yet.
INTERVIEWER: You wouldn’t remember what year that was?
PETER HOUSE: No. Well see, when we moved into Manning, I was about three years old, that’s about fifty-nine years ago. I’ll be sixty-two this summer.
INTERVIEWER: Fifty-nine years ago, hey.
PETER HOUSE: Yes.
INTERVIEWER: So, fifty-nine from seventy-three would be almost 1914.
PETER HOUSE: Yes, I guess so. It would be about that, yes.
INTERVIEWER: You would have been born in 1911, then?
PETER HOUSE: Yes.
INTERVIEWER: Well, now, how did he move his whole family up there? Can you remember him ever telling you that?
PETER HOUSE: Well, we moved out there, I guess with horses and a wagon. And they cut the road as they go I guess, I don’t know. I guess they used to trap up there, and that’s how they moved up there because the land was good and everything. Trapping was good.
INTERVIEWER: You went to Slave Lake too hey?
PETER HOUSE: Yes, I guess so, and then to High Prairie and all in that route to Peace River.
INTERVIEWER: Was there already a trail there, or did you guys have to cut a trail?
PETER HOUSE: Well, there must have been a road in there at that time up to Peace River maybe, but from there on north, I don’t know, maybe that was when they cut the road too as they went, I don’t know.
INTERVIEWER: How long about did it take you guys to move from Athabasca?
PETER HOUSE: Oh, gosh, that’s one thing I couldn’t tell you. I just remember that winter we got there, Manning, that’s North Star now, it’s not Manning. I could remember too one time there, my mother was going down to the creek to get some water, I remember that time. That’s the only time. I was too small to remember how long it took and everything. It must’ve been a long time; it’s a long ways.
INTERVIEWER: It would be nice to know. Do you know somebody that might know how long it would have taken? By horse and wagon, I guess maybe two weeks hey?
PETER HOUSE: Oh no, longer than that. A month at least.
INTERVIEWER: It took about a month to get up there from Athabasca to Manning hey. Well, where did that town get it’s name, Manning?
PETER HOUSE: Gosh, I don’t know how they got that. You see at first there was a little town they used to call it Motikewin, well really what that name means is Motigeelan, Battle River, that’s what it used to be called. There used to be fighting there a long time ago.
INTERVIEWER: What where they fighting about?
PETER HOUSE: I don’t know. I just heard that, but I got no clue at all. I can’t tell you nothing about that.
INTERVIEWER: Your Dad never talked to you about that hey?
PETER HOUSE: No, well, he was not there too. That was way before we moved up here.
INTERVIEWER: Yes, what was it known again in Cree?
PETER HOUSE: Notikeelin. That’s what we’re supposed to say when they said Notikeelin. One woman used to have a store. She was married to a Frenchman Cree and she named that name, Notikeelin. It’s supposed to be that, wee, that’s what she said, I guess. The white man said Notikeelin. Well, that’s still there, that little town, but there’s not much there now.
INTERVIEWER: Not much of it left now.
PETER HOUSE: Yes, most of them moved to Manning now. Nice town.
INTERVIEWER: Oh yes. Well, how did you, who bought your grain from you. What company bought your grain?
PETER HOUSE: You mean when we were in Battle River? Oh, I don’t know. We would see if we could sell them wherever we could, to which elevator we wanted to sell it to, different elevators there. I don’t remember where I sold mine. In Grimshaw I think.
INTERVIEWER: Well, that’s real interesting. And, on the trap when you were up there farming, you set your own trap-line too?
PETER HOUSE: Well, not in Battle. In Battle this colony, you can trap anywhere you want like a long time ago. Before we used to trap wherever we wanted to trap. They took our license a long time ago. No registered lines. Just the same thing in Battle you can go out hunting anytime and trap there wherever you want to go. Still, go right now, you can do that, shooting in that colony. So, I used to trap wherever I wanted to trap when I was there.
INTERVIEWER: Other than the mission did you go to school in Manning?
PETER HOUSE: No.
INTERVIEWER: You never went to school there…?
PETER HOUSE: No, there was no school then, when we came home from the mission.
INTERVIEWER: How long did you spend in the mission?
PETER HOUSE: About a year and a half I guess.
INTERVIEWER: I wonder if that would be Saint Mary’s Mission?
PETER HOUSE: Could be, I don’t know. They moved it to Hay Lake now. That’s where it is now.
INTERVIEWER: Oh, that’s further north yet.
PETER HOUSE: That’s almost on the line. Yes, they moved the whole works. I seen some buildings yet in that place where we used to be. That’s where they have that jailhouse now in Peace River, where that mission used to be.
INTERVIEWER: Now, it’s the penitentiary like?
PETER HOUSE: Well, that’s right.
INTERVIEWER: Well, what kind of entertainment did the people get to enjoy over there? Like music?
PETER HOUSE: When was this?
INTERVIEWER: When you were there, as a little boy.
PETER HOUSE: Oh, I don’t know. Violin mostly I guess, in them days, they used to have violins, and finally they had guitars. At first there was no guitars, just violins, oh and some of them had accordions. My mother used to play an accordion. She used to have one a long time ago.
INTERVIEWER: Was there R.C.M.P. protection at that time?
PETER HOUSE: There was no police protection there at that time.
INTERVIEWER: Well, you have to go to Peace River to get the police. The Mounted Police, wouldn’t you? That’s a long way to go for a policeman. It’s over what, a hundred miles?
PETER HOUSE: No, seventy miles.
INTERVIEWER: But, I guess in those days there wasn’t too much trouble either hey?
PETER HOUSE: No, I don’t think so.
INTERVIEWER: No booze?
PETER HOUSE: Not much I guess, I couldn’t say. After awhile the Ukrainians came, moved in, they used to make list of moonshine.
INTERVIEWER: Ukrainians, when did they move in?
PETER HOUSE: It would be about 1920 I guess, 1925 or ‘30.
INTERVIEWER: The Ukrainians moved up in Manning…
PETER HOUSE: Yes, Manning.
INTERVIEWER: Did they mix with the Indians pretty good?
PETER HOUSE: Well, some of them, they did yeah. Some of them were good; some of them were bad too. They brought in a lot of booze.
INTERVIEWER: They brought in a lot of booze and got them drunk I guess hey?
PETER HOUSE: No, they just made their moonshine some of them, right there. Sell it.
INTERVIEWER: This is the Ukrainians?
PETER HOUSE: Yes.
INTERVIEWER: Well, how did they acquire the land?
PETER HOUSE: It was open for homestead. I guess quite a bit was open for homestead, whoever got there first.
INTERVIEWER: Lots of land. And what did the Ukrainians grow? Grain too?
PETER HOUSE: Oh yes, some of them grew grain. Some of them had quite a few cattle you know, all at once.
INTERVIEWER: Well, what about religion? Were you taught the Roman Catholic faith?
PETER HOUSE: Yes, I been a Catholic since I can remember and my Dad was a good Catholic and my mother and all my relations were Catholics. On my mother’s side and my Dad’s side, so I’m a Catholic. I wouldn’t say I’m a good Catholic, but I’ll never take another one, I’ll say I’m going to stay a Catholic until I die. My wife was a Catholic too, and she turned into something else and I used to go with her, just to please her and finally I quit and she went to another one and she’s got nothing today. I don’t know if she ever goes to that one now.
INTERVIEWER: Well, what makes the young Indian change their religion like that? What makes them change? Is it because the priest doesn’t come around any more?
PETER HOUSE: Well, there’s only one that goes around to see the people. He lives near the Meander River. His name is Father Merriman.
INTERVIEWER: Did he used to travel around in the old days to visit the people?
PETER HOUSE: Well, he’s not that old, you know, but he used to travel around, but he doesn’t have a car. He walks around. No, sometimes he borrows a horse or something to travel with. He doesn’t take nothing to eat. He eats wherever, whenever he can get something to eat from the people.
INTERVIEWER: Well, did any priest used to go to Manning?
PETER HOUSE: Well, I guess so, but that was a long time ago, I don’t remember.
INTERVIEWER: What about fur traders now? How did you sell your furs when you had them?
PETER HOUSE: Well, I was trapping and they used to have trading posts up there then, it’s about ninety miles from Manning, north-west. That’s where we used to trap and there used to be a fur buyer come up there and he would but furs and they used to have trading post there and we would sell our furs there. Wayne Bassett was a fur buyer, he still lives, he’s pretty old now. He lives near the Eureka River, up north-west of Fairview. And, the other one, Ray LaMarche and Charlie Braden. The first one that started up was Charlie Braden.
INTERVIEWER: Charlie Braden. He used to buy furs.
PETER HOUSE: Yes, he used to have a store, a little store in Battle.
INTERVIEWER: Do you remember what price they used to bring in?
PETER HOUSE: Not very much.
INTERVIEWER: Not too much for the furs, hey?
PETER HOUSE: No.
INTERVIEWER: Have you ever heard of Father Brown?
PETER HOUSE: No, I haven’t.
INTERVIEWER: And the priest used to come over there and visit over there. Was this before the Ukrainians moved in?
PETER HOUSE: Well, I think there used to be a priest there actually, before the Ukrainians came in, but I don’t know that. Finally there was a church there, but I don’t remember the names of the priest there.
INTERVIEWER: You don’t remember their names…?
PETER HOUSE: I got married in North Star, that’s Little Prairie, called that a long time ago. They call it North Star now.
INTERVIEWER: When did they change the name, do you remember?
PETER HOUSE: Well, that was a long time ago, when they changed it. When they started building that town there, North Star. That’s when they changed the name. It would be around 1930 maybe.
INTERVIEWER: Was there many Indians families that moved up there from Athabasca?
PETER HOUSE: Well, I don’t remember. There was my family and my grandfather and them and my uncles, one or two. There was three of them I guess then. My family and those other ones, I know they’re up there too, they came from Athabasca. And, Savards, that’s where they come from too, someplace in there.
INTERVIEWER: So, when your father was on the trail, there was more then one wagon?
PETER HOUSE: No, I don’t remember, I was too small to add then, when he died, you know. I was only seven years old. The time that that ‘flu, I can recall that. There was lots of people died over that, that’s the time my Dad died.
INTERVIEWER: Do you remember the time of the ‘flu?
PETER HOUSE: Not very well. It was a bad one though. There was no doctor. Nobody knew anything about that sickness, came up that fall and that’s how come my Dad got that sickness. We had a bunch of cattle too and nobody to look after them and also horses. And, he put on his big coat, I guess to go out and feed then and that’s where he fainted out there. Got cold and died shortly after.
INTERVIEWER: So, the nearest doctor would be at Peace River…seventy miles?
PETER HOUSE: Oh, it would be more that that you know on the old roads. It would be about eighty or ninety miles.
INTERVIEWER: Did the Indians around there have any medicine that they used to use of their own?
PETER HOUSE: Yes, well, what they found out they could use, was good for that, was skunk, what-you-call-it?
INTERVIEWER: Was it taken from a skunk?
PETER HOUSE: Yes. The perfume.
INTERVIEWER: The perfume. How did they used to use it?
PETER HOUSE: Well, they used to take that in water, I guess. One drop or so. And, they used to hang them things out by their door so that that wouldn’t go in there, like. They would hang them up by the door outside, I remember that. And, my aunt, she died last Fall. She was about ninety years old, or maybe a hundred. She drank some of that stuff and she got better. All of us was sick at the house. Just one of my aunts, she was the only one up. She was cooking for us. Everybody else was laying down, then there was nobody to feed them horses or cattle.
INTERVIEWER: How many were in your family?
PETER HOUSE: Five. Five of us boys and my Mother and Dad. Well, they lost some before that too.