We had the radio on in the truck as we were finishing up chores and heading home for lunch today when we heard a story on CBC about Louison Fosseneuve, aka Captain Shot — “At six foot three, with hawk-like features, scraggy beard, and piercing eyes, he looked more like a gunslinger from the American wild west than the king of the Athabasca scowmen.” That got the kids’ attention right away.
What got mine was a comment about the Captain by none other than Emily Murphy, the first woman magistrate in the British Empire and one of the Famous Five. As she wrote of their 1912 meeting in her book Seeds of Pine (under her pen name, Janey Canuck):
“Antoine presents me to Captain Shot, an Indian who has been on this river for forty-eight years. The captain is seventy-three* . … I say that Antoine “presents me” and I say it advisedly, for the North levels people, by which is meant the primitive north where they live with nature. In this environment, the man who builds boats and supplies food or fuel, is the superior of the man or woman who writes, or pronounces theories. I may be able to hoodwink the people up south as to my importance in our community, but it is different here.”
You can read more about Captain Shot and his adventures here at the Lac La Biche Mission Historical Society website, which is a particularly comprehensive, well researched, and well written source of provincial history.