14 October

Jerry Potts (1840-1896)

Fort Macleod Begun

It is said that "the Mounties always get their man." One of the best men they got was Jerry Potts, but he was not a criminal. He served as police scout and guide for twenty-two years. No gallery of famous charters in Canadian history would be complete without a picture of Jerry: round-shouldered, bow-legged, pigeon-toed, and scarred from head to foot from fights with Indians.

Jerry was half Indian himself and could get along with Indians or with white men equally well. Some of his adventures are described in Grant MacEwan's book, Fifty Mighty Men. The Mounties discovered him when they were making their long march west in 1874. They were trying to get to Old Man River to establish a base, but they became lost when they reached Sweet Grass. Colonel Macleod made a side trip to Fort Benton on the Missouri River, and heard about Jerry Potts. He persuaded him to help the new police force, and they went to Sweet Grass together.

Needless to say, the Mounties were not impressed by Potts at first, but they soon learned that there was no better man on the prairies to help them out of trouble. When water was needed, Jerry could find a spring. When food was scarce Jerry could find a buffalo. He was never lost, even in the dark. On one Occasion when he was looking for a pile of stones as a landmark, Colonel Macleod asked,

"What's the matter? Are you lost?" Potts answered, "No, stones lost!" He seldom spoke when he was traveling, but concentrated on looking for the landmarks that would show him the way. He guided the first force from Sweet Grass to Old Man River where they began building Fort Macleod on October 14, 1874.In one of his early Indian fights, Jerry Potts received a gun pellet in the flesh below his left ear, but always refused to let it be taken out. It was his good-luck charm. Somehow the pellet worked its way out in 1896 and he was greatly disturbed. He died later in the year, and was buried at Fort Macleod with full military honours.


14 October

-1747    Admiral Hawke defeated a French fleet bound for Canada.

-1841    A Royal charter was issued for the University of Kingston (Presbyterian).

-1844    John A. Macdonald was elected to Parliament as member for Kingston.

-1935    The Liberals won a general election with 173 seats, Conservatives 40, Social Credit 17 (first time), C.C.F. 7, Reconstruction Party 1.

-1952    The Honourable L. B. Pearson, Minister of External Affairs, was elected President of the United Nations Assembly.