27 December

Church constructed by George and John McDougall

John McDougall Born at Owen Sound, Ontario

Christmas dinner 1864, prairie style: buffalo boss and tongue, beaver tail, moose nose, wild cat, prairie chicken, rabbit, and pemmican. The menu was left in the writings of Methodist missionary, Reverend John McDougall, whose place in Canadian history ranks with the greatest of the western pioneers. He realized that the future of the western plains lay in agricultural development, not in fur-trapping.

John McDougall was born at Owen Sound, Ontario on December 27, 1842. He was educated at Cobourg, Ontario, until his missionary father, Reverend George McDougall, took over a post at Norway House at the north end of Lake Winnipeg. Young John spent a good deal of time teaching young Indians and learning their language. He was also a good athlete, and volunteered to paddle the canoe when his father decided to visit the missions which came under his charge. It meant a journey as far west as Fort Edmonton. When they arrived, John McDougall knew he had "come home." There could be no other place in the world for him but that region, and he established a mission at Victoria, 90 miles northeast of Fort Edmonton.

In order to obtain supplies it was necessary to journey to Fort Garry. On the trail, McDougall and his helpers camped one night with another group moving west. There was a good deal of banter about athletics, so it was decided to have a track meet the following day. John McDougall won all the races and the stone-throwing contest in what must have been the first athletic contest in Saskatchewan.

There are dozens of stories about the McDougalls in Saddle, Sled and Snowshoe, and in Fifty Mighty Men by Grant MacEwan. One of them is about John McDougall's toothache. It was torture but there was no dentist within 1,000 miles. Every possible remedy was tried, even applying a red hot iron, but there was no relief. Finally Reverend George McDougall made forceps from a pair of pincers and tried to pull out the tooth. After five attempts, it broke off at the gum, leaving painful roots still in the jaw. John McDougall's toothache lasted until he could get to a dentist while on a visit to eastern Canada, nine years later!


27 December

-1610    Samuel de Champlain made a marriage contract with Hélène Boullé, who was twelve years old (see November 3).

-1789    The first stage coach service in Upper Canada was inaugurated between Queenston and Fort Erie, 25 miles. The fare was one dollar.

-1867    The Legislatures of Ontario and Quebec held their first meetings.

-1869    Louis Riel was proclaimed president of the Red River settlement.

              The first issue of the Ottawa Free Press was released.

-1960    The Federal and Quebec Governments agreed on the Quebec section of the Trans-Canada Highway.