American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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Days Remembered

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  • Publication Year: 1974

Days Remembered

James Simpson

When a man becomes a legend in his own time, particularly if he is articulate, he creates his own image for posterity, an autobiography that is unique and not to be improved by others. Jim Simpson was my friend and companion on the trail for more than half a century, but it was only in the last years of his life that he began putting on paper the things which seemed to be worth remembering. He replied to my questioning in 32 letters between October, 1968, and February, 1972, all written after he had attained 90 years of age. Space will permit the inclusion of only a part of this, but the words here presented are his own.

—J. Monroe Thorington

WHEN I sit down and begin to recall some old-time incidents I get laughing to myself and people think I am over the borderline for certain. I begin to think I am the only jackass left out of the old-time bunch.

Am still going strong if not so fast as before, but old Father Time plays no favorites and I guess I cannot grumble as I have had my best days and no regrets. Have not heard of any mountaineers of that name for some years. Have not packed a horse or gone on the trail as nobody wants to do other than ride in a car, drink champagne out of plastic cups, then boast about roughing it to all and sundry. If you talk about the Freshfield or Castleguard, they think it is something to eat. Never-the-less I have a good time every summer enlightening them that there were people before their time who did things.

My early moniker was Justin McCarthy Simpson. I was named for a historian, a friend of my father’s who wrote a history of Stamford, where I was born. This history was of the period of the ‘King across the Water,’ King Charles, who conferred titles on some of the nobility and gave our family a coat of arms. I do not show it in Canada as most people would think it was an advertisement of Beecham’s Pills. I was born August 8th, 1877, in Stamford, Lincolnshire, lived there until March, 1896, when I disgraced the family in church and a dear old uncle predicted I was born to be hanged.

It happened in this wise: the family pew was up close to the altar and the lesser fry of the congregation were in the stalls. That made the family somewhat hoity-toity. The little vicar got playing around with the lady organist, so he was asked to send in his resignation, which he did and stated that he would preach his last sermon the following Sunday. I had to be there, but instead of pushing to the far end of the pew, somehow I was the last in which made me first to get out. He preached a good sermon, asked the congregation for no condolences, but they could watch him leave them perhaps forever. As he passed down the aisle I let off a big laugh and pointed to his back. On his coattails there was pinned a bunch of mistletoe and kissing under the mistletoe was in vogue in Queen Victoria’s time.

“I am going to send you to Australia,” said my uncle. “No, please send me to America,” I begged. So that is how I left in March, 1896, at the age of 19 to go farming southwest of Winnipeg. But I was not cut out to be a farmer and, after one night, I went back to Winnipeg and changed my English sovereigns into Canadian currency. I came to Banff the same year, April, worked for the C.P.R. at Laggan, now Lake Louise with tools I had never seen before, i.e. pick and shovel, and liked it but was laid off in November. Mixing with men who had built the Canadian Pacific and some who had crossed the prairie in a covered wagon was the medicine I needed.

Knowing lots of passenger conductors I got to Vancouver for 15 dollars and left for Frisco to see the sights on 50 dollars. Frisco was as wide open as a church door but not for the same reasons. I rode the Southern Pacific down to Los Angeles without a ticket, got badly broke, and joined a gang of a thousand hoboes who were going to place their grievances before the president in Washington (I never found out what their grievances were) and Jack London, the author, was one of the party. I quit them at a place called Grants, west of Albuquerque, and worked on the Santa Fe Railway, then beat my way back to Los Angeles. After a period which I obliterate, I shipped on a Victoria, B.C., sealing schooner and put in three months seal hunting off the California coast and Vancouver Island. Got paid off and found out the greatest difficulty in this life—how a newly landed sailor learns to pass the first saloon; I never did fathom it.

I dropped a couple of Christian handles as superfluous in Western Canada. I only used them once and that was when I cabled our English lawyers that I had passed my 21st birthday ten minutes ago to get the legacy from some relative I never knew. It went into horses and saddlery and from then on I was on my own.

I joined Tom Wilson’s gang in 1898. Cooked for a party of Philadelphians at Emerald Lake; Mrs. Schaffer and her first husband were of the party. She later married Bill Warren and wrote Old Indian Trails. Yes, I knew Collie, Stutfield, Woolley, Weed, Wilcox and Dr. Longstaff; also Fay and Abbot. I also met Col. O’Hara when he passed Castle Mountain after visiting the lake that bears his name.

Wilcox. I met Wilcox in 1899, on my first big game hunt in October with two Englishmen. The guide was Tom Lusk; myself cook, but did the hunting. I saw Barrett and Wilcox leave for Assiniboine earlier. I was with Wilcox and his wife, Nan, when he was doing photographic work in Consolation Valley. That was when Moraine Lake was called Desolation Lake. I never thought Wilcox was of the marrying type: he was too much wrapped up in his work to give much time to anyone else. Also he was mixed up in the mahogany acreage in Cuba and there was trouble over it.

The Walling boys, Willoughby and English, from Chicago. They went with guides Edward Feuz, Sr., Clark and Zurfluh to Assiniboine in 1900 and I was cook. Also there was a third, a painter named Farrell from Montreal who gave his watercolor box to old Edward to carry for him and Edward promptly lost it as he was in charge of the ‘schnapps.’ Farrell did not climb but stayed in camp shooting at ducks. The Walling boys got up Assiniboine to the top band of rocks crossing west to east just below the peak. The guides said the rifle vibration of the artist at the lake was starting small avalanches and it was too dangerous. It might have been, but with three Swiss guides I think possibly they were indifferent climbers. That is the party that got lost trying to get to the C.P.R. hotel via Spray River, killed a saddle horse for meat within fifty yards of a lumber road and were found next day. The three guides made the hotel that night, then reported the lost party next morning. The packtrain had to turn back and go to Banff via Canmore as it would have taken a week to cut through via Spray River. Tom Wilson sent them on a recovery trip, Banff to Laggan for a week, and old Tom Lusk was the guide and I the cook. The two boys liked blackberry brandy, took two bottles and while I had them hunting, old Tom polished off all the brandy and was well baked when we got back to camp.

Fred Stephens. Certainly I knew him. Camped with him many times, and Outram and Collie joined up at Glacier Lake, went up Forbes Creek and climbed Mt. Forbes together. Hans Kaufmann, brother of Outram’s guide, Christian, was their guide. Stephens had trouble in his married life. He couldn’t agree to female rule, so they broke up and went to court. She wanted custody of the child, a boy, and the judge ruled him to her as he did not think Fred was a proper person to bring him up. Fred had other ideas so he gathered up a few horses, stole the boy one moonlight night and hit out for the Brazeau River, as he said to try washing diapers instead of dishes. He made it down to Michigan and left the boy with relations. I did not see him for a long time but one day he dropped into Banff to see me and, after the usual trail welcome, he told me he had just come back from the States where he went to bury the boy.

I remember Collie and Stephens ascending Mt. Edith (1900), and Collie told me he took a bottle of champagne up to celebrate it, poured a cup full for Fred and asked him how he liked it. The reply was “Well, Collie, I’ve tasted cider back in Michigan that beats this stuff all to hell.”

Arthur O. Wheeler had a classical encounter with Stephens. Wheeler was a very bumptious personality and Stephens was very careful of his horses. Whenever he saw good pasturage for his string he would make camp even if it was in the afternoon. He was packing the preparatory camp into Mt. Robson when Arthur O. said to him: “Stephens, I am taking five of the boys, going ahead and will get camp ready for tonight’s stay.” Stephens had other ideas again. After three hours he saw some good horse feed, made camp and listened to the grass growing. So Wheeler stayed under the trees, no supper and no breakfast, walked back to see what was the matter and got there just as Fred was leaving with the packstring. Wheeler snapped: “Stephens, I always heard you were a damn good man, but you are not.” To which Stephens replied: “Wheeler, I always heard you were a s.o.b. and you are.” They dissolved their good relationship on the spot. Now they are both dead and probably continuing the argument.

Stephens was a big strapping specimen from the lumber woods of Michigan, an expert woodsman and strong as a bull, but no diplomat. As soon as he got to camp he would take off his boots and socks, grab his axe, which he would take to bed with him, and go out cutting wood in his bare feet. If he stepped on a piece of Juniper he would murmur something uncomplimentary, lift the foot, brush off the thorns and leave the points still in the skin and go on with his chopping. No wonder Collie liked him; we all did, except Wheeler.

Of course I knew Wheeler very well as I used to handle the horse transport for the Alpine Club in all but the first camp. It was at the Lake O’Hara camp that I met Edward Whymper of Matterhorn fame. He got me very drunk at the old Field Hotel after the camp was over and confided that he had a very clever brother who drank himself to death and, said he, “Yes, Simpson, and I used to say to him, George why don’t you take it in moderation as I do” (!).

Whymper was peculiar, possibly because he had been lionized too much, but he was so determined as an individual and such a strong character that he resembled a bull dog, very much like the cartoons of that dog standing astride the Union Jack ready to devour anyone who touched it. I asked him once if he had any hobbies other than mountaineering and he told me that he collected the skins of tropical birds but quit it because his best specimens usually showed up on his wife’s hat.

The Butterfly Lady. For three summers I took on the trail an adventurous ‘dear old lady,’ Mary de la Beach-Nichol, daughter of Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, Viscount St. Aldwyn. Butterfly hunting was carried on in the Rockies and later as far south as Lake Chelan, Washington. The southern trip was via Okanagan Lake, Similkameen to Hope on the C.P.R., crossing the Fraser with packtrain on an Indian scow, and finally returning to Lake Louise. On this journey I had Syd Unwin as packer.

‘The dear old lady,’ who died in 1914, often told me that she was going to send me her nephew, one John Blandy-Jenkins, who was rather wild. Imagine my surprise when I received a cable telling me to prepare for a four months hunting trip starting June 1st for four people. Imagine my surprise, not only at the date when all hunting is taboo, but when the party arrived to find this young man with a chauffeur, two jockeys and two trunks full of bowie knives and guns. The young fellow was a dark, handsome man of twenty-five. He had stopped off in New York to marry a Follies girl for a short period (took $25,000 to get rid of) and acquired the title of Millionaire Kid. For a new arrival he was doing very well.

Of course the hunting trip never materialized, but the boy did. I found out afterwards that he had been cashiered out of the British Army as being too wild for army life, and that is something. In the west he tried ranching with no stock but plenty of sweet Burgundy, dodged two drafts for overseas during the first European unpleasantness, was put under lock and key until the third draft, got over to Ireland, forged checks on his uncle and was in durance vile for some period. But while there he broke hearts of numerous females, married and made his peace with the church. I never heard from him later, but only a year past I saw in a Vancouver paper that a John Blandy-Jenkins was wanted in that city for cleaning out government coffers of some hundred thousand dollars and was down in California somewhere. It must have been his offspring hatched in Calgary. It could not have been the parent, who maybe was shot at sunrise somewhere by some outraged husband.

Outram. No, he would not let me go to Mt. Columbia, but wanted me to climb Lyell later; which I refused as he had a lot of surveyor’s impedimenta to carry up and back. As you know from his climbing record he wanted all the glory himself. His guide, Kaufmann, was just help. He mellowed later in life when he came into the title of Sir.

Collie. No, Collie did not pack much champagne. His drink was No. 4 Scotch from the Army and Navy stores in London. He used to pack it in champagne cases because they could stand a lot of abuse in timbered country. When I first went packing, champagne cases were always used for such work. Later we made our own pack-boxes. When the English ceased to come west such drink was in vogue. We Canadians had taken to Scotch and Seagram ’83.

Phillips. Curly Phillips, of course I knew him as I passed through Jasper three if not four times with my packtrain. No, he never claimed he and Kinney got to the peak of Robson, but he did not deny it until Wheeler of the Canadian Alpine Club questioned him. Kinney I disliked when I met him. Too boastful to suit me though he was a Rev. (1909)

Habel. I never met, but his crew I knew well. His guide was Dan Campbell, brother of the Bob Campbell who bought out Tom Wilson’s Lake Louise pony business, and his horse wrangler was a Boer war veteran named Joe Barker, who fell off a C.P.R. flat car at old Bankhead mine, struck his head on a steel rail and was killed. In the record Habel left on the Chaba he omitted the name of Joe Barker, his horse wrangler; the two did not see eye to eye. As I told you before, Dan Campbell was his guide, when Habel was not cussing him and taking the lead himself and doing worse. The Chaba had recently been burned over and Habel was always looking for Coleman’s blazes but of course they were obliterated by the fire. When Habel died Tom Wilson told Ballard of the fact and Ballard’s reply was “Good, he can see the blazes now.” Habel, from Ballard’s account was hard to get along with being Prussian. On one occasion Habel handed Ballard some German soup tablets and asked him to make them into soup. He did so. At supper he asked the cook, “I say, Ballard, cannot we establish a spoon for this soup?” Then snapped, “Dis soup is altogether too salt.” The cook replied “I didn’t put any salt in it,” so the old man came back with “Well den, it is pepper.”

Ballard is the one who cooked for Habel in 1902, when he went up the Athabaska, but Habel was here before that trip and stayed around the railway. It was while there he named Mt. Habel ‘Hidden Mountain’ because he saw the top of it while in a railway coach, then walked the track back to get another look but could not find it. Probably it was because he was a foot lower down than in the railway coach.

On the north side of Wilcox Pass, where the horse trail used to go there is a camp of early vintage carrying the blazes of most of the old trips. We called it ‘Sheep Camp No. 1.’ Brewster’s trip from Laggan to Donald via Tête Jaune Cache is there. Nobody goes that way any more of course as horses up there are a thing of the past. The two Ballard boys camped there in 1904 when they wintered at Fortress Lake after the second and younger boy came west in 1903, then went back to Michigan after the trapping trip. So did the elder boy and located in St. Petersburg, Florida. When Ballard and I were first trapping each of us took something for the winter. He took a bottle of Hennessey’s brandy; I took a book, Bulwer-Lytton’s Last of the Barons, The brandy went first, the book lasted all winter.

Ballard eventually read it and got all worked up when he came to the part where Warwick, the King-maker and King Edward got armies together and fought. I still remember the passage where Warwick was cracking the heads of the yokels to get there quick when Ballard made the same page and that ended it. He jumped up in a rage and cried “I wish I had been there with my Winchester; I would have made Warwick hump himself.” I burst out laughing. A Winchester would have been an innovation those days. I have not read the book since. Ballard reached for the brandy bottle, looked at it sadly and then asked me as if it was my fault, “Why do Hennessey have to use a bottle with the arse kicked in?” He was thinking that had the bottle been flat it would have held more liquid.

Ballard was not much on snowshoes being too short in the legs for the wide snowshoes he picked for himself for winter use, having to swing them too wide for easy passage over each other, which made him step on one instead of over it resulting in what he called ‘making a buffalo waller’ in the snow. He hated carrying a pack on his back and if it was grub he usually ate it and so carried it inside him instead. He called all Germans Dutchmen, which made Habel explain to him “Shermans are not Dutchmen.” To which Ballard replied that they were all ‘squareheads anyway, so the old professor would come back with the usual answer “Ach, such arrogance.”

But a winter with Ballard was, for me, an education. From a gentle home in the backwoods of Michigan was quite a step but I had to take it in stride. In the spring of 1903 we were short on flour and other foods so it was decided one of us would snowshoe into Laggan and go to Banff for supplies. I volunteered to go as I could make it faster and not eat it all enroute back, so I went after leaving him enough to get by on until my return. I made it in five days and started back with fifty pounds of mixed variety but mostly flour. The going was good by hitting the snow about daylight and using the crust after chilly nights and making fifteen miles before the sun began to soften the crust. I got to the little cabin north of Bow Pass and, seeing a big billy goat low down, stopped over to get him which took a day off my trip time.

I am sitting in the doorway of the cabin which we called ‘No. 1’ in the evening rubbing my back on a knot in the log which we called the scratching post and did not cut it off for that reason of use, and feeling fine as the evening was one of those you know so well in the mountains, no wind, quiet, the valley almost echoing the falling rocks off Mt. Patterson, when I hear a crash in the woods and reach for the rifle. The silence is broken by a human voice bellowing “Jesus Christ, lend me your wings. It is Ballard. He has walked on foot, as his snowshoes were broken from the mouth of the Mistaya to find me and the grub, and the crash I heard was he mixed up in a heap of dead pines and bad language. He opened up my pack and went to work until I thought I would have to go back to Banff for more, at once. And he could eat. He had a large mouth anyway. His mother must have slit it with a butcher knife right after birth to keep him from chewing too hard on her nipple and his set of teeth resembled gravestones in a village churchyard set fairly close together. All our forks were broken until only one was left with a lone tine on it and when I asked what happened to them he said “Forks don’t stand up now like they used to. My teeth break them all to hell.” He was a character all right, I remember snowshoeing up to Mt. Sarbach to see if there were any marten there. These animals have a habit of disappearing at times but that is because they are off looking for rabbits, their principal food in winter. Coming down, we were wearing oil tanned shoepacks and the day was warm and little snow. (Shoepacks in such weather are slippery as a cable of banana skins over a cavern in hell.) We put the snowshoes under our arms and footed it down. On one steep grade which had snow on it I slid down on both feet. He followed in my tracks instead of making one for himself. Half way down a piece of pine pole lying up and down hill caught in his instep, the other end was rooted in the ground so he took a header into a log-jam at the bottom. The language was terrible so I hurried on to the cabin. When he got in he said not a word but tore off his shoepacks, grabbed his rifle and jammed in a cartridge, pointed it at his footwear and yelled “Move just once you sons of bitches.” I ducked outside roaring with laughter and hid behind the woodpile, but he cooled off and didn’t blow his footwear to pieces. At that, he was a lot of fun all winter, a fine worker and competent in everything he attempted, even more so than I. As I told you previously he and his brother Jack wintered at Fortress Lake trapping. Then he went back to Flint, Michigan and later to Florida where he built a garage which, he wrote me later, eloped with a cyclone. Both those boys are dead now, yes, years ago.

Tom Wilson. In September, 1904, I left to go trapping up the Alexandra River and parts north. Visiting Kootenay Plains to get my horses I promised Tom Wilson to visit him on Christmas. Five days before that festive day I am seventy miles north, so for five days I snowshoed south and I had a lot of fur and I wanted to keep wolverine from breaking into my cabin and destroying it in my absence. So I packed up some grub and knew I could make it and arrived at this trader’s cabin on Xmas Eve. He was so pleased to see me that we got gloriously tight on Hudsons Bay rum until daylight. On Christmas day he was a little moody and next noon he says “When in Hell are you going back?” So I left at noon, taking two of my horses and camped seven miles west for the night in heavy rain. Next morning I found my horses had swum the Saskatchewan River with hobbles on, so I put everything on my back, told them what I thought of them and started northwest for the Alexandra River on foot. Up the North Saskatchewan I nearly had serious trouble. It had snowed an inch in my absence and when I stepped on the ice the water had backed up, then froze and the ice cracked under me just above a thirty-foot waterfall and my snowshoes, still on my feet, were in the water, I could not kick them off and they were the only pair I had with me, but having my heavy mackinaw pants on which were rough I stuck to the ice and finally got my fingers into a crack above me and managed to pull myself out, much wiser than before. Having a pole and brush teepee under a concave rock quite handy I put in the night there quite comfortable.

No, Tom was not trapping. He could not trap a mouse if it was eating off the same breakfast plate as he was, but he was trading foodstuffs with the Indians for fur or rather marten tracks somewhere. The marten who were making the tracks never materialized.

Next day at Camp Parker I got caught in a new snowslide while going up a creek bed and nearly passed out. The snowslide, not a large one, was of new snow since I had passed going south, but the snow driven by the pressure behind it got into my lungs and choked me up. I was just falling over when I saw my old dog stick his nose down in the snow to get breathing freedom, so I put my woollen mittens over my mouth and breathed through them and of course quickly recovered. Being a fairly warm day the snow piled into my open shirt-front and I was soon wet through. However, I made the timber at Wilcox Pass and soon had a fire going and dried out.

But I was not out of trouble yet. In the morning I am cooking breakfast when some snow, as I thought, fell on to my cooking bacon and here is where outdoor training pays off. I thought it funny that snow being on the tree above me with a fire under it all night did not spell right, so I went to turn the bacon again when more snow fell into the frying pan, but I noticed it was crystaline. Looking closer I noticed the cork had become loosened on a vial of strychnine in my shirt top pocket and it was falling on my breakfast, not snow. So I filled the fry-pan with snow a couple of times, boiled it up, cooked more bacon and then snowshoed over Wilcox Pass and down the Sunwapta River to another cabin, my furtherest north. Lucky Simpson again! I have had many such narrow escapes, but they seem to be just normal; outdoor training is the saving grace after all.

I went back up the Alexandra River and finished the winter in and about Thompson Pass. That was where on a beautiful night I heard orchestration coming from Mt Lyell, from the southwest and passing over me and fading away to the northeast, travelling in an arc, and me following it right overhead until it faded away. I was not dreaming or just bushed, but it was very real. I could hear the violins most clearly, no drums or other instruments, and I knew not what the air was, but it was beautiful. I do not talk about it often as I know people think it incredible or a bad dream; but not so, I was on my feet, wide awake and mystified. It happened long before there was radio.

Fortress Lake. I made two early trips there. The first was in summer with horses. The second was in late September when I footed it. Started out with a pack and a saddle horse from Kootenay Plains. A late heavy rain had made the Saskatchewan River like flood waters in summer and my horses swam it with hobbles while I was having breakfast, so I left them, packed everything I thought I would need and footed it there and back. Five days, 150 miles, thirty miles a day, re-staked eleven sections of timber before a party from Golden could make it up the Wood River and do it before me. I did not stake for myself but for a Revelstoke party who failed to comply with timber regulations. My part, personal, was to be a commission on the sale of it.

On January 31, 1916, I married Williamina Ross Reid, Scottish, born in the house where Sir Walter Scott wrote Marmion. We had our honeymoon in New York, where I ate oysters and heard much music: Caruso, Scotti, Homer, Farrar, Mischa Elman and Heifîtz. I also met Will Rogers and the cowboy artist, Charlie Russell.

Bow Lake. I took up the site in 1920 when the first Commissioner of Parks was J.B. Harkin, but I had to expend $5000 of work before they would grant a lease. That made me pack timber and building material through the sloughs from Laggan to Bow Lake. In 1922 Palmer and Thorington were the first tourists to use the cabins. Ladd and Thorington came in the following summer while the octagonal cabin near the lake shore was being completed.

Snowshoes. I did not make my own, but when they became broken I refilled the webbing by keeping a goat hide until the hair and wool were slipping, then cutting it into strips much larger than the Hudson Bay varieties, so that the mesh had larger holes to let the snow sift through more easily when walking. The usual webbing, babiche it is called, is for dry snow such as they get in the N.W. Territories. Down this far we get soft snow and the snow would clog under your heel and bag the webbing until it broke under such pressure. Goat skin is much tougher than caribou hide. This far south the holes should be big enough to take the first joint of the little finger.

Marten. There is no trick catching them. There are six around here now, but not skinned as of yore. Traps set on trees are easy and if constructed right you get them by the right hand front foot always.

Politics. Since this bachelor, Trudeau, became the Prime Minister of Canada the West is full of hippies from Ontario and chippies from Quebec and there is a price war between the latter and the local talent, so the University boys will get a chance to go shopping this winter.

Art. Saw Carl Rungius in 1910 first. A picture of an elk he painted so impressed me that I wrote to him in Brooklyn to come west and get real game and develop his talent. Later I got the C.P.R. to issue him a pass on their line to come whenever he wanted. I had his home and studio built while he was in New York. Belmore Browne just showed up in Banff. I am sure that he, like Carl, wanted new territory for their art ambitions. The first thing I knew we met and that was that as long as he was West.

Jim climbed many mountains, most of the ascents being in connection with hunting and therefore incomplete. The following is, however, definite and worthy of record:

1903. Cirque Peak, Mt. Niblock.

1906. Sunwctpta Peak (first ascent, solo).

1923. Mt. Castleguard (first traverse), Mt. Columbia (second ascent).

1927. Mt. Cline (first ascent), Mt. Wilson (second ascent), Mt. Lyell (Peak 4, first ascent).

Jim was a small, slightly bowlegged man, wore a formidable mustache and, in early days, had a tinge of red in his hair, although one rarely saw him without the Stetson hat which became his trademark. He rode a horse like a centaur and had a wonderful sense of balance. One remembers him in the rough timber of the Amiskwi trail, walking out on a thin trunk of windfall ten feet above the ground and cutting off the branches impeding the packtrain. He never wore glasses and retained an acute sense of hearing. He had total recall for past events and his handwriting was that of a young man. Noted for their ability to label a man simply and correctly the Stoney Indians called him “Nashan Nasan”—wolverine go quick.

The first building of Num-Ti-Jah Lodge at Bow Lake was completed in 1937, an event which we celebrated on Jim’s 60th birthday. We went back to see him in the summer of 1970, meeting him carrying two enormous logs, one under each arm, which he took to the octagonal cabin and axed into firewood. He lived alone there after the death of his wife, spending his time answering letters from his many friends and painting watercolors by the score, which brought ready sale. He was then 93. He died in the autumn of 1972, two months after his 95th birthday. Earlier in the year he had written, “Am feeling fine these days but the hard days of yesteryear are no longer for me and I get damn mad because of that. However, there is no use going off on a tangent because it will not change.” His life was expressed in his own words: “If you listen, the wilderness teaches you. If you don’t, it can kill you.”

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