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1889 George at the Poor Man Reserve

Ezekiel Gooderham’s great grandson and John Hamilton Gooderham’s first son was George Hamilton Gooderham. He was born April 21, 1889, right after the North-West Rebellion on the Poor Man Reserve about 100km north by northwest of Regina, Saskatchewan.  That year April 21 was also Easter Sunday, making the event particularly auspicious.  George Hamilton was the first white baby to be born on Poor Man’s or for that matter in the whole area. It was quite a celebration!

The Indigenous surrounded the house, riding round and round on horseback, shooting their guns.  It was a very noisy and boisterous welcoming party, but the family knew the celebration was for them not against them.  The fact that he was welcomed into this world by the Cree coloured George’s whole life.

When George was three, the Gooderhams left the Poor Man Reserve by buckboard, first to Kutawa Reserve, and in 1892 they travelled to the Piapot Reserve.


Map showing the area of George’s travel

One of George’s first recollections was the trip from Kutawa to Piapot, a very rough trail and fording the Qu’Appelle River.

“I must have fallen asleep.  Suddenly, I woke up on the ground. I wasn’t seriously hurt but I was certainly startled. I’m sure shouts of alarm could have been heard for miles across the prairie in all directions. After that I sat up straight and held onto my Mama pretty tight.”

Travelling by buckboard


“The house the Gooderhams lived in at Piapot was very big, so big that part of it was set aside for the Mounted Police. They would come on patrol, either singly or in small groups, and would stay overnight. They were all strong, athletic, young men who often took time after their day was over to show a small, admiring boy just how real men lived, rode horses and shot revolvers. I was a fan!”

According to George the people on the Piapot Reserve did not farm, but haying was a good source of income. The hay was hauled to Regina in Red River carts pulled by oxen.  The carts squealed and creaked their way along the trail over miles and miles – a sound George went to sleep with many, many nights. The eerie howling of a prairie coyote frequently kept him awake as well.

Another exotic visitor was the ‘mailman’. George remembers during the winter months seeing runners with their dog teams speeding the mail across the frozen prairie.  They invariably wore a handkerchief bound around their head, a print shirt even in the coldest days and baggy trousers held up by a large sash whose ends flew out behind them.

George’s playmates did not speak English, so he spoke Cree. They had great fun together, particularly sleighing and sliding down the riverbank, and in summer rolling down hills and competing for who got to the bottom first!

His idyllic life on the prairie was soon to come to an end. In 1897, when he was eight, it was decided that he would go to Ontario, to live with his grandparents, aunts and uncles, for his education.

Story compiled by Helen Younder from the book, The House Belongs to the Government by G. Kent Gooderham, which can be found in our bibliography here: .

1889 George at the Poor Man Reserve

The Story of George Hamilton Gooderham's birth and travels in his early years.

Linked toGeorge Hamilton Gooderham

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