First Nations on the Trails

Coleman hired members of the Stony and Iroquois tribes to help with cooking, packing, guiding, and trail blazing in the Rockies.

Coleman undertook to learn Cree. He was open to Indian lore, transcribed stories that he heard on his travels, and looked for advice on routes and passes across the mountains. He named a number of passes and lakes after Stony and Iroquois guides.1

But it was not always a successful combination, and Coleman often expresses frustration with the men he hired who did not share his commitment to exploration, did not appreciate his time lines, and were reluctant to travel beyond what was familiar.

The Stony Indians had come to the Rockies in the 1840s and while they hunted in the mountains, they tended to live on the plains, in places such as Morley (where Lucius Coleman ranched). Jimmy Jacob and Mark Two young men, both from Morley reserve, were hired by Coleman for his 1892 expedition to the Brazeau River. The 1892 notebooks and publications about the Brazeau expedition provide descriptions of the two cultures coming together. In 1893, when Coleman returned to search for Mount Brown, the team did not include any first nations people.

1. White, James, 1916, Place-Names in the Rocky Mountains between the 49th Parallel and the Athabaska River: Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Section II: 501-535.

Notebook. A.P. Coleman. "Cree Words" (Morley, June 25, 1892) in Notebook 12 1892, [pages 23 & 25]
Notebook. A.P. Coleman. Monday July 4, 1892 in Notebook 12 1892, [page 31]
Notebook. A.P. Coleman. Monday July 4, 1892 in Notebook 12 1892, [page 31]
Drawing / Illustration. A.P. Coleman. Spring House Morley in Notebook 14 1893 (No. 1), [page 81] .


Siwash Rain Myth

Klootchman collected slugs & threw into fire to stop rain.

Killing Ptarmigan brings snow.

Mr. W. F. Burton (Englishman hunting in B.C.)

Notebook 14, 1893 (No. 1) page 23

Morley, Monday July 4.

Coleman’s, July 7, Thursday
Bar. 25.71, 6 o’clock morning
Bar. 25.90 6 o’clock evening reading at Little Red Deer

Started yesterday. Spent all day getting ready & pulled out about 6 o’clock in desperate haste. The two Indians helped along. Jimmy Jacob & Mark Two young men. Jacob came in his Sunday broad cloth, Mark in his blanket costume gay with red and with an eagle feather tied on top his grey felt hat and swinging every way with the wind. His comb is also fastened on the hat. Jimmy talks some Cree & knows a few words of English, esp. “Don’t understan.” Mark knows neither Cree nor English. He is a strong good natured fellow. Jimmy, who is sexton in the little church at Morley, is perhaps middle aged. We started at 11 this morning after untold trouble with the packs. Pruyn does good work packing.

Field Notebook No. 12 1892 Rockies. Morley, Monday July 4 [1892, page 31]