This simple romance of a simple people, the furred dwellers of the Northern forests, came to me from time to time during the six seasons I spent on the Athabasca and Saskatchewan Rivers in the far North-West of Canada. Long evenings have passed pleasantly, swiftly, as sitting over a smouldering camp-fire I have listened to famous Trappers as they spoke with enthusiastic vividness of the most fascinating life in the world,--the fur-winner's calling. If the incidents and tales in this book fail of interest the fault is mine, for, coming from their lips, they pleased as did the song of the Minstrel in the heroic past. Several of the little tales are absolutely true. Black Fox was trapped as here described, by a Half-breed, Johnnie Groat, who was with me for a season.
Carcajou has raided, not one, but many shacks through the chimney, as fifty Trappers in the North-West could be brought to testify. The trapping of this clever little animal by means of a hollow stump, all other schemes having failed, was an actual occurrence. It is a well known fact that many a Trapper has had to abandon his "marten road" and move to another locality when Carcajou has set up to drive him out. Mooswa is still plentiful in the forests of the Athabasca, and is the embodiment of dignity among animals. There is no living thing more characteristic of the Northern land than Whisky-Jack, the Jay. Wherever a traveller stops, on plain or in forest, and uncovers food, there will be one or two of these saucy, thieving birds. Where they nest, or how, is much of a mystery. I never met but one man who claimed to have found Jack's nest, and this man, a Trapper, was of rather an imaginative turn of mind.