Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Edgar Dewdney, who he?

Nice to see an old historical interest of mine in the news. Regina writer C.J. Cooney, working on a biography of Edgar Dewdney, concludes that the pioneer surveyor, early lieutenant-governor of the North-West Territories, windbag, and self-promoter extraordinaire, was a self invented man. Amazingly enough, CanWest News does a pretty good job on the story -- kudos to reporter Randy Boswell. The story is based on Cooney's article in the B.C. Historical Journal.

The Dictionary of Canadian Biography has Dewdney "born to a family of means" -- which is certainly what he always said. But Cooney is pretty sure he was a nobody who reinvented himself the day he got off the boat in Victoria.

T'other hand, Dewdney apparently arrived with some skill as a civil engineer and an introduction from the Colonial Secretary and . Where'd that come from?

This is a Dewdney letter to John A. Macdonald, written March 25, 1885, explaining how Dewdney's personal intervention with Louis Riel will prevent the Red River uprising.
If I see I can do good, I will go straight to Duck Lake to camp with him. I believe that Riel and most of the halfbreeds will stick to me if I go there, for I should tell them I go as a friend and mediator. I know they have no unfriendly feeling toward me.
Fighting breaks out at Duck Lake the next morning.
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