The great Canadian adventurer, Sir William Francis Butler, was one of the answers in Spirit River Quiz IX. He was the man who visited Dunvegan during his great 6000 km journey to Western Canada, travelling on horseback, foot and dogsled on commission from the Canadian government to report on the conditions for establishing law and law enforcement in the wild western lands back in 1872. The results of his travels were a report that became a classic document of Western Canadian history – and the initial steps toward the founding of the North West Mounted Police.
Butler was an Irishman and an officer in the British army. He came to Canada in 1870 under Colonel Wolseley to take part in the Red River Expedition against Louis Riel and his rebels. His role was a dangerous one: as an intelligence officer he was sent ahead of the army into enemy territory. After successfully completing that mission, he was offered the enormous task of exploring conditions in Western Canada in order to recommend how best to go about establishing law and order.
Butler enjoyed his adventurous stint in the vast, wild territory of the prairies and British Columbia. Of his many books, two of the best were inspired by that 6000 km journey. The Great Lone Land (1872) is a great adventure story, the tale of his travels. The Wild North Land (1873) is “the story of a winter journey, with dogs, across Northern North America”. Both are available through these links as free online books from Google Books. Watch for references to Dunvegan and other Peace Country locations.
After leaving Canada, Sir William Francis Butler continued his incredible career as an officer and an adventurer! He’s worth looking up.
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