The Raft Baby, Part Four

In 1882, Garrioch tracked down a fur trader from BC named Elmore who knew the trader  Nelson.  Nelson had indeed been happy to adopt the little child, and she had lived with his wife in Victoria.  Mrs. Nelson had been ill and the family relocated in Calgary, but the move could not forestall her death.  Afterwards, Nelson returned to the coast alone, leaving the little girl, now named Lily, with friends: a childless couple who were pleased to adopt her.

Around that time Sizerman also reported to Garrioch that an Iroquois man named Bulldog had found, in the area the Armsons were supposed to camp the winter they disappeared, a tree carved with the inscription Edward Armson 1872.

The mystery seemed to be knitting together.  Garrioch confirmed with the Vinings that the free trader from whom they had acquired their little Lily was indeed a man named Nelson.  The two couples had become friendly.  Mrs. Vining remembered: “shortly before Mrs. Nelson passed away she put Lily’s hand into mine and said with a  smile, ‘May God bless you both.’”

The Vinings had been following their own trail of clues and were convinced that Lily was the Armson baby who had somehow ended up on a raft in the Peace River, been rescued by Jean, cared for by Blackfoot and Sikanni families, given to the Nelsons, and finally adopted by the Vinings themselves.  Garrioch’s evidence further solidified the truth of the story. Since he had last seen them, Mr. And Mrs. Vining had met with Jean and Mrs. Armson’s sister and decided that Lily’s relatives should be able to see her without mentioning her past.

And, of course, there was that curious coincidence of the duplicate hatchet mark.

By 1886 Garrioch’s life had taken a new direction.  He travelled to England and got married, while the Vinings moved to Victoria (Did Lily remember anything about Victoria, where she had lived with Mrs. Nelson?).  However, it wasn’t long before the call of the Peace Country caught up with Mr. Garrioch and he travelled home, eager to build a new home with his new wife at Fort Dunvegan on the Peace River.  Of course, the great mystery of the raft baby awaited him as well.

There was only one piece of the story still missing: what had happened to the Armsons that had resulted in their baby being placed on a raft and set afloat down the mighty Peace?

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One Response to The Raft Baby, Part Four

  1. I hope you’re going to tell us in the next installment.

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