Cumberland House, Wooden Plank from the SS Northcote, 03 (Back)
Cumberland House, Wooden Plank from the SS Northcote, 03 (Back) |
Cumberland House, Northcote, 1885 Resistance, Fisher, Dennis, Jean |
This image (by Peter Beszterda) is one of three wooden planks from the SS Northcote that was beached at Cumberland House following the 1885 Resistance. The image pictured is the smaller of two pieces donated by Dennis and Jean Fisher in 2010. These wooden planks were collected by Dennis, Dennis Jr. and David Fisher in 1971 at Cumberland House, Saskatchewan. They are part of the Dennis and Jean Fisher Collection. This collection contains archaeological artifacts taken from the battlefields of the 1885 Resistance as well as Fort Pitt (Saskatchewan), Cumberland House (Saskatchewan) and St. Peter’s Mission, Montana. The collection also includes various artifacts and ephemera relating to the 1885 Resistance and Gabriel Dumont. |
Dennis and Jean Fisher Collection
Dennis and Jean Fisher Donate Métis-Related Artifacts to the Gabriel Dumont
On September 19, 2011, Dennis and Jean Fisher and the Gabriel Dumont Institute (GDI) formally signed a ``Deed of Gift`` which formally transferred their large collection of 1885-related and Métis artifacts to the Institute.
The Dennis and Jean Fisher Collection which contains several hundred Métis-specific artifacts, documents, photographs, ephemera, and books, is housed in GDI`s Publishing Department office in Saskatoon. This gracious donation will form an integral component of GDI`s proposed Métis Centre of Excellence.
In the fall of 2010, Dennis and Jean, residents of Saskatoon, approached Karon Shmon, GDI`s Publishing Director, about the possibility of donating their substantial Métis-related collection to the Institute. Negotiations continued over the next few months with most of the artifacts coming to the Institute in March 2011.
Dennis and Jean have spent a lifetime collecting Métis and First Nations artifacts and memorabilia. Dennis is originally from Hague, Saskatchewan, which is near the 1885 Resistance battlefields at Duck Lake, Tourond`s Coulee (Fish Creek), and Batoche. From an early age, he acquired not only a great love of history relating to the 1885 Resistance, but also a great affection for Métis and First Nations people.
Throughout the late 1960s and early `70s, the Fishers, assisted by their three sons—Dennis Jr., Darwin, and David—found 1885 Resistance-related artifacts at Gabriel`s Crossing, Tourond’s Coulee (Fish Creek), Batoche, and Clark’s Crossing. This was done before Parks Canada bought the farmlands on which the battles of Batoche and Tourond`s Coulee were fought in the mid-1970s. After obtaining permission from area farmers to search for artifacts, the items were diligently analysed, photographed, and sketched by Dennis (who is a trained draftsperson).
Some of the more interesting items collected by the Fisher family, and now in GDI’s possession include: a piece of Gabriel Dumont`s cast-iron stove and various other artifacts found at Gabriel`s Crossing, including a partial white porcelain doorknob; items from Xavier Letendre`s home at Batoche; various used gun cartridges from Batoche and Tourond`s Coulee; and a nine pounder cannon shell, which was used by the North West Field Force during the 1885 Resistance.
Other artifacts in this collection include: two pieces of the steamer Northcote (which Gabriel Dumont`s forces disabled during the 1885 Resistance) obtained from an excavation in Cumberland House in 1971; fur trade items such as trade beads and clay pipe stems from Fort Carleton and Fort Pitt; and artifacts collected at St. Peter`s Mission, Montana—where Louis Riel taught school. In 1884, Gabriel Dumont, Michel Dumas, and James Isbister went to St. Peter’s Mission in order to bring Louis Riel back to Batoche.
Dennis has also led an active life in terms of commemorating Métis history and the 1885 Resistance. As president of CFQC Radio in Saskatoon, he ensured that the radio station sponsored the closing of Gabriel`s Ferry at Gabriel’s Crossing as well as the opening of Gabriel`s Bridge in 1968; in 1984-85, he chaired Commemorate `85 events in Saskatoon which celebrated the centenary of the 1885 Resistance. Some of the Commemorate `85 events and projects that he worked on include commissioning Bill Epp`s Gabriel Dumont statue, which now sits in Friendship Park in Saskatoon (he convinced Epp to make a statue of Dumont rather than one of Louis Riel); working with the Saskatoon Métis Society to re-enact Dumont, Dumas, and Isbister`s trip to Montana to get Louis Riel to come back to Batoche to fight for Métis rights; and finding a “lost” image of Gabriel Dumont at the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, Wyoming and sharing it with various archives in Canada and with the public.
Dennis has also played a key role relating to other aspects of Métis history. For instance, in 1971, he travelled to Montréal with former Conservative MP Eugène Rhéaume to buy Louis Riel’s diary at an auction. Rhéaume purchased it for $26,500 in order to keep it in Canada. Dennis later had the diary in his home for a brief period in the 1970s, and had a photocopy of it made. This original photocopy is part of Dennis and Jean’s gracious donation to the Institute. He was also a close friend of former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, and was one of his pallbearers. Diefenbaker had a great affinity for Canada’s Aboriginal peoples, and Gabriel Dumont was one of his heroes. Dennis donated a wonderful series of photographs to the Institute of Mr. Diefenbaker and others at a Batoche archaeological dig in the 1970s. As with the artifact collection, Jean has been Dennis’ keenest supporter, contributing a great deal of time and work to their shared interests.
In late September 2011, Dennis and Jean were contacted by Gordon Bowman who read about the Fishers’ donation in a local community newspaper. Mr. Bowman, via Dennis and Jean, graciously donated a 7 pounder artillery shell to the Institute. The shell was likely used in the Battle of Cutknife Hill during the 1885 Resistance. GDI would like to thank Mr. Bowman for his generous donation.
The Institute would like to once again thank Dennis and Jean Fisher and their family for this gracious donation. GDI’s artifact collection, thanks largely to a special partnership with the Office of the Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, has grown considerably over the past few years. This substantial donation has ensured that the Institute continues to have the largest Métis-specific artifact collection held by any Métis cultural institution.
|Date of Copyright: ||
December 13, 2011 |
Cumberland House, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan |
|GDI Media Filename:
Northcote Plank (Back 3).jpg
Related Categories Fisher, Dennis and Jean Archaeological and Historical Artifact Collection