Father William Judge was a Jesuit priest who came to the Yukon Gold Rush, not for his share of wealth, but to bring his faith to where he felt it was needed most. From Baltimore originally, Father Judge moved from Alaska to Forty Mile in the Yukon, and then to Dawson. Despite being a frail man, Father Judge was sharp of mind and deep in faith. He established St. Mary’s Hospital in Dawson, where he provided food, shelter, medicine and care to those in need—of whom there were plenty. The kinds of men who ventured into the harsh northern climate, far removed from many of the comforts of the modern life, were stubbornly independent. They were not religious as a rule. However, Father Judge made quite a name for himself as a priest who was always there for any man in need, giving what he could to help a stranger as if he were his own brother. As a result, tough and rugged miners who normally paid clergymen little mind came to value Father Judge as a beloved saint or a close friend. Likewise, his ambition for a large hospital became well-financed by a successful prospector. Father Judge is credited for saving the health (and possibly the life) of Jack London, who would go on to write “The Call Of The Wild” and “White Fang.”
James Morrow Walsh was one of the original officers of the North-West Mounted Police. He was soon assigned as superintendent of a post in Cypress Hills, naming it Fort Walsh. It was here that he had his first chance encounter with Lakota led by Sitting Bull, narrowly avoiding bloodshed after the braves mistook a blue jacket he was wearing as the uniform of an American Army Officer. After Sitting Bull fled to Canada following the Battle of Little Bighorn, Walsh established a strong friendship with the powerful Sioux leader. Walsh's abundant charisma not only helped to win over Sitting Bull, but also the public. The media was fascinated by the man who was said to have 'tamed' the renowned Sioux chief, calling him 'Sitting Bull's Boss.' Of course in reality, Walsh was not simply his boss, but a friend who respected him.
In 1873, Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald called for the creation of a 300-member mounted force to police the North-West Territories. The lawlessness of the region resulted in all kinds of trouble. Alcohol sold to Native peoples by American whiskey traders was devastating their communities. In June, a tragic event occurred known as the Cypress Hills Massacre. The trouble began with a small group of American 'wolfers' who poisoned buffalo carcasses left by Indian hunters in order to harvest the fur from dead wolves and coyotes that ate the tainted meat. One day, when their horses went missing they mistakenly blamed a local Native settlement. Fuelled by alcohol, they murdered at least 23 men, women and children. Horrified by this event in particular, pressure was put on the Federal Government of Canada to act fast.
I've been busily researching daily for my upcoming historical novel on the life of Sam Steele. I read some when at home and listen to others on audio book when away. A great many notes have been taken. There are twelve primary books collected for my research, five I've already read and two I am reading now. They include:
Despite having demoralizing duties in the Second Boer War which Sam Steele hated, Lord Strathcona's Horse did see its fair share of conflict. Canadian soldiers fought bravely in several battles, even under heavy fire. Sam could have easily died on several occasions, but whether by chance or by fate he led his men triumphantly through the war, often under gunfire and artillery assault.
During the Second Boer War, Mohandas Gandhi volunteered to form a group of stretcher-bearers as the Natal Indian Ambulance Corps. According to the historian Arthur Herman, Gandhi wanted to disprove the imperial British stereotype that Hindus were not fit for "manly" activities involving danger and exertion. He served at the same time that Sam Steele was there performing his duties in the war. Had the two ever encountered each other?
When Britain was again at war with the Boers in South Africa, they received aid from Canada. Canadian Pacific Railway tycoon Donald Smith (Baron Strathcona) asked Sam to lead his privately raised cavalry unit named Lord Strathcona's Horse. Sam commanded it as lieutenant colonel, leading Canadian soldiers with such competence that he was knighted and made a member of the Royal Victorian Order in 1901. Though Sam despised many of his duties during the war, his experience allowed him to personally prepare Canada for the approaching First World War, which he would do to extraordinary measure.
I've found the best villain character since 'Curly' Bill from Tombstone! Jeff 'Soapy' Smith was the most notorious swindler in the States and he'd built up criminal empires, ruling two American cities! He came to Skagway, Alaska to profit illegally off the Klondike Gold Rush in Canada. He built up a new criminal empire there. Sam Steele helped to oppose him, and the Vigilance Committee (Committee of 101.) A woke was performed after his death across the States by people each July 8, honouring him as a kind of folk anti-hero (Robin Hood figure of sorts.) Several sources refer to him as the Wild West's greatest con man and he was incredibly brazen. It makes for quite a colourful story, adding to Sam Steele's time in the Yukon! This is research for my upcoming Sam Steele novel, but I still have a lot of research to do!
An image from my upcoming comic book "Hybrid Knights." Here you can see a glimpse of the future for the city of Toronto. Several more images still need to be edited and coloured. I will keep you apprised.