Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Ode to the Pioneer
A person could cross North America by the recently completed Union Pacific Railway then board a comfortable steamship service from San Francisco to Victoria, BC. But what about the rest of Canada?
Here's why men like Mannion arrived. There were astute or adventurous men of the commercial class who had sufficient capital to enter immediately into business and hoped to get a large share of the colony's coming prosperity.
The pioneer was a different breed. He or she was self-reliant and they needed to battle nature and exist by their own strength, skill and wits. They were physically strong because they opened the country without machines, only with the power of a human and their animals.
This country was theirs because they proved they were able to exist in it and every one of these pioneers had an intense feeling of ownership. Because they were so isolated, they were generous, hospitable and neighbourly. Their charity was given freely without the condescending stigma of today. If an individual needed something, more was usually given.
They worked hard and occasionally partied hard. Their lust for drinking, eating and sex were wild but rare. The wrecks we see in the present-day 'skid row' have nothing in common with the loggers, miners, seamen and ranchers who gave the area the name. No, the wild debauchery of those individuals was only a week or two after living a Spartan, difficult lifestyle for six months to a year.
The pioneers also died early. And they accepted it as natural part of life. They closed the deceased's eyes, bathed the bodies, cross the hands and buried their dead. This is inconceivable to many of us nowadays as we hide our sick in hospitals and leave the dead to the undertakers. Many of us would be shocked to see a corpse who hadn't been 'made over' by an undertaker.
The pioneer was subject to minute and intense scrutiny before his place in the community was determined. But that scrutiny was based on his individual strength of body, character mind. Everyone had their own niche and no one was excluded. Even the feeble minded or otherwise disabled person was allowed to contribute to the community where they could. The pioneer life may have been hard and demanding but it was also kind and generous. I wonder if people had more confidence and pride in themselves in those times then many do now.
I hope you find the beauty around you.