And at Thunder Bay, a member of the Ontario Battalion relays the scene at the beginning of the Red River Expedition, May 1870….

Ox head

“… Several of the oxen we brought from Collingwood have arrived to Prince Arthur with serious injuries and sickness. The most common wound has occurred when the animals gored each other while cooped up during the journey and some when their handlers move them into the nets to be lowered overboard into the shallow waters. There is yet no warf to dock our ships for disembarkation. In the excitement of their release from their holds their great bulky masses collide with each other the way water bounces around in a bucket. Their heads fling back towards their neighbours who have nowhere to turn for escape and so have their flanks or faces ripped deeply by thick horns. The illness that spreads through their numbers evidently is found in their intestines. And so the deck where men work the pullies and nets becomes shiny with blood and slippery from very foul stomach waste. Once the wounded and so useless individuals are walked over the nets, a young boy with a grey tunic holds a service rifle to his right shoulder and with a bewildered reluctance raises the muzzle to the temple of the moaning and wild-eyed creatures and pulls the trigger. The weather is the kind where I would love nothing better than to lay on the nearby field and feel on my face the warm late spring wind stream over the shore, cleansing myself from the horrible smell. …”

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