Windscape Book Company

CLOSED FOR RENOS | REOPENING FALL 2020

Selling used, out-of-print, and collectible non-fiction with a focus on the history of Canada’s Great Plains.

Blogging about books and exploring prairie places from Cut Knife, Saskatchewan.

Poundmaker Powwow 2010

About

In July 2010, the Poundmaker Cree Nation hosted an International Powwow, produced in commemoration of the 125th Anniversary of the Northwest Resistance.

Pow-wows celebrate the circle of life by bringing our communities together to sing, dance, and renew kinship bonds and friendships. The dancers form the center of the circle, with drum groups around them forming another circle, with the audience as the next circle…

Today, Pow-wow dancers are considered contemporary warriors, who are the survivors of a war that has been won in terms of retaining an Indian way of life. To be a Pow-wow participant is to honour the struggle of our ancestors and their desire to preserve Indian cultural ways. The Pow-wow is Indian and, as long as it continues, we as Indian people will continue.

Our Legacy

The Event

We found a parking spot in the field, then wandered through the rows of vehicles and campers, past the food kiosks and craft vendors to the circular structure in the middle of the sports field. The performance area was protected from the sun by a canvas roof. Bleachers were set up under the tent on the periphery of the dance floor with the MC’s booth located at the southwest corner. The drumming and singing groups were set up next to the dance area, in front of the bleachers. Slowly, the spectators finished their visiting, and eating, and shopping, and came inside to fill the stands.

Grand Entry, Poundmaker Powwow 2010

The Grand Entry always begins the event. This is the parade of dignitaries and dancers who enter to the accompaniment of the singers and drummers. First, the Flag bearers, then, the Chiefs, followed by the Warriors (a.k.a. the Veterans), the Princesses, and the male and female dancers grouped according to age and dance type: Men’s Fancy dancers, Grass dancers, Chicken dancers, Traditional dancers, and sometimes, Hoop dancers; Women’s Fancy Shawl dancers, Jingle dancers and Traditional dancers. The Grand Entry is followed by a Round Dance that invites all spectators, and dancers to share in the healing properties of dance and community. Then the dancing begins in earnest.

Grand Entry, Poundmaker Powwow 2010

It’s difficult to describe how powerful the dancing can be. There are beautiful costumes, beaded, fringed and feathered, whirling and jingling, adorning dancers whose performance is at once, both athletic and spiritual. The drum beats are loud and deep and rhythmic while the singing is high and pure. It’s just an amazing and unforgettable experience for everyone involved. If you have an opportunity to attend a powwow this powwow season, it’s not to be missed.

LINKS

All photos, except where noted, copyright D. MacLeod. All rights reserved. Originally published in the Take the Trail blog.

A Tale of Two Calendars

Canada Geese
Canada geese with melting snow, Edmonton, AB

After a lot of years living on North America’s Central Flyway, I’m pretty familiar with the waterfowl migrations that come along with spring.  Each March, I begin my wait for the great flocks of Canada geese, snow geese and all the other migratory birds that advance northward with the melting snow.  I’m sure all of us look forward to hearing the honks overhead as the first V of geese flies by.

In University, I chose a roundabout path to a degree in history.  My course load was all over the map in terms of focus; I’d go off on a tangent if something interested me or inspired me.  For example, an evening course on the policies of the Arts in Canada led me, after a detour or two, to a couple of years studying the Cree language.  I’ve since lost any conversational ability I may have had but I have retained some of the vocabulary.

I find Cree much more connected to the natural world around us than English and much more descriptive, as well.  Many Cree words were constructed after first contact and reveal the influence of European culture on First Nations.  However, much of the language remains very reflective of the deeper rhythms of life.

When I flip the page on my fridge from February to March, I know the geese are on their way, even if the calendar doesn’t specifically spell it out for me.  The Cree word for March, though, does exactly that because niskipîsim means the goose moon.  Other ‘goose’ months are May, opiniyâwewipîsim, meaning the egg laying moon; June, opâskâwehipîsim, translates to the egg hatching moon and August, ohpahowipîsim, is the flying moon.  Names like these seem so much more relevant than those of the ancient gods that label my calendar, now.

In any case, it’s been a heck of a winter all the way around but, finally, the temperatures are warming; the snow is melting and, best of all, the geese have arrived.  There’s nothing on the calendar that says they’ll turn around and go back if the weather’s too cold, but that’s exactly what happened in Winnipeg this year, for the first time on record.  I hope it doesn’t become a habit!

All photos, except where noted, copyright D. MacLeod. All rights reserved. Originally published on the Take the Trail blog.

Bert Martin’s Cabin

prairie fields in the winter
Winter view from Bert Martin’s cabin at the Clayton McLain Memorial Museum, Cut Knife, SK

Homesteading in the early 20th century, on the wind-whipped stretches of prairie was no easy task for new immigrants. Often, they knew little about farming and, even if they had experience working the land, surviving a Saskatchewan winter would still be a bitter struggle. Much of their success would depend upon how well they were able to make preparations before the cold weather hit.

Bert Martin's Cabin-front

First shelters were often considered temporary, constructed quickly with whatever materials a settler could afford, or could find on the land. Tents and caves, sod, or tarpaper shacks were common, replaced by log, frame, or stone houses as the homesteader’s fortunes improved. Severe weather events like droughts, floods, and cyclones were widespread as were their consequences – fire, insects, mud, and hailstones.

Bert Martin's Cabin-side

Winter would be the worst. Blizzards with extreme temperatures and wind chills, little visibility, and drifting snow could shut down an entire area. A settler needed a supply of food and firewood to survive until the roads were passable, again. He would need wool blankets and quilts, lamp fuel, and something to occupy the long days of solitude and isolation.

Bert Martin's Cabin-rear

Imagine living in a shelter like Bert Martin’s: A log cabin, plastered with mud to keep out the wind, a small wood stove for heat, and a few small windows to let in the weak winter sun. There’s a dirt floor, a single bed, a table and chair, a few pictures to decorate the walls but it’s a simple dwelling. Could you imagine living like that for a year or two? It’s humbling to think about how many homesteaders did.

For more details and some great pictures, visit the Saskatchewan Settlement Experience at the Saskatchewan Archives Board website.

Bert Martin’s Cabin, Clayton McLain Memorial Museum, Cut Knife, SK. All photos, except where noted, copyright D. MacLeod. All rights reserved. Originally published on the Clayton McLain Memorial Museum blog.

Page Edges

Photo by diannehope via morguefile.com

Fore edge:  the edge of the book directly opposite the spine, and may refer to either the boards or the pages. Top edge specifies the top of the book, and tail edge, of course, describes the bottom.

Fore edges may appear rough, or deckled, which used to indicate that the paper had been hand-made, and was, in fact, characteristic of quality books into the late 19th, and early 20th centuries. Today, limited edition books, or private press releases may still be constructed of hand-made paper, but machine-made deckled fore edges are now common, too, in large print runs of popular authors.

Deckled-edge pages

With the Industrial Revolution, book publishing became mechanized and page edges were, finally, able to be cleanly and evenly trimmed. Machine-trimmed pages are considered cut, and described as smooth, or clean edged.

Uncut pages are exactly what you might think – pages that have not been cut, or trimmed, in any way, during manufacturing i.e. deckled pages, or unopened pages cut before reading.

Unopened pages

Photo by London School of Economics and Political Science’s Library

Unopened pages may occur during the binding process when pages have not been properly trimmed. Years ago, long, long before I was ever aware of book collecting, I received a biography of Edgar Allan Poe, whose stories I was avidly reading at the time. When I sat down with the book, I discovered the pages were ‘stuck’ together at the top at regular intervals. I think part of me knew that I might have been holding something old and valuable but, on the other hand, part of me said, “to heck with it, read the book.” So I did.

And, in case anyone is wondering – no, I didn’t take much care cutting the pages. I used my fingernail, not a paper knife or a playing card. Unfortunately.

Half-Title Page

Bindings
Photo by ttronslien via morguefile.com

Half-Title Page:  In publishing’s early days, books were sold unbound. This custom allowed the purchaser to select their own binding material in a colour of their own choosing when they could afford it. Unfortunately, this also meant that the loose piles of paper were subjected to extra handling, and were at risk of being damaged. In order to protect the manuscript’s, often decorative, Title Page during transport, booksellers topped the pile with a single sheet of paper holding only the title.

Half Title & Title Page
Half-Title Page (left) and Title Page (right)

Originally called the Bastard-Title Page, this practice has become tradition and, even though we buy our books bound, today, with the title on the cover, the half-title page is still a part of every book.

Guess What I Found?

Antarctica
Photo by Plume via morguefile.com

A few months ago, our local library held a book sale; it was their semi-annual fundraiser of library discards, and patron donations. I was joined by a couple of dozen others, and ever so carefully, each of us made our way through all the tables, and inside all the boxes underneath them. I think most of us were a bit excited, but then again, searching for buried treasure is like that.

One of the books I picked up was called Icebound: A Doctor’s Incredible Battle For Survival At the South Pole by Dr. Jerri Nielson with Maryanne Vollers. The blurb on the back described a doctor who, while wintering over at the South Pole, discovers she has breast cancer and is forced to treat herself until help can arrive in the spring. It had a familiar ring to it. I was sure I’d caught the tail end of a made-for-TV movie, a few years back, based on this very same account.

When I flipped open the front cover, I found a label there. Not just any label, though, it identified this book as a Bookcrossing release. (More on Bookcrossing here.) Aha, I thought, a treasure – and into my box of books it went.

I was anxious to get Icebound home; open up the website and trace its journey to North Battleford, SK. Online, I discovered it had been purchased at a Saskatoon Symphony sponsored garage sale, read, then passed on to the purchaser’s sister. That’s where the record stopped but it didn’t take long for me to log on, and to record its new location as Cut Knife, SK.

I’ve since read the book. It’s an amazing tale of courage in a truly inhospitable environment, described by Dr. Jerri Nielson with honesty and candour. She tells her story with such affection for that icebound continent that I’ve been inspired to read more on arctic exploration.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I passed Icebound on to a friend in a controlled release. And, now, because my curiosity will force me to, I’ll have to check in occasionally to follow the rest of its journey!