Great Canadian Heritage Treasure The Riel Rebellion: Only eight days after the party, on March 26, 1885, just a few hundred miles to the west, occurred the Duck Lake Fight which plunged western Canada into the bloody battles of the Riel Rebellion that spring and summer.

Quite probably, among the first to leap up, to polish his dirk, and grab his sporran - or am I mixing him up with Michael Jackson? - was the gallant Captain.

In fact he knew all about Riel, who had initiated the First Riel Rebellion at Red River in 1869, on the very ground the Captain's birthday bash was to take place.

No doubt he roared what he would do to this rebel now!

And, without a doubt, his wife told him to put his dirk away and leave the fighting to younger men.

And go and put out the garbage instead...

Go to The North West Rebellion

The Fight at Duck Lake, Mar. 26, 1885
Orig. lithograph - Size - 27 x 32 cm
Found - Cooksville, ON
Hand-coloured, Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News Souvenir Number, Pub. Toronto Lithographing Co. 1885
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure Frontier Birthday Bash: Liberated at a recent estate sale, in a small Ontario town, was this marvellous birthday dinner invitation from 1885.

It invited guests to a dinner on Mar. 18th, 1885, to celebrate Capt. Grahame's 50th birthday.

Today, over a century later, people make a big do over their sixtieth birthdays. Improved health care means we expect to live a decade beyond what Victorian Canadians considered this watershed day of aging.

On the front cover, left, people were invited to Invergraem, probably the name of his home, at St. James, a small community just to the west of the Red River, and today part of downtown Winnipeg.

Capt. Grahame was one of the many British soldiers who came to Canada when the British imperial armies were disbanded after the Crimean War. Legend has it he had been one of the few survivors of the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava.

More likely he was one of the immortals in the Thin Red Line, celebrated by Robert Gibb, and who held fast against a thunderous charge by the Russian cavalry at the same battle. (below)


Birthday Invitation, Capt. Grahame, St. James, Winnipeg, Mar. 18, 1885
Orig. card - Size , opened up - 8.75 x 9.5"
Found - Thornton, ON
Printed Rolph & Smith, Toronto

Clearly the good Captain had been in all the major battles during the Indian Mutiny, the Crimean War, and in China, as his dinner invitation, and his clinking of medals makes clear.

In 1889, he was in charge of the Cascade Club in the Mason Building in Winnipeg.

But, just like today, Western Canadians just cannot seem to survive without counting on their eastern cousins in Toronto...

The card for this western party was printed by Rolph Smith & Co. in Toronto, Ontario, and still took weeks to be carried by the new transcontinental train that would not complete its first uninterrupted trip from coast to coast till a year later.

Westerners, who begged for this closer contact with their eastern cousins, have been blessing the occasion ever since.

 

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Capt. Grahame's Wild West Birthday Bash - 1885

 
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Great Canadian Parties