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Authors: J.A. Ricketts

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The Badger Riot

BOOK: The Badger Riot
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THE BADGER RIOT

THE BADGER RIOT

J. A. RICKETTS

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Ricketts, J. A. (Judy Ada), 1944-The Badger riot / J.A. Ricketts.

ISBN 978-1-897317-32-7

    I. Title.

PS8635.I355B33 2008               C813'.6              C2008-904360-X

© 2008 by J. A. Ricketts

A
LL RIGHTS RESERVED
. No part of the work covered by the copyright hereon may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means—graphic, electronic or mechanical—without the written permission of the publisher. Any request for photocopying, recording, taping or information storage and retrieval systems of any part of this book shall be directed to Access Copyright, The Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency, 1 Yonge Street, Suite 800, Toronto, ON
M5E 1E5
. This applies to classroom use as well.

PRINTED IN CANADA

Cover Design: Adam Freake

F
LANKER
P
RESS
PO BOX 2522, S
TATION C
ST. JOHN'S, NL, C
ANADA
T
OLL
F
REE
: 1-866-739-4420
WWW.FLANKERPRESS.COM

13 12 11 10 09           4 5 6 7 8 9 10

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP) for our publishing activities; the Canada Council for the Arts which last year invested $20.1 million in writing and publishing throughout Canada; the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

For the people of Badger
and the loggers of Newfoundland

“We was only loggers.”
Unknown

Characters

JENNIE SULLIVAN

Eldest daughter of Ned Sullivan, river driver, and his wife Bridey.

VERN CRAWFORD

Taxi operator. Wife Millie, and their only child, Melanie

RALPH DRUM

Mi'kmaq, logger and union coordinator

TOM HILLIER

Woodsman. Son of Albert Hillier, Badger station master, and his wife Suze.

ANNIE DRUM

Ralph Drum's mother. Healer and midwife.

PETER DRUM

Ralph Drum's grandfather. Patriarch of the Mi'kmaq community.

ROD ANDERSON

Woods contractor. Wife Ruth, and daughter Audrey.

ALF ELLIOTT

Telegraph operator. Wife Mary, children Amanda, David and Thomas.

PASTOR DAMIAN GENGE

Pentecostal preacher

FATHER KEVIN MURPHY

Roman Catholic priest.

CECIL NIPPARD

A scab worker. Sister Emily.

BILL HATCHER

Rod Anderson's foreman and good friend.

CONSTABLE RICHARD FAGAN

Newfoundland Constabulary based in St. John's.

LEVI AND BECKY ABERNATHY

Foster parents of Constable Richard Fagan.

These characters are fictitious. Any resemblance to people living or dead is coincidental. H. Landon Ladd, Joseph R. Smallwood, and Constable William Moss are key historical figures.

Prologue

Autumn sun glinted on the surface of a wide, swift-running river. The sky was deep, clear end-of-summer blue. Close to the shore, alders bent toward the burbling water, as if the sound pleased them. Under his smooth, tanned skin, the muscles of the young Beothuk's arms bunched as he paddled his provision-laden moon-shaped birchbark canoe down the river he knew as Running Water. His brothers followed in two more canoes, each as burdened as his own.

The summer had been dry and the small river was shallow in places, difficult to navigate. The young man continued to paddle confident and sure, knowing just where the rocks were. Up ahead was the junction where Running Water ran into Big River. As he approached the larger river he paused to rest, letting the canoe drift with the current.

Summer on the coast had ended and the Beothuks were moving inland for the winter, following rivers and lakes that their ancestors had followed for generations. The rest of his family had gone ahead. Their harvest from the coastal waters was loaded aboard many canoes, and they would first make camp where the three rivers met. At this river junction, the families of the People gathered to renew old ties, exchange stories and hear the spirits speak, as children born during the past year were given their names high atop the Great Mound. As the turning-of-the-leaves season progressed, the people would continue farther into the interior to their winter homes on the shores of the Great Spirit Lake.

Angling his canoe to the right against the swift-running current, the Beothuk entered onto Big River. In a few minutes he would join his wife and young children. The current was strong, and he bent his head and dug the paddle of his canoe deep into the dark flowing waters. A few powerful strokes against the current of Big River brought another waterway into view: gentle Red Stream that sprung from high on the plateaus. Big River had its beginning far into the centre of the island where the Earth Mother was hidden. It was She who gave the People the heart gift of red ochre to cover their bodies from their naming times until their dying times.

There they were, the People of the tribes, their many canoes hauled up near the tall pine trees that guarded the River Spirit.

Beaching on the riverbank, the young Beothuk jumped out. He turned his head to see his brothers close behind, coming ashore as well. People were running to welcome them. Happy to be there at last, he looked up to the Great Mound, green and alive in the sunlight. Around its base the Beothuk families were busy erecting their mamateeks.

John Drum's snowshoes crunched on the frost-filled snow as he plodded his way down the bank of the frozen river. As a Mi'kmaq trapper, he knew the path well for upriver were his trapping grounds, where fox, beaver, muskrat and caribou were plentiful. Once, the land all around had been Beothuk country, but with the white man's coming, things had changed. Beothuk ways to the coast had been cut off, and they had been forced to live inland year-round. Now the Beothuk were no more, but their spirits could still be felt, John thought, especially atop the round hill near the river.

John's people had originally come to this large island from the lands far to the west and northwest. At first they kept to the island's west coast, but their quest for furs caused them to spread farther inland. Thirty years ago, John and his brothers and cousins had come here with their families and settled. It was a good place. Their
band had about fifty family members. They lived closely, depending on each other to survive the harsh winters. John was their chief.

White man called this river Badger Brook. It ran south and emptied into the great Exploits River waterway. Little Red Indian River, springing from high elevations to the southwest, joined the Exploits here too. The rushing waters, once joined, surged their way north to the Bay of Exploits and the Atlantic Ocean. These names were all white man's names. No doubt the Beothuk had called them something else.

John continued walking effortlessly in his snowshoes until he came to the spit of land that they called Beothuk Point. John could see the remains of the Beothuk firepits, still visible among the grass and bushes. Here was the convergence of the three rivers. This was a good place, a powerful place.

Clacking on the narrow-gauge railway, the train's wheels carried an unceasing sound that was mind-numbing to the passengers on board. Outside, trees and bogs rushed past in the evening light. The couplings protested – clank, clunk, squeal, bang – as the engine dragged the passenger units uphill and down. As the big diesel, pulling ten coach cars, snaked around a long bend, the engineer blew his lonely whistle into the stillness of the landscape.

Many miles up ahead lay Badger Station. A large wooden building with a ticket office, spacious waiting room and an area to store freight, the station was a busy place. It served a key role as the main access terminal not only for Badger but also for communities in Green Bay and Halls Bay.

A platform separated the station from the track and on this frosty winter evening many people stood waiting for the train. The arrival of the Express, as it was commonly called, was a daily social event for many of the townspeople, even in winter. It was an excuse to go and see who was boarding and see if any strangers were getting off. Young women would don their bandanas, apply their lipstick
and walk arm in arm up the road to stand on the platform, to eye each other and to be eyed.

Among those waiting was Ralph Drum puffing on a cigarette and leaning against the freight platform, his black hair brushing the collar of his dun-coloured coat. Of medium height, his slight stature belied the strength of his sinewy frame. He moved with a natural grace, which was the reason he had easily earned a job as a driver when the logs were on the river. Most striking about Ralph were his dark, almost black eyes set wide in his angular face. His light brown skin was clean-shaven. As he stood there he noticed some of the girls looking at him out of the corners of their eyes. He raised his hand and tipped his salt-and-pepper cap to those he knew.

BOOK: The Badger Riot
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