A mysterious Pandemic has hit red river and the inkster's are in quarantine, but their neighbours were still able to visit from a safe distance!
There's lots of work to do at home, but they've found time to rediscover family stories, start craft projects and write letters to their friends.
It's been hard, but they know that as long as they stay safe and listen to the governor's head doctor, everything will be okay. After all, they've been through this before, and the seven oaks house still stands.
• In 1780, small pox nearly wipes out the local indigenous communities. netley creek becomes known as "Dead river" after every village on its banks was found empty.
• in 1845 influenza strike's red river in waves, killing 8% of the population. Indigenous communities and remote trade posts were also devastated by the "red river Disease."
• From 1871 to 1919 typhoid became very common due to drinking polluted river water. IT came to be known as the "red river fever." By 1904, over 130 people were dying every year.
• in 1918 the deadly 'spanish flu' hit, with an unexpected second wave. cities that maintained distancing, mask wearing and quarantine measures suffered only a fraction of the deaths. In winnipeg 1,200 people died, while in norway house, 1 in 5 people would lose their lives to the flu.
A ladies Essentials
Seven Oaks House was built during the years of 1851 and 1853 for the Inkster Family. It's made of oaks logs insulated with bison fur. Today it is the oldest home in Winnipeg. Their general store is even older; it was built in 1826 as the family's first home, and it is one of the oldest buildings in Manitoba. Most families lived in small log houses like that.
The Inkster's third daughter Mary "Marak", inherited Seven Oaks House. She lived here until 1912 with her dog, Bobs. Mary was a talented piano player, known for her style and flashy silk dresses.
When she died, she gave her home and land to the City of Winnipeg to create this park for the community. The house opened as a museum in 1958.
The dining room
The Inkster's started out as humble farmers, but they became one of the richest and most powerful families in the area. Their farm was six blocks wide and over two miles long, running from the Seven Oaks House to beyond McPhillips Street.
Their store and shipping business brought them fine silver, china, and exotic items from as far away as Japan.
John was also a judge and politician. He was. even asked to join Louis Riel's government in 1870 as Manitoba was being created.
His son Colin followed suit, serving in the Legislature and as Sheriff of Manitoba for 51 years. His home, Bleak House, was built in 1874 and still stands at 1664 Main Street.
In the 1850's people made many of their own clothes, even if they were rich. Women made beautifully decorated jackets, moccasins and bags for their families.
They used embroidery, beads and even dyed porcupine quills. Girls were taught these skills at school, instead of things like writing and math.
Mary Sinclair Inkster's family is famous for their beading. Her mother Nahoway, lived on the homestead. She would have taught her daughters and grand-daughters the family's traditions.
Metis women invented this style of art, but everyone in Red River appreciated it. Any man with taste wore his finest beaded moccasins out dancing.
Imagine how hard it would have been staying in touch with family and friends before things like Facetime, Zoom, or even phones existed. All you could do was write letters. Those letters would take weeks to reach their destination.
In the early 1800's, people even used goose feathers as pens.
Paper and postage were so expensive that people would write on the same sheet twice, like the picture shows.
People's letters and diaries are some of the most important sources we have to learn about the past. Have you thought about writing down your memories during COVID? Some day your journal could be in a museum!
Captain Colin Sinclair was Mary Inkster's youngest brother. He was born in Oxford House, but was taken away from his mother and sent to school in Scotland when he was seven.
He became a sailor, eventually owning his own ship and travelling around the world. He traded spices in Africa and South-east Asia, and even prospected for gold in San Francisco.
Meanwhile his mother Nahoway waited here, hoping her lost son would come home. Long after she died, Colin returned to Red River as an old man and lived here at Seven Oaks. They're buried together with this inscription:
"Eyes of my childhood days shall meet me, lips of a mothers love shall greet me, on the day I follow. Oh, what hosts of memories rise, sadness dims an old mans eyes."