Kayoed by blizzard in street brawl

Street scene from a prairie blizzard, depicted in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, January, 1888. Wikimedia Commons.


Prairie blizzards were so fierce and blinding that a lifeline was once necessary between the farm house and the outhouse to avoid getting. Things were sometimes not much better in town. Shortly after his arrival at Regina, the new Lieutenant-Governor of the North West Territories, Charles Mackintosh, penned a letter to a friend in Ottawa relating his experience in a knock-down street brawl with a howling blizzard. First published in the Ottawa Citizen, it was reprinted in the Regina Standard, January 25, 1894.

I have seen it, felt it, suffered from it—a real life blizzard.

Today I drove down to the office artillery and came back the most crestfallen infantry that ever stampeded from a Yankee battle field. The horses could not face it, but a jackass undertook to do so,—sheer bravado, because everyone said it could not be done.

Out I started, and in five minutes my nose was frozen—first blood for the blizzard. I countered by throwing up my right hand to guard my cheek from several severe lunges, receiving a couple of sharp twinges on my right jaw bone. The brute then attacked the vital parts, getting in several body blows and catching me also on the right ear. I went to my corner just behind a telegraph pole, and time being called got my chin well down and ran at him head and shoulders, when he got me on the neck, and I went down on my knees, floundered a little, and shortly after went over on my back.

Contrary to all Queensberry regulations, he fell upon me heavily: but appeared pretty well winded, because I had been dodging about a good deal in a vain attempt to exhaust him. Again I faced him but he appeared a little weary.

This was a mere trick, and all the old buffers say he plays it regularly,—for no sooner had I straightened up than he attacked me fiercely again, giving it to me right and left, first the nose, then the ear, and then a smasher in the ribs, and then right and left in concert on my bread trap.

This lasted for half an hour. I waited, for it was getting dark, and just when I thought the sponge would go I espied the Government House fence, and got behind it, and sneaked home sadder but wiser. The big braggart and bully howled and stormed and dared me to come out again, but important business detained me, my only solace being a large quantity of unanswered official correspondence—and a very small drop of champagne brandy.

Unfamiliar Canadian history stories 078

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