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Alfred Wilf Hutchings (b. March 15, 1851, d. May 17, 1905)Alfred Wilf Hutchings (son of Elijah Hutchings and Harriet Gifford) was born March 15, 1851, and died May 17, 1905 in Edmonton, Alberta Canada.He married Mary Agnes Cram on July 07, 1880 in Carleton Place, Ontario Canada, daughter of John Toshack Cram and Margaret Sneddon.
Notes for Alfred Wilf Hutchings:
Alf Hutchings - Mighty Hunter
by Tony Cashman
Copied from " The Edmonton Story" - October 1st1954.
It's the season for ducks. Or , more properly, the season for hunters.And in this time of mighty duck hunters, it isfitting that we should pause for a few minutes and recall the exploits
of the mightiest of them all.Alf Hutchings was the name. And Alf Hutchings was so mighty he brought up a large pioneer family on duck dinners. Most of us regard duck dinners as a pleasant
change, once in a while.But to Alf Hutchings, his wife Agnes, and eightlittle Hutchings, ducks were the staff of life, the year round.
Alf and his wife settled on a farm at Poplar Lake, two miles north of modern Edmonton, in 1881.The farm wasn=t much good for farming being mostly gumbo and rocks. But Alf chose it when there was hundreds of miles of land to be had for the taking. He chose it because it had Poplar Lake in one corner and a smaller, unnamed lake half a mile away in another corner. Alf figured there would always be ducks flying low overhead between these lakes He wasn't too sure of his prowess as a farmer, anyway, but his prowess as a hunter was not to be doubted. When even the Indians were starving , the Hutchings dined well, on ducks, ducks, and more ducks. Most after a childhood of duck dinners , would be more than willing to forego duck dinners forever but Alf Hutchings' son Herb - who lives today at 113th. Street- saysthere's nothing finer than a nice fat duck.
Alf Hutchings was born near Newboro, Ontario, in l850. When he was twelve years old, he was severely injured in a wood-chopping accident. He was helping an older brother to chop cordwood. He slipped and fell and his brother's descending axe cut almost through his leg right above theankle. A local medical practitioner named old Doc Chafey reset the crushed bones. Old Doc bungled the job rather badly, and for the rest of his life, Alf Hutchings had to get about on one very weak foot. Butone weak foot was not enough to keep the adventurous spirit of Alf Hutchings home in Newboro, Ontario. In his early 20s - the century's early seventies he began going west and trading with the Indians. Alf and his brother Fred came out together. Fred was no slouch either. Fred founded Great West Saddlery which today has branches all over the west. That was in Winnipeg in l875. Then later in Edmonton, when styles in transportation changes, Fred helped found motor car supply.
Alf, however, was a trader. He made summer tours of the west, trading with the Indians for furs, and skins, and selling them back home in Ontario. His hopping-off place for these tours was Winnipeg. The railroad ran as far as Winnipeg. There, he'd load up the Red River Carts with supplies and go out trading.
He confined his trading to the summer only. Didn't care for the winters.Business came to a standstill. And the cold bothered his foot. But in 1881, he came out west to stay. And he brought
with him the former Agnes Cram , a determined 20-year-oldgirl whom he had married the previous winter. It was a wild leap from Newboro, Ontarioto Edmonton, Northwest Territories . Agnes was one of the amazing young women who made the jump , landed without a scratch, and proceeded to make the country safe forcivilization.
Agnes got a train ride to Winnipeg, But from Winnipeg to Edmonton, it was three monthsoverland with Red River carts. One of their fellow travelers in that trek was the great Frank Oliver, bringing out the press on which to publish the first Edmonton Bulletin. The presswas the size of a small piano. Two men could hoist it into a Red River cart. Arriving here in the early summer of 1881, the Hutchings went to live at Poplar Lake. Alf went to work clearing the land and bringing down ducks. And more and more ducks were requiredas time went on. First there was little Herb, then little Margaret, then little Percy, then little Frank, then little Pearl, then little Nell, and then little Rene, until there were eight children for duck dinner.
Once, for welcome variety, Alf shot a bear. He sensed that there might be some variety afoot when the horses got excitedHe spottedthe black marauder about dusk, it on horseback, for a mile through dense woods , treed it, and shot it only two miles north of modern Edmonton, out along 82nd. street. Alf raced the bear through some pretty thick woods, but they weren=t nearly so thick as the woods which then stood on our present market square. You couldn=t have chased a bear through those woods. The tangled bushes would tear a man=s clothes. That's how Alf's son Herb remembers the market sqaure in the l880s.
A mighty hunter like Alf Hutchings couldn't shoot so often as today's hunters.There were no neat cartirdges. Nobreech-loading rifles. If a hunter proposed to pot a duck, he had first of all to put black powder down the barrel of his gun. Then he dropped a piece of rag down on top of the powder. It was a trusty piece of rag carried about in the vest pocket. Rags were scarce in the early west.On top of the rag he'd drop some buck-shot. Hunters like Alf Hutchingsmade their own buck-shot pellets, melting the lead and dropping out the pellets to their favorite size.Finally, on top of the shot, the hunter would drop a wad of prairie grass, and tamp the whole thing down with a rod.It took a while for a mighty hunter to get ready for a shot.They didn't waste many. Each hunter having his own home-made brand of buckshot helped to establish the ownership of disputed birds.
One time, Alf Hutchings was making a trip with Bob McKernan. Flying straight towards them at a low altitude they saw a flight of wavies. A wavy being a sort of cousin to a goose. Both men picked up their rifles, picked the same wavy and , at the same moment fired.The wavy plummeted to earth, just in time for dinner.
"That's my bird, Alf," said Bob McKernan.
"No, Bob, that's my bird, " Alf Hutchings.
"Don't think so, Alf," said Bob McKernan
"Bet a dollar it's mine , Bob,"said Alf Hutchings.
Well proof the of the shooting was in the eating.They cooked the wavy, and chewed away at the slices of it in silence. They were chewing carefully, sifting for evidence. Finally, Alf Hutchings' eyeslighted up.
"Pay me, Bob," he said, "theseare my pellets."
And Bob McKernanhad to agree that they were. Thus could mighty hunters arbitrate disputes 70 years ago, in the hey day of Alf Hutchings.
Alf died young. He died in 1905, when he was still only 54.But you can see the scene of his greatest triumphs to this day. Two miles north of the city on 82nd. street the road curves around a small slough on the left. That's Poplar Lake. Up on the hill to the northwest, there's still thelog cabin Alf Hutchings built 75 years ago, from which he would emerge to bring down ducks, skimming low over the hill to the next lake on the other side. Through the modern buildings around it, you can see it as it was. As a reminder that Alf Hutchings was a mighty hunter and that it was really only a very few years ago that mighty hunters had to be.
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July 25, 1885 - Edmonton Bulletin
At Ft. Saskatchewan on Monday last before Maj. Greisbach, W. Latimer for assaulting A. Hutchings fined $1.00 and costs.
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October 11, 1884 - Edmonton Bulletin
The St. Albert Mission lately threshed 1,300 bushels of wheat, nearly 22 bushels to the acre. James McDougall bought the first prize bushel of Red Fife wheat from A. Hutchings for $10.00, for exhibition in the old country. Oliver Lederoot=s carts left on Wednesday for Athabasca Landing with freight for C. Fraser.
More About Alfred Wilf Hutchings and Mary Agnes Cram:
Marriage: July 07, 1880, Carleton Place, Ontario Canada.
Children of Alfred Wilf Hutchings and Mary Agnes Cram are:
- Percy John Hutchings, b. June 03, d. date unknown, Creston, British Columbia Canada.
- +Herbert Elisha Hutchings, b. August 07, 1881, d. November 22, 1955, Edmonton, Alberta Canada.
- +Margaret Snedden Hutchings, b. April 06, 1883, d. January 05, 1980, Edmonton, Alberta Canada.
- +Frank Gifford Hutchings, b. April 23, 1887, Edmonton, Alberta Canada, d. April 20, 1974, Edmonton, Alberta Canada.
- Pearl Toshack Hutchings, b. March 25, 1889, d. March 08, 1980, Sidney, British Columbia Canada.
- Adelen Rae Hutchings, b. May 23, 1891, d. 1984, Sacremento, California U.S.A..
- Harvey Hutchings, b. 1892, d. 1893.
- +Adorene Hutchings, b. October 08, 1894, d. 1993, Edmonton, Alberta Canada.
- Olive Agnes Hutchings, b. June 21, 1897, d. July 01, 1977, San Luis Obispo, California U.S.A..