Dad said there were rumours that Harry had a common-law Native wife when he lived on Cortez between the Boer War and World War One and had fathered several children by her. Remembering Mr. D. as a stiff-backed, remote, authoritative figure, I can’t imagine him rousing enough passion to mount anything besides his horse. The Daniels never produced any children, but Harry might have taken a bullet in a strategic area during the war.
The above excerpt is from June Cameron’s book Destination Cortez.
A smile crossed my face when I read June’s colourful account … it was humorous and it was a new lead in my search for the First World War veterans of Cortes.
It didn’t take long to find Harry Daniels’s war record and it shed some interesting light on June’s speculations.
Harry’s Attestation Paper shows he enlisted on May 20, 1915, at the age of 35, reporting his occupation as being a rancher and his marital status as single. He was assigned to Fort Garry Horse.
Upon his discharge four years later, his general health and physical condition are listed as good. Some interesting tattoos are noted: dragon, frog and maple leaf on the right forearm and crossed flags, spider and South Africa, left forearm. Also noted is a scar on his right cheek, from a bullet wound, and further on is noted he has never suffered from or been affected by a problem with his Genito Urinary System. This would seem to put an end to June’s speculation that Mr. D. had taken a bullet in a strategic area.
A review of Harry’s pay records sheds some light on the other rumour … was there a common-law First Nations wife? His records show an assignment of pay … $10 per month payable to Mrs. A. Daniels of Gitwingar, Skeena River, BC. This was deducted from his regular pay of $1 per day.
Although we don’t know for sure if Mrs. A. Daniels was of First Nations heritage, her address suggests she may have been.
On July 14, 1917, Daniels would suffer a gunshot wound (GSW) to the face, spending a month in hospital recovering. The wound caused him hardship in the months and years to follow, resulting in numerous hospitalizations. He would meet his future wife while recuperating in hospital, marrying the nurse who cared for him.
June Cameron writes extensively about Mr. and Mrs. D., including anecdotes about Mrs. Daniels’s horse Kisses that would do tricks on command. She writes the following account of how Easter Bluff came to get its name.
At Easter time she would climb the tall bluff behind her bay in the early morning and hide coloured eggs. The children and mothers all met at her house and went for a hike up the trail with her to hunt Easter eggs and eat them with bread, cake, juice and tea. The juice was saved from home-canned cherries, and Mr. D. used to grumble during the weeks before Easter because he had to eat so many dried cherries. The promontory, the largest one north of Blind Creek, is still known as Easter Bluff.
By comparing June’s accounts with Mr. Daniels’s war records, we can confirm he knew how to mount a horse, and it would appear the only bullet he took was one to the face, and that there was an earlier wife and a good chance she was of First Nations heritage.
REFERENCE: Destination Cortez, by June Cameron, pages 83–86
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