The unenviable task of amalgamating the North West Company and the rival Hudson's Bay Company in 1821 was not a task for the weak of heart. The Nor' Westers had to surrender in order to avoid bankruptcy.
The HBC's new Governor, Sir George Simpson, a Scot, was to set out on a canoe voyage to visit the string of forts from the Hudson's Bay to the Pacific. Knowing that the trading forts were essentially populated with transplanted Scots, he contacted his father in Inverness to find a suitable piper for service in the colonies.
In 1828, as Sir George Simpson settled into his canoe, He was accompanied by two key men, Archibald MacDonald, the Chief Factor and keeper of records - and a piper from Inverness.......
....by the name of Colin Fraser.
As Simpson's flotilla of company canoes rounded the last bend in the river, a shot would be fired followed by a brief bugle call - then the unmistakable music of the Great Highland Bagpipe would echo across the wilderness when his canoe arrived at the landing - with all the pomp, ceremony and circumstance due a vice-regal visitor.
As a majority of the people who worked for the company - and traders were of Scottish descent, Sir George knew that the sound of the pipes would garner their attention and provide a sense of comfort and trust to usher in the new company era.
In 1993, the Honourable J.W. Grant MacEwan (b.1902 - d.2000), beloved historian, educator, one time Mayor of Calgary, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta and prolific author of more than 30 books on the history of Western Canada - wrote a book entitled Coyote Music.
It was a delightful compilation of several interesting and compelling stories about life in Alberta.
Coyote Music was the title of the first story - and it was all about Colin Fraser and his service to Sir George Simpson of the Hudson's Bay Company. The term 'Coyote Music' was inspired by the indigenous population's reaction to the peculiar sound that Fraser's instrument emitted, they thought the sound was not unlike that of a coyote!
In the photo to the right, Malcolm MacCrimmon, a well known Edmonton piper was on hand when Mr. Tom Court, the Curator, organized the event when the pipes were officially presented to the Provincial Museum of Alberta in the early 1980's.
For more than a hundred years, the pipes had been wrapped in deerskins and carefully kept in the possession of Colin's descendant Horace Wiley who resided in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta.
More on this fascinating story later!