Main content

Title: E. Cochrane, Canada to K. Finlay, Co Down
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileCochrane, Ernest/17
SenderCochrane, Ernest
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationprovost sergeant
Sender Religionunknown
OriginRegina, Canada
DestinationCo. Down, N.Ireland
RecipientFinlay, Kate
Recipient Genderfemale
SourceT 3504/1/9: Copied by Courtesy of Mr. A. D. Finlay
ArchivePublic Record Office, Northern Ireland
Doc. No.9103144
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogAction By Date Document added by S.K., 21:01:1994.
Word Count1575
TranscriptTo: Katie [Finlay?],
[Wellesdon, Holywood, County Down],

From: Ernest Cochrane,
North West Mounted Police,
[North West Territories?],

May 17th 1896

My dear Katie
It was as good as a rise of
pay to get your affectionate letter this
morning. Indeed I was delighted, as
few letters come my way. I did
not think I was forgotten, & I did
not feel neglected at not hearing from
you for so long. I know our friend-
ship, after all these years, is of a deeper
nature than to be imperilled, by the non-
answering of a letter. And at my age,
and after my checkered career, I can
truthfully say I value your friendship
& kindliness of nature, which makes
you write to one, who but for little
acts of the kind, would be a lonely
man. I am sorry that sickness
claimed so many of your family,
but its a blessing no serious consequences
followed. Some bands of Halfbreeds
round here have been attacked with
influenza, so bad was it that
detatchments of our men were stationed
on the reserves, to keep the sick ones
quarantined. Its not very long since
we got rid of our winter: and we
are now in the enjoyment [?] [sic] of the mud
season. I can give you no idea of it
the living in the old country cant
realize what Prairie mud is. No cement
sticks like it, you cant brush it off -
nothing but water will have any effect.
Fortunately it only lasts a few weeks.
This is a dreary looking spot, the nearest
trees, & they only a few feet high, are 20


miles away & our landscape for some
months to come will be, the sky, a blazing
sun, the prairie getting browner every
day. I am still in my old billet -
looking after the erring ones, we have
a civil jail here, & and take in cattle
thieves, tramps, rebellious Indians &
the general outcasts of a newly settled
country. Its monotonous to be always
taking care of evil doers. I think it
makes one hardened & callous & it
certainly turns one into what the Americans
call a "crank" They tell me I have developed
into a first class one. And I believe them!
My hours are long, I go on duty at 5.30
a.m. & "lock up" is after 8 at night.
Thank goodness I am strong & able to
keep on the move all day. I like the
open air, but its ruinous to ones
complexion. Wind and fresh sun have
given me the colour of antique mahogany
this with very grey hair & a stern look
I have somehow got, leaves me a
not very preposessing old figure head.
And I dont think you would know me -
not that I mean to think I was ever
taken for a handsome man!! About 200
prisoners pass through the guard room in
the year, so you can imagine I have
not many idle moments. I feel no
ill effects from the little accidents, as to
action etc we dont get much of that
till they think we are leaving them.
I had to keep at duty, with permission
to have my eye in a sling at one time,
& my hand in the other! The hand I got
from a prisoner, & the eye I painted
myself, by the breaking of a bet. Some
of our own men get into trouble & get
imprisonment, but I am glad to say
the occasions are few. Do you know I
often & often think of the old times
& it does me good. You were three good
girls and its a relief, a comfort & a help to
me away out here to think of you.
God bless you Katie is all I can say.
There is no praise I would not give to


you & the two dear ones in Heaven.
I knew you all once, & I have no fear
that I will ever get mean or dishonourable.
The only friends I ever made
here are the Stevensons - they live about
40 miles from here & I see them a couple
of times a year. I first met them at
Broadview when I was stationed on
The Indian Reserve Of Crooked Lakes
He was the Railway Agent & had his wife
& little girls Marion & Nora. She asked
me to the house & a friendship sprung up
& has existed to my good ever since. She
is a splendid little woman & has surmounted
many difficulties, by bringing up her
girls with very little money to help, to be
nice & presentable. They were in short frocks
& I used to bring them for a long
drive every saturday. I taught them
to handle horses & we had such fun
Marion has now a good situation as
teacher in a school, & Nora is engaged
to be married! To my horror, when I
was seeing them 3 months ago, I
was introduced to her young man!
I had always looked upon them as
children & made no allowance for
growing up. I am glad Lilie is
married: but I would be far gladder
if I knew you were settled in a nice
house of your own. I often think of
it & I just put it down to your being
too hard to please. That you have a
nice home goes without saying: but a
woman was born for a house of her
own & I have not lost heart yet that
one of these days I will here [hear?] a confession
that you have given in. Well I wish
I knew the man & I would praise
you to such an extent, he would think
the world of you. God but that I would
feel bound to tell him, he need not
expect to get much of his own way!!
As for myself, I'm out of it. I have seen
but few girls out here & those few did
not strike my fancy. I suppose we
are at times are dreamers of dreams.


But I am no longer young - Barrack
life has become a second nature, my
ideas & habits fixed & of all [men?] I dont
think I am of a loveable nature.
I will never see the old country
again. It often strikes me where & in
what way I will end my days. I
am saving what I can out of my pay
for the time when I wont be fit for work
In 9 years more I will get a small
pension, but if I get hurt in the mean
time, I would be turned a drift [adrift?] without
any compensation. If I could afford it
I would take a trip to Ireland & see
the old places: but as I see it will
take a lot of saving & self denial to
enable me to have a little something
for old age - I have given up all
thought of seeing the old place again
You may think this gloomy writing - & it
certainly is not very entertaining for you,
but I am taking the privelege [privilege?] of an
old friend. I dont mind in the least
looking to the future. With [me?] hopes &
aspirations have settled down to the
ordinary cares of life. I could not if I
would, be a burden to anyone in
this country. If I can stay on here
till failing energies make them discharge
me & I have what will give me house
& food till God calls me, I will be
very well content. For nearly 11 years
now I have a hard & somewhat
risky life out here: and its great training
to a man, to make him face the realities
of life. I have no gloomy thoughts of the
future, principally I think because I
am alone. And I am not sentimental
enough to care if I have to end my
days among strangers. One can earn
respect anywhere, in any walk of life
I shall be very glad to see Mr. Brown
if he comes this way & if in my power
I will make his trip an agreeable one
An introduction from you is quite
enough to make me put my best foot
first. Now Katie dear I wish I could


tell you what a treat your letter was to
me, I just feel inclined to hug the writer -
theres a confession! but I am a long
way off & you need not be frightened
I hope the voyage will do your brother
good. Indeed I have often thought of
writing to John. But I have got to
be a very poor correspondent & I dont
like writing letters: but I think I will
drop him a line. I am real glad
you are having such a good time
visiting. You always were a bright wee
body & long may you have a good time
Oh I would like to see you. I often
wish for it - just a good look & back
here again. Give my kind regards
to your father and mother. May they long
be spared to you & the rest. And
now Katie dear goodbye. I send
you & Lilie my love & my earnest
wishes for health & happiness will
always follow you
Your affectionate friend
Ernest Cochrane

If he does turn up dont be a bit
ashamed of writing. I am prepared
for a confession any of these days