Turtle Mountain Metis  - 4. Gathering / Harvesting

Berries grew wild and in abundance on Turtle Mountain, and the Metigoshe community was keen to take advantage of the free foodstuffs that the bush of- fered. Families went on berry picking expeditions, sometimes gathering pailfulls of cranberries, chokecherries, saska- toons, wild plums, pin cherries or strawberries. Sometimes if they were lucky, they’d even find wild raspberries. Francis Goodon remembers picking pails of fruit and taking them down to Lake Metigoshe on a Sunday afternoon to sell to visitors. With the money he made his family could then go buy sugar so the rest of the fruit could be canned. The berries were also made into jams, jellies and sauces that were enjoyed during the long winter months over freshly-baked bannock.

Mushrooms grew in great numbers in the bush at certain times of the year. Some people didn’t know how to tell which ones were edible and left them all alone out of fear of picking the poisonous ones. Others waited for the season when the morels came out and picked many of them. Morels grow more abundantly in the years closely following forest fires, which were not unknown occur- rences on Turtle Mountain. 

Elders remember harvesting blueberries, saskatoons, chokecherries, cranberries, strawberries and raspberries, wild plums, hazelnuts, and strawberries that used to grow along the shore of the lake.

They could be canned or dried  for winter use. Made into jams and jellies.

Chokecherry syrup and cranberry jelly are fondly remembered.

“One of Dad’s favourite thing was to go to the Duck Mountains with uncle and they would dig Seneca root.  He’d come back and the whole kitchen roof would be covered with Seneca root, drying. It would sell for $9.00 a pound. 

“Strawberries used to grow along the shore of the lake, we picked some to sell to buy sugar to can the rest of the fruit for winter, or take them with the team to Lake Metigishe to sell on Sunday to visitors.

Other items to gather…

A special treat in the spring was duck eggs.

We did not have bannock too often. We had scones, (tea biscuits with sugar in them). We had chokecherry syrup, beet wine, cranberry and pincherry jelly, rhubarb sauce, vegetable marrow and orange jam