That having been said before I get too deep into my explorations of the local area, there is a rather important gentleman I need to introduce to you all- my Great Uncle Jack. First of all, there should be a few extra 'greats' in there, but I can't be bothered to check how many or type them all out, so Great Uncle Jack he shall remain.
Great Uncle Jack was a Cornish mining engineer and, unusually, supernatural pest control consultant. Not a common job, even in late 18th/early 19th century Cornwall, but it seems that if you had Knockers or Spriggans causing trouble in your mine, Jack was the man to call. At some point during his career, someone, presumably a Cornish expat, invited him to travel to Canada to help with surveying and research in the area of the proposed site of a trading post (Jasper House, later built in 1813).
Although accurate dates are missing from most of Jack's records, we know that he spent a few years in the country, both before and after the construction of the trading post. Best guess at present is that he was in Canada between 1810 and 1815, and travelled a fair proportion of the country in that time. I will be doing my best to follow his route, although probably not in the right order, and relay his notes to you as best I can.
That having been said, I feel like I should do my best to tell you a little more about the man himself, and give some idea (or possibly warning) of what to expect.
These are not pictures of Great Uncle Jack. They are, in fact, pictures of Tsar Nicholas II and Walt Whitman respectively, since no pictures of Jack have survived. Assuming any were taken in the first place, that is. However, based on the rare and fragmented descriptions of him that I have found in other people's writing, these represent my best guesses as to what he would have looked like.
|Not Great Uncle Jack, but Tsar Nicholas the Second. Possibly a bit like how Jack would have looked in about 1810, though. Although dressed rather differently, of course.|
|Also not Great Uncle Jack, but Walt Whitman, and almost certainly how both he and Jack looked in 1887.|
It was this that lead to his being invited to travel to Alberta by an employee of the Hudson Bay Company, whose name has been lost to time, who happened to also be a member of the Cryptozoological Association of the Rockies. The members of this group, or the CZARs as they liked to call themselves (and as they were never called by anyone else, despite repeated requests) had a fascination with exploring the Canadian wilderness, from the Yukon through to Nunavut. They believed the entire area to be one of the last great wildernesses and home to almost all non-tropical mythical beasts. The Rocky Mountains held a particular fascination for them, as the believed it to be a key nesting area and migration route for everything from Sasquatch to Mountain Unicorns- the mountain goat equivalent of normal unicorns, and a creature that I can find no record of anywhere else.
These were the people who had hired Jack to scout the area for creatures such as Sasquatch, Ogopogo (a North American cousin to the Loch Ness Monster), Wendigo and Adlets, and to advise on certain technical aspects of proposed mining and railway projects. Over the course of his association with them, and the international community of 1800's cryptozoologists, Jack undertook a great many peculiar expeditions. Each of which seems to have chipped away slightly at his already reasonably loose grip on reality. By the time he finally disappeared (1891, trying to ascend Mount Everest by dirigible, in order to climb it in reverse) his notes had become almost incomprehensibly mystic and arcane. This seems to be due to a combination of age, medication for his various ailments being mostly morphine and opium, and a concoction he called 'Piskie Blood'. It was this last one that he insisted that kept him going, but since it seems to have been the local hallucinogen of choice dissolved in the strongest liquor available (or his own distillations, if nothing available met his standards) this seems highly unlikely.
As it seems that he never intended or expected anyone else to read these notes, he never bothered with accurate dates. To compound the confusion, he seems to have re-visited many of the key locations from his early years in the international monster hunting business in the latter half of his life. Working out which of his notes came from which visit is more of a challenge than one might expect, and I have adopted a simple rule of thumb that the less realistic it all seems, the later the assumed date. Handwriting offers no help since although one might expect it to change over the years, his notes seem to have overwhelmingly been written in peculiar circumstances, such as on horseback, or up a tree, and in many cases have been rendered illegible by time, rain, tea stains, and in one case a large dollop of custard. The latter is particularly frustrating since it completely obscures the passage supposedly detailing his encounter with a 'Pudding Squid'.
Despite all of this, I shall be doing my best to extract sense from all of this, and where possible I will include pictures of the original notes and sketches, where legibility and the ravages of time permit.
Thank you for your patience while I get things sorted out, and in the meantime here is a free-range Canadian shoelace: