Social History of Qu'Appelle Valley


... When suddenly from out of the shadowed shore,
I heard a voice speak tenderly my name.

"Who calls?" I answered; no reply; and long
I stilled my paddle blade and listened. Then
Above the night wind's melancholy song
A woman's voice, that through the twilight came
Like to a soul unborn - song unsung.

I leaned and listened - yes, she spoke my name,
And then I answered in the quaint French tongue,
"Qu'Appelle? Qu'Appelle?..."

- Pauline Johnson

Various legends have been told of how the Qu'Appelle Valley was named, but none are able to give a definitive answer. One particular legend, immortalized in Pauline Johnson's poem "Legend of the Qu'Appelle ," tells the story of an Indian warrior who has traveled many miles to wed his bride. On the last leg of his voyage he comes upon the chain of four lakes that form the Qu'Appelle basin, and to the river that connects them all. Late that evening he approaches her village and hears his name called out twice in the darkness. The first time he responds in English, "Who calls?" The second time he speaks in French, " Qu'Appelle ?" but he never receives a response. When he reaches the shore, he finds the villagers in tears and his betrothed dead. Someone tells him she called his name twice before she died, and the Indian warrior realizes it was her voice he had heard. From this time on the four lakes of the Qu'Appelle Basin were called "The Calling Lakes."

Another legend, told to surveyor James Austin Dickinson on his 1858 expedition tells a very similar story, but without the romance:

A solitary Indian was coming down the river in his canoe many summers ago, when one day he heard a loud voice calling him: he stopped and listened and again he heard the same voice as before. He shouted in reply, but there was no answer. He searched everywhere around, but could not find the tracks of anyone. So from that time forth it was named the "Who Calls River."

Regardless of how the Qu'Appelle valley received its name, it remains one of the most unique features on the Saskatchewan landscape. It's an area where plains and forests, farms and recreation spots meet, and countless people each year discover what calls them to Qu'Appelle .

Page last updated on 2004-10-08
© Copyright University of Regina 2004
We welcome your .