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Son of a Dickens

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One of the all time favourite holiday movies for many viewers is the 1951 version of Dickens “A Christmas Carol”, which has absolutely nothing to do with Canada but everything to do with Francis Jeffrey Dickens.

Charles Dickens, as we all know, created such magnificent works as DAVID COPPERFIELD and OLIVER TWIST. He also fathered a number of children, including Francis Jeffrey Dickens, who was born in 1844.

Apparently, Francis considered trying his hand at careers such as medicine, farming and journalism. But, he joined the Bengal Mounted Police. Then, he crossed over to our part of the world and signed on with the North West Mounted Police. Young Dickens saw action during the battles (which are now referred to as The North West Resistance ) in and around Batoche in present-day Saskatchewan, in 1885.

That was pretty much the last we heard of him. In 1886 he left the North West Mounted Police and died shortly after --at the age of forty two.

Batoche, by the way, is near Duck Lake, Saskatchewan, and it is in Duck Lake where you will find the Mounted Police Museum of Russell Hanson. On display is one of the largest collections of RCMP memorabilia in Canada, with some of the exhibits dated as far back as 1873. The Batoche National Historic site is a 35 minute drive from Duck Lake and marks the last battlefield of the 1885 skirmishes. "Rebel" leader Louis Riel's headquarters were there, and the buildings on site are very well preserved.

And now we know of Charles Dickens and his Canadian connection. Oh, in some areas the 1951 movie version is called "Scrooge" but up here we always refer to it as "A Christmas Carol."

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