Ojibwe men often worked as pilots of the steamer boats that transported people and goods up and down the Rainy River and into the Lake of the Woods. On his tour, Du Vernet met Chief Blackbird, John Crowe, and John Cochrane, all of whom were employed as pilots with monthly salaries. Du Vernet writes that John Crowe received a salary of $75 a month—the equivalent of just over $2,000 today. According to a local Indian agent writing in 1899, these “large wages” were “expended in improvements to their houses.” Interestingly, Du Vernet describes in detail the homes of two pilots. He notes that the home of John and Annie Crowe was a “well-built log house” with Sunday school pictures on the wall, and that inside the home of John Cochrane’s family was a “stove with a stove pipe and two beds, and a swing for the little girl.”
Dominion of Canada, M. Begg, Indian Agent, Coutcheching Agency, Annual Report of the Department of Indian Affairs for the Year Ended June 30, 1898. Ottawa: Department of Indian Affairs, 1898.