Twelve Foot Davis Statue

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100 Avenue, Peace River, Canada
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Twelve Foot Davis Statue Peace River Reviews

planxty planxty
166 reviews
The biggest man ever? Mar 10, 2017
If you visit Peace River, and you really should as it is delightful, then you simply cannot escape the 12 foot tall statue standing in Riverside Park which depicts a rather imposing looking pioneer type. Neither can you escape the fact that so much is attached to the name of one man in these parts and that name is Twelve Foot Davis.

Now let's get one thing straight, he was not the tallest man who ever lived. That was a chap called Rpbert Pershing Wardlow and he was a mere 8'11! Nor was Mr. Davis going to play professional basketball if it had even been invented then. If you are interested, read on and I'll tell you the story.

Henry Fuller Davis, to give him his proper name, was born in Vermont, USA in 1820 (some sources give 1818 although he probably did not even know himself) and was one of the original 49'ers (prospectors) in the California gold rush of that year but then he moved North having heard of the Cariboo gold rush in British Columbia. This was in the area round Barkerville and more specifically Willow Creek where there was a particularly rich area.

Unfortunately for Henry all the best claims had been staked but, although he was illiterate he was able to work out that there was a twelve foot gap between two very lucrative claims and filed it. His method was ingenious. The law at the time only allowed for a claim of 100 feet (30.5m.) so he measured two adjacent claims and found them to total 212 feet (64.6m.) and successfully filed for the 12 feet between them. I am sure the reader is ahead of me here already. Yes indeed, he literally struck gold, $12,000 worth of it to be precise (again some sources claim $15,000(. I have no way of working out what today's equivalent would be but I'll bet it is an awful lot of money either way. Hence the name.

Twelve Foot took his new found wealth and came East to the Peace Valley where he started a string of trading posts. He soon acquired a reputation as a man with a shrewd head for business but also an honest dealer and was equally fair with the indigenous people as with the Europeans. Indeed, the indigenous people gave him the nickname of "Wolf" out of respect for his ability to carry a 200 lb. pack over long

distances whilst hardly eating anything. He must have been one hard man as I doubt I could even lift it. Even the elite troops of UK's Special Air Service only carry 55lb. during their final assessment which is reckoned to one of the hardest endurance tests in the military world.

Despite being one obviously tough cookie he was good-hearted and the inscription on the plaque at the base of the statue states, "He was Every Mans Friend and Never Locked his cabin Door.". This is not merely by way of being a nice eulogy, it is a statement of fact. When Twelve Foot was off on one of his trading missions he literally left his cabin unlocked so that anyone in need of shelter could stay there.

In 1886 he took his business to Fort Vermilion where he continued to trade in direct competition with the Hudson Bay Company who were hugely powerful in the area then. Remember that he was in his mid sixties then in what can be a very harsh climate. Age, however, takes it's toll on even the hardest men and Twelve Foot suffered increasingly poor health, specifically rheumatism and going progressively blind. Despite this he continued to run his operations by being pushed around on a cart.

In September 1900 he was at the mission at Lesser Slave Lake in Alberta on his deathbed having reached the goodly age for those days of 80 (or 82). I was there last year ago and I can assure the reader that when your time comes there are a lot worse places to be, it is very beautiful.

Even then, there is one more tale to tell about Twelve Foot. It is reported that one of the nuns caring for him asked him if he feared death and he is alleged to have replied, "No, Ma'am, I ain't never kill nobody and I never cheated nobody. Just like the good Lord wants, I allus tried to help fellers and be their friend. I know I ain't lived perfect, but I think the Lord understands. No Ma'am, I ain't afraid to die". He was buried at Buffalo Bay.

Some years later (c.1909) his good friend Jim Cornwall had his remains exhumed and transported back to Peace River in fulfilment of a promise made many years before. Twelve Foot had asked that he be buried somewhere he could see the Peace River and that is why he was reinterred on top of Grouard Hill where he rests to this day and can not only see his beloved Peace River but the Smoky and the Heart as well. I think he would have liked that.

It is a heck of a story and you know it now. I only knew the bare bones of it until I started writing this tip.


At the risk of boring the few lovely people who read more than one of my tips, I'll repeat myself yet again. I learn something everyday I go on the internet to do a bit of writing about my meagre travels.
Twelve Foot Davis statue, Peace Ri…
Twelve Foot Davis statue, Peace Ri…
3 / 3 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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planxty says:
Featured? Where?

Thanks cottonfoam.

It is just another tip I "migrated" frm my last website which was murdered by a vey evil man.

Thanks so much for looking, I did not think anyone even saw my pages here.

Sarah, yes it is just one of so many stories in Western Canada. For a place so young it is bursting at the seams with great tales.
Posted on: Mar 12, 2017
cotton_foam says:
Ops, I apologize..this review is not the one of the front page...
Posted on: Mar 11, 2017
cotton_foam says:
Amazing story!! Thank you for sharing! :) I'm glad it got featured! Well deserving! ~
Posted on: Mar 11, 2017
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