Les Metis ... Voyageurs and Grandparents
With regards to the family headed by Jean Baptiste Bouvier, a Michel Bouvier entered the Hudson's Bay service in 1830. Jean Baptiste originated at St Curs, Quebec and had been in the north west country since the turn of the century. Others also became employees, such as Joseph Bouvier, patriarch of the Bouvier family Jean-Baptiste died in August, 1838. A month after this tragic occurrence the "Bay" gave a "fine gun for his boy, two large moose skins for his widow, and one third of a yard of scarlet cloth."
Below is a list of employees for the year 1854.
Not noted in this list is Francois Maurice who had joined the company in 1851. Francois was working this year at a different post. Such was the general rule. Men were posted throughout the length of the Churchill River System from Reindeer Lake to La Loche, and on the Athabasca route. Often a complete family would move at transfer time. A wife at each post was not the rule as many mean-mouthed people are inclined to state. A voyageur often became very loyal to his family of Metis children.
Many of the family names in Ile-a-la-Crosse show the original "White father, worked at the post for thirty and more years. Often, as was the case with Jean-Baptiste Bouvier, they die of old age while in the Hudson's Bay Company's service. Looking at the list of employees throughout the various years mentioned, and yet to be mentioned, this is proved. Father is followed by son, and some by grandson. There is almost a tradition in who works for the "Bay." Not everybody living at Ile-a-la-Crosse worked as a "Bay" employee; many were called "freemen" Below is a list of "freemen" in Ile-a-la-Crosse in the years 1857 and 1863:
Antoine Morin, the patriarch of the Morin Family, died in 1855, leaving his widow and children to continue living alongside the "Bay". Antoine Junior became the new family head with many younger brothers and growing children to yet join the company of the "Bay".
Below is an employee list for 1865 - 66
This list was added to in 1871 with:
In the Maurice family, Francois was promoted from servant to clerk in 1878. Francois senior is mentioned later in this work in connection with the missions history. Francois, like Antoine Morin, added to a fair degree, to the number of Maurices in service with the Bay. Of note of these offspring are Francois Junior, Magloire, and Charles.
Some of the family names have disappeared from Ile-a-la-Crosse. The offspring of the first HBC Factor William Linklater are noted as being employed and in Ile-a-la-Crosse as late as 1882. Today there are none to be found.The same holds true for the MacKenzie clan-all from the roots of Roderick MacKenzie of 1786. What about the McLeod family? Many had worked for and headed the posts of the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company.
Many of the employees are now second and third generation employees. Often the younger sons would be sent to the distant posts to "winter" for the Hudson's Bay Company. Being the administrative centre for the north-central trade of Saskatchewan, Ile-a-la-Crosse exported many young people to remote centres which in turn began to raise new families with the old family name. A search of any northern directory will find a host of Larocques, Roys, Morins, Lalibertes, Larivieres, Durochers, Desjarlais, Merastys, Linklaters, Mackenzies, Daigneaults, McKays, Ballantynes, and others too numerous to mention
We must not forget the Indian "grandfathers", mothers and cousins. A search of the account books at any post will give the names of many Indian trappers who have dealt with the Hudson's Bay Company. Their names are often hard to print as they are all in the native language of their owners, and rarely follow any "family tree" structure. These pages will not attempt to name them. That will be left for those who desire to go beyond a mere glance at general history.
(Photo Courtesy: Ile-a-la-Crosse Mission)
The last list of servants and clerks available for the work presented here are dated 1881 and 1882.
The people employed in 1881 are:
(Note that Francois has been 30 years in the service)
The last mention of the Gerard Family is a note from the post kept by Francois Maurice, probably at La Loche. As head clerk, Francois lists Ambrose Gerard, Rhien Gerard, and Joseph Gerard as being servants at the post. Catholique Morin is also living at the post then and supplying fish to the post. On page seven is a photograph of a Mr. and Mrs.Gerard, who were at the time living at Fort Black, an unused post of the XY Company.
Much more remains to be recorded in print for the yet-unborn generations. At the time of writing, access to materials and people was not as readily given as should have been, to give a more complete picture as to individual family histories. Hopefully, this work will encourage others to open their sources of information, tell their stories, and give of their wisdom. It is not yet too late.
Before the past is buried and gone
(PA 18053 Public Archives of Canada)