A trial in Red River

Recently the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre presented the play Sarah Ballenden by local playwright Maureen Hunter.  The play is rooted in the historical trial of Foss vs. Pelly that took place in July 1850 in the Red River Settlement.

Sarah Mcleod Ballenden was a Metis woman married to a Hudson Bay Company Chief Factor, John Ballenden. Rumors were circulating that she was having an inappropriate relationship with a soldier, Captain Christopher Foss. In order to clear her name, Foss brought charges of defamation against four members of the community who were the source of the allegations: A.E. Pelly, accountant for HBC; his wife Anne Pelly; John Davidson, the mess cook; his English wife, a servant.

Much has been written about the trial and the issues of class and racism in the settlement.  It is not my intent to analyze this historical event. Readers who wish to know more can read Sylvia Van Kirk’s article “The Reputation of a Lady”: Sarah Ballenden and the Foss-Pelly Scandal at http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/mb_history/11/fosspellyscandal.shtml#24

Dale Gibson’s has an account of the trial in his book Law, Life, and Government at Red River: General Quarterly Court of Assiniboia, Annotated Records, 1844-1872, excerpts of which you can read on Google Books.

What piqued my interest was the fact that I have Hogue, McMillan and Dease ancestors living in Red River during this time frame. During the play there were references to Governor Simpson having abandoned his country wife years earlier.  Of course, the country wife was Margaret Taylor, my great-great grandmother, whom I’ve written about here.

I wondered if any of my ancestors were on the jury. Thanks to the digitization of records on the Archives of Manitoba website, I was able to see the list of jurors.

Jury

District of Assiniboia General Quarterly Court District of Assiniboia General Quarterly Court, 1844-1851, Digital Image Number: PR16-002638.jpg Location Code: P7538/1

 

At first glance I thought, no ancestors there.  Then a couple of days later I took a second look.  One name stood out…Thomas Logan. Checking back through my files there he was… the brother-in-law of my great-great grandmother, Margaret Dease.  Thomas Logan was married to Margaret’s sister, Mary Anne.

Naturally I wondered what his opinions on the trial would have been, given that he was married to a Metis woman.  As I delved further into his background I discovered he was the son of Robert Logan and Mary, a Saulteaux Indian, so he was also Metis.

Thomas Logan scrip

Scrip affidavit for Logan, Thomas, from Library and Archives Canada, MIKAN NO. 1502263

Further research revealed that after Thomas’s mother died,  his father, Robert Logan, married Sarah Ingham, a white European widow, who was a schoolteacher.  Sylvia Van Kirk in her book Many Tender Ties, states that:

“The family of retired Chief Factor Robert Logan had particularly opposed their father’s marriage to Mrs. Ingham”.

Reading the transcript of the trial, Mrs. Logan’s name comes up several times.

Mrs. John Black (Margaret Christie, a Metis woman married to a HBC officer) said:

“I have heard Mrs. Logan state that Mrs. Ballenden was a woman that must always have a sweetheart as well as a husband.” and

“Mrs. Logan told me they were very intimate.”

Mrs. Cockran (wife of the Anglican Rev. William Cockran) testified:

‘I have heard reports, and questions has [sic] been put to me.  Mrs. Logan told me, & informed me that she had spoken to Mrs. Ballenden about it.”

The testimony of most of the witnesses for the defendants was hearsay.  There was a definite undertone of “white” superiority and racism.  So what would it have been like for Thomas Logan, a Metis, with a Metis mother and wife to hear his stepmother’s opinions? We can only guess.

I also noticed that one of the witnesses for the plaintiff was a Mr. Nathaniel Logan, a clerk for Mr. John Ballenden. Thomas had a brother Nathaniel who worked for HBC, and this could have been him.

In the end Foss won his case and damages were assessed against the defendants. However the rumors did not go away and Sarah Ballenden found herself shunned by many of the elites of the community.  She died three years later at the age of thirty-five.

So, what is the point of this post?  Obviously none of my direct ancestors were involved.  However, five of my direct ancestors (Margaret Taylor, Amable Hogue, William McMillan, Margaret Dease, and Genevieve Beignet) were adults living in the Red River Settlement at this time.  All of them, except for Amable, who was French-Canadian, were Metis. This is the social climate they lived in. These are the prejudices they experienced.

The pursuit of genealogy research for me is not just finding the names and dates for my ancestors, but placing them in the historical, social milieu in which they lived. And THAT is the reason for today’s post.

 

 

For all the Fathers and Grandfathers

I had many lovely comments on my Mother’s Day post of pictures, so I thought I would do the same thing for Father’s Day.

My maternal grandfather was George Vaillancourt.  He was born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec. He was married twice. His first wife died leaving him with a one-year old son.  He then married my grandmother, Marie Anne Girard.  They lived in Trois-Rivières, in Trochu, Alberta, and in Regina, Saskatchewan, before settling in Manitoba. He died long before my brothers and I were born, at the age of 65, and is supposedly buried in St. Anne’s, Manitoba, although I haven’t yet found a grave.

Vailancourt George

George Vaillancourt 1869-1935

 

On my paternal side, the oldest picture I have is of Allan “Glenpean” McMillan, my fourth great grandfather.  Born in Scotland, he was instrumental in bringing settlers to Ontario, in what was know as the Lochaber Emigration. I wrote about him here.  He died at the age of  71 and is buried in St. Andrews United Church Cemetery in Williamstown, Ontario.

McMillan Allan

Allan “Glenpean” McMillan 1752-1823

 

My third great grandfather was James McMillan, also born in Scotland, who came to Canada with his family. I wrote about him here.  His country wife was Josephte Belisle, my ancestor. He died back in Glasgow, Scotland at the age of 75.  I don’t have a picture of him, but I do have this picture of his statue at Fort Langley, British Columbia, courtesy of Joan Sanderson.

McMillan James b1782

James McMillan 1782-1858

 

My second great grandfather was William McMillan.  He was born near present day Edmonton and  eventually moved to the Red River Settlement where he married Margaret Dease.  He was a  very interesting man whom I wrote about here.  His obituary claimed he was 103, but I’m sure that’s not true.  He is buried in St. Charles Cemetery, Winnipeg.

McMillan William

William McMillan 1806-1903

 

My great grandfather was Thomas Hogue. He was the son of Amable Hogue, whom I wrote about here. (Sadly I don’t have a picture.)  He married Philomene McMillan and lived in St. Charles before moving to La Salle, Manitoba around 1893.  I wrote about him here. He died at the age of 83, and is buried in the St. Hyacinthe Cemetery in La Salle.

Hogue Thomas Sr.

Thomas Hogue Sr. 1840-1924

 

My other great grandfather was Napoleon Girardin. Napoleon was born in Kingsey, Quebec and emigrated to Worcester, Massachusetts, where he married Onesime Allard.  They eventually emigrated to Manitoba, and Napoleon settled in La Salle, after the untimely death of Onesime. At the age of 71 he married again.  I wrote about him here. He died, aged 78 and is buried in an unmarked grave in La Salle.

Girardin Napoleon

Napoleon Girardin 1851-1929

 

My grandfather was Thomas Joseph Hogue. He was born in St. Charles, moved to La Salle with his parents, and was the first constable of the village. He was married to Emma Girardin.  They are, of course, the Pépère and Mémère of my blog posts! I wrote about him here. He died at the age of 75 and is buried in Assumption Cemetery, Winnipeg.

Hogue Thomas Jr.

Thomas Joseph Hogue 1879-1955

 

And then my father, Joseph Thomas Hogue. He was born in La Salle, but eventually moved to Winnipeg.  A welder by trade, he died much too soon after retirement. He died just before his 63rd birthday, and is buried in Assumption Cemetery, Winnipeg.

Hogue Thomas b1909

Joseph Thomas Hogue 1909-1972

 

Still miss you Dad!

New Year’s Day Levée

levee

On New Year’s Day my husband and I attended the Lieutenant Governor’s New Year Levée, held at the Manitoba Legislative Building. I knew it was an annual event, one of those things I told myself that we should attend…someday.  Since 2017 is a special year, the celebration of 150 years since Confederation, I decided that this would be the year.

According to news reports, about 1300 people attended this year’s celebration, and judging by the number of cars parked in the area, that seems about right.

I stood in line to shake Lieutenant Governor Janice Filmon’s hand, as well as other dignitaries. Fruitcake, cookies and punch were served.  Musical entertainment was provided. I came away with a Canada 150 flag and pin, as pictured above.

A levée is a reception held “to mark the advent of another year and to provide an opportunity for the public to pay their respects.” You can read more about the levée here.

The tradition of a New Year Levée has a long history in Canada. The first recorded one was hosted in 1646 by the Governor of New France, Charles Huault de Montmagny, in the Château St. Louis in Quebec City.

chateau_saint-louis

Château St. Louis From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

 

We have many ancestors that were in the Quebec City area in 1646 and may have attended the Levée.  There is no way to know for sure, but perhaps these ancestors  paid their respects to the Governor: Abraham Martin, Olivier le Tardif, Jean Guyon , Zacharie Cloutier, Robert Drouin. You’ll notice that these are all men, as women were not ALLOWED to attend until World War II, when female members of the Armed Forces were permitted to join the event!

On the wonderful website Manitobia, I found a description of the Manitoba Levée of 1873.

capture

capture2capture3

Again, we can’t know if any of our ancestors and relations were in attendance.  However, the Mr. Beauchemin, MPP (Member of the Provincial Parliament) who is mentioned, would have been Andre Beauchemin, uncle of Jean Baptiste Beauchemin who was married to my great-grandmother Philomene McMillan’s sister Marguerite.

During the time of the fur trade, a New Year’s celebration was the custom at the various forts. These seem to have been less subdued occasions. In the book Making the Voyageur World: Travelers and Traders in the North American Fur Trade by Carolyn Podruchny, excerpts of which are available on Google Books here, we learn:

“Feasting, drinking, and levees, or paying courtesy calls on masters (particularly on New Year’s Day), were characteristic of celebrations in fur trade society.”

Undoubtedly James McMillan, John Warren Dease and Amable Hogue would have partaken in these festivities.

I seem to remember my Mother mentioning that in La Salle, it was the custom for families to visit the grandfathers on New Year’s Day.

I enjoyed attending the Lieutenant Governor’s New Year Levée of 2017, and it resulted in a brief moment of “fame”.  That evening on Global News as we watched their coverage of the event, my husband and I walked into the frame!

 

An update for “the elusive Elizabeth”

Recently I blogged about my search to find out more about Elizabeth Hogue, daughter of Amable Hogue and Marguerite Taylor (see here).  I have now received her death certificate from North Dakota.

Untitled

Interestingly, it lists her father as having been born in France, and her mother in England!  The informant for this information was her daughter-in-law, Emma Campagna nee Boucher.

Given that Emma herself was a great granddaughter of Amable and Marguerite as shown here,

Amable to Emma Boucher

I have to wonder was Emma herself unaware of her roots, or was this just another case of hiding Metis identity? Unfortunately that was not an uncommon situation.

In 1941 Emma returned to St. Louis, Saskatchewan for a family reunion, according to this newspaper article.

The Bismarck Tribune (Bismarck, North Dakota) · Fri, Aug 29, 1941 · Page 8

The Bismarck Tribune (Bismarck, North Dakota) · Fri, Aug 29, 1941 · Page 8

It seems unlikely that she didn’t know her family history.

Marguerite and Amable

When Margaret Taylor married Amable Hogue she became known by the French name of Marguerite. So what do we know about Marguerite and Amable’s life? After their marriage in 1831,  Amable worked as a mason on the building of Lower Fort Garry (where Governor George Simpson was going to live with his wife). As Christine Welsh noted in her essay Voices of the Grandmothers: Reclaiming a Metis Heritage published in the journal Canadian Literature, Issue #131, Winter 1991:

From her vantage point in the Metis labourers’ camp just outside the walls, Margaret would have been able to watch the Governor and his bride take up residence in their magnificent new home.

What feelings Marguerite had at this turn in her fortunes we will never know, but we do know that she and Amable made a life for themselves in the Red River Colony and raised nine children. In 1835 Amable was given a land grant consisting of Parish Lot 51 of St. James Parish which is basically where Clifton Street in Winnipeg is now. Lots were typically narrow, about 250 yards wide, and extended two miles back, plus another two miles that was called “hay privilege”. The narrow lots gave everyone water access. They later moved to Lot 56 St. James Parish which is around Sprague and Greenwood streets.

Here’s a map showing the relevant streets in today’s Winnipeg.

Google map

Google map

One of their children, in later years, claimed that he grew up on the property that, in 1906, became an amusement park known as Happyland. In fact the Happyland property would have been nearby, but not specifically on the Hogue land.

As a sidenote, you can read about Happyland here and here.

In the 1835 Census of the Red River Settlement (which only names the head of the household), Amable is listed with a wife, 1 daughter and 3 sons. I believe that two of these were Simpson’s sons, George and John. Marguerite and Amable’s children were:

Marie Hogue born January 18, 1831 and married to William Bremner
Amable Hogue born May 6, 1833 and married to Elizabeth Morissette
Joseph Hogue born December 30, 1835 and married to Pelagie Turcotte
Marguerite Hogue born in 1838 and married to Andre Robillard
Thomas Hogue born November 10, 1840 and married to Philomene McMillan
Antoine Hogue born December 24, 1844 and married to Crawford Brown
Louis Hogue born in 1846 and married to Julie Turcotte
Elizabeth Hogue born October 20, 1848 and married to Frank Aymond
Mary Anne Hogue born in 1850 and married to Francois Welsh

In the 1835 Census, Amable and Marguerite had 1 house, 1 stable, 1 mare, 3 oxen, 3 cows, 1 calf, 5 pigs, 1 plough, 1 harrow, 1 cart and cultivated 6 acres. By the 1849 Census, they have 1 house, 3 stables, 1 barn, 1 horse, 2 mares, 3 oxen, 6 cows, 2 calves, 3 pigs, 2 ploughs, 1 harrow, 6 carts, 1 canoe and cultivated 20 acres. The carts would have been the famous Red River carts, the ownership of which suggests that Amable was involved in trade as well as the buffalo hunt.

Amable died on February 26, 1858. Unfortunately, his place of burial is not known.
Marguerite would have several children still at home at this time.  By the time of the 1870 Census of the Red River Settlement, she is living with her son Thomas (my great-grandfather) and his family.

1870 Census of Manitoba Source: Library and Archives Canada

1870 Census of Manitoba
Source: Library and Archives Canada

In the 1881 census, she is with her daughter Mary Ann and son-in-law Francois Welsh.

Newspaper articles that feature some of the children of Amable and Marguerite give us a glimpse into their lives. Joseph Hogue and his wife Pelagie Turcotte were the subject of a Manitoba Free Press article on January 12, 1915 on the occasion of their 56th wedding anniversary. Some quotes:

“In his fancy Joseph drifted back to the winter evenings when, as a boy, he sat before the roaring logs in the old cabin on the farm, part of which is now known as Happyland, and listened to his father tell stories. His father’s name was Aimable (sic) Hogue. He was born in Montreal in 1791. He came west with Governor Simpson about 1824, and for 20 years travelled with that gentleman inspecting trading posts belonging to the Hudson’s Bay company. The travelling was done principally in hand-propelled boats and Aimable (sic) Hogue did the rowing. He was injured in the boat one trip and was then retired on a pension. A grant of 200 acres of land, six chains wide, along the Assiniboine river, and extending for four miles north, was given him.”

On January 11, 1919 their 60th wedding anniversary prompted another long, but not completely accurate, article in the Manitoba Free Press. Some quotes:

“He recalls when his mother, a sturdy Scotswoman (an original Taylor) who used to follow in the wake of her buffalo-hunting spouse Amable, and prepare the flesh of freshly-killed buffalo for pemmican.”
Talking of his father’s farm, he says “We raised barley, oats, potatoes, peas, poultry, sheep, horses and cattle. We had wooden plows and no machinery at all.”
When asked if his father raised horses, he replies “Yes, animals specially adapted for buffalo hunting, swift as the wind, true as steel, real, rollicking animals which had more the nature of their Indian developers than horse nature as we understand it today.”
Talking about himself, Joseph “launched into stories of how he used to ride across the Dakota and Southern Manitoba prairies killing buffalo in competition with the fierce and murderous Sioux Indians who, at that time, hunted merely with bow and arrow.”

In the past, having learned of my Metis heritage, I often wondered where my ancestors stood in relationship to the issues around Louis Riel. It seems we had people on both sides. In this same newspaper article, Joseph indicates his feelings:

“Riel Rebellion days, certainly, the family lived all through it. Mr. Hogue was a member of the government forces which held old Fort Garry against the rebels, and the son of a soldier, he takes pride in having helped put down the malcontents.”

Rather interesting, as by the time Joseph was giving this interview, one of his daughters, Philomene, was married to William Beauchemin, whose father Jean Baptiste Beauchemin was a member of Louis Riel’s provisional government!

Marguerite died on December 16, 1885 and is buried in St. Charles cemetery.

St. Charles Cemetery Winnipeg, Manitoba

St. Charles Cemetery
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Margaret Taylor

So who was Margaret Taylor, and why is her name in so many history books? The answer is that she was the “country wife” of Sir George Simpson, governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company. This was the fact I discovered when I found her name in the book in the gift shop. It was common practice for men in the fur trade to take a native or Metis woman as a “country wife” or marry “à la facon du pays” (in the custom of the country). Sometimes these relationships were long-lasting, with provisions made for any children of the union. Sometimes, if a man was transferred to another post, he made provisions to “turn off” his partner, meaning he would arrange a marriage for her to someone else, and perhaps make some financial provisions.Although “love” may or may not have been a consideration, the relationship was often  beneficial to both parties.

As Sylvia Van Kirk says in her book Many Tender Ties:

“The Indian viewed marriage in an integrated social and economic context; a marital alliance created a reciprocal social bond which served to consolidate his economic relationship with a stranger. Thus, through marriage, the trader was drawn into the Indian’s kinship circle. And in return for giving the traders sexual and domestic rights to their women, the Indians expected reciprocal privileges such as free access to the posts and provisions.”

From the point of view of the fur trader, he gained not only companionship and important social ties to trading partners, but a wife who was skilled in the many practical skills necessary to his occupation, such as making snowshoes, moccasins and pemmican.

Margaret  Taylor was born around 1805 at the Polar Sea (York Factory) to George Taylor, an English sloopmaster and Jane, a native woman. Simpson apparently had many liaisons with Metis women, and around 1825 began a relationship with Margaret.   Simpson was known to have acknowledged Margaret’s brother Tom, who was his personal servant, as his “brother-in-law”. One of Margaret’s descendants, Christine Welsh, has a National Film Board movie called “Women in the Shadows” which explores her Metis roots.

Margaret bore Governor Simpson two sons. Their first son, George Stewart Simpson, was born February 11, 1827. (He would join HBC as a 13-year-old apprentice and eventually become a Chief Trader.) In July, 1828 Margaret accompanied Simpson on a canoe trip from York Factory to New Caledonia (what is now British Columbia).   Amable Hogue was part of the crew of this trip. During this voyage, Margaret became pregnant again with Simpson’s child.   James Raffan states in Emperor of the North:

“In fact, she had re-crossed through the April snows of the treacherous Athabasca Pass when well into her second trimester. Ninety miles on foot or on horseback slogging over her beloved governor’s muddy winter road between Fort Assiniboine and the North Saskatchewan likely did nothing to improve her feeling of well-being.”

Simpson left her at Fort Edmonton with instructions to Chief Factor John Rowand to arrange for her to go to Fort Alexander. This was done and Simpson’s second son, John Mckenzie Simpson, was born August 29, 1829. (John stayed in Manitoba.) Chief Factor John Stuart’s letter to Simpson, of February 1, 1830, praised Margaret :

“…it is but common justice to remark that in her comportment she is both decent and modest far beyond anything I could expect or ever witnessed in any of her country women. She appears to be as content as is possible for one of her sex to be in the absence of their lord and natural protector and as a mother she is most kind and attentive to her children whom she keeps very clean.”

There was a great deal of surprise then, when in May of 1830 Sir Simpson returned from a trip to England with a new wife in tow, his cousin Frances! Colleagues were shocked at Simpson’s cruel and dismissive treatment of Margaret. Simpson’s marriage to Frances is considered by historians to be a turning point in the social customs of the fur trade. Whereas native and Metis wives were at one time considered invaluable for their skills and connections, only European women were now  “civilized” enough for the expanding settlement. Years later, one of Margaret and Amable’s sons would refer to his mother as a “sturdy Scotswoman”. The denial of Metis roots had begun.

Governor Simpson belatedly arranged to have Margaret married off to Amable Hogue. They were married March 24, 1831 by Rev. David Jones at the Red River church, witnessed by Pierre Leblanc and William Bruce. Amable worked as a mason on the building of Lower Fort Garry, where Simpson and Frances were going to live…how ironic!

 

 

A Hogue comes west

In my last blog post I wrote about Francois Hogue and Angelique Coiteux. Now I will follow the Hogue line from Quebec to our first appearance in western Canada.

Francois and Angelique had a son Joseph Amable, born February 5, 1734 in Rivière des Prairies, Quebec. He married Marie Josephe Belanger and they had seven children. Marie Josephe died at the age of 35 and Joseph married again, this time to Marie Josephe Paquet, and they had 14 children. Yes, you read that correctly. Joseph Amable was the father of 21 children! At least 5 of them died in infancy. I have not found a burial record for Joseph, but he was dead by the time his second wife died in 1806.

Our direct ancestor from the first marriage is Louis Amable Hogue born April 28, 1769 and baptized at  St-Vincent-de-Paul-de-l`Ile-Jésus, Laval, Quebec and married to Marie Anne Labelle May 18, 1795. They had at least two children, our ancestor Louis Amable Hogue and another son, Joseph. Again, I have not been able to locate burial records for either Louis or Marie Anne.

Their son, Louis Amable Hogue, usually referred to as just Amable Hogue, was the first Hogue to come west. He was born July 14, 1796 in the same parish as his father,  just north of the island of Montreal. You can see it as number 5 on the map.

Hogue Amable b1796 baptism

Baptism of Louis Amable Hogue 14 Jul 1796 at St-Vincent-de-Paul-de I’lle-Jesus, Laval; Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), accessed on ancestry.ca

Amable served in the military during the War of 1812. I was very excited when I discovered a document which, at the time, was available for free on the Canadiana website. Unfortunately that is now a subscription website. The document is from The Journals of the House of Assembly of Lower-Canada, from the 21st January, to the 25th March, 1815.
img022
In this document, we find Amable listed as being 18 years old,  of fair complexion with a long face, grey eyes, light brown hair and was 5’5” tall. I have never seen a picture of Amable, but it was exciting to find these details of his appearance!  Amable was a member of the Canadian Chasseurs, under the command of Gerald De Courcy. I found a little bit of background on this unit at the website called 1812: Archive Secrets, which is produced by the Stewart Museum in Montreal

“In September 1812, another battalion of Select Embodied Militia was created for the Montreal area. This Fifth Battalion was soon known as the Devil’s Own because it included a number of lawyers, among them, Louis Lévesque and Louis-Joseph Papineau. Command was given to Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick Murray of the 60th Regiment. In March 1814, the battalion was inspected by Major General Francis de Rottenburg. On his recommendation, George Prevost decided to convert the battalion into a light infantry corps. Some of the officers were replaced. The new commander was the Hon. Gérald de Courcy and the battalion was renamed the Chasseurs Canadiens.

I don’t know what battles Amable fought in, but the document tells us that he was “wounded in the left arm and rendered unfit for service” at Plattsburgh on September 11th, 1814. Unfortunately this was the battle the Americans won.

I’ve found no records indicating what Amable did after the war, although their is evidence he was skilled as a mason. In 1821 he joined the Hudson’s Bay Company in whose service he came west. Here is a link to his record  from HBC Archives.

Amable HBC

Amable was one of Sir George Simpson’s handpicked elite crew of voyageurs that paddled the canoes. Hmmm…guess that arm injury wasn’t too much of a disability!

Amable travelled to the Columbia district with Simpson twice; once in 1824/25 and once in 1828/29. The 1824 trip from York Factory to the mouth of the Columbia River is described by author James Raffan in Emperor of the North: Sir George Simpson and the Remarkable Story of the Hudson’s Bay Company as “the most incredible canoe journey in Canadian history”. It was completed in 84 days, setting a record for the fastest and longest canoe voyage in one season. Interestingly, another ancestor, James McMillan accompanied Simpson on this journey, as did Amable’s future brother-in-law, Tom Taylor.

In 1831 Amable married Margaret Taylor, the ancestor I found in a history book (see my post here).

I’ll continue their story in another post.