Jacob Bear (1839-1925)

Over the past year, my attention has returned to research on my mother’s family and I’ve been lucky enough to make some progress during the last several months. I’d like to share the research I have complied about Jacob Bear (1839-1925) who was my maternal 2nd great-grandfather.

I have been working on this post over the course of the fall and winter and realized I just have to post what I have rather than continue to dig without reporting on my progress given how much material I have collected. This is the largest file I have on any relative, I can’t believe how much wonderful information was out there just waiting to be found!

After exchanging emails with family and a visit to Saskatchewan in the later summer, I learned of my connection to Jacob Bear, a Swampy Cree interpreter from the St. Peter’s settlement. I am still gathering information about St. Peter’s but unfortunately much of what I have read is about the community after Jacob and his family left the area which will is still useful but more for the work I am doing on Jacob’s parents and siblings.

Reproduction of “St. Peters Mission Red River,” from Bishop Mountain’s Journal. Isaac Cowie fonds. 1987/390/114. Manitoba ArchIves. 1845.
Isaac Cowie fonds.

I secured copies of these postcards from the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Isaac Cowie fonds. There was a handwritten note beside the postcard above which I haven’t fully figured out even after fiddling with the note in Photoshop. If anyone can figure out the rest of the message, let me know, it would be much appreciated!

Reproduction of “St. John’s Church & School, 1820/3” from Rev. John West’s Journal. Isaac Cowie fonds. 1987/390/110. Manitoba Archives. ca. 1823.

The protestant church and mission school at the Red River Colony. 1823. From Rev. John West’s Journal, 1820/23. Afterwards St. John’s Cathedral and College.

I was able to locate Jacob in census records from 1906 to 1921 although these records only account for the years closer to the end of his life. With my increasing familiarity with the treaty annuity lists, I also found Jacob and his family in records related to Cowessess and Ochapowace from 1874 to 1909.

With the assistance from my cousin’s book, Pimatisiwin Wawiyekamaw: A History of Jacob Bear and the Round Lake Mission, by Melissa Antony and Sharon Bear, I learned of Jacob’s connection to the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Round Lake Mission.

Furthermore, I have just begun diving into records from Indian Affairs. I have paid several visits the Hudson’s Bay Archive to obtain copies of records based upon his Hudson’s Bay Company biography sheet. These were so helpful in creating a timeline for Jacob and his family.

Jacob Bear originally came from the St. Peter’s settlement in Manitoba (Anthony and Bear, 2019, p. 56). He was born in or around 1839, a fact I have tentatively confirmed after I visited the HBC Archives to access the Extracts from registers of baptisms, marriages and burials in Rupert’s Land sent to the Governor and Committee. I was provided access to a digital version of a baptism from October 13th, 1839, for Jacob Bear who was born to Thomas Bear (1801 or 1810-1892) and Isabel Beardy (1820-abt 1899) from the Red River Settlement.

HBCA E-4-1a fo-163. Manitoba Archives. 1839.
When BaptizedChild’s Christian NameParents’ Christian NamesParents’ SurnameAbodeTrade or ProfessionBy whom the ceremony was performed
October 13th. 1676.Jacob son ofThomas and IsabelBearRed River SettlementSettlersWm. Cockran
HBCA E-4-1a fo-163. Manitoba Archives. 1839.

I have reviewed Census returns for the Red River Settlement but of course these only record the name of the head of household which was Thomas Bear. In the 1838 Red River Census, Thomas Bear is living in the Indian Village with an unnamed wife and son. Additionally, the document states they are living with George Beardy who I believe is Isabel’s father.

I am hesitant to confirm the census records for the fact that there should be 2 sons listed in Under 16 Sons and not just 1, but the time, location, and name are all there. The pattern carries over to the following census records for 1838, 1840, and 1843.

Bear, Thomas. 1838 Red River Census. Manitoba Archives. 1838 HBCA-E5-9-036.
NameCountryReligionMarried MenMarried WomenUnder 16 SonsTotal
Bear, ThomasNativeProtestant1113
Bear, Thomas. 1838 Red River Census. Manitoba Archives.

In 1840, Thomas Bear was living in the Swampy village with an unnamed wife and 2 sons under the age of 16. He also was recorded as having a canoe at the time.

Bear, Thomas. 1840 Red River Census. Manitoba Archives. 1840 HBCA-E5-10-036.
NameCountryReligionMarried MenMarried WomenUnder 16 SonsTotal
Bear, ThomasNativeProtestant1124
Bear, Thomas. 1840 Red River Census. Manitoba Archives.

In 1843, Thomas Bear and family were living in the Swampy village with 419 other persons. He has 1 house which housed an unnamed wife, 2 sons under the age of 16, and 1 daughter under the age of 15. There were also 2 stables, 1 cow, and 2 calves.

Bear, Thomas. 1843 Red River Census. Manitoba Archives. 1843 HBCA-E5-11-033.
NameCountryReligionMarried MenMarried WomenUnder 16 SonsUnder 15 DaughtersTotal
Bear, ThomasNativeProtestant11215
Bear, Thomas. 1843 Red River Census. Manitoba Archives.

When I visited the archives, I was able to collect information about Thomas Bear and family for 1847 and 1849, but that is as far as I was able to collect Red River Census records.

NameCountryReligionMarried MenMarried WomenUnder 16 SonsUnder 15 DaughtersTotal
Bear, ThomasRupert’s LandProtestant11237
Bear, Thomas. 1847 Red River Census. Manitoba Archives.
NameCountryReligionMarried MenMarried WomenUnder 16 SonsUnder 15 DaughtersTotal
Bear, ThomasProtestant11327
Bear, Thomas. 1849 Red River Census. Manitoba Archives.

I would like to do a separate entry on Thomas Bear (1801 or 1810-1892) as I found a very interesting letter written in 1883 by him to one of his daughters, Isabella, that was also in the Manitoba Archives. It was donated by a relative who was living in Thunder Bay in the early 1990s.

Jacob had at least nine other siblings confirmed in a letter from the Manitoba Archives–Thomas (1836-???), Robert (1837-???), Isabella (1842-???), Elizabeth (1844-???), Sophia (1846-???), George (1848-???), Joseph (1851-???), and Mary Joan (1859-???). There is also mention of a son named Peter (1853-1943) but the Archives does not report on a baptismal date for him.

Jacob’s wife was Nancy Thomas (1839-???) who was recorded as an English-speaking Swampy Cree in Isaac Cowie’s book which I speak more of below, and whose baptism record is also tentatively found in the same Extracts from registers of baptisms as mentioned above. If this is the correct Nancy, she was born to Thomas and Frances Thomas and baptized on July 24th, 1839.

HBCA E-4-1a fo-162. Manitoba Archives. 1839.
When BaptizedChild’s Christian NameParents’ Christian NamesSurnameAbodeTrade or ProfessionBy whom the ceremony was performed
July 24th. 1654.Nancy daughter ofThomas and FrancesThomasIndian SettlementSettlersWm. Cockran
HBCA E-4-1a fo-162. Manitoba Archives. 1839.

Since the digitized collection ends in 1851, I was unable to confirm a record for their marriage though I did not have the chance to access whether I could gain access to records after 1851 when I visited the archives.

Jacob and Nancy’s oldest daughter, Sophie Bear (1858-1888) was born in 1858 in Manitoba, and based on their age and the birth year of their daughter, I imagine the couple likely married in or around 1857.

Jacob entered the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company at Fort Garry on March 15th, 1860. He would have been around twenty-one years old and started in an unskilled position as a middleman that worked the middle of the boat as per the Hudson’s Bay Company glossary.

He was in the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company from March 15th, 1860 to June 1st, 1871. Positions he held included middleman; trader and labourer; trader and runner; trader and c.; interpreter, and a freeman. A list of his service can be found on page 31 in B239-U-2, a document available through the HBC archives, known as the Engagement Register.

Engagement Register. B239-U-2. HBC Archives.
No.Name.Parish.Capacity.Where engaged and date.Terms of years engaged for service.Date contract expires.Deserted, dead, or home.Date.Wages.Amount for extra services.Remarks.
152Bear, JacobNativeMiddlemanF. GarryMar 15 18603Jun 1186320
Trader and labourerQu’Appelle PostApr 24 18632Jun 1186523
Trader and runnerFort PellyJul 1 18652Jun 11867252p tea and sugar.
TraderQu’Appelle PostApr 2 18672Jun 1186930
InterpreterQu’Appelle PostApr 17 18692Jun 11871Free187135
Engagement Register. B239-U-2. HBC Archives.

In addition to the record from the Engagement Register, I’ve also located Jacob in more HBC records than what is listed on his biography sheet. I have found him in the Servants Accounts, District Statements, List of Servants, and Minutes of the Council. There are too many documents to include in this post but I will share a copy of a few.

Servants Accounts. 1870-1871. Manitoba Archives. B239-G-47. p. 27-28.
Minutes of the Council. Winter Arrangements. 1870-1871. Manitoba Archives. B239-K-3. p. 228.

The posts where Jacob served were Fort Qu’Appelle, Fort Pelly, Old Wife’s Creek, and Woody Hills which were all within the Swan River district. I have pulled some information about Fort Qu’Appelle that I think would be of interest from Isaac Cowie’s book which was published in 1913 called, The Company of Adventurers: A Narrative of Seven Years in the Service of the Hudson’s Bay Company during 1867-1874.

Hudson’s Bay Company’s Fort Qu’Appelle in 1867. Isaac Cowie fonds. 1987/390/130. Manitoba Archives. 1867.

Fort Qu’Appelle.

The fort was an enclosure of about one hundred and fifty feet square, the stockades were framed of squared poplar logs, serving as foundations and plating, supported by posts every fifteen feet. These posts were grooved on each side, and into these grooves were inserted thick slabs and planks, with the sawn surface outside. The height of the stockade was about twelve feet. The fort faced north; and in the middle was a gate amply wide for laden carts to enter between its double doors. The stockade was well whitewashed, as were all the buildings within it.

At the rear of the square, facing the front gate, was the master’s house, forty by thirty feet, one story, with light high loft above, built like the stockade, but with squared logs instead of slabs, and thickly thatched with beautiful yellow straw—the best roof to keep in heat as well as to keep it out that I have ever lived under. This and the interpreter’s house were the only buildings in the place which had glass windows, which consisted each of an upper and lower sash, with six panes of eight and one-half by seven and one-half inch glass, all the other windows in the establishment being of buffalo parchment.

The west end of this building was used as the office and hall for the reception of Indians transacting business and making speeches. My bedroom opened off this. The east end contained the messroom and the master’s apartments. Behind and connected by a short passage with “the big house” was another building, divided by log partitions into a kitchen and cook’s bedroom, and into a nursery for Mr. McDonald’s children and their nurse.

The rooms were all floored, lined and ceiled with white poplar, tongued and grooved and planed plank and boards—all hand-work. The furniture was also all made on the spot out of white poplar, which is a fine wood for inside work, and makes beautifully white flooring. The Company only supplied a few one-pound tins of paint to adorn the head of a dogsled or carriole, or perhaps to cover the folding board used by grandees in camp in place of a dining table, or maybe the wooden frame for the beaded mossbag, which so beneficially served the purpose of the rocking cradle of civilization. So, Mr. McDonald had painted his own quarters at his own expense, and the rest of the house, which represented in the eyes of nearly all the Indians who visited it the last word in European architectural art, was left in the unadorned beauty of the native wood.

On the west side of the square there was a long and connected row of dwelling houses of the same construction as the master’s, divided into five houses by log walls carried up to the ridge pole, and each with an open chimney of its own for cooking and heating. In the officers’ quarters only where there any iron stoves. The Company had provided a large sheet-iron one, made at Fort Pelly, for the office, and Mr. McDonald had bought a small Carron stove for his apartments, while Mrs. McDonald owned the American cook stove, imported from St. Paul, Minnesota, in the kitchen. The immense open fireplaces and chimneys were all made of mud. They provided a splendid system of ventilation and made a cheerful blaze. In fact, the blaze was required for lighting purposes, for tallow was too much in demand in the making of pemmican to permit of its being used luxuriously in making candles merely to light “the men’s houses.”

Each of these five houses in the row was about thirty by thirty feet. The floors were of planed tongued and grooved plank; the walls were smoothly plastered with clay and whitewashed, and except in the interpreter’s house, which was ceiled and had two bedrooms partitioned off with boards, the means were open or covered by poles, on which rested buffalo parchments or dry rawhides to form a ceiling. The doors were sometimes of parchment, stretched on a wooden frame, but those of the interpreter’s house and the workshop, at each end of the row, were of wood, and had big iron latches and locks, the others having only long, heavy wooden latches which opened by a thong through a hole in the door. The door was in the middle of the wall with a window on each side of it facing the square; there was none in the rear of the buildings. Although the parchment, if a good one, afforded a fair enough light, it hid from the inquisitive eyes of the women of the establishment what was going on in the middle of the fort, so that the peepholes in the parchment, left by the bullets which brought down the buffalo, were the coigns of vantage where, unseen themselves, the gossips of the post could observe everything going on in the square.

Directly opposite the row of men’s houses, on the other side of the square, was a row of similar construction and size, used as trading, fur and provision stores, with, at the south end, a room for the dairy, and at the north end a large one for dog, horse and ox harness and the equipments—called agrets—required for sleds and carts on the voyage. All these buildings had, of course, strong doors and locks, but none had a chimney, for the fear of fire in a fort where gunpowder was the chief article kept for trade was too great to permit of even the trading shop being heated in the coldest day in winter. This was the rule all over the country, and the men who defied the intense cold when travelling in the open used to dread the more intense cold which seemed to accumulate in the trading store, where one had to spend hours at a stretch writing down each item as the band of Indians brought in their credit slips from the master’s office.

To the right of the front gate stood the flagstaff, on which the British red ensign, with the white letters H.B.C. on its fly, was hoisted on Sundays and holidays, and in honor of the arrival and departure of visitors of importance and the brigades; and in the middle of the square was the fur-packing press with its long beam lever and huge slotted post into which it was inserted.

The duty of scrubbing their own and the big house and keeping the square clean, making a certain number of tracking shoes for the voyageurs, and of planting and harvesting potatoes, was all that was required of the women of the fort in exchange for the board and lodging furnished by the Company. At least once a week they turned out with rooms and raked the stuff or snow up in heaps, which were hauled outside by an ox hitched to a rawhide instead of a cart or sled, and which served the purpose better. The place was the abode of the numerous train-dogs, which wandered about loose; the square served as a corral in which to round up the horses and oxen required for a brigade; in it the sleds and carts were laden and unloaded, and big snowdrifts were often formed during the winter, so the women of the place where sometimes kept quite busy and furnished with plenty of good exercise. After a snowfall it was a pleasant sight to see them all, arrayed in bright colors, with cheerful faces and active limbs, enjoying themselves, assisted by their children, large and small, sweeping up the snow in piles for half-witted Geordie Gills to draw out, if some one did not, while his back was turned to another teasing him, tip Geordie’s load over to have the fun of hearing him denounce the perpetrator in phrases peculiar to himself.

Behind the stockades was a kitchen garden of the same size as the fort, protected by pointed pickets set in the ground and about ten feet high. Again, behind the garden was a field, fenced with rails, about ten acres in area, one-half of which was used for potatoes and the other half for barley.

To the west of the garden there was the hay-yard, and, facing the yard, a row of old log buildings on a ridge of a few feet elevation, which had first been used as store and dwellings, but had been converted into a stable and cattle byres.

Outside, within a few feet of the north-east corner of the stockade, stood a long ice-house, with a deep cellar, in which were preserved fresh meat and fish in summer, and where frozen fish was stored in winter.

The People of the Fort.

The regular complement of engaged servants of the company in the winter of 1867-68 were:
Archibald McDonald, clerk (of thirteen years’ service).
Isaac Cowie, apprentice clerk.
John McNab Ballanden McKay, interpreter.
William Kennedy, apprentice interpreter.
Nepapeness (Night Bird) Steersman, a Saulteau.
Jacob Bear, bowsman. (A Swampy Cree.)
George Sandison, watchman.
George Sandison, jun., middleman.
William Sandison, carpenter, at Wood Mountain.
George Thorne, cattlekeeper, at Wood Mountain.
Oliver Flemmand, voyageur.
(All these, except Mr. McDonald and myself were natives.)
Gowdie Harper, laborer, from Shetland, in 1864.
John Dryer, laborer, from Orkney, in 1866.
Alexander McAuley, laborer, from Lews Island, in 1867.
Alaister McLean, laborer, from Lews Island, in 1867.

The monthly employees were:
Alexander Fisher, horse guard, at the east end of the lakes.
Joseph Robillard, cartwright and carpenter.
Charles Bird, Cree, voyageur.
Henry Jordan, laborer.
Charles Davis, laborer.
The two latter were deserters from the American troops at Fort Buford, Missouri River.

Besides these there were a number of natives hired as “temporary servants” and others occasionally by the trip or by the day, as the occasion required.

The families of those having rations and quarters from the Company were, as far as I can remember:
Mrs. Archibald McDonald, and sons. John A. and Donald H., with their nursemaid, Mary Adams.
Mrs. McKay, with children Sarah, George and Archie.
Nepapeness’ wife, Necanapeek (the leading woman), with son, Kenowas, and a baby daughter.
Jacob Bear’s wife, Nancy (an English-speaking Swampy like himself), and two children.
G. Sandison’s wife, Mary Whitford, with daughter, Mary Jane, and son, William.
W. Sandison’s wife, Nancy Finlayson (no children).
G. Thorne’s three children—Julie and two boys.
O. Flemmand’s wife, Helen Brule, and two sons.
J. Robillard’s wife, LaLouise (no children).
C. Bird’s wife, Caroline Sandison, and child.
Cree widow, “Curly Head,” with three children.
Alexander Fisher’s allowance, two rations.
Thirty train dogs, each two-thirds of a man’s rations.

At the fort the daily allowance for each child was one-quarter and for a woman one-half that for a man, which was twelve pounds fresh buffalo meat, or six pounds dried buffalo meat, or three pounds pemmican, or six rabbits, or six prairie chickens, or three large white fish, or three large or six small ducks, besides potatoes and some milk for the children, and occasionally dried berries, with a weekly allowance of tallow or fat. Rough barley was also given to those who cared to prepare it for themselves.

Daily to feed the establishment required, in the form of fresh buffalo meat, the tongues, bosses, ribs and fore and hind quarters of three animals, for the head, neck, shanks and inside were not considered worth freighting from the plains to the fort. The product of three buffalo in the concentrated form of pemmican was equivalent to the daily issues of fresh meat.

Cowie, 1913, p. 211-216.

The following text was type-written just beneath the image of Fort Qu’Appelle in a scrapbook that is part of the Cowie fonds.

In 1877 Mr Archibald McDonald of Fort Ellice, requested Mr George Mowat, of the H.B.Store at White Mud River, to send up a man to paint Fort Ellice, which was being renovated. Mr Mowat engaged on the spot a remittance man named Nelson, who had the local reputation of being a painter. On his arrival at Fort Ellice it was discovered that he knew nothing of the trade of a house painter, but was an artist in water colours. So Mr Nelson painted Fort Ellice and Fort Qu’Appelle-but on paper in water colours, and the photograph on page 22 is a copy of his picture of Fort Qu’Appelle in 1877. The upright pickets are those put up by Cowie in 1873, the building in the left hand corner is one brought from Touchwood Hills and put up by Cowie about the same time as a shop. The thatched roofed building -logs- in the right hand corner is the remains of the row of men’s dwellings seen in the picture on page 23 as in 1867.

Isaac Cowie fonds. Manitoba Archives.
Fort Qu’Appelle. Isaac Cowie fonds. 1987/390/129. Manitoba Archives. 1877.

The Hudson’s Bay Company biography sheet references Isaac Cowie’s book and states that Jacob is mentioned in several places. Isaac Cowie joined the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1867 and served as a clerk at Fort Qu’Appelle where Jacob was also stationed. There are a number of stories, in fact, too many for me to include in this post so I will create another as they speak to Jacob’s character.

“Jacob Bear and his wife were well instructed Christians from St. Peters, both speaking, reading and writing English, also syllabic,” (Cowie, 1913, p. 222).

The book also states that Jacob wintered in the lodge of Ookemah, Chief of Qu’Appelle Saulteaux, from 1867 to 1868. Furthermore, Isaac wrote that Jacob was a “bowsman” at Fort Qu’Appelle during the same time as he was a trader and c.

In Pimatisiwin Wawiyekamaw, Melissa and Sharon wrote that Jacob first went to Winnipeg to learn English in a program being offered to train First Nations peoples to work for the Hudson’s Bay Company (Anthony and Bear, 2019, p. 56). After concluding his contract for the Hudon’s Bay Company in 1871, Jacob acted as an interpreter for the Indian Agent at Okanese. I have been unable to locate any mention of Jacob in records related to Okanese but this is entirely possible given he was a free agent at the time and last acted as an interpreter.

Also written in Pimatisiwin Wawiyekamaw, Jacob and family had been around the Cowessess Band around the signing of Treaty 4 (September 15th, 1874) and consequently became band members at Cowessess First Nation. This is an interesting note as based on the Treaty annuity records, Jacob Bear was a member of the Kakishcheway (Kakisiwew) Band from 1874 to 1885.

Although I don’t find Jacob by name in the 1874 or 1875 accounts, I found in the 1876 record he was paid $181 for the years 1874-1876. I’m not sure why he was paid an extra $56 when each person was to receive $5 respectively. Based on the account below, Jacob received $40 for 1874 for 8 persons (himself, a wife, and 7 children), $40 for 1875 for 8 persons (himself, a wife, and 7 children), and $45 for 9 persons (himself, a wife, and 8 children) but that only accounts for $125.

What could the extra $56 be given for–services to Indian Affairs? If anyone has an idea what this could be for please leave a comment.

Kakishiway’s Band. Indian Affairs, Annuity Paylists: C-7145. Image 97.
n/a889Jacob Bear117181
Kakishiway’s Band. Indian Affairs, Annuity Paylists: C-7145. Image 97.

It wasn’t until later that Jacob Bear became a member of the Cowessess Band, and then switched back to the Kakishcheway Band in 1893 which had been renamed the Ochapowace Band. The switching back and forth between bands is very interesting and I have a letter by the Indian Agent which talks about the switch in 1893 though no letter to account for the first switch to Cowessess in the 1880s.

Supposedly, his first role on Cowessess was as an interpreter for the Marieval Residential School, however, he was pushed out by the Catholic priest because Jacob had strong protestant beliefs (Antony and Bear, 2019 p. 56).

In addition of his work as an interpreter and missionary and with the Round Lake Mission, Jacob was also a farmer like many of those who lived in the Crooked Lake Agency. He is mentioned by name in Indian Affairs Reports for the years 1883, 1884, 1886, 1891, 1892, 1893, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902, and 1903. There are too many files for me to post so once again I will pick a few records to share in this post.

Jacob Bear has commenced at Yellow Calf’s old place, and has broken up more land.

Dominion of Canada Annual Report of the Department of Indian Affairs for the Year Ended 31st December 1883. p. 27-28.

The band had made great progress in farming since my visit last year. They lad a large area of land in potatoes and wheat, the former promised very good crops; the best I have seen this season; the wheat was short and much choked by wild buckwheat; the turnips had been destroyed by the fly. Their land is well fenced, but their houses are the poorest description of huts. Jacob Bear, an educated and intelligent Indian, was in charge, as acting sub-instructor, and was doing very well.

Dominion of Canada Annual Report of the Department of Indian Affairs for the Year Ended 31st December 1884. p. 27-28.

Round Lake Boarding-school.
I inspected this school on the 9th and 10th February. The staff consists as follows: Rev. Hugh McKay, principal; Mrs. McKay, matron; N. McKenzie, teacher; Jacob Bear, farmer; Helen Gaddie, cook; Hilda Sahlmark, housemaid; Eliza Bear, laundress; Peter Elkinson; fireman, in winter attending to furnaces.

Dominion of Canada Annual Report of the Department of Indian Affairs for the Year Ended 30th June 1893. p. 446.

Jacob Bear, No. 116 – House and stables in the valley, near Rev. Mr. McKay’s boarding-school. The house is 20 x 20, rough-cast walls and shingled roof, up-stair rooms, good floors and doors, no open chimney; house well furnished and clean. Has wagon, mower, rake, and a good supply of smaller implements and tools, all private property. Store-house, hen-house, creamery, new lean-to kitchen; his daughter was busy knitting. Horse stable, 18 x 18, room for sixteen horses; cattle stable No. 1, 18 x 18, eleven stanchions; cattle stable No. 2, 18 x 18, the last one for younger cattle; has twenty head in all. Some good pigs were noticed. A thrifty-looking, homestead, and all had the appearance of plenty.

Dominion of Canada Annual Report of the Department of Indian Affairs for the Year Ended 30th June 1896. p. 359.

Jacob Bear, Casokoowinan and Pierre Belanger have the best houses, neatly kept and furnished.

Dominion of Canada Annual Report of the Department of Indian Affairs for the Year Ended 30th June 1903. p. 381.
Indian Affairs. RG 10, Volume 3759, File 32025-2. 1886.
Name of IndianWheatOatsBarleyPotatoesTurnipsPeaArea of land utilizedRemarks
Jacob Bear10321 1/41/21/416 1/2Good
Indian Affairs. RG 10, Volume 3759, File 32025-2. 1886.

So far, I have identified the following children of Jacob and Nancy:
Sophie Bear (1858-1888) married Michel Lavallée (1855-1941)
Isabelle Elizabeth Bear (1869-???) married Sam Cyr (1865-1932)
Sara Marie Alphonsine Bear (1871-???) married Louis Henry Allary (1873-1913)
Henry Bear (1872-1910) married Mary Ann McKinnon (1879-1978)
Andre Bear (1874-???) *may be one of the unknown boys who died in 1884 and 1900
Marguerite Bear (???-???) married Joseph Lavallée (1884-???)
Unknown girl (???-1898) married Pookaysacase/William Petwawenin
Unknown girl married unknown man
Unknown boy (???-1884)
Unknown boy (???-1900)

I found mention in the Treaty annuity records the marriage of an unnamed daughter in 1884, marriage of another unnamed daughter in 1897 to Pookaysacase/William Petwawenin, and later the unnamed daughter’s death in 1898. I haven’t been able to identify her name, however, I know there are tentatively records related to her out there–most likely in the Round Lake protestant church records. Once I get my hands on these records I am confident it will solve a good handful of mysteries.

The imminent death of his unnamed daughter is mentioned in a letter to Rev. Professor Beard on March 21st, 1898. “I lost my grandson aged 18 years two weeks ago and my daughter has been very ill and she shall not live long. Every night, we are afraid she shall not see the morning. We feel much when we have to put our children in the grave.” (Antony and Bear, 2020, p. 91)

Based on the date, I believe the grandson Jacob is referring to in this letter is Jeremie Lavallée (1878-1898) who was buried on March 14th, 1898. He was the son of their eldest daughter, Sophie Bear (1858-1888) who married Michel Lavallée (1855-1941).

Jacob and Nancy also suffered the death of two unnamed sons, one in 1884 and another in 1900. It’s possible one of these deaths could be that of Andre (1874-???) A third son, Henry, died sometime in 1910.

The comment Jacob makes about feeling the death of children is more keenly felt with the deaths of the children of their daughter, my great-grandmother, Sarah Bear (1871-???). She married Louis Henry Allary (1873-1913) and I have documented fifteen children while the couple lost at least eight in childhood or young adulthood:
Albert James Allary (1894-1914)
Sara Virginie Allary (1895-1918)
Louisa Ann Allary (1897-1918)
Louis Maurice Allary (1900-1918)
Christine Allary (1902-1916)
Marie Marguerite Allary (1905-1921)
Marie Josephine Allary (1907-1907)
Valentine Allary (1908-1908)

While I do not have the death records for these great aunts and uncles, I imagine their deaths were due to influenza and tuberculosis. There is mention in the 1919 Indian Affairs Report that there were very heavy mortality in Saskatchewan communities due to the influenza epidemic. The illness left victims in a delicate state of health and in some locations, the illness was accompanied by virulent bronchial pneumonia.

In his later years, Jacob and his wife Nancy lived near Broadview, Saskatchewan with their adopted grand-daughter Lena Petwawenin (1905-???). Lena was the daughter of William Petwawenin (???-???) who had married the widow of No 75 Pasqua Band (???-1906) in 1901 after the death of his previous wife, the unnamed daughter of Jacob and Nancy Thomas. After the unnamed wife died in 1906, it looks like Jacob and Nancy took Lena in.

1906 Census. Saskatchewan, East Assiniboine, Sub-District 50, p. 2.

In 1911 there was no change to the living situation, Jacob and Nancy still had Lena under their roof. She had spent 10 months at school, most likely the Round Lake Residential School. Interestingly enough, the record states neither Jacob nor Nancy could read or write but this is incorrect.

1911 Census. Saskatchewan, Qu’Appelle, Sub-District 31, p. 11.

By 1916, Jacob and Nancy were once again living alone on the Ochapowace Reserve. Lena was most likely at the Round Lake Residential School though her name is not included in the 1916 Census record of the school. Jacob’s profession is listed as missionary on Indian Reserves.

1916 Census. Saskatchewan, Indian Reserves, p. 16.

Nothing had changed by 1921, Jacob and Nancy were living alone on the Ochapowace Reserve. His occupation was listed as farmer.

1921 Census. Saskatchewan, Qu’Appelle, Sub-District 45. Crooked Lake Indian Agency, p. 1.

Jacob Bear died in July 30, 1925, in Broadview, Saskatchewan. I have been unable to find a death date for his wife Nancy (1839-???) but I assume it occurred in or around the Crooked Lake Agency.



HBC Archives Biography Sheet. Filename: Bear, Jacob (fl. 1860-1871) DA 22/10/90 ; May/99/mhd ; Rev. PC May/0.

Cowie, I. 1913, “The Company of Adventurers”, Toronto, Wm. Briggs, pp. 214-215, 222, 261-262,0 352-355.

Melissa Antony, M. and Bear, S. 2019, “Pimatisiwin Wawiyekamaw: A History of Jacob Bear and the Round Lake Mission.”

2 thoughts on “Jacob Bear (1839-1925)

  1. Jacob Bear is a grandson of “Wapusk” or White Bear of Red River settlement, as that name is listed as the father of Thomas Bear who married Isabel Beardy. (Beardy) itself might be another form of the Bear clan name.

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