Stories with Jacob Bear (1838-1925) from Isaac Cowie’s The Company of Adventurers

In the middle of June my laptop crashed and all of my genealogical research was trapped on my drive for several stressful weeks. It was a scary reminder to back up my research! Thankfully, I was able to send my drive to a local business that was able to rescue my files. Phew.

Now that I have them back, I’ll be working to upload more material to my blog such as the following stories I transcribed from Isaac’s Cowie’s book The Company of Adventurers.

These stories are related to Jacob Bear who worked at Fort Qu’Appelle at the same time as Cowie. In my research around his time with the Hudson Bay Company I had located a document which listed that Jacob had been referenced in the book. To my delight when I pulled the book to review I found a number of stories that mention Jacob which were not listed. I’ve highlighted the first mention of his name in orange in each story to make it easier to find him in the text.

My favourite story is about how Jacob saved the lives of both Isaac and a young boy who had been traveling with them when they got caught up in a terrible blizzard. Without Jacob’s level-headed thinking they would have never made it to camp.

The Rest of the Garrison.

Next in the roll of the fort comes William Kennedy, apprentice interpreter, a boy of about twelve years old at the time, now an elderly settler of many years and good standing, near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He also came of good old Hudson’s Bay officers’ stock, his grandfathers being Chief Factors Alexander Kennedy and Roderick McKenzie, and his name father and uncle, Captain William Kennedy, the well-known Arctic explorer.

Space cannot be given to all I would like to say about other friends and comrades at Fort Qu’Appelle, and as their names will come up in course of the narrative I shall only mention them briefly here. The three Sandisons and Thorne were English halfbreeds and so were their wives, and Mrs. McKay; Flemmand and Robillard and their wives were French halfbreeds, although the latter looked a very fair Frenchman and the former a pure Indian. Of the Europeans, besides Mr. McDonald and myself, Gowdie Harper was the only one permanently attached to the fort, the others being only send there to pass the winter where provisions were plentiful, and to be drilled to their duty by Mr. McDonald (who had a reputation for breaking in green hands as well as bronchos) preparatory to being sent elsewhere—Dyer to Lake Manitoba and the other two to Athabasca, next summer. Of the two Americans, Jordan, who remained in the country, will be mentioned again, and Davis returned to the States after a year or so. Nepapeness was a all, splendid-looking fellow. Neither he nor his wife was a Christian. On the other hand, Jacob Bear and his wife were well instructed Christians from St. Peter’s, both speaking, reading and writing English, also syllabic.

Cowie, 1913, p. 221-222.

Lynx and Whitefish.

On Monday Mr. McDonald ordered ponies to be brought round and we set out to visit the fishery up the lake. Of course several of the train dogs followed up, and among them his steering dog, “Beaver,” who, running ahead of us, started a lynx from his lair along the trail. We at once dashed after him, but after taking first one long leap, next a shorter, and then one quite short, as is the nature of the beast, the lynx took refuge from the dogs in pursuit by scrambling up a tree, from which Mr. McDonald brought him down dead with a shot from his double barrel. Now at last, I thought, I had reached the happy hunting grounds of my dreams, for he treated the matter as one quite common in a sally from the post.

We found Jacob Bear with a big stage laden with whitefish, hung, in tens by the tail, to freeze for winter’s use, and although of the fine warm weather still continuing during the day, that would only make them more palatable than quite fresh fish as an article of frequent diet. Jacob had also split, slightly salted and smoked some of the finest of his catch, like finnan haddies, for the mess. He gave us a few ducks, caught while diving in the net, to take back with the smoked fish and the lynx, to the fort, all being good to eat; for roast lynx was thought to be a great delicacy.

Cowie, 1913, p. 224-225.

My Friend Flemmand.

I spent a few pleasant days under Jerry’s hospitable roof, and with Jordan’s aid we had several sing-songs, Jerry’s contribution being, “The North Counteree” and mine “The Jolly Dogs,” which latter charmed the ear or fancy of Olivier Flemmand, who was a jolly dog himself. The chorus was “Slap, bang, here we are again,” in which Flemmand turned the “slap” into “frappe” in his rendering. Flemmand was a tall, lithe, active fellow, who justly prided himself on his prowess as a runner, for on one occasion he had run the distance of one hundred and thirty-five miles from Fort Qu’Appelle to Fort Ellice within twenty-four hours in the heat of summer, carrying an urgent letter. He was polite, good-natured, full of fun, and talkative. He was a good-looking fellow, although as dark skinned as most Indians, but inside he seemed to be all French with one exception, for he was an arrant coward. This he sought to conceal by brag and bluster, and bullying young fellows under him with most savage threats. He talked French, Saulteau and Cree, and spoke English amusingly.

Flemmand wanted to get a trip in the to fort to see his family, so Mr. McKay sent him with me, via Old Wives’ Creek, where Jacob Bear was wintering in the lodge of Ookemah, the recognized chief of the Qu’Appelle Saulteaux. The American, Charles David, and William Sandison, with a train of dogs each, came with us on the homeward journey.

Old Wives’ Creek.

On the 27th of January I note that Jacob Bear had on hand ninety buffalo ropes, seventy buffalo tongues, five badgers, five red foxes, twenty kitt foxes, one lynx and twenty wolves as the result of his trade to that time. My visit afforded old Ookemah the unusual opportunity of putting his grievances in writing. The old fellow was in a sulky mood probably arising from disturbance of his liver from overeating, for he was living on the fat of the land, and he was far too fat himself anyhow to be healthy. Obesity is not common among male Indians, but it is, I think, more frequently found among the Saulteaux than the other tribes. He and his son, White Bear, appeared to be conjoint chiefs in some way, which Flemmand failed to make me understand. Neither could I understand and get any comprehensible explanation of the chief’s bitter complaint that he had not been paid in full for the “present” to the Company with which he had celebrated, according the the custom, his arrival in state at the fort in the fall. The alleged present consisted of two horses and some furs and provisions, and all those who contributed towards it had been paid in full but he himself, said he. He also grumbled that his gratuities as a chief had been forced upon him against his will, and for these he might be called upon to pay when he was unable. Bewildered between what he regarded as my childish questions for an explanation, and the inadequacy of Flemmand’s interpretation in such a case of delicate diplomacy, I finally simply wrote down what Flemmand said the chief had said, Mr. McDonald to solve the problem himself.

Start for the Fort.

We passed a day with Jacob, and on the 30th of January, 1868, set out for the fort, the trail to which, after reaching the Hotel Denomie, at the River the Turns, would be that followed on the outward voyage. Although Jacob had plenty of carts to carry in to the fort all he was likely to trade by spring, we loaded up our sleds with robes, or rather Jacob and Flemmand loaded mine, saying that my dogs were strong and well able to draw forty large prime robes. While the stuff I had taken to Wood Mountain on my sled probably weighed as much, yet in bulk it was not half as high as the load of loose, unpacked robes they piled on it. Flemmand, having no dog-train to drive, set off ahead, on an old trail hard enough to hold up a man without snowshoes. He seemed to be in a heart hurry and kept us busy attempting to keep up with him. But the roadway was over rolling ground and sided slopes where my sled was continually swinging off the narrow track and upsetting in the soft, deep snow alongside. The ground seemed to be honeycombed with badger holes, and nearly every time I got off the track to right my sled down one of my legs would go full length in one of the holes. Sandison and Davis, having lighter and well-snugged loads, did not have so much difficulty and were more experienced in the work; but they, too, had had enough of Flemmand’s furious rush at the start and were glad when he halted at my signal. I came up to him hot in body and in temper, for I suspected he had done as he did “to play over a greenhand.” I said:

“We will stop and make tea, and then you and I, Flemmand, will go back to Jacob’s while the others go on. We will catch them up in the morning.”

“What for, m’sieu, you want to go back?” asked Flemmand, with feigned surprise.

“Because I did not come out here to do the work of a cart-horse, with a sled that you have loaded as high as a haystack,” I answered, hotly. “We will make a cariole at Jacob’s and you will drive me in, in style, to the fort.”

Cowie, 1913, p. 260-263.

Caught in a Prairie Blizzard.

That winter I made two other trips with dogs. One was out to Old Wives’ Lake with Jacob Bear and a lad named Unide Gardupuis, on which we had the unpleasant experience of being caught by a blizzard on the bare prairie. Scraping the snow away down to the grass with our snowshoes, we laid down with robes and blankets under and over us, and let the snowdrift cover us up. After spending forty-eight hours huddled together for warmth in this decidedly uncomfortable “camp,” nibbling a morsel of pemmican and trying to thaw snow for drinking in the covered copper teakettle we put to warm in our bosoms, Jacob thrust his head up, and, seeing it was clear, said we must get up and run for the nearest woods.

Though clear, the north-west wind was strong and piercingly cold. The dogs were all covered up under the snow around us. Feeling for them with our feet, and pulling them out of their comparatively warm lairs, we, with great difficulty and distress, with hands and fingers already benumbed in lashing the bedding on the sleds, hitched them in and set off. Jacob ran ahead of his train to give a lead, for there was no trail and the wind was blowing hard slantingly ahead and across our course over the Couteau. The two trains of dogs, Jacob’s and my own, which I was driving after him, constantly edged away from the slanting head wind, and I had all I could do to keep them on the course. We had eaten little and drunk less while under the snow, and it was forenoon with no chance of reaching the woods on Old Wives’ Creek till sundown.

Suddenly Jacob began running harder than ever, and then stopped and began scooping a hole in the snow. When we came nearer he shouted, “We’ll boil the kettle here,” for he had found sticking out of a badger hole the larger half of a broken pine tent pole, than which nothing could be better to kindle a smudgy fire on buffalo dung. We willingly “rooted” with our feet for the precious buffalo chips, and had a pile high as a haycock by the time Jacob had knifed enough shavings to kindle it. The storm being violent, we covered Jacob with a robe while he struck a light with flint and steel. The fuel soon smouldered into red, and the kettle was boiled for a long longed-for drink of tea, after we had first slaked our thirst by melting snow in the frying-pan. But although it boiled the kettle, that smouldering fire gave out no warmth to us around it. Poor young Unide, thinly-clad in cotton shirt and white cloth capote, with his blanket over all for a shawl, had to keep on the run round and round about the fire, nibbling at a lump of frozen pemmican as he went, and stopping for a moment occasionally to take a drink of tea. Jacob and I were able to keep from freezing, being better clad, and sat down with our robes over our backs and heads on the weather side of the fire, more to protect it from being blown away than for any warmth we could possibly derive from it.

As soon as we got the fire going the dogs were given a little pemmican, enough to keep up their strength without impeding their travelling till night. So the whole party started with renewed strength and spirit to battle with that biting breeze till we should find rest and safety in the bush on the borders of the Old Wives’ Creek. Every few minutes as we ran we had to thaw the frostbites on our noses and faces.

The sun had gone down when we gained the desire haven just in time for Jacob to see well enough to chop the big lot of firewood for the blazing bonfire he intended to enjoy in the comfort of a camp in the shelter of the woods, in contrast with the sufferings we had endured on the wind-swept prairie and under the snow.

Had Unide and I been alone we would never have reached that camp; and it had taxed even the hardiness of Jacob to do so. As soon as he had finished cutting all the firewood he wanted, and came to stand by the fire, he discovered that his right ear, on the windward side, had been solidly frozen, and by its commencing to thaw it gave him intense pain, from which he suffered many a day. He bravely bore it and laughingly said, “You will be able to put down my name on the list with marks like a horse with a crop ear, and call me Jacob “Court Oreille.”*

The only other trip I made that winter of any consequence was one to Fort Pelly, where, apart from giving my hospitable welcome as a newcomer to Swan River district, I was wanted to extract a troublesome tooth for Chief Factor Campbell’s lady.

* A few days ago I had the great pleasure of hearing that my good-natured and capable travelling companion is alive and in the enjoyment of fairly good health near Whitewood, Saskatchewan.

Cowie, 1913, p. 353-355.

Brown Bess Bellows.

Only a few impotent malcontents remained about the lakes, and his mission destroyed their last hopes of sharing in any pillage others might provide. These now began to fear reprisals for the insulting abuse they had taken every safe occasion to give vent to against the Company’s people and the even more hated men from Ontario. So, to encourage them, and at the same time to experiment with an old army Brown Bess as a scatter gun when loaded half up with powder and trading bullets, I had one mounted on a pair of cart wheels, and choosing a clam day began practicing with it as a field-piece, taking the precaution to use a long line attached to the trigger to set it off. As a target, and to observe the spread of the bullets, we used the side of the ice-house. Jacob Bear, who had taken great delight in operating it while we were firing this dreadfully overcharged gun for nothing but the noise, when it had been filled to the muzzle with probably a bursting charge, took shelter to one side of the line of fire round a corner of the stockades. Simultaneously with the roar of the gun there came a yell of alarm from Jacob: “It shoots round the corner,” yelled, for he declared that bullets had whizzed past him in his retreat. It certainly was a scatter-gun, and seemed to be absolutely proof against bursting.

The echoes of the loud bellowings of this good old Brown Bess, careering down the valley for miles, aroused alarm along the shores of the lakes. “The soldiers have come to the fort,” was the cry. Next day one of the most malignant came up cautiously to find out who had come and brought the big cannon. He saw neither newcomers nor cannon, but we all looked quite consequential. So he went back mystified, to be again alarmed by the rousing echoes next calm day. We had some fun out of it, and we had found that the old blunderbuss might be a very effective weapon at close range to guard our gates.

Cowie, 1913, p. 412-413.

We Hold the Fort.

As Mr. McDonald was leaving I asked him for instructions as to what was to be done in case of attack. He replied, “Act according to circumstances on your own judgment after consulting Jerry.” A fully half of the business of that post was in summer provision trade and the principal requirements for it were arms and ammunition, our store contained a large supply of these essentials, and I determined to blow the place up sooner than that they should fall into the hands of any attacking force. Jerry was of the same mind, and in his constant palavers with the Indians urged upon them the necessity of protecting themselves against famine and other foes by protecting the fort, of which the garrison left by Mr. McDonald consisted of himself, young Kennedy, Jacob Bear, George Sandison, George Thorne, with Henry Jordan as my cook, and myself. All the families, except that of Mr. McDonald, remained in the fort.

The Crees, under Loud Voice, in lodges placed a long intervals, camped in a circle round the fort, ever on the watch, and ably aided by the dogs belonging to them and to us. It was against surprise we had to guard, till the Indians could enter and take position behind the pickets.

Nearly the whole month of June did the Metis belonging to the lakes, and others, principally malcontents from the border, linger round the lakes. They outnumbered us and our allies, but not sufficiently so to encourage them to make an attack, if so minded, for which we were prepared. We all anxiously awaited news from Red River, which might possibly come by a party sent out to augment the malcontents at Qu’Appelle and lead them in an attack on the fort. Rumours to that effect freely circulated, announcing the virtuous indignation of the Provisional Government at the slur cast upon them by the Swan River furs having been sent direct across the plains to evade capture by them. But whatever the alleged arrangement might have been, it was not recognized by Chief Factor Campbell nor his gallant friend, Chief Factor Stewart, who was making aggressive preparations to recapture Fort Garry, as a brigade after brigade from the interior arrived at Norway House. I know not whether or not the determination of these two Highland officers to resist any aggression on their districts and redeem the credit of the Company from the reproach of having permitted Fort Garry to fall into the hands of the malcontents without resistance, had anything to do with their being both “permitted to retire” when the “reorganization” of the Company’s arrangement with the fur-trade officers was carried out through the diplomatic medium of Mr. Donald A. Smith; but that seemingly was their reward for valour.

Cowie, 1913, p. 409-410.

Starvation on the Plains.

When Jerry and Jacob and the men who had wintered with them at Eagle Quills arrived that spring they brought harrowing tales of starvation, instead of the usual supply of provisions. Some of them had gone without food for three days at a stretch; they had eaten the buffalo sinews, of which thread was made for sewing leather, and feasted upon any wolf which they had the good luck to poison. On the way in their chief dependence had been gophers, caught by pouring water in their holes and forcing them out to snares set at the openings. The only food which was abundant that spring was suckers, which swarmed the creeks, and these fish of many bones and poor eating, became, with a little milk, barley and potatoes, the only rations at the fort. So when we were packing the furs and robes there was little skylarking and laughter, neither was there any merry-maker, like Flemmand—or rather Jackson—to cheer them up.

Cowie, 1913, p. 425.

Reference:

Cowie, I. 1913, “The Company of Adventurers”, Toronto, Wm. Briggs.

Letter from Thomas Bear to his daughter Isabella (1883)

In this blog post I’m going to share the transcript from a letter written by Thomas Bear (1801 or 1810-1892) to one of his daughters named Isabella.

I first mentioned this letter in my post about his son, Jacob Bear (1839-1925), and would like to do a full post on Thomas one day as he is the furtherest I can trace in the Bear family beyond mention of his father Wapask in the 1870 Manitoba Census.

I first learned of this letter’s existence while researching the Bear family from St. Peters. In my search for this line of Bears, I came across Angela Jeske’s 1990 Thesis entitled, St. Peter’s Indian Settlement: A House Indian Community at Red River, 1833-1856.

This thesis really helped flesh out what St. Peter’s was like and who lived there during the early and mid-1800s which I previously had been unable to find information. Much of the published materials I have looked at focused on the later 1800s and early 1900s which is too far ahead for what I’ve been focused on.

As well, it is possible to associate specific family names with either “Cree” or “Saulteaux”. Names common to those identified as Cree were Bear, Badger, Cockrane, Johnstone, Stevenson, Thomas, Sutherland, Isham, Whitford, Sinclair, Sandison, Williams, Turner, Kennedy, Garioch and Halco.

Jeske, 1990, p. 68.

The census of 1835 records three separate heads of families with this name [Bear]: Jacob, John, David. It is likely, however, that Thomas Bear “an Indian from Cumberland House” was the brother of the previously mentioned family heads, and was connected to Robert Stranger through both place (Cumberland House) and marriage.

Jeske, 1990, p. 79.

Based on this information I suspect the family hails from northern Manitoba or Saskatchewan as I’ve seen references to both Norway House (Kinosao Sipi – ᑭᓄᓭᐏ ᓰᐱᐩ) and Cumberland House.

This next part just goes to show I need to write down where and how I come across some of my references. In my general search regarding the Bears, I came across another book entitled, The Shady Side of Fifty: Age and Old Age in Late Victorian Canada and the United States by Lisa Dillon.

The economic status of indigenous elderly wives, whose family economies were typically resource based, was undoubtedly less certain than that of their white counterparts. The insecurity of Isabella Beardy old age is evident in a letter written by her husband, Thomas Bear, a Cree born in Rupert’s Land, to his daughter in 1883. A broken gun and lack of a boat impeded Bear’s abilities to hunt for himself and his wife. Their son, Peter, planted wheat and barley, which Isabella was left to reap. A granddaughter, Maggie, arrived unannounced; she helped dig up potatoes but left her grandparents mystified by her sudden departure from their daughter’s home. With Peter away hunting ducks, Isabella and Thomas made their own efforts to repair their house. When Isabella and Thomas attempted to cope with their problems by praying, Peter interrupted them drunk; it was Isabella’s role to pacify their drunken son. Although Isabella had borne nine children, her security and peace in old age was far from guaranteed.

Dillon, 2008, p. 45.

Intrigued by the content of the letter, I was able to have it retrieved from the Manitoba Provincial Archives during my visit in October 2021. A copy of the original letter had been made and then donated by an individual from Thunder Bay in October of 1992.

Ann Morton, Head of Research and Reference at the HBC Archives, wrote in her reply that there was only one Thomas Bear that could be found in the 1870 Census. Based on his age, place of residence, and connection to a daughter named Isabel, it was very likely the Thomas in the census was the same one who wrote the letter.

She also provided additional information from the 1870 Census and Anglican Parish Registers and mentioned that she checked the HBC employment records but could not find any information prior to his marriage in 1835. She suggests that he was either not employed by the HBC or was an undocumented seasonal worker.

A second page was included with some genealogy information related to Thomas and his family. Thomas Bear married Isabella Beardy on December 3rd, 1835 in St. Peters. The pair had the following children recorded in St. Peter’s registers: Thomas (1836), Robert (1837), Jacob (1839), Isabella (1842), Elizabeth (1844), Sophia (1846), George (1848), Joseph (1851) and Mary Joan (1859). The couple also had a son named Peter but he was not included in the parish register. The researcher wondered whether Joseph (1851) could be Peter or if his name was life off altogether.

The letter was 9 pages in length and hand-written so I had some trouble deciphering some of the text. I always think of younger generations who are not being taught cursive and the extra work archivists and researchers will have to do in order to familiarize themselves with it before even looking at some of the extra peculiarities with style that come and go.

In any case, I have kept most original spelling and have added my educated guesses within brackets.

St. Peters
October 23rd
1883
Mrs. Esibella Hopeboam

dear daughter

I was very glad to receive [your] letter. to learn that you are all still alive. and about what you wish from me [I do it] for you. I could not do it for you. know I am [getting] blind I only killed one duck this summer, and the same time you know that I broke my gun last spring before you went away.

[since] I have no gun nor a boat to hunt with even I have no boat to set my net with. am that hard up having no flour or tea. I sold 10 bushels of potatoes [and past] only [come] being after my pay. but they are very cheap this year. they are only 25 cts per bushel but I put 35 cts per bushel myself and about the house fixing.

I see plainly Peter can’t do it for he has lots of work to do this fall to fix the [biars] and his after ducks all this time. So we are trying to fix the house ourselves after your sister heard about that you was wanting me to hunt ducks for you, she said that Abram would hunt for you in place of that [money] you sent to take him out to Rat Portage.

Abram [he’s] always after ducks but they generally take them up to Winnipeg. but we always [set] a share every time he [arrives]. they went down one week already with his family. they [plan] to stay for two weeks. after that [he’s gone] to fix his house and stable for the winter.

I always known that it was very hard for an old man to make his living. for the little wheat + barley that Peter put down for us. when it got ripe it was only your mother had it cut it down. sometimes I would try and help her. you don’t know how much I pitied your mother at last I had to go to work and cut it with a scythe. and about the digging of potatoes while your mother and me was digging, Maggie came and I was very thankful when she came for it was a great help to us.

I [feel] a great deal harder to live than usual for Peter and [Isauc] [doesn’t] leave off drinking, actually your brother came in while having prayers being drunk your mother had to get up to try and pacify him and me praying. but mind that I didn’t tell this to anyone excepting you. I [feel] very lonesome a many a time in my soul, not in the outward body, for I know very well that am old man that has known many [his] got to be in need a many a time.

and after I had your letter read to me. I think a great deal concerning what you [gone] to do before hand this is the third time now I hear a person saying that this summer. very likely you will not see the day and that’s why I think a great deal. it [is] very hard for me which to believe you say in your letter that you didn’t know that Maggie was lonesome if you were that- you would let her come [home] for the time you sent for Sophie if she would go that you would let Maggie come home for you said [there] that she was lonesome and that’s why I said it is very hard for me which to believe different stories.

I was very much thankful when you had [elloss] relations you out. Betsy my own [sister] and your brother’s daughter when you was gone to meet we may say near death. after you went through. then to give them such bad name. I thought you would have [more] thankful to those who kept you dear daughter. I know that am very wicked and the same to my sister Betsy your aunt am know that that she kept a many a [cree] and I never hear ever [to set] after keeping somebody a bad name not as same as what you do.

it is very good to [deny] yourself sometimes after thinking bad for you know very well dear daughter the God’s holy scripture says to forgive your brother that offend you. for if you don’t forgive, your Heavenly father will also not forgive your sins. for wickedness as many a time is chastised. therefore try and love your dear little ones. therefore dear daughter try and forget all the bad thoughts what you have thinking. St John tell us to believe and repent of our evil doings and we shall have everlasting life.

I think you brother Robert [he’s] very much troubled all the time. he’s living with a woman but not lawfully married. he only writes to [Snyder] he never writes to us. and by him we hear. that’s why am telling you that I [feel] very lonesome in my [soul].

am very much thankful to your husband when [he’s] keeping you right-therefore be good to your husband dear daughter, and about your brother Jacob I never hear from him. last spring last he was seen [at] Qu’Appelle and he was gone farther west I hear that by mouth he never send a letter to us since last winter.

Edward Thomas was far west this summer and I ask him [whether] he ever heard or any thing about him he said no. I send a letter [to] him to tell me [whether] [he’s] alive or not, but the letter went astray. the letter came to me again and I sent it off again, since I didn’t hear.

I have lots of news that I could tell you lots of sickness for children very hard sickness and whooping cough, and about Maggie running off from [you]. I didn’t ask her one question so I don’t know anything, why she did, that’s all. Kisses to you children, husband, may the Lord bless you and keep you and lead you to everlasting life, good night.

Your father
Thos Bear

Letter from Thomas Bear to Mrs Esibella Hopeboram, St Peters, 23 October 1883, Thomas Bear Collection, P 5098 f.8, Manitoba Provincial Archives.

There is so much interesting information contained in this letter that I’ve used to support ongoing research. Due to the difficulties I’d had in transcribing the content, I have also uploaded copies of my photos of the letter for anyone who might want to take a stab at some of the peculiar words that don’t fit.

References

Dillon, Lisa. The Shady Side of Fifty: Age and Old Age in Late Victorian Canada and the United States. McGill-Queen’s University Press. 2008.

Jeske, Angela. 1990. St. Peter’s Indian Settlement: A House Indian Community at Red River, 1833-1856. Master of Arts Thesis. University of Alberta.

Letter from Thomas Bear to Mrs Esibella Hopeboram, St Peters, 23 October 1883, Thomas Bear Collection, P 5098 f.8, Manitoba Provincial Archives.

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.
Check187418751865NameMenWomenChildren$
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.

Research:

https://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/archives/hbca/glossaries.html

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.”

Today in the Dauphin Herald – Nov 20 – 1913, 1919

1913 Nov 20 – Fork River

A number of farmers met at the municipal office on Saturday event, the 15th, to discuss the horse question. Q. King was appointed chairman and T.B. Venables secretary. The chairman stated the reason for calling the meeting, after which those present voted that we form an association to be known as the Fork River Horse Breeders’ Association and the flowing officers were elected: President, Thos. B. Venables; Vice, Wm. King; Sec.-Treas., D.F. Wilson. Directors: Ab. Hunt, Nat Little, A. Rowe and Geo. H. Tilt. The meeting adjourned to meet on Saturday night, Nov. 29, at 8 o’clock sharp to decide the most suitable breed to apply for a government pure bred stallion and to transact other business. Anyone can become a member of the association on the payment of one dollar membership fee. We wish the farmers every success in this worthy undertaking and it should have the hearty support of all in the district.
Dan McLean returned home for the winter months after spending the summer in charge of the government dredge at Regina.
Capt. Russell, of Cork Cliff, was a visitor in town on Saturday.
Mrs. F.B. Lacey of Mowat, returned from the wedding of Mr. Cain and Mrs. O’Neil at Dauphin. We wish them all kinds of happiness.
George Basham, postmaster of Oak Brae, was in town on Saturday. He still wears that genial smile.
Harcourt Benner is visiting at the home of his uncle, D.F. Wilson, on the Mossey.
Bert Steele passed through here on his way to take up his winter quarters at Mafeking for the A.T. Co. Bert is looking the picture of health and prosperity.
Hon. Hugh Armstrong, of Portage la Prairie, in company with the president and secretary of the Booth Fishing Co., paid the A.T. Co. store a visit last week.
Fleming Wilson, of Dauphin, paid a visit to the home of his parents and Miss Bessie Wilson returned with him for a short visit among friends in Dauphin.
Mr. Almack, of Gilbert Plains, left for the west with two cars of cows and young stock for the ranch.
The ladies of the Union Church, of Fork River, will hold a fowl supper in the Orange Hall, on Friday, Nov. 28th. Admission, adults 35c, children 15c. Short programme, everybody welcome.

1913 Nov 20 – Sifton

The fine weather and good roads are making numbers of people visit our village and shopping and milling are the order of the day.
Mrs. J. Kiteley, of Toronto, Ont., who has been visiting her sons in Brandon, Moose Jaw and Calgary, was the guest of Miss Reid at the Presbyterian mission house for a week.
A much felt need is being met now by an enterprising shoemaker, who has opened a repair shop on Front Street. He should do well. A bank should be our next addition and would be a convenience to many.
A fatal accident occurred on Tuesday, when a nine year old son of Anton Sturcko lost his life. The child was taking a loaded gun down from the wall, where it was left, when the weapon discharged, shattering the boy’s left leg and the loss of blood was so great that when he was taken to the village about two hours later, he was in a state of partial collapse and died before he could be taken to a doctor.
The gross neglect of parents in allowing children the use of firearms is a matter of grave import, and some steps to set on foot a law imposing a heavy fine on such should be a good thing, and the means of saving other young and bright lives.
A band of boy scouts is being inaugurated and is a fine thing for the boys. Scout laws are just the kind needed here. Our best wishes for their success under the leadership of our esteemed neighbour, Mr. Paul Wood.
The quiet of the night is sometimes broken in upon the chug, chug, of our worthy section foreman’s gasoline hand car on patrol, up to the switch. Also several of our villagers have enjoyed a fast trip to Fork River or Winnipegosis.

1913 Nov 20 – Winnipegosis

Mr. Frank Hechter returned on Monday after a considerable stay in Winnipeg.
Mrs. J.P. Grenon arrived here on Wednesday, having spent a pleasant vacation studying mink farming at Quebec. Winnipegosis will soon be able to boast of its Zoological Gardens at the rate it is going on. We only want a few live bears, but no mosquitoes, as we have plenty of them to spare, in season.
Capt. Dan. McDonald accompanied by his brother, arrived from Winnipeg on Wednesday.
Paul Paulson and family returned on Monday, having recovered from his attack of typhoid fever which he contracted while staying in Winnipeg. He proceeded to his fishing camp on Thursday.
Archie Stewart, proprietor of the well known livery stable, met with an accident by falling off his wagon.
A meeting of the Curling Club took place in Walmsley’s pool room on Monday evening, when it was resolved that practice would take place an soon as the skating rink was got into working order and on receipt of first instalment of subscriptions. The club would then be open to engage all comers, bar none.
The young ladies of this place are having great times of an evening, skating on river and lake, the latter being practically frozen over. Charley Langlois having skated over from is camp on Weasel Island on Tuesday, Mr. Johnston also walking in from Snake Island the previous day.
Charley reports that the fishermen up the lake have suffered a great loss, which is probably irreparable at this time of the year.
Howard Armstrong of Fork River, appeared before Mr. Parker, magistrate, on Friday morning to answer a charge of stealing various articles, too trivial to mention, and after Miles Morris had given evidence, his worship came to the conclusion that at present there was not sufficient incriminating evidence to connect the prisoner with the charge and adjourned the case till Monday morning, the accused being allowed out on his own recognizances. During the proceedings Capt. Dan McDonald made a minute inspector of the only and only cell and evidently admired the accommodation, although he passed no comment.
Frank Hechter has a fine display of furs in his store, which would make suitable presents to the “Old Country” and prospective buyers are warned that the supply being limited, they had better hurry up so as to secure specimens at most reasonable prices.
Mr. Bennie Hechter made a trip to Winnipeg on Wednesday for the purpose of supervising his house property in that city.
A progressive whist part was held on Thursday evening at Mr. Martin’s (station agent) home and after light refreshments and an enjoyable evening, the lucky participants returned to their respective homes in the early hours of the morn.
Mrs. Coffey returned to Dauphin on Friday, having spent a few days here with the jovial Captain.
Dick Harrison went to Winnipeg on Friday for purpose of disposing of surplus funds, which is a great loss to this rising watering resort, and as it is evidently entering a new era of prosperity, can do with every little help to give it a leg up.
Mr. Sturdy, Jr., from Fort Frances, Ont., is paying a week’s visit to his father, one of our most prominent citizens.
Tom Toye, our energetic Councillor, has brought in news of a big bear having killed a Galician round his part of the country, the animal having disembowelled the man. As a gallant Welshman why does not Tom uphold the traditions of his race and kill the brute, bringing the hide back as evidence. Tom Sanderson would act as guide and track the beast to his winter lair.

1919 Nov 20 – Fork River

Mr. and Mrs. John Dobson and family, of Winnipeg, are visiting at the home of Reeve Venables.
D.F. Wilson, sec. treasurer is attending the Union of Municipalities convention at Winnipeg this week.
Milton Cooper, who has been in the Dauphin Hospital, is improving.
F.F. Haffenbrak is on a visit to Ninette, Man.
With the milder weather the attendance at Sunday school has increased. 42 were in attendance last Sunday.