Saturday, January 12, 2013

Instalment II - Cuthbert Grant

Instalment I

"There were many fur trade posts in the area we now know as Manitoba and Saskatchewan. These areas were close to the buffalo lands. The Red River Valley and the Qu'Appelle Valley were very busy areas for fur trading.

The Qu'Appelle was the domain of the North West Company. The Fort at Qu'Appelle was the main centre for the preparation and distribution of pemmican for the traders and from the Qu'Appelle boats and brigades of Red River carts carried the furs back to the Red River area for shipment to the east and overseas.

One of the most colorful characters who came into the Qu'Appelle area was Cuthbert Grant. His father had been a Nor'Wester at a post near where Kamsack now stands. His wife was a Cree and young Cuthbert was their second son. The boy became a clerk with the Company and later a trader. His area was the Qu'Appelle. From 1814 on he made continuous trips west, bringing supplies from the Red River and taking back furs.

In the Red River area Cuthbert Grant became the leader of his Metis people as the struggles took place between them and the Red River settlers. He led the Metis at the time of the Battle of Seven Oaks, doing his best to prevent bloodshed between the traders and settlers. He was recognized for his leadership of the Metis and charged with the responsibility of trying to keep the peace. He was given the title "Warden of the Plains". Later he formed a Metis settlement near St. Francis Xavier. It was called Grantown.

Although Cuthbert Grant died in the little settlement he founded, his son James Cuthbert came to the Qu'Appelle and lived at the end of Lake Katepwa." [Ed. Not far from where I grew up]
"The story of the Metis people in the Qu'Appelle can be picked up again at Lebret. This was an early mission founded under the jurisdiction of the diocese of St. Boniface, established in 1862 for the North West Territories.

Father Lebret, from whom the name of the present town comes, came there in 1866. Father Tache had come in 1865 and held a four week's mission and chosen a site for a mission. Then in 1866 when Father Lebret arrived the post and chapel were built of logs and thatch. Father Decorby came in 1868 and was the first residing priest and resident. In 1870 Father Lestang came. Then Father Hugonard arrived and was the parish priest for some years. In 1884 they built the residential school where Father Hugonard served as principal for thirty-three years.

The mission at Lebret was the centre for thirty-two posts north, south and west of the Qu' Appelle.

The Qu'Appelle Valley trails were the natural way for people to come west. From the valley you could go on to Prince Albert, to Long Lake, to the Cypress Hills and far to the northwest. Travellers, traders and missionaries were constantly moving back and forth. And, of course, some of them stayed in the beautiful valley.

By 1895, following the exodus of many Metis from the Red River after the troubles of 1869, the mission at Lebret was home to about 560 people, most of them Metis."
"There was also a small group of Metis living at the east end of Lake Katepwa and east along the valley. They were part of the mission at Lebret and were served by Father St. Germain and Father de Bretagne who came to Katepwe and to Blackwood (further east) to give services. In the records at Lebret we see that at Katpwa, Father Guy de Bretagne gave services to 87 souls. And Father St. Germain recorded visits from 1871 - 82.

This little group of settlers were the first Metis to live beside or near Lake Katepwa"
[Ed. Among the names in that "little group of settlers" were several that I remember from the days of my childhood. They include the Cardinals, Racettes, Klynes, Peltiers (alternately spelled Pelletier), and Amyottes.]
"By 1880 there was a small settlement at the end of the lake. The Metis were soon joined by settlers from the east.

John Lauder came from Winnipeg. He laid our a townsite at the end of the lake. He also gave the land for the All Saint's Anglican Church [I dealt with this church, built by my ancestors, in instalment I] He was a builder and the little settlement became known as Laudertown. Some called it Dogtown.
"And then there were the Peltier brothers-Clem and Bill. Bill finally settled on the south side of the lake."
"Clem Peltier's land was close to that now used for the Anglican church. Many residents and cottagers who came later to live around the lake remember Clem and his family. He ran a little store, too.

Further down the valley lived Cuthbert James Grant. He was the son of Cuthbert Grant, the Warden of the Plains. The son had settled there and taken up a homestead, following the Rebellion.

The Grants and the Peltiers had numbers of horses and were quite ready to help settlers and travellers who came through. The first church services were held in Grant's home when the Fathers came from Lebret.His grand-daughter, Alice Marshall of Lebret, remembers to services well. [Ed. Alice Marshall and her children lived next door to us. She is the person who I remember being a descendant of Cuthbert Grant.]

James Grant had a son and a daughter....The son was Allyre who lived on the home farm for many years."
"The children in this little settlement went to school first in Skinner's sod shack (Skinner is my maiden name, but I don't know which of my ancestors would have been the owner of this sod shack.)
"Many stories could be told about the Metis families but the story of Clem Peltier is told here briefly.

Clem Peltier's story is a fascinating one."
"...he and his brother came to Katepwa in 1876."
"Clem was a French-American from St. Paul, Minnesota. He broke the first land at Katepwa in 1880 using oxen and a walking plow. He developed large gardens, too.

He and the Grants acquired large tracts of lands. They also had lots of stock and machinery and were very generous with it all.

Clem's second wife was (a) daughter of James Grant. They lived on land not far from where the Anglican church is now. Clem built a new larger home of brick over near the Katepwa School. He had set up a brick making business at this spot. [Ed. And that, ladies and gentlemen is the house in which I grew up. I grew up to stories about the brick factory that operated on the home quarter where we lived. There were several holes in the ground in the pasture that were said to be places where Mr.Peltier had dug up the clay he had used to make the bricks.]"
"Clem Peltier's brick can be seen in many places. If you drive around Indian Head you will see many buildings and houses built of this yellow brick."

"My father, Allyre Grant, was born at a Hudson Bay Post at Pembina, North Dakota, in 1876. A few years later the Grant family moved north, probably by Red River cart; their destination ended at the east end of Lake Katepwa."
"As small girls, my sister and I always admired our Katepwa Lake and enjoyed just being part of it."
"In the year 1929 the present concrete bridge was built, all done by horses and manpower."
Again, I grew up right beside that bridge.

I have written about the Qu'Appelle Valley before - and quoted from the same local history book. Obviously, growing up in that locale has had a deep impact on my life, and most certainly influenced my life in many ways, not the least of which, is a life-long passion for Canadian history, especially the fur trade era.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi MY NAME IS KEN FISHER- I now live in Surrey, BC - my family left Lebret in the 1940's and moved to Regina. e-mail

Very interesting read for sure. I was born at Lebret and I'm the great-Grandson of Clem Pelletier of Katepwa area.

We (Fishers) lived at the west end of Katepwa Lake on the creek on my grandfather's land. His name was John LaRocque.
IT'S A LONG STORY BUT I WELCOME ANY COMMENT ABOUT the Katepwa lake ,Lebret or the Fort region. More later. Ken-604-634-0119 - in Metro Vancouver- Merci beaucoup!

January 29, 2015 1:52 pm  

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