Monday, September 22, 2008

Aboriginal Pioneers of the Peace - Pat Wesley

The "Aboriginal Pioneers of the Peace" is a feature written by Beth Wilkins, Curatorial Assistant and Researcher, in conjunction with the Museum's Treaty 8 Exhibit on display until the end of August. The articles have also been published on the Community Page of the Peace River Record-Gazette.

Pat Wesley – Peace River Benefactor Lends Name to Creek

PRMA AR89.36.022

One of the Town of Peace River’s pioneers was a man, who lent his name to a creek running from an area northeast of town between Kaufman and Grouard hills and through it to meet with the Peace River behind the Third Mission Heritage Suites.

Although details of Pat Wesley’s life are obscure, it is plain to see the man, who was in the area from at least 1902, indeed, was an important person in the history of the town.

An Evelyn Seeley poem lauds Wesley for whom Pat’s Creek and the district of Wesley Creek in Northern Sunrise County are named.

Wesley was Métis. “He was one of the Métis who took scrip – that is the title to certain land,” writes Muriel Oslie in Peace River Remembers. According to Oslie, he moved onto his land and lived in a cabin near Pat’s Creek. He gave five acres to the Anglican Church, asking only that his body be laid to rest in the shadow of the church to be built on the land he had donated.

In 1910, Wesley contracted smallpox, the disease, which eventually killed him. He was buried, as requested, in what is now the rectory garden.

Three of the five acres Wesley donated were sold. The funds from the sale were used in 1916, for the erection of a house on ground near Wesley’s grave for the Incumbent of St. James Church, Rev. Harold Hesketh.

Current buildings on the property include: rectory, Synod office, St. James Cathedral, and Athabasca Hall.

Sources: Peace River Remembers; Archdiocese of Athabasca; I Remember 1; Record-Gazette; Northern Sunrise County Web site; Place Names of Alberta, Vol. IV; I Remember 2

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