Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Aboriginal Pioneers of the Peace - The St. Germains

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.

Joseph Simon St.Germain and Charles St. Germain

PRMA 75.655.001 - (L) Joseph (Joe) and (r) Charles (Charlie). Date and place of photograph unknown.

Joseph [1874 – 1959] and Charles St. Germain [1874 – 1958], twin sons of Charles and Angelique (Lafournaise) St. Germain, settled with their family along Shaftesbury Trail on River Lot 39 in 1894.
Charles Sr. was among the last of the buffalo hunters whose expeditions took him into Montana and Minnesota. He was also reported to have been quite a rum-runner in his time.
The St. Germain family raised livestock, crops and a huge garden. The farm was a well-known Stopping Place for weary travellers.
The tradition of hosting a mocchigan – food, good fellowship, music and dancing – provided ample opportunities for Charles and his brother to learn to play musical instruments.
Joseph, known by some as “Little Smilin’ Joe” because of his easy-going manner and kind disposition, married Elizabeth Louise McKenzie, daughter of Alex McKenzie at the St. Augustine Mission Chapel in 1903.
In the winter months of 1907 to 1910, Joseph hauled freight for Revillion Freres, but eventually he and Elizabeth settled in West Peace on their land grant property.
The Joseph St. Germains had eight children. Only four lived to adulthood – Edmond, Thomas, Philomene Riley and Ruth Gardner
Joseph was a fine fiddler and played for many dances and parties in the Shaftesbury and Strong Creek districts.
Charles married Maria McAllister in 1895. They had 15 children of which nine lived to adulthood.
Charles, known for his log-building skills, built the church at Dunvegan, as well as the surrounding buildings. The family farmed in the area later known as St. Germain Lakes in the Chinook Valley area and Shaftesbury.
Source: I Remember, Peace River and Adjacent Districts – 1800s-1913 (Part 1); Peace River Remembers; Caron Riley

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