Sunday, March 27, 2011

The three Beaulieu brothers.....maybe

As I said in my posting of Monday, February 21, 2011, one of my aunts visited the Wehkiakum Museum, in Cathlamet, WA., and learned from a local historian that "one of Beaulieu's brothers was Francois Beaulieu, who was one of six voyageurs with Sir Alexander Mackenzie, May 9, 1793."
The note I have says that 'our Beaulieu' was "Frenchman from Manitoba, trader in Kootenai for many years. His brother was Francois Beaulieu who was 1 of 6 voyageurs accompanying Sir Alex. McKenzie in 1773 [sic]."

This tempting snatch of information has led us on a wild goose chase for many years!
The grandson of the woman who collected this information (and whose daughter gave the information to my aunt) confirmed the story, but told us that his grandmother had not written the story down as she heard it from James Birnie's children.
That makes it a secondary source -- a very distant secondary source, unfortunately!
If you hear a story, write it down immediately -- two hundred years from now someone will say 'thank you.'

It seems unbelievable that 'Our Beaulieu,' who crossed the Rocky Mountains with NWC explorer David Thompson in 1807, was brother to the voyageur who accompanied another NWC explorer (Alexander Mackenzie) to the Pacific Ocean in 1793 (not 1773).
And so I set out to find out if this story could be true.

First I discovered that the name of the Beaulieu who accompanied [Sir] Alexander Mackenzie to the Pacific coast was Francois.
And then I googled......
This was many years ago and I doubt that these sites are still online, but they may be.

From: article, "Native Spirituality -- Francois Beaulieu," by Caroline & Rod Lorenz:
"That the Catholic faith was planted among the Dene Nations is due not only to the heroic efforts of the missionaries, but also to a remarkable man named Francois Beaulieu. His life has become a legend in the north. More than anyone else, it was he who opened the door to the Gospel of Christ. The people called him, 'Old Man Beaulieu.'
"Francois Beaulieu was born in the 1770's, in the Great Slave area. His father, a French trapper, had settled and married among the Chipewyans. As Francois later told Father Petitot, "I am the son of a Frenchman. My mother was a Chipewyan; my grandmother a Cree: there are three bloods in my veins."
"It was not until he was fifteen that young Francois saw men from the outside world. As an old man he recalled, "I remember it as though it was yesterday. I was living with my parents. One day we hear that white people were coming. There were lots of them. My uncle called all the Indians from the Great Slave area to meet with them.""

Even better: "Our Metis Heritage ... a portrayal," by the Metis Association of the Northwest Territories, 1976:
"Francois Beaulieu (Old Man Beaulieu) (1775-1885) -- Francois Beaulieu was born around 1775. His father Francois Beaulieu was one of the guides who accompanied Alexander Mackenzie down the river to the Arctic Ocean in 1789 and four years later to the Pacific. "I am the son of a Frenchman. My mother was a Chipewyan; my grandmother was a Cree; there are three bloods in my veins...
""What I am going to say happen at the North West arm of the Great Slave Lake, on Big Island (near Fort Providence). At the time I was not a grown up man. However I remember as if it was yesterday. I was 15 years old. I was then staying with my parents. One day, we heard that the White Men were coming. There were lots of them. My uncle, Jacques Beaulieu, chosen a spokesman for the people, called all the Indians from all over the Great Slave Lake area. Many Dog Ribs came also....."

So, here we have three family members in the Athabasca district:
We have Francois (now Francois II) "Old Man Beaulieu," his father Francois I, and his uncle named Jacques or Zacherie -- probably an older brother because he took charge (but maybe he took charge because he was present when his brother was not).
Old Man Beaulieu is Metis -- his mother was Chipewyan; his father French -- was his maternal grandmother Cree or was it his paternal grandmother?
Was Old Man Beaulieu's father French Canadian, or French/Cree Metis?
Another descendent of Francois, Old Man Beaulieu, agrees with this latter theory, and tells me that "the elder Francois (that is, Francois Beaulieu I) was referred to by our Francois .. as having a French father and a Cree mother and was a former employee of the Compagnie des Sioux (begun in 1827) until it fell apart following the French defeat by the British (1763)."

The NWT Metis Association put me in touch with the wife of a descendent of Old Man Beaulieu, and she answered another lot of questions for me.
"Extracts from the submission to the Historic Site and Monuments Board of Canada -- Francois Beaulieu II; this document clearly demonstrates the presence of Francois Beaulieu in the North Slave....
"Pages 383-84 quotes historian Martha McCarthy as noting that Francois Beaulieu (I) left the country and his wife Ethiba remarried a Chipewyan hunter referred to by the traders as "the Rat" (1995:10). With the departure of his birth father, Francois Beaulieu II's early years were apparently spent with Yellowknife and Dogrib relatives north of Great Slave Lake (McCarthy 1995: 110, Menez Nd: 4-5)."

If Old Man Beaulieu's father Francois Beaulieu left the country and returned home, where was his home?
Montreal or Quebec? Detroit or Illinois or Duluth? Red River district? Michilmackinac? Sault Ste. Marie? Where did he come from and where did he go?

So taking this information, I attempted to work out the dates of birth for these three brothers and for Old Man Beaulieu.

Old Man Beaulieu -- if he was 15 when Alexander Mackenzie arrived in 1793, he was born about 1778 (about the time Peter Pond arrived at Great Slave Lake, in fact.)
But was Alexander Mackenzie the man who was in charge of the 'lots of men' who arrived there, or was Francois II talking of Peter Pond's arrival?
For now, I am presuming that he is a Native man who may have adopted his father's stories, merging them with his own memories.

Francois Beaulieu I made the journey to the west coast with Alexander Mackenzie in 1793:
If he was 20 years old, he would have been born in 1773; if 40, in 1753.
He may have been younger than 20 if he came north with his older[?] brother Jacques or Zacharie.
I use Zacharie as well as Jacques, firstly because the names sound so similar, and secondly, because I found so few 'Jacques' in the PRDH when I did my search -- flexibility is required when you are searching for your ancestors in archival records and their names might not always be what you believe them to be.
In the fur trade, voyageurs are old at 40, and so I presume he was born about 1773.
But in 1778, when Peter Pond arrived at Athabasca, would he have been only five years old?
Was he there with his French Canadian father?
Was his mother Native and Jacques Metis, or was there also a French Canadian woman in the Athabasca?
Contrary to belief, there were a few women in the interior -- but very few.
I have even heard of women joining the fur trade as voyageurs, by disguising themselves as men; one was discovered only because she got pregnant.

Our Beaulieu -- Joseph Beaulieu?
If he was Joseph Beaulieu, voyageur contre-maitre in Red River in 1804, that suggests he had some experience in the fur trade and was at least 25 years old, so he was born in 1779.
But if he was 30 years old in 1804 he was born in 1774.
If the same man was 'Our Beaulieu' at Rocky Mountain House in 1807, he was aged 28 to 33; at Saleesh House in 1811, age 32 to 37.
By 40 these hard-working men were worn out; I suspect that our Beaulieu was at the higher end of that age scale, but of course that is only a guess.

So if Joseph(?) was born about 1775, and Francois I born about 1773, and their older brother Jacques/Zacharie born maybe a few years earlier (say 1770?), I searched the PRDH to see if I could find this family born in Quebec.
I set up a number of Beaulieu family trees online, and filled them in.
You will find these trees online, at -- all are public and you should be able to access them if you want to:

BAUDRIA-BEAULIEU Family Tree -- I was interested in this family because they were from Montreal and my first information said that our Beaulieu "returned to Montreal."
Though there is a Joseph Raphael Beaulieu born in 1767 at St.-Laurent, Quebec, there is no Francois or Jacques/Zacharie born at any time close to my suggested dates.
In addition to looking for brothers with those names, I also kept my eyes open for boys who may have been cousins growing up in the same area.
It doesn't matter in this case; I did not find them.

BRILLANT DIT BEAULIEU Family Tree -- This family was in the area around Detroit and Mackinac Island, 1750's and later.
I am very interested in this tree, but though I think it is a good possibility that our ancestors are descended from this family, I cannot confirm.
If anyone knows about this family, or knows of archival information or genealogies of this family, I would like to hear from them.
I think that it would be very easy for the men of this family, born Metis in the wilderness around Detroit, to continue in the fur trade and follow it west to Red River or north to the Athabasca.

MARTIN dit MONTPELLIER et BEAULIEU TREE -- This tree is quite large and contains possibilites; I haven't, however, been able to find three brothers or even close cousins that I can say 'might' be our 'brothers.'

THOMAS dit BEAULIEU TREE -- also has possibilities but I have not been able to find our boys in this tree.
I eliminate all men who have wives and children, presuming that our three brothers had none in Quebec.

Finally, the massive HUDON dit BEAULIEU tree has possiblities.
If you remember, one of the archival documents found in the Minnesota archives and mentioned in my posting of Thursday, February 24, 2011, said that Clement Hudon dit Beaulieu (1811-1893) wrote that his uncle Henri was the voyageur Beaulieu who crossed the mountains with David Thompson in 1807.
I have on hand new information uncovered in the Minnesota archives; a letter from the above man's son, also named Clement (1841-1926); it is addressed to Grace Lee Nute who was at that time a research assistant at the archives.
"You ask if I could as far as possible give complete dates about my fathers and other members of my family who were engaged as fur traders.
"I think, to [quote/great] .. extent you will find answers in the papers you already have.
"However at the risk of repetition I will say my grandfather and his two brothers Paul and Henry were fur traders.
"... two first before becoming independents connected with the Astor Am. fur Co. while [sic]
"Henry never came to our country but went west from Eastern Canada in connection with either the Hudson's Bay Co. or some other Canadian Fur Co."
Looking at the Hudon dit Beaulieu tree, I see that the fur trader named Henry, brother of Clement's grandfather Bazile/Basile and Bazile's brother Paul, was Henri Hudon dit Beaulieu, born April 16, 1791 in Riviere Ouelle, Quebec.
If he is the voyageur I discovered in the North West Company records, 1813-1815, he was twenty two years old when he was in the employee of the fur trade.
He cannot be related to the Athabasca brothers; Charlot was born in 1805 so he was too young to be her father; and he was too young to have been David Thompson's voyageur, an experienced man who was a freetrader by 1811.
He might be Josephine's father, but how did he get to be in Montana in 1810?
Our stories may, in the end, be fairy tales, but I am not ready to give up on them yet.

More on Francois, "Old Man Beaulieu," and his father, from other sources:
From: Peter Pond and the Athabasca Country, at
"In 1785 [Peter] Pond sent Cuthbert Grant and Laurent Leroux to establish a post on Great Slave Lakes afterwards known as "Fort Resolution" and another still further North on the Lake, a post afterwards called Fort Providence....
"Now enters a report that has gained little publicity. A historian named Woolacott has written that when the Northwesters reached Great Slave Lake in 1786 they found there a family of French Canadian descent by the name of Beaulieu. Thus it would appear that some French voyageur or coureurs de bois had long preceded Pond..."
Peter Pond first arrived at Slave Lake in 1778, did he not?

From: "The Metis in the Canadian West," vol. 1-3, by Marcel Giraud, Translated by George Woodcock, U of Alberta Press, 1986:
Vol.1, Chapter 1 -- The Appearance of the Metis People (about 1806): "Already we begin to see the appearance of families whose very names evoke even today in the West the race of "mixed blood", the Desjarlais, the Vandals, the Cardinals, the Beauregards, the Dumonts, the Beaulieus, the Deschamps, whose founders, whether employees or freemen, sometimes wandered to the needs of the service, but in other cases began to settle around the posts or in areas which later, like Deer Lake or Lake Winnipeg, became favored concentration points for Metis families."

From: "The Metis in the Canadian West," [see above], Vol 2, Chapter 27 -- "Some of them, like the old Metis Francois Beaulieu who with his children exploited the saline springs of the Salt River, had acquired among the Native tribes a prestige that obliged the Company to treat him with special consideration: it granted Francois a virtual monopoly in the extraction of salt and entrusted him with the direction of the Salt River post. It was there that Father Petitot encountered him in 1862. Beaulieu was then eighty-five years old; in 1789 he had been present at Alexander Mackenzie's arrival, and he had accompanied Sir John Franklin to Great Bear Lake as an interpreter, but he still had enough energy to work on the farm he had created, to raise a few head of cattle, to fish, hunt, and supervise the extraction of salt."

An interesting sideline to our story of Old Man Beaulieu: From "Our Metis Heritage .. a portrayal," by the Metis Association of the Northwest Territories (1976), re Francois Beaulieu:
"James Anderson, the Hudson's Bay District manager, made many trips back and forth between Fort Simpson and Portage la Loche, with the Fur Brigade. Portaging the Fort Smith Rapids was always a problem until [quote] Beaulieu, in 1854, guided him through a new route perfectly safe that avoids the Pelican Rapid. The new portage is shorter with a steep hill which may be partly cut down. Beaulieu said that several of the other rapids and portages may be avoided by taking a new route inching to the left of the river. [Quote from letter, J. Anderson, District Manager, 1854]
We have an interesting family connection here -- James Anderson was Chief Trader James Anderson [A] of the HBC, Alexander Caulfield Anderson's older brother.
Those of you who want to research Old Man Beaulieu further might be interested in reading the journals of James Anderson in the Hudson's Bay Company Archives, and the Anderson Family Papers, also in the HBCA.


  1. My Dad told me that we originated in Canada we were Chippewayan and my Grandmother's name was Emile Beaulieu but I was born in Massachusetts.

    Did you ever hear the story about how the White Bear came to be?

  2. Another point , there is an author in Quebec, whom I am friends with by the name of Bernard Assiniwi who wrote much about Quebec's Aboriginal history.

    He wrote the Francois Beaulieu was an Abenaki Indian who guided MacKenzie and that Beaulieu's Indian name in French was "Couteau Jaune" or Yellow Knife!

  3. This I don't know. Are you descended from Old Man Beaulieu -- I talk to a few of his descendents and they might like to hear your stories.
    Please contact me directly.

  4. Hello;
    This is the way it was told to me by my grandfather;
    In the 1760's Jacques and Francois were brothers who came North to trade (my grandfather says they were from Quebec), Francois married Ethiba(Akaitcho's sister)a Dene woman; they had a son Francois Beaulieu "Old Man Beaulieu/Le Patriarche" who was born around 1771-75 and died in 1872. He had 7 wives one from every tribe, gave them all up, except his first wife Catherine St. Germain(Possibly a Cree), when he converted to Catholism.
    Apparently before the Beaulieu's there was a Mandeville; Le Camrades Mandeville,who came up in the 1750's, apparently from France, there were two brothers, one went to Louisianna and the other to the North, I only add this because there might be additional info found there somewhere.

  5. Francois Beaulieu was, without a doubt, the first Quebecer to settle in the North. I've been researching Old Man Beaulieu since 1966. His father came to the North in the 1760's and married Ethiba who was the daughter of the Chipewyan Chief Sun Beams and a captive Cree woman. She was about 40 years older than Akaitcho. Pierre St Germain was the next to settle up there and married Thakarilther who was Chipewyan. I was told that La Camarade's father travelled up north with Louison Cayen's father who also came from France. Louison and La Camarade married sisters making them brother in laws. The first written documentation I've seen of the Mandeville name mentioned is when a Joseph Mandeville renewed his NWC contract in Fort Chip in 1798. La Camarade was reputed to be born around 1800 to 1802.
    On to Old Man Beaulieu's age. He claimed to be born in 1761 and was there in the North to witness the arrival of Pond. No reason not to believe him. Another interesting 1802 Alexander McKenzie had gotten into a quarrel with Joseph Labrie and it was Old Man Beaulieu, who had just returned from a hunt, who quelled the situation by threatening to kill McKenzie. He wouldn't have done that had he been born in 1793.
    I grew up in Salt River and heard and recorded all the stories told to me by the old timers from there. The old timers I refer to are: Vincent Beaulieu, Xavier Beaulieu, Felix Beaulieu, Germain Squirrel, Germain Tourangeau, Fred Berens, Suzi King, Magloire Abraham, David King, Antoinette Deneyutchele, Nap Naskedhe, Isadore Mercredi, Isadore Jeremie, and Olivier Nadgere among them. These people related the family histories to me as well as the stories/legends such as "The Old Woman Sitting There" and "The Arctic Giant".
    Francois' father returned to Montreal shortly after returning from the Beaufort Sea with McKenzie. Ethiba then lived with a Chipewyan trading Chief by the name of "The Rat".

  6. Old man Beaulieu was my great great grandfather. We still have a big Beaulieu family in Fort Resolution NWT and Fort Smith NWT. I am of French, Chipewyan and Cree descent as well.

    1. Hello Mahalia. I too am a great-great grandfather of Francois Beaulieu ll. His daughter Madeleine married Antoine Lafferty. Their son, Henry was my grandfather. Another son, Napoleon, was the first Metis Oblate priest in the Athabascan diocese. Henry went on to have over 50 grandchildren!

    2. That should read 'great-great-granddaughter'

  7. I think every Francois had a son named Francios. So who knows how far they go back. My grandfather was Francois King-Beaulieu. My family only uses King now.

  8. Also thanks for putting all that info into I tried to look for family history and I couldnt find anything. One of our great grandmothers was also an Anderson of Scottish descent.

  9. I've been researching the Beaulieu family history back from 1880 when my family travels to Maine from Quebec. They arrive with an oral history that is largely dismissed by the time I come along, so I search far and wide to explain when and where the Beaulieu family first comes to live with peoples of First Nations. During the process I came upon communications concerning a British prison ship called the Pembroke snow. (Snow is the type of ship.) Anyway, 1755 a man the British record as "Captain Beaulieu" is being deported from Nova Scotia. He has skills in navigation and ship repair, as he leads the prisoners aboard to the safety after repairing the ships mast and leading the mutany that allows them to escape into the wilderness of New Brunswick. They travel to the Saint Lawrence with French, First Nations, and mixed blood peoples fleeing the British. The story is recounted by several people along the Saint Lawrence, but none explain what happens to Captain Beaulieu. Several Acadian families claim him through "dit" names, but they rely upon incomplete documentation of that region and none refer to an individual with the skills demonstrated by this "Captain Beaulieu". His skills do however make him a valuable recruit for "la compgnie des Sioux", which is known to be traveling into the NWT at this time and is said to be the means by which Francois (Old Man) Beaulieu's father comes to the region. The skills demonstrated by "Captain Beaulieu", if passed down to Francois, would prepare him to assist in the organization of resistance to the British and to assist MacKenzie and Franklin. Even that that thing that leads Francois' father to live with First Nations people can be explained thusly.