TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
RE: THE ABORIGINAL AND METIS HERITAGE OF
MICHELLE ROBERT SMITH
Enclosed are the documents and my comments on the Aboriginal and Métis Heritage of Michelle Robert Smith which I feel are required for her Métis application. Michelle provided the names and dates of her immediate family for four generations
- Michelle Robert Smith
- Marlene Gauthier Robert
- Gertrude Brasseur Gauthier
- Marie-Jeanne Duquette Brasseur
I have researched the parents of Marie-Jeanne Duquette –
- Joseph Theodule Duquette
- Marie Philomene Chevrette
As I feel they are the most obvious and likely of her ancestors to have Aboriginal heritage. Gertrude Brasseur (#7 on Chart #1) is the daughter of Olivier Brasseur and Marie-Jeanne Duquette. Marie-Jeanne Duquette was the daughter of Joe Theodule Duquette and Marie Philomene Chevrette . Marie Philomene Chevrette is #31 on Chart #1 and on Pedigree Chart #3 she becomes #1 – at the middle of the left side of the page. Her mother was Marie/Mary Dusome born May 10, 1840 in the Penetanguishene area to François Dusome and Françoise Clermont who arrived in Penetanguishene by 1830-31 from the western fur trade regions of British North America.
A.C. Osborne’s article THE MIGRATION OF VOYAGEURS FROM DRUMMOND ISLAND TO PENETANGUISHENE IN 1828 was originally published by the Ontario Historical Society in 1901. A breif copy of the pertinent items and facts is enclosed. On page 131, it states “Francis Dusseaume was also in the North-West Company at Red River and married a woman of the Wild Rice Tribe”. The picture opposite page 125, it states “Francis Dusome, born at Fort Gary, Red River, 1820. This latter is the man known as Francis Dusome Junior, the son of Francis Dusome Sr and Françoise Clermont.
This statement places not only François Dusome but also the mother of Francis Dusome Jr – Françoise Clermont – in the fur trading areas of the Hudson Bay Company territory at a time when there were very few European women.
There was no civil registration in the colonies of British North America or in the Hudson Bay Company Lands until their individual Confederation date. In the case of Ontario, that date was 1871. In the case of Manitoba, it is onto the 1880’s. There is no possibility of a government record for the birth or marriage of Françoise Clermont.
There is the possibility of a religious record having been made at the time of the event. However, nothing has been located for the time period as of yet.
Thus we are left with the family stories which do by nature contain alterations to the details and facts. When Osborn wrote his article in the 1890‘s, there were great social and economic pressures to “hide” the aboriginal heritage if possible from both family, friends and in particular the government. Even in a community such as Penetanguishene which was only two generations removed from the Drummond Island arrival in 1828 of over 500 people of tri racial heritage, there were families who omitted such details in their interviews with Osborne or who refused to participate in the process.
Francis Dusome Jr certainly participated in Osborne’s article to some extent having his photograph taken with the other “voyageurs”. It is not known who provided the Dusome and Clermont information to Osborne but it could possibly have been his son.
Francis Jr could have altered the facts about his mother or he could have refused to participate in the process. However, someone provided the data that Françoise Clermont was a member of the Wild Rice Tribe and that she had been in the Fort Gary region at a time when Aboriginal women were very dominant numerically.
As far as I am concerned the evidence is extremely strong that Francoise Clermont had Aboriginal heritage and thus her descendants should be considered as being Metis.
The second Pedigree Line I researched was that of Jean Baptiste David Chevrette, born Oct 19, 1840 in the Penetanguishene area, the son of Lois George Chevrette and Marguerite Soulieres. Some of his documents use the name “Jean-Baptiste” while others have David especially those for his children; it is from this evidence that we determined that Marguerite Soulieres was married to a man who was known as either Jean Baptiste Chevrette or David Chevrette.
In the 1861 CENSUS FOR THE COMBINED TOWNSHIPS OF TINY AND TAY – an abridged copy is enclosed – Louis George Chevrette and his wife Marguerite are listed on page 18 (the original pagination) lines 11 and 12. Marguerite has a birth year of circa/about 1813 in Fort William Canada West). By providing a specific birth location, Marguerite has pinpointed herself in an area at a time period when Aboriginal women dominated numerically female society; it may be safely said that there were no European women at Fort William at that time period.
Marguerite Soulieres and Françoise Clermont are known in Church documents by their maiden names as the Roman Catholic Church was following Cannon Law in this respect. Both of their maiden names are French in origin thus strongly indicating that their father’s were French Canadian Traders with Aboriginal partners. Their offspring would have received their father’s surnames as was common in those days.
On page 164 of Osborne’s article, it states that Marguerite came from “the Sault” it is not known if this refers to the location at the junction of Lakes Huron and Michigan or to the Sault Tribe or to both.
As far as I am concerned, Marguerite Soulieres has Aboriginal heritage and therefore her descendants should be considered Métis.
On Pedigree Chart # 3, Catherine Labatte is listed as the mother of Joseph Theodule Duquette. At her marriage in 1861, she gave her parents as Louis George Labatte and Julie Françoise Goroite. Louis George Labatte has military records as a British soldier at Mackinaw. It is difficult to prove his heritage but it is possible that there is a connection with the Labatte family who resided in the region of Lake Michigan from the 1750’s on. Louis George was a blacksmith with the Indian Department as well, a position usually given to men with dual heritage who could function in the world of the Aboriginal and of the British as well as being familiar with the fur trade world of the North West Company.
It is his wife – Julie Françoise Goroite – who has the proven Aboriginal Heritage. In the 1861 Census – page 16 (original pagination) line 50, her birth year is circa 1790 and her birthplace is Wisconsin. Osborne on page 155 writes that her mother was JULIE GIROITE the “half breed” wife of James Giroite. The fact that Osborne used her married name, while using the maiden name of almost every other female, strongly suggests that Julie’s maiden name was Aboriginal and therefore”forgotten” over the years.
I believe that Julie Françoise Giroite’s mother was Aboriginal and therefore her descendants should be considered as Métis.
The only religious registers to survive from the time period were from the Mackinaw Parish of St Ann’s and from the Exterior Parishes — the Exterior Parishes were those along Lakes Huron and Michigan that the Priests from Detroit could reach during the spring and summer months.
Both of the registers have been searched without ant definitive to further identify any of these three lines.
You will notice the surname spellings are not consistent between Osborne, the 1861 Census, the Church records and current preferences. Penetanguishene was originally a tri-linguistic community and as such spelling was frequently phonetic!
The Aboriginal heritage for Michelle Robert Smith is in the lines of:
- Julie Françoise Goroite (1790-1865)
- Françoise Clermont ( -1855)
- Margerite Soulieres (1813-1899)
Some of the church documents could not be obtained due to the time constraints but information on their location has been included on the INDIVIDUAL SHEETS for everyone in the above three lines. It is possible to provide these documents if they are felt necessary.
If there are any questions with the above, please contact Michelle or myself.
Gwen Patterson BA, BED, CGRS*
P.O. BOX 5114, PENETANGUISHENE, ONTARIO L9M 2G3 CANADA
*Gwen Patterson Biography: Specialist in the Drummond Islanders who emigrated to Penetanguishene (Ontario) by 1830 and in the early families of Penetanguishene and North Simcoe County. Author/editor of five books relating to the Drummond Islanders and the history of Penetanguishene. Research Specialty:
French-Canadians ; Fur Trade ; First Nations (Canada)