PAT BELCOURT: We moved from Lac St. Ann to Grouard in August 1913. My dad had a poolroom across the Bay there at Kapound. In 1946, I moved back over here. We used to live across the lake from (?) there, where my homestead is. I moved to Kapound, and bought the place. We came across the Swan Hills with wagons, and packhorses, with a few head of cattle. We had to cross all of those rivers, except at Athabasca, where we came across on a ferry. Ever since, I have been in Grouard. I never go very far, except to work on the railroad and hauling mail to Whitefish and working for survey outfits.
RICK BELCOURT: How did you haul mail to Whitefish?
PAT BELCOURT: With a team of horses. I hauled for just about seven years. Then I worked for Frank Bellerose and a couple of years after that for Ernie Anderson.
RICK BELCOURT: Who was buying furs here?
PAT BELCOURT: The Hudson’s Bay. The guy’s name was Guy (I forgot his last name) and his father-in-law’s name was Molyneux. The Hudson’s Bay burned down, over here on the hill below the Mission. They moved the store over there in front of my place. There it burned down, so they quit in Grouard.
RICK BELCOURT: Was the land owned by the Indian people before your people came?
PAT BELCOURT: Well, not exactly, but after that I heard quite a bit about it. Like where I live, Francois (?) used to have it, years ago when there was a big town here in Grouard. After that the railroad went across by High Prairie, and Grouard was broke. Everybody quit Grouard. The freighting was over, from Athabasca to Grouard and from Grouard to Whitefish, Sturgeon Lake, Peace River. The railroad took over. There was no use for horses anymore.
RICK BELCOURT: How did Grouard get its name?
PAT BELCOURT: Monsieur Bishop Grouard was the first one here. They called the place that.
RICK BELCOURT: At one time the Indians came here for Treaty, didn’t they? What kind of Indians were they?
PAT BELCOURT: Crees. They joined in the Treaty. Across the bridge is where they used to get Treaty there. Old Liard was Indian agent at that time — he used to live right down here. Four, five, or six men on pack horses would come and pay Treaty at many places – -Sturgeon Lake, Peace River–all over. No cars at that time! No airplanes. Just dog teams and pack horses. …. Anything! We had a few horses, cows, etc. and we trapped a little bit. Things were cheap in those days. You could buy a hundred pounds of flour for two-and-a-quarter, to two-and-a-half dollars. You had to have a couple of packhorses for thirty dollars worth of groceries, otherwise you couldn’t get them home. Now today, you can put thirty dollars worth of groceries in your watch pocket. Isn’t that right? You know shoes–thirty–forty dollars today.
RICK BELCOURT: How did you get your land?
PAT BELCOURT: Well, I bought it from the government. The government had taken it back from those fellows who lost it for taxes. I just paid the taxes for it. I got seventy-seven acres where I live. I’ve got title for it.
RICK BELCOURT: Do you know anything about Calahason?
PAT BELCOURT: Oh, I used to see Old man Calahason quite a lot, but I didn’t know him well. The old man died thirty-five or forty years ago.
RICK BELCOURT: Did he own all this land once?
PAT BELCOURT: That’s what they say, but I don’t know for sure. I don’t know how big it was.
RICK BELCOURT: Now, how did the Roman Catholics get their land? Their church?
PAT BELCOURT: It was donated, just like the Hudson’s Bay’s. Didn’t have to file or nothing. Wherever you built, you owned so much land there. The first Mission was down below here, just a log shack. I remember (that) I saw that. They quit that — it was just a log house. Wherever a priest camped and built a church they owned the land. They don’t (have to) take homesteads. But the (lay) Brothers can take homesteads. When the Mission Brothers want to sell their land, they had to sell it to the Mission — for three dollars. That’s all! A hundred and sixty acres. They got three dollars for their homesteads! …. Across the bay there by Leesay’s (?) a Mission Brother used to have a place on top of the hill. He sold it for three dollars. They paid ten dollars for a hundred and sixty acres. They worked on it, with Mission horses, Mission machinery, granaries, etc. When they got a title for it they sold it right away to the Mission. They can’t sell it to nobody else, but the Mission.
RICK BELCOURT: When the Indians gathered here for Treaty, where did they all come from?
PAT BELCOURT: Well, when they signed the treaties many of the Metis joined in. If a woman or man wants to come out of Treaty, I think you get five hundred dollars — then you are Metis again.
RICK BELCOURT: A lot of people drifted from Lac St. Ann — all over the country.
PAT BELCOURT: Yes. All over, Grande Prairie, Sturgeon Lake, Whitefish. They go all over the country. It is quite a big place — that beach there is full of houses. I went there two years ago for that big meeting. It is not a town — it’s just for the summer.
RICK BELCOURT: Years ago there must have been a lot of people there.
PAT BELCOURT: Yes, they used to live all ‘round the lake, and some back, but most of the old people have passed away.
RICK BELCOURT: What made the people leave there?
PAT BELCOURT: I don’t know. They must think they’d make a better living here. A lot of fellows from Lac St. Ann used to go on the survey parties all over the Peace River Country. They saw a lot of land, so they came back.
RICK BELCOURT: What was your father’s name?
PAT BELCOURT: Julian Belcourt. He knew Father Lacombe. He used to talk a lot about him, but I don’t remember him myself. I remember Father Lise (?) — I guess Lacombe died before I was born.