DHC: Mr. Hamelin, will you tell me again about the arrangements that were made with the government men at the time of the treaty?
JH: For these Indians here – they was at Edmonton, before they moved into Grande Prairie, that they were at that Treaty (meeting) … From Grande Prairie they came here [to Kelly Lake] way back after the First War.
DHC: When did the Indians move from the prairies?
JH: Just a few at a time – camping ground.
DHC: There was no big movement then?
JH: No, they’d just camp around the lakes, close to the water.
DHC: Your people were Crees?
DHC: Please tell me again about your arrangements with the whites about the lakes and islands, etc. when the treaty was made.
JH: [A woman has written a book about it. He summarizes his understanding of her account.] He explains the giving of scrip (not script). The Kelly Lake Indians were not under treaty. It seems as if they were treated as Metis. They were given scrip — land scrip or money scrip. You had to make a choice. But mostly the half-breed wouldn’t take them. They thought that if war came they would be sent to war. That’s why they wouldn’t take treaty. [The Boer War had been going on at about the time Treaty #8 was signed.] That’s what the half-breeds were thinking. But the Indians didn’t know nothing about the war, so they took treaty – all kinds of Indians. Indians went to war if they wanted to go but that’s what some of them feared.
DHC: Now the scrip (a certificate or piece of paper) was supposed to entitle them to get a homestead or a piece of land.
JH: One quarter, or four quarters – I don’t know about that. It would be a hundred and sixty acres for sure. You’d just take that to the bank I guess, and buy land where you wanted. (Apply the amount for filing fees as any homesteader would do.) That was land scrip. Now, money scrip I don’t’ know how much you would get.
DHC: That’s how land was taken up around Flying Shot Lake then? [This was the area of original immigrant Metis settlement near Grande Prairie.]
JH: Men would follow the Treaty parties, and just buy the scrip – maybe for nothing. I don’t think any Indians used land scrip at all. The white people just took advantage and paid nothing.
DHC: That was cheating.
JH: Yes, but the Indians knew nothing.
DHC: But you had expected to keep your lands (occupied before surrender at time of treaty) around the lakes and rivers.
JH: A guy told me about that three years ago when they made the deal, all those lakes around the shore for fifty or sixty feet – they didn’t give that. They don’t give an Island either. All the people along the Peace and Smoky River – sixty feet, I think, on both sides, – they didn’t surrender. That’s in the book that has been written. They found it in there. I didn’t know that until the man showed me.
DHC: You tell me that there was a woman who died recently here (at Kelly Lake) who had a book of records.
JH: It was a white woman. I didn’t know. My old lady told me that the woman’s dad had been working on these things. I think the book had been her dad’s – that goes away back, maybe a hundred years.
DHC: It wasn’t a hundred years ago, since Treaty #8 was signed in 1899.
(Note by Interviewer – – when the researcher for this History is Where You Stand project was interviewing around Grouard and points east, he was told by several people that there had been a book of the records made at the signing of Treaty #8. According to them that record book disappeared. Subsequent inquiries supported the story because the only account we could get at that time of that ceremony was an account be an observer, written more for a narrative report and not stenographic. The missing records may be or may have been, at Kelly Lake. D.H. Calverley)
DHC: Now Mr. Hamelin, you were telling me about how your forefathers came into this country. You say that it was after the Riel Rebellion that scrip was (first) given out. But your people all lived at Edmonton. When they came north, there were only Beaver Indians here.
JH: Yes, it was all Beaver Indians from Grande Prairie to Fort St. John. This was called Beaver Indian Prairie all this here. One of the Calliou’s (I don’t know his first name) – he came in all the way from Edmonton to Grande Prairie, and he seen lots of furs, all over. Not here (at Kelly Lake) but around Grande Prairie. So he went back to Lac Ste. Anne and he tell the people how they can make a good living. There was not way to make a living at Lac Ste. Anne. There were no jobs at that time. The only way to make money was by panning gold. That guy had found a good place for furs so the people decided on moving. They used to have homesteads around Lac Ste. Ann all over, but they decided to come to Grande Prairie and they left their land there, and they trapped. Soon they decided to live like white people did. Afterwards there was so many people no more fur [could] be trapped there. That’s when they moved here. All of these people have died. They made it to here, but did not live very long. The old folks will tell.
DHC: Your nearest place to trade, was what? Beaverlodge or Grande Prairie?
JH: When they first came to Grande Prairie, they had to go to Dunvegan. They moved stuff up by boat – groceries. Then they hauled stuff by team to Grande Prairie. I can remember only one little store in Grande Prairie. His [the store owner] name was Boelanger – a Frenchman. He had a little store and there were a few more – Revillion’s and Diamond P. They were at Saskatoon Lake. Later, when the train come to Grande Prairie they moved it down to Wembley. When we moved here we had to go cross- country to Pouce Coupe. That was closer to get groceries. Beaverlodge had nothing. It was either go to Wembley or Pouce Coupe.
DHC: That was an awful road. You’d have to go in winter I should think.
JH: It was all right when you got used to it. The people used to be tougher in those days. Today if they had to drive a team that far, they probably wouldn’t make it.
DHC: Do you remember anything about the Indian La Glace? Was that his real name or the white man’s name for him?
JH: That’s a Beaver Indian. As far as we know his real name was La Glace.
DHC: Some of the books tell that when the railroad came through some of the Indians got angry and said, “No! We don’t want the white people to spoil our hunting. It is said that some were planning to get violent, but La Glace is supposed to have told them that it was no use to get mad. The railway would come anyway, and it would be easier to get to town, – so he talked them out of a big fight.
JH: My grandfather used to tell me. When he came north, he saw La Glace’s father in Grande Prairie. He’d meet them when they’d come to trap. That Beaver Indian, he said to my grandfather, “I don’t want no half-breeds to come here to kill all the furs. This is my country.” So my grandfather told him he La Glace doesn’t [own] all the country himself, so he (grandfather) had come to trap.
DHC to Mrs. Hamelin: You were telling me that you were for some time in the Sanitarium. Where was that?
Mrs. H: In Kamloops, in Tranquille (a Tuberculosis sanitarium)
DHC: You had TB?
Mrs. H.: Well, like lots of people, I had pneumonia but nobody in my family had TB and later on I had pleurisy. It kept coming back all summer and for a year. Mrs. Ward, the teacher’s wife was a nurse from Vancouver. She really wanted me to go there, because the only chance I had to live. There was fluid in my lungs. They had to send me over there and pump that out.
JH: We took a train all the way to Edmonton. There was no road then – that was the only way to go. So I rested there for three years and a half.
DHC: Were you married then?
Mrs. H.: Yes, my girl was three years old and the other one seven months old.
DHC: Who looked after your children?
Mrs. H.: Himself and my mother-in-law. And then I lost a little one. There were no roads then, but my grandfather told us they would come. How did he know? He could see it. Then there were to be roads all over – made with bulldozers. He never saw any bulldozers. And he told me “You’ll see them fly”. How did he know? He couldn’t read, “You’ll see them,” he said, and I see them now.
DHC: There was an Indian around Dawson Creek, or mostly around Moberly Lake later. They called him Wabi. Did you know Wabi?
JH: Yes, Callahaison.
DHC: Did he have fair hair? Someone told us that he had fair hair and blue eyes, and you could think that he was a Norwegian.
Mrs. H.: Yes, but white — like your gray hair. It turned white when he was just a very young boy….
DHC: He was a prophet. Some surveyors and some of the men were trapping out there. They said that years and years ago, he described the Hudson’s Hope Dam, and described how men would come with big wagons – no horses – They would dig a hole, and put something in the hole, and then they would put fire in the hole and make thunder in the hole. That’s what the seismic crews did. He also said that some day big giants – very tall giants – would walk through Pine Valley, and they’d be holding lightning in their hands. That’s like the electric pylons. I heard that story when I first came to the country. That would be in the 40’s. Nobody thought then about a dam or electric power lines.
Mrs. H.: He used to be a medicine man.
JH: How did he know.
DHC: Was he a medicine man?
Mrs. H.: A spirit man.
DHC: I’ve often wondered whether there were mushrooms or plants around here that people could use like modern drugs, to have visions. How did the medicine men – and medicine woman, too, know what plant was good for this and what for that?
JH: The way I’m thinking, it was just dreaming. I think they would have dreams – those visions. I think the older people told them about it.
Mrs. H.: The young ones now, they don’t hardly believe anything.
DHC: I was talking to Mrs. Beaudry. She told me about “rat root”. Do you know about rat root?
Mrs. H.: Yes – I know about rat-root.
DHC: Would you remember back when your people lived in teepee?
Mrs. H.: Our people always lived in houses – except for camping or something like that.
Mrs. H.: The teachers were very good when they first came here. Mr. and Mrs. Ward helped as much as they could. They worked here – they cut the road from Swan Lake here. It was supposed to be the government. They (the teacher) did lots of work to start and then there was relief work. We worked for it (relief). They made so much a day – just a little bit.
DHC: Fifty cents a day, I think – just enough to pay their taxes.
JH: Not even that.
DHC: Do you pay taxes here to Pouce Coupe?
Mrs. H: No, to Dawson Creek. We don’t have very much now – just a dollar. If it was in our boy’s name it would be different, but we are pensioners.
We have to make our own living – trapping. And quite a few have cows here. When my dad sold his farm, at Lac St. Anne he brought a cow in here. Now some people have quite a few. They are ranching. They make their own hay. They brought a rake and a mower when they came. Then when I got married I got a heifer from my family, so we have cows too. Ours were half Jersey.
DHC: Where did you get those? There weren’t very many around.
Mrs. H.: From Alberta. We bring them in.
DHC: I here that when Napoleon Thomas came to Dawson Creek, he brought black cows – Angus.
Mrs. H.: We had black Angus too.
DHC: Did you know the Napoleon Thomas family?
Mrs. H. Oh yes, one lives here. Annie Gladu. She was a Thomas. She married Sid Gladu.
DHC: We spoke of the different stories one hears about native conditions and the way Indian and Metis people live. I think differences of opinion occur in any history. One person remembers it one way, and another remembers it another way. Some like to make fun, and just tell a big story.
Mrs. H.: Well, that’s not very nice. You know, most Indians are like us. Most of them live about the same way. Most of them had farms. They planted crops around Grande Prairie – The Monkman’s and my dad, Alfred Gladu, and Francis Hamelin and Gauthiers and Callious, Letendre and Belcourts. They all lived alike. Some like the Monkmans and my dad had more things, like cows and chickens and things like that.
DHC: So you lived like farmers.
Mrs. H.: Yes, some of them lived like real farmers. Mostly they worked at trapping and surveying and jobs in summer. Now everything is different. Our young boys go out and work but they go to school.
DHC: Where did you go to school?
Mrs. H.: Here. I only went to Grade III – before I started moving around, I was sick. (She later spent three years in Tranquille Sanitarium.)
DHC: Did you know Mr. Gerry Andrews, the first school teacher at Kelly Lake?
Mrs. H.: Yes – but I was in Grande Prairie when they first had a school here. I never went to Flying Shot school. I went to Grande Prairie in town. I went to school here when Mr. Ward was teaching – for a year I think. I only went to Grade III – I never even started IV, but I studied. I like reading.
DHC: I can see that you read a lot. You have lots of reading material. You didn’t stop your education at Grade III. You just stopped school.
Mrs. H.: Yes, I always try to find out things. I can’t talk English very well – big words you know.
DHC: I think you speak English very well.
Mrs. H.: When I talk I have to use small words.
DHC: You make things very clear. That is good.
Mrs. H.: My man here, he only went to grade III but he doesn’t read as much as I do.
DHC: Most men don’t. They leave it to the women. They are too busy.
Mrs. H.: I can write better than him, and I can read better than him.
J. H.: When I went to school my dad wanted me to go along with his trapping. At that time it didn’t matter. If kids missed school they [the authorities] didn’t care. It’s different now. You’ve got to go. My boy – he went to High School and so did the girl. I’ve took them for a while to Beaverlodge. Then to Dawson Creek. Every weekend they came back. I had to make a trip to Beaverlodge.
Mrs. H.: Our daughter is a practical nurse.
JH: I’ve tried to do the best I could.
Mrs. H.: Now, it’s different. Most kids can get their schooling. The Government pays. They take the kids to Beaverlodge. A long time ago, if you didn’t have money, you couldn’t send your child to Dawson Creek (Notre Dame Catholic boarding school) or to a boarding house or a room.
DHC: Do you have High School here?
Mrs. H.: No just to VII or VIII here. For High School they go to Beaverlodge, every day. It’s a long way. For my other girl there was a dormitory in Dawson Creek so she got Grade XII.
DHC: Did you know Alexander Monkman who found the Monkman Pass?
JH: O yes, I know him … He lived between Valhalla and Saskatoon Lake . . . There are none of them living here now.
DHC: What are the names of the old families that are still here?
JH: Hamelins, Belcourt – my dad was Francis Hamelin and old (?) Belcourt, and Xavier Gauthier and Alfred Gladu.
DHC: Was Sid Gladu your uncle?
JH: Yes, but I tell about those older than that – and (Joachim?) Gladu and Louis Campbell and Milton Campbell.
DHC: Any relation to Peter Campbell at Beaverlodge?
JH: Yes, that’s his brother. And Old Man Wm. Calliou, Dave Calliou’s uncle. Dave’s father never came here. He was in Flying Shot and moved into Rio Grande and died there. I’ve told you the old ones. Quite a few have died now…My old grandfather too – old Gladu. That was my mother’s dad . . . All came in from Lac Ste. Anne forty miles west of Edmonton.
DHC: Do you go back to Lac Ste. Anne for the pilgrimages?
JH: Every year, it must be about twenty years now. The first time I go there, I go with a team.
DHC: All the way to Lac Ste. Ann. Fourteen days one way . . . I went by Sturgeon Lake, and Slave Lake, and crossed on the old trail. I came out at Barrhead, then Westlock, then Gunn Siding.
DHC: Was there a wagon trail in those days?
JH: Oh yes, from Grande Prairie to Sturgeon Lake we had a highway but only gravel. I took four horses and changed every half a day . .
I could have taken a train but I wanted to see the country right through to Edmonton. I thought it was a hell-of-a long way that our folks used to come, so I wanted to see the country.
DHC: Did you go alone?
JH: Oh, no. With my wife and one kid . . . It took all summer. I started in June and I got back in September. I’d stop in some places for three-four days. But that was a long way!
JH: No we don’t have crops. It is bush country.
DHC: And then you had to clear it.
JH: You see this opening out here [an acre or more in front of his house]? It cost me three hundred dollars to clear it.
DHC: When did you begin to get new houses?
JH: About ten years ago, I guess.
DHC: In 1973 I was told that some of you had very nice houses, but most were very poor and you weren’t allowed to cut any trees to build a log house, as the forest was under reserve. No, it wasn’t that.
JH: He just didn’t want it, I guess. If anyone wanted logs he could go out now and cut them. When they wanted to have new houses they had a meeting here (in Hamelin’s place) and they started to tell you what you have to do. The government was going to help all the Indians met here. Hardly any of them had anything at that time, just a few of us. I was the only one that had a power saw and a team, horses harness and a few wagons to haul logs. We told them about this. We wanted a sawmill here to cut the lumber ourselves [self-employment and training]. They wanted square timbers to build houses. We were told to get the lumber form the lumberyard and the government paid. I didn’t know that until later.
JH: Well, when I went, they said, “It’s all over” (the deal was off). “You have to wait.” So I made a deal with the storekeeper here, that he could pay for the lumber to help me out. He said “Sure, Go in and haul the lumber and everything. Give me a note.” So I said, “Yes”. I began to haul and he paid for it. So I made out a paper and I said so much a month. That was quite a lot of money.
DHC: How long ago did you build?
JH: About fifteen years ago. I worked all the time. I worked all summer cutting logs. I could find nobody to build a house, for three years and the logs would be getting rotten. Then I started, and once I started some guys came and helped me, but all they did was haul logs with a tractor. But I made a big mistake.” (Mr. Hamelin went on to tell how he followed wrong advice about insulating his floors with plastic with the result that the floor has now rotted). All of the rest is good lumber, good materials”
About three years ago we had a meeting and a man come. People that want to build us houses – you know the kind in Dawson Creek – apartments – or pre fabs. Nobody wants them. He said give us your homesteads and will build them. Nobody wanted to do that.
Some of those guys didn’t have a house but they didn’t want a homestead one place and a house another in the village centre. They didn’t want that. Later he came again. We couldn’t have a meeting or nothing. We couldn’t work without him. He wanted to build the houses. He wanted them to put a mortgage on their land, so if they can’t pay for the house they pay with their land.
Mrs. H.: A lot of people don’t own their land so they couldn’t borrow money.
JH: The government wouldn’t pay nothing. Quite a few own land. I own this land . . . Now it is decided that they are going to build six houses. I don’t know whether they are going to build a house for us or not.
JH: I figure it would be about forty thousand if they build it. Maybe that much wouldn’t do it. I said, “If you are going to build a house, build a good one. Full basement, running water and everything. That’s what I tell him when he came here.