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  • Writer's pictureArt Duval

Drummond Islanders (Part 3:The Beausoleil's)

Updated: Nov 20, 2019

So, with this entry I return to blogging. I recently spent time on Beausoleil Island at a men's retreat and it made me think of Louis Beausoleil, my ancestor. Louis was a fur trader, probably a trapper as well and made a camp on Beausoleil Island. Beausoleil is a Canadian name, one given in Canada and adopted as a dit name. Below is what I know of him and his family, I still have more to learn and some to divulge later but I hope you enjoy this story. (I have a plan to speak of the history of the island in the near future)

My ancestor, Louis Beausoleil, was a Drummond Islander, although he did not come with the rest. Louis was a fur trader I believe and was already at least for part of the year, here, on Beausoleil Island. Although there is no proof, it would be ludicrous for him not to have been. (As some suggest) I believe Louis was somewhere close to Tonch point and Treasure bay, as this would be a good place to trade furs. I have looked and archaeology may point to a place.

It is suggested he was on the point, I have not found archaeology to back that up. I think that is a misinterpretation, as the point he moved to on Penetang Bay was once called Beausoleil Point.

The British tried to call the island Prince William Island, but that name never took, once as Louis was there the island became known as Beausoleil. The Jesuits called the island Ile a Travers, but I'm not sure why. My family has always called Giants Tomb Ile a Travers, as the island is pierced by what we now call the gap.

Louis and his wife Angelique, had three kids, Antoine, Alexis and Felicity. When his kids were old enough they went to school in Coldwater. So at that point, they must have been living for at least part of the year in or around Coldwater. Previous to that it is likely Louis would have returned to Drummond Island for the winter, as the Beausoleil family is listed under one of the chiefs that lived around Drummond Island.

When the band at Coldwater were moved off of the land, to Beausoleil Island, Louis must have realized that it would not support a community so he moved to Penetanguishene bay, on what was the 15th concession of Tiny. Louis' lot would be passed down till not too long ago when my parents sold it.

Louis son Antoine went to Detroit, where he was employed for a while. Then the American Civil War broke out and Antoine boss suggested he join the North. Charles fought in the war and was injured, he would depend on his civil war pension for the rest of his life.

Having returned to Penetanguishene, he faced being cut off from his pension so he returned to Detroit where the family name was changed to Sun. The Sun family (Gregory) traced his roots back to Penetang back in the '80s and got in contact with us. Tragically he was killed but would love to hear from his family if they are out there.

I returned to Beausoleil Island for a retreat recently and walked with my ancestor. On one of my walks on the island, I heard footsteps and although there was no one there, the animals told me he was there.

The village that was there from the time of their moving from Coldwater still has some hearths showing above ground, there is also an old graveyard in the bushes that I would like to help have a better fate. This isn't the graveyard that has been looked after, but one in the bushes. It's catholic while the other is Protestant.

The village was close to Tonch point
Tonch Point, Bausoleil Island

Some would say Louis isn't metis, that he was not born that way. Louis decided to be metis when he came into a metis relationship, so for me, we are in the Red Tribe due to him. (among others) So he is one of my metis ancestors.

Louis moved to Penetang where he was the owner of a big black ox. At the time of horses, he had an ox and probably used it to help his neighbours. I can only imagine the work the ox and Louis did. Some will say that the metis was not good at farming, but often their land was not good to farm. Many of the Drummond Islanders came from Agricultural Seigneuries of Quebec. So they would have been brought up on farms.

We're not sure where Louis came from. Some say Quebec, but I think it might have been Detroit, which was then part of Quebec. More things to look for.

For awhile the Beausoleil's were Giroux' at least in the eyes of the church. Alexis wife lost her first husband, who died in Bruce Mines resulted in the church illegitimizing the children. Since no official death certificate or even knowledge of his death reached Penetang, the Priest would not legitimize the marriage of Alexis and his wife, but they would never lose the name Beausoleil and a generation later the name returned.

John Beausoleil 1918 WW1

Charles would be the next in my family line, he would live his life on Penetang Bay in a house close to the water.

His Son was John, my Grandfather. In 1918, my grandfather joined The Canadian Expeditionary forces of World War One. John Beausoleil made it to England as the war was ending and did not see action. At the time he was a young man who just turned 19 a few months before. He died a old man, of a heart attack.

John Beausoleil and the fishing boat "BlackHawk"

John would take fishing charters in Georgian Bay and all over the Great Lakes. A Chart of the Great Lakes I have has writing on it from one of those trips. They circumnavigated Manitoulin island that summer, it must have taken a while, they dined on fish they caught, and I wonder if they traded with the villagers. The writing is not his as he could not write. Ironic that his forefathers had gone to school, but he had not.

Beausoleil Island now has a public campground and two summer camps for Kids. Camp Kitchikewana is one of the camps and sits on top of the village that was there in the 1830's to 60's. Early in the 1900's a camp was established there and continues to this day. The children have returned the joy to what was once a sad place.

Photo of the sailing area of Camp Kitchikewana

I'll end with a story I heard a couple of times now. I figure it is common domain.

A dog ran away from home and joined a wolf pack. The wolf pack was leery at first but the dog sang for them and taught them some of the ways of the people like how to make lodges and fire.
So comfortable in their lodge, warmed by fire, they all fell fast asleep. Not knowing how to tend the fire the lodge came ablaze. At that time, the wolves would remove their tails when they slept but in the confusion they grabbed the nearest tail and ran out of the lodge.
So from that day on, wolves vowed not to build lodges or use fire and every time the dog family sees one another, they check to see if the other dogs isn't wearing his tail.

So that is why dogs sniff each others tail.

Art Duval, Pipesmoke of the past.

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