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  • Writer's pictureArt Duval

Drummond Islanders Part 4 (The Laramie's)

Updated: Nov 26, 2019

Jacques (Adam dit) Laramie was born in Longuiel. He spent his childhood on the banks of St Lawrence in a town called Longuiel. Longuiel had a castle, it was built to give the villagers a place of safety against the natives. The Baron of Longuiel, Charles LeMoyne was the seigneur, and there is some evidence that the Adam were followers of his. (Ok it was more of a Fort, but Castle sounds cooler) There is some evidence that he may have gone to school in Montreal, for a year or two, but I still have to solidify that lead.

Fort Longuiel By John Drake 1825

The Adam family, as they were originally called came to North America in the sixteen hundred's, Jean Adam came here around the time of Champlain, then returned to Europe and returned with his family to homestead.

Later Guillaume Adam would serve with Baron LeMoyne and would travel throughout North America with him before settling on a strip farm given to him by the Baron's widow. They would live happily on that farm for over a hundred years when Jacques would shove off with the Northwest company in pursuit of furs.

Jacques would go to Nippissing for a few years before turning south and searching new lands in what was then Louisiana. At some point, he would meet his wife Rosette Cloutier, whose father was bourgeois in the company. Jacques would also meet his best friend Louis Lepine. The Lepine family, Louis, his father Pierre senior and brother Pierre junior were all lifelong voyageurs, one of the Pierre's having gone with Franklin overland to the artic. They originated from a place called Berthier, on the St Laurence River.

Jacques would be present at battles in the war of 1812 and would later get a land grant for land next to Louis Lepine in Penetang. The problem was it was 400 miles distant, in Penetanguishene. Jacques, Louis, Antoine Fortin and their families decided to make the long journey one spring. At the time it was said that the town was a cedar swamp, and in fact where his property was, that is probably a correct statement. But did that make it an area of natural resources for him and his family? Cedar swamps did not seem to be so bad, for some it was choice land.

Previous to coming to Penetanguishene Jacques and his family doesn't appear to have land, so I assume they lived off the natural resources of the land. He applied and was granted land in Penetanguishene. They made maple sugar, that is known, and it would be natural for them to hunt. Did they also harvest wild rice? Or other wild crops. Probably they did, even after they had land in Penetang. Because I can't see them living without it. Of course, there are a possibility Rosette's fur trade connections helped out, more than likely they would have had to be self-sufficient.

The men were accustomed to making these journeys, but in batteaux with their whole families? Convincing the women to make a four hundred Kilometer trip with horses and their babies may have been dangerous as well. But they did.

I think the North Shore of Georgian Bay was a long spread out community. The families probably knew, and in some cases intermarried with those who had lived on the islands and Bays of Georgian Bay.

They were six adults, ten children and two horses included in their group and it took them a month. Making the decision to make such a long voyage, mixing women children and horses to arrive at a heavily forested lot in May must have been a heroic task.

Moving is always a strain, and there were no beer or pizza joints to go to at the end of the day. This move would take a month, every day the women would have to supply meals while spending as much time as possible travelling on the water. And the season, Spring (May) did not contribute very much to the pantry.

Keeping the children safe, fed and entertained over a month-long voyage which included horses in a small boat must have been quite the task. I am sure keeping the flour dry was difficult enough. There were probably many days when they did not travel at all, conditions were not always favourable, but on days when they did travel, they would have to break camp, and set it up again at the next part of the trip. Setting the horses up to be safe and probably some grooming and such, incredible.

I think it can safely be said that Jacques had some

knowledge of Penetanguishene before coming here, and so did the Cloutier's, but I wonder how much. The Northwest Company had some business in Penetanguishene, but did Jacques visit there, or was his lot site unseen? The Cloutier's had ties to Matchedash, so there was knowledge there too.

The trip to Penetang was also dotted with many people the group would know. McBean's post was mentioned, and indeed McBean shows up in Laramie Geneology. I can assume they also knew the Laronde's who had a fur trade post on the route.

We camped at Mississaga Point, McBean's Post,*
La Cloche, She-bon-an-ning, Moose Point and Minniekaignashene, the
last camping-place before reaching Penetanguishene.

Rosette Laramie, Jacques daughter, tells us that the trip was made along the North Shore. I can't imagine travelling on so many in one boat, and a pair of horses! I wonder who they passed, or who passed them. Did other Drummond Islanders pass them on the trip? Did native canoes?

Mississagi River

I assume Missisaga Point is at the end of the Missisagi river, McBean's post was a fur trade post. Lacloche as well. She-bon-an-ning is where Killarney now stands. Moose Point is Moose dear Point, and Minicognashene, as it is now spelt, is close to Penetanguishene.

She probably knew all these places as she had visited them in her lifetime.

Some people think all the Drummond islanders travelled together, but this would be unrealistic. The North shore was not made up of vast camping grounds, small groups would be better than large groups. Assuming that some hunting and or fishing was also needed to supply the trip, and forage for the horses, small groups would be preferable.

The Laramie's had horses, as did the Solomon's but no other group had them, from what we have been told, so this was a very unique trip. Keep in mind the soldiers had also come the year before and by a far different route, through open water, so they did not accompany the voyageurs.

The influx of batteaux could have been the result of the British Navy and Military constructed batteaux with wheels to bring supplies to Penetang during the construction. It is also possible that the voyageurs themselves constructed the batteaux. Perhaps they were using them on the Great Lakes during the Fur trade.

These Batteaux were flat bottomed boats, capable of spreading a sail. However, I am sure that the horses would also have acted like a sail, making it very difficult to travel in unfavourable winds. The horses probably also dictated where and when the travellers would stop. The North Shore of Georgian Bay is not overly hospitable to man or horse so stops would have had to be chosen carefully. So did the men plan the trip?

Jacques had received a very important gift at his wedding, a whipsaw. With this whipsaw, he could make lumber, lumber to build his own house as well as the houses of others around him.

Whipsaws also called pitsaws were what is used before sawmills came to town. They were effective, but not the most pleasant device, as the sawyer on the bottom ate a lot of sawdust. Construction techniques were borrowed from the old homestead back in Quebec and reflected the style there. Simple cabins were required for the patent (full ownership) of the land granted.

Later Jacques would move to Lafontaine when he purchased the clergy reserve for $100 dollars cash. Jacques and many other Drummond islanders would retain their community by moving ensemble to Lafontaine. Jacques would sign his name to the document, he had spent a year in school as a child.

He would live out his life in Lafontaine, farming his land and probably adding whatever he could hunt or fish to his meals. These early settlers of what was then Ste Croix were not in the village proper but were more in line with Thunder Bay. They would get their own church and later settlers would join them from Quebec.

Jacques and Rosette are now under the church that was built to replace the original, this being put on top of the early graves, including Rosette and Jacques. This is an honour so it was not desecration.

Returning to the water, Jacques son James would turn to fish. John would be one of the earliest licenced fishermen in Penetang. James, it is believed had property on the Military reserve at the end of the bay in Penetang.

Fish would be salted and out into barrels and sold to many different markets. There was also always the possibilities of selling furs, as the Thompson's would continue in the fur trade.

There's more to the story of the Laramie's, but I'll end it here for now.

Art Duval

Pipesmoke o' the Past.

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