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  • Writer's pictureArt Duval

Rosette Boucher, (Laramie) and a Bateau to Penetang.

Well it's time to tell the story from the woman's perspective. Here I have found and told the story of Rosette Larammee, a thirteen year old girl who, with her parents, embarked on an amazing voyage in a small boat with some horses. I have tried to stick to her story as much as I can. Her story was told to AC Osborne later in life, and it tells as much in what it doesn't say as in what it does. I've pared her narrative down, to only include details about her and the voyage.

In this case the men's story is probably the less interesting of the lot. The men had been plying the Great Lakes every year, and Louis Lepine was a second generation voyaguer to take to the Great Lakes. The men knew their way to Penetang, so had probably made the journey previously.

Undoubtedly her main roll would have been entertaining the children and making sure they didn't suffer from mishaps, not so easy a task in a small boat with horses, and with potential dangers on land and water. So here she is and listen to her story, you'll be amazed.

Rosette Boucher (Laramie)

Around 1828, people were leaving Drummond Island and coming to Penetang. You can read about the reasons in another post on this site, The British Remove from Drummond Island. One of those families was the Laramie family. Jacques has a story to tell, but here we are going to tell the story of Rosette, his daughter.

We know Rosette's story because while researching a work, A.C. Osborne went to see her. She told him the story and he recorded it.

My maiden name was Rosette Laramee, born on Drummond Island December 12th, 1815, the year after the war. The Laramee (now Laramie) family lived on Drummond Island in the metis village. It is not listed anywhere if he had property or a house, so it probably wasn't much. But he had a span of horses!

My husband was Jean Baptiste Boucher, also native of Drummond Island. The Boucher family were also lived on Drummond island. The community on Drummond Island lived in housing (shelters) that were somewhat temporary like squatters they didn't have land grants in the actual settlement, didn't own their property ( even though they were there 13 years). Although some metis did live in the town and owned properties. Most who ended up in the metis settlement at Penetang did not.

Drummond Island to Penetang

Rosette goes on: We left Drummond Island in April, 1828, and were in the sugar camp when some of the others started. The Labattes left before the soldiers.

(Drummond Island is at the Western end of the North Channel, at least 400 Kilometers from Penetang.)

This gives interesting insight.

The Soldiers and the Indian Department came in November, and the Labatt's the summer before. So Rosette probably noticed things would never be the same. It must have, she remembered it decades later.

They were in the sugar camp, the maple sugar camp, they would make sugar for the last time, and perhaps would use the sugar to trade for other supplies. Would they find a new sugar camp in Penetang. Probably, but I have found no proof.

An example of a batteaux 6 adults, 8 Children and 2 Horses!

We came in a large bateau with two other families and a span of horses. Our family consisted of father, mother, four children Julien. Zoa, James, and myself. James was only two years old. I was about thirteen. There was with us Louis Lepine, wife, and one child, Frances, who afterwards became the wife of William Rawson, of Coldwater. Pierre Lepine, who with his wife and child were wrecked with the soldiers, was Louis's brother. Antoine Fortin, wife, and three children, were also with us.

They came in one large bateaux. (see above) A Bateaux is a kind of flat bottomed boat, (shown above) it could be rowed or sailed.

But still lets look at the numbers. One large Bateaux, and a span of horses (two), but also 8 children including herself and 6 adults.

The 8 children, well, they would have taken up more than the 3 women could provide, at least you would think. So Rosette probably wasn't exactly a passenger. Factor in feeding everyone on the water, or facing the humours of unfed people (and horses) and it stands to reason it wasn't the best of times. But no where does she get whiney in her narrative.

We came by the North Shore, and were one month on the way. 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.

Mississisaga River Delta

Again she reveals more than is written. We came by the North Shore, so when leaving Drummond Island they went North, past St Joseph Island and to the North Shore of the Chanel. Missisaga Point, was at that time a known Indian village, so Rosette would know it from the sights and sounds she would have seen there.

This also illustrates a few other things. One that I think the trip by this bateaux was planned out with stops in certain places. Secondly, that the North Shore of Georgian Bay was a safe place for these travelers. Did these families trade for supplies here? I think so. This was not the wild wild west, the native peoples were not fiendish enemies at the time.

Fort LACloche LAC BAC

McBean's post was a trading post. But she doesn't say it was a trading post or HBC trading post, but MCBean's post. Why? Well she probably went back there at some point since McBean became a member of the family. So Rosette probably knew his story well.

LACloche was also a trading post, and would fit into the travels of the Bateaux. Then they were on to She-bon-an-ing. Now where would that be? That would be the current Town of Kilarney, and part of what I know suspect the community along the North Shore.

Some families returned to Kilarney, and some families from Kilarney travelled to Penetang to settle.

Next on to Moose Point, where the Moose Deer Point reserve is today. This would be the future home of some of the people known to Rosette and Minnecognashene and is a little more than a stones throw away from Penetang. Which would be a half day travel from their destination.

Rosette would have been fascinated by these places, but probably frustrated at the limitations put on her. A thirteen year old girl would have to be restricted or at least her parents would have undoubtedly kept a good eye on her in these pioneer settlements. McBean's and LaCloche were fairly close together, so they obviously had more stops than listed.

Hence the places named, were probably not the only places they stopped at, but the known places she would continue to visit later in her life. The presence of those from Penetang all across Georgian Bay to Bruce Mines and beyond show the continued use of the bay as a highway and extended community.

I remember a bishop, named Thombeau, and Father Crevier, once visited Drummond Island. My father and mother were married in Penetanguishene by Bishop McDonnell, who married several couples during his visit to Penetanguishene shortly after we moved from Drummond Island. Louis Descheneaux and his wife, Gustave Boyer and his wife, Charles Cadieux and his wife, and several others were married at the same time.

So despite being on Drummond island a long time ago, the presence of the catholic church was still recognized.

When the Bishop McDonnell came to town someone had the idea they should all get married by him, so they lined up to get married, so many of them, even though they were married, remarried by the Bishop.

So the church did have an influence on the early metis families.

We settled on the lot now owned by Quesnelle, and afterwards moved to our present borne (Home)on lot 17, Tiny.

Original Land Grant at the end of Penetang Bay

Aireal view of Penetang Bay courtesy the Zwickers

Jacques Laramie was granted land on Penetang Bay, well actually the second range up, besides Louis Lepine. Once they settled the patent, they sold that land and bought the Clergy Reserve land set aside for the Anglican church, which wasn't needed in a French settlement of LAfontaine.

Two lots on the 17th, under Lareme. (Laramie)

Joseph Giroux started for Thunder Bay with provisions for his son, Camile, who was fishing. He lost his way and wandered down to Pinery Point. My son, Narcisse Boucher, and several others started out to hunt for him. The snow was two feet deep and no roads. They found him on the third day in the afternoon lying on some boughs behind a big oak log, his hands and feet frozen solid, and his dog wrapped in the breast of his coat to help keep him warm. They made a stretcher of withes covered with boughs, and carried him borne on their shoulders, relieving each other by turns. Giroux was obliged to suffer an amputation of both hands and feet. Mr. Boucher, my husband, died several years ago.

An interesting story of those early days. Fishing became a way of life very early on. The fur trade often no longer had time for the Frenchmen as voyageurs, but still came to them to buy fish by the barrel load. I have to admit, that I assume it was a summer profession, but here, it is clearly a cold season activity as well. Obviously they were not fishing by boat on this occasion, but the boats or Bateaux they used to come here from Drummond Island was probably in use in the Georgian Bay fishery.

Pinery point is not that far, but the weather must have made it dreadful and people were fishing with nets of course, but still.

The Laramie's would also have family on the waters, I have not come across any who may have died, but we can only assume that some probably lost their lives, and many injuries as well. So the incredible story of the young girl who became an old woman and was interviewed for a work by AC Osborne, comes to life, in full color.

But what didn't she say? Sometimes what isn't said that is important. There was three men on the boat, and on the best days with everything in their favor it would have taken just one of them to steer, but unlikely that very many hours were favorable, if any full days. You didn't just float a boat from Drummond island to Penetang, and if you look at the maps, particularly around Manitoulin island, the maze of islands alone would be stressful. So it would likely take all three, if not some of the women to row it. The women, would have to feed everyone, and keep the two horses from the children. However you slice it, Rosette would have had to participate in many of the aspects of adult life. IT's very likely she would have had to entertain the children for long periods of time.

This wouldn't have come as a surprise, young women were expected to have all the skills a wife would need, so she would have learned many skills in watching children and washing clothes and dishes. It wouldn't be a surprise, but still it could be lamented. She also was under certain restrictive expectations. Arriving at the native villages and pioneer towns, or trading posts would have been fascinating, but Rosette would have been closely watched, even if it was a wild land. And they would have been noticed, horses were not common on the North Shore at the time. As all teenage girls, she probably loved the horses.

Wigwam LAC BAC

She also didn't lament the fact that the conditions onboard the small boat, in April and may, was likely not the most comfortable. Many days were under canvas, we assume, but it was very unlikely they had any source of heat. The only thing I could see was if they did the voyaguer thing of having a pot of peas heated over night brought aboard. And two horses can make a mess, a smelly mess...

The native practice of the women putting up the shelter, and it could have been anything from a wigwam to a tent would have fallen to them. Would she have had to find pasture for the horses as well, who knows. Many days were probably cold, and the nights as well, temperatures in April and May stay pretty low.

Rosette's Narrative is from "The Migration of Voyageurs from Drummond Island to Penetanguishene in 1828" by A. C. Colborne

Art Duval Pipesmoke of the Past

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Marj Dubeau
Marj Dubeau
Aug 25, 2022

Yet another amazing story of our history. I loved seeing the boat, bateau, as in one of your other stories you mentioned that my great great great great grandparents, Louis Lepine, boated from Drummond Island to Penetang. I've driven that road to visit our son in Echo Bay (Sault Ste Marie) often. There is no way, I could imagine being 8 people plus 2 horses and all our belongings in a boat, without a motor, along that north shore!! Brave brave brave people. Thank you sooo much for these wonderful stories of our ancestors.

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