The Grand Old Man of the River
by Bruce W. Taylor
Stephen Lafricain was born in 1837, the same month and year that Queen Victoria ascended the throne; and died in 1936, the year that King George VI was proclaimed king. He was a part of our history; not just of Canada, but of the United States as well. He was a part of the settlement of the Labrador coast; he lived in the city of Montreal in its formative years. He was a took part in the US Civil War and in the campaign against the Fenian Invasion of Canada.
He witnessed the treaty negotiations with the native people of Northeastern Ontario. He saw the decline of the fur trade in northern Canada, and the discovery of the vast mineral wealth of northern Ontario.
He was there.
He knew and counted as friends some of the most influential men in Canadian history, men such as Lord Strathcona, and Governor Simpson of the Hudson's Bay Company. He saw Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, General Ulysses Grant, and the ill-fated General Custer. And, although none of the wealth of the land accrued to him in his wilderness homes, he lived with and even guided some of the famous prospectors who discovered the gold and silver mines in the north.
Living for most of his life at the Fort Matachewan Hudson Bay Post, he befriended the native community, the prospectors, the hunters, trappers, the priests, and community leaders who came through the area with their various pursuits.
This is his story.
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Table of Contents
13 PART 1: Labrador Beginnings
17 Ancestry Chart - Stephen Lafricain
17 The Jourdain Family
18 The Broomfield Family
20 Hudson's Bay Company Trading Post at Rigolet
22 Map of Rigolet Area
23 Donald Smith Takes Over at Rigolet
26 The Wreck of the Marten
28 Definition of Occupations in the HBC
31 PART 2: Montreal Roots
31 Montreal-1850s and 1860s
32 Tracing the Lafricain Family Genealogy
36 Pedigree Chart for ;Eacute;tienne (Stephen) Lafricain
37 PART 3: The U.S. Civil War
37 Becoming a Soldier
39 112th Regiment- New York Volunteers
42 The 3rd New York Veteran Volunteers
43 The Fenian Invasion of 1866
46 PART 4: A Servant of "The Bay"
46 Fort Temiskaming-1866-1869
49 Map of Lake Temiskaming Area
50 Fort Temiskaming
50 Robert Hamilton, Chief Factor
52 Hunter's Lodge, Lake Kipawa 1867-1868
53 James Hunter, In Charge at Hunter's Lodge
54 Paddling His Own Canoe 1869-1889
54 Lake Nipissing
56 Charles Stuart, Chief Trader-Fort Temiskaming
56 Point McMartin Post, Lake Temiskaming
57 Colin Rankin, Chief Factor-Temiskaming District
58 Life as a Farmer
62 PART 5: The Montreal River
62 Historical Background
64 Fiddler's Point HBC Post
65 William Fiddler
66 Map of Bay Lake and Area
66 James Mowat
69 Malcolm McLean
70 Stephen Lafricain's Sojourn at Fiddler's Point
77 PART 6: Fort Matachewan 1896-1906
79 Stephen Lafricain at Fort Matachewan
80 Plan of Ft. Matachewan
83 Ontario Government Survey 1900
86 The 1901 Census
91 C. C. Farr's Fishing Trip to Fort Matachewan
93 1906-1912 James Bay Treaty No. 9
99 The Discovery of Silver at Elk Lake 1906
101 The Missionaries
106 PART 7: Fort Matachewan 1907-1920
106 Death of Marie Josee Lafricain
107 The Gowganda Silver Rush of 1908
108 1911 Census
110 Mining in Matachewan Area
116 Stephen Lafricain's Quest for a Pension
119 Closure of Fort Matachewan 1920
121 Marriage to Sabeth Roundeye
123 PART 8: Fort Matachewan 1921-1936
126 The "Electric Girl"
127 Stephen's Spirituality
131 Birth of the Town of Matachewan
136 Death of Stephen Lafricain
140 PART 9: Lafricain's Legacy