Saturday, September 5, 2009


Francois Jacques Bruneau is my 3rd. great grandfather also in my mother's line. Francois was a child of a "a la facon du pays" union between Antoine Bruneau and an Aboriginal woman, likely Cree. This refers to a union "as was the custom of the country" where there was likely no religious sanction of the marriage due to the remote areas where they lived and the non-catholic wives. He was born in December of 1809 in Lac Vert, Saskatchewan or Rupert's Land as it was called. 
Francois was not baptized at the time of his birth but traveled to Quebec with his father when he was 4 years old and was baptized on October 28, 1814 in the Basilique Notre Dame, Montreal. 
In 1822 Francois was in the Red River Settlement in Manitoba and was attending a school directed by Abbe Jean Harper. He was going to enter the priesthood which made the Bishop Joseph Norbet Provencher especially happy because Francois spoke Cree and could be very helpful in dealing with the aboriginals. In 1829 he changed his mind and became a teacher instead. 
He married Marguerite Harrison, also Metis, in 1831 and left teaching for farming. The census reports for the area during the 1832-1849 span show his assest growing steadily. He and Marguerite had 8 children that I know of but others say they had 11. 
He became considerably well off in comparison to others in the area at the time. His interests turned to civic affairs and in July of 1843 he appeared before the Council of Assiniboia to request a distillery giving the Metis somewhere to sell their grain surpluses as well as requesting changes to the police force at the time. These requests were granted. 
Bishop Provencher urged the governor of Rupert's Land to name French Canadians and Metis to the Council of Assiniboia and had him look at Francois qualifications. He was recommended as "a man of sound standing in the settlement of fair education". This was again to facilitate relations with the Metis, French and Aboriginals. 
In the fall of 1850 he was named as a magistrate in one of the judicial districts and in 1851 was made a judge. He earned between 12 and 25 British pounds for his service yearly. 
Francois Jacques Bruneau died June 26, 1865 during the typhoid epidemic followed two days later by his wife, Marguerite. 
Note that the age for Francois say 55 years. It is hard to read and looks like 3s.


DianaR said...

Interesting picture - even though it is a little hard to distinguish the 5's vs 3's it is still remarkable legible considering its age.

Great story too! - let's see, in 1809 I believe that NONE of my eventual ancestors were yet in the United States...well, maybe one line on my Mom's side, but haven't gotten it researched yet...

lindalee said...

Very interesting post and ancestor. What does Aboriginal mean? You are fortunate to have such detailed informtion about Francois. Was it from research or passed down in the family?