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James Rocan Bastien


Bastien, James Rocan, Rocanville, Saskatchewan, born at Norway House, Manitoba, enlisted at Camp Hughes, 13 October 1915. Occupation: Machinist and Engineer. Military Service: Sapper, Reg. No. 423121, 44th (Manitoba) Battalion. Attestation Papers.

Additional Biographical Information:

James Rocan Bastien was born 25 Feb 1868, not at Montreal, Quebec, as he claimed in his attestation papers, but at "Jack River Shanty" in what is now Norway House, Manitoba. His father was a French-Canadian named Auguste Henry Bastien, who was working for the H.B.C. post at the time. His mother was Clara St. Germain [link to picture], eldest daughter of Sarah Nakawao Crate by her first husband Jacques St. Germain, another H.B.C. man. Through his mother, James was related to almost every member of the Cree community of Norway House at that time (and today as well).

The Bastien family left Norway House in the 1870s and eventually settled at Rocanville, Saskatchewan, which is named after the family. This is where James and his siblings grew up.

James described himself as a machinist and engineer, when he enlisted in the Canadian army. He was 47 years of age at the time, although he gave a younger age of 44 years at enlistment. He was 6 ft. and 1/2 in. in height, with a dark complexion, hazel eyes, and black hair, turning grey.

Although he served faithfully, James was unable to obtain a disability pension after he returned home, even though he had severe difficulty breathing that undoubtedly resulted from conditions he faced in trench warfare. When he died in 1934, he was unemployed because of his health and destitute, leaving behind a wife and three small children. They survived and eventually prospered, but no thanks to Veterans Affairs!