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SSNS Home > Home & Community > Aboriginal Roots > Frontier Sources > Frontier Families > Curleyhead, Charles

Curlyhead (Uchegun), Charles

Researched by Frontier School Division


UCHEGUN or Charles CURLY HEAD was first mentioned in the records of York Factory, the Hudson’s Bay Company post on Hudson Bay. He purchased goods there in 1809 and paid a portion of his debt in 1811, so it appears that he was hunting in the York Factory trading area at that time. However, by 1812, he had moved inland to Norway House, where he was recorded in the accounts of the HBC post there. Evidently, Uchegun was among about sixty families of the York Factory Homeguard that moved inland between 1811 and 1813, apparently to escape the hunger and privation of the lowlands, which was suffering then from colder than normal weather and declining game animals. Chief Factor Colin Robertson knew these people well and described them as “the best disposed Indians I ever met with, they are very expert in the navigation of these rivers and anxious to be employed, and when engaged, ambitious to merit the good opinion of the whites.” Robertson also claimed that the exodus was due to the cruelty of William Auld, who was in charge of York Factory prior to Colin Robertson’s visit there in 1816. Robertson’s diary entry is worth repeating in full.

The natives belonging to this place do not exceed twenty five families. - The tyrannical and short sighted policy of Auld during the years 1811.12 & 13 drove from this place sixty families, consisting of the best Hunters belonging to the River, they used to be employed Killing Geese during the Fall, and furs during the winter and spring. - the returns of this place used to be six thousand made Beaver at present it does not exceed one, so eager was Auld in removing the Indians into the Interior, that a family consisting of ten persons were starved to death in 1813 within twenty miles of the Fort. - Some of his officers hearing of the state this family was reduced to, sent them relief, but the amiable Governor objected to it, by saying let the lazy rascals starve a little, this brought forth no terms of reproach from the mild and inoffensive natives. - They died with the lines of the Post strongly marked on their pale countenances. “Rough though thou be, yet still my native land.” Independent of the cruelty attending the measures of the Governor’s administration, he [Auld] ought to have been disgraced for his total ignorance of the business entrusted to his care.

Robertson’s remarks revealed a deep dislike of William Auld, whom he particularly blamed for driving the Homeguard into the service of the Northwest Company at Cumberland House. However, evidence suggests that many of the migrant families settled at Norway House, Swan River, and Moose Lake and continued to hunt for the HBC. They were loyal because they had long been involved in an economy of mutual interdependence with HBC personnel, who much of the time lived in conditions nearly as difficult as their own. Also, they were often related to these same officers and men. Their “pale countenances,” as described by Robertson, indicated the many years of intermarriage that had occurred between Company personnel and the daughters of the local Homeguard, a personal link that even the alleged excesses of Auld could not sever.

Uchegun reflected this pattern, as he was of mixed European and Cree background. Since his father was “French Canadian,” he may have been born in a place where French fur traders were located, in all likelihood somewhat removed from York Factory, perhaps up the Nelson River or south on James Bay. He could have been born as far back as the 1770s, because he had a grown “son” by 1811, who was probably born in the 1790s. Therefore, he was a mature hunter when he settled at Norway House with his wife, Nancy, a woman of mixed European/Aboriginal background like himself. He had children, too, details of which emerge in the HBC censuses of the Norway House District in 1823 and 1838.

According to the 1823 census, Uchegun’s family consisted of a wife, two sons, and a daughter. Listed separately were his “first son” Memenawatum, who had a wife, a son, and two daughters with him, and his “second son” Kenaw enemas,” who was a single man. By 1838, when the HBC did another census, Uchegun was listed with his wife only. Three sons, identified as such, were listed separately from him, namely, Kanawethemau Ethinue, Neneeniwapimousis, and Tepwatum, none of whom was married. Mamenawatum, listed with a wife, four sons, and two daughters, was not identified as a son as he had been in 1823.

Analysis of these two censuses and comparisons with other documents reveals a good deal about this family. Kenaw enemas and Kanawathemau Ethinue were variations of the same Cree name, and in all likelilhood referred to the son who took the name Henry Budd, when he was baptised in 1840. Neneeniwapimousis has not been discovered in any records after 1838, but Tepwatum, the youngest son, was mentioned several times in the church records, where he eventually became known as Philip Budd.

In his application for Halfbreed Scrip, Budd claimed he had been born in 1811, which was about seventeen years after Memenawatum, who was born circa 1794, according to his baptismal record. This is a big age difference, but it is supported by the census data. In 1823, for instance, Memenawatum was married with three children and he had six children by 1838, when none of his younger brothers even had a wife. This noticeable gap between Memenawatum and his brothers begs for explanation, even if one takes into consideration that Uchegun also had daughters born between “Memenawatum” and “Kenaw enemas.” Again, the records provide vital clues, but they can only to be understood in the context of fur trade culture, especially that of the Home Guard Cree in the Hudson Bay Lowlands at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

The life of a Cree hunter at York Factory circa 1800 was dangerous indeed, and death often claimed him while still in his youth. More often than not, he left behind a “widow and helpless children,” who were mentioned time and again in the early HBC records. In such precarious circumstances, the widow needed a husband quickly to ensure the survival of her family. Similarly, hunters who had lost their wives were looking for a new mother for their children. In such circumstances, it is not surprising that Uchegun had a “Stepson,” who was mentioned once in 1830 in the post journal at Norway House. Although unnamed in the records, all the existing evidence points to Memenawatum as that man.

If this conclusion is accurate, it suggests that Uchegun’s wife Nancy, or perhaps an earlier, but deceased wife, had a son by a previous marriage. To confuse the issue even further, there were at least two older daughters who were already married by 1823. Evidently, two and possibly three families were involved. Whatever the case, it seems clear that Uchegun and his wife Nancy had at least three sons and a daughter of their own. Moreover, a distinction existed between Muminawatum and those three sons that can be explained, if he was in fact Uchegun’s step-son.

Uchegun had daughters as well as sons, but they are more difficult to find. However, it was customary for a son-in-law to hunt with his father-in-law for a couple of years after his marriage, a practice that can sometimes be traced in HBC records. Indeed, by carefully analysing the Norway House Indian Debt Lists, which were often organised by family or hunting association, and comparing them with other evidence, it is possible to detect the movement of young men from one family to another. In this way, one can tentatively identify at least two of Uchegun’s sons-in-law.

According to the 1823 Census, Neenukawow, identified as a son of “Keekee wa thinish,” had two wives, whose fathers can be inferred from the Indian debt lists at Norway House. At least, the evidence is suggestive. Of the “Indians that traded” at Jack River [later Norway House] in 1814-1815, “Neenukawow” was listed between “Quesques a hoo” and “Papapathakish,” both of whom were also associated closely with an older hunter named Porcupine. Since they were not brothers, it is possible that these young men were all sons-in-law of the Porcupine. There was also a connection of some kind between Porcupine and “Curleyhead,” the two men being listed right next to one another on the 1815 Report.

On the debt list for the same year, Neenuckawow and Papathekish were listed together, while “Porcupine, his son [unnamed], Chalkquoyatch, Uchecan, and Ethiniskish” were listed separately in that order, again suggestive of an association between the two older men. “Quesques a hoo” was not listed, possibly because he had only just arrived in the vicinity. The Debt List, 1 June 1817, is even more informative. “Papathekish, Porcupine, Quesquescahoo, Neenuckawow” were listed together, and the inclusion of Porcupine is circumstantial evidence that the three young men were all part of his family. From other evidence, we know that Papathekish was indeed a son-in-law of Porcupine, and it appears that Neenuckawow was as well.

If this reconstruction is correct, Neenuckawow must have married a daughter of Porcupine in 1815 or 1816, then hunted with him for a year or so. However, in the 1818 debt list, he was listed by himself, while “Quesquescahoo, Porcupine, Pepathekish, and Ochegan” were listed together in that order. By 1819, Porcupine was by himself and “Uchegan, Memenawatum, Quesquescahoo, [and] Neenuckawow” were together. Since the younger men were now with Uchegan, and both Quesquescahoo and Neenuckawow had two wives, it appears likely that both men had taken a daughter of Uchegun to wife circa 1818.

By the 1823 Census, in addition to his two wives, “Nuay coowayow” had nine children. When one of his daughters applied for scrip many years later, she listed her mother as Elizabeth “Budd,” the surname that two of Uchegun’s sons and at least one other of his daughters had taken as their own. This provides confirmation that one of Neenuckawow’s wives was indeed a daughter of Uchegun.

Although it is not certain whether Quesqueskahoo was a son or son-in-law of Porcupine, he was definitely associated with him in 1817, suggesting the possibility that he had married into that family. By 1823 census, Porcupine was dead, but “Quesques Kahoo” was now listed as a “brother” of “Pritawow,” who was probably a son of Porcupine. Since Quesqueskahoo had two wives by this time, it is quite possible that he took a daughter of Uchegun as his second wife when he was hunting with him in 1818-1819.

The circumstances around the marriage of another of Uchegun’s daughters in the early 1820s were intimately tied to those surrounding Meminawatum’s marriage in about 1817. The single most important event leading up to Meminawatum’s marriage probably occurred in 1815/1816, when Withawecappo, a York Factory hunter, arrived at Jack River to work as a boatman for the HBC. There is no debt list for 1815/1816, but that of 1816/1817 has survived, and it records many new hunters at Norway House, including “Kishecaethin,” the father of Withawecappo, and “Thomas Isham,” both members of an extended family described in some detail at York Factory in 1809. They probably arrived at about the same time as Withawecappo, but a woman named Wash-e-soo-E’Squew, who was also closely associated with this family, probably arrived after April 1816, because her son Cask was still hunting at York Factory until that time. One of her daughters, identified later by her Christian name “Rebecca,” became the wife of Muminawatum shortly after their arrival at Norway House, as their eldest son Thomas was born in about 1818.

Rebecca’s brother Cask, later known as James Budd, first appeared on the Norway House Debt List in 1819, but without any apparent links to Uchegun or his associates. His name was missing from the debt list in 1822. However, he was hunting with his brother-in-law Muminawatum and “Curley Head” that winter. Since his eldest daughter Charlotte was born circa 1824, it is likely that Cask married Uchegun’s daughter Betsey at about that time. When Betsey applied for scrip many years later at Red River, her father’s name was recorded as “Budd,” further evidence of the adoption of this surname in Uchegun’s family.

If the above calculations are correct, Curly Head had at least seven children, and was connected in some way to nearly every family among the Cree at Norway House.

The HBC journals at Norway House recorded much about the activities of Curly Head and his family. In the winter of 1820/1821, he and Mistunisk [Badger] were hunting with their young men at Poplar River southeast of Norway House on the east side of Lake Winnipeg. In April they returned with their winter’s hunt to Norway House and remained in the vicinity for the summer.

Curly Head was still at Norway House in the fall, when big changes were taking place in the management of the HBC post there. The union of the Hudson’s Bay and North West Companies had resulted in a reduction of men at all posts and an amalgamation of the remaining personnel of both companies. This produced considerable friction, and an incident of insubordination among the boatmen passing through Norway House was recorded by Joseph McGillivray at Norway House at the beginning of September 1821. The unrest also infected the men stationed there for the winter. Many of them were loyal HBC employees who resented the fact that McGillivray, a NWC man, had replaced HBC officer Alexander Kennedy as the man in charge. To add fuel to the fire, some of the men who had been laid off by the HBC remained nearby. Now that there was no competition, prices for fur also fell, and that became another irritant, this time for the Cree hunters who relied on furs for sustenance.

With this context in mind, it become easier to explain a fight McGillivray had with Curly Head and one of his sons on 5 September 1821. Fortunately, McGillivray recorded the incident in some detail.

Traded some Provisions with Indians – Whatever quantity is brought instead of Keeping a share for ammunition, and other things which they may want – it is immediately bartered for Liquor – and from the old Indian Books this appears to be customary - Whilst in the act of dealing liquor Old Curly head and Son, after a good deal of jawing, attempted to seize the Keg – I seized the Young fellow and gave him a gentle push with a request to desist – when the rascal retaliated with a blow – and the father joining in the Fracas – they got me down and dragged me to the door – here I recovered my legs – and they had reason to regret their attempt not only on the property, but on myself – In their exasperated state, he frequently exclaimed – “what are you – you are nothing more than a clerk, and a person of no consequence” – these expressions made me presume some people in the camp have been busy with my name - which made these Indians “audacious.”

The following day, McGillivray recorded, “No Indians came around me today – probably the effects of liquor – and a sense of shame for their conduct of last evening – one of them I understand has a Black Eye.”

The use of liquor in the fur trade often produced fights, but rarely between hunters and the post manager. In this instance, Curly Head and his son were undoubtedly emboldened by prevalent resentment over the changes that were occurring in the fur trade at the time and quite possibly by the fact they had been drinking earlier. Typically, the day following a drinking bout was often a time of reflection and deep shame over behaviour that would never have occurred under different circumstances. Normally, Curly Head and his son, in this case probably Muminawatum, would have conducted themselves gravely and with reserve in the presence of the post manager. Affected by the current unrest and possibly alcohol as well, they had acted otherwise, a shameful thing in a culture that esteemed self-control and good manners. McGillivray, for his part, felt no remorse concerning the matter. In his mind, he was the aggrieved person, and that was that.

Curly Head and his family hunted at Limestone Lakes to the southwest of Norway House that winter, and in March 1822, McGillivray heard a rumour that they had gone to Moose Lake and given their “skins” to William Tait, the man in charge there. This loss and that of two other leading families hit McGillivray hard, but he acknowledged some responsibility for it. “I may possibly have given reason for this singular defection,” he recorded, “but in the forepart I directed my attention towards them, with an officious zeal, which certainly did not warrant this return.” In spite of his gloominess, McGillivray must have been gratified, when “Curly Head, Son and Cask” arrived with their skins on 23 May 1823 and paid all their debt. Evidently, the altercation of the previous fall had led to no permanent estrangement. True to his word, Curly head had paid in fur all of the debt he incurred in the fall for supplies and ammunition prior to his leaving with his family to the region about the Limestone Lakes.

It is not clear where Mistunesk [Badger] was during the winter of 1825/1826, but Curly head hunted southwest of Norway House at the Limestone River. It was a tough winter for him and his family. On 24 February 1826,

Late in the evening Curly Head and his 2 Sons arrived almost starved they had left his eldest son 3 women and 4 children before day light this morning unable to travel and had come for me to send people to bring them to the House, they have been very ill off for living for a long time past and are much reduced by hunger.

The plight of these people was hardly unique, as incidents like theirs were recorded time and again in the post journals. Hunting was a precarious occupation where a couple of wrong moves could mean starvation or death, with only the timely intervention of the HBC to save a hunter down on his luck. In this case, supplies were sent, and on February 26, the “two Indian Families who have been starving reached the House.” They were “altogether 11 in Number” and would have included Curly head and Muminawatum, their wives, Curly Head’s two sons, possibly the third son Tepwatum, who may still have been a child at this time, and three of Muminawatum’s children.

The family was sufficiently recovered after its ordeal to be off by 3 March 1826, presumably back to the hunting grounds around Limestone River. They had better luck this time, because they were back at the fort with their furs on April 30 and hired to haul timber for the post on May 2. However, they faced the same problems of hunger the following winter. On 11 January 1827, two of Curly Head’s sons arrived from Mossy Bay with a few furs, but complained of “starvation” at their camp. The post manager hired them to take the Red River letters to Cumberland House, presumably to provide them with a little extra income.

During the late 1820s and 1830s there were numerous references to Curley Head and his family, most of them indicating that they were hunting in the vicinity of Grand Rapids or Cedar Lake. In June 1828, for instance, “Curley Heads sons” arrived at Norway House from “the Big Fall” with “a Good many Skins principally rats.” In October 1831, “Two Indian lads sons of curleyhead arrived from the grand Rapid in order to take their fall debts.” In the spring of 1832, “Hoggee” [Price Isham] was sent from the post “with Supplies of ammunition to Curly Heads party at the Grand Rapid and to bring back their winter hunts.” In September 1832, “Curly Head and his Sons went off to the Grand Rapids after getting their winter Supplies” and in March 1833, “Sent Hoggee and Custatag off towards Moose Lake to look after Curly Heads band with supplies of Ammunition, and to bring home the few furs they might have collected in course of the winter. They returned in April “with 170 Made Beaver in Furs.”

After the difficulties they had faced in the mid-1820, Uchigun’s family seemed to have had a change of fortune, perhaps because of an upswing in the numbers of muskrats that flourished in cycles in the marshlands around Grand Rapids, Cedar Lake, and Moose Lake. Their luck continued into February 1835, when “PapatheKess and 4 young lads of Curly heads band came in from the Grand Rapids with 488 Skins in Furs, chiefly Musk Rats.” In June, “Curly head with his band arrived from the Grand Rapid with [an additional] 200 Skins in Furs.”

In the fall, they took their winter supplies and headed off to the Grand Rapid as usual, but on 12 February 1836, “Eacabamass came in from Curly heads band, who are tenting near the Limestone Bay, starving and doing very little in the way of hunting Furs.” The HBC journalist further explained that “the Band although good hunters has been unfortunate this winter by not killing animals have starved a great part of it Consequently have made very poor hunts in furs.” This reference is interesting because it indicates that the band hunted big animals like moose in order to sustain itself and hunted muskrats in order to purchase the other things it needed from the HBC store. The Company immediately sent supplies via “T.Harper with Johny Oik [Oig]”, so that they could commence marten hunting, and when they returned on February 27, they brought “200 Skins in Furs” as well as “120 lbs meat,” which Curley Head’s band had obtained in the interim. In May, Curley Head with one son and Papathakus” was tenting at “lime Stones Lake” while the rest of the band was “out at Cedar Lake for the purpose of making a Spring hunt in Rats about the borders of Moose lake.” The post manager at Norway House supplied them with ammunition and other supplies and on 23 June 1836, “Curley Head and band arrived with 5 large Bears 2 Cubs 60 Martens 610 Musquash 10 Otters 6 Red Foxes 1 Cross Fox 10 Minks 6 Cats 3 fishers & 4 Beaver.”

As a reward for their efforts, the manager gave them “a good Bouse of Rum” and reported the following day that “The Indians continue to enjoy themselves.” The giving of alcohol to the hunters was an old custom that had been instituted in the earliest days of the trade on Hudson Bay and continued well into the nineteenth century. Only the influence of the missionaries and the disapproval of Victorian society finally brought the practice to an end, but the negative impact it had on the aboriginal culture took much longer to eradicate.

By 1838, “Curly Head” and his wife were listed on the HBC census without dependents, indicating that all his children were adults by this time. We have no evidence of his reaction to the arrival of the Methodist missionaries at Norway House, but there is no record that he was ever baptised. In 1852, he was still alive and living at Rossville, “the old village Chief,” according to the HBC post journalist, who added that he was “looking smarter than usual, tho he has nearly lost power of speech. A medical doctor might have diagnosed minor strokes as the cause of this symptom, and perhaps this eventually caused his death. He was not a man of fame and great fortune. The only legacy he was able to leave behind was his family, some of whose descendants remain in Norway House to this day, while others have gone elsewhere. If any of them happens upon this short biography of his life, they will gain a greater appreciation for the life of one of their ancestors, who faced great physical challenges in his life, yet survived them all to live into old age.

Ochegun”, took sundries debt of 52 M[ade] B[eaver] in 1809 and paid 9 M.B. in cats [lynx] in 1811. He had a remaining debt of 43 M.B. (PAM, HBCA, B.239/d/153, fo. 11, York Factory Account Book, 1810-1811, mf. 1M680) From the state of Uchegun’s account, it was evident that he had not been able to pay his debt in two years, possibly because fur bearing animal were becoming scarce.

Uchecan” was among the hunters listed under “Indian debt” in 1812-1813 His son or stepson “Memmawatam” was also listed. Since the list is in alphabetical order, it is not possible to discern family relationships or groupings. (PAM, HBCA, B.154/d/1, fo. 17d, p. 15, Norway House Account Book, 1812/1813)

Robertson’s remarks were recorded in his diary about “ten miles above the Rock” on the Hayes River, Wednesday, 17th July 1816. Shortly after dawn, his party set off by canoe from “the Rock,” which was a few miles upriver from York Factory, and caught up with “a small Indian Canoe bound for Knee Lake” with “pieces of goods for the Depot.” After traveling together for awhile, they all “breakfasted about 12 OClock at the Rock Portage, where the Indians gummed their Canoe.” Based on his observation and interaction with these York Factory Homeguard, Robertson recorded his positive sentiments about them, adding that “these men could be advantageously employed in bringing goods from York to the Winipic, indeed they are a class of men that could be made extremely useful to the concern.” This advice seems to have been heard by the London Committee of the HBC, because the York Factory, Oxford House, and Norway House Cree served as trippers in large numbers back and forth along the Hayes River until the 1870s, when Winnipeg replaced York Factory as the transportation centre of the HBC. (PAM, HBCA, E.10/1, fo. 233d, p. 454, Colin Robertson, Diaries, Vol. 4, 1814-1817, mf. 4M121)

PAM, HBCA, E.10/1, fo. 261, p. 510, Colin Robertson, Diaries, Vol. 4, 1814-1817, entry for 9 Sep 1816, mf. 4M121.

On 17 July 1816, Robertson recorded that “Auld among a number of his meritorious acts as Governor of York, drove about fifty families of these industrious people into the arms of the North West Company at Cumberland house.” (PAM, HBCA, E.10/1, Colin Robertson, Diaries, Vol. 4, 1814-1817, mf. 4M121)

On his son Henry Budd’s scrip application, “Charles Curleyhead” was described as a “halfbreed, son of a French Canadian.” See National Archives of Canada (NAC) Record Group (RG), Department of the Interior (15), Dominion Land Administration (D), Dominion Lands Branch (II), Land Records, Half-Breeds and Original White Settlers (8), Applications of 1886-1901, 1906 made by North West Half-Breeds (c), v. 1338, Brecklaw-Budd, Claim 2122, Henry Budd, Norway House 23 August 1887, mf. C-14954.

That “son” was Muminawatum, although other evidence suggests that he was Uchegun’s step son. When “Isaac Muminawatum (asVRnUg)” was baptised in 1842, his age was given as 48 years. (PAM, R145, GR 1212, Item 10, Entry No. 407, Norway House Wesleyan Methodist Mission, 1840-1889)

See NAC, RG 15, D II (8) (c), v. 1338, Claim 2122, Henry Budd, Norway House 23 August 1887, mf. C-14954.

See PAM, HBCA, B.154/e/ 2, fo. 12, p. 20, Norway House District Report, 1823, by Joseph McGillivray, mf. 1M781.

Kenaw enemas was the only one of Uchegun’s three younger sons named in 1823, indicating that he was old enough to be considered a hunter in his own right, say 12-14 years of age. When Henry Budd applied for scrip in 1887, he gave 1811 as his year of birth, making him 12 in 1823, and a likely candidate. On the other hand, Kenaw enemas may have been the elder son, as yet unidentified, and Henry Budd the next son, Neneeniwapimousis.

Search under “Philip Budd” for details.

“Curley Head’s Stepson,” was mentioned on 4 September 1830 in the Norway House Post Journal. See PAM, HBCA, B.154/a/18, Norway House Journal, 1830/1831, mf. 1M107.

Mamenawatum was not identified as Uchegun’s son in 1838, even though his three “brothers” were. He did not take “Budd” as his surname, even when at least two of Uchegun’s three sons and two daughters did so. He was also much older than they and seems to have lived apart at times from Uchegun, such as in 1813/14 and 1814/15, when Uchegun’s name was on the Norway House Debt List, but Memenawatum’s was not (B.154/d/2a, and 2b). These factors suggest that Muminawatum was most likely of the four sons to be the stepson.

Uchegun may have been married twice, with children from both marriages, but one of his wives was evidently a widow with a son and perhaps daughters from a previous marriage.

PAM, HBCA, B.154/e/1, Report for Jack River Post, by James Sutherland, 1815.

Papapathakish” was definitely a son-in-law of Porcupine, and described as well in the Cumberland House records as a “son” of Wapusk, a Cree hunter originally from Fox Lake south of York Factory. Ques ques cah hoo was identified as a “son” of Mistenesk alias Badger, although he may have been a stepson or son-in-law. On the other hand, he had a connection with Porcupine, either as a son or a son-in-law. The evidence is inconclusive.

PAM, HBCA, B.154/d/2b, fo. 53d, Norway House Account Book, 1814/1815.

PAM, HBCA, B.154/d/3b, p. 36, Norway House Account Book, 1816/1817.

(PAM, HBCA, B.154/a/8, p. 5, Norway House Post Journal, 1819-1820, mf. 1M106)

PAM, HBCA, B.154d/5, fo. 59d/60, Norway House Account Book, 1817/1818.

PAM, HBCA, B.154/d/7, fo. 77d, Norway House Account Book, 1818/1819.

NAC, RG 15, D II, 8 (c), v. 1342, Cook-Cyr, Claim 2111, Sarah Crate, Norway House, 22 August 1887, mf. C-14961.

Witheewecappo, hired as a “boatman” with annual wages of £4.8.9, resided at “Jack River” during 1815/1816 and at “Manitoba” in 1816/1817. His contract expired in 1817. See PAM, HBCA, B.239/d/188, fo. 14d/15, York Factory General Accounts.

Kishecaethin, Huggemowappew [Price Isham], Thomas Isham, Wm. Leask [father-in-law of Price Isham?], Mantootackoos [brother-in-law of Thomas Isham]” were listed in that order in the Norway House Debt List. (PAM, HBCA, B.154/d/3b, p. 36, Norway House Account Book, 1816/1817, kept by James Kirkness, mf. 1M541). In a letter carried by Hookemowkeshick from Wm. H. Cook to Mr. Topping at Churchill, dated 24 September 1809, Cook enclosed a list of the debt accumulated by this family, namely, “Hookemowkeshick, 1st son, 2nd Son, 3rd Son, Wethewecappo, Shewacoochin, Keshecow ethin, Jammehagan, Thos. Ishams Son.” (PAM, HBCA, B.239/b/80, fo. 1, York Factory Correspondence, 1809-1810

For example, on 16 Jan 1816 at York Factory [fo. 109], "Weotassum & Casks brot white, red, grey fox, martens”; on 29 Apr 1816 [fo. 119d], "Omeetchick Cask & Weotassum arrived"; and on 30 Apr 1816 [fo. 120], "Omeetchick, Weotassum, Cask, Wilks, Omeetchicks wife [arrived]." See PAM, HBCA, B.239/a/124, York Factory Post Journal, 1812-1816, mf. 1M163.

Rebecca, wife of Isaac Maminawatum (asVRnUg) of Norway House, aged 37 years, was baptised at Norway House on 6 June 1842 by James Evans (PAM, R145, GR 1212, Item 10, Entry No. 408, Norway House Wesleyan Methodist Mission, 1840-1889), and married in a Christian ceremony to Isaac on 11 July 1842. (PAM, R145, GR1212, Item 13, No. 40, Oxford House Wesleyan Methodist Register of Marriages 1840-1893 [1840-1846 are marriages recorded at Norway House]) Their son Thomas Maminawatum (asVRnUg), was baptised at Norway House by James Evans on 15 September 1841 at 23 years of age. (PAM, R145, GR 1212, Item 10, Entry No. 394, Norway House Wesleyan Methodist Mission, 1840-1889)

PAM, HBCA, B.154d/7, fo. 77d, Norway House Account Book, 1818/1819, mf. 1M541.

PAM, HBCA, B.154/d/11, fo. 31, Norway House District Account Book, 1821/1822, mf. 1M541.

On her scrip application, Charlotte “Cask”, of St. Andrews, wife of William Ballendine, indicated that she was born in 1824, the “daughter of Cask, an Indian,” and “Betsy Johnson,” born 1824, residence St. Andrews. (NAC, RG 15, D II, 8, v. 1507, p. 18, mf. C-11878) Johnson was the surname of Betsey’s second husband William, whom she married after Cask’s death in 1829.

Elizabeth or Betsey Budd, whose second husband was William Johnston, identified her father as “James Budd,” when she applied for land scrip (NAC, RG 15, v. 1506, p. 4, mf. C-11878). This, of course, was incorrect, as “James Budd” was her first husband. It would have been more correct, if she had said “Charles Budd” because Charles was Curley Head’s first name. One must remember that her information was probably given in Cree, translated, then recorded in English. It could have been confused easily. When her daughter Charlotte provided information to the census taker in 1870, it was also incorrect. Her father was listed as “Charles Budd” instead of “James Budd.” Considering that both James’ and Betsey’s families adopted Budd as their surname, it is understandable that Charlotte confused her grandfather’s name with that of her own father, who died when she was only five years of age. (1870 Census of Red River Settlement, p. 188, No. 362)

On 22 April 1821, “Mistunesk and Uchegan with their young men and families, arrived from Poplar River where they had passed the winter.” See PAM, HBCA, B.154/a/9, fo. 24d, Norway House Post Journal, 1820-1821, kept by Alexander Kennedy, mf. 1M106. They had been since at least October 16, because “The Badgers son Quesquescoo [Quesques Kahoo] arrived from the Poplar River with a few furs and dried meat” on that day. (Ibid., fo. 8d) “Me me na wahun and Mistunesk’s son arrived from Poplar River with 120 lbs of fresh deer flesh” on 8 January 1821. (Ibid., fo. 15d)

After arriving at Norway House in April, the family remained in the vicinity, probably near Jack River. On May 14 [fo. 26d], “Mistunisks son and Young Isham arrived from the Playgreen Lake and brought us 30 split geese half dryed being obliged to carry them all the way, they could not bring them in the round state.” On May 28 [fo. 28d], “Mememuwatum and Markark arrived from the North end of the Playgreen Lake, they brought a little fresh Moose meat, and a few dried geese, also thirty Rat skins and a few goose quills.” (PAM, HBCA, B.154/a/9, Norway House Post Journal, 1820-1821, kept by Alexander Kennedy, mf. 1M106). Norway House was located near Warren’s Landing in 1821-1822, which is on the south side of Playgreen Lake. Today Norway House is located on the north side of Playgreen Lake and includes the site of the old Jack River post.

PAM, HBCA, B.154/a/10, p 12-13, Norway House Post Journal, 1820-1821, kept by Joseph McGillivray, mf. 1M106.

Ibid., p. 13.

Ibid. p. 53, 27 March 1823. McGillivray had already lost one or two families. The Old Badger had declined debt in the fall “from a desire of removing elsewhere.” McGillivray did not explain where Badger had gone, but it was probably in the same direction as Curley head – to the south and southwest of Norway House.

“Curly Head, Son and Cask arrived with their Skins – they have all paid their debt – and Some Skins coming to them.” Ibid., p. 70.

On 16 June 1825, “Badger & Party arrived from Big Fall,” indicating that they were either at Grand Rapids or had passed through on their way to Norway House. Later references to Badger and his family are unclear as to his location. On 13 Sep 1825, “Oche Kan’s Family went off to day to lime Stone River in which Neighbourhood he intends making his Winter Hunt.” See PAM, HBCA, B.154/a/11, fo. 3d and 11, Norway House Journal, 1825-1825, kept by John Peter Pruden, mf. 1M106.

Ibid, fo. 24.

Ibid., fo. 24d.

Ibid., fo. 25. This leaves one woman unidentified. Other members of Uchegun’s extended family were elsewhere. Although the debt list for 1826/1827 groups “Uchecan, Memenaway-tum, Piet away, Papath-uk-is, and Ques ques coo hoo” in that order, they were not all together in February. Cask and Quesquescoohoo were post hunters and trippers for the Company at Norway House that winter, and their families were fed by the Company store, although they were back with Uchegun on April 30. See fo. 30.


“Curly Head, Quesques coohoo, Cask, and Huggy Isham Arrived to Day with their Families.” Ibid, fo. 30.

PAM, HBCA, B.154/a/12, fo. 20, Norway House Post Journal, 1826-1827, kept by John McLeod, mf. 1M106.

PAM, HBCA, B.154/a/16, fo. 3, Norway House Post Journal, 1828-1829, mf. 1M107.

PAM, HBCA, B.154/a/18, fo. 44d, Norway House Post Journal, 1830/1831, mf. 1M107.

PAM, HBCA, B.154/a/20, fo. 34, Norway House Post Journal, 1831-1832, mf. 1M107.

PAM, HBCA, B.154/a/22, fo. 15 and 33d, Norway House Post Journal, 1832-1833, mf. 1M107.

Ibid., fo. 34d.

PAM, HBCA, B.154/a/25, p. 60, Norway House Post Journal, 1834-1835, mf. 1M107.

PAM, HBCA, B.154/a/26, p. 4, Norway House Post Journal, 1835-1836, mf. 1M107.

Ibid., pp. 25 and 55.

PAM, HBCA, B.154/a/28, fo. 11, Norway House Post Journal, 1835-1837, mf. 1M107.

Ibid, fo. 13.

Ibid., fo. 20.

Ibid, fo. 26.


PAM, HBCA, B.154/a/55, fo.17, Norway House Post Journal, 1852-1853.


Last updated: 4 April 2008


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