The Yorkton Branch of the Saskatchewan Genealogy Society will be holding their regular meeting on Tuesday, October 8 at 7:00 p.m. at the Western Development Museum. There will be a special presentation on how to use Legacy 7 to assist in genealogy research. Everyone is welcome to attend. The Yorkton Genealogy Society welcomes genealogy friends at all stages of research, whether you are just starting to trace your family tree or have done substantial research. There is always something new to learn about tracing the past, so everyone is welcome. For more information call Dave at 783-1093 or Glenn at 782-7969.
Location names are intertwined with people and history in Saskatchewan. A great reference book is “Geographic Names of Saskatchewan” by Bill Barry. This collection of Saskatchewan place names and their origins is both useful and interesting reading.
Take, for example, the small town of Willowbunch in south-east Saskatchewan. Perhaps known in more recent times as the home of Edouard Beaupre, the “Willowbunch Giant” who grew to be 8’ 3” tall, Willowbunch actually goes back to 1860 when the Metis established a wintering stop in the area called Coulee-Chapelle. In 1870, a trading post was set up by Jean-Louis Legare to serve the largely Metis population. The district was called talles de saules which translates into “bunch of willows”. Mr. Legare was the postmaster from 1898-99 and from 1902-1918.
He has a fascinating history, since he was one of the first Europeans to settle in the area that is now Saskatchewan. Bill Barry’s book states that “He acted as an advisor to Sitting Bull, the great Lakota(Sioux) chief, when he and his followers fled to Canada following the battle of Little Big Horn in December 1876. Denied a reserve in Canada, Sitting Bull returned to the United States five years later, a process greatly facilitated by Legare.”
The area also earns a place in Saskatchewan’s history for the historic site just west of Willowbunch, the Petroglyph’s of St.Victor, where ancient rock carvings survive south of St. Victor. (These haunting images were the inspiration for a stirring poem by local writer Doreen Austman, “The Petroglyphs (St. Victor)” published in “Still Writing After All These Years” by the Parkland Writers Alliance). The hamlet of St. Victor, established around 1919, was named after Fr. Victor Rahard, the first Roman Catholic priest to serve the area from 1914- 1918. An interesting aside is that Family Life Assurance Co. began in St. Victor by Joseph Dosithee Lalonde and his son Roger Lalonde. Closer to home, the town of Ituna bears an ancient Celtic name for a lake in Scotland called the Solway Firth. This name appears on maps going back almost 2000 years, and was even mentioned in a short story by Rudyard Kipling.
The name of this great research book again, “Geographic Names of Saskatchewan” by Bill Barry.