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Ojibway Family History

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"When the forest weeps, the Anishinabeg who listen will look back at the years. In each generation of Ojibway there will be those who will hear the si-si-gwa-d, who will listen and remember and pass it on to the children."
     "Ignatia Broker, Night Flying Woman"    

           Finlayson Family            Michano Family            Fortier Family              

First and foremost, the histories I have compiled are by no means meant to be the authoritative, absolute historical record. Tracing family genealogies is always a work in progress. Furthermore, because of the lack of written records in Indian settlements in the 1800's and early 1900s, it's not always possible to be 100% accurate. As a result, I have had to rely on cross referencing bits and pieces of the written record and then draw my own conclusions, which at times are only theories and hunches. However, I do believe there is enough verifiable information, both written and oral, to present a fairly accurate account of the history of our ancestors. Why do it some might ask? I have traveled all over Indian country and I truly believe that many of our people, especially our youth, continue to wander through life without a firm understanding of where there place in the world is, of who they are as Native people in a predominantly non-Native society. There's nothing new about this observation, and for generations elders and healers have pointed this out as one of the underlying causes of much of the despair and illness that plagues our communities. Most agree that before you can know where you are going in this world you need to know where you came from. So, in my own thirst for knowledge about my Ojibway heritage and ancestors, I have compiled these histories and I hope this information is helpful for others who may be searching for it as well. Chi-Miigwetch to Duncan Michano Jr., my Great Uncle Bob Michano Jr., my Great Aunt Mary Lees (nee Michano), my late Great Aunt Ethel Benoit (nee Michano), Aunts Joan and Sandra, and cousins Diane Richmond (nee Michano), Kenny Lees, Ken & Sharon and Dave & Carol Desmoulins, and all the others who have contributed information, photos, and memories to help pass our histories to the next generation.

                Fortier/Michano 30 Year Family Reunion


I was born in 1962 in Nipigon, Ontario, Canada and moved to the United States with my mother and four older siblings shortly after my father passed away in 1963. I am French Canadian on my mother's side and primarily French Canadian/Ojibway on my father's side. I am also Scottish on my father's side if I go back six generations. I am an enrolled tribal member with the Pic River Ojibway First Nation in Ontario, Canada. I grew up in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton after spending about 3 years in Mooseheart, the orphanage run by the Moose Lodge which sponsored our visas after our father died. I moved to northern California when I was nineteen to complete my college education. I attended San Francisco State University, obtaining a  BA in Radio Television Arts. In 1986 I began my career as a Lighting Director and Cameraman. I am married with one son, James Walter, and two stepsons, Mike and Russ. With a large Métis/Ojibway family in Ontario, including twelve aunts and uncles, my great aunt Mary Lees (nee Michano), my great uncle Bob Michano, many first cousins; and many second cousins -  I maintain strong family ties to my Métis/Ojibway heritage and culture. Download the Fortier/Michano/Finlayson Family Tree I did for my son James Walter Fortier "Jimmy."

My paternal grandmother, Doris Michano Fortier, pictured left at about age 17 (Ojibway) was born on the Ojibway Long Lac #58 Reserve. Her mother was Agnes Michano nee Finlayson (Ojibway). Agnes Michano was the daughter of Nick Finlayson (Ojibway from Long Lac #58 band) and Jane Finlayson nee Soulier (Ojibway, Jane's parents were from Garden River Reserve/Sault Ste. Marie and Mitchipicoten). Nick Finlayson's parents were John Finlayson (Métis/Oji-Cree from Long Lac) and Angelique "Geshagesic" (Morning Star) "Shebagijig" Finlayson (Oji-Cree from Rat Portage, now Kenora, Ontario). John Finlayson's father was Nicol Finlayson (the elder), a Scot from Loch Alsh Rosshire, Scotland. John's mother was from the Red River Settlement, Ojibway or Oji-Cree. I recently discovered that her name was  Nancy Ka-na Ka-she-waite-was  in an HBC archive record of Hector Finlayson's (John's brother) Scrip Application. I have been told that the Michano family at Pic River was originally Turtle Clan, although not all Michanos identify as Turtle Clan, and that the Desmoulin family was orignally Bear Clan. Robert Michano's father was Louis Michano, also spelled Meshango, Mishano, and Mishans in some archive records (Ojibway/Pic River), and his mother was Angelique Desmoulin (Ojibway/Pic River First Nation). The Desmoulin name has had several spellings in the records, Desmulon, Desmoulin, and Desmoulins are typical, but it is probably the same origin. The Desmoulins at Pic Mobert  may also originate from the same family. I read that Mobert was once a hunting and fishing camp for several families from Pic River who eventually stayed at Mobert and obtained there own band status. According to the book "Pic, Pulp, and People, A History of Marathon," the HBC Fur Post at Pic River permenently relocated to Montizambert on the White River, shortened to Mobert, in 1888. This explains why John Finlayson (and his wife Angelic) are burried there since John worked for HBC. The Michano family at Pic River goes way back and is very large. Another large Ojibway family which figures prominently in the Michano family by marriage is the Desmoulin family, mentioned above. Since 1995 I have researched the genealogy of my paternal grandmother, Doris Fortier nee Michano through extensive archives and records of the Hudson's Bay Company and Ontario Census records, as well as the birth, marriage and death records recorded by the late Father William Maurice of Thunder Bay. Download the Michano Family Tree. I am currently working on family trees for the Desmoulins (work in progress ) and Finlayson  (work in progress) families at Pic River, Mobert, and Long Lake #58 Ojibway First Nations as those families also figure prominently in our family tree. Click here for more information about the Métis people.

John Finlayson (may have been born at the Escabitchewan HBC Post near Martin Falls, ONT), seated in the Finlayson family 1895 photo below, was a Hudson's Bay Company Cooper and Postmaster. He is my Great-Great-Great Grandfather on my father's mother's side. He married Angelique Geshagesic ("Morning Star"- or "Whirling Sky") also "Shebagijig" who was Ojibway or Oji-Cree from Rat Portage, now Kenora. The little girl being held in the arms of her mother is Agnes Finlayson (Michano), my Great Grandmother. She is about 2 years-old here. Her father, Louis Victor Nicol Finlayson is to the right standing and her mother Jane (widow Anango "Star") Finlayson nee Souliere is holding her. They are my Great-Great Grandparents. John Finlayson's father was HBC Chief Factor Nicol Finlayson. John's mother was Nancy Ka-na Ka-she-waite-was  according to the Scrip Application document of John's brother Hector Finlayson. Some sources indicate John was born at the Escabitchewan HBC Post near Martin Falls, ONT, which is Cree territory, and other sources indicate he may have been born in Red River, where he was baptized. Back To Top

Nicol Finlayson (above left) came to Canada with his younger brother Duncan Finlayson (above center) from Lock-Alsh, Rosshire, Scotland in 1815 to work for the Hudson's Bay Company. Nicol (the elder) is my Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather. His parents were  Kenneth John Finlayson and Anne MacKenzie. Nicol and Duncan had  a sister, Anne Finlayson and three brothers Alexander, Rev. Roderick Finlayson, and Rev. John Finlayson.  Alexander Finlayson had at least one daughter, also named Anne Finlayson, and at least one son named Roderick Finlayson, born1818. (above right) Loch Alsh Ross Shire, Scotland. Roderick Finlayson also went to Rupert's Land in the service of the HBC in 1838. He eventually was the Chief Factor at Fort Victoria and has been referred to as one of the founders of Fort Victoria, B.C. Roderick Finlayson  had a native "country wife" before he married Sarah Work, daughter of Chief Factor John Work, and a Métis woman herself. Her mother was  Josette Legace' who had eleven children with John Work. Roderick published several memoirs and left behind his wife (Sarah Work Finlayson) and eleven children when he died in Victoria, B.C. in 1892. In Roderick Finlayson's autobiography there is also a reference to his cousin John MacKenzie, also in the services of the HBC. This is probably John George Mackenzie, the son of Anne Finlayson (sister of Nicol, Duncan, and Alexander [Roderick's father] Finlayson) who married Hector MacKenzie. The Finlayson and MacKenzie families intermarried quite often. Nicol, Duncan, Alexander, and Anne Finlayson's mother was Anne MacKenzie. John George MacKenzie married Sarah Christian Easton and they had seven children: Ann Mary, Roderick, Eliza, Margaret, Robert, Sarah, and Duncan Finlayson MacKenzie, named after his uncle Duncan Finlayson, Nicol's brother.

As for Nicol and Duncan Finlayson, after a brief apprenticeship, they both eventually rose high in the ranks of the HBC eventually becoming Chief Factors working throughout Rupert's Land. Duncan married Isobel Graham Simpson (at left), the sister in law and cousin of Sir George Simpson, Gov. of Rupert's Land, and was himself the Governor of Assiniboia (a territory within Rupert's Land comprising parts of what today is Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Northern Minnesota) from 1839-1844. Duncan and his wife Isobel Finlayson had no children. Nicol was stationed at Albany Factory on James Bay, Moose Factory, Lac Suel, and Ungava Bay where he established Fort Chimo among the Inuits. Later he was stationed at Michipicoten, York factory, and various HBC districts near Rainy Lake, Saskatchewan, Sawn River, and Cumberland. His promotion to Chief Factor in 1846 entitled him a seat on the Council of the Northern Department of Rupert's Land. Nicol and Duncan both spent considerable time in the Red River Settlement, which today is Winnipeg, Manitoba. Nicol was given an Indian name by the Ojibway and Cree Indians he traded furs with, it was Mis-qui Kiweninne, which may translate as "man from the Red Earth." Duncan's travels took him as far west as what today is British Columbia and East to Washington, D.C.. However, the rigors of life in Indian Country took a toll on the European born Isobel, who's journal of venturing from England to Fort Gary in Red River with her new husband Duncan Finlayson was published in the The Beaver Magazine. In 1848 Duncan returned with his wife to Lachine, near Montreal where they lived with the Simpsons for a time before retiring from the company and returning to London. Duncan died in London on July 25, 1862. Nicol died in Nairn, Scotland on May 17, 1877. There is a vast amount of information about Duncan, Nicol, and Roderick Finlayson on the Internet including biographies on the Hudson's Bay Company website, as well as on several sites dealing with Canadian history and the Fur Trade. If you go to Victoria, BC be sure to find the historical marker where the original Fort Victoria once stood. The street is marked with plaques featuring the names of the original HBC men, including Roderick Finlayson.

Nicol Finlayson left many children in Canada. His first "wife" was an unidentified Native woman from Red River, probably either Cree or Oji-Cree according to HBC Archives and baptism records from the St. Peter's Anglican Church Registry in Winnipeg, Manitoba. However, John's brother Hector's Scrip Application lists their mother as Nancy Ka-na Ka-she-waite-was. Some sources indicate that John may have been born while Nicol was stationed at the Escabitchewan HBC Post in the Albany Dist., which is Cree territory, although he was baptized at Red River. They were married "in the fashion of the country," without Clergy, and had three sons, Hector b.1821, John b. 1823, and Benjamin b.1827. Benjamin died at age seven. Nicol later had a second "country wife." Her name was Anne (Nancy) Davis, sometimes spelled "Davies", a Métis woman, probably Ojibway or Oji-Cree, also from Red River. Anne Davis had a brother named George and a sister named Mathilda Anne. Her parents were John Davis and an Indian woman also named Anne Davis. Nicol Finlayson and Anne Davis had one son; Joseph b. 1830, and one daughter, also named Anne (Nancy) b.1831. John, Hector and Joseph all went on to follow their father and work for the HBC until the late 1800s. Nicol later officially married Elizabeth Kennedy who was the half Cree daughter of Alexander Kennedy, another HBC Chief Factor, and a Cree woman named Agatha's "Bear" from the Northwest Territories. Sir George Simpson conducted their wedding ceremony. There are several references to Duncan Nicol Finlayson in the HBC archive letters of Letitia Hargrave, nee MacTavish. There is also considerable mention of the Finlayson brothers in the book Many Tender Ties. There is a concise summary of Nicol's HBC correspondence's, including some personal information regarding his various native wives and children in the Hundson's Bay Company Record Society's publication "N. Quebec & Labrador Journals and Correspondence 1819-35" of which I have a hardcover copy. It is interesting to note that as a young man in his early twenties, when Nicol began his HBC service he initially received some negative reviews from his immediate HBC supervisors. However, he quickly learned to speak Cree fluently and as he gained experience as a trader his reviews improved and he began to rise in the ranks.Click here for a PDF copy of Nicol Finlayson's bio from Hudson's Bay Record Society Vol. XXIV.

Nicol and Elizabeth (also known as Betsy) had two twin sons, Roderick and Kenneth and one daughter Mary, pictured  above. Elizabeth died at age 31 of Dropsy, while the two boys were in England attending school. Nicol buried her and took Mary, two years old at the time, with him back to the Red River Settlement.  It is also interesting to note that Duncan and Nicol did not see each other after they parted ways in 1815 until Nicol was named Chief Factor in 1837 and traveled to Moose factory for a meeting of the Southern Council of the HBC. Nicol eventually retired from the HBC and returned to Nairn, Scotland. His daughter Mary went with him and married a Scot, James  Dunbar Lamb and had several children. There is no trace of his two sons in England, however, a letter from Nicol Finlayson to his son John indicated that one of the two boys returned to Rupert's Land in the "service of the company," and briefly worked for the HBC in Victoria, B.C., before taking up farming in Victoria. If that's is true then there may be descendants of Nicol Finlayson living in the Vancouver area today. There are certainly descendants of Chief Factor Roderick Finlayson and Sarah Work living there today. There is also an interesting account in the Beaver Magazine of Chief Factor Roderick Finlayson buying the first gold for 11 lbs. an ounce after it was discovered by the Indians near Fort Victoria. Chief Factor Roderick Finlayson wrote his own autobiography available on-line in microform. There is also a biography about Lord Selkirk by a Roderick Finlayson, although I'm not sure if it's the same man.

Mary Finlayson married a Banker/Lawyer in Nairn, Scotland named James Dunbar Lamb. They had at eight  children who survived infancy: Roderick, David, William and Isobel Finlayson pictured above far right (married a Mackenzie). James Alexander Lamb was later connected with the National Bank of Scotland in the early 1900s. Now this gets a bit weird, but Isobel Finlayson Lamb married her cousin, Nicol Finlayson Mackenzie. His parents were Anne MacKenzie Finlayson and Lieut. Roderick MacKenzie. Anne Mackenzie Finlayson's parents were none other than Rev. John Finlayson and Christina Hoyes. That's the same Rev. John Finlayson that is the brother of Nicol and Duncan Finlayson of the the HBC. So, what goes around comes around. A descendant of Nicol Finlayson's Métis daughter Mary Lamb nee Finlayson, named William Lees (not the late husband of my Great Aunt Mary Lees) from Scotland provided most of the Scottish origin information on the Finlayson family as well as some of the pictures. Over the years I have been contacted several times about a Rev. John Finlayson, also originating from Lach Alsh Rosshire, who emigrated to either Montreal or Ontario and raised his family there. There is a possibility that this might be Nicol and Duncan's brother, but the information is only circumstantial at this point. Back To Top



Finlaysons of Long Lake  and Pic River bands of Ojibway

John Finlayson and Angelique Geshagesic Shebagijig Finlayson had six children, including my great-great-grand father Louis Victor Nicol Finlayson (known as Nicol or Nick) b. circa mid 1860s, pictured at left wearing the hat with his wife Jane, his parents, and eight of his children, my great grandmother Anges Finlayson among them. Also pictured is L.V. Nicol's nephew Ellis "Felix" Desmulons, son of his deceased sister Angelique Marie "Mary" and her deceased husband Noel Samuel Desmulons. Noel was the s/o Isador Desmulons and Marie Betsy Onitawadjiwanok. Isador was a Frenchman, the first Desmulons in Pic River and was adopted by the tribe.  Nicol had three siblings that died in infancy, Anne, Mansey, and Apolline. Nicol had two surviving older sisters, Angelique Marie "Mary" and Elizabeth.  Elizabeth married HBC man Thomas Reynolds. Mary actually worked as John's Clerk for the HBC at the Long Lac Post, near Geraldton, ONT. According to the 1871 Algoma-Pic Census, the three children were still living with their parents at Pic River at that time, so John must have been stationed at Pic River in 1871. There are also several letters written by John's Scottish father Nicol Finlayson to John after Nicol retired in Narin, Scotland. Download Letters

Although birth certificates and other records simply were not kept in Indian settlements or in the Canadian bush back in the 1800s and early 1900s, the HBC Archives and burial records, as well as baptism records have been instrumental in providing the information here. According to these records as well as the Ontario 1871 Census, John Finlayson was of "Native Origin." It is interesting to note that during this time period, it was very common for mixed-blood people in Canada to deny their Indian identity if possible, particularly those of Scottish and English origin. The French speaking Métis, on the other hand identified strongly with their Native blood ties and culture. The Government's systematic policies of acculturation, assimilation and termination added fuel to the fire of already existing European racism and bigotry towards Canada's First People. It was common for a mixed blood Native working in the dominant white world to make every effort to shed his Indian heritage. John's father, Nicol, was an Elder of the Free Church of Scotland. In his will, he left most of his estate to his Church in his small Parish in Scotland. All of his children were baptized at the St. Peter's Mission in Red River. The church is still in Winnipeg today.

It is clear by the photo above that the Finlayson family was nearly fully assimilated into white culture by 1890. Note the clothing; and that the only Ojibway cultural reference being the cradle board with the smallest child. It's obvious from this picture that as much as they may have tried to fit into the dominant white world, the Finlayson family was physically "Indian." The original caption for this photo identifies them as an "Indian Family." John and Angelique are buried next to each other in the Mobert cemetery. John and Angelique have gravestones purchased by the HBC. Angelique's name is written as "Angelique Shebagiig." This surprised me becasue my late great aunt Ethel Michano Benoit wrote to me that Angelique's Indian name was "Geshagesic," which most likely is an Oji-Cree name, and translates as either "Morning Star" or "Whirling Sky," depending on if you lean more towards Ojibway or more towards Cree in the translation. Mii-gwetch to Daine Richmond for taking the photo of their headstones at left when she was at the Mobert cemetery. My photos are the close ups taken in July 2011.

My great-great grandfather was Louis Victor Nicolas Finlayson pictured in this photo above standing left, from about 1910 at Long Lake #58 (there's some uncertainy about who is who in the photo).  He was an employee of the HBC brought in under his father’s (John) sponsorship. He was born at Fort William and entered the HBC service at Longlac, ONT (Long Lake #58) where his father served for 18 years. Nick Finlayson worked as a laborer and trader at Red Rock and voyaged as a guide in the York boats to Heron Bay (Pic River). Three boats of two and a half tons each were used and two trips were made each summer. Nick Finlayson was reported to have killed the first moose and red deer in the Montizambert (Mobert) district (from HBC Archives). Nick was taken by his oldest son Emile Finlayson to the hospital in Port Arthur (Thunder Bay) in 1931 after a short illness. He did not recover and passed away there and was burried in the Long Lake #58 band old island cemetery.

In August, 2011 I traveled to Long Lake #58 and
Ginoogaming First Nation, and searched for Nick and Jane's headstones (presumably the HBC provided headstones for them like they did for Nick parents burried at Pic Mobert). I have no record of when Jane died. With my dad's second cousin Wes Luloff, we searched the overgrown, abandoned island cemetery but coud not find Nick or Jane's headstones. I learned later that decades ago, Ontario Hydro dams up river caused sever flooding of Long Lake and that the eastern tip of the island washed away probably taking many graves into the lake. We did manage to find headstones for Nick and Jane's son John Finlayson and daughter Flora Echum, nee Finlayson. John and Flora were my great grandmother Agnes' siblings.

Nick Finlayson, (pictured with wife Jane at left approx. 1924) was previously married before he married Jane Soulier (also spelled Souliere and Soulieres) [Agnes's mother]. It goes like this:

There was  an Ojibway man named John Anango (also named Wakadji) b. 1821 who married a woman named  Marie, no other info on her so I assume she was Native and not baptized. John Anango was not baptized until 1866, so he obviously was also probably a full  blood. Interestingly, they were married the same month/year, so they probably  had to get baptized before they could get married in the church. They had  several children, including a daughter named Elizabeth (Betsie) b. 1860. Got  that? 1860. That means they were having children before they got married in  the church, before they were baptized, basically meaning they were cohabiting  and having children before they were Christianized in 1866.

Nick  Finlayson's first wife was Betsie Anango from above, they were married Oct. 20, 1879.  Before I get to that, there's more about John Anango and that is interesting to point out becasue he figures prominently in the history of Pic River families.  John Anango remarried twice after his first wife  Marie must have died. First he remarried or had a child out of wedlock with a  Isabelle (Elizabeth) Mitis (could that be Metis?) no date given. I suspect they  were not married because she was 40 years younger than him and she is listed  as marrying a David Desmulons in 1885. Anyway, John Anango and Isabelle had a son  also named John Anango-Mitis (notice he caries his mother's maiden name as  well) b. July, 1876, Ma. Marie Madeline Desmulons 1896, d. Dec. 1, 1938. Then  on Sept. 24, 1877 John Anango Sr. married again, this time legit, to none other  than Jane Soulier (Agnes' future mom).

John Anango Sr.'s trail ends here with no info about his  death. But keep in mind Jane Soulier, his third wife, is probably about 40  years younger than him. So she is going to out live him for sure. Jane's birth date is not given here, but she  was baptized on July 8, 1860 and her parents were Antoine Souliere of Drummond Island, Michigan near the Sault St. Marie band in Michigan, and Mary Louise Shellin of Mitchipicoten, no date for Jane's death given. The Souliere family goes way back to the 1700s, one of the many Voyager families intermarrying with native women. Antoine Souliere’s parents were Jean Baptiste Souliere and Angelique Bousquet, they may have been born in the USA, La Point, or Madeline Island,WI and later living in Garden River. Census records indicate they were "Indian" (possibly moving from the La Pointe, Wisconsin area to Garden River). The Souliere surname has been in Sault Ste. Marie/Garden River since at least 1818. Furthermore, I have seen various spellings of Jane Souliere’s surname, Soulier, Souliere and Soulieres. There are descendants of Antoine Souliere and Mary Louise Schellin (d/o of William Schellin Sr. and brother of William Schellin Jr. of Mitchipicoten) living today in the Mobert and Mitchipicoten areas since Jane had fifteen siblings (Jane was the 7th oldest): 1. Marie (ma. Nicholas Bouchard) 2. Jean Baptiste 3. Angelique (ma. Isaiah Mijakibinens b/o Jossette Mijakibinens) 4. William 5. Antoine Jr. (ma. Helen Saunders) 6. John (ma. Agatha McKay and Charlotte Corbiere) 7. Jane 8. Jean 9. Moses 10. Samuel Noel 11. Sophia (ma. Cyrille Charest) 12. Isabelle Elizabeth 13. Susan (ma. William Perrault) 14. Louise Veronique Marguerite 15. William 2nd (ma. Mary Bernadette Boissonneau b/o John who ma. Agnes's sister Eliza.

Getting back to Nick Finlayson and his first wife Betsie (John Anango  Sr.'s daughter from his first marriage), they had one child named Stephen  Finlayson b. Oct. 1, 1879, and he married Agnes Godchere on Aug. 12, 1900.  Don't know when Betsie died, but for some reason Nick Finlayson remarried on  April 24 1885 to none other than Jane Soulier, widow of John Anango Sr. That  means that Nick Finlayson, Agnes Finlayson's father, was first married to John  Anango Sr.'s daughter Betsie, and then shortly after to John Anango Sr.'s very  young widow Jane Soulier. Now I know what the meaning is to a reference on  Nick Finlayson's Treaty Pay Ticket that says that Jane Soulier was  transferred upon marriage to Nick from John Anango's Treaty Pay Ticket to  Nick's. I always thought that John Anango must have been either a first  husband or father, and so now we know it was a first husband. What has been  throwing me off is the retention of her maiden name Soulier in the records I  had. Now we know it was her maiden name but that her first  married name was Anango. Anango translates in English as Star, so John Anango Sr. was probably the origin of the Starr family that resides at Pic River today.

(Left) Emile Finlayson bottom right with wife Clara nee Desmulons at Long Lac skinning a hide (Algoma Univeristy Archives). (Right) Felix "Ellis" Desmoulin, wife Jane nee Wynn and elders at Mobert, 1937 (Algoma University Archives). Ellis was adopted by John and Angelique Finlayson (his grandparents) when his parents Samuel Desmoulin and Marie Finlayson died. Marie was Nick Finlayson's sister. Ellis is seated at bottom right of the Finlayson family portrait above from 1895, about 11 at the time. His brothers Ignace and Narcisse were also adopted by John and Angelique, they were still lving with Angelique according to the Ontario 1901 Census, after John had passed away.

Children of Nick Finlayson a
nd  Jane Soulier
1. Emile Finlayson                     b. Nov. 7 1885            Ma. Clara Desmulons Feb. 20, 1909 d. ?
2. Sara Finlayson                      b.  Feb. 18, 1887         Ma. Abraham Desmulons July 25, 1904 d. Feb. 28, 1939
3. Elisabeth (Eliza) Finlayson      b. March 1, 1888         Ma. John Boissonneau d. ?
4. Louise Finlayson                    b. May 19. 1889          Ma. Elie  O'Nabigon Aug. 28, 1908 d. ? 2nd Ma. Peter Gagnon
5. Flora Finlayson                      b. 1890                      Ma. Henry Eachum June  27, 1908 d. ?
6. Catherine Finlayson               b. May 25, 1892          Ma. Eli Mijakibinens  (Adopted by Louis Michano) d. ?
7. Agnes Finlayson                    b. Dec. 5, 1893           Ma. Robert Michano July 4,  1921 (son of Louis Michano).
8. John Finlayson                      b. Feb 7, 1895             Ma. Catherine  Dick Jan. 9, 1920 d. ?
9. Duncan Finlayson                  b. Dec. 2, 1896           Ma. ? D. march  16, 1981 (two years before Agnes)
10. Michel Finlayson                  b. Jan. 6, 1901            Ma.  Barbra Desmulons date unknown, d. April 15, 1983.

In the photo to the left is Louise Nabigon Gagnon nee Finlayson (left) and Agnes Michano nee Finlayson (second from left) circa 1927, visiting the Michanos and Desmoulins at Pic River. Third child from left is my great aunt Ethel Benoit nee Michano. Louise and Eli Nabigon (sometimes spelled Onabigon) had six children before Eli passed away. Anna "Ina" Finlayson, Joseph Nabigon, Edmond Nabigon, Duncan Onabigon, Clement Onabigon, and Jerome Onabigon. The following story was published in "Pic, Pulp and Paper: A History of the Marathon District." It is a childhood recollection told by my great grandmother Agnes and her sister Louise.

"In the late years of the 19th century the Indians still gathered in the summer at the Pic and at Heron Bay, bringing their packs of choice furs to await the supply vessels. Two sisters, Mrs. Agnes Michano and Mrs. Louise Gagnon of Heron Bay, describe vividly the trips they made with a flotilla of canoes under their father's charge from the post at Long Lac to Heron Bay each summer, as late as 1895. They would camp "near the railroad bridge" until the last boat of the season had sailed away, when they started back up river. Coming downstream the trip took only two weeks, but the return journey, nearly a month. Though the canoes were large, the trip held many hazards.

"Mrs. Michano tells how, one fall, the lead canoe, carrying her parents, three sisters, two men and herself, struck rocks at the first rapids in the river and broke in half. The baby was in a cradle board with a hoop and her mother hooked an arm through the hoop while making her way to shore. One of the men fished out of the water what he thought to be a pack. The "pack" turned out to be the next youngest child. All got safely to land and a fire soon warmed and dried them. Men from the following canoes helped repair the broken craft and all proceeded on their way."

In the photo at left is Eliza Finlayson, wife of John Boissonneau, center, one of Agnes (Finlayson) Michano's sisters, taken at the Treaty Pay Day at Longlac probably around 1923. John Boissonneau was born Feb. 19, 1888 at Garden River First Nation and died on Jan. 1, 1971 at Long Lac, and he was the s/o Francois Boissonneau & Marie Corbiere. Eliza and John had no children of their own but I have been told they did adopt some children.

Nick's first son Stephen Finlayson married Agnes Godchere, and their children were Jean Baptiste, John Hugo, Marie (who married Gilbert Sabourin another old prominent family at Pic River and later Pic Mobert which connects with the Finlayson, Michano, and Desmoulins families over the generations), and Agnes Isobelle (who married first to Luison Desmulons and then to Ernest Odikwam or Otikwam, which later became Twance. Nick Finlayson's wife Jane Souliere had two sisters who married into the Bouchard family in Nipigon.

Agnes' sister Sarah married Abraham Desmulons. The picture on the left from Mobert, 1957 is of their daughter Alice, who married Patrick Sabourin, s/o Albert Sabourin, another family from Pic River, and later Mobert, that goes way back.

There are several archival back issues of The Beaver Magazine that mention Nick Finlayson. The Dec., 1920 issue has a paragraph about the near drowning accident of the more than 60 year-old, 220 pound Nick Finlayson when his dogs and sleigh broke through the season's new ice. His son (probably Emile) raced to get a canoe to save him but when he returned Nick Finlayson had somehow managed to pull himself out of the freezing water and climb the icy bank. The Aug-Sept, 1921 issue has a short article describing the scene at Long lac's Treaty Payment Day Celebration with families from Pic River/heron Bay, and Mobert coming to visit their relatives. It also mentions the arrival of John Goodwin to replace the retiring Nick Finlayson after forty-three years service in the HBC. The March, 1924 issue has a nice article about Nick's long service with the HBC and mentions his notoriety as the first man to kill a moose and
a red deer in Montizambert (Mobert). The article mistakenly refers to Nick as a "white man," when he more appropriately should have been identified as a mixed blood or Métis. Imagine my surprise though to see the picture that accompanies the article, what a discovery.

Several people have commented that my great-grandmother Agnes "looks white." While she does have a small amount of  Scottish blood from the original Nicol Finlayson, he was her great-grandfather three generations back. I did not want to bring this up but I feel I should set this straight for those who have asked me about her. If you look at the Finlayson family photo from 1895 at the top of the Finlayson section above, Agnes is the little girl being held by her mother Jane. Compare Agnes in the pictures from when she was much older. What do you see? She turned white? As one of my relatives at Pic River said, she had "white man's disease." Or in medical terms it is called Vitiligo. 

In the newspaper clipping at left from 1960, Agnes is shown receiving her treaty pay money from the Indian Agent from Indian Affairs. Agnes spoke Ojibway fluently and lived until 1983, the year I moved to California from Illinois. I have been told that she was well liked by everyone who knew her in Coldwell, and Pic River. When my grandmother Doris died in 1964 some of my aunts went to live with their grandma Agnes at Coldwell/Pic River for a while. I have also been told that because of her love of children, everyone called her "ninoshe" which means Auntie, whether they were related or not. Her big brother Emile, the oldest of Nick and Janes' children, passed away in 1974 at age 88 and is buried at Long Lac. In his early years, Emile was also employed by the HBC. Later he became the first mailman for the Long Lac band.


Hector Finlayson (Brother of John & Joseph) & Descendents

As was mentioned above, John's brothers Hector and Joseph also followed their father's footsteps and worked in the service of the HBC. Because of their mixed Native blood, however, the three sons were relegated to laborer and clerical positions, never rising in the ranks of the company as their father and uncle did. Hector Finlayson was a boat builder and carpenter stationed in the Saskatchewan, Swan River, Cumberland, Red River (during the 1870 Métis Rebellion), Rat Portage and Fort Frances districts. He died in Rat Portage (Kenora) in 1901. Hector Finlayson first married a woman named Lisette, probably in the fashion of the country, as she was either Métis or Indian probably Keewatin NWT, where Hector was stationed at the time. They had three daughters, Eliza, Anne (Nancy), and Susan. All that is known is that Eliza was b. Nov. 15, 1848 Keewatin Northwest Territories, and married a James Bird, b. Jan. 28,1848 Keewatin NWT (could be the Métis son of James Bird Jr, "Jimmy Jock," and the grandson of HBC Chief Factor James Curtis  Bird who retired in Red River Colony). Anne or Nancy Finlayson  was a year older, born in 1847 also in Red River Settlement and first married to William Sanderson circa 1860.  She then married a Eugene Smith, Métis, also from Red River and possibly the son of Donald Smith who figured prominently, yet treacherously for the Métis, in the 1869-70 Métis Rebellion in Red River. Anne or Nancy married a third time to James Louis Phillip d’Arcis  b. ? d. ? They had at least one child, a son, James Louis Phillip d’Arcis II,  who married  Maria Stevenson from St. Peter’s Band (Indian) and had at least one child, a daughter, Sarah (Sadie), who married Oscar Jonasson, and they had at least one child, a daughter, Rainey Gaywish (nee) Jonasson, living today in Winnipeg. Susan Finlayson was born circa 1854 and later married a Pierre Guimon. For reasons unknown, Hector was remarried to Sarah Brass  b. ca. 1825  d. ? Métis Red River or Ft. Francis, d/o Peter Brass Sr b. 1794 & Susan Roy Comtois. They had twelve children, Sarah, Margaret, Nicol Duncan (died in infancy), Hector McKenzie (died in infancy), Nicol, John, Frances, Peter, Jessie, Elizabeth, and Benjamin. Hector's sons Peter Finlayson and Benjamin Finlayson both worked for the HBC. 
Peter Finlayson (pictured above left) was area manager at Fort Alexander, Manitoba; Pine Falls, Manitoba; Missanabie, Ontario; and finally at Dinorwic, Ontario. Peter Finlayson married Mary Young, and Benjamin married her sister Elizabeth Young. Mary and Elizabeth Young’s parents were John Young and Magna/Maggie Ellen Thompson, previously known as Mary. John Young - born 12 May 1844 in the parish of Dunrossness, Scotland, s/o John Young Sr.  John Young arrived in Canada via York Factory, Hudson Bay around 1870- Magna's birth date around 1857 or 1860- Magna was apparently taken from her Indian name which was Muhh-Qo oru. Her father's name was Lacoshegan or Tucoshegan (HBC Archives)- Magna Lacoshegan was also known as Mary but her Christian name given her was Ellen Thompson. John Young died March 24, 1904 and Magna or Ellen Thompson (Helen Young) remarried to Charles Flett of Rainy River or Kenora in 1907. Peter and Mary had several children; Peter, Elizabeth, John, Harry, Nellie, Sidney and Edith who married Edward Fawcett (pictured above). Their children and grandchildren still live near Dryden, Kenora, and Thunder Bay today. Benjamin Finlayson was a buyer and clerk for the HBC in Kenora (formerly Rat Portage). He was later transferred to Fort Osnaberg, then to Dinorwic, Ontario, and then to Brunswick Post, Peterbell, Elsas, and finally to Long Lac and Hornepayne in the 1920s. He later became the Indian Agent for the department of Indian Affairs at Kenora. Benjamin Finlayson married Elizabeth Young, Mary Young's sister. They had four children, Hector, Alexander (Sandy), Mayme and Eva. Alexander Finlayson married Emma Slater in 1940 and they had six children; Reg, Ben, Ron, Doug, Alice, and Sandra.

 Joseph Finlayson (Brother of John & Hector) & Descendents

Joseph Finlayson was a carpenter, boat builder, postmaster, and clerk for the HBC in charge of Guard Post at Fort Pelly. Joseph Finlayson was a son of Chief Factor Nichol Finlayson. He joined the Hudson's Bay Company as an apprentice clerk and served in the MacKenzie river District. He rose through the various ranks to Chief Clerk. Finlayson was Clerk in charge of the Guard Post in 1863; and, later in 1867, he was in charge of the Touchwood Hills Post. Finlayson's daughter, Nancy Ann, married William Sandison/Sanderson during the Spring of 1864 at Touchwood Hills Post. It was reported that Joseph Finlayson was fluent in several Indian dialects, could speak and write French, and could converse in Gaelic. Joseph Finlayson died in 1901 at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He was stationed in the Saskatchewan, English River, and Swan River districts. He received Scrip land after the 1885 Métis Rebellion and settled in Prince Albert, Sask. where he was the Indian Agent, for the Department of Indian Affairs. He died in Prince Albert, Sask. in 1901. Joseph Finlayson married Flora Bell, the daughter of John Bell (another Hudson Bay Co. Factor) and Annie Dease, a Métis woman born on the McKenzie River in 1836. They had twelve children: Harriet Ann Louisa, Marguerite, Christine Catherine (died in infancy), Peter Warren, Catherine Helen (died in infancy), Flora, (died in childhood), John Nicol (died in childhood), Mathilda Anne (died in infancy), Caroline Christie ( died at 15), Florence Bell, and twins that died at birth. Peter Warren Finlayson married Delia Bird. They had five children; Alex, Flora, Margaret, Vicki, and Harriet. Alex Finlayson married Bella Sanderson and they had five children; Carrie, Grace, Emma, Flora, and Ross, who still live in Prince Albert, Sask. Back To Top

"In the time of the Seventh Fire New People will emerge. They will retrace their steps to find what was left by the trail. Their steps will take them to the Elders who they will ask to guide them on their journey. But many of the Elders will have fallen asleep. They will awaken to this new time with nothing to offer. Some of the Elders will be silent because no one will ask anything of them. The New People will have to be careful in how they approach the Elders. The task of the New People will not be easy.

"If the New People will remain strong in their quest the Water Drum of the Midewiwin Lodge will again sound its voice. There will be a rebirth of the Anishinabe Nation and a rekindling of old flames. The Sacred Fire will again be lit.

- The Seventh Fire, as told by Ojibway Elder Eddie Benton Banai Back To Top

(Left) My Great Grandmother Agnes Michano (nee Finlayson), son Raymond, and her husband Robert Michano Sr.
(Right) Agnes, Niece Ina & her husband Andrew Desmulons, and Agnes's son Gilbert
A word about name spellings. I am using the spellings as they appear in the original documents. As time passed the spellings of names changed which is reflected in the Michano Family Tree that I have compiled over the past 15 years. Also, names in brackets and parenthesis are maiden names where indicated or traditional Ojibway names. The  exact source of the Michano surname is still uncertain, however there is a record of an Indian at Pic River named Mishinnor, b. 1837, age 34 in the 1871 Ontario Census for Pic River. He had a wife, name unknown, age 25, b. 1846, two daughters at the time, names and ages unknown, and a son, six months old in 1871, name unknown. This predates any Michano, or Meshango, or Mishano listings in other sources, including Father William Maurice’s genealogy records for Pic River.

According to genealogy records from Fr. William Maurice of Thunder Bay, ONT, the  Michano family name can be traced as far back as Pierre or Peter Michano Sr. Parents unknown. I have done searches in various Ontario census databases and the name Michano or Mishano never comes up prior to the Michanos at Pic River. This leads me to conclude that the surname Michano is likely the English version of an original Ojibway name, the most likely being the name “Meshango”, translation unknown, which was recorded as Louis Michano’s last name on a Treaty Pay List record for Robert Michano Sr. It is likely that Pierre Michano Sr. had a sister listed as  Jane Michano {Motens}, {Omotens}, or {Modens}. Nothing is known about her or the name variations. Her birth and death dates are unknown as of now. She was baptized on July 2, 1876. She married a John Minawasinons on probably the same date as her baptism. John Minawasinons was born in 1846, parents unknown. The first Mishano, Michano in Father Maurice's records was Pierre (Peter), born 1842, died 1887, married Marie Isawano (Sabourin), possibly the daughter of Albert Sabourin and an Ojibway woman.

Peter (Pierre) Michano and Marie (Mary) Isawano (Sabourin) had four children:

1. Marie (Mary) ma. Jacob Lesage, of Pays Plat s/o Joseph Lesage and Piljigijigok,
    then ma. Antoine Pikwange {Moses, Mowis} s/o Pikwange Moses &  Louise Monsokwe
2. Helen Michano ma. Jean Batissens {Ninsagla-Osawamindimoie} s/o Osawamindimoie & Wabishkingwe,
    then ma. Francois Manitobinens – Gawitagabaw s/o Manitobinens &  Madeline Nonons,
then ma. Charles Trappier.
3. Peter Michano Jr. died 1885 at age 15
4. Louis Michano (see below)

Michano and Mijakibinens                                                  

Duncan Michano Jr assisted me in putting this information together. As in many Indian communities over the years, as children became orphaned, or wives became widows, the children were taken in by other families or relatives in the community, and in many cases of course children were adopted when their mothers remarried. The Pic River community is no different in this regards. One of the oldest Ojibway families names recorded in Father Maurice's records is the Mijakibinens family. Toussaint Mijakibinens was born Dec. 26, 1861. His father is unknown, but his mother was Josette Mijakibinens, unwed or widowed. Toussaint was raised by Jacob Pishke (Mitosh) when Jacob married Josette Mijakibinens. Jossette's parents were David Mijakibinens, parents unknown, and Jeanneatte (Charlotte) Okassiatikweamik-Ogobeatikokimokwe, parents unknown. Toussaint Mijakibinens married Angelique Desmulons, daughter of Isador Desmulons, born 1821, a Frenchman from Quebec adopted by the tribe, he is the non-Native origin of the Desmulons surname at Pic River, and possibly Pic Mobert and the surrounding area. Various spellings have been recorded, Desmulon, Desmoulins, Desmoulin, Desmoulons. Angelique's mother was Marie Elizabeth (Betsie) Omawadjiwanokwe (Onitawadjiwanoke), parents unknown.

Toussaint and Angelique had five children.

1.Adele (Adelia) Mijakibinens    b. April 26, 1886,      ma.  Bocuher (Bouchier)
2.Marie Mijakibinens                b. March 15, 1888,    ma.  Boucher (Bouchier)
3.Elie (Eli) Mijakibinens            b. Oct. 17, 1889,       ma.  Catherine Finlayson
4.Louis Mijakibinens                 b. April 9, 1891,        ma. ?
5.Marguerite Mijakibinens         b. June 9, 1892,        1st ma. William Leveille
                                                                             2nd ma. Joseph Pishkan

Toussaint Mijakibinens died on May 15, 1893. His widow, Angelique remarried Louis Michano, son of Pierre, or Peter Michano,
on July 11, 1894. Louis was born June 11, 1876. In the photo at left, Louis is seated on the left, Angelique stands behind him, Eli Mijakibinens is seated on the right, and his bride, Catherine Finlayson, my great-grandmother's sister, stands behind him. After Louis married the widow Angelique Mijakibinens (nee Desmoulons), Louis adopted Eli Mijakibinens, and from that point on Eli became Eli Michano  Now Eli also had a brother named Louis Mijakibinens, three years younger. The 1901 census lists all of the Mijakibinens children as adopted by Louis Michano except Louis. I cannot find a date of death for Louis, so I am assuming that he may have passed away before his mother remarried to Louis Michano.

Louis and Angelique had six children together:

1. George Michano       b. Sept. 23, 1895       ma. Jane (Eugenie) Kashk (Kash)    b.Jan 12, 1894  d/o James Kashk and Isabelle Tadjigok
2. Francis Michano       b. Nov. 3 1897           married unknown
3. Robert Michano        b. Feb. 12, or 20, 1901      ma. Agnes Finlayson (my great-Grandmother) d/o Nick Finlayson and Jane Souliere
4. Angelique Michano   b. May 29 or 20, 1903        ma. Moses Fisher
5. Anna Michano          b. Sept. 1, 1905        ma. Paul Kwiwisens
6. Charlotte Michano    b. Feb. 8, 1908          married unknown
Two of their daughters married men in Mobert.  The little girl standing in the middle of the photo above left is Angelique (Angeline) Michano, daughter of Louis and Angelique. She married Moses Fisher. Moses Fisher and Angelique (Angeline)  had a son named Arthur Fisher who married Cynthia Starr. Art Fisher was the Chief at Pic River in the mid-2000s.  Cynthia (Cindy) Starr is the great-granddaughter of Louise Finlayson and Eli Onabigon, one of my Great-Grandmother Agnes's sisters.

Eli (Mijakibinens) Michano and Catherine Finlayson had eleven children.

1. Rose Albina                b. April 29, 1915,       ma. Charles Twance May 12, 1941
2. Stanislaus                  b. Nov. 13, 1916,       ma. Cecilia Goodchild Aug. 19, 1940
3. Duncan                      b. Oct. 16, 1918,       ma. Freda MacIntosh (Scotland WW II) [These are Duncan Michano Jr's parents]
4. Toussaint                   b. Aug. 7, 1921,         ma. Veronica Starr June 20, 1955
5. Bertha                       b. April 6, 1923,         ma. ?
6. Elizabeth/Betsie Jane  b. May 8, 1924,          ma. Francis Xavier Padgena Feb. 1, 1944
7. Rene or Reno Joseph   b. Nov. 17, 1926,       ma. Mathilda Goodchild
8. Angelique/Angeline     b. July 25, 1928,        ma. Joseph Eric Jacobs May 15, 1950
9. Henry Napoleon          b. May 27, 193          d. Sept. 13, 1930
10. Eli Jr.                       b. July 5, 1932,          ma. Myra Desmulons June 22, 1953
11. Catherine/Kathleen   b. July 5, 1934,          ma. Stephen Hanson (Hanuszchuk)

Back To Top


So this is where the Finlayson, Michano, and Fortier families come together. My grandmother Doris Fortier, nee Michano was the oldest daughter of Agnes Michano, nee Finlayson, and Robert Michano Sr. The photos above are from my Great Uncle Bob Michano, my grandmother Doris's baby brother. They were taken at Coldwell I believe. There is no birth certificate for Doris and some confusion about when she was actually born, but her marriage and death certificates indicate that her parents were Agnes and Robert Michano, although she was certainly born before they were married, and it is suspected that her biological father may not be Robert Michano Sr. There is also a record of Agnes having a son named Dominique Olivier (Oliver) Finlayson prior to Doris, father unknown.

After Doris the children of Robert Michano Sr and Agnes Michano, nee Finlayson are as follows.

2. Raymond Michano               b. April 14, 1922    ma.  Nov. 17, 1947 Julia Otis (Ottis-se)
3. Gilbert Michano                   b. Oct. 27, 1923     Never ma.               
4. Ethel Agnes Michano            b. June 25, 1925    ma. Aurele (Ben) Benoit April 1951 4          
5. James Aurthur Michano        b. Dec. 17, 1926    Never ma.
6. Alida Martha Michano           b. July 16, 1929     Died age 4 or 5   
7. Nicholas Michael Michano      b. March 17, 1931  Never ma. (Two Children Nick and
8. Robert Michano                    b. April 23, 1933    Never ma. Lives in Thunder Bay
9. Mary Lorreen Michano          b. July 2, 1935       ma.  Bill Lees, lives in Marathon
10. Frank Louis Michano           b. July 10, 1937     Died about age 5, drowned in well in Coldwell.

In the photo above left is my grandmother Doris, my oldest uncle Russell Fortier, and my great-grandmother Agnes. This was taken at mom and dad's wedding in June, 1957. In the photo above center, are from left to right front row: 1. Great Uncle Bob Michano Jr., 2. Uncle Ron Fortier, 3. Grandpa Ed Fortier, 4. Uncle Arthur "Butch" Fortier. Next row sitting: 1. Great Grandmother Agnes Michano, nee Finlayson, 2. Grandma Doris Fortier, nee Michano. Back row standing: 1. Great Uncle Raymond Michano, 2. My father Walter Fortier, 3. Uncle Michael "Mickey" Fortier, 4. Julia Michano (Raymond's wife, mother of Doreen, Sharon, Carol, Gloria, Lorraine, Raymond Jr, and Ken Michano), 5. Aunt Joan Millman, nee Fortier, and last but not least, 6. My mom Henriette Fortier, nee Bigaouette, d/o Alphonse Bigaouette and Alice LaRue of Quebec (pictured above right in Beardmore in 1956). My mom was born in St. Padoue, Quebec and was raised on the Gaspé Peninsula and elsewhere near Quebec City and Montreal. We used to call my maternal grandparents "Momo" and "Popo". My mom's first language was French. She had one sibling, an older sister named Laurette, who died when my mom was only nine years old. My mom moved with her parents to Ontario when she was about twelve years old. They ended up in Beardmore, ONT.

Lucien Edward Fortier (Ed)
The Fortier family name is common in Canada and across the border in Main. Click here for our Fortier Family Tree. Ed Fortier was the fifth son of  Achille Fortier and Marie Boulet, both of Montreal. My grandpa told me that his father was a policeman and that he lived in Maine for a while and may have served for the US military during WW I. Marie Boulet may have been part Scottish on her mother's side, which would account for Ed's pale blue eyes and reddish hair, which my brothers and I have a bit of, especially Richard.

Achille and Marie had twelve children.
1. Emerilda Fortier         b.  late 1800s       ma. Cyrille Pelchat (Fernand, Jeannine, Fernade, Yvette, Cecile, Paul-Emile)   
2. Leo Fortier                b.  late 1800s        ma. Jeanne Fleury (Claudette, Rene, Real)
3. Rosanna Fortier         b.  early 1900s      unmarried (daughter Aurore, deceased)
4. Yvonne Fortier           b.  early 1900s      never married
5. Lucien Edward Fortier   b. Feb. 26, 1911 Lake Megantic, Sherbrooke, Quebec (French-Canadian)
                                   d. June 14, 2007   ma. Doris Michano, see below.
6. Alice Fortier              b.  early 1900s      ma. Fernand Quenneville (Shirley)
7. Irene Fortier             b.  early 1900s      ma. Henri Mercier (Denise, Jacqueline)
                                                              2nd ma. Ludger Lemoine (Rene, Nicole, Normand,?)
8. Lucienne Fortier        b. early 1900s       ma. Emilien Dostie ( Rolande, Guyslaine)
9. Ida Fortier                b. mid 1900s         ma. Ernest Guindon (no children)
10. Marie Rose Fortier   b. mid 1900s         ma. Antonio Morin (Micheline, Diane, Gerard)
11. Robert Fortier         b. mid 1900s         ma. Laurette ? (Donat, Yvon, Carole)
12. Aurianne Fortier      b. mid 1900s         ma. Laurent Chanberland (Jean-Guy, Francine, Ronald, Celine)

Grandpa Fortier moved west to Ontario when he was in his twenties and worked as a laborer and carpenter on the north shore of Lake Superior. He probably met Doris when working near Coldwell, a former logging village along the trans Canadian railroad just west of Pic River and Marathon, ONT.  I was told by some elders at Pic River that Ed Fortier used to bootleg among the Indian camps at Coldwell, and that sounds like something he would have done. For a while Ed and Doris worked together in the Prisoner of War Camp outside of Marathon, ONT during WW II. Ed and Doris were married on Dec. 3, 1936 in Schreiber, ONT, not far from Pic River and Coldwell. We have not been able to locate a birth certificate for Doris. Her death certificate records her birth date as Nov. 27, 1916. Given that Agnes had a boy, Oliver, on May 26, 1916, that is impossible. Furthermore, her marriage certificate lists her as 18 years old on Dec. 3, 1936, which would mean she was born in 1918, not 1916. One or both of these documents are incorrect. I suspect she lied about her age in order to get married. Agnes and Robert Michano married in 1921. Doris was born before they were married, perhaps in 1920. If this were true, then she was only 16 in 1936, thus she needed to add two years on her marriage certificate, which would mean she was really 45, not 47 when she died on Feb. 28, 1964.  However, some family members recall that she was born in 1916 and that “Oliver” was born after her. Doris was living with her grandmother Jane Finlayson at Long Lac until Agnes married Robert Michano, at which time she joined them when they moved to Coldwell from Pic River.


Ed and Doris had fourteen children including my father Walter Richard Fortier, the second oldest.

1. Russell Edward Fortier                     b. August 21, 1938, Coldwell, ONT.
2. Walter Richard Fortier                      b. Oct. 6, 1939 Coldwell, ONT  
d. Sept. 27, 1963 Cameron Falls, ONT
3. Arthur "Butch" Fortier                      b. 1941 Coldwell
4. Marilyn Fortier                                b. ? Died an infant in 1944
5. Michael "Mickey" Fortier                   b. Dec. 9, 1943 Coldwell
6. Ronald Fortier                                 b.June 8, 1945 where?
7. Joan Fortier (Millman)                     b. August 12, 1946 Nipigon, ONT
8. Linda Fortier (Aubin)                       b. Jan. 3, 1948, Port Aurthur, ONT.
9. Dennis Fortier                                 b. Feb. 28, 1954, Nipigon, ONT?
10. Janet Fortier                                 b. June 27, 1955, Nipigon, ONT.
11. Marianne Fortier (Borg)                  b.1957 where?    Nipigon, ONT
12. Cynthia Aurianne Fortier (Ward)     b. March 14, 1958, Nipigon, ONT
13. Katherine Fortier (Belanger)           b. December 28, 1959, Nipigon, ONT.
14. Sandra Fortier (Marshall)               b. December 6, 1962 Nipigon, ONT

In the photo above far right is the only picture I have of my uncle "Butch" in his early twenties, taken before he ran away from home after my grandma Doris died. Micheal, in the middle, is my uncle Russell's son. I have been told that Butch was a lot like granda Fortier - stuborn, and hot-headed. Sounds like my brother Bob and looks like him too.

Grandpa Fortier was a lifelong Montreal Canadians fan and he lived until he was 96 years-old, and passed away while still living on his own in Nipigon in 2007. He may not have been the perfect father for my dad and my uncles and aunts, nor the best husband, but I'm glad I finally got to meet him and get to know him a little beginning in 1994 when we went back to Nipigon for the first time since we moved 30 years earlier. I'll never forget the first time I spoke to him on the phone after calling information and getting his number in Nipigon. When I told him who I was, Walter's son, he said, "Walter's been dead a long time now." Then it dawned on him who I was and he said "You're Henriette's son? Richie? Bobby?" I told him no I was Walter's youngest, Jimmy. At that point he told me to call my aunt Sandra because he was hard of hearing on the phone. When we went to Nipigon for the reunion he cried a bit when he saw all of us coming to see him, and he said my brother David looked the most like our dad. I think my brother Bob looks a lot like grandpa, and Debbie looks the most like grandma Doris.

Grandpa Fortier was a skilled carpenter his whole life and worked well into his seventies. But life was very difficult for Ed and Doris. Work was hard to come by, and Grandpa was often unemployed and the family was very poor. In addition, back then it was Federal Indian Policy that when a Native woman married a non-Native man, she lost her official Indian status and could no longer live on the reserve or apply for any aid services through her band. So while her mom and siblings and many cousins still lived on the reserve, Doris and millions of Native women across Canada who married non-Native men, became outcasts from their own Indian communities. Federal law in Canada did not address this injustice until the Indian Act was amended in 1985 after years of advocacy work led by Native women who had themselves married non-Native men.

The new law, Bill C-31, reinstated Indian Status to all those woman who had lost their st
atus after marrying non-Native men. It also officially recognized the Indian Status of the first generation children of those marriages, which would be my dad and all my uncles and aunts. However, while Bill C-31 could repair the legal status of Native women and their children, it could not address the psychological and cultural damage that occured when entire families of Native children were raised outside their Indian communities in small, neighboring white towns where they often hid their Native identity in order to "fit in" as much as possible. It did not help matters when the white fathers of these childen often harbored deep-seated racial animosity towards the Indian identies of their own wives and children. To make matters worse, alcohol and physical abuse often played a devastating role in the rearing of the children of such marriages. Today, many of these children, now parents and grandparents themselves, have slowly learned to confront the pain of their childhoods and many have embraced their Native identites and culture. Many have become healers and social aid workers themselves working with today's Native youth in order to prevent yet another gneration of Indian kids from being raised disconnected from their Native cultures. In addition to the Indian Act, generations of Indian children endured physical, sexual, and pyschological abuse while attending maditory Indian Boarding Schools run primarily by the churches. My grandmother Doris, and several of my uncles, and my dad all went to Indian Boarding Schools, as did most of my great uncles and great aunts. The photo at left was taken at our Fortier/Michano Family Reunion in Nipigon, 1994. From left to right, Joan, Marianne, Mickey, Cindy, Dennis, Ron in back, and Kathy. Missing from the photo are aunts Linda (lives in B.C.), Janet (livs in B.C.), and Sandra, and uncles Russell (livs in Emo, ONT) and Arthur "Butch," who ran away from Nipigon after Doris died. His whereabouts today are unknown, although it is suspected that he may be homeless living in Winnipeg. I was told that he might have been married at one time and have a son, about my age.

A I mentioned above, my mom's parents moved with her to Beardmore when my mom was about twelve years old. My grandfather, whom we called Popo, worked as a logger and had come to Ontario seeking work. My mom met my dad while they were going to high school. I have been told that my dad was a very handsome young man and that all the girls in the small town liked him. Of course my mom had that heavy French accent working for her, so perhaps that's what drew him towards her. Whatever the attraction, it was mutual and the courtship began.  My mom and dad were married on June 1, 1957 in Beardmore, ONT. They were only eighteen years-old at the time, so just out of high school I suppose. Uncle Russell was his best man, and Russell's wife Diane was my mom's maid of honor. My great-grandmother Agnes baked the wedding cake. When we visited Beardmore during our 30-year family reunion in 1994 the church they were married in was still standing. My mom is about 16 or 17 in the photo above, far left, taken in Beardmore, ONT. My oldest brother Richard was born soon afterward. He is pictured above far right in our dad's lap. They were still living in Beardmore, ONT at this time. Richard and Robert were born in Beardmore. Then my parents moved to Nipigon and that's where my sister Debbie, and  my brother David and I were born. My mom and dad had five children by the time they were 23 years old.

1. Richard Edward Fortier  b. Dec. 2, 1957 Beardmore
2. Robert Ronald Fortier    b. Nov. 18, 1958 Beardmore
3. Debra Lori Fortier         b. April 16, 1960 Nipigon

4. David Dale Fortier         b. May 23, 1961 Nipigon

5. James Michael Fortier    b. Sept. 27, 1962 Nipigon

In the photo at left is Richard, Tracy (Russell & Diane's daughter) Debbie, and Robert, taken in our little house in Nipigon around 1962. David was born but I wasn't yet. Richard is the only one who was old enough to still have some memories of our dad and when we lived in Nipigon. According to Rich our dad threw him in some small lake and that is how he learned to swim. he must have learned that technique of child rearing from grandpa Ed.  My mom told us that our grandmother Doris, living in Nipigon as well at this point,  and our great-grandmother Agnes, living at either Coldwell or in Pic River,  would visit us all the time.  When we visited in 1994 our little green house was still standing, as was the Nipigon hospital where Debbie, David, and I were born. They tore it down though a few years later. Our dad's siblings, Dennis, Janet, Marianne, Cindy, Kathy, and Sandra were about the same age as us, so Doris and Ed certainly had their hands full as well with little kids running around. In fact my youngest aunt Sandra is actually a little younger than I am. In the 1970's their house on the main highway burned to the ground and they lost almost everything, including lots of old pictures. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

My mom told me that life in Nipigon was so boring that my dad joined the local Moose Lodge because they had a dance every Friday night and that was one of the town's highlights in terms of social activities. By this time my mom's mom and dad had moved back to Montreal and my mom's English had improved quite a bit. Ontario was her new home and she was raising her young family there. She had friends from going to high school in Beardmore, and of course my dad had a large circle of friends in Nipigon and a very large family as well. My mom was like a sister to my dad's older siblings, especially his sisters Joan and Linda. My mom was also very close to Doris, and I remember growing up later, when she would show me pictures of Doris she always told me how generous and kind she was to her. The color photo above far left is a real gem, it's one of the few color photos that we still have of my family when we were still living in Nipigon. That's Richard, Debbie, Robert, and David in my mom's arms, I wasn't born yet so this is probably late 1961 or early 1962. The photo above far right of my mom and dad was taken in June, 1963. It is one of the last photos I have  of my dad before he died a few months later. Back To Top

Leaving Canada

My dad died on September 27, 1963. I turned a year old that day, but obviously there wasn't a lot of celebrating that milestone. When we visited Nipigon during our 30-year family reunion back in 1994 one of my uncles, Mickey, drove me out on the Cameron Falls road about twenty minutes from Nipigon to show me the area where my father was working when he was killed. A co-worker was felling trees not far away, a Finnish man, when a gust of wind toppled the tree he was cutting and without warning crashed it on top of my dad. He died instantly, and just like that my mother became a twenty-four year-old widow of five small children. We used to have a picture of my dad from his funeral, they were still able to have an open casket service, but we lost it some time ago along with a lot of old photos that belonged to my mom. My mom relied heavily on my dad's family to get through the loss of my dad. Then just a few months later, my dad's mom, my grandma Doris died of heart failure. Apparently she had Rheumatic Fever when she was a child and it had permanently weakened her heart. After giving birth to fourteen children since she was 16 or 18 years-old, and I am told a set of twins that died at birth, and then suffering the loss of her second-born, she passed away on February 28, 1964. With my dad's family in disarray, and without the help and support of Doris and with her own parents in Montreal, my mom began to come under serious financial pressure so it wasn't long before someone from social services came by to scrutinize my mom's situation.

On September 27, 1964, exactly one year to the day after my dad died, the Mayor of Nipigon and our relatives gave us a send off from the steps of the Nipigon City Hall. They also presented me with a cake for my second birthday. I used to have the newspaper clipping which included a picture of us, but I've misplaced it somehow. Maybe one of my relatives in Canada has a copy. The Moose Lodge of all people sponsored our visas to move to the US. The Moose International operated (and still does today) an orphanage about two hours west of Chicago, called Mooseheart. So that's where we were heading. We traveled to Port Author from Nipigon, spent the night, and then drove to Dryden, ONT the next day and stayed with some big mucky muck from the Moose Lodge. The next day we drove across the border and stayed in Bemidji, MN where the local Moose Lodge hosted us. The next day we drove to Duluth, MN, stayed the night, and then drove all the way to Mooseheart the next day.


When we arrived at Mooseheart it was sort of a big deal so they included an article about us in their newspaper, shown above left, during the following Christmas. We lived in Mooseheart for about three and a half years. I have some very vivid memories of Mooseheart even though I was so young at the time. The portrait above right  was taken shortly after we arrived. Left to right are Debbie, mom, me, David, Rich in back, and Robert. Below left is a picture of me with my brothers Rich and Robert in Mooseheart. My mom was comforted by the fact that there were several young widows with lots of children of their own from Canada who had moved to Mooseheart before us, the Fowlers and the Cox families among them. My mom's parents, our "Momo" and "Popo" came to visit, see the picture below on the right.

I remember being separated from my mom and siblings because we all lived in dorms based on our ages. We were also assigned numbers which appeared on all of the clothing that was provided by to us. Our numbers started with the letter "F", for Fortier, followed by a sequence of numbers. I think mine was F1432, or something like that. I remember swimming in the red heart-shaped pool in baby village where David and I lived until David turned five and moved to a different dorm. I remember Sunday matinee movies, usually Disney movies. I remember when it was bath day all the kids sat on the floor in their underwear waiting for their turn in the big tub that sat in the middle of the large bathroom. They didn't change the water for each kid so we would hope we'd be the lucky one to get the fresh water every three kids or so. I remember the weekends because that's when my mom would come take us out of our dorms for the day, and when she moved off campus and into her own apartment in nearby Aurora, we would spend the weekends with her there. I also remember the old church, and to this day if I walk into a Catholic church that smells of that musty incense they burn I immediately think of Mooseheart. I remember experiencing my first tornado while at Moosheart and I remember getting sick there with impetigo. But most of all I remember when my mom was gone for what seemed like a very very long time. She went to see her parents in Montreal, and I remember very clearly the day she came back.

Many years later in 1994, the same year we had our 30-year family reunion in Nipigon, we found out that my mom actually went back to Montreal secretly to have a baby that she had to give up for adoption. It was a girl, and our mom told us about it for the first time in 30 years because that little girl found my mom in 1994. Her name is Malina, she grew up in Winnipeg and lives in Ottawa. That's her in the photo on the left, on the right side next to my mom and Debbie on the far left.  So Debbie finally got the sister she was wishing for  all these years and we all got a new sibling with a great husband named Andy and now they have three great kids: Sophie, Sarah and Rye. They all speak French as well as English so my mom can relearn her French. Malina and Andy are lawyers and they still live in Ottawa. Mom visits them at least once a year and Rich, Dave, and Debbie have all driven up to Ottawa to spemd time with Malina, Andy and their family.


My mom met my step-dad, Bob Hinz, around 1967 while we were still living in Mooseheart. My mom had an apartment with her bset friend Doreen, who was also from Canada and had about six kids in Mooseheart with us. Bob also played in an R&B band and I think my mom met him when she saw him play at a local bar or something tlike that. They got married right before he was shipped off to Vietnam. It took a while for his discharge papers to come through but soon we were moving out of Mooseheart, and once my step-dad came back from Vietnam we moved into a small house in Wheaton, about twenty minutes east of Mooseheart, a suburb of Chicago, and that is where I grew up. Not long after that my mom and step-dad had their first and only child, my little brother Tim. In the photo on the left is Tim, Malina and her husband Andy playing the clarinet from when Malina and Andy came down from Ottawa to meet us for the first time since reuniting with our mom up in Ottawa. Tim is getting married (finally) in May of 2010 to Charlotte, who is from Denmark. Back To Top

California Fortier Family

I moved to Calfornia from Wheaton, IL when I was nineteen years old, back in 1983. I met Ellen Blatchly in 1989 and we got married in January, 1990. she already had two boys from a previous marriage, Michael and Russell, ages 5 and 3 at the time. Our son James Walter was born on October 4, 1993, just two days before my dad's birthday. Below is a family picture from Christmas Day 2005. From left to right are: Russell, Harry (Ellen's dad who passed away in 2007), Jimmy, me, Ellen, and Mike (Ellen's mom took the picture).