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Unregistered Gravesite #15
Metis' Mother and Child Grave
    In 1996, while excavating the overburden on a gravel pit located on the farm of Tom Ross, the farm manager of that farm found the skeletal remains of a grave that had been where the farm gravel pit is now. The farm manager was filling in pot holes on the farm site when he discovered the remains and the Medical Examiner was called in. Apparently, the remains were sent to the University of Alberta for further investigation.
    Through history passed down three generations, it was remembered that at one time there was a fence around this gravesite, where a Metis' woman and her child were buried , death due to the childbirth. The River lot number of this lot is 39-46-21-W4.
    Through my personal investigation of this incident, i've come across three possibile directions as to the identification of the mother and child, and will inform you of my findings in a summarized manner as best as I can.
The first homesteader to have occupied River lot 39 was Joseph Z. Neveu , with the application date of August 1, 1901 and a patent date of Feb. 11, 1904. This was 6 years prior to the present day land owner's family's entry to the area. Joe Neveu is listed as being a Lodger in the 1901 Census Records of Duhamel, single,  born in 1872, 28 years old , from Ontario, and living with Tom Shea, a well known carpenter at that time. There is no family history in the local history books of Joe Neveu, although in the book, 'Memory Opens The Door' , it states Joe Neveu owned a Hardware store in NewNorway starting in 1910, which later burned down in one of many fires in that town. He was known to have had the 10th car in the area, and one sale was recorded where he sold 50 horses for $5,000.oo . It was also mentioned he was a member of the St. Thomas Church in Duhamel. Searching the archives of the Arch Dioceses of Edmonton, for a marriage record for Joe Neveu in the area of Duhamel and Camrose came up empty handed. If this grave was Joe Neveu's family, the reason for not entering them into the church cemetery could possibly have been because of no Christian marriage.
In the 1891 Census Records of Battle River Region, using the Laboucane brothers of Jerome , on River lot 40, and Elzear on lot 37, as anchors , due to their early history in the Duhamel area, the entries between these two brothers show up as a band of 46 people all with the same last name, 'Cladieu', or 'Clao"ieu, for the older generation . I have been unable to trace any earlier information pertaining to the Cladieu name, and at this time being all entries show up as being born in the N.W.T.'s, i'm unsure if they are Metis' or native, being either parties may have lived as hunters and trappers as the census records state, and both have tendencies to 'Hivernant' into areas for a season or two. The census does state the Roman Catholic Church as being the religion of this band. At present, i'm unsure as to why the Cladieu band would not intern a member of their group into the St. Thomas Cemetery. Surnames that are possible derivatives of Cladieu are; Gladu, Calliou, Calliot, Saulteaux, Nadeau, Ledoux, and Annereau, all names associated with the St. Thomas Church.
The third concept I can conclude would be the people that belonged to the St. Thomas Church were from many areas far and wide with two similarities, their heritage, and their religious beliefs. These early residents seemed to not be concerned in many situations as to where they buried their kin, rather that the church ceremony had been done . In Halley, and possibly this case, as well as many others I have located, the interment had been done elsewhere, but the records were to be found in St. Thomas.
     It is possible , being there has not been any information at this point acquired as to the Medical Examiner's findings, that the grave was interred prior to 1891. Father Beillevaire's introduction to Duhamel in 1881 may lead one to believe it could have happened prior to the church beginnings . The handful of Metis' living there prior to 1881 have been recorded as the Dumont's , Salois, and the Laboucanes's. Once again, if there were other families in this area at that time there are no records as to who they were, at least up to this point in my research.

    It is of my opinion , after countless hours of reviewing the different possibilities that i've been able to collect through the help of the late Elizabeth MacPherson , Carole Pierce-Nelson, and Geoff Burtonshaw , that the metis' woman and child are in fact , ISABELLE  POISSON - BLANC and her newborn child. My research is as follows :
Isabelle Poisson - Blanc is listed in the Duhamel Church records as being buried July 24, 1899. Age at death was 26 years old.
No record of marriage was found through the Oblate search to a Joseph Neveu, but Elizabeth MacPherson's records (now part of the Musee' Heritage Museum) state a Joseph Nadeau and Isabelle Poisson - Blanc were married in 1898.
Scrip records show Joseph Nadeau the heir to his deceased wife, Elizabeth , or ISABELLE POISSON - BLANC .She was listed as being born in 1873 and died in 1899 or 1900 , with an address of Duhamel Her father was Victor or Vital Poisson - Blanc (Half breed) . Mother was Catherine Dumont, (Halfbreed) Claim # 3387 , Form F no. 1388.
    Scrip records for Joseph Nadeau , state an address of Duhamel, born in 1874 near Red Deer River . Father Pierre Nadeau,(1840-1890), halfbreed , mother , Josephte Cardinal ,1833-1903, halfbreed , Claim no. 3391 , Form E , no. 2644.
The genealogy for ISABELLE POISSON- BLANC is as follows, thanks to Carole :
    I have checked my MB Half breeds for both names , neither are listed; Metis' family gene shows Poissonblanc (all one word) - this shows Elizabeth POISSONBLANC  born 1873 d c1899.1900 married Joseph NADEME (note different spelling)also Elizabeth had a brother(Jean Baptiste) who married an Isabelle Shahkap,no children. My books show Elizabeth Poissonblanc is the daughter of Victor POISSONBLANC alias ATTIKAMEK,(born  abt. 1820 at Ft. Edmonton and Catherine Durand , or Narbas,( or Dumont, depending on the source) born abt.1823 at Mountain Fort.  .Victor was the son of Felix Possonblanc, and Catherine Assonikakum . Catherine Durand's, alias Narbas, father was Paul Durand , mother was Marie AHS-KE-KAH-UM-AH-TAHT.
    Catherine Durand(spelled Durant in some records) was Cree, and from the Sampson Band The North West Half- Breed shows Victor Poisson-Blanc , bedridden, with an address of Battle River , Peace Hills . He lived all his life in the neighbourhood of Lac Ste. Anne , St. Albert, Edmonton , and for the last seven years at Battle River. (This was dated 25 of June, 1885)
    Even with the records as they are, one can see very close similarities to certain names , such as Cladieu, Neveu, Nadeau and Nadene. Errors deciphering written documents are quite easily made. Due to many Metis' and Native peoples not having the ability to read or write, corrections to names were probably never made as well. The patterns even though errored ,do show a possibility that Joseph Nadeau, did take  river lot 39 as his home during the time his wife died .This is confirmed on the 1901 census , with river lot 39's resident being Joseph Nadeau, even though he wasn't living on the lot. Being so close to the St. Thomas Cemetery, it's questionable as to why he would bury his family on his own land , rather than the cemetery, and may have been his own choice , while grieving his loss . Both families seem to have roots in the area for a long period in time, and connected to many of the other surnames from Duhamel. The Nadeau surname seemed to have numerous out of wedlock children , yet if the church policies did not allow Isabelle's burial in the sacred ground, where would these children have been buried?
    I acknowledge that this investigation is without any oral or written confirmation regarding that specifically, Isabelle Poisson - Blanc was in fact the person buried here , but believe that she was , through my research , and have tried to relate to this research in this article to the best of my ability .

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