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Letendre Homestead near present-day Alvena, SK

This web page was first mounted on April 13, 2011 by Sheila Schmutz. and last updated on July 23, 2020 when it was moved to a different server.. Any additions or corrections are welcome!

Although François-Xavier Letendre dit Batoche made a great impact on the history of Saskatchewan by founding Batoche. The early years of his life are discussed elsewhere in some detail. This webpage focuses on his Métis family from 1891 on, when they left Batoche. This webpage contains the data about this homestead and this family that I have found thus far. However, I am also trying to reconstruct more of their story, between the gaps in the data.

The 1891 census taken on April 7, 1891 shows them still living in Batoche, then in the census district of Duck Lake. His wife, born Marguerite Parenteau, is listed with him as are 7 of their children. Five of their children had already died by 1891. Their oldest daughter, Helene had already married Charles Eugene Boucher and had two young children: William and Emilie. The Boucher family lived either with them, or next dor.

Letendre reported his profession in 1891 as Retail Dealer and Eugene Boucher reported his as Clerk, General Store. One assumes that he was a clerk in the store in Batoche, owned by his father-in-law. Boucher was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the North-West Territories in 1891, which met in Regina, so had considerable influence in his own right.

The homestead patent application for SW 16-41-28-W2 in file 4049585 states that the Letendre family "commenced residence" on this quarter which became known as their ranch, on May 1, 1891. This was just a few weeks after the census. Helene and her husband and chidren did not move with them, but had moved to St. Louis by 1901. Letendre did not sell the famous Batoche house to the RCMP until 1895. Was it leased to them from 1891 to 1895, or did Helene and Boucher stay and run the store until 1895? Likely the later. By 1898, the store was rented by George and William Grant of Duck Lake.d.

This ranch quarter was clearly the second homestead claim made by Francois Xavier Letendre. "Pre-emptions were abolished in 1890, but those who had settled before 1881 retained this right." (p. 228)d The second quarter was free and the pre-emption charges were waived if the settler had a first entry before 1889. Xavier Letendre fit into this category and therefore he was eligible to apply for the ranch quarter in 1891. Apparently about 16 Metis were eligible for a second free quarter.

Although the application says that Xavier Letendre lived on the ranch "continously", I presume this was meant loosely. In keeping with a merchant who had trading outposts in Fort a la Corne, Stony Creek, Frog Lake, and Fishing Lakes and teams of salesmen who visited outlying Cree communitiesd. He apparently visited Winnipeg and Montreal to see his suppliersd. He probably travelled during this later period of his life also.

Letendre also travelled for political reasons during this time. In February 1889 he went to Ottawa to present a petition to Sir John A. Macdonanald asking for scrip, homesteads, consolidation of Metis in electoral districts, etc. Although this petition was evaded, eventually 240 acre homesteads or scrip were granted to Metis children in 1899-1900.f

The important events such as marriages and funerals, and likely also baptisms of grandchildren continued to take place in Batoche at St. Antoine de Padoue Church, even after the family moved to the ranch. Their daughter Elise Letendre married Henri Fisher on September 14, 1892 in Batoche. They settled on a ranch near Nut Lake, Saskatchewan according to the 1901 census. They had several children.

The ranch is about 1.5 miles east of the present village of Alvena, Saskatchewan, in what is sometimes known as the Minichinas Hills. However, the village of Alvena was not there when they took up their homestead in 1891 or even when they departed about 1921.

There was a place known as Alvena Farms (22-41-1-W3) which does not exist now, except for the abandoned Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The original church which was built in 1905. A Basilian Monastery existed near there from 1902-1905. The monastery burnt, so is no longer there.

The map at the left is a small section of the Centennial Map of the RM of Fish Creeka. This shows that their homestead quarter, SW 16-41-28-W2, was not far from the Carlton trail (shown as the olive green line) and included access to a large lake. Hwy 41 was not there then, of course.

Did Letendre choose this spot on a large lake and then apply for a homestead or were they randomly assigned this quarter? Why did he and Marguerite leave their home in Batoche in 1891 with their children?

Photo taken by Josef Schmutz, April 23, 2011

The log frame house they lived in on the ranch was 20 X 25'. I presume the second set of dimensions, 18 X 20', was the second story or a later addition. The cost of the house, $2000, was very high at the time. Most Ukrainian immigrants who settled there ten or so years later were listing house costs of $200 to $400. Hence, I suspect that the Letendre house was built for the family and the value includes both materials and labor. Was this house aslo built by the Gareau brothers who had built the grand house they had in Batoche?

Unfortunately the home burnt in the 1920s and so there is no trace of it now.

The homestead application for this quarter states they had 200 cattle and 30 horses there between 1891 and 1901. This is a huge number of cattle on 160 acres if all were there at once. I suspect that they had smaller numbers of cattle there at any one time and then sold them and replaced them with others, even though the application states "200 head of cattle on average from 1891 to 1901". Or because no one else lived near, did they graze these cattle on a much wider area than just their quarter? Did cattle ranching and sales become their primary livelihood? They built frame stables 18 X 20' for $200. Was this for calving or to shelter the horses or??? Twenty acres of fence wire valued at $40 was also listed. This suggests they harvested posts from their own land. This fenced pasture was again very large at the time, although small by today's standards. It would not be sufficient to graze 200 cattle and 30 horses but might have held them over winter.

The homestead application also states that 60 acres were cultivated. Did they raise feed for their livestock or were they growing wheat for sale, as did so many of the later homesteaders in this area? They did build agranary which suggests wheat may have been grown there.

The homestead file may contain a one page application for homestead entry, such as the one shown at the right. It typically contains a 4 page application form to actually qualify to retain the homestead. This application describes the buildings on the homestead in terms of size and material. It also describes the breaking and subsequent cultivation of acres of land and the acquisition of any livestock over the 3 year period (or more) that the homestead made developments to qualify to retain the quarter. It lists the names of the homestead applicant and two witnesses, but not the names of his wife or children unfortunately. The homestead file may also contain other documents, such as letters relating to the Execution of an estate that included the quarter, as it does in this case.

Although the Dunafoldvar school was built about 1.5 miles northeast of the Letendre in 1908, their youngest child Azarie was born in 1885 so would be an adult by then. It is possible that their grandchildren William and Flora may have attended this school.

Their sons went to St. Boniface Colleged and two of their daughters went to a St. Ann's boarding school in Prince Albertd.

Note that the closest French speaking settlers were along the South Saskatchewan river in the Fish Creek settlement. However that was at least 9 miles to the northwest of the Letendre ranch. This distance was likely too far to allow many visits there.

Francois Xavier Letendre wrote his will in 1901 in his own hand, in Cree syllabic (shown at the left).g The will was donated to the University of Saskatchewan by G. E. M. Gracey of Rothern in 1913. In a letter he states that the original was written in pencil by was overwritten in ink by an engraver. It was brought to him by "the widow" who would have been Marguerite Letendre. He has provided a translation which I have transcribed below.

"5th of February 1901 that I made this will, my last will. Me Xavier Letendre, I give Margaret Parenteau ten cows and the two white horses. and Azarie I give him 10 cows and the black mare. and Emmanuel 10 cows. John gets 3 cows and all his implements from his Mother and 3 calves also and 2 horses. Margaret Parenteau, she can give herself up to any of her two young boys if she wish. Margaret Parenteau will be Master of all things until that the children will all be of age. Me Xavier Batoche says all what I have at Batoche store and land will be sold to pay all my debts."

"Canada Northwest Territories Sask. I J. B. Dumont of Batoche Sask make oath and say that this is a true and complete interpretation of a will made by Xavier Letendre Batoche written in Cree Syllabic. J. B. DuMont. Sworn before me at Batoche Saskatchewan Jan. 13, 1903 Louis Marie, J.D."

Francois Xavier died on April 25, 1901 of tuberculosis and/or later complicaitons from influenza.b He was presumably living on his ranch at his death or at least up until the time of his illness if the homestead application is accurate. He is buried in St. Antoine de Padoue cemetery, Batoche, SK, a Roman Catholic Church's cemetery. On the large marker by his grave in Batoche, (Ici reposent Xavier Letendre decedee le 25 Avril 1901 age de 60 ans), his daughter Marie is mentioned (Marie Letendre decedee le 15 Avril 1901 agee de 18 ans dix mois), as is his mother Marie (Marie Letendre nee Hallette decedee le 20 Mai 1901 agee de 98 ans). Both the daughter Marie and mother Marie are listed with the family in the 1901 census.

Adding to the confusion about where Francois Xavier actually died, is the letter at the left dated January 13, 1904 which says he was "late of the settlement of Batoche". Did this mean at the time of his death? or in his past? Or did the Clerk judge their homestead near present day Alvena to be included in the settlement of Batoche?

By 1904 there was a large influx of Ukrainian immigrants to the area near their homestead, so I doubt that the clerk would call that area Batoche. It is possible that when he became ill, they did go to Batoche to seek better medical treatment and to be closer to friends and family for support.

Florestine Letendre married Louis "Bruno" Venne on September 4, 1894 in St. Antoine de Padoue Church in Batochec. They had 3 children: Louis, Evangeline, Alice. He died November 11, 1900 in the area near Wakaw, SK of a ruptured appendixc. Florestine died in 1901, presumably one of the 3 daughters that died of tuberculosisb. Their children were apparently raised by their unmarried aunt and uncle Elmire Venne and David Venne on the original Venne Ranch, also known as the Spring Valley Ranch in the RM of Fish Creek, SK. The Centennial Map also shows that the "Venne Store and Shopping Place" operated from 1898 to 1911 on SW 28-42-27-W2.

Jean Baptiste Letendre was a teacher at the Fish Creek school in the 1890sd. Jean Baptiste married Rosalie Dumont June 2, 1897 in the St. Antoine de Padoue Church in Batochec. They were recorded directly after the late Francois Xavier's family in the 1901 census. This suggests they were living nearby, or even on the same piece of land. They had two children, William Letendre born on April 9, 1898 and Flora Letendre born on April 2, 1900. Rosalie must have died by 1906 based on her absence in the census of that year. The two children are living on the ranch with their grandmother Marguerite and their uncles Emmanuel and Azarie. In the 1911 census Jean is working on the railroad under a contract to Robert Garrett and Sam Boyer and living with a cook and several other workers on 42-27-W2 in the RM of Fish Creek. His son William John Letendre enlisted on Februrary 19, 1918 and listed his grandmother Marguerite as his next-of-kine. Did he die in the war?

Note that the Jean-Baptiste Letendre and Azarie Letendre who served in WW1 were cousins, gradnsons of Louis Letendre. g

Josephine Letendre married Albert Pilon on August 1, 1899 in St. Antoine de Padoue Church in Batochec. They had a son Wilfred on May 9, 1900. She died about 1902 in the RM of Fish Creek, SK not far from her parent's ranch.

Azarie, apparently actually Joseph Azarie Letendre, was still at home for the census taken on July 10, 1906. He married Rose Elmire Parenteau on October 25, 1906 in Batoche, SK. In 1908 Azarie Letendre began a homestead on NW 7-42-27-W2, about 5 miles northeast of his mother's ranch. So presumably they lived with Marguerite at first. In January 1908 their first daughter, Lucy was born. In June 1909, Flory was born. He died on March 4, 1909 i. The 1911 census refers to his wife as a widow. (Note the photo, reported of him and Azarie and Jean Baptiste Letendre, before they left to serve in World War I in 1914 in Diane Payment's bookd shows his cousins). Rose Elmire's grandfather Peter or Pierre Parenteau, Jr. lived on the quarter to the northeast, so undoubtedly he and her Uncle Mathies helped with her farm when he was gone. She married Alec Massoa in St. Isidore de Bellevue on Nov. 12, 1912. When she applied for the patent to the homestead she and Azarie had on June 17, 1913, she states she is Elmire Massoz, the widow and legal representative of Azaire Letendrei. She is listed as Mrs. J. Massoz on the "Coumans" map of 1917.

Emmanuel Letendre was still with his widowed mother Marguerite in the 1916 census. The quarter was not patented until 1919. The 1920 Cummins map shows A. Latender (spelling?) on this quarter. The 1922 and 1926 maps show Mrs. A. Letender. Is this the widow of Azarie or is this Marguerite?

A fire destroyed the house on the ranch in the 1920sd. Diane Payment implies that Emmanuel was involved with this fire. Emmanuel died in the 1950s in Alvena, Saskatchewan where he was then living in the hotel d. He never married.

The 1930 Cummins map shows I. Yuzak. Members of that family were still shown on this quarter on the 1994 RM map.

A letter dated 11 Dec 1919, in the Homestead File, states that Marguerite Letendre was unable to appear herself because of an accident in which she suffered a broken leg. Therefore her son-in-law, Charles Eugene Boucher, made the deposition for the homestead application instead. Other letters state that she was the Executrix of the estate of Francois-Xavier Letendre. The letter at the right, dated Feb 23, 1920 grants her the patent to this quarter. Note that it is addressed to Mrs. Marguerite Letendre, St. Louis, Saskatchewan. Perhaps she went to live with her oldest daughter Helene and her family when she broke her leg and continued to live there. She would have been 77 by that time.

The husband of Helene Letendre, Charles Eugene Boucher, died in 1926. Marguerite Angelique Letendre died in 1937 in St. Louis, SK.c

Homestead File Notes

Homestead file 4049585 for SW 16-41-28-W2.

Application for a Homestead Entry was signed on 29 June 1891 in Prince Albert by Francois Xavier Letendre of Batoche. (his mark)

Application for Patent

I have not found any photos of the land or buildings on the ranch taken during the time the Letendre family lived there. The only building remaining on their former quarter in 2011 was this stable or barn, shown at the right. A few years thereafter this structure was taken down and some of the wood used in the museum room of the Metis Cultural Centre on 22nd St. in Saskatoon.

There are two good books in the University of Saskatchewan Library about barns listed below. I thought that maybe the diamond window was distinctive of a particular period of barn buidling. Hainstock doesn't provide dates of the barns on most of his photos, but some barns have such a window, (see p. 48, 68, 72, 89). The late Dave Aldous does provide dates for many of the barns in his book, which is now online. Some examples include:

  • A livery stable in Tessier, built in 1912 (p. 59)
  • Albert Cooper's barn in Langham, built in 1916 (p. 109)
  • Charlie Chilsolm's barn in Whitewood, built in 1921, also had a cement foundation (p. 65)
  • D. H. S. Trayer barnin Briercrest, built in 1923 (p. 23)

I also consulted with Frank Korvemaker of the Saskatchewan Archives in Regina for help in dating this barn. He suggested that it was probably built after 1900, likely in the "the teens or 20s". His suggestion and the dates on the barns with diamond windows above makes it hard to determine if this barn was built in the final years that Marquerite Letendre resided on the ranch, or after her departure. If anyone knows this, please write.

Not long after this photo was taken, this barn was dismantled and the wood used in the museum at the Gabriel Dumont institute in Saskatoon, as part of the "cabin".

Census Records

1881 Northwest Territories > Territories > Prince Albert > 2

1891 Territories > Saskatchewan > Duck Lake > 1 (7 April 1891)

1901 Saskatchewan Bellvue page 3

(although one would think this is St. Isidore-de-Bellevue NE of Batoche, it is actually much closer to Alvena, where their homestead quarter was based on all the neighbor's name and the map of homesteaders)

1906 Saskatchewan > Humboldt > Sub-District 19 > 20 on July 10, 1906

(note that I have not found Marguerite yet in 1911, but Jean is here:)

1911 Saskatchewan > Humboldt > Sub-District 2 > 12

1916 Saskatchewan > Humboldt > 33 > 27

Census records of the family of Helene Letendre and her husband Charles Eugene Boucher

1891 Territories > Saskatchewan > Duck Lake > 1

1901 NWT Saskatchewan, District 2, Sub-district 26, St. Louis, p. 4, taken by Franz Hauser

Census records of the family of Elmire Rose Parenteau, the widow of Joseph Azarie Letendre who died in 1911.

1911 Saskatchewan > Humboldt > Sub-District 2 > 15 (no date on the page)

Census records of the family of Elise Letendre, the wife of Henri Fisher.

1901 The Territories > Saskatchewan > Nut Lake > 1 (District 205, sub-district N1 but written over is 58, no date shown)

Census records of the children of the Florestine Letendre, wife of the late Louis "Bruno" Venne

(Based on the Centennial Map of the RM of Fish Creek, SK Solomon Venne owned all of section 20-42-28-W2 but entered there in 1903. David S. Venne had entered SW 28-42-28-W2 in 1887 and had "Venne's Store and Shopping Place" from 1898 to 1911. Bruno Venne had entered the adjacent SE 28-42-28-W2 in 1888. )

1901 The Territories > Saskatchewan > Bellevue > 7 (12-17 Avril 1901)

References indicated by superscripts

Publications Related to the Letendre Family

Links to Sites Related to the Letendre or Parenteau Families

Links to Sites with Genealogical Information

Back to Alvena, Saskatchewan Genealogy and Homestead History