Thursday, August 25, 2016

Uncle Charles Lagasse on the Columbia Plateau with David Thompson

Charles Mignier Lagasse (Lagace), Nor'Wester, -- my 6th great-uncle, was born 28 November 1744, in Ignace, Quebec, Canada; his death date and place are unknown.  Charles was the son of Joseph Mignier dit Lagace (1706 - 1778) AND Felicite Caouette (Cahouet) (1709–1783)

Spouse: Marie Madeleine Aubé dit Aubert, born 07 August 1747, in Rivière-Ouelle

Children: i. Andre Lagasse (Mignier) dit Lagace (1775 - ), ii. Charles Mignier dit Lagace (1777 - )

1792 NWC Voyageur Contract

LAGACE, CHARLES [Charles Mignier dit Lagace (1744 - ) -- 6th great-uncle]
Last Name: LAGACE
Last Name Standardized: LAGACE
Given Names: CHARLES
Contract Date: 17920328
Contract Place: MONTRÉAL
Length of Contract: 1
Parish: CHICOT
Parish (Standardized): St-Cuthbert
Destinations: DANS LE NORD [translation: North past Grand Portage]
Merchant Company: MCTAVISH, FROBISHER & CO.
Notary Name: Chaboillez, Louis
Wages: 900 LIVRES
Advance at Signing: 156
Archive Source: BANQ, Greffes de notaires
Microfilm Number: M620/1197

Charles Lagasse, Nor'Wester, on the Columbia River Plateau

Charles Lagasse, or Lagace  may have joined the North West Company (NWC), under the leadership of McTavish and Frobisher, earlier than 1792, but we know for sure he was engaged by them on March 28, 1792.

Charles Lagasse went on to become a long time NWC employee who spent much of his time in the Columbia River plateau area with David Thompson. 

From: New light on the early history of the greater Northwest: the manuscript journals of Alexander Henry, fur trader of the Northwest Company and of David Thompson, official geographer of the same company 1799-1814, AND from Lives Lived West of the Divide: A Biographical Dictionary of Fur Traders. Working West of the Rockies, 1793-1858, by Bruce McIntyre Watson, we learn:

As early as April, 1800 Charles Lagasse was with David Thompson on the Upper Saskatchewan River.

From October 5th through the 23rd 1800, Charles Lagasse went with David Thompson to the Kootenay Indians.  Thompson set Charles up with trade goods, so he could winter with the Kooteneys during the winter of 1800-1801.  In the spring of 1801, Charles Lagasse returned to Rocky Mountain House to meet with Thompson.

From ‪Parkways of the Canadian Rockies‬: ‪A Touring Guide to Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, and Yoho National Parks‬, we learn that the first white men to go up the Saskatchewan River and over Howse Pass were two North West Company voyageurs named Le Blanc and La Gassi (Lagasse), who were sent by David Thompson to winter on the west side of the Rockies with the Kootenay Indians in 1800.

On November 7, 1808, Charles Lagasse went with David Thompson on a journey from Boggy Hall to Kootenay House.   

Between 1808 and 1810, Charles Lagasse was with David Thompson in the Rocky Mountains.

In the spring of 1810, in the Saleesh area, David Thompson paid Charles Lagasse for the hire of three horses, but on May 17th 1810, David Thompson attempted to force him to duty for which Charles Lagasse said he was not fit, so Thompson listed him as a deserter.

On June 22nd 1811, Charles Lagasse reappears with David Thompson at Ilthkoyape Falls (also known as Kettle Falls) on the Columbia.  Thompson named the falls Ilthkoyape Falls and the Indians who fished there Ilthkoyape Indians. These are among the forebears of Indians who are today organized as the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.

On August 29th 1811, Charles Lagasse went south on the Columbia River with the David Thompson expedition as they headed up the Columbia after stopping at Astoria.

In 1812, Charles Lagasse re-engaged on a two year contract in the Columbia (to be free in Montreal in 1814).

In 1813-14, Charles Lagasse wintered at Fort George (Astoria).

On April 4th 1814, Charles Lagasse was noted as being a bowsman on John Clark’s canoe on the brigade to Fort William and Montreal.

Charles Lagasse returned to the Columbia area and continued his association with the NWC until 1821, when his contract was transferred to the Hudson’s Bay Company during its merger with the North West Company.

In 1821, but he was listed as a ‘freeman’ (meaning his contract had expired).

After 1822, Charles Lagasse does not seem to have been engaged by the HBC.  Had he expired?  His date and place of death remain unknown.

Bruce McIntyre Watson's work suggests that Charles may have married a Flathead Indian woman: "Charles La Gasse appears to have taken as a wife, Emme, Flathead (c.1795-1855).  Two of their children may have been Pierre (c.1815-1882) and Josette/Suzette (c.1812-1896) although oral tradition indicates that “Pierre”, a brother of Charles, was the father of the two children but no such “Pierre” appears in any extant records."

Additional Sources:

The Travels of David Thompson 1784-1812, Volume II Foothills and Forests, by Sean T. Peake

Historic Hikes in Northern Yoho National Park, by Emerson Sanford, Janice Sanford Beck

The First Explorers of the Columbia and Snake Rivers, by J. Neilson Barry

The Washington Historical Quarterly, Vol. 11, No. 3, Jul., 1920, David Thompson's Journeys in Idaho
(Continued), by T. C. Elliott

Our Lineage from Charles Mignier Lagace (Lagasse):

Charles Mignier dit Lagace (1744 - ) -- my 6th great-uncle

Joseph Mignier dit Lagace (1706 - 1778) -- father of Charles Mignier dit Lagace

Jean Baptiste Mignier Lagace (1749 - 1828) -- son of Joseph Mignier dit Lagace

Jean Baptiste Mignier Lagasse (Lagace) (1776 - 1835) -- son of Jean Baptiste Mignier Lagace

Marie Emélie Meunier dit Lagassé (1808 - 1883) -- daughter of Jean Baptiste Mignier Lagasse (Lagace)

Lucy Passino (1836 - 1917) -- daughter of Marie Emélie Meunier dit Lagassé -- my 2nd great-grandmother (Our French Connection)


  1. Hello Drifting Cowboy,
    I think your 6th great-uncle is my 4th great grandfather. My 3x great grandfather, Pierre Lagace, in his marriage record at St. Andrews Cathedral in Victoria, B.C., listed his parents as Charles Lagace/Lagasse and Emme. Emme is variously described as being Spokan, Kailspel or Flathead (Interior Salish) and she was the 2nd person buried in the Old Burying Ground (now Pioneers Park) in Victoria. Pierre, Sr. worked at various HBC forts including Victoria. I love it that Charles Lagasse beat Lewis & Clark over the Great Divide.
    Jill Edwards

  2. Jill, He can also trace his ancestry back to 1666 in Canada. See