Louis Beaupre and the Beaupre District

by Dorothy M. Edge pg 290 Big Hill Country 1977

In the 1880s Louis Beaupré, an early French- Canadian settler, and his Metis wife, Euphrasine, nee L’Hirondelle, who was born at Lac Ste. Anne, N.W.T., in 1851, lived beside a creek northwest of Cochrane, which now bears his name. Although the Homestead Act was passed in 1872, this part of the great North West was not yet surveyed when Louis Beaupré settled on a property that was eventually surveyed to be the NW14 28-26-5-5. To legalize their land tenure, squatters were to pay a fee of $1.00 to the Government of Canada in order to become eligible to homestead the land. Many squatters didn’t bother paying the dollar and no fuss was made. The Beaupré applied for script in Calgary in 1885. 

A small, primitive log cabin, approximately 14 feet by 16 feet, was their home. It was very sturdy and quite well built, with dovetail corners. The ceiling was open-beam and the logs used for ceiling and floor joists were all hand-hewn. The door was on the south side and the windows were low. During the 1940s Clem Edge used the cabin as a granary. Later Clem used two of the hand-hewn ceiling logs as sills under a hayrack. Norman and Shirley Edge’s ranch house is now located on the site. 

According to Frank White’s diary, Louis cut and sold logs to the Cochrane Ranching Company and helped out at branding time in 1883. 

It is known that the Beauprés had at least two children. A son Augustin was born in St. Albert, North West Territories, on May 1, 1869. A daughter, Marguerite, was born May 4, 1882, and was baptized May 20, 1882, in Calgary by Father Emil Legal. In the Catholic Archives in Calgary, it states that Louis Beaupré and his wife witnessed the baptism of John Joseph McDonald who was born November 22, 1880, and Louis signed as the Godfather in very neat handwriting. 

French-Canadians having Metis wives had good relations with the local Indians (sic), with whom they could easily identify and probably acted as interpreters on occasions. 

The early McDougalls (missionaries) knew Louis Beaupré and his wife, and the Beauprés traded at the Morley Trading Post. 

The following is an excerpt from Frank White’s diary: May 29, 1883 – “Closed with Louis Beaupré for his farm and improvements for $1,000.00, and cattle at $35.00 per head.” George Creighton later homesteaded the land and received his Patent in June 1899. This location then became the first headquarters for the Bar C. Ranch. It is not known where the Beauprés went, but Louis, born in Canada in 1825, came to St. Albert from Montana, where he had married Eurphrasine in 1865 when she was fourteen years of age. They farmed at St. Albert in 1879. 

Frank White’s diary, on November 8, 1883, mentions Beaupré along with other names such as Bayne, McVittie, Bleeker, and McLaughlin, all of whom were connected with mining claims at Silver City, which was the name given to the Castle Mountain mining camp. 

An old cast-iron waffle iron with iron handles was found not far from the cabin site and it is believed that it was the property of Louis Beaupré because it has the “Fleur de Lis” insignia inside rather than the usual waffle design. 

The French name “Beaupré” means nice meadow. Beaupré Creek rises in the Stimson Valley, runs on down through the southeast cor- ner of the school section, 29-26-5-5, and is a tributary of the Bow River. It has provided a good habitat for beaver and some oldtimers have said that there were fish in the creek at one time. Hundreds of old buffalo skulls have been found along this creek, and many arrowheads have been found on the flat in Section 21-26-5-5, where it is said that the Indians (sic) used to camp in the early days. 

The big hill to the northwest of the old Beaupré cabin site is called Irwin Hill, after a homesteader, and the next big hill in the same northwest direction is called Beaupré Hill, which actually begins nearer the origin of Beaupré Creek. This hill, north to south, starts in Section 7 and is in Section 6-27-5-5, and is heavily timbered. It has two main peaks or knolls to it. It was officially named in June 1930. In 1973 the boundary of Beaupré Hill was extended southward into Section 31-26-5-5 to include the Geodetic Survey Point on the highest part of the southern end of the hill. However, this southern end of the hill is called Hardy Hill by local residents, after Hardy MacDonald. There is a microwave tower and two gas wells on Beaupré Hill. 

There is a resemblance of a canyon between Irwin Hill and Beaupré Hill and it is called Jackass Canyon. When the C.P.R. railway was under construction in 1883, many mules were wintered here because of the natural springs. Once a recommendation was made to call it “Mule Canyon” instead of Jackass Canyon because a mule wasn’t a Jackass. The reply was: “Well, one of them was!” The colorful name Jackass Canyon was the one officially adopted. There is one gas well in this canyon. 

To the east of Irwin and Beaupré Hills across Stimson Valley and Perry Valley, there is another range of hills. They were named the “Wildcat Hills” by Wilhemina Bell-Irving in 1885. This range of hills starts in 23-26-5-5 and continues up through Sections 9 and 16 in a northwesterly direction and are in the appearance of high ridges from the west view. The highest ridge is about 5000 feet above sea level and it is referred to as the Big Ridge. The old established name “Wildcat Hills” was officially approved in 1939. Mrs. Bell-Irving named them the Wildcat Hills because there were wildcats and wolves in the hills and rocks along the ridge.

Perry Valley is a narrow valley extending northwesterly along the western base of the Wildcat Hills, and was named after Charlie Perry who homesteaded there before the section lines were established. After the survey, Mr. Perry’s house was right on the east-west road allowance and was located near natural springs. These springs are known as “Perry Springs.” 

A book, “Place-Names in Alberta,” published by the King’s Printer in 1928, describes “Dream Hill” as being the big hill directly north of the junction of the Ghost and the Bow Rivers. Looking north from the confluence one can see that the highest of the Spencer Hills is the one described. “Dream Hill” appears on Captain Palliser’s survey map of 1860. 

The “Spencer Hills” and “Spencer Creek” were named after Mr. Spencer, an early settler. These names were applied in 1897 by A. H. Whitcher, who was the Secretary of the Geographical Board of Canada. These names became official in 1939. Spencer Hills are located in Sections 26, 35 and 36-26-5-5. 

1 thought on “Louis Beaupre and the Beaupre District”

  1. Further to the purchase of Beaupre’s land by Frank White, Frank’s diary entry of May 14, 1885: “Morleyville. Raining hard all day. Albert Boyd and self moved all my furniture except spring and fibre mattress from railway station to cabin opposite McDougall’s. River rising rapidly. All got wet and had to get McDougall’s horses to go over river for last load.”


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