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(Last Updated: September 12, 2017)


Jean Baptiste (Wichewask) SPENCE was born around 1807-11 at Cumberland House, son of an Indian woman named TCHE-TCHIT and John SPENCE of uncertain origins.


** I (Gary Still) have been researching the early SPENCE families for many years, and have always been confused by much of the information I found about this family. Keep in mind - As of the last update, no evidence has been presented that definitely indicates who Jean Baptiste’s parents were. All we have are theories and suggestions as follows:


Ida SPENCE (a descendant) from Web-searches: In his Scrip application, he says his father was _ SPENCE, an Orkneyman, and his mother was TCHE-TCHIT, a Swampee Indian woman. He could not rightly remember their names. Don’t forget when he applied for scrip he was 80 years old! He said he was born in 1807 at Cumberland House, NWT.


Ed SPENCE, another great-great grandson, has presented another very interesting theory that Jean Baptiste may have been a son of Joseph SPENCE (1772-1756) along with many other interesting details. See his comments on the Forum at the link below.




Ida (from his Scrip): In 1834 Jean Baptiste married Marie ROULETTE or METTWAYWEMIN in Baie St. Paul on the Assiniboine River (See map below). In 1835 their first child, Jean Baptiste Jr. was born at Sandy Bay on the east side of Lake Manitoba.


Gladstone - Winnipeg


In 1851 eldest son Jean Baptiste Jr. married Josephte SAUTEUSE in St Francois Xavier.




It appears that it was some 17 years before their second child, Marie was recorded born in 1852 at Gladstone. ** That seems like a long time between children; perhaps there were other children who died in infancy.




The rest of Baptiste’s children were born at Totogan; Louis in 1854, John in 1856 and Eliza in 1860.


MHS: Totogan was on the fork of the Whitemud River and Rat Creek (now misnamed Willow Bend Creek). Totogan appears on the map of those surveys completed to 1874. Now, like many others, it is a cultivated field. Spring flooding was a problem for Totogan. Nearby on the Whitemud was "The Landing" for the Hudson Bay lake boats. There was a considerable settlement attached to this enterprise. For nearly ten years a break-away group of Salteaux from YELLOW QUILL's Band lived in a village across the river from Totogan and upstream on Rat Creek. ** MORE ABOUT TOTOGAN in MHS


Totogan - Lake Manitoba

Aerial view of the former Totogan town site, established where the Rat
Creek in the foreground entered the Whitemud River in the background.
Lake Manitoba is visible in the back right corner of the photo. (September 2005)
(Source: Gordon Goldsborough)


On May 9, 1856 son John was baptized by Father Jean Baptiste THIBAULT (1810-1879) on one of his first visits to White Mud River Band. ** MORE ABOUT JEAN BAPTISTE THIBAULT in DCBO

In 1864 eldest son Jean Baptiste Jr. married a second time in St Francois Xavier to Marie KIPIPAYA who died in childbirth in 1866. In 1867 he married a third time to Louise FISHER in White Mud, daughter of Marie Anne (Indian) and Henry FISHER, a French Canadian.


Canadian Confederation
Red River Rebellion
Manitoba becomes a Province


On July 1, 1867 the British colonies in North America were united under the British North American Act to become the Dominion of Canada. Sir John A MACDONALD (1815-1891) was appointed as Canada’s first Prime Minister; a month later he won the first federal election.William McDOUGALL (1822-1905) became the Minister of Public Works, and he began negotiations to acquire Rupert’s Land from the HBC, sending out surveyors to prepare the way for an expected influx of settlers.


On Oct 11, 1869, Louis RIEL (1844-1885) placed his foot on the surveyors’ chain to tell them their work was finished. This marked the beginning of a Red River Metis Rebellion.


Ida (from his Scrip): In 1869-70 Baptiste wintered at Fort Pelly.


On July 15,1870 Manitoba became the fifth province of Canada, the Canadian Government having acquired the territory previously governed by the HBC. The Rebellion was essentially over. On that date, according to his Scrip, Baptiste was still living in Totogan and Sprague & Frye lists their children that year as Louis (age 18), Mary (16), John (14), Ellen (8) and Eliza (age 6).


Treaty Number One


On Aug 3, 1871 Treaty Number One was signed by Chief YELLOW QUILL (O-ZAH-WAH-SKO-GWAN-NA-BE), leader of the Plains Ojibway known as the Portage Band, who tried to stop the whites from moving west of Portage la Prairie. This Treaty established three First Nations for the Portage Band in southern Manitoba. They are the Long Plain, Sandy Bay and Swan Lake First Nations. ** MORE ABOUT CHIEF YELLOW QUILL in WIKIPEDIA

Ojibway/ French mixed-bloods requested a reservation be set aside for them and the request was accepted, but the Half-breeds were required to move north to where the Town of Westbourne is now located. The new Half-Breed Reserve is named Whitemud.


In the early and mid-1870’s YELLOW QUILL and his followers commenced an exodus to the Qu’Appelle Valley of Saskatchewan and it became necessary to negotiate with him once again. On Aug 24, 1876 YELLOW QUILL signed Adhesion Treaty Number Four. The Whitemud residents however did not recognize YELLOW QUILL as their leader; they remained in Manitoba


In 1872 eldest daughter Marie married Lawson WESAWOK aka LACOUETTE at the Catholic Mission at Totogan, the son of Madeline BELHUMEUR and Baptiste WESAWOK-LACOUETTE (1820-1915), one of the two councillors of the White Mud River Band.


Sandy Bay Reserve


In 1873 the Whitemud Reserve and its members were relocated again. This time straight north (to Sandy Bay); and in 1877 these residents were told to move yet again, after the surveyor told them he made a mistake. This time just one mile southeast of where Sandy Bay currently is today (Western shore of Lake Manitoba).


Westbourne History: In July of 1877 Baptiste and his family journeyed up to Sandy Bay to attend the wedding of their daughter Helene and remained there permanently. Helene married William RICHARD, son of Madeleine WEST & William RICHARD (b-1836).


In 1878 son Louis married Lisette LACOUETTE in Sandy Bay, daughter of Marie OKANENS and Augustin LACOUETTE (b-1829).


Census of 1881 in Sandy Bay: Saml (?) Baptiste SPENCE, age 70; wife Marie, age 60. Children: Jean Baptiste (age 16) and St Pierre (age 11). ** NOTE: These children are more likely grandchildren. Their correct parentage is uncertain at this time.


Around 1881 son John married Magdeline WESAWOK aka LACOUETTE at White Mud River, daughter of Marie OKANENS and Baptiste WESAWOK and sister of Lawson (see above).


On July 21, 1884 the Sandy Bay Reserve had its very first elections. Mr. Francois DEMARAIS wins and is the first elected Chief. Baptiste SPENCE (the Elder) and Wah-sah-hook (WICHEWASK – Jean Baptiste SPENCE JR) win for the councilor positions and are the first councilors.


It was in 1887 when Baptiste applied for his Half-breed Scrip he was still living in Sandy Bay.


Jean Baptiste SPENCE SR Dies at Ste. Rose Du Lac


In the early spring of 1889, sons Jean Baptiste Jr, Louis and Johnny from Sandy Bay, and a few other Metis from St Vital established themselves as the first residents of what was to be known as Ste. Rose du Lac. On April 28, 1889 Jean Baptist SPENCE SR died at St Rose soon after the pioneers arrived there. He was buried the next day.


In the 1901 census, Widow Mary SPENCE (age 90) was recorded living with her grandson Samuel SPENCE in Westbourne. In 1903 she died at Ste Rose du Lac.


Comments and queries at this link: FORUM DISCUSSING this JEAN BAPTISTE SPENCE FAMILY


=========================== Family Details ===========================


1. 1835 JEAN BAPTISTE SPENCE (m1.  Josephte SAUTEUSE, m2. Marie KYIPAYA, m3 Lalouise FISHER)
4. 1856 JOHN SPENCE (m. Magdeline WESAWOK aka LCCOUETTE)
5. Jan 10, 1860 HELENE (ELLEN) SPENCE (m. William RICHARD)

?7. May 5, 1870 ST PIERRE COOK alias PETER SPENCE (m. Marie MONZINI)