Etienne Pepin's Hudson's Bay Company Bio

by Jamie Morton

presented here with his permission

A biography for Etienne Pepin, taken from pages 263 and 264 of:

Fort Langley: An Overview of the Operations of A Diversified Fur Trade Post 1848 to 1858 and The Physical Context in 1858 by Jamie Morton, Mircofiche Report Series 340. 

Etienne Pepin, Blacksmith

The senior representative of the non-Scottish tradesmen at Fort Langley in 1858 was Etienne Pepin.  He was at Fort Langley in Outfit 1827, the first year of the post's existence, and was employed until the end of Outfit 1859, in 1860.52  Pepin was on the Cowlitz Farm for some time, but left "in disgust to return to his old Quarters" in 1852.  At that time he was sent to replace two farm labourers, rather than being identified as a blacksmith.53  Although Pepin is the name used in all Hudson's Bay Company records he is referred to as "Etienne Magice", sometimes with "Pepin" in brackets, and the marriage registry entry refers to his mother as "Marguerite Peipin".54  The lists of Langley servants for Outfits 1857 and 1858 refer to Pepin as a blacksmith, from Yamaska, earning 30 pounds per year55, substantially less than Taylor.

In 1830 "Etienne Papin" was noted as having a wife but no children.56  When Modeste Demers arrived on his mission to the Fraser in September 1841, he baptised Marie, 6 years old, and Francois, 3 years old, the "Illegitimate children of Etienne Maille, and of a Uiskwin woman".57  Considering the range of names used by Pepin/Magice, the variations in spellings and transcription, and the presence of only one man at Langley in Outfit 1841 with the first name Etienne, it is likely that the mysterious Maille was Pepin.  On June 29, 1856, the 14 months old Simon was legitimized by the marriage of his father and Isabelle, a "Keitose" woman.58  As the "Quyslen" and "Keitose" woman are one in the same, and "Uiskwin" is likely a different spelling of Quyslen, it is probable that Pepin had been with one native wife since at least 1835, and perhaps 1830.  By 1858 the children noted in 1841 were adults, but at least one infant, Simon, was still living with Pepin and Isabelle.   Pierre "Renaud" (Urno on H.B.C. lists) was Simon's godfather, and Willing and Fallerdeau witnessed Pepin's wedding.59  It would seem that Pepin's affiliations were more with his Catholic countrymen than with his professional colleagues; Urno was only a low-ranking mid-man.  Pepin, his wife and children presumably lived within the servants' quarters in the fort, as remembered by Aurelia Manson:

In the men's dwelling houses lived the caretaker, a farmer named Peppin, who was fond of the Englishman's expletive "Quit-ta-heel" (Go to hell), a name which he bore all his life to his grave.60


52. Mary Cullen, Appendices, op. cit., p. 4; H.B.C.A., B.226/g/7, Western Department Abstract of Accounts, Outfit 1859, pp. 6d-13d.

53. H.B.C.A., B.226/b/4, pp. 42-44, Douglas to Yale, February 13, 1852

54. P.A.B.C., Film No. 1A, St Andrews Cathedral (Roman Catholic, Victoria) register of marriages, baptisms and deaths, p. 47. (have)

55. H.B.C.A., B.226/g/5, Western Department Abstract of Accounts, Outfit 1857, pp. 13d-14; B.226/g/6, Outfit 1858, pp. 10d-11.

56. Mary Cullen, History, op. cit., p 85.

57. Catholic Church Records of the Pacific Northwest; Vancouver, Vols. I and II and Stellamaris Mission, St. Paul, Oregon, French Prairie Press, 1972, p. 67, #60. (have)

58. P.A.B.C., Film No. 1A, St Andrews Cathedral (Roman Catholic-Victoria) register of marriages, baptisms, and deaths, June 29, 1856, #10; ibid., p. 47, July 21, 1856. (have)

59. ibid.

60. N. de Bertrand Lugrin, The Pioneer Woman, op. cit., p. 108.

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created 21 August 2002