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HomeNewsA Feminine Land Speculator within the Canadian West Receive US

A Feminine Land Speculator within the Canadian West Receive US

A cousin that I not too long ago related with, due to DNA, lead me to some attention-grabbing details about my 2X nice grand aunt, Victoria Lepage. I already knew a good bit about her- as a toddler, my mom had proudly proven me Bellerose faculty at Fort Edmonton Park, and instructed me that Victoria had been an early trainer there. Victoria was born in 1847 and got here to Alberta from Rimouski, Québec in 1890.[1] She and a few of her brothers settled in Lamoureux, close to Fort Saskatchewan. Victoria was the third schoolteacher at Lamoureux, and later taught in varied locations round Edmonton. She by no means married, and lived to be 94 years previous.[2]

My cousin pointed me in direction of a e-book referred to as Imperial Plots: Ladies, Land, and the Imperial Spadework of British Colonialism on the Canadian Prairies by Sarah Carter.[3] Right here is the excerpt that mentions Victoria:

Alberta trainer Victoria Lepage used quite a lot of techniques together with the acquisition of Métis scrip to amass land close to Lamoureux. In 1895 she purchased a army bounty scrip and positioned a nephew on a half part of land, assigning him the homestead duties, though he quickly deserted the duties. She deliberate to pay money for eighty acres and ‘apply a Half-breed land scrip upon 240 acres of the land in query’. Lepage bought the Métis scrip, however for quite a lot of causes she was not profitable on this sophisticated enterprise, and her declare was cancelled. Among the many causes was a neighbour (and certain a relative) Charles Lepage, who wished her land for his son and who complained that no enhancements had been made and believed {that a} single girl trainer was not an appropriate proprietor of land. He wrote the land workplace that ‘there are many palms who can be too glad to enhance [this land] and put them in a form [sic] in order that they’d be a profit to the nation. The girl I check with is a college trainer incomes $600 a yr, and a certain factor she doesn’t want any land to take a position on.’ The Lepages have been initially from Rimouski, Quebec. They got here in a big household group to Lamoureux and amassed many sections of land within the district. Victoria Lepage, the youngest of 13 kids, was a celebrated pioneer trainer of Lamoureux however by no means in a position to purchase land of her personal.

There’s a lot to unpack right here, however don’t really feel too sorry for Victoria- as we’ll see later, she was an investor and land speculator who really acquired fairly a little bit of property ultimately.

Bid for Homestead

I appeared up the homestead file to learn the papers for myself.[4] Sure, it was Victoria’s personal brother, my 2X nice grandfather, Charles Lepage, who wrote the letter attempting to leap Victoria’s declare! His son, Enoch, finally ended up with the land, simply as Charles had hoped. It’s fairly stunning {that a} brother would do that to his personal sister, nonetheless, as proven under, the Lepage siblings had tumultuous relationships.

Victoria was a schoolteacher, and because the letter from Charles acknowledged, made a superb wage. In Québec, she was incomes about $250/yr, however in Alberta, she made $600/yr.[5] She wished to utilize that cash, and sought out investments. As a single girl with no kids, she wasn’t entitled to a homestead, however she may buy land.[6] Or- she may get hold of a homestead if she paid for it with land scrip. She would nonetheless need to comply with the identical guidelines as different homesteaders (clearing a certain quantity of land, establishing residence), whereas if she bought land outdoors of the federal government homestead deal, she wouldn’t need to do any of that. Maybe she didn’t have the cash to buy the land outright, however extra possible paying with scrip made sense financially. And as we’ll see, Victoria solely actually wished this land as an funding.

Victoria bought some army scrip to pay for a small a part of the land, and he or she meant to purchase some Métis scrip to pay for the remainder. Land scrip was a authorities certificates that may very well be redeemed for land. Army scrip was given out to troopers in compensation for his or her service. Métis scrip was given out to Métis in an try and extinguish their claims to the land. Scrip hypothesis grew to become a big downside, the place many Métis have been exploited by being given a pittance of what their scrip was actually value, in trade for prepared cash.[7] Brokers purchased up the scrip and offered it to individuals like Victoria who may then use it to purchase a homestead.

Victoria was required to choose the homestead for 3 years, residing there not less than six months a yr. She by no means meant to do that- she as a substitute made a cope with a nephew to reside on the land, however he left the nation a yr later. She by no means settled anybody else on the land, or made any additional enhancements to the land. The homestead program was particularly arrange as a result of the west wanted settlers- not speculators- who didn’t intend to reside on and domesticate the land.

Regardless of repeated guarantees present in varied letters within the homestead file over quite a few years, Victoria by no means made good on her promise to purchase the Métis scrip, and due to this fact she by no means really paid for the homestead. She held on to the land for 4 years. Ultimately, it seems that there wasn’t scrip obtainable on the time, at a worth she was keen to pay, so the deal fell via.

Frank Oliver, Member of Parliament and controversial historic determine in Edmonton, featured closely in Victoria’s homestead file. He wrote a number of letters in assist of Victoria, and is the principle motive she held onto her land with out paying for it for so long as she did. A 3rd celebration wrote to Oliver, convincing him to behave on Victoria’s behalf. The letter says “Miss L. says that if you happen to get hold of that for her she might be for ever one of the best canvasser you’ve got in your district. I have to admit that she can be fairly arduous to satisfy on the stump. Hoping you would possibly be capable to do one thing for her.“ I believe this refers to stump speeches given by politicians, suggesting that Victoria was a sensible, well-spoken girl you wouldn’t need to debate towards, or who can be a greater political ally than enemy.

Excerpt of letter in homestead file urging Frank Oliver to intercede on Victoria's behalf

Excerpt of letter written by A. Prince to Frank Oliver, present in homestead file

Certainly, Victoria was a sensible girl, fluent in each French and English, and a trainer of each Greek and Latin, which was very uncommon for a lady of her instances. Her eloquent writing exhibits up within the homestead file, the place she describes that she had gone into these enterprise dealings with solely one of the best intentions, and he or she claims that her incapacity to comply with via was actually not her personal fault. Her excuses appear a bit skinny when she does nothing to rectify the state of affairs over the subsequent 4 years, nevertheless it wasn’t a foul enterprise technique to hold on to the funding which was rising in worth, for so long as attainable with out paying- if she may finally pull the deal collectively.

Excerpt of letter in homestead file written by Victoria, claiming she had acted in good faith in every part of the business deal

Excerpt of letter in homestead file written by Victoria

Transcription:

However to my nice disappointment, Michel Beaudel failed to meet any of his obligations and consequently left me in a really false and ackward [sic] place, and extra so nonetheless, on account of my being ineligible to an entry within the Lands’ Workplace.

I want it to be effectively understood that I’ve acted with good religion in each explicit of the transaction and that I by no means entertained for a second the concept of extorting emoluments or privileges that might, within the minutest diploma, bear upon the perpetration of an unrighteous deed.

Court docket Case

This wasn’t the final time that Victoria needed to defend her questionable enterprise practices. Victoria held a mortgage on her brother Louis Lepage’s homestead, for $4500. When he died in 1910, a bachelor and not using a will, she utilized for the Letters of Administration, which isn’t uncommon, since she would have had essentially the most to realize by ensuring his property was administered.[8]

In 1914, Victoria’s sister, Martine Voyer, sued her over the administration of Louis’ property. Two of their brothers gave proof within the case- the siblings have been all of their 70’s and 80’s on the time. Martine accused Victoria of getting transferred Louis’ homestead and different property into her personal identify and promoting it, after which preserving all of the earnings for herself. She didn’t imagine that Victoria had really offered Louis with a $4500 mortgage. She argued that Louis and Victoria have been enterprise companions, and concerned in shopping for and promoting property collectively. This gave the impression to be an necessary authorized level within the case- I believe as a result of Victoria had loads of property solely in her personal identify that her sister was attempting to argue was additionally a part of Louis’ property.

Excerpt of court case stating that Victoria embarked on real estate speculation

Excerpt from court docket case

Studying via the court docket paperwork, it seems that Victoria had used Louis to buy some property on her behalf, along with her cash. She claimed it was as a result of his English was higher. I think that extra possible she was making use of Louis as a entrance for a few of her transactions- there would have been loads of discrimination towards ladies on the earth of enterprise, and using Louis most likely knocked down obstacles. It seems that Louis had registered a few of this land in his personal identify, which sophisticated issues. The court docket examination of one of many siblings, Fortunat Lepage, exhibits that he testified that Victoria and Louis had been enterprise companions. One other brother, Napoleon additionally testified, however his examination particulars will not be included within the file. (Brother Charles was already deceased at this level.)

Victoria gave an emotional testimony, breaking into tears on the stand, and it was “a number of minutes earlier than she may proceed along with her proof”.[9]

Newspaper account of Victoria's emotional testimony

Excerpt from newspaper article masking the court docket case

Plainly Victoria’s testimony was compelling, and the decide dominated in her favour, saying that each one Martine was owed was an accounting of the mortgage and proof {that a} correct worth was obtained for the property.[10] Victoria bought slapped on the wrist for a way she dissolved the property, transferring all of the property into her personal identify after which promoting it with out judicial approval. The decide dominated that Louis and Victoria weren’t enterprise companions, since Victoria offered all the cash for the property they bought and he or she was supporting Louis and paying him a stipend for the final a number of years of his life.

Martine appealed the case, however misplaced once more. In his determination, the decide mentioned this about Victoria: “…and though within the consequence she acquired appreciable property via the technique of actual property speculating the place the identical was rife in Edmonton, she appears always from 1891 till the decease of her brother to have undertaken to carry up, look after and preserve an unlucky brother…”

Excerpt from court case showing that Victoria acquired considerable property through real estate speculation

Excerpt from ruling within the court docket attraction

Have been the homestead and the mortgage fiascos the tip of Victoria’s enterprise dealings? Surprisingly, no! Regardless of these slightly two unfavorable interactions on the earth of actual property, her hypothesis continued into the years earlier than WWI.

In keeping with a 1935 newspaper interview of Victoria:[11]

And that’s not all the grand previous girl’s adventures. Within the increase days earlier than the battle, she made and misplaced a fortune in actual estate- seven years of it. She says ruefully that she misplaced her cash in a Peace River townsite deal. DISAPPROVES FINANCE “Oh no- that’s no good. You purchase $5000 value of property, and also you keep awake all evening worrying how one can promote” is her summarizing of excessive financing.

Conclusion

No Alberta probate file was discovered for Victoria. She had been residing with a great-niece in her ultimate years, so maybe she gave away her property in order that nobody would wish to undergo the effort of probating her estate- the tribulations of which Victoria had skilled first-hand. Or possibly she had so little left after her wheeling and dealing, that probate wasn’t vital.

In keeping with the court docket case, Victoria had fairly a little bit of property in 1914. She had even given one among her great-nieces “a good-looking home and grounds” for her marriage ceremony current in 1912.[12] And it was someday after this that she misplaced the $5000 value of property in Peace River. She even managed to amass a homestead within the end- though when lastly in possession of the coveted homestead (Louis’ land), she offered it immediately.

Victoria’s story isn’t one among being unable to amass a homestead in the identical method as a man- it’s a narrative of how she managed to amass loads of property in precisely the identical method as many males in Alberta on the time- via actual property hypothesis. This was a rarity for a lady, and exhibits what an attention-grabbing particular person Victoria Lepage was.


[1] “Quebec, Very important and Church Information (Drouin Assortment), 1621-,” pictures, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com), Marie Victoire Lepage baptism (1847); citing Drouin Assortment, Institut Généalogique Drouin, Montreal, Quebec. All web site entry dates are as of 15 July 2022.
[2] “Pioneer Instructor, Mlle. Lepage Dies,” The Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 2 Mar 1942, p. 9, col. 6; digital picture, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com). Photograph is courtesy of this text.
[3] Sarah Carter, Imperial Plots: Ladies, Land and the Spadework of British Colonialism on the Canadian Prairies (Winnipeg: College of Manitoba Press, 2016), p. 916 of e-book.
[4] “Alberta, Canada, Homestead Information, 1870-1930,” database, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com), entry for Victoria Lepage & different Lepages file 416715, digitized microfilm 2033, beginning at digital picture 1866 of 1304; Alberta Homestead Information, College of Alberta, Edmonton.
[5] Edmonton Supreme Court docket Civil Information, File nos. 05251-05311 (1913), File 05257, Voyer vs. Lepage, et al.; Accession no. 86.375, microfilm roll 202, Provincial Archives of Alberta, Edmonton.
[6] Sarah Carter, Imperial Plots: Ladies, Land and the Spadework of British Colonialism on the Canadian Prairies. The “Word on Terminology” chapter highlights the fundamental guidelines round homesteads, and the entire e-book highlights the challenges ladies skilled when attempting to amass farms.
[7] Amanda Robinson, “Métis Scrip in Canada,” The Canadian Encyclopedia (https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/metis-scrip-in-canada), 2019.
[8] Edmonton, Alberta, Probate data, Louis LePage (1910), file 3421; Accession quantity GR1995.0399, Field 107, Provincial Archives of Alberta, Edmonton.
[9] “Proceed Lepage Case,” The Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 4 Mar 1914, p. 7, col. 4; digital picture, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com).
[10] “Judgement given in Voyer-Lepage Case,” The Edmonton Bulletin (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 12 Could 1914, p. 1, col. 7; digital picture, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com).
[11] “Trendy ‘Pace’ An excessive amount of for younger, says Alberta Instructor of fifty years in the past,” The Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 19 Mar 1935, p. 14, col.3; Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com).
[12] “Le Compte Louis de Kermor claims Edmonton Bride,” The Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 26 Nov 1912, p. 16, col. 3; digital picture, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com).

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