In the old days, we had Cree names for most of the places in our territory.
We have inhabited this land for a long time.
Washy Joe Agnes was a Stoney (i.e. Assiniboine) Aboriginal from the Alexis band near Lac Ste. Anne, who lived at Grande Cache Lake, just outside of the current townsite. According to Mike Moberly, Washy Joe was living in the area before Ewan Moberly led the trek north from Jasper in 1910. He was a trapper, who also had horses and cattle. His father was named Little Bear. There is a record of a Little Bear in residence in the Grande Cache area in 1917. Washy Joe married Bella Desjarlais. They had a number of children including Adam, Dolphus, Clarisse, Nancy and Maggie. Three of his children died in the flu epidemic of 1919 and are buried near Sheep Creek Lodge where Nickerson Creek flows into Sheep Creek. Adam was a trapper at Muskeg who was born on September 15, 1910. He married Margaret Gauthier, but they had no children. He died on March 12, 1993 and is buried at Grande Cache Lake. Adams Creek is named in his honour. Clarisse married Dolphus Moberly. Dolphus Agnes was born on November 1, 1898 and died on July 9, 1989.
Washy Joe’s Stoney name was Sagaputura, which means "Long Hair". At one time, the government was distributing scrip (i.e. paper that allowed the owner to claim land) to the Metis people, so Donald McDonald of Isle Lake cooked up a scheme to get rich. His plan was to get people to sign up for scrip, pay them five dollars for the scrip and sell it on the open market. McDonald went to Sagaputura and asked him if he wanted to make five dollars. Needless to say, Sagaputura was interested, as all that he had to do was apply for scrip and say that his father was a "white man". This of course was not true, but it seemed like easy money. McDonald went with Sagaputura when he went to apply for the scrip, just in case there was a problem. When asked his father's name, Sagaputura replied that his father’s name was Little Bear, at which point McDonald chimed in that Little Bear was what the Assiniboine people called him, but that his real name was Tom Atkins. This of course made Sagaputura - Joe Atkins. Joe got the scrip, which he exchanged for the five dollars. The local Aboriginal people had a hard time pronouncing Atkins, so it gradually evolved into Agnes (which is what the family was called when it lived in Grande Cache). According to one source, Agnes eventually became Washa and then Washa became Washy Joe. An interesting and perhaps more plausible variation on the story was related by Bob Hallam of Hinton, who indicated that the Stoney word for “white man” is “Was-say-jo”. This story goes that some of the Aboriginal people decided that they would call Sagaputura “Was-say-jo” since he wanted to be a the son of a “white man” and get scrip. One can see how “Was-say-jo” could easily become Washy Joe.
The Agnes name is no longer in evidence in the area, but Washy Joe’s descendants are intermarried into most of the local families. In addition, Washy Joe’s name lives on because there is a creek on the way out of Grande Cache on the highway to Hinton named Washy Creek. The creek flows into Peavine Lake, which is named after a local mountain flower, which grows there.