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.
According to one source, Berland is a French name, going back to Mans France, where a man named Pierre Breland married Catherine Meseray. They had a son named Pierre Joseph, who married Marie Louise Raymond on January 29, 1758 at Fort St. Frederick in Beauharnois, Quebec. Their son, Pierre, who was born on September 29, 1758 in the city of Quebec married Louise Belly “according to the custom of the country”, which means that they were not officially married by the Church. Louise died sometime before 1836. Pierre died on October 31, 1829 in St. Boniface, Manitoba at the age of seventy-one. Apparently, he also went by the name of Pierre Dubois dit Berland and by Breland dit Duboishue. He was a freeman in the fur trade in the 1800’s and served as a soldier in Canada. Governor Simpson of the Hudson Bay Company sometimes referred to him as Burleigh. He was a very good hunter and trader, who became quite wealthy. Apparently he had as many as six Aboriginal wives and a number of children. One of these children was named Jean Baptiste Berland. The records indicate that he was born c. 1777.
It was Jean Baptiste Breland who the Berland River was named after. In fact, it was called Baptiste’s River at first. In 1825, a botanist named Thomas Drummond explored the Jasper-Smoky River area with J. B. as his hunter and guide. J. B. had his brother-in-law along for the trip. His brother-in-law’s wife was pregnant and according to the custom went off by herself to have the baby. The temperature was –38 degree F, so she died as a result. This led to a fifteen-day period of mourning. The group ended up spending three to four months along the river named in honour of their guide. It was a very severe winter with deep snow, so many of their horses ended up dying.
Jean Baptiste Berland married Suzanne Nipissing in 1818. They had a son named Francois, who married Therese Karakonti, who was a daughter of the legendary Louis Kwarakwante and Marie Katis, who lived near modern day Grande Cache at Sheep Creek where it enters the Smoky. Therese and Francois had eight children; William (b. 1833), Rosalie (b. 1835), Josette (b. 1838), Francois (b. 1841), Marie Anne (b. 1843), Betsy (b. 1845), Alexander (b. 1848), Marie (b. 1854), Mariette (b. 1857) and Rosalie (b. 1857).
The genealogy gets a little complicated at this point, but we know that William Berland was descended from both Francois and Jean Baptiste. William had a daughter named Marie (b. 1856), a daughter named Marguerite/Marie (b. 1847), and a son named Francois (b. 1859) who married Therese Cardinal. Marie married Alexis Joachim and was the grandmother of local legend Adam Joachim. His descendants still live in the Grande Cache area.
Although there are no Berlands residing in the area at present, the Berland name lives on in the region as there is a Berland River, a Little Berland River and a Berland Lake named in honour of this intrepid family of guides, hunters, trappers and explorers. In addition, the Berland family intermarried with many of the local Aboriginal families, such as the Joachims, Karakunties, Belcourts, Wanyandies and the Desjarlais family.