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.
Although there are no Cardinals in Grande Cache today, the genealogies tell us that most of the local families are related to the Cardinals, who were associated with Jasper in the early 1800’s. The name is originally French and the move from Quebec to the west was linked to the fur trade.
The records of the Musee Heritage in St. Albert indicate that there was a Joseph Cardinal born in Montreal who married a lady named Aimable Imbault/Hinbeau (b. 1737). The couple had a son named Joseph/Matchicapoos Cardinal, who was born in Montreal in 1756 and died in Lac la Biche in 1854 or 1856. In 1844, he married Louise Frobisher (b. 1772). In 1787, Joseph worked for Sir Alexander MacKenzie of the NWC. In 1799, he was with David Thompson on the Beaver River. In 1802 and 1803, he wintered at the Peace River Forks. Joseph was listed as an interpreter for the NWC at Fort des Prairies in 1804. In 1809, he was with the NWC at Fort Vermillion. In 1810, he was with the same company at Fort Terre Blanche. He married Isabelle Capot-Vert in 1848.The records indicate that Joseph was married three times and worked for the NWC as well as the HBC as an interpreter in the Edmonton – Peace River – Rocky Mountain area. Joseph and Louise had a son named Jacques, who was born in 1798 near Fort Pitt. Note that Jacques was born long before the couple was married. This was not an unusual custom in those days. Jacques was married twice. His first wife, who was born in 1805, was Josette Crise (the French way of saying that she was Cree). They had eight children including a son named Jacques.
When Ermatinger met Jacques Cardinal at Jasper, he indicated that the family might have been in the valley since 1809. In 1824, Sir George Simpson of the Hudson Bay Company met Jacques at Lac la Biche. Simpson made a deal with Cardinal to cut a horse trail from fort Assiniboine to Edmonton House. At some point, Cardinal moved from Lac la Biche to Jasper. In 1825, a botanist named Thomas Drummond was in Jasper with Jacques, who was described as being an “old Canadian”, who looked after the Company’s horses. Camp de Cardinelle in Jasper is named for Jacques Cardinal. We know that he kept horses at this site as far back as 1827. The horses were used by the fur trade brigades, which went over Athabasca Pass. In 1827, the botanist, David Douglas met Jacques in Jasper at Camp d’Original. In 1828, Jacques met Ermatinger again. He supplied Ermatinger with horses and eventually accompanied him to Fort Assiniboine. In 1835, when Colin Fraser was put in charge of Jasper House, Jacques was considered to be one of the leaders of the local Metis community. Some people think that Jacques is buried at Grave Flats, but it seems more likely that he buried about fifteen miles downstream on the Cardinal River where it enters the Brazeau.
Andre Cardinal, who was born in the Jasper Valley in 1829, was Jacques’ son with Marguerite Desjarlais, who was his second wife. In 1856, Andre married Rosalie Breland (b. 1835 in Jasper), whose mother was an Iroquois from Jasper named Therese Kwarakwante. The couple had seven children; Marie Julie, Justine, Christine, Marie Rose, Clemence, Louise and Angelique. We know that Henry John Moberly met Andre in Jasper in 1855. When Jasper House was not occupied from 1857 to 1858, it was Andre who kept an eye on it for the HBC. He also rounded up some of the 350 horses that were roaming the Jasper Valley and took them to Edmonton for the Company. In 1858, it was Andre who accompanied H. J. Moberly to Jasper House. In 1862, the Overlanders hired Andre as a guide to get them through the Athabasca Pass to Tete Jaune Cache. On the trip, they passed Mount Robson. Andre indicated that he had only seen the top of the famous mountain once in twenty-nine previous trips. In 1859, Andre guided for the Earl of Southesk on his famous journey through the area. Later, Andre settled near St. Albert.
According to the Macpherson database, Suzanne Karakonti/Cardinal was born about 1835. She was the daughter of a Louis Karakonti dit Dekara, (the son of the original Louis Kwarakwante) and Marguerite Cardinal (who was a sister of Jacques and descended from the original Joseph Cardinal). They were married in 1853, but probably lived together as husband and wife until at priest happened to be available to perform the ceremony. Since Jacques and Marguerite were brother and sister, she and Andre were cousins. The fact that she used the surname Cardinal has fueled speculation that Dekara was not her biological father, but rather her adopted father. At some point, she married Joseph Gaucher (Gauthier b. 1828), with whom she had a child named Isabelle. Suzanne has a Grande Cache connection because she married Henry John Moberly, the patriarch of the Grande Cache Moberlys. We know that Suzanne was part Assiniboine or Stoney and that her Aboriginal name was “Pigeon Hawk”. They were married on October 9, 1861, the day before Henry John left Jasper. The marriage was a formality, as they had been living as husband and wife for some time. Apparently, Suzanne did not want to leave Jasper when her husband’s time at the HBC post was up, so the formal marriage was probably intended to get her some benefits from the Company. There is no record of such benefits being awarded. This could be because the post was abandoned shortly after H. J. Moberly left. Henry John and Suzanne had two sons; Ewan (pronounced Ay-von) and John. Suzan fell ill in 1905 while camped on the Miette River with Dolphus Moberly, her grandson. Dolphus made a travois to transport her to a house that had once been owned by Donald McDonald near the modern day overpass between Mile 7 and 8. This is where she died. She was buried at Ewan’s place on May 5, 1905 with Adam Joachim presiding over the funeral. Lewis Swift made the coffin.
Mary Cardinal was the daughter of Madeleine Cardinal, who was of Iroquois descent and a sister of Michael Cardinal. Madeleine, who died at the age of eighty, in 1909, is buried in the Moberly Cemetery near Hinton. At some point, Mary married Jack Gregg, who was an American who moved to the Hinton area. Apparently she had two daughters; Lucy and Alice from a previous marriage. Mary is credited with helping R. W. Bob Jones with finding a significant coal deposit up the McLeod River. Jones wanted the coal for fuel for the railway. This can be said to be the start of the famous “Coal Branch”. Mary died in 1915 at the age of sixty-five and is buried in the Moberly Graveyard near Hinton. The Mary Gregg River is named in her honour.