Moberly

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.

The Moberly family has played a significant role in the history of the area. In the 1800's, the Moberly brothers, Henry John and Walter came west to work. Walter Moberly was probably the greatest of the Canadian Pacific Railway surveyors, as he blazed a trail through the Yellowhead Pass from 1872 to 1875.

 

The Grande Cache Moberly family is descended from Henry John Moberly, who was born in Penetanguishene, Ontario on August 8, 1835. His father was Post Captain John Moberly. Henry John was educated at the Barrie Grammar School and at Upper Canada College. When he was eighteen years old, his father got him a job with Lloyds of London. He was posted to St. Petersburg in Russia for two years before returning to Canada. When he returned to Canada, he went to Fort La Cloche on Lake Huron. From there he went to Fort William, where he joined up with Governor Simpson of the Hudson Bay Company (HBC) for a trip to Norway House for a meeting of the Northern Department. At the age of nineteen, he was sent to Rocky Mountain House on the Saskatchewan River. He arrived on October 28, 1854. In 1856, he took supplies to Dunvegan, including leather for New Caledonia via the Peace River. In 1858, he took a pack train to Jasper House, thus "opening" the Jasper Trail from Edmonton to Jasper. The group started at Lac Ste. Anne and consisted of Henry John, Andre Cardinal, six Iroquois and forty horses. Henry John Moberly said that he was the first non-aboriginal to accomplish this task. He ran Jasper House for the HBC for four years from 1858 to 1861.

 

When Henry John arrived at Jasper, the old post was pretty much run down, so he decided to construct a new post. A visitor to Moberly’s post commented that it consisted of several buildings in the “Swiss style with overhanging roofs and trellised porticos”. During his sojourn in the Jasper Valley, Henry married Suzan Cardinal. Henry John and Suzanne had two children; Ewan (pronounced Ay-von) and John.

 

Henry John enjoyed hunting, so he spent lots of time hunting in the mountains with his Iroquois friends. They sometimes made hunting trips as far north as Grande Cache. On one trip, he recorded that four hunters, four meat haulers, a horsekeeper, a cook, an interpreter and their families made a trip into the north country and took seventy moose as well as a number of caribou, bighorn and goats. In the winter, when food was sometimes scarce, the local people resorted to eating lynx. Apparently Henry John had a dog that was trained to tree a lynx, so that it could be killed. Part way through one winter, the people of the Jasper Valley had killed eighty-three lynx. Henry John reported that he would stuff the lynx with minced sheep and roast it whole.

 

Over the years, Henry John had a number of interesting visitors to his Jasper post including James Hector of the Palliser Expedition. Hector was searching for a wagon road through the mountains. After leaving Jasper, Hector named a mountain for Henry John, but the Moberly name did not stick.

 

When Henry left the Jasper post, he left his wife and family behind. Suzanne died in 1905, but her sons went on to become legends in the Yellowhead Region. At some point in time, Henry re-married. In 1894, he retired from the HBC and was offered a land grant in Banff, but his new wife did not care for the mountains. As a result, he took a grant at MacDowall, Saskatchewan where he homesteaded. Later, the family moved to Duck Lake where Henry spent his last years. He wrote a book about his adventures in Jasper entitled When Fur Was King. He died in 1932 and is buried in the Anglican cemetery in Duck Lake. Henry John’s son, George from his Saskatchewan family, continued on with the family tradition, as he too was employed by the HBC for many years.

 

Ewan (pronounced Ay-von by the local Moberly family) was baptized on August 28, 1860. He married Madeleine Finley. They had ten children (Adolphous, Fresnine, Joe, Adelaide, Edward, William, Electa, Daniel, and Clarise). While living in the Jasper Valley, he discovered Miette Hot Springs, which is located in Jasper National Park. In 1910, he and his family left Jasper when the government bought him out because Jasper was about to become a National Park. Ewan was paid for the improvements and started on his “trek” to Grande Cache. On his trek, he cut the Moberly Trail from Entrance to Grande Cache along the “Old Indian Trail”, which became part of the Hinton Trail. One report states that he took a fair bit of farm equipment with him on his trek to Grande Cache, so the trekkers had to make bridges as they went. They also took over 200 head of livestock.

 

Ewan Moberly settled at Victor Lake near Grande Cache. He ran a small store/trading post at Victor Lake from 1910 until his death. It was located at what is now George Moberly’s place overlooking the Sulphur River. The actual building has long since disappeared. Of interest is the fact that he used Roman Numerals to keep his records. Ewan bought and sold furs and was famous for raising his high quality stock. In particular, he was known to have the very best packhorses, which he obtained in Kamloops via the Yellowhead Pass. He was also a farmer and a rancher. In addition, Ewan had a thirty-five foot canoe on the Smoky River with a sign on it, which indicated that using the canoe would cost ten dollars and losing the canoe would cost fifty dollars. The canoe was reported to have been dug out from a single “cottonwood” or poplar tree. 

 

Ewan Moberly died during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1919 and is buried in a scenic little cemetery, on a bench part way up a hill overlooking a hay field at Victor Lake.

 

Adolphus Moberly was a self reliant mountain man, who was in great demand as a guide and packer in the Rockies in the early 1900's. He was a son of Ewan Moberly who was a legend in his own right. He was also the grandson of Henry John Moberly who ran Jasper House for awhile. Adolphus, who was called Dolphus by his friends, was born in Jasper in 1881. He was married twice. His first wife was named Isabelle. Dolphus and Isabelle had two children; Lucy and Aleck. His second wife was Clarise Agnes, the daughter of Washy Joe Agnes. They had seven children; Joe, Annie, George, Emil, Mike, Blennie (Bellamy), Walter and Colin. In 1910, Adolphus had his own place in Jasper, when the Canadian government bought him out. He joined his father on the “trek” to Grande Cache and settled at Victor Lake, where Emil Moberly lives at present. Adolphus Moberly died on March 12, 1946 and is buried in the graveyard at Victor Lake, behind the house where he lived.

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