Bienfait- Earliest Inhabitants

Bienfait, Saskatchewan, Canada

Information below taken direct from the 1955 history book

Indian tribes which merely passed through here included the Cree, Blackfeet, and Sioux tribes. To the Crees goes the credit of having named our province “Saskatchewan” which means “rapid river”. The Cree tribe which is now settled on the reservation at Sintaluta and Momartre own the rocks at Roche Percee. At intervals they would come down and hold ceremonial dances on the rocks.

The Blackfeet passed through here and settled in Eastern Alberta.

The Sioux who were settled mainly in North Dakota and Montana, came here only to seek refuge from the American Cavalry who were seeking revenge for the Custer incident.

The Assiniboine tribe is the only tribe which made their home in our district. They were a peaceful tribe who spoke the language of their neighbour tribe in the states…the Sioux. They lived in tepees made from buffalo hides and poles. As they raised no food, they had to depend on nature to supply them with game and wild fruits. They hunted and trapped such game as rabbits, deer, bison and porcupine. They wintered here because of the abundance of game.
Their only ceremonial activity was the Sun Dance. First they would have a buffalo hunt to provide food for the feast. Then they cut down a tall tree, stripped it of its branches, dragged it into camp, and set it up as a pole. Next day the medicine man performed tricks of magic and on the last day there was a great feast. Sometimes young men tortured themselves at the Sun Dance by piercing their shoulders with pointed sticks.

The Cree and Blackfeet tribes took part in the Riel Rebellion, while the Assiniboines took part in the later Indian uprising.

Map from the 1955 History book
Showing locations of the tribes described here

The Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company carried on some trade in our district. Hides and furs were the only important products traded. Hides were left at the store at Peace Post (8 miles west of Roche Percee) near Wood End. Furs were picked up at the Post by hide buyers and transported to St. Taylorton hill, across the Souris river at a ford near the present bridge, passed Ball's farm and turned south westward to Short Creek south of Langens and then to Peace Post.

A Squatter is a person who settles on public land or on new unoccupied land without permission or right, in hope of gaining the title to it. This practice wasn't too common in this area. However one such person settled near Roche Percee. The people called him “Old Craig, the Hermit.” The remains of his hut are still to be found near Ball's Farm east of Roche Percee. He hunted and fished for a living and had nothing to do with anyone. Squatters didn't have any legal rights and the law just left them alone.

William Seward Craig took out a homestead on NE Section 28, Township 1, Range 6, W2

  • 1901 census says his name was William Craigh, b- May 24, 1829 in England, Single, occupation- Trapper
  • 1891 census shows a William Craig in Broadview Assa. area, single, age 63, Free Church religion, b- 1828 in England

Very little ranching was carried on in this immediate district. However, small ranches, consisting of from 50 to 70 head of cattle and horses, were found along the Souris River, from Hirsch to West of Roche Percee. To-day, ranching has become almost extinct.

Following is a list of Settler Ranchers and their date of occupancy:

  • 1889 - Joe Martin
  • 1900 - Hessay, Gow, Evan Jones, Harry Martin
  • 1901 - Robert Gillis
  • 1902 - Archie Milligan, Joe Burner, Piel, Harry Brown, Clark, Hemmingers
  • 1903 - Fred Lacoste, Preacher Turry (Terry?), Clare Monte, Almer Chamberlain, Harvey Schrock, Tom Graham, Bert Ward, Jim Lusk
  • 1905 - Claude Moore
  • 1907 - Babcock

(see my Rum Running Section for this story)

A gypsy is a member of a wandering tribe of people found in Europe, Western Asia, Australia, Northern Africa and the United States. They were not permanent residents here but they traveled through here at intervals. They weren't well received, shunned as outlaws and thieves. They came in cars and horse drawn wagons loaded full of pots, blankets and other personal belongings. Whenever they came into the district, residents gave them food or a few chickens just to get rid of them before they stole any items of importance.
Everywhere they wandered, they plied their trades as horse dealers, fortune tellers, metal workers, musicians and dancers.

Gypsies are of Caucasian Nationality and their Native language is called Romanian, Indo-Iranian tongue allied to the language of North-western India. Their customs, particularly of marriage and of family life, frequently were at odds with the laws of the land, but despite the dangers of prosecution were tenaciously adhered to. To the members of our district, the gypsy was looked upon as a sly, dishonest person with a free, roving spirit and a love for music and bright colours.

Note this was written in 1955, before the political correct names and words of today were used.


  • Last modified: 2018/02/19 15:15
  • by dlgent