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Marie and Michel Bouvier

Bouvier spring campMichel and Marie Bouvier were a hunting and trapping couple who lived at Fort Rae in the Northwest Territories. Mr. and Mrs. Bouvier were among the first people profiled by Terry Garvin as he did his photographic and written research in the north. Records on them date back to 1955. Michel Bouvier was a proficient oral translator in the Dogrib, Chipewyan, French, and English languages, some of which he learned over four summers of formal schooling.

Michel Bouvier.For many years, Mr. Bouvier was a reliable liaison between government and church people and the Aboriginal community, as he acted as a translator and relayed messages between people of different languages. In 1918, the last year of the First World War, the Allied military intended to move supplies by dog team and toboggan using experienced Native trappers as dog mushers. Mr. Bouvier was recruited to act as a dog musher in the event that the Allies may have to move military supplies in northern Russia. This, however, did not happen. Mr. Bouvier and others trained in Calgary for five months, but the war ended before their skills could be put to use. Michel Bouvier was sent back to the Northwest Territories where he returned to a life of traditional hunting and trapping, and language translation. Both Michel and Marie worked at a spring fishing camp near Fort Rae, where they would gather fish and muskrat pelts for market. Both were skilled in the ways of catching and preparing fish meat and processing the pelts of fur-bearing animals.

Both Michel and Marie have long since passed on, but a small piece of the life they knew has been recorded for the benefit of future generations.

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