Fonds 0164 - Gabriel Basly fonds

Gabriel Basly's Car Adrien Ponthier de Chamaillard Adrien Ponthier de Chamaillard Death Announcement Gabriel Basly in the Trenches Gabriel Basly Jules & Blanch Pivert Family Gabriel Basly in Big Valley, Alberta Gabriel Basly and Wounded Friend French Troops in Camp
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Gabriel Basly fonds

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  • Textual record
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  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents of the fonds.

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CA GPR 0164

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  • 1900-2004 (Creation)
    Basly, Gabriel

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Physical description

2 cm of textual records
21 photographs
33 postcards

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Biographical history

Gabriel (Gaby) Rene Basly was born on March 28, 1885 in Gennevilliers (Seine-St. Denis), France, a district on the Northern edge of Paris. He was the seventh child born to Jules Alexander Basly and Amelie Marie Lecouvreur. His father was "chef d'atelier d'entrapreneur," a shop foreman in an artisan type workshop. Gaby's mother had been a widow when she married Jules Basly. She brought two daughters with her: Leontine and Blanch. It was with this second daughter, Blanch Charbonneaux, and her family that Gaby would come to Canada with. When he was 15 years old, Gaby was apprenticed as an electrician to "Compagnie des Chemins de Fer de L'ouest," (Railway Company of the West) at Champs de Mars. This rail station is situated in the 15th Arrondissement (district) in Paris, south of the Eiffel tower along the Seine. At the time, young men in France were required to serve in the army for three years, so at the age of 21, Gaby enlisted in an infantry unit at Caen, County Calvados, where he was living with an older brother who was his guardian, his parents already being deceased. When he immigrated to Canada in 1907 with Jules and Blanche (Charbonneaux) Pivert, he notified the French Government about his move and inquired about his army status. Gaby and the Pivert family took out homesteads in Big Valley, Alberta, about 67 km east of Innisfail. Gaby filed on part S.E. 16-36-9-W4th in 1907 and received his patent for proving up on the homestead in 1911. In August 1914, Gaby was informed by the French Consulate that he should report for mobilization with his army corps, so with several other young men from Big Valley who were also French, he made his way back to France to "save the motherland." He was placed in the 17th Company of the 302 Infantry Regiment, and in August-September of 1914 fought in the Battle of Lorraine, which was a disaster for the French. During the next year, the 302 Regiment lost so many of its soldiers that it was dissolved and Gaby was moved to the 311 Infantry Regiment, just in time to fight in the Battle of Verdun (June 1916), where he served as a message carrier. It was in the Battle of Verdun that Gaby earned his "Croix de Guerre," an award for bravery. The citation reads, "Basly, Gabriel No. 1156, of 7075 13th Comp. has assured communications with the company, with the greatest disdain for danger under a bombardment of the most violent kind during attacks on the 15th, 16th and 17th of June 1916.";Again, because of heavy losses, Gaby was transferred again to the 255 Infantry Regiment, which is the number that appears on his uniform, and in April 1917, he was granted permission to travel back to Canada on a three-week leave. Gaby never went back to the war. His relatives and friends from Big Valley, who had also returned to France at the outbreak of the war had all decided that they would be fools to return. They had given three years of their lives and lost many good friends and former neighbours from Big Valley. Gaby settled back into farming, and in 1926 headed for Grande Prairie with the Pivert brothers (Blanche & Jules nephews) to start a new life. There he acquired many horses, working the land with them in the summer and hauling coal in the winter. He also worked as a "Bull Cook" for a lumber camp at Big Mountain. Gaby died on May 4, 1966 at the age of 80 years. He is buried in the Grande Prairie Municipal Cemetery.

Custodial history

The records were preserved by Gabriel Basly's niece, Paulette Pivert Hrychiw, who deposited them in Grande Prairie Regional Archives in 2004.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of military papers, photographs and postcards from Mr. Basly’s time in the French military; leases and records concerning his farm; two photographs of him after the war; and papers detailing his relationship with Veteran’s Affairs. There is also a paper written by Paulette Hrychiw, based on the papers in his collection and supplemental research, detailing his movements with the French Army and her memories of Uncle Gaby, with whom they lived from 1939 to the 1960s.

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Immediate source of acquisition

The records were preserved by Gabriel Basly's niece, Paulette Pivert Hrychiw, who deposited them in Grande Prairie Regional Archives in 2004.


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There are no restrictions on access.

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Accession number: 2004.56

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South Peace Regional Archives

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  • English

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