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Mary Belcourt Davis fonds
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- Graphic material
- Sound recording
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- Source of title proper: Title based on contents of the fonds.
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Dates of creation area
- Belcourt, Mary
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1 audio cassette
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Name of creator
Mary Belcourt Davis was born Mary Jane Belcourt in Slave Lake ca. 1900, the daughter of Betsy Calliou and the grand-daughter of Louie Calliou and Annie Donald. She appears on the 1901 Census as living in the Grand Prairie area along with the Iroquois Metis families around Flying Shot Lake. Her age at that time is noted as “9”, but is probably 9 months, as on the 1911 census her age is listed as 11 years. The same census shows her father as Pierre Belcourt and two siblings–Norman, aged 9, and Selina, aged 5.
Mary’s grandfather, Louie Calliou, was an Iroquois-Cree Metis born in Edmonton ca. 1854. His father, Louis L’Iroquois (Calliou), was an expert canoe man, guide and hunter who came west with his brother Bernard to work for the Hudson Bay Company or the North-West Trading Company. The young Louis married Annie Donald, from Winnipeg, and their children were born in Edmonton, Stony Plain, Slave Lake and Lac St. Ann. Mary’s mother, Betsy (Betsi) Calliou was born in Lac St. Ann ca. 1878. In the late 1800s the family moved to the Flying Shot Lake area. Later Betsy also lived at Sturgeon Lake.
Mary Belcourt spent her childhood at Flying Shot Lake and her teen years in the newly-formed town of Grande Prairie. She worked at the Donald Hotel and enjoyed going to dances throughout the south Peace with friends such as Liz LeClerc and cousins Jim, Mac and Henry Ferguson. They were the sons of St. Pierre Ferguson and Philomene Calliou, sister to Mary’s father Louis Calliou. Another of St. Pierre’s daughters, Mary, was married to DeWinter.
In 1930 Mary married Thomas Davis, and the couple had four children: Vera Kathleen, Harry Thomas (Ira), Evelyn Bertha and Norman Robert. When Mary was pregnant with Norman in the late 1930s, the couple moved to Edmonton where the two girls were placed in the O’Connell Institute and Ira was left in St. Mary’s Boys Home. In 1939, Tom enlisted in the war and was gone six years. His family, together again, lived on the army pay in Edmonton near the downtown core.
Mary would often tell her children that it was better that no one knew they had “Indian” blood. When she would talk to friends in Cree, she would tell her grandchildren she was speaking French. Mary spent her last years living with her daughters and died in 1972.
The photographs were preserved by Betsy Calliou and passed on to her daughter Mary on her death. When Mary died, they came in to the possession of her daughter Vera and were identified by her grand-daughter Cindy Desrosiers. Copies of the photographs and an oral history were donated to South Peace Regional Archives in 2005.
Scope and content
The fonds consists of copies of 43 photographs of the Calliou, Belcourt and Ferguson families and their descendents, and one oral history interview with Vera Davis Miles, daughter of Mary Belcourt Davis, and Cindy Desrosiers, daughter of Evelyn Davis. The interview tells the story of Mary Belcourt and her mother Betsy Calliou.
Immediate source of acquisition
The photographs were preserved by Betsy Callihoo and passed on to her daughter Mary on her death. When Mary died, they came in to the possession of her daughter Vera and were identified by her grand-daughter Cindy Desrosiers. Copies of the photographs and an oral history were donated to South Peace Regional Archives in 2005.
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There are no restrictions on access.
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A finding aid is available at http://southpeacearchives.org/mary-belcourt-davis-fonds/
No accruals are expected.
This fonds has been identified as having Indigenous related content. Researchers may encounter language that is outdated and offensive. To learn more about Indigenous records at the South Peace Regional Archives please see our guide: https://southpeacearchives.org/indigenousrecords/
Accession number: 2005.039
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