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  • Writer's pictureOntario Métis Facts

The Turners: A Métis Family

The Turner family, originally of Moose Factory, in what is now Ontario, lived and travelled across vast stretches of the historic fur trade network and has deep connections throughout the Métis Nation Homeland.

The Turner family’s patriarch, Joseph Turner Sr., worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company for nearly 70 years. He and his wife, Emma, had several children born in Moose Factory.

Several of the Turner’s children were employed by the HBC and travelled thousands of miles across west central North America, integrating with and marrying into other Métis communities to the west and south.

For example, their son, Joseph Turner Jr., had a long career with the Hudson’s Bay Company more than 1,000 km west of Moose Factory, working in the Island Lake and Cumberland Districts. He eventually retired to the Red River.

Joseph Jr.’s sister, Charlotte, moved to Red River from Martin Falls when her husband, James Harper, retired from the HBC. She applied for Métis scrip in St. Andrews, Manitoba, in 1875, identifying herself and her parents as “halfbreeds”.

Philip Turner’s son, Joseph Alexander Turner, who was born in Moose Factory, also moved west to Alberta and applied for Métis scrip in 1886.

Their brother, John Turner, stayed in the Abitibi Inland region. Born in Moose Factory in 1842, John worked for the HBC first as an apprentice blacksmith at Eastmain and then as a blacksmith at Temiscamingue for several decades before moving outside of the Abitibi region to Bear Island, Temagami in 1883.

John’s nephew, Alexander Joseph McLeod, was the son of Jane Turner and Scottish HBC servant Alexander McLeod, who were married at Moose Factory in 1854. Alexander Joseph and his brothers, William and George McLeod, were signatories of the 1905 Moose Factory Métis Petition, requesting the same Métis scrip that many of their Métis relatives had received farther west.

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