Mr. and Mrs. Thommy Charlish – Ashuapmushuan area (recorded in 1988 by Mr. Jean-Marie Basile)

  Entrevue avec M. Thommy Charlish, le 25 août 1988.

He had spent his life at Pointe-Bleue (Mashteuiatsh), his father (Paul) as well.  His grandfather Charlish had lived at Métabetchouan.  He came to live at Pointe-Bleue.  In the past, there were deer and moose.  There were Mitshinapeu (Iroquois) who came from Kaknawake; they spoke English.  The hunting and trapping territory of Mr. Thommy Charlish, was towards the Shamushuan.  He started to hunt with his father when he was 16 years old.  He started to hunt alone at the age of 28 years.  He married at 24 years of age, his wife was 21.  He had a taxi, named Dupuis; he had a truck.  He canoed from Portage des Roches.  He carried flour and other edibles.  That took a month.  He fed on fish and moose.  There were numerous Indians who journeyed together; at times 10 canoes.  There were Indians from Mistassini who went to their territory. They fed (Charlish family) well.

Occasionally, they were short of fat.  His mother died at 60 in the forest.  As for his father he died in hospital at 80 years old.  His grandfather was a shaman (wizard); he played the drum.  He used only the drum.  When he went into the forest, after a bear hunt, they made 7 pails of bear fat.  They went in the month of August and stayed until spring.  They returned to Pointe-Bleue (Mashteuiatsh) on the 10th June.  He had already used a gun with a ramrod.  When it rained it did not work.  One could kill a moose, but only from very close.  He used this type of gun for 3 to 4 years.  A 410 calibre weapon did not exist previously.  A gun cost 10 $ to 15 $.  Transportation by horse and cart cost 2.00 $ from Saint-Félicien to Portage des Roches.  It was their custom to bring 2 or 3 tents for the whole family.  He made his toboggan and had no dogs.  He hauled his children and baggage.  His mother made the mesh lacing for the snowshoes from moose or caribou skin.  His father made the wooden frames for snowshoes.  He made them of wood and organised the pelts and meat.  Squirrels are thieves.  They smoked moose and beaver meat.  They treated the fur skins.  They paid for their winter food.  They had troubles. 

Méridé Robertson bought furs and also sold traps.  (Tadule) Nepton bought furs for Méridé Robertson.  The father of Jos. Drolet of Saint-Félicien also bought furs.  In the forest, they took with 1000 pounds of flour, 6 pails of fat, lard, beans, rice, 100 pounds of sugar, tea, 50 pounds of brown sugar, 1 gallon of molasses.  They bought these provisions from the Hudson Bay Company at Mashteuiatsh, on credit.  On their return they paid with the sale of furs.  The canoes were also bought on credit.  In the past a canoe cost about 100 $.  His grandparents came from Obedjiwan (Atikamekw Village).  Mr. Thommy Charlish declared himself Montagnais.  His grandparents came to stay at Mashteuiatsh.  They always had Makushan (traditional meeting meal).  They had smoked beaver.  He and his wife (Estelle) lost 2 children. Being young, Mr. Charlish went to school in the village for 1 month during the summer.  This school was located close to Claude Robertson, the electrician. Schooling was in the Montagnais language (Ilnu).   Mr. Charlish used to work for Price Company at Chicoutimi.  He loves the winter for hunting and trapping. He recalls a large fire that occurred in the forest.  This fire started at Lake Chigoubiche and went to the outskirts of Chicoutimi.  At the same lake (Lake Chigoubiche), there was a famine and 10 families died during one summer.

In the past, tea, sugar and butter were rationed, but not flour. At Mashteuiatsh, there were games, mainly dances, such as the skunk dance.  This dance was performed with a scarf.  The dances went on all night.  There was no drinking of alcohol.  There were only Ilnuatsh.  There were games of chance at François Germain’s; he had a garage.  Today it is the land and house of Mr. Henri Germain.  The games of chance cost about $ 0.05.  Previously, a few Ilnuatsh had automobiles.   An automobile cost about $ 1000.  There were also soda machines.  To get meat from St-Prime there was a portage, before the flood, which led to St-Prime Village.  In the forest, animal heads hung on a tree were a sign of respect and with this gesture, they could on having another good hunting season. The Charlish Family has known misery due to a lack of food.  His father expected to hunt moose on a mountain, but other hunters (whites) had killed two moose.  They were obliged to eat owl.  They were not even able to snare a hare.