Photo shows the community of Little Fort from across the North Thompson River. File photo

Valley Voices From The Past: A brief history of Little Fort, B.C.

The following is an excerpt taken from Upper North Thompson Reflections

By Albert and Tiny Latremouille

During the fur trading era, Hudson Bay Fur Trading Co. built a small trading post on the east side of the North Thompson River. Hence the name Little Fort. This property became the homestead of Napoleon Genier and his family about the same time as Anthime Lemieux homesteaded on lot 1658 on the west side of the river — 1839.

Anthime and Adele (St. Amour) Lemieux and family lived in a small log house overlooking the river. This house later became the first post office at Little Fort.

Anthime used to put up hay from wild hay meadows and would winter cattle for farmers south of Little Fort. It seems that a farmer came to collect his cattle in the spring of 1869 and found one of his calves had been misplaced. He laid a cattle theft charge against Anthime. J.H. Latremouille (brother-in-law) sent a native to Little Fort to warn Anthime that a constable from Kamloops was on his way to arrest him. While the constable came up one side of the river, Anthime went down the other side, caught an 11 p.m. train out of Kamloops to Vancouver, and crossed the border into the U.S.A.

In 1898, he thought it would be safe to come back to Little Fort to get his wife and family. The cattle theft charge was still on record so if he ever came back to B.C. he would be arrested. Word got out that Anthime was in Little Fort. Two special constables were sent out from Kamloops and arrested him at Little Fort.

On their way north, the two constables stayed overnight with Johnny Belanger, who had a farm on the riverfront between Darfield and Chinook Cove. They left in the early morning to pick up Anthime and came back to over-night at Belanger’s farm again. One of the constables asked Johnny where the bell was they had used the previous night.

A bell was used to put on a horse when they were turned loose to graze so they could easily be located in the morning. Belanger told the constable the bell was hanging on the far side of the barn away from the house. Belanger then told Anthime, in French, “Now is your chance to get away.”

Anthime ran to the river, used a log to get to the other side, got to Louis Creek and stole a horse from Jack Cahilty, made his way to Kamloops, again caught the 11 p.m. train to Vancouver and back to the U.S.A. The charge against Anthime stood for 20 years and was then stricken from the records and he would be free again to enter B.C.

J.H. Latremouille helped Adele and family move to the U.S. to join Anthime. At some point in time, the Lemieux family moved to Alaska where they spent the rest of their lives. In 1924, Anthime, Adele, their youngest daughter, and her husband made an extended trip back to visit family in the Valley.

Jack Cahilty had his horse returned to him.

Lemieux Creek is named after our great-uncle Anthime Lemieux.

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