Golden museum honours early settler Baptiste Morigeau

One of Golden's original citizens, and the first merchant to set up shop in the area, is being honoured with an exhibit at the Museum.

One of Golden’s original citizens, and the first merchant to set up shop in the area, is being honoured with an exhibit at the Golden Museum.

Baptiste Morigeau, anticipating the route of the railway, came to what was then known as The Cache, in 1883.

“Baptiste Morigeau declared to all the people around the table at the old motel that we were going to change the name of the town from The Cache to Golden City. And they broke a bottle of rum on a wagon wheel,” said Colleen Palumbo, executive director of the museum.

For the grand opening of the exhibit on April 26, Palumbo has invited great great grandson of Morigeau, Paul Ricard, to commemorate that moment.

“We have the wagon wheel out front, so we’re going to do that again, and it’s the 130th anniversary of that happening.”

Morigeau, although only residing in Golden for three years, has a long history in the valley. After his first wife, Collette Kinbasket (daughter of the hereditary Chief of the Kinbasket Nation) passed away, he needed another wife to help him with his three children.

He wrote to St. Eugene’s Mission near Cranbrook, and they sent him a new wife, Theresa. They went on to have 11 children together.

But when his children started to get older, he found that he was too far away from their school in Cranbrook, so he moved the family to Windermere.

Morigeau was of Métis decent, so Palumbo has incorporated Métis culture into the exhibit.

“I hope that it’s going to be interesting for the Métis people, and I hope that it’s going to satisfy some of our visitors who come here looking for information on the Native people who lived in Golden, because there weren’t any,” she said.

With some help from local artist Donna Lea Ringer, the exhibit will include some special pieces, made as authentically as possible.

She contributed some finger weaving, made with naturally dyed wool, birch bark baskets, and moccasins made from naturally tanned deer hides, and bound with authentic sinew.

She has also put together a “medicinal” section, where she has gathered some traditional remedies, and compared them with what we use today for the same ailments.

“She (Ringer) is so amazingly detailed. I told her she didn’t have to go through all that work, but she wanted it to be right,” said Palumbo.

Between now and the opening, Palumbo will be busy rearranging the museum, making room for the new permanent exibit.

The grand opening reception, by invitation, is at 4 p.m. on April 26.

It will be open to the public at 4:30 p.m., where they will be serving 200 bowls of soup and bannock.

“So if you’re interested in coming out and trying some traditional Métis soup and bannock, you’re certainly welcome. There will also be some dancing and some drumming,” said Palumbo.

Kickin Thyme Catering will be providing the soup.