Romanet, Louis Auguste

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Romanet, Louis Auguste

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1880-08-14 - 1.16.1964


Louis Auguste Romanet was born in St. Nazaire en Royans in the south of France on 14 August 1880. At the age of 23 he resigned his commission as a cadet-lieutenant in the 144th Infantry Regiment to seek adventure in North America. He joined the French fur trading company, Revillon Freres which was opening trading posts in Labrador, Northern Quebec and the east coast of Hudson's Bay; and was sent by steamer from Quebec City to Ungava. Romanet had wished for adventure and found it on this first journey. There were no accurate charts of the North Atlantic coasts and Arctic waters and the steamer encountered uncharted shoals and rocks, as well as gales, blizzards, and icebergs before she reached her destination. A dwelling house, store and warehouse were constructed by the Revillon employees on the Koksoak River near the Hudsons Bay Companys post at Fort Chimo. When the steamer "Stord" returned to England and France on October 20, 1903, the chief trader, his wife and two junior traders, one of them Louis Romanet, were left to manage Revillons first trading post in Northern Canada Romanet kept journals of his trip to the New World and of his first winter in Northern Canada, in which he described in detail the strange new people, environments, realities and experiences. During his years at the Ungava post he made many trips throughout the province of Quebec keeping in touch with other Revillon posts and the Eskimo and Indian trappers and hunters. He met the daughter of another trader on one of his journeys and they were married in 1908 or 1909. (At the trading posts years were marked, not by calendar but by the arrivals and departures of the supply steamer, so it is difficult for an outsider to discover the exact dates of events.) A daughter was born to the Romanets at the Ungava post. In 1916 Romanet joined the Hudsons Bay Company as an inspector. At that same time news of the war in Europe finally reached Northern Quebec, and Romanet left his family in care of the Company at Moose Factory while he rejoined his regiment in France. Upon his discharge in 1919 he returned to Canada and began inspection visits throughout Northern Canada from Hudsons Bay to the Pacific Ocean. After joining the Hudsons Bay Company, Romanet began submitting reports in English, which he had learned more or less efficiently, through his contacts with English-speaking traders and natives. His later reports and the manuscripts of his books show great facility with the language, albeit his secretaries weeded out the French idioms that still appeared in his writing. In 1920 the Hudsons Bay Company marked its 250th anniversary with an essay competition among its employees. Romanet won the contest and $1000.00 prize money. In 1923,Romanet was promoted from general inspector to district manager of the Athabasca and Mackenzie River Districts and general manager of the Alberta and Arctic Transportation Company. He was responsible for the operation of all the fur trading posts in the two districts and for the Hudsons Bay Company's river transportation craft: stern-wheelers, barges, and motor launches. With headquarters in Edmonton, his office operated out of Peace River to posts above Fort Vermillion and out of Waterways Fort McMurray to Aklavik. He remained district manager until he left the employ of the Hudsons Bay Company in October, 1930. A meeting with Lowell Thomas in Edmonton, resulted in that author taking over the manuscripts on Romanets autobiography which was published by Thomas in 1932 as Kabluk of the Eskimo. Romanet described the book in a letter to Captain Thierry Mallet of Revillon Freres: What concerns the Eskimo and the Arctic was taken from my MS. What concerns myself was gathered by Mr. Thomas during my stay at his home in Pawling, N.Y., or drawn from his imagination in certain cases. The events he described to Thomas were 'doctored up and magnified by him, to please the public which he knows so well.'


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