Josette Work (Legacé) (1809 - 1896)

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Nicknames: ""Little Rib""
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Spokane, WA, USA
Death: Died in Victoria, BC, Canada
Managed by: Karen Irving
Last Updated:
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About Josette Work (Legacé)

Source

http://bcheritage.ca/tod/bios/jwork.htm

Despite his infamous past romantic adventures, when Work met Josette Lagace in 1826 he became a devoted husband. Josette was a Metis (French voyageur father, Spokane Indian mother) girl who would give birth to 10 of his children. She was also helpful in the course of his work and travelled with him on his difficult trading expeditions. He felt himself very lucky to have such a wife and wrote to Edward “The little Wife and I get on very well. She is to me an affectionate partner simple and uninstructed as she is and takes good care of my children & myself” (Work to Ermatinger, 15 Feb. 1841). They were married "a la facon du pays" (according to the Custom of the Country), but over 20 years later had a church wedding at Fort Victoria, conducted by Reverend Robert Staines (who also ran a school which the Work children attended). John Tod attended this wedding and was a witness on the marriage certificate along with James Douglas.

In 1852, John Work bought 583 acres north of Fort Victoria and gradually acquired more property until by 1858, he was the largest individual landowner on Vancouver Island. He and his wife had a lovely, large house on their property. When he became sick with malaria again, Tod visited Work constantly to cheer him up, but his condition worsened. He asked Tod to write Edward Ermatinger, “Tell him I shall never see him again in this world” (Tod to Ermatinger, 20 Dec. 1861). Work died a few days later and was buried at the Quadra Street Cemetery on December 22, 1861. In the next few months, John Tod was a frequent visitor at the Work house to grieve with the family.

The Works seem to have been a close and well-liked family. Tod wrote to Ermatinger in 1868 after spending Christmas with them, “It was a joyful sight to behold. Thirty-two of our late friend's descendants all seated at the same table... My heart warmed with a glow it has seldom felt, to see them all in the full bloom of health, and so happy” (HBC Archives, copy 22). Josette lived another 30 years after her husband and was a respected woman in Victoria. When she died in 1896, she was remembered in a tribute at the Legislature for her “usefulness in pioneer work and many good deeds” (N de B. Lugrin, The Pioneer Women of Vancouver Island: 1843–1866, Victoria, 1928).

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Josette Work's Timeline

1809
1809
Spokane, WA, USA
1827
December 25, 1827
Age 18
1829
November, 1829
Age 20
Colville, WA, USA
1831
1831
Age 22
ID, USA
1836
September 15, 1836
Age 27
Vancouver, WA, USA
1837
1837
Age 28
Canada
1839
1839
Age 30
Fort Simpson, NT, Canada
1843
1843
Age 34
Victoria, BC, Canada
1845
1845
Age 36
Fort Simpson, NT, Canada
1846
1846
Age 37
Fort Simpson, NT, Canada