Josette Work

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Josette Work (Legacé)

Also Known As: ""Little Rib""
Birthdate: (87)
Birthplace: Spokane, WA, USA
Death: 1896 (87)
Victoria, BC, Canada
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Pierre Legacé and Emma Legacé
Wife of John Work
Mother of Jane Work; Sarah Work; Letitia Work; Margaret Work; Mary Work and 6 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Josette Work


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

Spokane, WA, USA
December 25, 1827
Age 18
November 1829
Age 20
Colville, WA, USA
Age 22
September 15, 1836
Age 27
Vancouver, WA, USA
Age 28
Age 30
Fort Simpson, NT, Canada
Age 34
Victoria, BC, Canada
Age 36
Fort Simpson, NT, Canada
Age 37
Fort Simpson, NT, Canada