Beginning with surveying and engineering studies in 1928, the Island Falls power development was established within the traditional hunting territory of Cree families whose homelands had been along the Churchill River for centuries. During construction in 1929-30, these First Nations people, and others, were drawn to the employment opportunities at Island Falls. Thus the “sister community” of Sandy Bay came into being near the site of Sturgeon House, once occupied by early fur traders between 1799 and 1801.
The Churchill River Power Company was supported in the beginning and throughout its existence by these First Nations people. Initially, Company surveyors made use of the natives geographical knowledge. During the construction period, the Cree labour pool supplemented the imported white crews. Afterwards, the day to day operation of the Camp depended on a relatively large number of Sandy Bay men kept on the CRP payroll. Their contribution ranged from tasks required to keep the Camp functioning, such as garbage collection and road maintenance, to the skilled trades: plumbing, carpentry and mechanics. As the following pictures show, First Nations men worked side by side with the whites, laying the plumbing, framing the buildings, driving the trucks, painting the houses and running the boats.
These photographs are selected mainly from the Northern Lights Magazine articles found elsewhere on this site.
Can anyone provide us with names of unidentified people?
Skip down to Keith Olson's photos.
Skip down to Ron Merasty's photos.
Supt. Rees Davis with the original First Nations work crew in 1931. L. to R.: Raphael Bear, Solomon Michele, John Dorion, Moise Bear, Tom Ballantyne and Pierre Bear.
Adults: Gertie Parker, who worked for the Davis family, Anne Harmer, Gladys Peterson (another housekeeper), and Mona Kierans (who married Stan Cairns) at the front. The rest of the people are unknown.
Island Falls school teacher Elaine McIntosh and her husband with three unidentified children, taken in the 1930's.
Magloire Nateweyes at the helm.
Alex Smith's trading post.
Oblate priest, Fr. Jean Daniel, 1910 - 1981. He was in Sandy Bay between the years 1937-1941.
CRP Co. employee Mike Klymyk (wearing the hat) and an American serviceman with some unknown children.
The Camp's Sandy Bay work crew in 1954. L. to R.: Back row, Leonard Ray, Magloire Nateweyes, Peter Ballantyne, Ernie Ray, Etienne McDonald, Moise Bear Jr., John Merasty. Middle row, Paul Caribou, Moise Bear Sr., Isaac Bear, Herb Peterson, Marcel Bear. Front row, Jean Marie Bear (standing), Gabriel Morin, Edward Bear, Tom Merasty, Charlie Charlotte, John Dorion, Frank Ray, Joe Morin, David Merasty, Phillip McCallum (standing).
An early photo of Dan Merasty, who was considered to be an old-timer by the time he worked on the 6th unit in 1947.
Linemen Bill Jonasson, Angus Bear Sr. and Charlie Ver Wilghen.
Magloire Nateweyes, expert canoe man, hunter and guide, 1962.
Mr. and Mrs. Magloire Nateweyes, 1961.
Mr. and Mrs. Ansel Morin, 1961.
Cecelia and Maggie Ann Morin going home from church, 1961.
Alex Strindlund and Leonard Ray pipefitting at minus 35 degrees.
Mr. and Mrs. Antoine Morin.
Frank Kirkland and Tom Merasty work on the new houses.
Mechanics Ken Bracken and Joe Morin.
Mr. and Mrs. David Merasty on their wedding day in 1956.
Angus Ballantyne and Dave Merasty, truck drivers.
Angus Bear Jr., mechanic and tractor driver.
Carpenters Etienne McDonald and Alex Morin.
On April 7th, 1956, the North lost one of its oldest inhabitants in the death of the late Mrs. Louis Morin of Sandy Bay. This remarkable old lady was virtually the mother of Sandy Bay village. She married Louis Morin, the first Hudson's Bay factor at Pukatawagan in 1883 and their twelve children were born there. After Louis' death the family moved to Sandy Bay. About fifteen years ago an accident necessitated the amputation of one of Mrs. Morin's legs.
Notwithstanding this handicap she continued to get around amongst her family as usual until this past winter. She leaves to mourn her at Sandy Bay ten of her own children — of whom the eldest is a son aged seventy two — sixty-one grandchildren, fifty-two great grand-children and two great, great grand-children. There are seventeen families living at Sandy Bay now who are direct descendants of this fine old matriarch.
A group of Sandy Bay and Island Falls girls in the skating rink. L. to R.: Virginia Charlette, Veronica Morin, Emily Sinclair, Marie Louise Charlette, ? (hidden), Nora Ballantyne (with the goofy look on her face and standing slightly tilted), ? (hidden), Irene McDonald, Flora Nateweyes (with the white fur ear muffs), Barbara Westbury, Linda Bowman, Margie Bear, Lillian Bear (dark and petite in the front row), Yvonne Bear, Kathy Goertzen, Judy Russell, Veronique Caribou (very serious looking), Angelique Linklater, Dorothy Bear. [Our thanks to Alison Ballentyne for these names]
Stew Russell on the left with Eric King (white jacket) and Mona McGregor with an unknown man and children.
1958 construction crew from Sandy Bay. Back row: Jonas Ballentyne, William Bear, Andrew McDonald, Sam Ballentyne. Second row: Sudley Bear, Cyril Daniels, Joe-Joe Charlotte, Robert (Lepa) Morin, Ralph McDonald, Ovide Bear. Third row (seated): Eli Nateweyes, Paul Morin, Frank Brazier, Peter Linklater. Front: Alfred Montgrand, Frank Ray.
Pipefitting crew: Magloire Nateweyes, Leonard Ray, Matthew Nateweyes, Alex Strindlund.
Miss Willett's class, 1960.
Mr. Heicht's class 1960.
Miss McDougall's class, 1960.
Mr. Stasiuk's class, 1960.
The "Happy Gang", Eli Natoweyes, Alfred Montgrand, William (Bill) Bear, Peter Linklater, Angus Bear Sr.
Harry Bighetty, store clerk, and Gabriel Morin, plumber, 1961.
Adelaide (Mrs. Antoine Bear) and grandchildren preparing beaver skin.
Harry Bighetty, Chuck Hill and Paul Morin in the No. 2 commissary.
Back: Esther Bear Murray (daughter of Angus and Antoinette) on the left, Lillian Morin Bear on the right. Front: Cecelia Merasty on the left (with eyeglasses), and Roseline Daylight.
Sulaht (Mrs. Bud Ray) and Adele (Mrs. Louis McDonald).
Gilbert and Harry Morin, 1963.
Isaac Bear, 1965.
Cornelius Bear and David Merasty, utility truck crew.
Louis Bear and Louis Ray, 1963.
Marcel Daniels and Angus Ballantyne, 1963.
Mrs. Louisa McCallum, 1963.
Peter Linklater and Norman Nateweyes, 1966.
Interior decorating crew, Ralph McDonald, Philip Morin, Louis Bear and Paul Caribou (kneeling).
Alf Broster and his carpenter crew, 1963.
The following photos are from Keith Olson's collection. [click on photos to enlarge]
David Merasty, 1958
Jean Marie Bear and Doug Russell at the machine shop.
Frank Ray, Magloire Nateweyes and Leonard Ray, 1969.
Tim Leslie, David Merasty and Alfred Montgrand, 1969.
Louis Ray, 1957
Sandy Bay crew arrive below the
Plant in the tail race, 1958
Tom Merasty and Etienne McDonald, 1958.
Etienne MacDonald retirement party, 1969.
The following photos were contributed by Ron Merasty
C.R.P Crew (left to right: Frank Ray, Paul Caribou, Philip Morin, Angus Bear, Gabriel Morin, and Garnet Jeffrey.
David Merasty, left, and my late dad, Tom Merasty.
This photo is of the late Peter Merasty (d. 1963) and my late dad, Thomas Merasty (1927-2000), taken outside of the home of Jane and Tom Merasty, along the main road in Sandy Bay at the time. The occasion was before a trip from Sandy Bay to Medicine Hat, in early 1960. Peter didn’t go on the trip, but my mom, Jane, went along. The truck was an International 110, I believe, and my dad may have bought it from someone in Island Falls, as was usually the case when it came to vehicle purchases in those days.
Photo courtesy of Jane Merasty.
Etienne McDonald and his son, John, likely the early 1960s.
This is a photo of the Merasty family around 1949, the year the Sandy Bay Roman Catholic church was built. Napoleon Merasty, in the front of the photo, was severely injured in a fall during the church’s construction, so this picture was taken before that unhappy event. The others in the photo are: Leonard Ray, Thomas Merasty, David Merasty, and the dad, John Merasty. It was likely taken on a Sunday, judging by the way they’re dressed.
See also the 1946 Northern Lights Magazine special article on Sandy Bay
See also a page of photos contributed by Flora Smigel
See also "Sandy Bay's Fields of Dreams" by Ron Merasty
Kennetch Charlette of Sandy Bay is given a Toastmasters International award, 2006