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Bessette Family

The Bessette family played an important role in the settlement and development of Lumby.

The first man to pre-empt land in the Lumby district was Pierre Bessette.  The part of Lumby east of Shuswap Avenue formed a portion of his original pre-emption.  Pierre, or Peter as he became to be known, arrived in Lumby shortly before 1874.  

A pioneer settlement is surrounded by forest and mountains. There are several wooden sheds, barns and houses. The largest house has a large garden and wooden fence.

Napoleon Jr. House in Lumby circa 1900

On March 5, 1878, Peter married Eunice Virginia Martin, the widow of Thomas Christien.  They had nine children: Eugene, Georgiana, Malvina, Mary, Albert, Charles, Herbert, Clarence and Blandine.

Two young men are sitting beside each other. They appear to be brothers. The man on the left has dark hair and is very serious. He is wearing at World War I army uniform. The man on the right is a priest. He is wearing round wire-rimmed glasses and has a nice smile. His hair is very wavy. He is wearing a clerical collar and dark vestment

Clarence and Herbert Bessette, sons of Pierre Bessette 1917

Eunice had a son, Thomas from her previous marriage.  Eunice died in Lumby on June 12, 1895 and Peter on November 16, 1895.  Eugene was one of the first babies to be baptized in the area.

Herbert was the first native son of British Columbia to be ordained as a priest.  Mail was brought to Peter’s home as he was the local postmaster.

By 1884, Pierre’s brother John and his wife, Helene (née Dube) arrived in White Valley from Connecticut.  Their children included: Rose, Nellie, Delia, Annie, Mary, John, Emma, Ida, Maria and Edgar.  A son, Joseph, died in Quebec before they arrived.  John died in Lumby on June 13, 1931 and Helene passed away on October 31, 1941.

A group of pioneers are posing outside a wooden structure. Three are sitting on chairs and the rest are standing. The old woman sitting in the middle chair is holding a book.

Bessette Family circa 1905. Hortense Bessette seated in middle

In 1890, Napoleon (Paul) Bessette joined his brothers Pierre and John in Lumby.

Napolean brought his wife Hortence (née Lamoureaux) and children Melina, Napoleon Jr., Lesima, Helena and Elesor (called Johnnie) arriving from Fall River, Massachusetts.  Another daughter, Anna                                                                                                   was born in 1893.

A woman is wearing a large hat with a big ribbon. She is dressed in an old fashioned long skirt and high necked blouse. The sleeves are billowy. Her hands are behind her back and she is smiling.

Helena Bessette circa 1908

Three of their children, Joseph, Maria and Henry passed away before the Bessette’s moved to Lumby.

Napolean Sr. operated the first sawmill in Lumby: White Valley Sawmill.  It was built by Pierre Bessette and Charles Levasseur.  The mill was powered by a water wheel and was built on Pierre Bessette’s property.  Napolean Sr. died on February 21, 1895 and Hortence on September 5, 1911.

A soldier is standing on a dirt road. He has a large backpack. He is holding a rifle that is touching the ground.

Johnnie Bessette in uniform, 1916

The three brothers, Pierre, John and Napoleon were sons of Moyse and Hermine (nee Desinque), all baptised in Saint-Athanase, Québec.

In 1891, two nephews of the brothers, sons of their sister Hermine (who married Charles Bessette) arrived in White Valley.  They were Pierre (Pete) and John Claude Bessette.  Both men were killed in action during World War I.