The name “Lazare” is variously rendered in the explorers’ journals and related documents: Lazare la Baggay, La Buscay, Lazar (Brown), Lazare La bisca (MacDonald), Lazar, Lasore, Lesare (Buttle), Lazare (Whymper), Lewie Lassare, Lazarre (Michael Muir), Lazare Le Buscay (S. Franklin).
For the authenticity of the story in the book the name “Lazare” is used.
These days “Lazare” is recognized as “Louis Lazzar” who later became Chief of the T’Sou-ke First Nation.
Louis Lazzar (1849 – 1925) was born in Oregon. He was the oldest of two sons of Michael Lazzar (Ognioroghette) of French Canadian and Iroquois descent, and his wife Theresa Rabasca, from the T’Sou-ke descent.
As a family they had arrived from Oregon in the early 1850s and his father Michael started working at the coal mines for the HBC in Nanaimo. Soon after they moved to Sooke where most of their friends were. The Lazzar family were close to the Brulé family who also had come from Oregon in 1851 and had settled in Sooke. The third baby of Mary Ann Brulé was baptized in March, 1851, by Bishop Modeste Demers, with Michael and Theresa Lazzar as godparents.
When Michael Lazzar was killed in 1857, T’Sou-ke native “Kwaq a yuk” (later also known as ferry man Chief Cap’n Jack) became the foster parent of Louis Lazzar [then about 8 years old] and his younger brother. The reason being that they had T’Sou-ke blood, in addition to their Iroquois and French Canadian heritage.
When the VIEE arrived in Sooke and camped close to the Brulé’s family farm it is easy to picture the presence of Louis, and maybe also his younger brother. In Brown’s public record “Vancouver Island Exploration 1864” he states that “Lazare La Buscay” joined the expedition already on 6 July when they were camped at Port San Juan [Port Renfrew], however none of the journals or documents confirm this. It is presumed that Louis was hired as a guide and packer, together with three other natives, and joined the expedition on 13 July (at the age of around 15). He turned out to be a good hunter and help, therefore at Sooke Lake on 17 July, Lieutenant Leech (temporarily in command of the expedition) engaged him at $1 a day. Later at Cowichan Commander Robert Brown agreed and extended his services and engaged him at $25 a month. According to Brown’s official report Lazzar stayed with the VIEE until 7 September. However Lazzar left the VIEE on 20 September and came back from Alberni on board the steamer “Thames.”
Beside his services for the VIEE Louis was employed by the Muir family[84-see book] for canoe transport, worked in their sawmill and in the tan bark industry.
When T’Sou-ke Chief Walse’a died his brother Kwaq a yuk, next to him in line, succeeded as chief. Louis Lazzar, his brother and their mother Therese were now living with Kwaq a yuk in the T’Sou-ke village. Later around 1890, on Kwaq a yuk deathbed he spoke the wish that Louis Lazzar would become the next chief and marry, former T’Sou-ke Chief, Walse’a daughter, “Mary.” The couple had five children. Louis Lazzar became Chief of the T’Sou-ke Nation from around 1890 until his death in 1925.
Copyright © July 2014, Bart van den Berk.
[Annotated and edited from the following main sources, in order of usage.]
Sooke Region Museum, The Sooke Story – The History and the Heartbeat, Sooke, B.C.: 1 Jan 1999; 433 pages.
Brown, Robert, MS-0794, Robert Brown Papers, British Columbia Archives, Victoria, Canada. Vol.2, file 3-9, Journals of Vancouver Island Exploring Expedition, 7 June 1864 – 22 Oct. 1864.
Brown, Robert, MS-0794, Robert Brown Papers, British Columbia Archives, Victoria, Canada. Vol.4, Macintosh, Winniefreda, Transcripts:, Journals of Vancouver Island Exploring Expedition, 7 June 1864 – 22 Oct. 1864.
Hayman, John, Robert Brown and the Vancouver Island Exploring Expedition, Vancouver: UBC Press, 1989; 211 pages.
(Keyword) biography Lazare – Louis Lazzar