Henry was the fourth child (1st son) of James Young (1822-1870) and Isabella Stevens (1826 – 1919), who were married c.a. 1848 at St. Andrews Parish. (As a reminder, St. Andrews was located on the east side of the Red River, across from Lower Fort Garry.) Henry was born on Nov 11, 1855 and was baptised Dec 9, 1860. He had three older sisters: Jane (July 21, 1849) who would have been six when he was born; Louisa Rachel, four and a half (Mar 1, 1851); and Mary Anne (Jan 9, 1853) would have been almost three. Three little girls and a new real live doll... I can only imagine the attention he would have gotten! (It wasn't until four years later that the next brand-new little doll joined the family group)
Well, he grew up none the worse for wear. When he was almost ten in 1865, typhus (some say Cholera) ravaged Red River and within one family (the Bruneau household), twelve died! As far as I know, everyone in Henry's family survived – and didn't miss a beat, by this time they had seven children and one on the way. Life went on, the fall arrived and this is when it's time to cut the hay and hunt for winter provisions. Only this fall, the buffalo hunt was very poor and many Métis went hungry that winter. The hay stacks remained on the ground, in many cases, near their winter homes.
They suffered a lot of hardship but realized it also made life more precious. Their relationships were that much more special which fostered their growing sense of community. In the winter, all travel was by cutter and cariole with chains of bells, the families dressed in their warm furs. Some twenty cutters and carioles would comprise a surprise party that called on friends for dance and merriment. If you look at the annual patterns of all the Métis activities, they combined music, dancing and socializing as an important criterion of their civilization and their quality of life. The women and children were always included in the merrymaking as the Métis are a very strong family-oriented people. In this environment, it's no wonder an inspired young man such as Henry would pick up a fiddle and play it with all his heart and soul. Possessing an in-born talent he became a master, later teaching his own sons the intricacies of the fiddle and the unique rhythms of the Métis music.
Incidentally, it's believed the "Red River Jig", a most popular dance of the Métis, was created about 1875. The dance was based on an Indian dance which they said was based on the dance of the 'Prairie Chicken' in mating season.
Speaking of that, Henry married Catherine Jane Taylor (Nov 11, 1859 – Dec 18, 1954) on April 12, 1877 at St. Andrews in the Rapid Church. She reportedly had beautiful big brown eyes. She was born at Little Britain (St. Catherine's) and was baptised Dec 11, 1859 at St. Andrews, in Red River.
Her father was George Taylor (ID# 4636), a Métis farmer who was born Oct 3, 1829 at Red River, possibly York Factory, which was a major HBC trading post. This is possible since his father was a trader and is included in the Hudson Bay archives. Her mother was Isabela Cooper (ID# 4638) who was born in 1835 at Red River. Her parents lived at St. Andrews so this is likely where she was born.
In March 1877, just before Henry and Catherine were married, the Tetons' Dakota Sioux refugees arrived in Canada with 57 lodges, and Sitting Bull a.k.a. Tatanka Yotanka (1834? – 1890) arrived with 135 lodges. It would be interesting to find out how this would have impacted on the community of St. Andrews Parish being so close to the United States border.
Nine months (almost to the day) after they were married, George Young was born on Jan 16, 1878. This is the year that John Norquay, a Métis, became premier of Manitoba until 1887. He was never completely clear of racial slurs, during heated debate, the opposition said "It's the Indian in you!" Also this was the year that the Americans prevented the buffalo from returning to Canada by setting prairie fires north of the migrating herds. Once confined, the last great slaughter took place. The ramifications on the Canadian population that winter were significant.
In 1879, the buffalo was essentially extinct in Canada as a direct result of the American actions over the last number of years. Survival would depend heavily on the agricultural development of the region. Even through all this hardship, Arthur James was born on Apr 15, 1880, a robust boy who lived to be 95 years old, he died in 1975!
Political tensions were rising and the future of the Métis way of life was reaching towards the end of an era. Henry and Catherine started to plan to go west. They were going to have to leave their land to make room for the new settlers. They were each given a scrip note with a monetary value of ten dollars each and were told they could buy two sections of land with them in Saskatchewan. They decided to make the trip.
At the beginning of the year, on Jan 7, 1882, John Charles Young was born. That year, the Young family started on the long trek west, a brave and historic venture. They made the journey in Red River carts via the course following west to Qu'Appelle and north to Prince Albert, then on to the Puckahn Post Office, which is now only a landmark across the river and west from Fenton. There, they resided for the remainder of the summer and winter of 1882 -83. In 1883, they moved south of Brancepeth in the Derby Homestead district and decided to stay. First in a self-made sod house, they settled into the "old homestead" in Brancepeth on Dec 7, 1884, where they resided ever since. From this point forward, they felt their Métis heritage would have to be a secret for fear their land would be taken again, but they cherished and kept their spirit, their music and their unshakable family ties. It would be generations before their true heritage would be revealed again.
In a newspaper article titled "Mrs. Young Symbolized the Spirit of the West", written after the passing of 'Granny Young', I will quote: "A highly respected family by all who knew them, which was many. McDuff and Granny (as they were known) held their birthday party on November 11 as both their birthdays fell on the same day. This was not an ordinary party, but one where as high as two hundred people would gather during the course of the afternoon and evening, have supper with the happy family, then enjoy a very pleasant evening reminiscing the old times. Their stories of hardships and struggles (which they laughed about) that went with pioneering would cause a shudder from the present-day resident."
Children of Henry George Young "McDuff" and Catherine Jane Taylor "Granny"
- George Young was born Jan 16, 1878 in St. Andrews, died in 1958 (80)
- Arthur James Young was born Apr 15, 1880 in St. Andrews and died in 1975 (95)
- John Charles Young was born Jan 7, 1882 in St. Andrews and died Feb 19, 1902 (20)
- Samuel Amable Young was born Feb 2, 1884 in Brancepeth and died Feb 6, 1912 (28)
- Richard Victor Young was born Dec 16, 1885 in Brancepeth and died in 1956 in Kinistino Hospital (71) He married Saskatchewan-born Emily Caroline Taylor (Sept 8, 1894 – 1990) daughter of Edward Prince Taylor (Feb 1, 1841 – Jul 10, 1919)who was a farmer, and Sarah Stevens (Oct 1854 – Oct 9, 1944)
- Elizabeth Isabelle Young was born May 18, 1889 and died Dec 1, 1973 (84)
- Walter Young was born Aug 12, 1891 and died May 19, 1894 (2y 9mos)
- Blanch Young was born Dec 24, 1893 and married first Rowen Stevens, who died from a bacterial infection, then Englishman John Thomas Stubbs. Blanch died in 2000? (107)
- Thomas Miles Young was born Mar 17, 1896, joined the military Jun 1, 1918, married Lottie Boylen, and died in June 1975 (79)
- Claude Young was born Feb 12, 1898, married Edna Ethel Peters and died Mar 17, 1987 (89)
- Catherine 'Lottie' Young was born Aug 15, 1901 and died Jan 18, 1925 (23)
- Lucy Lena Belinda Young was born Jan 6, 1904, married Andrew Curle (May 1903-1988) and died Mar 6, 1976 in Calgary (72)