Campell River, Vancouver Island Museum Photo Gallery

Irene-(Joseph) Wilson/ Lawrentief

First Name: Irene
Last Name: (Joseph) Wilson/ Lawrentief
Lived: 1917 - 1957
Irene-(Joseph) Wilson/ Lawrentief
Bio:

Irene was the daughter of Annie Joseph of Church House and Tom Joseph of Sliammon.  Irene's maternal grandparents were Joseph Charlie and Mary Pielle (who appears in some records as Mary Pierre).  Her paternal grandparents  were Joseph Dominick and Irene August.

 At the age of 14 Irene lost both her parents to influenza.  She was left with a younger brother Charles who was only two years old. Four months later her maternal grandmother, Mary (Pielle) Joseph died.

Irene married Alex Wilson, eldest son of basket maker Annie Wilson.  The couple had a son, Frank, but eventually separated.

Irene's second husband was Paul Lawrentieff, a hand logger reputedly descended from a member of the Russian royal family who fled Russia after the assassination of Czar.  The couple met when Irene went to work at a cannery in Redonda Bay where Paul was hand logging.

 

Irene and Paul decided to make their home in Redonda Bay which, in the late 30's and 40's, was a settlement of some importance.  In addition to the cannery there was a store, a school and regular steamship visits.  Importantly for basket makers, Redonda Bay was known for the cedar trees that covered the surrounding hillsides.  Its aboriginal name, T'exém7aajim means 'red cedar place' and for generations native peoples have gone there to harvest cedar roots and bark for their baskets.

 

In 19 ___ Paul and Irene had a daughter, Vera (Peacey). Vera remembers harvesting basketry materials with her mother.  Cedar roots came from behind the family home in Redonda Bay but to get the cherry bark they had to go by boat to a spot further along the coast.

 

Irene's baskets helped to supplement the family income.  People  would contact her, describe what they wanted and Irene would make a basket to their specifications.  She also made baskets as gifts for family and friends.  A round basket that her daughter still has, (see PC VP3 below) was made to hold 78 records,  another, made for a neighbour's child, was  designed to hold comic books.  In each case the basket's dimensions are perfectly sized to their intended task.

 

Like her mother before her Irene died at the young age of 35.  She is buried in

 

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