Miette Pass

Feature type: Pass (2)
Province: British Columbia
Location: Alta-BC boundary, near headwaters of Grant Brook
Latitude: 53°00’00”
Longitude: 118°39’00”
NTS map: 83D/15
Official name listed at BC Geographical Names

The pass, along with Roche Miette, Miette River, and other regional features, is named for a North West Company voyageur. Until recently virtually nothing was known about Miette, except the legend, first told by Paul Kane in 1846, of the voyageur who climbed Roche Miette and had a smoke on his pipe with his feet dangling over the edge.

Fur trade records investigated by historian David Smythe reveal at least six Miettes engaged by the North West Company in the period between 1797 and 1819, all apparently retiring before the 1821 merger with the Hudson’s Bay Company. They were Andre, Claude, Joseph, Pierre, and two Baptistes. None spelled their last name Miette. Pierre’s was recorded as Millet, while the others were almost exclusively spelled Millette. One of these two Baptiste Millettes is almost certainly the engagé after whom Roche Miette and the other features are named.

Gabriele Franchère was the first to describe “Le Rocher a Miette,” in 1824. According to a North West Company account book of 1811-12 there was an ex-employee named Baptiste Millette living as a freeman in the Athabasca River Department in 1812 and 1813. His trading account ends with an 1813 entry, and nothing further about him is known either before or after this time. None of the other Millettes were apparently stationed in that department. Baptiste Millette may have been the Meillet who accompanied David Thompson in June 1801, during his first attempt to cross the Rockies at the headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River.

References:

  • Smyth, David. “Jasper National Park: some fur trade place names of the Yellowhead Pass.” Canoma Vol. 11, No. 1 (1985).
  • Franchère, Gabriel 1786-1863. Narrative of a voyage to the Northwest Coast of America. New York: Redfield, 1854
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