Fonds 164 Gabriel Basly fonds


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1906-2004. — 2 cm of textual records. — 21 photographs. — 33 postcards.

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Biographical Sketch

Gabriel (Gaby) Rene Basly was born on March 28, 1885 in Gennevilliers (Seine-St. Denis), France, a district on the Northern edge of Paris. He was the seventh child born to Jules Alexander Basly and Amelie Marie Lecouvreur. His father was “chef d’atelier d’entrapreneur,” a shop foreman in an artisan type workshop. Gaby’s mother had been a widow when she married Jules Basly. She brought two daughters with her: Leontine and Blanch. It was with this second daughter, Blanch Charbonneaux, and her family that Gaby would come to Canada with.

When he was 15 years old, Gaby was apprenticed as an electrician to “Compagnie des Chemins de Fer de L’ouest,” (Railway Company of the West) at Champs de Mars. This rail station is situated in the 15th Arrondissement (district) in Paris, south of the Eiffel tower along the Seine.

At the time, young men in France were required to serve in the army for three years, so at the age of 21, Gaby enlisted in an infantry unit at Caen, County Calvados, where he was living with an older brother who was his guardian, his parents already being deceased. When he immigrated to Canada in 1907 with Jules and Blanche (Charbonneaux) Pivert, he notified the French Government about his move and inquired about his army status.

Gaby and the Pivert family took out homesteads in Big Valley, Alberta, about 67 km east of Innisfail. Gaby filed on part S.E. 16-36-9-W4th in 1907 and received his patent for proving up on the homestead in 1911.

In August 1914, Gaby was informed by the French Consulate that he should report for mobilization with his army corps, so with several other young men from Big Valley who were also French, he made his way back to France to “save the motherland.” He was placed in the 17th Company of the 302 Infantry Regiment, and in August-September of 1914 fought in the Battle of Lorraine, which was a disaster for the French. During the next year, the 302 Regiment lost so many of its soldiers that it was dissolved and Gaby was moved to the 311 Infantry Regiment, just in time to fight in the Battle of Verdun (June 1916), where he served as a message carrier.

It was in the Battle of Verdun that Gaby earned his “Croix de Guerre,” an award for bravery. The citation reads, “Basly, Gabriel No. 1156, of 7075 13th Comp. has assured communications with the company, with the greatest disdain for danger under a bombardment of the most violent kind during attacks on the 15th, 16th and 17th of June 1916.”

Again, because of heavy losses, Gaby was transferred again to the 255 Infantry Regiment, which is the number that appears on his uniform, and in April 1917, he was granted permission to travel back to Canada on a three-week leave.

Gaby never went back to the war. His relatives and friends from Big Valley, who had also returned to France at the outbreak of the war had all decided that they would be fools to return. They had given three years of their lives and lost many good friends and former neighbours from Big Valley.

Gaby settled back into farming, and in 1926 headed for Grande Prairie with the Pivert brothers (Blanche & Jules nephews) to start a new life. There he acquired many horses, working the land with them in the summer and hauling coal in the winter. He also worked as a “Bull Cook” for a lumber camp at Big Mountain.

Gaby died on May 4, 1966 at the age of 80 years. He is buried in the Grande Prairie Municipal Cemetery.

Custodial History

The records were preserved by Gabriel Basly’s niece, Paulette Pivert Hrychiw, who deposited them in Grande Prairie Regional Archives in 2004.

Scope and Content

The fonds consists of military papers, photographs and postcards from Mr. Basly’s time in the French military; leases and records concerning his farm; two photographs of him after the war; and papers detailing his relationship with Veteran’s Affairs. There is also a paper written by Paulette Hrychiw, based on the papers in his collection and supplemental research, detailing his movements with the French Army and her memories of Uncle Gaby, with whom they lived from 1939 to the 1960s.


Title based on contents of the fonds.

Table of Contents

Series 164.01 Personal Papers
Series 164.02 Military Records
Series 164.03 Farm Records
Series 164.04 The Story of Gabriel Basly

Series 164.01 Personal Papers. — 1911-1965. — 0.5 cm of textual records. — 2 photographs.The series consists of Gabriel Basly’s personal papers: his electrician apprenticeship papers, the patent on his homestead in Big Valley on Pt. S.E. ¼ of Section 16, Township 36, Range 19, West of the 4th Meridian; correspondence with various government departments such as Veterans Affairs, National Revenue, Public Welfare and the Old Age Security Branch of the Department of Health and Welfare; receipts from his final years at Central Park Lodge and an Urban Preliminary List of Electors showing him resident at Central Park Lodge for the 1965 election. There are also 6 ration booklets from WWII and one photograph of him at about 75 years of age.
Gabriel Basly, 1970 c.
1 photograph; b & w; 8 x 10
Gabriel Basly, World War I Veteran and Peace Country farmer.
Location: 0164.01.01
Gabriel Basly’s Car, 1925 ca.
1 photograph; b & w; 3 x 5
Gabriel Basly in his old soft-top car with the top down during the 1920s.
Location: 0164.01.02
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Series 164.02 Military Records. — 1906-1917. — 0.5 cm of textual records. — 19 photographs. — 33 postcards.The series consists of military papers including Mr. Basly’s registration with the French Army in 1906; his “Matricules militaires” from Caen in 1906; correspondence with the Consul General of France and the Military Government of Paris; certificate of completion for his training as a wireless operator; the dissolution notice for the 302 Infantry Regiment; day passes, postcards, and receipts including travel passes and permits to go from the Front to visit Big Valley for 3 weeks; his citation for receiving the “Cross de Guerre” in 1916; and copies of the passenger list of S.S. Canada of the White Star Dominion Line showing Gariel Basly and four other French Soldiers returning to Canada on Leave. There are also 17 photographs and 33 postcards from World War I.
World War I Marticules Militaires, 1914-1918
Reproduction of Matricules Militaires, Caen 1906 for Gabreiel Rene Basly, numero matricule 1156. Written in French.
Location: 0164.02.21
Adrien Ponthier de Chamaillard, 1914 ca.
1 postcard; b & w; 3 x 5
Adrien Ponthier de Chamaillard (1886-1916), Second Lieutenant in the French Army, standing in a World War I trench. Adrien served with Gabriel Basly.
Location: 0164.02.01
Adrien Ponthier de Chamaillard, 1915
1 postcard; b & w; 3 x 5
Adrien Ponthier de Chamaillard (1886-1916), Second Lieutenant in the French Army, in full World War I uniform. Adrien served with Gabriel Basly.
Location: 0164.02.02
Death Announcement, 1916
1 postcard; b & w; 3 x 5
Translation: Adrien Ponthier de Chamaillard, Second-Lieutenant 311 Infantry 13 Company, former 17th du 302th. Decorated Croix de Guerre and Legion d’Honneur. Mortely wounded at his command post the 14th June 1916, died as a consequence of his wounds at Chatelquyon (63 Puy-de-dome, France) 3rd July at the age of 30.
Location: 0164.02.03
Gabriel Basly in the Trenches, 1914 ca.
1 photograph; b & w; 1 x 2
Gabriel Basly, with the French Army, in the trenches of World War I. He has a full backpack and pipe and walking stick in hand.
Location: 0164.02.04
Gabriel Basly, 1914 ca.
1 photograph; b & w; 1 x 2
Gabriel Basly in World War I French Army uniform.
Location: 0164.02.05
Jules & Blanch Pivert Family, 1906 ca.
1 photogarph; b & w; 3 x 5
Gabriel Basly was a younger half-brother to Blanch Charbonneaux Pivert, shown here with her daughter Madeleine and husband Jules. Next to Jules is Marcelle, Rene, Gabriel in the background and Robert in front.
Location: 0164.02.06
Gabriel Basly, 1915
1 photograph; b & w; 3 x 5
Gabriel Basly in World War I French Army uniform, pipe in hand.
Location: 0164.02.07
Gabriel Basly in Big Valley, Alberta, 1910 ca.
1 postcard; b & w; 3 x 5
Gabriel Basly with a group of eight men in some cattle corrals in Big Valley, southern Alberta.
Location: 0164.02.08
Gabriel Basly and Wounded Friend, 1914 ca.
1 postcard; b & w; 3 x 5
Gabriel Basly and wounded friend in French Army Uniform.
Location: 0164.02.09
French Troops in Camp, 1914 ca.
1 photograph; b & w; 3 x 5
World War I French troops in camp, with soldiers, officers, horses and wagons in the background.
Location: 0164.02.10
Gabriel Basly in Big Valley, Alberta, 1910 ca.
1 photograph; b & w; 3 x 5
Gabriel Basly in carriage pulled by two horses at Big Valley, Alberta.
Location: 0164.02.11
Where the Soldiers Live, 1914 ca.
1 photograph; b & w; 3 x 5
Treed hillside–some have been cut and fallen to hide the caves or dug-outs which the soldiers live in. A French soldier, in World War I uniform, stands in the foreground.
Location: 0164.02.12
Four French Officers, 1914 ca.
1 postcard; b & w; 3 x 5
Four officers from the French Army in World War I. Third from left is Adrien Ponthier de Chamaillard.
Location: 0164.02.13
Sandbagged World War I Shelter, 1914 ca.
1 postcard; b & w; 3 x 5
French soldier standing outside a sandbagged shelter in World War I.
Location: 0164.02.14
Marcel Durieux, World War I, 1914 ca.
2 postcards; b & w; 3 x 5
Two portraits of Marcel Durieux in full French uniform, World War I.
Location: 0164.02.15
French Soldiers in the Field, 1914 ca.
2 postcards; b & w; 2 x 3
Before and after photographs of French soldiers on duty. First shows men with beards, second clean-shaven with only moustaches.
Location: 0164.02.16
French Soldiers at a Meal, 1914 ca.
1 postcard; b & w; 2 x 3
Gabriel Basly at Martincourt: first man on left amoung french soldiers having dinner in the trenches.
Location: 0164.02.17
French Soldiers in the Trenches, 1914 ca.
1 photograph; b & w; 2 x 3
Gabriel Basly (extreme right) with fellow soldiers in the trenches of World War I.
Location: 0164.02.18
Three Types of French Soldiers, 1916
1 postcard; b & w; 3 x 5
Pencil sketch by Marcel Durieux of the three types of French soldiers in World War: Legion, North African Trooper and Sharpshooter.
Location: 0164.02.19
World War I Postcards, 1914-1918
33 postcards; b & w; 3 x 5
Postcards containing scenes of soldiers, equipment, transportation and damage during World War I in France.
Location: 0164.02.20
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Series 164.03 Farm Records. — 1942-1955. — 0.5 cm of textual records.The series consists of Lease Documents showing that Mr. Basly rented land in the Flying Shot Lake area from Mrs. Margaret M. George from 1942 to 1949; Wheat Board, Wheat Pool and Cooperative Life Insurance receipts and circulars.
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Series 164.04 The Story of Gabriel Basly. — 2004. — 0.5 cm of textual records.The series consists of a paper written by Gabriel Basly’s niece, Paulette Pivert Hrychiw, based on the personal papers in his collection, supplementary research, and Paulette’s memories of him.
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