LOLO (Leolo), JEAN-BAPTISTE (known as St Paul), HBC employee, trader, and Indian spokesman; b. 1798, probably of French and Iroquois parents; d. 15 May 1868 at Thompson’s River Post (Kamloops), B.C.
Jean-Baptiste Lolo entered the fur trade as an interpreter, perhaps with the North West Company. By 1822, when he is first mentioned in Hudson’s Bay Company records, he was stationed at Fort St James, and was later at other New Caledonia posts. In 1825 he visited York Factory, probably as an HBC employee on a transport brigade from the western posts. From 1828 intermittently until his death he worked for the HBC at Thompson’s River Post, on the east bank of the North Thompson River, and became influential throughout the district. In 1832 Samuel Black*, the trader in charge, admitted that the fort would be “lame without him.” He served as interpreter, tripman, and postmaster, but his real importance was as an unofficial liaison officer between the company and the Indians of all the interior Salish tribes. Respected by both, Lolo helped maintain the balance of power between them with remarkable dexterity. In 1841 the company accorded Lolo the courtesy title of chief, apparently as a measure of appeasement after he had been flogged by William Thew, the violent-tempered trader in charge of the post at Fraser Lake, and Indian retaliation seemed imminent.
When the company moved its post across the river in 1843 Chief Trader John Tod* left Lolo on the old site, even building him a house. Here he traded independently with the Indians and bred horses on a tract of pasture extending northeast. By the 1850s HBC traders were acknowledging his enterprise by adding to his missionary nickname St Paul, “Mr.” and “Capt.,” titles he relished. He achieved transient prosperity as a miner and trader during the brief Tranquille gold rush of 1859–60 but quickly fell into debt with the company.
Travellers through the area have left personal impressions of Lolo. Dr Walter Butler Cheadle reports in 1863 that Lolo spoke “a curious mixture of French, English & Indian,” and called himself “un Canadien.” Weary from his arduous trip across western Canada with trying companions [see O’Beirne], Cheadle also found Lolo grasping and self-important. Lieutenant Richard Charles Mayne, however, on a visit to Kamloops in 1859 had been more favourably impressed. He admired Lolo’s courage in crossing a turbulent river with a crippled knee, “swearing in a French jargon peculiar to himself,” and rejoiced in this vivid character.
St Paul’s domain was on part of land designated an Indian reserve in 1862 by William George Cox*, despite protests from the HBC. He lived on it in reduced circumstances doing a little trading in loose association with the company until his death. “Mr. Capt. St. Paul” left a large family of at least seven sons and four daughters (including Sophia, Tod’s wife), but they did not stay in the area, and his land became part of the general property of the Kamloops Indian band. His restored house still survives as part of the Kamloops Museum.
HBC Arch. B.188/e/1; B.239/g/2, 4, 8, 12, 22–25; B.239/1/2, 3, 5, 13–16; B.239/x/4a, p.321. PABC, Colonial correspondence, chief commissioner of lands and works correspondence (B.C.), 1860, Donald McLean to H. M. Ball, 12 March 1860, encl. in chief commissioner of lands and works to Governor Douglas, 10 April 1860. [W. B. Cheadle], Cheadle’s journal: being the account of the first journey across Canada undertaken for pleasure only, by Dr. Cheadle and Lord Milton, 1862/1863, ed. John Gellner (Toronto, n.d.), 190. Daily British Colonist (Victoria), 28 May 1861, 8 Dec. 1865. R. C. Mayne, Four years in British Columbia and Vancouver Island: an account of their forests, rivers, coasts, gold fields, and resources for colonisation (London, 1862), 76, 119–21, 126–27. Morice, History of northern interior of B.C. (1904), 151–53, 200. G. D. Brown, “A further note on Captain St. Paul,” BCHQ, III (1939), 223–24. G. D. Brown and W. K. Lamb, “Captain St. Paul of Kamloops,” BCHQ, III (1939), 115–27. “John Tod: ‘Career of a Scotch boy,’” ed. Madge Wolfenden, BCHQ, XVIII (1954), 215–16, 225, 235.