- By Spuro Sourtzis
Daniel Garneau was the oldest child of Francis and Mary Garneau. Born on the Wabigoon First Nation Reserve, he attended residential school in Kenora.
The Garneau family made their livelihood by trapping, cutting pulp, hunting, and gathering food throughout the Wabigoon district. According to Daniel's younger brother Fred, work was hard but the family unit was strong, happy and united.
Fred Garneau's recollections of his family are very typical of the Aboriginal people of Northwestern Ontario. Each season saw the family journey to a different area to ensure their survival. During wintertime the family operated trap lines near Tache (located twenty miles from the Wabigoon First Nation). Springtime saw the family cutting pulp on the Wabigoon First Nation and selling it to the many sawmills in the region. During the summer the family was north of Dryden berry picking and the fall season had the family harvesting wild rice on the English river. As each season evolved the family returned to the area that sustained them year after year. It is his family's ability to sustain themselves while living in harmony with nature that Fred fondly speaks of when he recalls his memories of childhood.
Daniel Garneau enlisted with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (Princess Pats) in Winnipeg in November 1942. Fred Garneau remembers the last time that he saw his older brother Daniel. Daniel was dressed in his army uniform and Daniel picked up Fred and his brother Francis in his arms, gave them a bear hug and whispered to them, "Don't worry my little brothers, I'll be back to take care of both of you."
Daniel was transferred overseas in March 1943 and was killed in action in Sicily in July of that year. Daniel was the first person of Native descent from the Dryden region to be killed in active duty. Fred remembers the devastation that his family felt upon learning of his death.