There’s a brook up in Sandy-Badger that goes by the name Tom Joe. It’s named for an old Miꞌkmaq trapper from over a hundred years ago. It isn’t much to look at from the road, it’s probably about forty feet from bank to bank. But it goes a surprisingly long way into the country, really surprising. I have been to the headwaters, on a old (recently old) logging road where the brook eventually peters out into a bog near Tobacco Pond, close to twenty five kilometers away from where you cross the brook on the “New” Sandy road.
There are a few places that still bear the names of the old time Miꞌkmaq trappers that once traversed the interior: Noel Paul Brook, John Paul’s Steady on the same, Joe Glode’s Pond, Mattie’s Brook, and others. We know about some of these men like John Paul and Louis John. But what about old Tom Joe?
The more I dug, I came on more questions, and an interesting story. There was a Tom Joe that lived in Badger during the early part of the 20th century, he died in Sydney, Nova Scotia in 1918. He was trapper and a fur buyer, it was said that he had made a fair amount of money through this. When he died in 1918 there was no trace of his fortune. He had at least two brothers, James and Stephen. At the time of his death James was overseas recovering from wounds received at Beaumont Hamel. A few years after Tom’s death I guess Stephen gets wind of some sort of fortune his brother had amassed. His search goes so far as the place advertisements in the local papers asking for more information on his brother. To this end he was contacted by Mr. Coleman in Badger, who said he knew the whereabouts of Tom Joe’s riches.
We don’t know if Stephen Joe ever found the money. Perhaps there is still a treasure hidden somewhere in the wilds of Sandy Badger. The ages of his brothers and other information cast some doubts to if this Tom Joe was THE Tom Joe that the brook is named for and the possibility that that Tom Joe may have been his Grandfather.
Further research suggests that Andrew Joe had been given the trapping rights in the Exploits River area from his father Tom upon his death. Now Andrew passed while his sons were too young to take over the territory, so the territory passed to John Paul, who was noted to be Andrew Paul’s son in law. Joe’s young sons were then taken in by John Paul at Badger. Since Tom Joe Brook was known by that name as far back as 1912 it is not terribly likely that it was named for the younger man in the pictures. So it looks like we go way back to the 1860s or 70s to the original Tom Joe, who appears to have been a contemporary of Noel Paul.
Old Tom Joe, like Noel Paul, was a man that existed in this great void in the recorded history of the Exploits Valley. A time in the 19th Century after the demise of the Beothuk people and before the coming of the railway, when these remarkable Miꞌkmaq trappers were some of the only people that traversed the expanse of the Central interior. Their names were attached to these landmarks during this time after the names given by the original inhabitants vanished from human memory.
Speck, Frank Beothuk and MicMac,
-turned over trapping territory to son Andrew Joe, who turned it over to son in law John Paul at his death. It is most likely that Tom Joe Brook was named for Andrew Joe’s father.
-John Paul took in Tom Joe’s two youngest sons. Page 181
James Joe had brother Tom who died at Sydney in 1918. He had been living at Badger previous to this.
James Joe’s father was Andrew Joe, so probably old Tom Joe was Grand Father. Mother’s name was Julia.
James Joe had been born in Cape Breton in 1895.