Margaret Thrasher

Margaret Thrasher at Caribou Carnival - mid-1980s

Margaret Thrasher at Caribou Carnival – mid-1980s

In the early 1990s, at a time when he reach fame, Eric Schweig was finaly able to track down his birth mother. The history of this dramatic quest was told in the Inuvik Drum and Cariboo Observer newspapers.

“The name given to him at birth was Ray Thrasher. But at 6 months, he was adopted by a German father and French mother. His father was in the Navy and they moved from Inuvik to Bermuda. Schweig said his adoptive grandmother told him who his birth mother was. Than one day in Vancouver […] he met Willie Thrasher on the street. The two got talking and before long Schweig realized he must be related to Thrasher.” Inuvik Drum, 1993.

Following this amazing discovery, Willie Thrasher called his sister Agnes to say he had found her son she had left for adoption about twenty years earlier. An appointment was arranged and Eric Schweig went to Quesnels (British-Columbia) to meet Agnes. If the meeting was warm, Agnes had doubts from the beginning about her affiliation with Eric Schweig. After verifying with the adoption agency, it was indeed found that the famous actor was not the son of Agnes, but the son of her sister Margaret, who lived in Yellowknife. We can imagine the frustration that may have felt Eric Schweig while receiving this information, as he was emotionally and psychologically prepared to recognize Agnes as his biological mother.

“When she told Schweig about the mixup, he didn’t take it well. He got pretty upset. He had been looking for his mother for so long and he wasn’t very happy about not having found her. Schweig made plans to travel up north to Yellowknife to finally make the connection. Then, two days after he got the news, his mother, Margaret Thrasher, died of a massive heart attack in Yellowknife.” Cariboo Observer, October 13th 1993.

« Schweig said he had a strange feeling that he might never meet his mother after a dream he had when he was 18. In the dream he was walking towards a house where he could see a woman that he knew was his mother, but when he was 5 feet from the open door it slammed shut. I was crying when I woke up…it was so vivid”, Schweig said. » (ID)

Notherners D Homes 1989If this sad turn of events is surprising, it is even more astonishing to discover that a book about Margaret Thrasher (and other northerners) was published in 1989 by the Toronto publishers James Lorimer & Company. Written by Douglas Holmes, this book compiles 24 profiles of people in the Northwest Territories, including one about Margaret Thrasher, titled “Town Drunk”. It is not a pretty story, since “Holmes detailed the sad alcohol-sodden life she had, her runnins with the law, her binges, her poverty.” (CO) But people had a lot of respect for her because she encouraged the homeless population to get involved in the community by helping keep the downtown area nice. “Margaret Thrasher ran also for mayor in the City of Yellowknife and was known for her kind heart and for helping homeless people.” (CO)

Margaret Thrasher was a big woman, with a red face and a loud voice. Her Metis husband was a small and timid man who usually walked a few steps behind her. They both lived in an old one-room shack in Yellowknife. They did not remembered exactly when they were married, but it was sometime in the 1970s.

Margaret was born in 1947. Thrasher’s mother, an Inuk from Alaska, and her father, a Portuguese fisherman and whaler, raised their family in the communities of Aklavik and Inuvik. Thrasher went to catholic mission schools there and learned to sketch and paint, like her famous sister, the artist Mona Thrasher. As a teenager and in the 1960s, she lived in Edmonton before returning north sometime in the early 1970s.

Alice Thrasher, Agnes Thrasher Langston and Margaret Thrasher, 1960s

Alice Thrasher, Agnes Thrasher Langston and Margaret Thrasher, 1960s

See also this poem about Margaret Thrasher by Indio Saravanja.

Posted on 4 January 2015, in Family and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Lourdes Iglesias

    Eric, I would like you to know that I have great admiration as he led his life, especially after abuse where the heart of a child is permanently damaged. As an aid to the needy, those who spend cold and hunger. Abused for life that unfortunately are deasiados. Thank you for being is ….

    2015-01-04 17:21 GMT+01:00 Lourdes Iglesias :

    > It is a sad story that unfortunately happens too many times in all places of > the world. Although the origins of each person seem sacred and not meet a mother > or father is very painful to have to be indulgent life story that has > touched you to continue living and smiling at life itself.Could say Mr. Eric > Schweig sometimes bilogica meet your mother is not the happiest life, > although that is a lost for the challenge …. Animos to forge his own > life with courage and fortitude. And I think that has no children, this is a > shame because children make you a better person, loving them, educating > them, loving them …. and they are always your dear family.and they are > always your dear family. And I think it would have been a wonderful father > !!! >

  2. I administer this site, filter all comments and answered questions. I am not in direct contact with Eric Schweig and cannot transmit your messages. Any derogatory comment is automatically deleted from the site.

  3. In reply to Lourdes IB :
    I administer this site, filter all comments and answered questions. I am not in direct contact with Eric Schweig and cannot transmit your messages. Any derogatory comment is automatically deleted from the site.

  4. First I want to thank you for your wonderful website, it is the best website about Mr.Schweig I have visited. Please keep up the great work, I ‘m looking forward to your future posts.

    Mr.Schweig’s story, no matter how many times I read it, always breaks my heart. I have heard too many sad stories of indigenous people throughout American continent, Australia and Newzeland. I hope someday soon their real stories will be acknowledged by all the goverments and its people, and I hope then the indigenous people will truly heal.

    Yes, I agree that Mr.Schweig would be a good father. I also wish he had children who definitely would have helped him heal, just like my daughter did for me. (Well, for Mr.Schweig it is never too late)

  5. Bernadette Thrasher

    Regarding a ton of false statements on this posting? Margaret was not a painter,she was an abused product of the convent along with the many family siblings. As far as mentioning Billy Thrasher, yes he was a hard working man, and a great provider to his family, and communities,but his wife Alice, (my grandmother, my very respected teacher) had 11 children, two died at birth, also mothering to her husband’s first wife’s nine kids, of which was her older sister Mona. She tended to her Husky team, at times running along side the lead dog, fished, cooked, sewed garments, trapped, hunted, tons more! All while making sure all the older kids held their responsibility in helping out. There were tragic events yes, for me to see Margaret Thrasher’s face pasted and labeled as a town drunk is regarded as distasteful and misleading. One instance my aunt Margaret faced was having started her period, and a Native Indian Nun name Sister Cooper laughed at her, taunted and threw Kotex Pads at her, my mother watched in horror, but herself being abused could not to anything about it. I am very close to my dear Mother Agnes, of whom was impacted very deeply by the terrors of the Aklavik Convent. But in order to alleviate her pain Agnes started drawing and painting since the age of twelve, and is just as great as Mona’s work. Their older brother George became an artist, and his work touched on many subjects, but usually isolated solemn portraits of the past. To set something straight?, Mona Thrasher was born partially deaf, not at all a shot gun blast that was fabricated when Mona was exclusive to The Arctic Art Gallery in Yellowknife, it was a way to exploit Mona’s work. If you are a Journallig to write stories about people,ensure you investigate the facts through proper channels instead of research from someone’s else’s “let’s just fill in the blanks by guessing.

  6. Andrew Hammond

    Yes she was a caring person and she could sing the blues wonderfully.

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