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)
If 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.
See also this poem about Margaret Thrasher by Indio Saravanja.