About the Collection

These items are from the early years of the 1900s. They have come back to the Northwest Territories via the Tremain family, kindly donated by Gwen Tremain Runyard of California, USA.

We don’t know the names of the Métis or Dene people who made these objects. Almost a century later, we are very lucky to see them. Perhaps someone will recognize a particular style and we will learn more about them.

Gwen’s parents, Reverend Walter Spencer Tremain and Lottie Tremain, were originally from England. They acquired these items while living in Fort Norman (now Tulita) and Fort Simpson from 1914 to 1919. Spencer Tremain was with the Anglican Diocese of the Mackenzie River. Lottie Tremain was a teacher and photographer. They brought a baby son, Lance, with them. A daughter, Winnie, was born in 1916 in Fort Norman, and sadly died in Fort Simpson in 1918. The family moved to New Zealand in the 1920s where Gwen, the donor, was born.

Gwen writes in her memoirs that when her parents left the North, people gave them many parting gifts. As a child thousands of miles away, she “used to bring out all these glorious works of art and play with them, but I was always careful not to harm them as they were, even then, so precious and so beautiful.”

Nurtured by her parents’ memories, Gwen inherited a feeling for the people, places and time embodied by these treasured family objects. Her dream that someday they would return has come true.


In 2014, another object of the Tremains’ came back to join those donated by Gwen Tremain Runyard — a baby belt or a sling, sewn by a Dene or Métis woman in the community of Fort Norman (now Tulita) sometime around 1917. The belt was well-used by the Tremain family and went with them to New Zealand in 1920. It was donated in 2014 by Pauline Tremain Stewart of New Zealand, granddaughter of Lottie and Walter Spencer Tremain.