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Early 20th century folk art on display near Cavalier, N.D.

The folk art paintings of Cavalier, N.D., native Antoinette Branchaud Schwab are featured this summer at the art gallery of the Pembina County Historical Museum 5 1/2 miles west of Cavalier, N.D.

Antoinette Schwab print
This Antoinette Schwab print shows the Branchaud home on Cavalier's Main Street in the early 1900s. To the right is the family jewelry store and to the left is McGregor's pool hall. The house stood on the site of the present-day Inna Photo building.
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The folk art paintings of Cavalier, N.D., native Antoinette Branchaud Schwab are featured this summer at the art gallery of the Pembina County Historical Museum 5 1/2 miles west of Cavalier, N.D.

Schwab's paintings are well known in folk art circles. They hang in New York folk art galleries and are available on online auctions. Four framed paintings and several prints were donated to the Pembina County museum by Schwab's niece, Charlotte Vogel of New York City, in 2001.

Marie Antoinette Branchaud was born in 1907 in Cavalier to Raoul and Ernestine (Hebert) Branchaud. Her father had operated a general store in Pembina before moving to Cavalier in 1903. Her mother, the first white girl born in Cavalier, was the daughter of Narcisse and Sophranie Hebert, one of Cavalier's pioneer families.

Each of the paintings reflects memories of Schwab's early life and of her family in Pembina, N.D., and Cavalier. One is of the Hebert family arriving in Pembina by riverboat in 1877. They had traveled from Rhode Island by train and boat to give their children a better life in the West. It is believed they had 26 children, a news release from the Pembina County Historical Society said. Another is a scene that shows the Branchaud store in Pembina on what appears to be Cavalier Street facing the Red River.

Schwab and her sisters attended St. Boniface boarding school in Winnipeg where she studied music in addition to regular studies. Educated as a nurse, Antoinette married Andre (Tony) Schwab, also a folk artist. When they moved to New York City, she began painting.


Those familiar with Cavalier will recognize the painting of Cavalier's Main Street showing the two-story Branchaud house which stood set back from the street at the location of the present-day Inna Photo. The edge of Branchaud Jewelry Store and the neighboring McGregor's Pool Hall are visible.

Another Cavalier scene is of Frenchy's Band, of which Romain, Antoinette's brother, was a member. The early Cavalier Catholic church is shown in a winter scene called "The First Snowmobile." Both Antoinette and her mother were organists at the early church building when the congregation sat on planks over beer barrels.

Two paintings show the Branchaud girls at boarding school in Winnipeg. And two others depict common scenes in early Pembina County: the Great Northern Railroad passing through the area and women picking potatoes.

The PCHS art gallery was funded by Cavalier Arts and Crafts Society when the Museum was built and features the art work of area artists each summer.

The Pembina County Historical Museum, located 51/2 miles west of Cavalier is owned and operated by the Pembina County Historical Society and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Special tours are available by arrangement. Info: (701) 265-4941; .

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"The First Snowmobile"
"The First Snowmobile," a painting by Cavalier, N.D., native Antoinette Schwab, depicts a box social at the Cavalier Catholic Church. Schwab's work is on display at the Pembina County Historical Museum 51/2 miles west of Cavalier, N.D.

Related Topics: ART
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