Marie-Anne Lagimodière (née Gaboury)

Grandmere de Louis Riel

Meeting of the Lagimodieres and First Nations People
Meeting of the Lagimodieres and First Nations People

Marie-Anne Lagimodière (née Gaboury) (2 August 1780 – 14 December 1875) was a French-Canadian woman noted as both the grandmother of Louis Riel,[1]and as the first woman of European descent to travel to and settle in what is now Western Canada.

Early life

Gaboury was born in Maskinongé, Quebec, a village near modern Trois-Rivières. Her early life was uneventful, and she lived there until her marriage on 21 April 1806 to Jean-Baptiste Lagimodière. Lagimodière was originally from nearby Saint-Ours; he had become a Coureur des bois employed in the fur trade by the Hudson’s Bay Company in Rupert’s Land.

Travels in the west

Immediately following their marriage, and in defiance of the custom of the time, Gaboury travelled to the west with her new husband. They went first to the area near the confluence of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers near what would later become the Red River Colony, and, eventually, modern Winnipeg, Manitoba. They wintered at a Métis encampment near Pembina, North Dakota, where the first of her eight children was born on 6 January 1807.

The following spring, the Lagimodières travelled to the valley of the Saskatchewan River, settling eventually in what is now northern Saskatchewan, where they remained until 1811, living a semi-nomadic lifestyle among other French-Canadian trappers and their native wives. During this period, Marie-Anne accompanied her husband on many trapping and buffalo hunting expeditions, often venturing as far west as present-day Alberta. Her second child was born on the open prairie shortly after her horse had bolted towards a herd of buffalo, and on another occasion she fought and shot a large bear that had attacked one of their companions.

The young family was once taken prisoner while trapping by Tsuu T’ina tribesmen because of their association with local Cree. Although they managed to escape on horseback, they were pursued for five days until reaching the safety of Fort des Prairie (also known as Fort Augustus, a counterpart to Fort Edmonton) near modern Edmonton, Alberta.

Before his marriage, Jean-Baptiste had previously been involved “à la façon du pays” [in the style of the country] with a native woman who had borne his children. Marie-Anne was tolerant and accepting of the children arising from this previous relationship, although the other woman was jealous and reportedly threatened to poison her. Despite this incident, the Lagimodières generally had good relationships with the Aboriginal peoples they encountered. Marie-Anne was often regarded as an object of curiosity by the Natives during her travels, as she was invariably the first white woman they had ever seen – some were even led to believe that she possessed supernatural powers.

Return to the Red River

On hearing that Lord Selkirk was establishing a permanent colony at the Red River, they returned to help establish the new Red River Colony in the spring of 1812. The early history of the settlement was characterized by struggles between the Hudson’s Bay Company and its rival, the North West Company, culminating in the Battle of Seven Oaks in 1816. Although the Lagimodières managed to avoid involvement with the violent confrontations, Jean-Baptiste was asked by HBC representative Colin Robertson to take news of the events to Lord Selkirk. Over the winter of 1815 – 1816, Lagimodière travelled over 2,900 kilometers on horseback and on foot in fulfillment of this mission. During this time, Marie-Anne was obliged to seek shelter among the aboriginal tribes when the Nor’Westers took possession of Fort Douglas. On his return from the east, Jean-Baptiste was taken prisoner by the Nor’Westers and was imprisoned in Fort William until August 1816. The Lagimodières were not reunited until September 1816, after the unrest had subsided.

In recognition of his service, Lord Selkirk awarded Jean-Baptiste a tract of land near the Red River, which the Lagimodières successfully homesteaded for many years. They had six more children, including, in 1822, Julie Lagimodière, the future mother of Louis Riel. Dying at age 95 in 1875, Marie-Anne lived to see Manitoba become part of the Canadian Confederation following Riel’s actions during the Red River Rebellion of 1869–1870.


She is sometimes remembered as the “Grandmother of the Red River”, and many of the Métis people of the Canadian Prairies can trace their ancestry to her.

École Marie-Anne-Gaboury, a French immersion elementary school in St. Vital, Winnipeg, Manitoba was named in her honour, as is Rue Marie Anne Gaboury in Bonnie Doon, Edmonton, Alberta which is the home to the French-language section of the University of Alberta, the Campus Saint-Jean.

The 1978 Canadian feature film Marie Anne tells a fictionalized story of “the first white woman in Western Canada.” (sourse:  Wikipedia –

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Northern Dancer…

The little horse that could…

northern dancer - imageNorthern Dancer, racehorse (b at Oshawa, Ont 27 May 1961; d at Chesapeake City, Md 16 Nov 1990). Bred at E.P. Taylor’s National Stud Farm, Northern Dancer was unsold as a yearling, but as a 2-year-old won the Remsen Stakes, NY, the Flamingo and Florida derbies, and the Summer Stakes, Coronation Futurity and Carleton Stakes in Canada. Northern Dancer was the first Canadian-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby (1964) and went on to win the Preakness, finish third in the Belmont and win the Queen’s Plate. Known for his stamina, Northern Dancer was also very fast – only Secretariat has bettered his Kentucky Derby record of 2 minutes flat for the 1-mile course. Retired to stud, Northern Dancer became the greatest stud horse in history. By the time of his death, 467 of his 635 registered foals had won races and over 150 had won stakes races.

E. P. Taylor shown with Northern  and H.R.H. Prince Philip discussing horses.
E. P. Taylor shown with Northern and H.R.H. Prince Philip discussing horses.

It took Northern Dancer exactly two minutes to become a national hero in Canada. That was how long it took the stocky, bay colt, ridden by Bill Hartack, to run the mile and one-quarter distance of the Kentucky Derby on May 2, 1964, defeating Hill Rise by a neck. Not only was it one of the most thrilling stretch runs in Derby history at Louisville’s Churchill Downs, it was the fastest time in which the most famous horse race in the United States had been run, a record that was later surpassed by Secretariat in 1973.

The mayor of Toronto awarded him the key to the city, billboards acknowledged his feat, Canada’s sportswriters voted him Athlete of the Year and he was deluged with fan mail. Two weeks after the Derby, Northern Dancer won the second event of the Triple Crown, the Preakness at Pimlico. Three weeks later, attempting to become the first Triple Crown winner since Citation in 1948, he finished a tired third in the Belmont Stakes at Aqueduct, N.Y. Returning to Woodbine, Northern Dancer won the Queen’s Plate, which would turn out to be the last race of his career. A bowed tendon prompted trainer Horatio Luro to stop the racing career of the son of NearcticNatalma. He would be named Canada’s Horse of the Year and the top 3-year-old in North America.

In winning 14 of his 18 career starts, Northern Dancer proved wrong the potential buyers who had rejected him as a yearling because he was too small. Bred by E. P. Taylor, the colt was put up for sale with a $25,000 price tag with Taylor’s other yearlings. When the colt was not sold he became a part of Windfields Farm’s racing stable. As a 2-

Windfields Farm,, Oshawa, Ontario.
Windfields Farm,, Oshawa, Ontario.

year-old, he won seven times and was second twice in nine starts. His victories included the Summer Stakes at Fort Erie, the Coronation Futurity at Woodbine, the Carleton Stakes at Greenwood and the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct. The Remsen win established Northern Dancer as a horse to watch in the Triple Crown races, which he confirmed in March of his 3-year-old season by winning the Flamingo Stakes in Florida, becoming the first Canadian-bred to win a $100,000 race. He then won the Florida Derby and the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland before his Derby, Preakness and Plate victories.

As a stallion, Northern Dancer has proven to be even greater at stud than he was on the racetrack. By 2000 and the dawn of a new millenium, the Dancer’s worldwide influence on the breeding industry was unparalleled and considered by horsemen as the greatest of the 20th century. His offspring have gone on to make millions; he is the sire of innumerable champions on four continents; one of his yearlings sold for a world-record $10.2 million; he has fathered 146 stakes winners (including Danzig, Sadler’s Wells, who sired some 190 stakes winners himself, The Minstrel, Storm Bird, Lyphard, Nuryvev, Vice Regent and Nijinsky II) and late in life, at the advanced age of 21, would attract a bona fide offer of $40 million from a French syndicate. In 2004 all 18 starters in Europe’s most famous race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris, had Northern Dancer’s blood in their pedigrees.

Foaled on May 27, 1961, at Taylor’s farm in Oshawa, the Dancer initially stood at stud at Windfields in 1965 for a fee of $10,000. His incredible sire statistics were unheard of and in 1968 he was shipped to Taylor’s farm in Maryland. Leading sire in both England and North America, his blood was so intensely sought after that his stud fee soared to over $1 million in 1981. His 14 yearlings in 1984 averaged an astounding $3.3 million at auction. The Dancer was pensioned in 1987 and died on Nov. 16, 1990, at age 29 at Windfields’ Maryland property. He was buried at Windfields in Oshawa.

In 2013, a collection of memorabilia, trophies and photographs belonging to E. P. Taylor and Windfields Farm, including significant trophies won by Northern Dancer, were provided by the Taylor family to the Canadian Museum of History.

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Save the Bala Falls

“If we let it happen here, it can happen anywhere…”

Beautiful and historic Bala Falls, visited by the Canadian explorer David Thompson in 1837 - on his way to discover a North West passage.
Beautiful and historic Bala Falls, visited by the Canadian explorer David Thompson in 1837 – on his way to discover a North West passage.

A new perspective this week.

This is the story of a David-and-Goliath-struggle to save a precious community resource. The ‘David’ in this case is the residents of a small community in Northern Ontario, and the ‘Goliath’ is the might of their own Provincial Government being used against them for profit.

Bala is a Canadian community famous for the Bala Falls. It is located in Muskoka Lakes Township in Ontario, where Lake Muskoka empties into the Moon River. It is considered one of the hubs of cottage country located north of Toronto. Thus, its year-round population of several hundred is increased by thousands of seasonal residents and weekend day-trippers during summer months. It is known as the Cranberry Capital of Ontario, as the province’s largest cranberry farms, Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh and Wahta Iroquis Growers, are located nearby.

Why it matters

Carved out of the Canadian Shield, Bala Falls is located at the west end of Lake Muskoka (approximately two hours north of Toronto) where the lake’s waters spill into Moon River and eventually into Georgian Bay. Part of an important cultural landscape, the falls are a physical landmark that define Bala’s identity and which are central to its recreational and tourism-based economy. The historically important Portage Landing on the north side of Burgess Island has been a portage point for First Nations and later for the community of Bala, tourists, YM-YWCA campers and cottagers. The landmark boat livery business, Purks Place has operated continuously since 1906. It is historically interconnected with the portage landing on the west of Burgess Island for water access to Moon River. The only other structure on Burgess Island is the Stone Church, designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Why it’s endangered

In December 2004, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources released an RFP for the development of a hydroelectric generating station on approximately one hectare of Crown land adjacent to Bala’s north dam as part of the province’s green energy program. Swift River Energy Ltd (SREL) proposes to build a 4-5 megawatt run-of-river water power facility that will include:


the excavation of an approach channel immediately above Bala’s North dam; the installation of an intake and a concrete powerhouse structure abutting the north Bala falls; a tailrace channel to return water to the Moon River some 40 metres from the base of the North dam’s waterfall.

Community concerns are focused on the conservation of the natural features of the falls central to Bala’s identity and its natural resources (water and water flow, foraging and spawning habitat for fish and invertebrate species, and identified heritage trees) as well as its cultural features. Concern is also focused on potential damage to the Stone Church related to blasting shock and vibration.

What you can do

Listen to the following summary, and then visit to “Save Bala Falls” website. From there it is up to you, but please support the people of Bala in any way you can.

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Thank you