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Memorable Manitobans: Alexis Bonami dit Lesperance (1796-1890)

Fur trader.

Born in Quebec to a fur-trading family, he began his career with the Hudson’s Bay Company as a voyageur. He became noted for his leadership of the difficult Portage La Loche canoe brigade. He opened this route in 1832, travelling from Red River in York boats across Lake Winnipeg to Norway House, then along the Saskatchewan River, then the Churchill River, then to Lac La Loche, then to Methy Portage, where he met a crew from the Mackenzie River district and furs were exchanged for provisions. The route covered 4,000 miles on a tight schedule using dangerous waterways. Bonami supervised the brigade until his retirement, when he received a pension from the HBC. He was eulogized at the time of his death as “an imposing figure among the host of intrepid voyageurs.”

More information:

Alexis Bonami, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online

Sources:

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

Page revised: 31 January 2008

Memorable Manitobans

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