Memorable Manitobans: Pascal Bréland (1811-1896)
Farmer, MLA (1871-1874).
Born in the Saskatchewan Valley on 15 June 1811, son of fur trader Pierre Breland (1796-1829) and Marie Louise Josephe Bilidau (c1785-1817), he moved with his family to Red River around 1828 and took up farming. In 1836, he married Maria Grant (1824-1854), a daughter of Cuthbert Grant, and they had fourteen children: Patrice Breland, Cycle Breland (1838-1842), Marie “Judith” Breland (1841-1907, wife of Casimir Dauphinais, daughter-in-law of Francois Dauphinais), Thomas Breland (1842-1876), Elisabeth Breland (1844-1846), Marguerite Breland (1846-?), Luxine/Lucie Breland (1848-1907), Clemence Breland (1849-?, wife of Firmin Hamelin, daughter-in-law of Salomon Hamelin, mother of Joseph Hamelin), Placidee Breland (1851-1870), Elisabeth “Eliza/Laiza” Breland (1853-1921), Josue Breland (1855-?), Pascal Napoleon Breland (1857-1861), Gregoire Breland (1859-?), and Marie Justine Breland (1861-?). He gradually acquired most of Grant’s property in the St. François Xavier district, and received an official grant to this land in 1882. Bréland was also active as a free trader and a freighter.
In 1851 he was appointed magistrate for White Horse Plains, and in 1857 he became a member of the Council of Assiniboia. During the 1869-1870 insurrection he withdrew to the Qu’Appelle Valley, reappearing in St. François Xavier in April 1870 to warn that “men should now refrain from associating themselves with the murderers of a helpless prisoner.” Not surprisingly, the new leaders of Manitoba found him useful.
He was elected MPP from St. François Xavier in the first elections of December 1870, and in 1872 he was appointed to the North-West Council, where he served until 1887. In 1874 he became a member of the executive of the North-West Council, serving actively in treaty negotiations from 1874 to 1876. He was one of the founders of the Winnipeg Board of Trade, in 1873. His later utility was somewhat limited by his difficulty in speaking English, and by the 1880s events had passed him by.
He died at St. François Xavier on 24 October 1896 and was buried in the St. Francois Xavier Roman Catholic Cemetery. There are scattered papers at the Archives of Manitoba. He is commemorated by a plaque in the Medicine Rock Heritage Park in St. Francois Xavier.
E. H. Oliver (editor), The Canadian North-West, Its Early Development and Legislative Records, 2 volumes. Publications of the Canadian Archives, No. 9, 1914.
Death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Our First Hundred Years: A History of St. Francois-Xavier Municipality. St. Francois-Xavier Municipality Historical Committee, 1980. Manitoba Legislative Library, F5648.S234.
We thank Paul Sash for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 26 November 2019
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