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Memorable Manitobans: Francis Desmarais

Murderer.

A mixed-blood connected with the Sioux, he was tried in 1867 for disembowelling a Saulteaux warrior in the Hudson's Bay Company store at Red River. According to Walter Traill, who was present at the time, the warrior was sporting a scalping knife with a fresh Sioux scalp dangling from it. Desmarais came up behind him, seized the knife, and “cut him open to the waist so swiftly that [the] clerk did not see what had happened.” Although found guilty of murder and sentenced to hang, he was eventually allowed to be transported out of the settlement.

Sources:

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

Page revised: 5 March 2008

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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