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Memorable Manitobans: Francis Desmarais


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.


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

Page revised: 5 March 2008

Memorable Manitobans

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