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Memorable Manitobans: Pierre Falcon (1793-1876)

Click to enlargeFur trader.

Pierre Falcon was born at Elbow Fort, Swan River, on 4 June 1793, the son of Pierre Falcon and an aboriginal mother, believed to be a Cree. He was taken at an early age to his father’s village, Lacadie, in Lower Canada, where he was baptized in 1798. In 1812 he married Marie, daughter of Cuthbert Grant, the Nor’Wester, and sister of Cuthbert Grant, the Warden of the Plains. They had seven children. He entered the service of the North West Company at the age of 15. He accompanied Cuthbert Grant at the massacre of Seven Oaks on 19 June 1816.

After the amalgamation of the North West and Hudson’s Bay Companies in 1821 Sir George Simpson took him into the Hudson’s Bay Company. He was one of the earliest settlers at Cuthbert Grant’s new settlement begun in 1824 on White Horse Plain, now St. Francois Xavier.

Falcon was famous as a composer and singer of chansons. The best known, Chansonde la Grenouillère, is a narrative of the massacre at Seven Oaks, written from the Métis viewpoint, and is published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, 1939 and in Songs of Old Manitoba by Margaret Arnett Macleod. Other mocking songs about local events included Lord Selkirk’s capture of Fort William (Le Lord Selkirk au Fort William) and the expedition of General Dickson (Le General Dickson). He described himself as “poète du canton” and was later known as “le barde des plaines.”

He died at St. Francois Xavier on 21 October 1876. He is commemorated by a plaque in the Medicine Rock Heritage Park in St. Francois Xavier.

More information:

“Bard of the Prairies,” by Margaret Macleod, The Beaver (spring 1956): 19-23.

Pierre Falcon, Manitoba Historic Resources Branch (1984).

Pierre Falcon, Dictionary of Canadian Biography X, 276-77.

Sourcess:

Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by J. M. Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

Page revised: 9 October 2010

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