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Memorable Manitobans: James Farquharson (c1819-1874)

House painter, agitator.

Born in Scotland, he emigrated to Newfoundland in 1846 and became a house painter. He subsequently moved to Demerara and then ended up in Red River in 1862 on his way to British Columbia. He helped paint the St. Boniface Cathedral in 1867, about the time his daughter Agnes married John C. Schultz. Farquharson then headed off as a trader in the West.

In 1870 he was briefly imprisoned by Louis Riel, who refused to accept his oath to keep the peace because he was alleged to have twice broken it already. In August of 1870 he tried to publish a reward for the capture of Riel and his associates, and he was involved in the death of Elzear Goulet shortly after, as well as a number of election riots in the early 1870s. In his later years he was known as “Old Depravity”, described by Lieutenant-Governor Adams Archibald as “a well known blackguard who has been in every row since I came here.”

More information:

James Farquharson: Agent and Agitator by Allen Ronaghan
Manitoba History 17 (Spring 1989): 12-16.


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

Page revised: 7 March 2008

Memorable Manitobans

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