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Memorable Manitobans: William Hallett (1811-1873)


Born at Fort Vermilion in 1811, son of Henry Hallett, he moved to the Red River Settlement with his family in 1824. A Protestant mixed-blood, he was described by the poet Charles Mair as a leader of the “English Plains Hunt.” Others called him a “Scotch half-breed.” Along with John Bourke, he helped free James Stewart from jail in 1863. He signed the Nor’Wester ad of 26 July 1869 calling for a meeting to deal with Canada. He was employed in 1869 as guide and interpreter for one of the Dennis survey parties, helping Dennis evade Métis patrols.

He was taken prisoner by Louis Riel, and he engaged in a word-slinging match with Riel the night that John Schultz and others escaped from Fort Garry. He ended up in irons and was bailed out for £450 on 12 February 1870. He was subsequently compensated for lost property and imprisonment. According to testimony at the Ambroise Lépine trial in 1874, his health was broken by the confinement and he committed suicide on 27 December 1873.


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

We thank Audrhea Lande for providing information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 31 May 2015

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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