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Memorable Manitobans: Joseph Howse (1775-1852)

Fur trader, explorer, linguist.

Born in Cirencester, England, he joined the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1795 with a reputation for linguistic ability. At the Bay he soon learned Cree, and he spent a number of years engaged in the fur trade before heading into the Rocky Mountains for the HBC in 1809, ending up at Rocky Mountain House. In 1810 he recorded crossing the Continental Divide and explored widely in a country never previously visited by Europeans. He went to England in 1812, and on his return led a party on snowshoes from York Factory to Vermilion River, returning by dogsled and horseback. He was arrested by the North West Company in 1814, and in 1815 he retired from the fur trade to Cirencester, where he worked as a gentleman-scholar on his Cree grammar until its eventual publication in 1844 as Grammar of the Cree Language, with Which Is Combined an Analysis of the Chippeway Dialect. He was made a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1837.

More information:

Joseph Howse, Dictionary of Canadian Biography VIII, 411-14.


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

Page revised: 19 March 2008

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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