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Memorable Manitobans: Pierre Guillaume Sayer (c1796-c1849)

Fur trader.

Born in the Fond du Lac District southwest of Lake Superior, son of John Sayer, a proprietor of the North West Company and an Indian woman. He came to Red River in 1824 and settled at Grantown. He farmed, traded, and hunted bison. In the spring of 1849 he was arrested for buying furs from the Indians in spite of the monopoly of the Hudson’s Bay Company. The cause was taken up by the Métis from the neighbouring French settlements led by Louis Riel Sr. The jury found Sayer guilty but recommended mercy because Sayer genuinely believed that Métis could trade freely. Sayer was freed, and the Métis responded to this action by declaring that “Le commerce est libre!” Thus was spelt the end of the Hudson’s Bay Company’smonopoly.

See also:

Pierre Guillaume Sayer, Dictionary of Canadian Biography VII, 776-77.


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

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

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 20 July 2014

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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