The story of Marie-Anne Lagimodière is the story
adventure, of romance, of a woman breaking all the social boundaries of
her day; the story of a woman who changed history. Adventure holds the
listener spellbound. Humour provides a release of tension. Romance adds
a balance and a new tension.
Marie-Anne’s story is profoundly important in
her place in history (the first woman of European descent in Canada’s
West, a significant influence on a developing culture, and the
grandmother of Louis Riel). Even more important is her spirit of
adventure and her willingness to risk. She was willing, even eager, to
go where no other woman of her community had ever gone. Throughout her
life she continued to challenge herself, her family and those around
Marie-Anne uprooted herself from the Habitant's
Maskinongé, Quebec to travel the routes of the voyageurs, beyond the
Great Lakes to western prairies. There she fought the elements, bore
her eight children, and brought Catholicism to les Pays en Haut.
Marie-Anne became godmother to hundreds of Métis, and in many ways, the
mother of a community. Her husband, known amongst the peoples of the
West as "Great Hunter", ensured adequate food for the forts and the
voyageurs, and later enabled the survival of the Red River settlement.
Their life together was one of adventure. Their descendents tell
stories of fiery independence, deep faith, and joy. Theirs was always a
home where guests were welcome, and parties were frequent.
Jean-Baptiste was a noted fiddle player and his children learned to jig
as soon as they learned to walk. It was a home where justice and
humanity were respected and championed. Growing up in such an
environment, is it any wonder that her grandson, Louis Riel, dedicated
his life to his people.