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MacEwan, Grant.

Saskatoon, Western Producer Prairie Books, c1984. 246pp, paper, $13.95, ISBN 0-88833-138-X. CIP

Grades 8 and up
Reviewed by J.D. Ingram

Volume 13 Number 5
1985 September

Grant MacEwan is a prolific octogenarian author whose writing focusses primarily on western Canadian history. This account of Marie Anne, is, as MacEwan admits, "fictionalizing history." Where there were gaps in the historical record, the author applied the "bush of imagination." Recently MacEwan decried the fact that there were few if any Canadian heroes among Canadian children. It is obvious that he regards Marie Anne as a legitimate Canadian heroine.

Marie Anne Gaboury was born August 15,1780 in Maskinongé, Quebec. After she married Jean Baptiste Lagimodière, she insisted on travelling west with him on the voyageur canoes. As a result, she became acknowledged as the first white woman in the west. The story of their lives on the western frontier is nicely related. The author manages on the whole to create very credible dialogue. There are several interesting descriptions of historical incidents and real people of the time. Marie Anne witnessed a "Thirst Dance," and meets Cuthbert Grant who tells her that the battle at Seven Oaks was like ". . . paddling into a rapids; there was no turning back and no stopping until the battle stopped itself." There is also an account of a buffalo hunt. Over the years, Marie Anne rode, hunted, and experienced to the full the hardships and privations of a wilderness existence. Despite the difficulties, she was to bear seven children.

Husband Jean was no slouch either. In October 1815 he was asked by Colin Robertson to take a message to Lord Selkirk in Montreal. Jean made the eighteen hundred miles largely on his own and on foot. John Morgan Gray in his book on Selkirk says this trip was "a heroic feat."

MacEwan claims there could be no question about Marie Anne's unequalled place in Canadian history and the high quality of her contributions to life on the frontier. Marie Anne and Jean had almost completed fifty years of married life when he died at the age of seventy-eight. Marie Anne lived to age ninety-five. Her seventh child, and fourth daughter, Julie, gave birth to a boy who was to make his own impact on history - Louis Riel. An entertaining and interesting story.

J.D. Ingram, Gordon Bell H.S., Winnipeg.
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