Fur trader, Métis leader, farmer, office holder, justice of the peace, and politician, Cuthbert Grant was born around 1793 in Fort de la Rivière Tremblante (near Kamsack, Sask.). The son of Cuthbert Grant*, fur trader, and a Métis woman, probably of Cree and French descent; He married Elizabeth MacKay according to the custom of the country, and later married Madelaine Desmarais, and Marie McGillis in St Boniface in 1823. He had at least three sons and six daughters from these marriages. He died on 15 July 1854 in White Horse Plain (St François Xavier, Manitoba).
Grant’s physical prowess and the swiftness of his actions quickly earned him the respect of the Métis in his command and of the Indians, who named him Wappeston, meaning the white ermine. A renowned hunter, horseman, and warrior, Grant was recognized as the leader of the Métis buffalo hunters. During the fur trade war that followed in 1814, Grant was to become infamous as the man responsible for the deaths of the settlers at Seven Oaks. Throughout his brief but rancorous fur trade war, Cuthbert Grant and John McKay remained staunch friends. Elizabeth McKay had Cuthbert’s child, but they eventually separated as a result of the war and the animosity it created.
Grant went on to fame as the founder of Grantown (now Saint Francois-Xavier), a small village a few miles west of Winnipeg. He went on to become the Hudson’s Bay Company’s warden of the Plains after the merger of 1821, and, later, was appointed to the Council of Assiniboia, the Hudson’s Bay Company’s governing body in Rupert’s Land. In the late 1860’s, Grant lost his position of power and prestige among the Métis to a radical Métis politician, Jean Louis Riel, father of the famous Louis Riel. Grant’s loyalty to the Hudson’s Bay Company during the free trade struggles of the 1840s made him unpopular with the Métis, and he drifted into political obscurity. A wealthy but lonely man, Grant died in 1854 at the age of 61.
Excerpt taken from: metisstudies.dev.kcdc.ca/leaders/readings/reading1.html
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