Story by Lorraine Freeman
Pascal Breland was born June 15, 1811 to Pierre du Boishue dit Breland and Josephte (Louise) Belley a (half-breed) woman in the Saskatchewan Valley. In 1832, Pascal and his mother and two younger sisters moved from Red River to St. Francois Xavier to farm. Four years later Pascal married fifteen year old Maria Grant daughter of Cuthbert Grant and Marie Desmarais. Maria and Pascal raised a large family of six boys and nine girls. By 1849 Pascal was a very prosperous trader with his 380 acres of land in and around St. Francois Xavier. At the time he owned 12 red-river-carts and had 22 horses. Pascal however did not have legal claim to his land but later he received an official land grant from the Crown in 1882.
Breland spent a considerable amount of time on the Western Plains as a free trader in areas of Fort Pitt, Wood Mountain-Cypress, Fort Qu'Appell and Fort Ellis. As a result of Pascal's extensive involvement in the trade and his wealth, he gained a social prestige in the area and he was a member of "la bourgeoisie metisse". Pascal's political views became known when he supported Louis Riel Sr. at the trial of Guillaume Sayer in 1849 involving the Metis right for free trade of their goods.
Pascal had many appointments in Red River such as Magistrate for White Horse Plains - October 16, 1851. Petty Judge in 1852; in charge of the census for St. Francois Xavier in 1856; member of the Board of Works 1856. Then in September 1857, he was sworn in as a new member for the Council of Assiniboia. Breland was re-appointed Petty Magistrate in November 1861. In August 1865, he was President of the Petty Court at White Horse Plains and he was also instrumental with the negotiations for the signing of Treaty Number 4 in 1874. In 1869, he voiced his opposition to intruders, Canadian strangers staking out the land. In 1887, he was the Metis Representative on the Northwest Council.
Pascal-Breland did not involve himself during the resistance at Red River in 1869-70. History has many views as to why he was away trading at this time. After Pascal's and Soloman Hamelin's return to Red River in the spring of 1870 he was asked by the Metis for his advice and leadership at a mass meeting being held.
Pascal Breland died on October 24, 1896 at the age of eighty-five after years of being a diplomat, business man, pioneer and politician. At his passing many described him as a man of integrity, intelligence and humor who earned respect.
"BRELAND" Photo Courtesy of Maniotba Provincial Archives
"PASCAL & MARIA" Photo courtesy of Maniotba Archives