Pascal Breland

The King of the Traders

by George Siamandas



Pascal Breland was a Metis entrepreneur, Politician, and Diplomat. Most called him King of the Traders others called him King of the Traitors. Breland was born June 15 1811 in the Saskatchewan Valley, the son of Pierre Joseph Breland a legendary hunter and fur trader who had moved to the west from Quebec.

Pascal travelled with his trading family till age 17, or 1828 when this father settled in Red River as a farmer. In 1832 his family moved west to St Francois Xavier. Pascal had stayed with his mother on the farm and at age 21 he married Marie Grant daughter of Cuthbert Grant, the area's most influential Metis leader. They raised a large family of 6 boys and 9 girls. Breland became a prosperous farmer and land owner and picked up a lot of his father-in-law's (or father's-in-law) property


Breland achieved great success as a free trader travelling the route west to the Q'Appelle Valley and connecting to Red River and south to St Paul. This brought him into conflict with the Hudson Bay Co which had held a monopoly in the area. Breland had been a supporter of Guillaume Sayer and Louis Riel Senior in the 1849 trial over free trading.


Bishop Provencher who had been asked to name suitable Metis candidates to the Council of Assinniboia recommended Breland. In 1851 he was appointed Magistrate for White Horse Plains. Breland became part of society and was considered a "reliable man."


Over the years some say Breland became too comfortable with the privileges of being on the Council of Assinniboia and to issues of stability and this is the reason he did not support Riel during the 1869 rebellion. He was too moderate. In fact Breland left Manitoba during the crisis to do good business in the Q'Appelle valley. One of Pierre falcons ballads describes him as an unsavoury character. Breland did not support the execution of Thomas Scott. It is thought this is why the Metis of St Francois did not support the resistance. It is claimed that as a result of his moderation he rose in political life. Breland represented St Francois Xavier in the Council of Assiniboia and was elected a member of the first Legislature of Manitoba. Later was Breland was appointed to the North West Council as the area's only Metis.

In 1873 Breland became involved in investigating Souix Indian unrest. Breland was also instrumental in the Indian Treaties were negotiated treaty #4 signed in 1874.

This distinguished early citizen of Manitoba lived to age 88 and died October 24 1896. This man of humour, integrity and intelligence is buried in the St Francois cemetery. Breland's eldest son Patrice would also serve in the Manitoba legislature.


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