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Memorable Manitobans: John Bruce (1831-1893)

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John Bruce
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Carpenter, Métis leader.

A resident of St. Norbert from 1837, Bruce worked as a carpenter and legal practitioner on behalf of his countrymen, the Francophone Métis. In October 1869 he was elected president of the Métis National Committee that organized the resistance to the entry of Lieutenant-Governor William McDougall into the North-West Territories. A sick man, he resigned in December 1869 when the provisional government was formed. He later claimed that he was not happy with the direction the government was taking. Most contemporaries regarded him as merely a puppet of Louis Riel, although one letter to a Montreal newspaper in December 1869 insisted that he had some talents, including an ability to speak English, French, and several Indian languages. In testimony during the 1874 trial of Ambroise Lépine, Bruce acknowledged that he had been a mere figurehead in 1869, claiming that he knew very little about what was going on. Bruce served as commissioner of public works in the provisional government, and then disappeared into such obscurity that the date of his death went for many years unrecorded in the annals of the province. He died at Leroy, North Dakota in 1893.

See also:

John Bruce, Dictionary of Canadian Biography XII, 131-33


Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 14 October 2018

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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