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Memorable Manitobans: Maurice Constantin-Weyer (1881-1964)

Author.

Born in Bourbonne-les-Bains, France, he came to Canada in 1903 and settled at St. Claude, Manitoba. He returned to France to fight in World War One, where he was often wounded and decorated. After the peace he wrote 46 books, some 15 of which have Canadian content. He won the Prix Goncourt in 1928. He also wrote three plays and two movie scripts. Towards the West (1931) is a love story of two Métis. La Bourrasque (The Half-Breed), first published in 1925, is a fictionalized biography of Louis Riel; a Canadian version (revised rather than simply translated) appeared in 1930 as A Martyr’s Folly. La Bourrasque involved its author in a lengthy controversy with the Métis community in Manitoba, in the course of which Donatien Frémont accused Constantin-Weyer of abandoning his Métisse wife and three children in Manitoba before the war. Critics complained that he wrote only about stereotypical Métis, but also admitted that he described the western landscape well. He is easily the most prolific Francophone to have written fiction about the Canadian West.

More information:

Maurice Constantin-Weyer, écrivain de l’Ouestet du Grand Nord by Roger Motus (1982)

“Constantin-Weyer’s La Bourrasque: A Process in Mythification,” by Simone Knutson, pages 257-278 in Images of Louis Riel in Canadian Culture, edited by Ramon Hathorn and Patrick Holland (1992).

Sources:

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

Page revised: 31 July 2008

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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