(1780 – 1875)
Marie-Anne Gaboury Lagimodière was Canada’s first woman voyageur. She was the grandmother of Louis Riel and the first woman of European descent to visit and reside in Western Canada. Born in Maskinongé, Québec, Gaboury became a housekeeper to the parish priest following the death of her father. Over her 15 years in domestic service, Gaboury learned basic mathematics and taught herself to read and write in French and Latin. At 26, she married Jean-Baptiste Lagimodière, a coureur des bois and fur trader most recently employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company. Gaboury accompanied Lagimodière west and they settled at the confluence of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers, later moving to northern Saskatchewan. Gaboury bore nine children, many while living a harsh, semi-nomadic life alongside other French-Canadian trappers and their Indigenous wives. Widowed during a period of intense political upheaval, Gaboury spent her final years in St. Boniface. Her fifth child, Julie, gave birth to future Métis leader Louis Riel in 1844.