Pierre Falcon

The Troubadour of the Prairies

by George Siamandas

 

Falcon is the famous Metis song writer. He was born at Elbow Lake near present day Swan River June 4 1793. His French father worked for the North West Company, and his mother was an Indian woman from the Missouri territory. Her relatives say she was Cree. He was taken to Quebec as a child in 1799 and learned to read and write there. At age 15 he returned to red River and became a clerk in the service of the North West Co.

When the HBC and NWC merged in 1821 becoming the HBC, Pierre moved to Grantown. In 1812 he had married Mary Grant daughter of Cuthbert Grant Sr. At White Horse Plain, Falcon raised his four daughters and three sons, working as a farmer and a member of the buffalo hunt. In 1855 at age 62 he was appointed magistrate of White Horse Plains. He was described by his relatives as an excitable and quick moving man. An energetic and fiery personality. He was deeply tanned with a short beard.

PIERRE FALCON THE BARD

Falcon was known as Pierre the Rhymer. He is described as having a poets's gift for words and a musician's sense of rhythm. He observed local incidents and put them into songs. His most famous song is the one about Seven Oaks. The songs were carried by the voyageurs form the St Lawrence to the McKenzie. Sung to the rhythm of their paddles his short verses were used to entertain the men. Falcon's songs were so popular that in 1864, one missionary complained that he had heard the Ballad of Frog Plain so many times that it had gotten on his nerves.

THE BALLAD OF FROG PLAIN

Falcon who was part of the 1816 Seven Oaks Massacre had an intimate view of the incident, and predictably wrote a song about it. The song told of the fierce fight and of the bravery of the Metis while denouncing the treachery of the whites. He was too old to be allowed to participate in the Riel Rebellion but he did write his last song about it.

FALCON'S LEGACY

Falcon composed many songs with political themes that helped develop Metis pride and consciousness. He recorded anything that happened in song and became known as the Bard of the Metis initiating an important form of oral history. Unfortunately few of the words to his songs were written down and only a few remain today. He attended church daily in his last days. Pierre Falcon known as the bard of the Metis died on Oct 26, 1876. at age 83 in 1876 at his home at Grantown. Falcon Lake was named in his honour.

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