Manitoba History

Manitoba Historical Society

Diane P. Payment. Manitoba History. Volume 74. Winter 2014: 50-51.Review of The Identities of Marie Rose Delmore Smith: Portrait of a Métis Woman 1861-1960, by Doris Jeanne MacKinnon (University of Regina: Canadian Plains Research Centre, 2012) 208 pp. paper $34.95.

"The author skilfully dissects Marie Rose's memoirs, unpublished manuscripts, and a series of edited articles published in the 1940s. She also met and interviewed family members who provided important "living" context, reminiscences, and photographs. Because of the "stream of consciousness" style of Marie Rose's writing, the author was faced with the challenging task of interpreting disconnected, incomplete, and at times contradictory narratives. Her use of "informed speculation" based on specific and comparative evidence is a very effective methodology to address these issues. In her analysis MacKinnon also integrated comparative literature on the Metis and biographies of other women. The family tree in the appendix is a key reference to identify Marie Rose's family connections and provides further insight into her life and legacy.

This book is based on exhaustive and meticulous research and is an important contribution to Metis history. It provides a critical supplement to the romanticized biography written by Marie Rose's granddaughter, Jock Carpenter, in 1977. There are few life histories written by "ordinary" Metis women, and in this absence their lives must be pieced together primarily through indirect evidence, oral history, and material culture."

Excerpt only. For full review see Manitoba History

Diane P. Payment enjoyed a long career as a historian for Parks Canada and has published extensively on Metis and francophone history in western and northern Canada. Among her publications includes "The Free People - Li Gens Libres: A History of the Metis Community of Batoche, Saskatechewan," now in its second edition.