Anahareo – A Woman Ahead of Her Time

Anahareo, born in Ontario in 1906 of Mohawk and Algonquin parentage, has an unusual link to Metis.  In 1929, when her husband (who had come to the Metis ‘resort’ to find work guiding) was struggling, Anahareo also looked for a way to earn income and met Mrs. Madeleine Peck, a well-off Montrealer, and her well-known mother-in-law, Mrs. Alice Peck, both who summered in Metis with their children.  The three convinced Anahareo’s husband to give a speech, if reluctantly, at Metis’s Seaside Hotel, just across the street from where you now stand.  He earned more from tickets to the lecture that were sold by children of Metis summer visitors than he ever expected.  Some of these children’s parents then helped him get engagements in Montreal and beyond.

For contributions over her life, Anahareo was named a Member of the Order of Canada – Canada’s highest civilian honour – in 1983, with this testimonial:  

“Since the early 1930s, Anahareo has been a passionate, tireless, major force for wildlife conservation. By personal example, and through her writings and numerous speaking engagements, she has done much to alter our perceptions of nature, particularly in extending the concept of humanity to include animals. Her work in conservation has been recognized by the International League of Animal Rights [1979], the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, and her community.”

Not listed in this tribute is her role in launching her then husband on a path from Metis that both led to his fame and focused attention on the plight of the disappearing beaver and broader environmental destruction.  Who was he? Better known to most as Grey Owl, he was British-born Archibald Belaney.  Grade 7/8 students of Saskatoon’s King George Community School (about 2/3rds of its students have aboriginal ancestry) recreated as a school project the essence of Anahareo’s role in Archie Belaney’s epiphany from trapper to protector (learn how the students made this short film).  The film concludes with an overlay of the students’ conclusion, shown here to the right. 

Anahareo is still under-recognized for her contribution to conservation of the wilderness, and the protection of animals and the beaver in particular. This stop along the Metis Trail – a fork in the road leading to where Anahareo, Archie Belaney and their rescued beaver kit Jelly Roll camped, aims to help rectify that.  Read more  

For photos of the area where the couple camped, visit When Anahareo and Grey Owl Came to Metis, by lifelong summer resident and history teacher Kerry Martin.