Narcisse Marion Jr. (b.

The local legacy of Narcisse Marion: By Michael Dawe - Red Deer Express Published: January 23, 2013 7:50 AM One of the very oldest families in the Red Deer area and in all of Western Canada is the Narcisse Marion family. Members of the family have lived in Red Deer and district for more than 125 years. Narcisse Marion was born at St. Boniface, Manitoba in October 1850, one of 10 children to Narcisse and Marie Bouchard dit Richard Marion. His father was a blacksmith who was also a famed dancer of the Red River jig. Narcisse Marion Sr. was also noted for having literally danced himself to death at the wedding reception for his daughter Elise.1 She had married Norman Kittson, a fur trader and entrepreneur who had become one of the wealthiest men in western North America. Since his brother Roger, later a Manitoba MLA was educated at Collége de Saint Boniface, it is likely Narcisse Jr. was educated there as well. Given his background and upbringing, Narcisse was able to speak fluent English, French and Cree. He also picked up some Blackfoot, Stoney and Ojibwa. Narcisse Jr. moved to Alberta in the late 1870s or early 1880s. He married Marie Gaudin Munro, who had been born at St. Albert, Alberta in 1860. They had two children, Louis and Emilie, both of whom passed away. It is not clear if these two children were buried in Calgary or whether they were interred in the largely - forgotten First Nations and Métis cemetery that is located on the shoulder of the North Hill, below the former site of St. Joseph Convent. In the mid-1880s, the Marions moved to the Poplar Ridge district, west of Red Deer. Narcisse was able to secure a homestead. However, he did not do much farming. He preferred to support himself and his family by hunting, trapping and acting as a land guide to new settlers coming into the district. After their arrival in the Red Deer area, Narcisse and Marie had sons William, Victor and Louis (the second) and daughters Ruby and Velma. They also adopted another daughter, Elizabeth. Like his father, Narcisse became a noted dancer of the Red River jig. According to one account he was “As light as thistle down on moccasined feet.” He also became famous

Editor’s note: This is an oft repeated tale that has made its way into Marion folklore. Elise was married in 1847 and her father Narcisse in fact died in 1877.


for his talents with a violin. It was recorded that he “could almost make a fiddle talk.” Moreover, sometimes, very late at night, he would start to fall asleep while playing. However, as soon as he realized what was happening, he would wake himself with a jerk and keep playing without missing a beat. Consequently, Narcisse was always in great demand at many early dances and socials. He also frequently stopped by the Ted Edgington house on Victoria Ave. (43) St. All kinds of people, particularly young adults and teenagers, would join him for a night of music, dancing and a great deal of fun. Narcisse attended the first annual banquet of the Waskasoo (Red Deer) Old Timers’ Association in the Alexandra Hotel on Ross St. on Feb. 28, 1910. He was given the honour of being the attendee with the longest residence west of the Great Lakes (59 years). In the years leading up to the First World War, both of Narcisse and Marie’s oldest sons, William and Victor, were able to secure jobs at the Western General Electric powerhouse, which was located a short distance west of the old C.P.R. rail bridge. When the First World War broke out, Victor enlisted with the local 187 Battalion, later transferring overseas to the 50 Battalion and the 10 Brigade trench mortar batter. Narcisse passed away in January of 1917. His obituary praised him as a man who believed in being “honest, truthful and kind” and of having “native dignity.” Narcisse is buried in the Mount Calvary Roman Catholic Cemetery on 67 St. There are members of the Marion family still living in Red Deer.

Edited and Compiled by Lawrence Barkwell Coordinator of Metis Heritage and History Research Louis Riel Institute


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