Source: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
DELORME, PIERRE (he occasionally signed de L’Orme), Métis fur trader, farmer, businessman, and politician; b. on or about 1 Oct. 1832 in St Boniface (Man.), son of Joseph F. (Fafard) Delorme and Josephte Bellisle; m. there September 1854 Adélaïde Millet, dit Beauchemin, and they had five sons and two daughters; d. 10 Nov. 1912 in St Adolphe, Man., and was buried in the Roman Catholic cemetery there.
Pierre Delorme was a Métis farmer and trader who played an important role in the early development of Manitoba. He grew up in St Boniface, where he was educated and trained by his family and the Roman Catholic Church. From 1852 to 1856 he worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company at Swan River as a middleman under William Joseph Christie*. Sometime in September 1854 Abbé Louis-François Laflèche* officiated at his marriage. Later, he bought lot 21 near Pointe-Coupée (St Adolphe), on which he built a two-storey log-framed house in 1857. There he farmed, traded, and engaged in various enterprises, even turning his home into a boarding-house for travellers on the Pembina trail. He was a good example of the younger Métis farmers and traders who lived in the settlement belt along the Red and Assiniboine rivers in the late 1850s and the 1860s. His business experience covered the years of transition from the fur trade economy to capitalism.
During the late 1860s he met at his home with Métis leader Louis Riel* and the younger Métis who were disturbed by the proposed transfer of Rupert’s Land from the HBC to the Canadian government without consultation and by the actions of Canadians in the Red River settlement [see John Allan Snow*]. He took an active part in the provisional government established by Riel. In 1870 he was elected to the convention of 40 as the member from Pointe-Coupée. As a captain of the Métis, he captured Major Charles Arkoll Boulton*, Thomas Scott*, and others during the aborted attempt by the Canadian party to retake Upper Fort Garry (Winnipeg) in mid February 1870. Soon afterwards he left Riel’s government because he disagreed with the intended execution of Boulton. In 1871 he was elected captain of the Métis volunteers raised in Pointe-Coupée to defend Manitoba against the Fenian invasion led by William Bernard O’Donoghue*.
Although he had started his political career as a leader under the rules of the Métis hunt, he was also aware of the usefulness of representative democracy and he continued his political activities once parliamentary institutions were established in Manitoba. He successfully contested the first general election for the Legislative Assembly in December 1870 as a Conservative and he represented St Norbert South until his defeat in the provincial general election of December 1874. He was also elected in Provencher during the by-elections held in March 1871 to choose the province’s first members of the House of Commons. At the nomination meeting held in Provencher in September 1872 for the federal general election he put forward Riel’s name. Riel soon withdrew his candidature to allow Delorme to nominate Sir George-Étienne Cartier*, who had been defeated in his Montreal riding. Cartier was elected by acclamation. During the period following Cartier’s death in 1873, Delorme was active in all the efforts to nominate Riel and have him elected for Provencher.
Delorme’s prominence led to several appointments. He had been named a justice of the peace on 30 Sept. 1870. In 1873 he was made hay commissioner for the province and from 1873 to 1875 he served as a member of the Council of the North-West Territories. Premier John Norquay* named him minister of agriculture and president of the Executive Council in mid October 1878. In the provincial general election that December he was elected by acclamation for the riding of St Norbert. He resigned his cabinet post on 29 May 1879 after the abortive attempt by Joseph Royal*, leader of the French-speaking element in Norquay’s administration, to control the cabinet. He was unsuccessful in his bid for the riding of Cartier in the election held the following December.
Delorme had maintained his business contacts during his years in politics, operating a cart brigade to northern Saskatchewan. On retiring from politics, he returned to St Adolphe, where he spent the remainder of his life as a farmer and businessman. He agitated for Riel’s amnesty and was deeply involved in the issue of Métis lands. Except for his political activities, his career was similar to that of other prosperous Métis of the same period.
Arch. de la Soc. Hist. de Saint-Boniface, Man., Fonds Picton. Man., Legislative Library (Winnipeg), Biog. scrapbooks, 9 May 1911–9 March 1914. PAM, MG 3, D1; MG 12, B1; B2. CPG, 1871–81. Gerald Friesen, “Homeland to hinterland: political transition in Manitoba, 1870 to 1879,” CHA, Hist. papers, 1979: 33–47. History of the federal electoral ridings, 1867–1980 (4v., [Ottawa, 1982?]), 1. K. D. McLeod, “Archaeological investigations at the Delorme House (DkLg-18), 1981,” Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Recreation, Hist. resources branch, Papers in Manitoba archaeology, final report (Winnipeg), no.13 (1982). Man., Legislative Assembly, Journals, 1871–79. Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Recreation, Hist. resources branch, St. Norbert Heritage Park, Manitoba ([Winnipeg], 1983). Pioneers of Man. (Morley et al.). G. F. G. Stanley, Louis Riel (Toronto, 1963).