Among Canadian historical figures who represent the imagination, it's hard not to think of Edouard Beaupre, better known as Beaupre the giant.
He actually belongs to a very exclusive list of the greatest men in history, appearing in 5e or 6e Position according to lists. He was remembered during his lifetime for being 8 feet 3 inches or 2.52 m tall, but for his particular physique and the saga surrounding his body, which unfortunately became an object of interest, here in Montreal. He entered our folklore in 1975 with a song dedicated to him by the group Beau Domage.
A pioneer family from Saskatchewan
Édouard Beaupré was born in Saskatchewan in 1881 and was one of the founding families of the village of Willow Bunch, founded by the Métis community in 1880. His father was from Assumption and his mother was a Piche Métis from Flores. He was the eldest of 20 children and the first born and baptized in one of the first settlements in this Canadian province.
His family heritage means he is fluent in many of the languages of his native region, including French, English, Cree, Sioux, and Mechief, a mixture of Cree and French. From childhood, he worked on farms and loved taking care of horses. Unfortunately, he started to overgrow from the age of 6. He was a cowherd for a while, but when he sat on his horse, he had to stop because his feet touched the ground and it was too heavy for the animals to carry.
A great beast of prey
At the age of 17, her photos caused a sensation, and now she measures over 2 meters and towers many heads above her family. There is something special about his countenance which arouses the interest of the curious crowd for curiosities and amusements, as it is somewhat disfigured. He was kicked in the face on a farm, which broke several bones in his face and left him in pain for the rest of his life. These tragic misfortunes leave him with a strong desire for the bottle…
To earn some money, he works in various circuses, which gives him the opportunity to travel. He mainly performs feats of strength such as lifting a horse on his shoulders or bending metal. He heads to the American East Coast and arrives in Montreal to face none other than Louis Cyr at Somer Park. The match between the strongest men took place on March 25, 1901, and Édouard Beaupre was exhausted before the fight, fighting what might have been tuberculosis. This defeat was reported in the next day's newspaper HomelandIt mentions that Louis Cyr conquered the giant in 3 minutes and 39 seconds…
A body that has traveled a lot
Edouard Beaupre died of a pulmonary hemorrhage while on tour at the Saint-Louis Universal Exposition. He is only 23 years old. His parents were so poor that when he died on July 3, 1904, they could not afford the transportation costs of returning his remains to Saskatchewan. A businessman from Willow Bunch, Pascal Bonneau, moved the body to Montreal, where it remained for 6 months at the entrance to the Eden Museum. This gruesome scene caused a stir and the crowd that gathered to see the body was considered very large; Municipal officials have requested to remove it. What happens next? No one knows exactly, but in 1907, children found it in a barn in Bellerive Park! It was then taken to the Department of Anatomy at the University of Montreal, where it was mummified and then exhibited in a glass case until the late 1970s.
His family requested that his remains be repatriated to give him a dignified burial. The giant Beaupre was cremated and finally buried in his native village in 1990. The legend of the giant was very much alive.
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