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Annie (McDermott) Bannatyne. (c.

1830-1908)
By Larry Haag, Todd Lamirande and Lawrence Barkwell. Historian Lillian Thomas writes: It was Mrs. A.G.B. Bannatyne who struck the first blow in the struggle for representative government at Red River, although she was striking it for quite another reason. An old lady, over eighty, who was born here, told me that she remembered hearing, by word of mouth, about the articles written by Mair, a young surveyor from Canada. They appeared in the Toronto Globe. The young man had accepted, and apparently enjoyed, the hospitality of the women of Red River, but this did not deter him from describing them as crude, dirty and homely. No doubt he felt that the Red River was so far from civilization no one there would see what he had written. My informant said that Mair and his companion, Snow, were in the habit of going into Bannatyne's store. Unfortunately for them, Mrs. Bannatyne had read the article. When the surveyors appeared she turned to the clerk and, pointing to the wall on which hung the harness, she said, "Dick, hand me that horse whip." Dick handed her the whip, which she was able to use efficiently, and she let the young men feel her wrath, first around their shoulders and then around their legs. They ran from the store. Some historians say they had to hide from the wrath of the citizens. However that may be, Mrs. Bannatyne struck the first blow in the struggle that was completely to change the Red River settlement.1 Annies father was born in Ireland, joined the Hudsons Bay Company and arrived at York Factory in 1812. Around 1814 he married, la faon du pays, Sarah McNab, the daughter of Thomas McNab and a Saulteaux woman. In 1850, Annie married Andrew Bannatyne, a Hudsons Bay Company employee who went on to become a very wealthy merchant. She became a leading force in early philanthropy at Red River. Her ladies association did extensive fundraising for causes such as the Winnipeg General Hospital. She is perhaps best known for horsewhipping Toronto writer and poet Charles Mair as a consequence for the disparaging remarks he had made about Half-Breed women and Red River society in letters published in the Toronto Globe. The daughter and wife of two of the most prominent men during the Red River Settlement era, Annie Bannatynes horsewhipping of Charles Mair, an act still remembered by some people to this day, proved that she was not a mere appendage to the men in her life.

Lillian Beynon Thomas. Some Manitoba Women Who Did First Things. Manitoba Historical Society Transactions, Series 3, No. 4, 1947-48

Annie Bannatyne, born 1830, the daughter of Andrew McDermott and Sarah McNab. Annie was the fifth daughter of nine girls and six boys who survived infancy. Her father was born in 1791 in Ireland, her mother Sarah McNab was the daughter of Thomas McNab and a Saulteau woman. Her father served with the HBC from 1812 and retired to the Red River Settlement in 1824. Annie likely attended Red River Academy and attained a general education as most girls would in those days. Annie met Andrew Graham Bannatyne some time in 1850, they were married 19 Aug. 1851. For a short time after they were married they lived her parents. In late 1852, their first son was born, but would die later, 24 Nov. 1853, on a trip to Scotland. He was buried in Edinburgh. Annie would outlive 7 of 10 children. Annie was involved in many charitable causes, she raised money for the poor. She at one time convinced her father and husband to donate land for Winnipeg's first hospital. She also helped raise funds for the hospital. But her most memorable accomplishment was the horse-whipping of Charles Mair, an anti-Metis member of the Canada First Party, a bigot and a rabble-rouser in the Red River Settlement in the time period leading up to the Metis Resistance of 1869-70. He had written some very derogatory remarks about Metis women that were printed in the Toronto Globe. The following is from Begg's Red River Journal:

"Altogether, I received hospitalities to my heart's content, and I left the place thoroughly pleased with most I had met. There are jealousies and heart-burnings however. Many wealthy people are married to half-breed women, who, having no coat of arms but a 'totem' to look back to, make up for the deficiency by biting at the backs of their 'white' sisters. The white sisters fall back upon their whiteness, whilst the husbands meet each other with desperate courtesies and hospitalities, with a view to filthy lucre in the background." Annie wasn't about to take this lightly. She had read Mair's letter in the Toronto Globe and promised herself to humiliate the man. The following is a partial quote from a St. Boniface priest at the time, Father George Dugas: "She ordered the clerk of (her husband's) store, where the post office was located, to come and warn her when Mair arrived to collect his letters and newspapers, as he did every Saturday. Therefore one Saturday, at four in the afternoon, while the store was full of people, Daniel Mullegan, the clerk, having seen Mair's arrival, ran to tell Mrs. Bannatyne. She quickly throws a shawl on her head and bursts into the post office; holding a large whip in her hand. Without hesitating, she advances on Mair, seizes his nose between her fingers and gives him five or six strokes of the whip on different parts of his body: "Look" she says, "this is how the women of Red River treat those who insult them." The scene lasted for only half a minute. But it appeared long to Mair who left quickly, daring neither to speak or seek revenge. By evening, the incident was known all across the countryside." For Charles Mair, the humiliation of being horsewhipped was still being felt a decade later. Lawrence Clarke in an incident in Prince Albert reminded Mair and put his credibility into question. Annie passed away in her sleep, 14 May 1908 and was buried next to her husband. Scrip affidavit for Bannatyne, Anne; born: November 12, 1832; father: Andrew McDermot (Irish); mother: Sarah McNab (Mtis); claim no.: 1690; date of issue: Sept. 20, 1876

Edited and Compiled by Lawrence Barkwell Coordinator of Metis Heritage and History Research Louis Riel Institute 3

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