Marie Rose Delorme Smith, Metis Herbalist & Midwife – Alberta (1862-1960)

Marie Rose Delorme SmithMarie Rose Delorme Smith was a woman of French-Metis ancestry who was born during the fur trade era in White Horse Plains, Manitoba. She spent her youth traveling with her father in his trade caravan to the NorthWest
Territories, or taking an education with the nuns at St. Boniface school.

Sold by her mother at the age of sixteen to a robe and whiskey trader several years older than her, Marie Rose and her husband Charley founded the Jughandle Ranch on Pincher Creek, southern Alberta. She went on to raise seventeen children, establish a boarding house, and serve as medicine woman and midwife. She published several articles in the early prairie ranch periodical, Canadian Cattlemen, detailing life with her Metis family on the trading routes, including many useful details about the plants and animals used for food, medicine, and shelter. Later in life, she was given the nickname “Buckskin Mary” for her skill in making excellent gloves and leather goods.

Everywhere she went, Marie Rose earned a reputation for being stalwart, a
survivor of the highest calibre, someone who persevered even in tough conditions and predicaments, and smiled all the way through. Clearly proud of her Metis identity, Marie Rose was a member of an extended family who served as Louis Riel’s soldiers, and she presented that identity tentatively in her own writings. She was acquainted with Chief Crowfoot, Kootenai Brown, Blue-Flash-of-Lightning, and was a close friend of the catholic priest Father Albert Lacombe (‘White-Heart’), who served as her
confessor. Her original log cabin from the Jughandle ranch can be found at the Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village in Pincher Creek, and archives of her writings are stored in the Glenbow Museum in Calgary.

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