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James Isbister

john isbister, james isbister of stromness scotland
James Isbister November 29, 1833 – October 16, 1915 was a Canadian Métis leader of the 19th century Prominent among the Anglo-Métis of the area, he is considered to be the founder of the city of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan


  • 1 Life
  • 2 See also
  • 3 References
    • 31 Print
    • 32 Internet
  • 4 External links


An interpreter for the Hudson's Bay Company for many years, Isbister was talented linguistically, speaking English, Gaelic, Cree, Dene and Michif

Isbister began farming in the summer of 1862 one mile east of the present day federal penitentiary at Prince AlbertThe area he farmed is close to present day 17 Avenue and 14 Street West Isbister was probably the first man in what is now known as Saskatchewan to grow wheat on his own farm He also worked on the John Smith Reserve currently the Muskoday First Nation as a farm instructor By 1866, when Isbister moved a short distance away, several families were living in the district, which was known as Isbister's Settlement

By 1884, both settler and Métis discontent was growing rapidly due to poor agricultural conditions and unresolved land issues in the Saskatchewan Valley region As a community leader, Isbister was selected as one of the four delegates along with Gabriel Dumont sent to recall Louis Riel from Montana to lead the people in seeking government action to address the situation Local settlers' perception of government inaction culminated in the Northwest Rebellion of the following year 1885

Like most other Anglo-Métis of the area, Isbister disassociated himself from the movement led by Riel when tensions ultimately erupted into violence Despite this, he was denounced by the Conservative press in Prince Albert

Following the Northwest Rebellion, Isbister was active in the Anglican Church of Canada in the Prince Albert area, and lived out his last days in that community He is buried in the Anglican St Mary's Cemetery just west of the Penitentiary not far from where he farmed initially

See also

  • Gabriel Dumont Métis leader
  • James Nisbet
  • Lawrence Clarke
  • Thomas McKay NWT politician
  • Louis Riel
  • Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
  • North-West Rebellion



  • Prince Albert: The First Century, Gary W D Abrams, 1966, Modern Press Saskatoon
  • The Voice of the People: Reminiscences of the Prince Albert Settlement’s Early Citizens 1866-1895, Manon Lamontagne, Monique Lamontagne, Verna Redhead, Bob Serjeant & Bill Smiley, 1984, Marion Press Ltd Battleford Saskatchewan


  1. ^ Smyth, David 1998 "Isbister, James" In Cook, Ramsay; Hamelin, Jean Dictionary of Canadian Biography XIV 1911–1920 online ed University of Toronto Press 

External links

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