Saturday’s Winnipeg Free Press featured a long article about Andrew Bannatyne. I happen to live on a Winnipeg Street named for Mr Bannatyne and he was indeed a Manitoba citizen who made many valuable contributions to our province. Andrew’s wife Annie McDermot is mentioned briefly in the Winnipeg Free Press story because Andrew worked for Annie’s father Andrew McDermot who was a very wealthy and influential man in the Red River settlement.
I think Annie who was highly educated would be deserving of an entire article of her own.
Annie was not only devoted to her family but gave lots of her time to various Winnipeg charities, in particular the Winnipeg General Hospital which the two Andrews in her life–her father and husband, helped to found at her request and with her encouragement. Annie is known as one of Winnipeg’s first philanthropists.
Annie, a Metis, was outspoken and opinionated. She was incensed when a Winnipeg writer named Charles Mair wrote an article for the Toronto Globe in which he made derogatory comments about the women of mixed blood in the Red River Settlement.
Annie knew that Mair came into her husband’s store every Saturday to collect his mail and she told the store clerk that as soon as Mair arrived she wanted to know. The clerk dutifully informed Annie of Mair’s arrival and she burst into the store brandishing a horsewhip. Grabbing Mair by the nose she gave him a half-dozen licks with the whip and shouted, “That’s how the women of Red River treat those who insult them.”
Mair to his credit did not retaliate and left the store in humiliation. A priest named George Dugas was in the store at the time and wrote about the debacle he had witnessed in his journal. Later Louis Riel penned a humorous poem about the encounter between Mr Mair and Mrs Bannatyne.
Winnipeg author Katherena Vermette has written an engaging story about Annie Bannatyne called Annie of the Red River. It is included in the graphic novel anthology This Place: 150 Years Retold.