One of the largest Métis settlements in Saskatchewan, was once known as Round Prairie (Prairie-Ronde). All that is left is the cemetery and the memories of the people who lived there. Many Métis people who were born in Saskatoon, have ancestors that lived in Round Prairie. The following are some of the names recalled by the “old timers” that were living in Saskatoon:
Trotchie (or Trottier)
The first settlers arrived in 1903. They came from various places in Canada and the United States. The leader, or chief, was Charles “Wapass” Trottier. He was born in Red River and was also a good friend and relative of Gabriel Dumont. The families that lived in Round Prairie were happy. They were helpful and respectful to one another. Everyone either spoke Cree or French. They got along very well with the Sioux at Moosewood Reserve, now known as Whitecap Reserve, which was close by. They tried to make a living there, but it was difficult. They always had plenty to eat though. Berries were abundant which they used to make pemmican, their specialty. It was made out of chokecherries, sugar and various meats.
The new land system confused the Métis. If they couldn’t maintain and improve their homestead, which they had lived on for many years, the government could take it away. That is how many lost their land. Many found it too difficult to make a living and decided to leave to make a better life. Also, diseases such as tuberculosis, whooping cough, and cholera, forced them to move closer to the city for medical attention.
They settled in shanties or tents outside of Saskatoon on the southwest side of the river, presently known as the Queen Elizabeth Power Station. The Métis still found it difficult to get a job because of limited schooling and no trades, so most of them went on “relief”.By the mid thirties, nearly everyone was gone from Round Prairie, except for George Landrie, Alex Shortt, Joe Caron and their families. Later, George moved to Brooks, Alberta; Joe sold out and Round Prairie ended. Alex was the only one left. When the war broke out in 1939, a portion of the land was used for the training camp.
The Métis faced many challenges once they left Round Prairie. First, it was no jobs, which led to poverty, then alcoholism, which then led to violence. Soon after, they didn’t even know the word culture, except when they were drunk, which was forgotten the next day. Their children were being neglected, and the white society was very discriminating.
Many Métis men went to war for the $1.30 approximately a day, three square meals, and a chance to see the world.
Many of our past leaders and founding members of the Métis movement in Saskatoon were born and raised in Round Prairie.
Board of Directors 1936
Charlie Landrie Joe Larocque Alex Fayant Mike Vandale Charlie Ouellette William Trotchie Isadore Trotchie William Vandale
Archaeologists are finding evidence of habitation in many places where cemeteries and foundations of buildings suggest forgotten churches and homes. Round Prairie is one such place where the dreams of Métis families are buried, and the Métis dispersed a second time in their struggle to survive.
Early in the 1960’s, Pete Trottier, great nephew of Charles Trottier, began a movement among his people to remember his relatives buried at Round Prairie. The memory of the cemetery was sketched in his mind, for he had been the one to dig the first grave in 1906, at the age of 16 years, for his great aunt, Charles Trottier’s wife, Ursula (Laframboise) Trottier. His great uncle Charles had donated the land from his holdings.
Then in the 1970’s, Clarence Trotchie, Pete Trottier’s son, and President of Métis Society, Local 11, picked up where his father left off, and in 1973 Round Prairie Cemetery was restored as a historic site unearthing at least part of the story of Round Prairie. The cemetery was fenced, crosses were built and a memorial cairn and plaque were dedicated.
The last people to be buried at Round Prairie Cemetery were Joseph Caron in 1977, his wife, Florence (Trotchie) Caron in 1979, and their sons, Arthur (Micky) in 2000, and Louis in 2001.