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Peter ErasmusPeter Erasmus was born on June 27, 1833 the son of Danish-Cree parentage. Shortly after the death of his father in 1849, Erasmus went to work with his uncle, the Reverend Henry Budd, at Christ Church Anglican Mission at The Pas. There, he continued his education while teaching and translating religious texts into Cree.

Erasmus did well as a  teacher and his aptitude convinced his uncle and the Anglican Bishop Anderson that he would be a good candidate for the ministry. Consequently, he was sent (albeit reluctantly) to Red River to study at St. John's School. After only two terms, however, convinced that he was not meant to be a minister, Erasmus left his training to be an interpreter for the Methodist missionary Thomas Woolsey. The two men worked together until Erasmus joined the three-year-long Palliser expedition that had begun in 1857 to explore and map much of the area that spanned from Lake Superior to the west side of the Rocky Mountains.

Following the Palliser Expedition, Erasmus had a brief and successful time as a gold miner before he rejoined Woolsey, at which time he was enlisted by George McDougall as an interpreter, guide and assistant. This partnership lasted three years until 1865, by which time Erasmus had married Charlotte Jackson, a young Métis woman. The couple made a home in Whitefish Lake, Erasmus working as a trapper and independent trader. They would have six children before Charlotte's death in 1880.

Treaty 6In 1876 Erasmus was asked by the Plains Cree to interpret during Treaty 6 negotiations. He was subsequently hired by the Canadian government to act as an interpreter and continued to work intermittently for the government in various capacities until his retirement in 1912. He remarried in 1882, and with his second wife, Mary Stanley, had three more children. He spent his last years living with one or another of his children, passing away at age 97 in May, 1931.


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