Catherine Mulaire

(1843-1922)

Catherine Mulaire was the first métis French teacher in the Red River Settlement.

Born in Fort Cumberland in Ile-à-la-Cross, Saskatchewan, her parents were Louis Lacerte III, voyageur for the Northwest Company and Josèphte Vandal.

Around 1848-1850, her family moved to the Red River Settlement, around Pembina, North Dakota in the US. In 1852, at eight years old, she attended school at Fathers Belcourt and Lacombe’s presbytery. In 1854, when her teacher became sick, she took over to teach religion and prayers to the Indigenous kids in Saulteaux (Ojibway).

Father Belcourt noticed her natural talent in teaching and with the support of her parents, sent her to further her education in 1855 in Longueuil, Lower-Canada.

Mother Veronica of the Crucifix, second Superior General of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Marie Congregation, welcomed her and provided her with a specific curriculum that enabled her to reach her goals. Mulaire returned to the Red River Settlement in 1858, and taught at Walhalla, St. Joseph in North Dakota.

On November 24 1862, she married Joseph Miller, alias Mulaire. In 1863, they moved to Pointe Coupée (St.Adolphe) where their family grew. Mulaire taught at the school led by Bishop Alexandre-Taché and Father Noël-Joseph Ritchot in St.Adolphe until 1882. Then she taught at the Pointe à Grouette (Ste.Agathe) school until 1884.

On April 25, 1871, her husband died of pneumonia. Widowed at 30, Mulaire became the sole supporter of five children, all younger than eight years old.

From 1884 to 1893, she taught out of her Ste.Agathe home. In 1887, a colonial exhibit put together in London, England. Mr. Thomas Bernier, the Manitoba Catholic Schools superintendent, sent some work done by pupils in his jurisdiction. They are very well received by the press and judges. Mulaire’s school was the only secular school selected among eight. Her students received medals and diplomas.

Mulaire eventually moved in with her sons who lived in Otterburne. Although she wasn’t involved in the school system anymore, or the Church, she still taught the neighboring kids and her grandkids. She also erected a cross at the junction between her sons’ parcels of land, so they could gather and pray.

She then moved in with her daughter in St.Jean.Baptiste, where she dies, on April 22, 1922. She is burried in the Parish cemetery. Mulaire is known for h

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