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THOMAS SWAIN (1835-1940)
BETSY DUCHARME? (1839-1863)

(Last Updated: February 17, 2017)


Thomas SWAIN was born Apr 6, 1835, the half-breed son of Marie Marguerite ALLARY and John Jacque SWAIN (1813-1855). ** This birth date comes from his obituary claiming he was 105 years old when he died in 1940. However, his age in several census records suggest that this may be an exaggeration.


US Census of 1850 records Thomas (age 5) with his parents in Pembina County, Minnesota Territory.


In 1855 Tom’s father (John SWAIN) froze to death "on the prairie", en-route to Turtle Mountain.
From Winnipeg Free Press Story: Thomas “found his manhood on a lonely trail that led from Fort Garrry to far-away Turtle Mountain, sled-ropes tearing at his bleeding hands as he trudged three days through winter’s snows, only to find the frozen body of his father.”


Marriage to Betsy DUCHARME?


In 1857, according to a few sources, Thomas SWAIN married a Betsy DUCHARME (1839-1863) of uncertain origins. ** This is somewhat dubious to me. In any case no children are mentioned.


Marriage to Ellen BREMNER


Around 1860 Thomas began a connubial relationship with Ellen BREMNER, daughter of Elizabeth TWATT and Alexander BREMNER (1791-1842). On Aug 21, 1864 they were church-wed in Headingly, MB.


Canadian Confederation
A Red River Rebellion
Manitoba becomes a Province


On July 1, 1867 the British colonies in North America were united under the British North American Act to become the Dominion of CanadaSir John A MACDONALD (1815-1891) was appointed as Canada’s first Prime Minister. William McDOUGALL (1822-1905) became the Minister of Public Works, and he began negotiations to acquire Rupert’s Land from the HBC; surveyors were sent to Red River to prepare the way for an expected influx of settlers.


On Oct 11, 1869, Louis RIEL (1844-1885) placed his foot on the surveyors’ chain to tell them their work was finished! This marked the beginning of the historic Red River Métis Rebellion.


From Winnipeg Free Press Story: SWAIN was a married man with a family when Louis RIEL set up a rebel government in what is now Manitoba; and was eye-witness to the murder of young SCOTT of Ontario, an inciedent that sent Garnett WOLSELEY scurrying out west to pus some rebels in their places.

** MORE ABOUT THE RED RIVER REBELLION in the Canadian Encylopedia



On July 15, 1870 the Rebellion ended when RIEL’s Provisional Government accepted the terms of the Manitoba Act and Manitoba became the fifth province of Canada.


Census of 1870 in Headingly (Lot 50): Thomas SWAIN, age 32; wife Ellen, age 39. Children: Margaret (age 12), Mary (6), Harriet (4) and John Andrew (age 2).


In 1875 daughter Margaret married Peter “Peach Ass” FIDLER in Headingly, son of Jane LAMBERT and Peter P FIDLER (1824-1901); grandson of Charles FIDLER (1798-1886).


Prince Albert, Saskatchewan


Census of 1881 in Prince Albert: Thomas SWAIN, age 50; wife Ellen, age 40. Children: Mary (age 17), Ellen (15), John (13) and Sarah (age 9)


Locateions relating to the North-West Rebellion


Around 1884 daughter Mary married Andrew James McKAY in Fort Garry, son of Catherine McCORRISTER and Alexander McKAY (1826-1878).


The North-West Rebellion – Battle at Batoche


1885 was the year of the historic North-West Rebellion.


From Winnipeg Free Press Story: In the 1885 uprising Thomas was a member of the Prince Albert Volunteers, and a dispatch rider from General MIDDLETON to RIEL at Batcohe.

** MORE ABOUT THE NORTH-WEST REBELLION in the Canadian Encylopedia



In 1887 daughter Sarah married Miles Alexander FOULDS in Prince Albert, son of Anne Nancy ADAMS and John FOULDS (1830-1931).

Around 1887 son John married his sister-in-law Chrstina INKSTER in Prince Albert, son of Eliza FRANKS and George INKSTER (1842-1912).


Census 1891 in Red Deer Hill (south of Prince Albert):  Thomas SWAIN, age 46; wife Ellen, age 56.

In 1891 daughter Ellen married Archibald James INKSTER in Prince Albert, son of Eliza FRANKS and George INKSTER (1842-1912).


Thomas Swain

Thomas Swain (From trainstop on


Census of 1901 in Kirkpatrick (SK): Thomas SWAIN, age 57; wife Ellen, age 67. Also Mother: Widow Mary SWAIN, age 83.


Censuses of 1906 and 1911 in the Battleford area: Ellen (age 72, 78) and Thomas SWAIN (age 66, 68).


On Sep 4, 1928 Nellie (nee BREMNER) SWAIN died in Langemeade, SK.


Linda Nygard's Family Genealogy:  Tom was the oldest man in Saskatchewan, and probably Canada. Just before his death he was invited to meet King George VI and Queen Elizabeth during their 1939 Royal Tour. The story goes that, before Thomas met the King and Queen on their Royal Train, he took off his new, shiny shoes and put on his moccasins- and he did.  I have a photograph of Thomas SWAIN with the King and Queen. He addressed the King as "Hi George!  I look forward to hearing from you.  Where do you live?"


Thomas Swain meets King George and Queen Elizabeth

May 24, 1939: Thomas Swain (white beard) shaking hands with King George VI and Queen Elizabeth


On Apr 29, 1940 Thomas SWAIN died in Langemeade, SK. He was said to be 105 years old.


Comments and queries at this link: FORUM FOR DISCUSSING THE THOMAS SWAIN FAMILY


=========================== Family Details ===========================


1. Jul 15, 1860 MARGARET SWAIN (m. Peter Charles “Peach Ass” FIDLER)


2. 1864 MARY SWAIN (m. Andrew James McKAY)
3. Jan 8, 1867 ELLEN HARRIET SWAIN (m. Archibald James INKSTER)
4. Jan 31, 1868 JOHN ANDREW SWAIN (m. Christina INKSTER)
5. Sep 25, 1870 SARAH ELIZABETH SWAIN (m. Miles Alexander FOULDS)