Born in 1861 to a Methodist family, William Henry Jackson grew up in Ontario before moving to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, where he sympathized with the Métis and their struggle for land rights. Jackson became personal secretary to Louis Riel. After the Métis defeat, a Regina court committed the young English Canadian idealist, who had become a Catholic in the Métis camp, and who had later accepted Louis Riel as the prophet of a reformed Christian church, to the lunatic asylum at Lower Fort Garry. He eventually escaped to the United States, joined the labour union movement, and renounced his race. Self-identifying as Métis, he changed his name to the French-sounding "Honoré Jaxon" and devoted the remainder of his life to fighting for the working class and the Indigenous peoples of North America.
In Honoré Jaxon, Donald B. Smith draws on extensive archival research and interviews with family members to present a definitive biography of this complex political man. The book follows Jaxon into the 1940s, where his life mission became the establishment of a library for the First Nations in Saskatchewan, collecting as many books, newspapers, and pamphlets relating to the Métis people as possible. In 1951, at age ninety, he was evicted from his apartment and his library was discarded to the New York City dump. In poor health and broken in spirit, he died one month later.
Heavily illustrated, Honoré Jaxon recounts the complicated story of a young English Canadian who imagined a society in which English and French, Indigenous and Métis would be equals. This book contains 61 b&w illustrations.