Little Bits of History

Giant

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 9, 2012

Edouard Beaupré

January 9, 1881: Edouard Beaupré is born. His parents, Gaspard and Florestine had recently taken residence in the newly-founded parish of Willow Bunch in Saskatchewan, Canada. Edouard was the first baby baptized there. Gaspard, a French Canadian, and Florestine, a Métis (one of three registered aboriginal peoples of Canada), went on to have another 19 children together.

Edouard weighed 14 pounds at birth. For the first few years of his life, he was of normal size. At age seven, he began to grow rapidly and by age 11 he was taller than his father. Edouard was a skilled hunter and horseman and was exceptional with a lasso. He also spoke four languages: Cree, English, French and Sioux. He dreamed of becoming a cowboy but had to give up horses when his legs grew too long and dragged on the ground even when riding the tallest horse. He was 7′ 1″ tall at age 17 and was 8′ 2.5″ tall and weighed 400 pounds in 1902. He grew another half-inch before his death.

At age 15, no longer able to ride horses, Edouard decided to use his size to his advantage. He became known as the Willow Bunch Giant and joined freak shows touring North America. He eventually joined the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Traveling was not easy for the giant. Second mattresses were laid over trunks in order to make a proper bed. His feature stunt for the shows was to crouch under a horse and then lift the horse off the ground with the 900 pound animal resting across his shoulders.

Edouard was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1902 and died while on the road in 1904. He was 23. His father couldn’t afford to get the body shipped back home. Instead of burial, the circus embalmed the body and Edouard continued to tour, even after death. In 1905, a circus owning the body went bankrupt and Edouard’s body was claimed by the Université de Montréal for scientific study. They found his pituitary gland was overactive and he was still growing at the time of his death. In 1975 a nephew located Edouard’s body but was unable to retrieve it. The university finally released the body to the family and Edouard’s remains were cremated. He was buried on July 7, 1990.

Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything. – George Lois

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. – Booker T. Washington

Often the best way to overcome desire is to satisfy it. – W. Somerset Maugham

The man of virtue makes the difficulty to be overcome his first business, and success only a subsequent consideration. – Confucius

Also on this day:

Advertising – In 1984, Clara Peller makes her television debut.
Going to the Dogs – In 1929, The Seeing Eye was established.
Northern Aggression? – In 1861, Star of the West, is fired upon by Southerners.

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4 Responses

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  1. J. G. Burdette said, on January 9, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Now that is odd.

  2. Sherry said, on January 10, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Well, he made the best of it during his life, didn’t he? Obviously a very intelligent man, too. What they did to him after death was hideous and opportunistic, though. How insulting to him and his family! I am glad to read that a relative was finally able to claim his remains and dispose of them properly. I’m most uncomfortable, however, that he was sliced-&-diced by the university after all those years. They had to have known from his growth records by then that he was likely afficted with a pituitary problem. There are only so many causes of gigantism, after all.

    • patriciahysell said, on January 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm

      Not to excuse anything, but did they know exactly what the pituitary did back then?

      • Sherry said, on January 23, 2015 at 12:02 am

        Sorry, Patricia – never saw your reply from a year ago!

        I meant was the school which had Beaupre’s body all those years, not the doctors during his lifetime. I really doubt they had a clue what the pituitary did or how problems with it affected the the body.


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