A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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EPISODE 28: "René Richard: Painter of the North"
Directed by Jean-François Monette


A story of Swiss Canadian René Richard, who came to Canada enslaved by poverty and an overbearing father. Homesteaded in North Alberta, he became a trapper and hunter, when, at the age of 15, he left home forever.

Despite these adversities, he managed to cultivate his love of sketching and the environment into a body of work that continues to be loved and appreciated by Canadians.


  • Child labour
  • Homesteading
  • Following your dream


  • Child labour
  • Environmentalist
  • Homesteading
  • Hunter, trapper
  • Artist


  • To understand what hardships were faced by the early homesteaders of Canada's West
  • To understand the culture of the natives and the hunters and trappers of the North
  • To understand the importance of following the heart


  1. René Richard was born into a life of exploitation through child labour, which was virtual slavery. Child labour continues today in many parts of the world. Many of the brand name clothes that people wear today were made by children. Investigate one well known fashion label, find out where their clothes are manufactured. Do their factories use child labour?

  2. René Richard became a hunter and a trapper - he was involved in the fur trade. What was the importance of the fur trade to the development of Canada? Research the trade routes used by companies such as the Hudson Bay Company to traverse the country.

  3. René Richard became one of Canada's early environmentalists. In his later years, he spent his leisure time planting trees. Organize a tree-planting day for your school, clean a local ravine, take a moment to look at the environment around your school. Imagine what it would have been like one hundred years ago. What native tribes claimed the land which your school is built upon as part of their territory?

  4. When René became a fur-trader, he discovered his talent as an artist. Take a sketch pad and pencil and sketch things and people in your neighbourhood who are important to you. Try to think of what best symbolizes your life and the times in which you live. As René discovered when he returned from Paris, things can change very quickly.

  5. René Richard settled in Canada as a homesteader in Cold Lake, Alberta. Make contact with a public school in North Alberta, and set up a pen pal relationship with one of the students. Compare,e for example, what your life is like to the children who live in modern day Cold Lake.