The Giant Beaupré
by Dave Yanko
As a child in the 1880s, Edouard Beaupré dreamed of becoming a cowboy. He was a talented rider and roper by the time he reached his teens, and his large stature promised an early start to an occupation that rewarded strength and endurance with the independent lifestyle he coveted during occasional work among the ranch hands of the Willow Bunch district.
Beaupré quit catechism school at 15 and took a job working the range. But his career as a cowboy was over in two years. He'd grown so tall that when he straddled a horse, his feet dragged on the ground. And at more than 300 pounds, he taxed the strength of the sturdiest steed.
For the young man who would become known in cities across North America as 'The Giant', a dream had ended. What followed was a short life on the freak-show circuit and 86 years of death without dignity. Riding a horse for a living was out of the question.
The first of 20 children born to Gaspard Beaupré and his Metis wife Florestine, Edouard was a large baby who nevertheless grew at a normal rate for the first three years of his life. His parents were slightly taller than average, his brothers and sisters normal. By the time he reached the age of nine, however, the sensitive and intelligent lad was six feet tall. At 21, he was a towering 8'2" and weighed just under 400 pounds.
Old photos reveal a dapper and well-proportioned man whose extraordinary height dwarfed the people and objects around him. His shoes were size 22 and his hat size 15. It took 6 ½ yards of fabric to produce one of his custom-made shirts, which sported sleeves four feet long.
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Photo taken in Willow Bunch No. 42, SK, Canada
Misplaced? Suggest new location