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Gertrude Bernard
Gertrude Moltke Bernard also known as Anahareo.png
Gertrude Bernard aged 19
Born(1906-06-18)June 18, 1906
Mattawa, Ontario, Canada
DiedJune 17, 1986(1986-06-17) (aged 79)
Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
Resting placeAjawaan Lake, Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan
Home townMattawa, Ontario
Spouse(s)Grey Owl, Count Eric Moltke Huitfeldt
Children3 daughters
Shirley Dawn (1932-1984)
AwardsOrder of Canada

Gertrude Moltke Bernard, CM, also known as Anahareo, (June 18, 1906 – June 17, 1986) was a Mohawk Canadian writer, animal rights activist and conservationist.


Gertrude Bernard was born in Mattawa, Ontario to a Mohawk Iroquois family on June 18, 1906. She grew up a strongly independent woman and something of a tomboy. Her friends nicknamed her "Pony".[1]

When Gertrude was 19, she met writer and imposter, Grey Owl (Archibald Belaney), when he was visiting the Wabikon Resort in Temagami, Canada, where she was a teenage waitress.[2] Almost twice her age at 37, the English fur trapper claimed to be a half-Apache from America.[2] As they got to know one another, she insisted on accompanying him to his traplines.[2] She did not approve of what she saw, and encouraged him to stop his trapping activities and become an animal rights activist.[2] In Pilgrims of the Wild (1934), Belaney recounts how his young Iroquois wife, by saving the lives of two beaver kits and raising them, led him to change his way of life and to work for the protection of wildlife.

They married in what he claimed was an Anishinaabeg [sic] ceremony, although he was still legally married to his first wife Angele Eguwan, an Ojibwe.[1] (See Marriage 'à la façon du pays'.)

They had a daughter together, Shirley Dawn (August 23, 1932 - June 3, 1984).[citation needed]

The couple split up in 1936.[citation needed] Belaney died in 1938, a best-selling author. Shortly after his death, it was publicly revealed that he was not part-Apache as he had claimed, but an Englishman named Archibald Stansfeld Belaney.

In 1940 Gertrude, using the name Anahareo that Belaney had given her, wrote a book called My Life With Grey Owl. In 1972 she wrote the best-seller, Devil in Deerskins: My Life With Grey Owl, in which she denied having known Belaney's true origins. She said she had been hurt to discover his deception.[citation needed]

After Belaney's death, Gertrude married Count Eric Moltke Huitfeldt. They had two daughters together. Over the 50 years following her separation from Belaney, she continued to be active in the conservation and animal rights movement.[citation needed]

In 1979 Anahareo was admitted into the "Order of Nature", of the Paris-based International League of Animal Rights.[citation needed] She was elected a Member of the Order of Canada in 1983.[citation needed]

On June 17, 1986, just a day before her 80th birthday, Anahareo died in Canada.[citation needed]



  1. ^ a b Native American Women: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. Gretchen M. Bataille & Laurie Lisa, p. 12)
  2. ^ a b c d "Mattawa woman Grey Owl's inspiration", PastForward, 16 Jun 2000

Further reading[edit]

  • Kristin Gleeson: Anahareo: A Wilderness Spirit. Fireship Press, Tucson 2012 ISBN 1611792207
  • Kristin Gleeson: Blazing Her Own Trail: Anahareo's Rejection of Euro-Canadian Stereotypes, in Recollecting: Lives of Aboriginal Women of the Canadian Northwest and Borderlands, edited by Sarah Carter, Patricia McCormack, Athabasca University Press, 2010. The publication has won the Canadian Historical Association's Aboriginal history book prize, 2011

External links[edit]