Édouard Beaupré compared to his father, Gaspard Beaupré, whose height was 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Joseph Édouard Beaupré Piché
January 9, 1881
|Died||July 3, 1904 (aged 23)|
|Cause of death||Tuberculosis|
|Occupation||Strongman and wrestler|
|Known for||"Willow Bunch Giant"|
Tallest strongman and wrestler
|Height||251.4 cm (8 ft 3 in) (unverified)|
|Weight||170 kg (374.8 lb)|
|Parent(s)||Gaspard Beaupré and Florestine Piché|
Joseph Édouard Beaupré Piché (January 9, 1881 – July 3, 1904), known as Édouard Beaupré (French pronunciation: [edwaʁ bopʁe]), was a Canadian circus and freak show giant, wrestler, strongman, and star of Barnum and Bailey's circus. He was one of the tallest men in recorded history, with a reported height of 251.4 cm (8 ft 3 in).
Édouard Beaupré was born in the southern Saskatchewan town of Willow Bunch on January 9, 1881. He was the first of 20 children born to Gaspard Beaupré and Florestine Piché, a Métis. When he started school at seven, he was of average height, but at nine he was already 1.85 metres (6.1 ft), and at 11 he was over 2 metres (6.6 ft) tall. He stopped going to school at this time, but not because he was simple. He spoke French, English, Méchif, Cree and Sioux. He was an excellent horseman but by the age of 17 he had reached the height of 2.15 m (7 ft 1⁄2 in) and he abandoned the trade.
His father worked as a freighter for the trader Jean-Louis Légaré, who was a cattle and horse rancher and also Édouard's godfather. For several years he accompanied his father on his trips to Moose Jaw, Regina and Montana.
Abandoning life on the ranch, Beaupré began touring. He displayed his strength by bending iron bars and lifting horses onto his shoulders. He toured from Winnipeg to Montreal and stayed for a time in California. While in Montreal, on March 25, 1901, Édouard wrestled Louis Cyr, a famous French Canadian strongman, who is regarded as the strongest man to have ever lived. Beaupré's height was measured at 7 feet 8.1 inches (2.34 metres) and he weighed 362 pounds (164 kilograms), whereas Cyr's height was measured at 5 feet 8.5 inches (1.74 metres) and he weighed 365 pounds (166 kilograms). The match was very short, with Cyr winning.
Beaupré signed a contract on July 1, 1904 with the Barnum and Bailey circus to appear at the St. Louis World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. He died of a pulmonary hemorrhage, a complication of tuberculosis, at the fairground hospital on July 3, 1904. At the time he was 23 years old and 2.52 m (8 ft 3 in) tall.
Travels after death
At the circus' request, the undertaker embalmed Beaupré's body. However, the circus refused to pay, so they decided to preserve the body which they then put on display in St. Louis. Through an unknown connection, the body made it to the Museum of Eden in Montreal and was put on display there, but the exposition drew such a crowd that the authorities shut it down. The body was then passed on to a Montreal circus, but they quickly went bankrupt and so dumped the body in a warehouse. It sat there until 1907, when two kids came across the body as they were playing in the warehouse. The Université de Montréal claimed the body, and, after doing some research and an autopsy, mummified Beaupré's body and placed it in a glass display case in the University.
The family only discovered Beaupré's body was in Montreal in 1967, and so in 1975 began the process to try and return the body to Willow Bunch for a proper burial. The University refused and claimed rights over the body, saying that they wanted to continue to perform research and did not want the body displayed anywhere else. In 1989 the family once again tried, this time bringing the media with them as well to put some pressure on the University. This time the effort worked, and so the University decided they could cremate the remains, to prevent anyone from grave-robbing the body. It took two big urns to contain Beaupré's ashes. Finally, in 1990, the body of le Géant Beaupré or le Géant de Willow-Bunch was brought back to Willow Bunch. The family had a memorial service, and his remains now lie in front of the Willow Bunch Museum.
- "le Musée Virtuel Francophone de la Saskatchewan (Édouard Beaupré)". Internet Archives (Wayback Machine). Archived from the original on May 13, 2006. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
- Andre Lalonde (1994). "BEAUPRÉ, ÉDOUARD,". Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 13. University of Toronto/Université Laval. Retrieved 17 June 2015.