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  • Writer's pictureJT

The tale of Swift Runner

It’s the spring of 1879 in the Canadian wilderness, stories reach the authorities at Fort Saskatchewan that a well know Cree guide and trapper named Swift Runner had “turned cannibal” and had eaten several of his family members despite there being emergency food stores within a few days trek from his home.

When Swift Runner went to the police later that spring with the story that his wife had committed suicide and the rest of his family had died of starvation, something about his rather well fed appearance made them doubt the veracity of his story.

Upon being led by Swift Runner willingly to his home, what the police discovered was so horrific that it culminated in the first execution in the history of the Northwest Territory.

Swift Runner claimed he was innocent as he had been possessed by the malevolent spirt of a Wendigo and therefore was not at fault, either way he was hung in public after several delays.

Where is the truth in this case? Was it simply the actions of a physically violent alcoholic, the ravings of madman or was there truth in his claim he was possessed by one of the most horrific creatures of First Nation lore?

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