Skip to main content

Granny Powder: Traditional Knowledge and Midwifery

“Nbaakaawin – Wisdom: To cherish knowledge is to know wisdom. Wisdom is given by the Creator to be used for the good of the people.”

A coloured portrait of an elderly Mary-Rose Pudre.

Mary Rose Lapoudre (Cardinal) at the age of 92 in Fort McMurray, 1977.


Mary Rose Lapoudre (Cardinal) was 14 years old when the North-West Mounted Police opened the post at Fort Chipewyan in 1899 and when Treaty 8 took place. She came to Fort McMurray in 1922.

An elderly Mary-Rose sits on a pink sofa wearing a blue cardigan and black beaded necklace with glasses on, holding her great-great-grandson dressed in a white onesie.

Granny with great-great-grandchild Randal Sorge in Fort McMurray, 1977.

Her husband Jonas died, leaving her with ten children to raise alone. Her self-sufficiency, creativity, and ability to adjust to structural changes sweeping her environment are legendary.

She trapped, developed and administered curative, made handicrafts and beadwork to support her ten children. She went on to help others survive.

Five harnessed dogs sit in front of an empty sled on a snowy trail in the forest.

Using a dog sled was a means of transportation during Granny’s time in the 1950s.


Mary Rose, fondly called ‘Granny Powder’ in the community, was well known for her herbal knowledge and her ability to combine bush and contemporary medicine to make concoctions to help cure people’s maladies.

Granny’s most memorable medication known to the community was made from the odour sack of a skunk which was used as a local anesthetic for toothaches.

A historic photo of four people, two men and two women, standing in front of a wooden house, the second person is a young Mary-Rose.

Mary Rose Lapoudre (Cardinal), second from the left, in Fort McMurray, 1929.


Mary Rose was also an accomplished midwife who delivered 56 babies, including a few of her grandchildren.

In 1978, she was honoured as the distinguished guest for the grand opening of the new modern hospital and cut the ribbon at its ceremony in Fort McMurray. She was 93.

Granny passed away on the exact date and time she predicted six years later at the same hospital.

At the time of her death, she was the last surviving person from the Frog Lake area. She was a manifestation of a true Matriarch rooted in the values of Indigenous culture and heritage.

A young woman holding a feather and a young man and eldery woman holding up certificates framed in glass facing forward, a Christmas tree is on display in the background.

Granny Powder descendants received awards in Fort McMurray, 2016.