La Fontaine’s Fables: Page as Post


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The Fables of La Fontaine

The fables listed below are not necessarily an analysis of a fable by Jean de La Fontaine (1621 – 1695). A few have been used to reflect current events.

I usually list or quote the Æsopic equivalent of a fable by La Fontaine. If so, I use the Perry Index classification, a number, of the corresponding Æsopic fable. There are many versions of Æsopic fables as they have been rewritten by several authors. Marie de France (12th century [Anglo-Norman]), Walter of England (12th century [Anglo-Norman]) and Jean de La Fontaine (17th century [French]) wrote Æsopic fables, but Jean de La Fontaine made Æsop’s fables La Fontaine’s fables.

If one is looking for versions of a fable, one’s best guide is Laura Gibbs’ Bestiaria Latina ( I have written posts on several fables and examined elements such as how mythological animals differ from mythical animals and have named the genres in which animals are featured.  See Anthropomorphism and Zoomorphism.)


The Bear and the Gardener, “L’Ours et l’amateur des jardins”

The Cat’s Only Trick, “Le Chat et le Renard” (IX.14) (The Cat and the Fox) (10 May 2013)
The Cat Metamorphosed into a Maid, by Jean de La Fontaine, “La Chatte métamorphosée en femme” (II.18) (20 July 2013)
“Le Chêne et le Roseau” (The Oak and the Reed):  the Moral (I.22) (28 September 2013)
The Cock and the Pearl, La Fontaine cont’d (I.20), “Le Coq et la Perle” (I.20) (10 October 2013)


La Fontaine’s “The Fox and the Grapes,” “Le Renard et les Raisins” (III.11) (23 September 2013)
The Fox & Crane, or Stork, “Le Renard et la Cigogne” (I.18) (30 May 2013)
The Fox & Crane, or Stork (I.18) (30 September 2014)
The Frogs Who Desired a King, a Fable for our Times, “Les Grenouilles qui demandent un roi,”(III, 4) (12 November 2016)
The Frogs Who Desired a King (III.4) (18 August 2011)


The Hen with the Golden Eggs, “La Poule aux œufs d’or” (V.8) (1 June 2013)
…the humble pay the cost” (II.4), “Les Deux Taureaux et une Grenouille,” The Two Bulls and the Frog (II.4) (29 September 2015)

The Man and the Snake, “L’Homme et la Couleuvre” (X.1) (9 November 2011)
The Miller, his Son, and the Donkey, quite a Tale, “Le Meunier, son fils et l’âne” (III.1) (16 May 2013)
A Motif: Getting Stuck in a Hole, “La Belette entrée dans un grenier, (III.17) (16 April 2013)
Another Motif: The Tail-Fisher, “Le Renard ayant la queue coupée” (V.5) (20 April 2013)
The Mouse Metamorphosed into a Maid, by Jean de La Fontaine, “La Souris métamorphosée en fille” (II.18) (30 July 2013)

The North Wind and the Sun, “Phébus et Borée” (VI.3) (16 April 2013)

The Oak Tree and the Reed ,“Le Chêne et le Roseau,” (I.22) (28 September 2013)
“Le Chêne et le Roseau” (The Oak and the Reed): the Moral (I.22) (28 September 2013)

The North Wind and the Sun, “Phébus et Borée” (VI.3) (16 April 2013)

Fables and Parables: the Ineffable (The Two Doves, “Les Deux Pigeons”) (12 June 2018)
The Two Doves, “Les Deux Pigeons” (IX.2) (24 May 2018)
…the humble pay the cost” (II.4), “Les Deux Taureaux et une Grenouille,” The Two Bulls and the Frog (II.4) (29 September 2015)
The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, “Le Rat de ville et le Rat des champs”  (I.9) (18 August 2013)
The Two Rats, the Fox and Egg: The Soul of Animals, “Les Deux Rats, le Renard, et l’Œuf” (IX. last fable) (15 May 2013)

You can’t please everyone: Æsop retold, “Le Meunier, son fils, et l’âne” (X.1) (21 March 2012)

Fables and Parables: the Ineffable (The Two Doves, “Les Deux Pigeons”) (12 June 2018)
Fables: varia (12 March 2017)
Anthropomorphism and Zoomorphism (6 March 2017)
To Inform or Delight (29 March 2013)

Texts and Classification
La Fontaine’s Fables Compiled & Walter Crane (25 September 2013)
Musée Jean de La Fontaine, Site officiel (complete fables FR/EN)
Perry Index (classification of Æsop’s Fables)
La Fontaine & Æsop: Internet Resources
Aarne-Thompson-Uther (classification of folk tales)

I’m working on doves and roses as symbols.

Love to everyone 

Gustave Doré

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© Micheline Walker
15 June 2018

Fables and Parables: the Ineffable


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The Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni, (1773) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fables & Parables

When Jean de La Fontaine (8 July 1621 – 13 April 1695) published his first collection of fables, he drew his subject matter from Greek fabulist Æsop (c. 620 – 564 BCE). Interestingly, Æsop lived before Jesus of Nazareth (c. 4 BCE – c. CE/AD 30 / 33) and the prophet Mohammad (c. 570 CE – 8 June 632 CE). Yet, in the Préface to La Fontaine’s first collection of poems, 6 books, published in 1668, La Fontaine compared his fables to the parables of Jesus of Nazareth: “Truth has spoken to men in parables; and is the parable anything else than a fable? ”

And what I say is not altogether without foundation, since, if I may venture to speak of that which is most sacred in our eyes in the same breath with the errors of the ancients, we find that Truth has spoken to men in parables; and is the parable anything else than a fable? that is to say, a feigned example of some truth, which has by so much the more force and effect as it is the more common and familiar?

Ce que je dis n’est pas tout à fait sans fondement puisque, s’il m’est permis de mêler ce que nous avons de plus sacré parmi les erreurs du paganisme, nous voyons que la Vérité a parlé aux hommes par paraboles; et la parabole est-elle autre chose que l’apologue, c’est-à-dire un exemple fabuleux, et qui s’insinue avec d’autant plus de facilité et d’effet qu’il est plus commun et plus familier?

The Parable of the Prodigal Son does resemble a fable. Its narrative is “the more common and familiar.” However, despite a “more common and familiar,” exemplum, it tells the otherwise ineffable. How does one speak of love unconditional and forgiveness, which is at the core of Jesus of Nazareth’s teachings? In The Parable of the Prodigal Son, one of two brothers asks to be given his half of his father’s estate. This son then leaves home, squanders his money foolishly, and is reduced to starvation when a famine occurs. He therefore returns to his father’s home, saying that he has sinned.

When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’

(Luke 15:11-32 NIV [New International Version])

A lay, or secular, reading of the Parable of the Prodigal Son does point to foolish and, therefore, relatively “common” human behaviour on the part of the prodigal son. From the very beginning of La Fontaine’s fable about the two pigeons, the pigeon who has fallen prey to wanderlust is called fool enough, “assez fou.

Two doves once cherished for each other
The love that brother has for brother.
But one, of scenes domestic tiring,
To see the foreign world aspiring,
Was fool enough to undertake
A journey long, over land and lake.
The Two Doves

Deux Pigeons s’aimaient d’amour tendre.
L’un d’eux s’ennuyant au logis
Fut assez fou pour entreprendre
Un voyage en lointain pays.
Les Deux Pigeons

However, La Fontaine’s pigeon was merely tired of “scenes domestic,” which is not a sin. He suffers the consequences he was told he would suffer, except that the dreaded falcons are an eagle and that children are “pitiless” human beings who try to harm our traveller.

My heart forebodes the saddest lot
The falcons [faucons], nets Alas, it rains!
The Two Doves

Je ne songerai plus que rencontre funeste,
Que Faucons, que réseaux [nets]. Hélas, dirai-je, il pleut : …
Les Deux Pigeons

To a large extent, the moral of The Two Pigeons is embedded in the story or exemplum. Yet, early in his fableLa Fontaine inserts a proverb, a genre that does not require a narrative or exemplum. Proverbs are related to fables and parables, but they are short, as are maximsLa Rochefoucauld wrote maxims.

L’absence est le plus grand des maux :
Non pas pour vous, cruel. …
Les Deux Pigeons

This absence is the worst of ills;
Your heart may bear, but me it kills.
The Two Doves

Absence was a topic discussed in the French Salons of the first half of the 17th century, by Précieuses and Précieux. Précieuses discussed “questions of love,” chaste love mostly. Although La Fontaine’s poem is not a disquisition on absence, he inserts a proverb in the early verses of Les Deux Pigeons: L’absence est le plus cruel des maux [pl. of mal].” This proverb, the word “absence” in particular, introduces romantic love, which constitutes a discourse between human beings, mainly, and doves. Jean de La Fontaine’s fable is not altogether about two pigeons. Anthromorphism characterizes only one part of the fable, its beginning. (See Romance, Wikipedia.)

La Fontaine’s motto (devise) was:

Diversité c’est ma devise.
Pâté d’anguille, Contes de La Fontaine

and his fable features modulations and transpositions, as in music. He writes “variations” on the theme of love. The segment I quoted in my last post expresses romantic love.

Ah, happy lovers, would you roam?
Pray, let it not be far from home.
To each the other ought to be
A world of beauty ever new;
In each the other ought to see
The whole of what is good and true.
The Two Doves

Amants, heureux amants, voulez-vous voyager ?
Que ce soit aux rives prochaines ;
Soyez-vous l’un à l’autre un monde toujours beau,
Toujours divers, toujours nouveau ;
Tenez-vous lieu de tout, comptez pour rien le reste [.] 
Les Deux Pigeons

Moreover, although both our pigeons and the prodigal son have been fools, the prodigal son has sinned: “I have sinned against heaven and against you” (Luke 15:11-32), which suggests a gradation among exempla (pl.). When both pigeons are reunited, they rejoice, pigeons are pigeons, but the prodigal son confesses: “I have sinned” (Luke 15:11-32).  

The Parable of the Prodigal Son features two sons, one of whom, the “good” brother, is rather miffed because his father celebrates his prodigal brother’s (the “bad” brother) return. The parable has three figures, one of whom, the father, is a wise and Christic figure, and tells the ineffable.

‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.  But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’

(Luke 15:11-32 NIV [New International Version])

Given that one son is miffed, La Fontaine may have been inspired by the Biblical enemy brothers or Cain and Abel, sons born to Adam and Eve, one of whom, Cain, kills his brother, Abel. (See Cain and Abel, Sophocles’ Antigone, Jean Racine’s La Thébaïde, and Jean Anouilh’s Antigone, Wikipedia.) Were it not for a wise father, the prodigal son’s brother, or “good” son, may have harboured resentment. But La Fontaine’s fable’s dramatis personae consists of two, not three, figures: Les Deux Pigeons.


Cain slaying Abel by Peter Paul Rubens, 1608 (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

The Exemplum: Sermons

Fables and parables also describes sermons. The word exemplum is usually associated with the sermons of the Middle Ages. Jacques de Vitry (Jacobus de Vitriaco c. 1160/70 – 1 May 1240), a French canon regular who rose to prominence, wrote hundreds of exempla (pl.). In the English language, John Donne (22 January 1572 – 31 March 1631) is the author of very fine sermons. But few preachers have empowered their words to the same extent as French bishop and theologian Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet.

The unexpected and suspicious death, perhaps poisoning, at the age of 26, of ‘Madame,’ Henriette d’Angleterre, 26 June 1644 – 30 June 1670, the wife of Louis XIV’s brother, called ‘Monsieur,’ was an exemplum few circumstances could equal. [1] In 17th-century France, the age of Louis XIV, an absolute monarch, the memento mori (remember that you have to die), nearly supplanted the carped diem (seize the day) of Horatian Odes I.XI. [2] How does one keep an absolute monarch humble? One approach is to remind him of his mortality, but indirectly. Louis XIV attended Madame‘s funeral and heard Bossuet’s Oraison funèbre. Bossuet also wrote the funeral oration of Louis III, Prince de Condé, 10 November 1668 – 4 March 1710, a “prince of the blood(un prince du sang). [3] There is a king greater than Louis XIV. Coincidentally, or ineffably, Jean de La Fontaine ends Les Deux Pigeons suggesting that he may be too old to love:

Ai-je passé le temps d’aimer ?
Les Deux Pigeons

Is love, to me, with things that were?
The Two Doves

The Rose

You may remember the vanitas, still lifes, created by artists who often used flowers to express the brevity of life. The Roman de la Rose is our best example. But who can forget François de Malherbe‘s [4] exquisite Consolation à M. Du Périer:

Et rose elle a vécu ce que vivent les roses,
L’espace d’un matin.
Consolation à M. Du Périer (1598) [5]
(See, transl.)


Roses in a Glass Vase by Henri Fantin-Latour1873
(Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, England) (Photo credit: Venetian Red)

Contrary to Horace’s precept, to inform and to delight, or blending l’utile et l’agréable,  sermons may not provide delight or pleasure, which Horace (Ars Poetica) teaches. It remains that wrapped in a story, a message is easier to convey, and to remember, than non-fiction. Gustave Doré has ‘illustrated’ the anthropomorphic nature of The Two Pigeons, (Gutenberg [EBook #50516])

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The Two Doves by Gustave Doré, Gutenberg [EBook #50316]


The Two Doves by Gustave Doré, Gutenberg  [EBook #50316]

The Personal and the Pastoral

After “le reste” or “good and true,” La Fontaine speaks about himself and recalls a bergère, a shepherdess. Pastorals are a discourse on love. Salonniers and salonnières also compared themselves to shepherds and shepherdesses. The most famous bucolic or pastoral novel of 17th-century France is Honoré d’Urfé‘s L’Astrée, written in the first quarter of the 17th century and modelled on Guarini‘s Il Pastor Fido (1590). Having loved, La Fontaine writes:

J‘ai quelquefois aimé ! je n’aurais pas alors
Contre le Louvre et ses trésors,
Contre le firmament et sa voûte céleste,
Changé les bois, changé les lieux
Honorés par les pas, éclairés par les yeux
De l’aimable et jeune Bergère (shepherdess)
Pour qui, sous le fils de Cythère, (Kythira)
Je servis, engagé par mes premiers serments.
Les Deux Pigeons

Myself have loved; nor would I then,
For all the wealth of crowned men,
Or arch celestial, paved with gold,
The presence of those woods has sold,
And fields, and banks, and hillocks, which
Were by the joyful steps made rich,
And smiled beneath the charming eyes
Of her who made my heart a prize
To whom I pledged it, nothing loath,
And sealed the pledge with virgin oath.
The Two Doves

Pigeons, Doves and Turtledoves

  • Dove, and the symbology of love
  • Homing pigeons

The translator of La Fontaine’s Site officiel uses the word “dove,” not pigeon. Doves are colombes and tourtelles, turtledoves. In the symbology of love, one uses the word colombe. Doves, colombes and pigeons are columbidae, but they differ from one another. Therefore, the translator of the Musée de France introduces love, romantic love, by using the word colombe, in the title of his translation. As for Walter Thornbury [EBook #50316], he translated the French pigeons using the English pigeons. It is the same word in both languages. But it should be noted that we do not have homing doves, just homing pigeons. By using pigeons, Jean de La Fontaine suggests that his columbidae will return home. He describes the pigeon as a volatile (a bird, noun) FR and volatile (adjective) FR/EN. 


There is a sense in which literature (non-fiction), speaking animals in particular, always tell, to a smaller or greater extent, that which cannot be told. Anthropomorphism and zoomorphism are effective recourses, but the exemplum, and various displacements (modulations or transpositions) may also be used. In the context of our two pigeons, “L’absence est le pire des maux” seems too elevated a moral. But La Fontaine raises the curtain only to let it fall again.

Very few of his poems are specifically lyrical in character, and those few are not among his most typical. It is clear, however, that the power of La Fontaine’s lyricism depends on its displacement into the most surprising contexts.[6] 

Charles Gounod has set to music verses from Les Deux Pigeons, and so have I (shame on me). Charles Aznavour has composed a song based on La Fontaine’s Deux Pigeons.


Apologies. I could not write this post as quickly as I intended. I am not well.
Love to everyone 


[1] Oraison funèbre d’Henriette-Anne d’Angleterre is a Wikisource publication FR
The Funeral Oration of Henrietta of England is a Wikisource publication EN (Gordon Goodwin, transl.)
[2] Gather Ye Roses by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1875, is a Wikisource publication
[3] On the Death of the Great Condé is a Wikisource publication (Robert Turnbull, transl.) EN
Oraison funèbre du très haut et très puissant prince Louis de Condé is a Wikisource publication FR
French, Malherbe (geudensherman.WordPress) EN 
[5]  (01 February 2005) EN 
[6] Charles Rosen, “The Fabulous La Fontaine,” The New York Review of Books, 18 December 1997. 

Charles Aznavour sings Les Deux Pigeons 

Bruno Laplante sings Les Deux Pigeons by Charles Gounod


Picasso’s Dove of peace, 1949

© Micheline Walker
12 June 2018

La Fontaine’s “The Two Doves”


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“Les Deux Pigeons,” Gustave Doré [EBook 50316]

Les Deux Pigeons
Recueil 2(IX,2)

Amants, heureux amants, voulez-vous voyager ?
Que ce soit aux rives prochaines ;
Soyez-vous l’un à l’autre un monde toujours beau,
Toujours divers, toujours nouveau ;
Tenez-vous lieu de tout, comptez pour rien le reste [.]

The Two Doves
Vol. 2 (Book IX, Fable 2)

Ah, happy lovers, would you roam?
Pray, let it not be far from home.
To each the other ought to be
A world of beauty ever new;
In each the other ought to see
The whole of what is good and true.


The Duke and Duchess of Sussex

Les Deux Pigeons,” a fable by Jean de La Fontaine finds its source in The Fables of BidpaiLes Fables de Pilpay ou la Conduite des Rois. As we have seen in other posts, after publishing his first volume (recueil) of fables, based on Æsop’s Fables, La Fontaine drew much of his material from Gilbert Gaulmin’s Livre des lumières ou la conduite des roys, a translation of Bidpai’s Fables, published in 1644. These tales are rooted in the Sanskrit  Panchatantra (300 BCE) and were translated from Middle Persian into Arabic by Ibn al-Muqaffa’, at which point they became The Tales of Kalīla wa Dimna.

Frame Stories & Obliqueness

These works feature a story teller (Pilpay or Bidpai). They are frame stories. The characters are animals and the stories are told by a story teller, not the author. Such a structure serves two purposes. First, it engages the reader by leading him or her to a storyteller: Pilpay. It is as though the author stepped aside spelling a cast. Second, Pilpay’s characters are animals, whose eloquence is based on silence. Animals do not speak. They may say nearly everything. This literary device is often called obliqueness.

Interestingly, Montesquieu’s Persian Letters, 1721, Les Lettres persanes, feature Usbek and Rica, Persian noblemen visiting France. Their comments are the comments of strangers. As such, they may be dismissed, freeing the author to be critical of the land he inhabits, but in a discreet manner and with impunity.

Whatever the origin of Les Deux Pigeons, the lines I have quoted have no source other than the poet’s soul. La Fontaine gives his two pigeons/doves fine advice: be everything unto one another. There’s always a person who makes all the difference and whom we must always cherish.

Love to everyone 


Sources and Resources 

André Messager:  “Les Deux Pigeons,”  1889


La Fontaine’s Fables Thornbury & Gustave Doré (Courtesy: Gutenberg)

© Micheline Walker
24 May 2018


A Royal Wedding


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Roses in a Bowl by Henri Fantin-Latour, 1883 (courtesy Britannica)

A few hours from now, Prince Harry will marry Meghan Markle. She’s a lovely woman, and I am certain she will be good wife to Harry and Harry, a good husband to her.

They will live at Nottingham Cottage, which is a little house and could be called a starter home. I am certain they have already made it inviting and very much theirs.

I’m glad Prince Charles will walk Meghan down the second half of the aisle. He will therefore play a meaningful role in Harry and Meghan’s wedding ceremony. He may well become a second father to Meghan.

I wish the two of them every happiness.


Henri Fantin-Latour, 1894, The Guardian, UK

© Micheline Walker
18 May 2018


The North-West Rebellion, concluded


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Boat Encampment, Sketch Paul Kane, circa 1846, watercolour. Sketch made by Kane on the Columbia River, BC (courtesy Stark Foundation, Orange, Texas). (Photo credit: The Canadian Encyclopedia)

North-West Rebellion: Events

Much took place during the North-West Rebellion. There were skirmishes, battles, and a massacre. For a complete list of events, one should read the University of Saskatchewan‘s North-West Resistance: Chronology of Events. Missing from this list is a battle between Amerindians. It is Gabriel Dumont’s first experience as a “warrior” and, therefore, marginal information.

In 1851, at the young age of 13, Dumont was introduced to plains warfare when he fought at the Battle of Grand Coteau, defending a Métis encampment against a large Dakota war party.

(See Gabriel Dumont, The Canadian Encyclopedia.)

North-West Rebellion

  • maps: please click on the name of each conflict
  • the main “battles”
  1. Battle of Duck Lake 26 March 1885 –Métis victory
    Duck Lake Métis force under Gabriel Dumont engage in an unplanned skirmish with Superintendent L. F. Crozier‘s Mounted Police and volunteers at Duck Lake. The Police are routed. 
  2. Frog Lake Massacre 2  April 1885 –Cree success
    Members of Mistahimaskwa’s (Big Bear) Cree Nation led by Ayimisis (Little Bear) and Kapapamahchakwew (Wandering Spirit) kill Indian Agent Quinn and eight other whites.
  3. Battle of Fish Creek 4 April 1885 –Métis victory
  4. Battle of Fort Pitt 17 April 1885 –Cree victory
    Fort Pitt is taken by warriors of Mistahimaskwa‘s (Big Bear) band. Mistahimaskwa negotiates the evacuation of the fort by the North-West Mounted Police.
    Gabriel Dumont ambushes Middleton‘s column at Fish Creek.
  5. Battle of Cut Knife Hill 2 May 1885 –Cree Assiniboine victory
    Colonel Otter‘s column attacks Pitikwahahnapiwiyin‘s (Poundmaker) camp at Cut Knife Hill.  
    Otter is forced to retreat to Battleford. Pitikwahahnapiwiyin prevents Indians from attacking retreating forces.
  6. Battle of Batoche 9 – 12 May 1885 –Canadian victory
    General Frederick Dobson Middleton decisively defeats the Métis force in a three-day battle
  7. Battle of Frenchman’s Butte (28 May 1885) –Canadian victory
  8. Battle of Loon Lake (3 June 1885) –Canadian victory

(See North-West Resistance: Chronology of Events, University of Saskatchewan.)

Louis Riel: Trial, Conviction and Execution

  • 20 – 31 July 1885
    Riel is tried and convicted of High Treason
  • 16 November 1885 Riel is hanged in Regina, Saskatchewan

List of the Skirmishes, Massacres, and Battles

  1. Battle of Duck Lake
  2. Frog Lake Massacre
  3. Battle of Fish Creek
  4. Battle of Fort Pitt
  5. Battle of Cut Knife
  6. Battle of Batoche
  7. Battle of Frenchman’s Butte
  8. Battle of Loon Lake

(See Battles of the North-West Rebellion, Wikipedia)

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Cree Chief (Poundmaker)
(COURTESY GLENBOW ARCHIVES) (Photo credit: The Canadian Encyclopedia)


Everything that is bad has been laid against me this summer, there is nothing of it true… Had I wanted war, I would not be here now. I should be on the prairie. You did not catch me. I gave myself up. You have got me because I wanted justice. Pîtikwahanapiwiyin (Poundmaker) 

(See Pîtikwahanapiwiyin, Wikipedia.)

Amerindians and the North-West Rebellion

  • Poundmaker
  • Big Bear
  • Etc.

Amerindians (North-American “Indians”) participated in the North-West Rebellion. Pîtikwahanapiwiyin is Poundmaker and Mistahimaskwa, Big Bear (Gros Ours). Pîtikwahanapiwiyn surrendered to General Middleton at Fort Battleford. Mistahimaskwa surrendered at Fort Pitt. Kapapamahchakwew is Wandering Spirit (Esprit Errant).

Sources disagree on whether the Amerindians I have mentioned served a prison sentence or were hanged. I have read that many were hanged.

Gros Ours’ (Big Bear) statement is totally justifiable. As Joseph Boyden noted, all the Métis wanted was title to their land, their rectangular lots abutting a river. This is how Métis and the whites had lived from the time the fur trade began, or from the 17th century until the 19th century and Confederation (1867), or the purchase of Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company, by the Dominion of Canada in 1869. The Hudson’s Bay Company fought the North West Company until 1821, but the Earl of Selkirk had settled the Red River Colony (1812) in a manner that was acceptable to its inhabitants, diverse as they were.

Moreover, although Amerindians had been conquered, they had been free to roam their land since Jacques Cartier claimed Canada for France, in 1534 until 1763. French settlers had married Amerindian women when the number of European women in Nouvelle-France was much lower than the number of European men. (See King’s Daughters, Wikipedia.) The King’s Daughters, 800 women, arrived between 1663 and 1670. Sixty years are a long time.

The Iroquois often attacked the French settlers. They also tortured and killed missionaries (see Canadian Martyrs, Wikipedia), but other tribes, the Algonquian tribes, the Abenakis especially, were friendly tribes. Many Quebecers have Amerindian ancestry. However, it is difficult for Québécois-es to be recognized as Métis. Métis are the descendants of persons involved in the fur trade.

Pays d’en Haut New France on a map by Jacques Nicholas Bellin in 1755. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


To a certain extent, Confederation was a mixed blessing. It created a Canada that would stretch from coast to coast, which all Canadians enjoy, but Confederation happened at a cost, as did colonialism in general.

  • Amerindians would be sent to Indian Reserves and their children were forced to enter Residential Schools,
  • Métis who had no title to their lots, lost their land and they had no status,
  • the execution of Louis Riel alienated the French-speaking citizens of Québec. Quebec was one of the four provinces that joined Confederation in 1867. They believed they would be able to live and maintain their culture in Quebec and outside Quebec. However, William McDougall and Orangemen were anti-Catholic, anti-French, and racist.

In other words, when provinces joined the Confederation, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 was brushed aside and so was the Quebec Act of 1774. Canada has been officially bilingual since it passed the Official Languages Act of 1969. As for the rights of Métis, they were not recognized until the Constitution Act of 1982, otherwise known as the “patriated” constitution, which Quebec has not signed.

I will not discuss what I would call the “Amerindian question.” It is an extremely complex issue.


I reset my computer successfully. As for my diagnostic, it cannot be established with certainty. Mild cognitive impairment is a symptom of chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), which has bedevilled me for decades. In other words, all is well.

Love to everyone


Sources and Resources

Ô Canada! mon pays! mes amours! chant patriotique canadien-français
words by George-Étienne Cartier; music by Jean-Baptiste Labelle
(Cartier’s Canada could be Quebec)


Sir George-Étienne Cartier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
12 May 2018


Gabriel Dumont, a Métis Leader


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Gabriel Dumont, resistance fighter
Gabriel Dumont was a man of great chivalry and military skill, superbly adapted to the presettlement prairie life (courtesy Glenbow Archives). (Photo credit: The Canadian Encyclopedia)

We do not require a long post on Gabriel Dumont (1837 – 1906), not at this point. A synopsis will suffice.

Dumont, the Bison Hunter

What we need to know is that Dumont was famous as a bison hunter. “In the 1860s, Gabriel was the chief of the Métis bison hunters and commanded approximately 200 hunters.” (Virtual Museum of Canada). As noted in the caption above, below his photograph, he was “superbly adapted to the presettlement prairie life.” His life gives us an insight into the life of Métis before the bison disappeared. The bison/buffalo fed the Métis, prairie Amerindians (North-American Indians), and voyageurs.

I should also point out that Dumont was among the Métis who left the former Red River Colony at the time of the Red River Rebellion, hoping Métis could settle on river lots further west, in Saskatchewan or Alberta. They did, briefly. Gabriel Dumont operated a ferry service, “Gabriel’s Crossing,” and opened a General Store with a billiard table, on the South Saskatchewan River.

Father Alexis André

Once Métis arrived, so did a priest. Father Alexis André (1832 – 1893), an Oblate born in France, would minister to the Métis who had left the Red River. He helped Gabriel Dumont form a Provisional Government for the community he was founding, Saint-Laurent de Grandin. As you know, Gabriel Dumont, a linguist, could not write.

At times, Father André was a spokesman for Métis. For instance, he feared for their well-being as he saw the bison disappear. Father André and North-West Mounted Police commissioner George Arthur French  “urged the federal government to exercise tighter control over these hunts so as to prevent the extermination of the bison.” (See Alexis André, Dictionary of Canadian Biography.) But the federal government had turned its back on petitions, which is why Gabriel Dumont sought Louis Riel’s assistance. Louis Riel was well educated and possessed charisma.

Louis Riel returns

Dumont is, in fact, best remembered for going to Montana to ask for Louis Riel’s help. Therefore, the two figures are inextricably linked. Riel was to be the political leader of the North-West Rebellion and Gabriel Dumont, its military leader.

But the Canadian government was pushing its way west not realizing that Métis and Amerindians could remain on their rectangular lots abutting a river. Petitions went unanswered. So, blood was shed. At the Battle of Batoche (9 – 12 May 1885), 250 Métis fought Major-General Frederick Middleton’s superior force of 916 regulars and militia. Dumont escaped, but, on 15 May 1885, Louis Riel surrendered. (See The Battle of Batoche, Wikipedia.)

Father André also tended to the spiritual needs of Louis Riel during the period Riel awaited his execution. Father André believed Riel was insane, but Riel left a good impression on Father André.

The priest spent hours in conversation with the Métis leader and was impressed with Riel’s sincerity, yet convinced of his insanity.

(See Alexis André, The Dictionary of Canadian Biography.)

Joseph Boyden on Riel and Dumont

Writer Joseph Boyden published Extraordinary Canadians, Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont, a fine book on Riel and Dumont. The video below (click on the link) is short, but very informative.


A Mari usque ad Mare

As we know, moving west was a mere respite for Métis and the indigenous people of the Prairie Provinces. On 20 July 1871, a year after Manitoba entered Confederation, British Columbia also joined. A dream came true. Canada stretched from sea to sea: A Mari usque ad Mare. The people of British Columbia wanted a wagon road built between Lake Superior and the Pacific Ocean, but Cartier offered a railway instead. Construction would begin within two years and be completed in ten years. Cartier/Canada also agreed to take over the colony’s considerable debt of almost $1.5 million and provide an annual subsidy of $216,000. 

(See British Columbia Entering Confederation, A People’s History,


Hoping to attract white settlers to B.C., land commissioner Joseph Trutch refused to recognize Indian land rights in the 1860s. (Courtesy of the National Archives of Canada) (Photo credit:


During the 1860s, B.C. refused to recognize Indian land titles and often usurped Indian land and gave it to speculators and settlers. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress) (Photo credit:

Conclusion, later…

I will not conclude at this point, because my computer no longer works properly.  It has to be repaired. Something went wrong.

© Micheline Walker
10 May 2018

From the Red River Rebellion to the North-West Rebellion


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William McDougall,
June 1872 (courtesy Library and Archives Canada, PA-033505). (Photo credit: The Canadian Encyclopedia)

This post is a continuation of Louis Riel, Hero or Rebel, published on 18 March 2018. The main subject matter of my earlier post was the Red River Rebellion, and résistance remains our subject matter. However, we will be focussing on William McDougall. William McDougall was the lieutenant-governor designate of Rupert’s and the North-West Territories. He and his party were prevented from entering the Red River by Métis, led by Louis Riel.

I will also introduce Gabriel Dumont, a Métis who left the Red River in 1869-1870 and settled in Saskatchewan. Dumont spoke six first nation languages and Michif-French, but did not speak English and could not write. (See Gabriel Dumont, The Virtual He went to Montana where Louis Riel taught school and asked for his assistance in petitioning the Canadian government to ensure that Métis did not lose their river lots and Amerindians, their land. In 1873, three years after the Wolseley Expedition, an emboldened Dominion of Canada had established the North-West Mounted Police and a railroad that would ensure Canada stretched from sea to sea, a Mari usque ad Mare, was under construction. The railway was a promise to British Columbia.

To some extent, we are revisiting the Red River Rebellion because there are gaps to fill. First, Riel’s story begins in the Red River Rebellion and ends in the North-West Rebellion. Métis leader Gabriel Dumont was born in the Red River settlement and he is the person who asked Louis Riel to come to Saskatchewan to help him appeal to John A Macdonald’s deafened Canadian government. Louis Riel would be hanged a few months after the Battle of Batoche which was not only the end of Riel’s story but also that of the North-West Rebellion.

Moreover, Riel had dreamed of a bilingual and multicultural Canada West, which was could not happen. Canada West would be, in its initial years, William McDougall’s Canada: English and Protestant. French Canadians were prevented from settling west of Quebec, as if there had not been a Quebec Act of 1774. As for Amerindians, they were sent to “Indian Reserves” and their children were educated in Residential Schools, despite the Royal Proclamation of 1763. (See A History of Residential Schools,

The  Canadian Party

In the Red River, William McDougall, a Clear Grit, met members of the Canadian Party, two of whom were Doctor John Christian Schultz and Charles Mair. The Canadian Party supported Canada’s expansion westward, a noble cause, were it not for William McDougall who was anti-Catholic and anti-French. His world was white, English and Protestant. It was Thomas Scott’s world, who was and sentenced to death by a Métis court and then turned into a martyr in a 19th-century Orangist Ontario.

The growing threat, in his view, was ultramontane interference from Lower Canada in the civil affairs of the united province, a fear that would increasingly distort his political perception.

(See William McDougall, The Dictionary of Canadian Biography.)

In April 1861, for example, McDougall indicated in a fit of pique that he would ‘look to Washington’ to rescue Canada West from ‘the control of a foreign race, and of a religion which is not the religion of the Empire.’

(See William McDougall, The Canadian Encyclopedia)

Therefore, one wonders why he was appointed lieutenant-governor of Rupert’s Land and the North West territories.

No poorer choice for the post could have been made, in view of the necessity for diplomatic caution in dealing with the officials of the HBC and with the lay and clerical spokesmen of the various groups at Red River. The transfer was to take place on 1 Dec. 1869.

(See Louis Riel, The Dictionary of Canadian Biography.)


Howling Hay by William Kurelek (Photo credit: Consignor Canadian Fine Arts)


Carolers Heading to Church by William Kurelek, 1975 (Photo credit: Heffel Fine Art Auction House)

Louis Riel

Louis Riel was a Métis, one-eight Amerindian. Métis and Amerindians stood to lose their land, unless the future Manitoba’s entry into Canadian Confederation were carefully negotiated. Riel and his government advocated a bilingual and multicultural expansion westward. Moreover, the citizens of the Red River were Catholics and Anglicans. As for the descendants of Scottish crofters and other Scots, fur traders and their descendants, they were Presbyterians. All had lived at Red River harmoniously. Its Anglican bishop and archbishop was Robert Machray and Alexandre-Antonin Taché, its Catholic bishop and then archbishop. Under the leadership of William McDougall, who was anti-Catholic, Manitoba could have become a state and faith society, other religions not being “the religion of the Empire.”

Interestingly, both bishops and William Mactavish, the governor of Assiniboia and Rupert’s Land, warned against a premature arrival of Canadians at Red River. According to William Mactavish “as soon as the survey commences the Half breeds and Indians will at once come forward and assert their right to the land and possibly stop the work till their claim is satisfied.” Ironically, Mactavish was imprisoned by Riel, yet his wife was a countryborn, a Métis. He died of tuberculosis, in Liverpool, a few weeks after his release. (See Louis Riel, The Dictionary of Canadian Biography.)

(Photo credit:, left;, right)

In July 1869, William McDougall, then minister of public works, sent a survey party to the Red River under Colonel John Stoughton Dennis. In fact, a team, including Thomas Scott, was already building a road linking Upper Fort Garry (Winnipeg) to Lake of the Woods. It would be called “the Dawson Road,” after Simon James Dawson, a surveyor exploring the country between Lake Superior and the Red River settlement, in 1857. Yet, the transfer of Rupert’s Land to Canada was to occur on 1st December 1869.

The Red River Rebellion

Under such circumstances, Métis and Amerindians had cause to fear a takeover of Red River. As well, one can understand that its inhabitants felt alarmed when “strangers” attempted to settle in the former Red River Colony. Since the arrival of tens of thousands United Empire Loyalists, including 3,000 Black Loyalists, the English-speaking population of Britain’s still new colony to the north of the United States had increased significantly.

But as noted above, on 2nd November 1869, Métis under Riel, prevented William McDougall, his family, and his entourage from entering the Red River. They were pushed back to Pembina, North Dakota. The Métis then seized Fort Garry and, beginning in December, Louis Riel was forming a Provisional Government. This story was told in Louis Riel, Hero or Rebel (20 March 2018). We also know that the Provisional Government’s “List of Rights” would be deemed acceptable. Louis Riel and his provisional government did succeed in negotiating Manitoba’s entry into Confederation

On 15 March 1870, Taché read a telegram in which Joseph Howe, the secretary of state for the provinces, stated that the “List of Rights” was “in the main satisfactory.” Delegates could go to Ottawa. On 23 and 24 March, a three-man delegation left for Ottawa. These were Abbé Ritchot, representing the Métis, Judge Black, representing the English settlers, and Henry Scott, representing the Americans.

However, Schultz and Mair arrived in Toronto before the three-man delegation and described the execution of Thomas Scott as a murder. Thomas Scott, Schultz, and Mair  had plotted to overthrow Riel’s Provisional Government, but a death sentence was too cruel a punishment. Thomas Scott’s execution was turned into a murder and he was depicted as a victim and a hero. Thomas Scott was a violent man, but Riel blundered. Consequently, upon their arrival in Toronto, Noël-Joseph Ritchot and Henry Scott were detained for “abetting murder,” but released because the judge ruled that the warrant was not legal. (See Louis Riel, The Dictionary of Canadian Biography.)

Negotiations were successful. On 12 May 1870, the Manitoba Act received royal assent.

“My mission is finished,” Louis Riel

On 24 August 1870, the day the Wolseley Expedition reached Fort Garry, Louis Riel learned that the soldiers planned to lynch him. So, he left Fort Garry. Before leaving, he told Bishop Taché that his mission was finished. His mission had been a negotiated entry of Manitoba into the Canadian Confederation, but, in 1890, French ceased to be one of the two official languages of Manitoba under Premier Thomas Greenway. Bilingualism would not be revived until the Official Languages Act of 1969 and the Manitoba Act would not be recognized until the Constitution Act of 1982.


The Northwest Rebellion, A Country by Consent ( summarizes the North-West rebellion. Riel surrendered on 15 May, after the Battle of Batoche. He was tried, convicted of treason, and hanged, on 16 November 1885. Montreal journalist Joseph Israel Tarte, editor of Le Canadien, had this to say:

At the moment when the corpse of Riel falls through the trap and twists in convulsions of agony, at that moment an abyss will be dug that will separate Quebec from English-speaking Canada, especially Ontario.


The art works featured in this post are by William Kurelek, a Canadian Ukrainian who was raised in the Canadian prairies.

Love to everyone 


© Micheline Walker
8 May 2018

Canadiana.1: List of Posts


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A. J. Casson
Group of Seven

I am publishing a page entitled Canadiana 1. It should be revised taking into account a group called Canada First and a figure: William McDougall.  McDougall and his party were pushed back to North Dakota by Métis led by Louis Riel, in 1869, when they attempted to enter the Red River Colony. They wanted to build a White and Protestant Canada West and spread hatred as a means to achieve their goal. French Canadians were not wanted west of the province of Québec.

Confederation: Three Conferences (27 May 2012)

From Coast to Coast: The Iron Horse, Part 2 (25 May 2012)
From Coast to Coast: The Iron Horse, Part 1 (24 May 2012)
From Coast to Coast: Louis Riel as a Father of Confederation (22 May 2012)
From Coast to Coast: the Fenian Raids (20 May 2012)
From Coast to Coast: the Oregon Country (18 May 2012)

La Saint-Jean-Baptiste & Canada Day (6 July 2015)
Nouvelle-France’s Seigneurial System (28 April 2012)
La Corriveau: A Legend (1 April 2012)
The Aftermath cont’d: Aubert de Gaspé’s Anciens Canadiens (30 March 2012)
The Aftermath: Krieghoff’s Quintessential Quebec (29 March 2012)
Jacques Cartier, the Mariner (17 March 2012)
Pierre du Gua: a mostly Forgotten Founder of Canada (5 May 2012)
Richelieu & Nouvelle-France (1 March 2012)
Une Éminence grise: Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu et de Fonsac (29 February 2012)
Évangéline & the Literary Homeland (cont’d) (24 January 2012)
Évangéline & the Literary Homeland (24 January 2012)


Nouvelle-France’s Last and Lost Battle: The Battle of the Plains of Abraham
The Battle of Fort William Henry & Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans

Louis-Joseph de Montcalm-Gozon, Marquis de Saint-Veran

Music video of ‘À la claire fontaine‚’ (By the clear fountain/spring) performed by Vancouver choir musica intima, arrangement by Stephen Smith. My [huntn] own urban re-interpretation of the traditional French folk song.


© Micheline Walker
7 May 2018


Apollinaire’s “Sous le pont Mirabeau”


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Marie_Laurencin,_1909,_Réunion_à_la_campagne_(Apollinaire_et_ses_amis),_oil_on_canvas,_130_x_194_cm,_Musée_Picasso,_Paris (1)

Marie Laurencin, 1909, Réunion à la campagne (Apollinaire et ses amis), oil on canvas, 130 x 194 cm, Musée Picasso, Paris. Reproduced in The Cubist Painters, Aesthetic Meditations (1913)

Sous le pont Mirabeau

de Guillaume Apollinaire (1912)

  • Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine (1)
    Et nos amours
    Faut-il qu’il m’en souvienne
    La joie venait toujours après la peine

Under Mirabeau bridge flows the Seine and our love. Need I remember ? Joy always came after the pain.

Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
Les jours s’en vont je demeure

Let night come and the hour ring. Days go away, I remain.

  • Les mains dans les mains restons face à face (2)
    Tandis que sous
    Le pont de nos bras passe
    Des éternels regards l’onde si lasse

Hand in hand, let us stay face to face. While, beneath (sous) the bridge of our arms, Tired of being stared at eternally, flow waves, so weary

Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
Les jours s’en vont je demeure

Let night come and the hour ring. Days go away, I remain.

  • L’amour s’en va comme cette eau courante (3)
    L’amour s’en va
    Comme la vie est lente
    Et comme l’Espérance est violente

Love goes away as this water runs. Love goes away. How slow life is, and Hope, so pressing (violent).

Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
Les jours s’en vont je demeure

Let night come and the hour ring. Days go away, I remain.

  • Passent les jours et passent les semaines (4)
    Ni temps passé
    Ni les amours reviennent
    Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine

Days pass and weeks pass. Neither the past Nor love returns Under Mirabeau bridge flows the Seine.

Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
Les jours s’en vont je demeure

Let night come and the hour ring. Days go away, I remain.

My translation is mostly literal. The following is more poetical:

Under Mirabeau Bridge the river slips away And lovers Must I be reminded Joy came always after pain The night is a clock chiming The days go by not I We’re face to face and hand in hand While under the bridges Of embrace expire Eternal tired tidal eyes The night is a clock chiming The days go by not I Love elapses like the river Love goes by Poor life is indolent And expectation always violent The night is a clock chiming The days go by not I The days and equally the weeks elapse The past remains the past Love remains lost Under Mirabeau Bridge the river slips away The night is a clock chiming The days go by not I…


Guillaume Apollinaire (Wilhelm Albert Włodzimierz Apolinary Kostrowicki), 26 August 1880 – 9 November 1918, is a French writer, born in Rome. He is of Polish descent on his mother’s side. His father is unknown, but he may have been Francesco Costantino Camillo Flugi d’Aspermont (born 1835). Apollinaire learned French as a child, in Rome. His grandfather served in the Russian army and was killed during the Crimean War.

There is an eternal aspect to Apollinaire’s poetry. He writes as did Villon, Ronsard, Du Bellay… But he is associated with Cubism, Surrealism and Orphism. He may have coined all three terms. (See Guillaume Apollinaire, Wikipedia.) Moreover, the apparent simplicity of his poems foreshadows Jacques Prévert‘s Paroles, 1946) Apollinaire’s Calligrammes could be viewed as his contribution to modernisme. Baudelaire would have called it « du nouveau » (something new, Le Voyage, final line). It mixes words and pictures. It is visual poetry. (See La Tour Eiffel, Apollinaire, Calligrammes, Paris à Nu, Gérard, It is also a hint of literary nonsense.


Apollinaire knew everyone, le Tout-Paris, including Gertrude Stein, a patron of the arts. She is pictured to his right in the painting featured at the top of this post. (See The Cubist Painters, Aesthetic Meditations, Wikipedia.) Apollinaire wrote poetry, plays, short stories, and he was an art critic.  His poem, in the shape of a cat, is a collection of French expressions referring to cats, such as « La nuit tous les chats sont gris. » (At night, all cats are grey.) « Avoir d’autres chats à fouetter [to whip] » means: to have other fish to fry.

Apollinaire was in love with artist Marie Laurencin (« Marie » and, I believe, his amour in « Le pont Mirabeau »). He sustained a brain injury during World War I, and died, two year later, in 1918, of the Spanish Flu, a pandemic.


Sources and Resources


Marie Laurencin, Le Pont, 1940 (Artnet)

Marc Lavoine chante Sous le pont Mirabeau


Léo Ferré chante Sous le pont Mirabeau (a classic)


Marie Laurencin (Modern Art Consulting)

© Micheline Walker
30 April 2018
Revised 1st May 2018

A Print by Kenojuak Ashevak & a Diagnostic


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The late Kenojuak Ashevak , considered one of the pioneers of Inuit art, saw her first-ever print, Rabbit Eating Seaweed, included in the 1959 Cape Dorset collection. The early work points to the distinctive style for which the famed artist would become renown. ( (Photo credit:


The Red Fox by Kenojuak Ashevak (Photo credit: Nunatsiaq News (See Aboriginals in North America)

I apologize for not posting for a long time. There has been a change in my life, but it is not a serious change.

Here is my story. A few weeks ago, I told my doctor that my memory was playing tricks on me. Test confirmed mild cognitive impairment. I will lose my driver’s license and my precious little red Toyota.

Do not be alarmed. I was not diagnosed until the early 1990s, but I have suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME since 1976. Victims get lost in mid-sentence and don’t remember words and names. I continued working and had a successful but shorter career than I would have liked. The only difference between the old and the new diagnostic is age. I am now older. But it could simply be that moving tired me out and that taking a mortgage, at my age, was stressful. Life is not always easy.

In short, I could not work on posts for several days because I was making various arrangements that would allow me to stay home for many long years, despite mild cognitive deficiency. Ironically, destiny led me to purchase a lovely apartment in the appropriate building. It has elevators, a heated interior swimming pool, and, as I have told you in an earlier post, it is located very near a small market place that includes a post office and most of the facilities I require.

My next post is on Métis leader Gabriel Dumont and the North-West Rebellion. Métis and Amerindians were losing their land, so surveyors can cut it up into little squares while a railroad was being built that woul take citizens from sea to sea: A Mari usque ad Mare, the Canadian motto.

Canadian Confederation was very costly,

As a leader, Gabriel Dumont was second only to Louis Riel. They resisted losses brought by Canadian expansion westward. The video inserted below is a fine account of events that took Canada from sea to sea, but a post is necessary.


Gabriel Dumont (Photo credit: The Canadian Encyclopedia)

© Micheline Walker
19 April 2018
updated 20 April 2018