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)
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.
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.
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 Museum.ca.) 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, CBC.ca.)
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.
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.’
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.)
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.)
Ukrainian Christmas Eve by William Kurelek, 1973
The Section Foreman’s House by William Kurelek, 1966
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 (CBC.ca) 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 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. (Historymuseum.ca) (Photo credit: CBC.ca)
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.
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)
the Hudson’s Bay Company ‘have for eighty years slept at the edge of a frozen sea; they have shewn no curiosity to penetrate farther themselves, and have exerted all their art and power to crush that spirit in others to take pelts to fur traders.’
Therefore, the HBC built trading posts inland and started to use riverways and employ voyageurs. Wikipedia has a complete list of HBC trading posts.
Winter Fishing on the Ice by Peter Rindisbacher, 1821 (Photocredit: Wikipedia)
Summer View in the environs of the Company Fort Douglas on the Red River by Peter Ridinsbacher, 1822 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Riverways were the highways of the day, which I noted in an earlier post, hence the lots of the Red River Colony being narrow and deep. Inhabitants had their boat, a canoe, “at the ready” at the river end of their lot. Swiss-born Artist Peter Ridinsbacher left a visual testimonial of this juxtaposition of lots. In the images above, one can see the canoes at the river end of narrow lots and adjoining houses. The ice was also used in winter. Peter Rindisbacher lived in the Red River Settlement at the time the fur companies, Hudson’s Bay Company and North West Company were merged, in 1821.
This story has a happy beginning, despite glitches and the disastrous Battle of Seven Oaks.
The Earl of Selkirk, a philanthropist, set about finding land for the Scottish crofters who had lost their home. Many settled in Nova Scotia, i. e. New Scotland. My neighbours, Dr Cecil MacLean, professor of French at St. Francis Xavier, and the Honourable Allan J. MacEachen, one of the finest politicians in the history of Canada, were both descendants of crofters. Mr MacEachen spoke Gaelic. The video inserted at the bottom of this post tells the story of crofters Lord Selkirk helped relocate to the Red River Colony. The crofters would live in the Canadian great plains which was fine territory for farmers. They were excellent recruits.
In order to acquire the land he needed to found the Red River Colony, the Earl of Selkirk and his family bought a large number of shares in the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). In fact, the Earl of Selkirk became the majority shareholder.
The fur trade was drawing to a close for want of beavers, which meant a complete change of lifestyle for voyageurs. Retired voyageurs, such as Louis Riel’s grandparents, Jean-Baptiste Lagimonière or Lagimodière and Marie-Anne Gaboury, settled in the future Winnipeg, However, many young voyageurs did not prove suited to farming. So, as the fur trade declined, they became guides to explorers in search of the Northwest Passage and a way to the Pacific Ocean, north of the South Pass (Wyoming). Truth be told, voyageurs and Amerindians opened up the continent, but as employees rather than employers. They were employed by explorers.
Settling the Red River Colony was extremely difficult. Allow me to quote Wikipedia:
In July 1811 Miles Macdonell sailed from Yarmouth, England to the Hudson’s Bay post at York Factory with 36 primarily Irish and Scottish settlers. Due to persuasive efforts of the North West Company only 18 settlers actually arrived at Red River in August 1812. As the planting season had ended before the settlers could complete the construction of Fort Douglas, they were forced to hunt bison for food and were completely unprepared for the arrival of 120 additional settlers in October.
In short, although crofters —farmers, were excellent recruits to the great plains, they had to face hunger. They needed pemmican from the nearly extinct “buffalo.” Pemmican was the food of the fur trade and it would also be the food of explorers. Amerindians and Métis prepared pemmican for voyageurs. Voyageurs were customers.
However, newcomers faced not only hunger, but also the coldest and harshest winters in Canada, south of the Arctic. I lived in Regina, Saskatchewan, for a year and loved it, but it was cold. However, the worst our new Canadians had to cope with, other than memories of a lost land, were warring factions: the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), chartered in May 1670 (at first, a fur-trading company), and its rival, the North West Company (NWC), founded in 1789 and headquartered in Montreal.
The Red River and the Assiniboine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Among recruits to the Red River Colony was the family of Swiss artist Peter Ridinsbacher, whose lovely watercolours depicting Aboriginals, Métis, and the Red River Colony are a precious legacy. The Ridinsbachers lived in Assiniboina or the Red River Colony. Their home was flooded in 1826, which was calamitous. Peter’s family decided to leave Assiniboina, or the Red River Colony, for the United States. (See 1826 Red River Flood, Wikipedia). They therefore moved to Wisconsin, but ended up settling in St. Louis, Missouri, where Peter died, “possibly of cholera,” (Wikipedia) at the age of 28.
Another inhabitant of Assiniboina was Swiss musician Edward Ermatinger, a Hudson’s Bay Company employee who ended up settling in St. Thomas, Ontario. His collection of the words and music of French Canadian folksongs, the voyageurs répertoire, as well as a “Red River March” he composed, may be the only connection to have come down to us.
Our fur trading companies competed not only for the best and the most pelts, but they also needed pemmican.
On 8 January 1814, fearing famine, Miles Macdonell, who was appointed first governor of Assiniboia, the Red River Colony, in 1811, issued the Pemmican Proclamation. The Pemmican Proclamation forbade the exportation of food from the Red River Colony (HBC territory), which angered both the Métis and employees of the North West Company. They believed it was a ploy on the part of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Six months later, Miles Macdonnell also issued a proclamation banning the “running” of buffalo with horses.
Hostilities culminated in the Battle of Seven Oaks (The Canadian Encyclopedia). A group of Métis had retrieved pemmican from the Hudson’s Bay Company, claiming it had been stolen. The canoes came down the Assiniboine escorted by Cuthbert Grant, an Anglo-Métis, who was the son of Cuthbert Grant père, a Nor’Wester from Scotland, and a Métis mother. Young Cuthbert was educated in Scotland.
On 19 June 1816, a band of Nor’Westers, Métis mainly, led by Cuthbert Grant (NWC) was returning from retrieving pemmican allegedly stolen by the Hudson’s Bay Company. They were to meet Nor’Westers at Fort William, but were intercepted by Robert Semple who had replaced Miles Macdonell. Semple was the governor of Rupert’s Land. A Nor’Wester, François-Firmin Boucher, was dispatched to speak to Robert Semple’s men. Someone fired a gun. Reports suggest the shot was fired by one of Semple’s men. A battle ensued which took 21 lives, including the life of Robert Semple. Only one of Cuthbert Grant’s men was killed, a 16-year-old. Discouraged, many settlers left the Red River Colony the very next day. François-Firmin Boucher spent two years in prison, but the Métis were exonerated by W. B. Coltman, a Royal Commissioner. (See The Battle of Seven Oaks, Wikipedia, Coltman’s Report, and Transcribing the Coltman Report – Crowdsourcing at Library and Archives Canada, posted on .)
The animal that roamed the great plains was often called a buffalo, which was a misnomer i.e. the wrong name. To tell the difference between the bison and the buffalo, Britannica suggests focusing on the three H’s: “home, hump, and horns.” Bison have a hump and their horns are shorter. Bison, not buffaloes, therefore lived in the great plains of North America. Interestingly, French Canadians call(ed) the buffalo a bison, which happens to be the correct name. For a very long time, I thought bison was the French translation of buffalo. It isn’t. The buffalo is un buffle in French and bison is both a French and an English word. Bison does not have a plural in English.
The Royal Proclamation of 1763 empowered Amerindians and Métis. We do not know whether or not Métis residents of the Red River took the Pemmican Proclamation seriously. But it could be they didn’t. As I suggested in Louis Riel, Hero or Rebel, it is altogether possible Louis Riel looked upon his government as genuine and the execution of Thomas Scott as legitimate. But he was blamed. He could not take his seat in the House of Commons and he hid for fifteen years. Rupert’s Land belonged to North-American Indians, but colonists felt entitled to land that did not belong to them but which they claimed and then sold. John A. Macdonald’s government bought Rupert’s Land.
As for the settlers who left the Red River after the The Battle of Seven Oaks, they made the right decision, but thousands of United Empire Loyalists, those who would not live in an independent United States, took refuge in the British colony immediately north of the fledgling United States.
Despite difficult beginnings, The Red River Settlement would be a permanent settlement. We have a Winnipeg and a Saint Boniface. In the late 1860s, when Canada or William MacDougall and surveyors entered their community, the varied inhabitants of the future Winnipeg lived peacably. The Earl of Selkirk died in 1820. His death allowed a merger of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company (1821), and ended a merciless conflict.
Signing of the Treaty of Ghent. The leading British delegate Baron Gambier is shaking hands with the American leader John Quincy Adams. The British Undersecretary of State for War and the Colonies, Henry Goulburn, is carrying a red folder. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I had researched material concerning the voyageurs in a series of six posts published in 2012. I had also written posts mentioning the Treaty of Ghent, In 1814, a border between the future Canada and the United States was drawn. The Treaty of Ghent ended the War of 1812. As for the Pemmican War, they opposed voyageurs from the Hudson’s Bay Company (established in 1670) and voyageurs North West Company, established in 1789, with headquarters in Montreal. Two voyageurs posts feature Gabriel Franchère and the men he took from New York to Fort Astoria, located in present-day Oregon. Franchère was in the employ of John Jacob Astor‘s Pacific Fur Company and the earlier American Fur Company, incorporated in 1808. John Jacob was allowed to hire Canadiens voyageurs despite the Embargo Act of 1807. Moreover, following the Treaty of Ghent, fur trading posts that had been British became American fur trading posts. Gabriel Franchère, a clerk and trusted employee of John Jacob Astor’s lived in Minnesota.
the “School Questions”
However, earlier posts do not refer to certain events that followed Louis Riel’s death. For instance, the population of Canada West had been Catholic and Anglican. Matters changed as Canada moved westward. The purchase of Rupert’s Land gave Canada the territory it needed and the Orange Order opposed the arrival of French Canadians in Ontario. At this point, we have the “School Questions:” the Ontario Schools Questions; the Manitoba Schools Question, and the New Brunswick Schools Question. I wonder if, and to what extent, French-Canadian habitants tried to move to Ontario and provinces west of Ontario.
Nearly a million French-speaking Canadians moved to the United States, including my paternal grandfather and other relatives, when the thirty acres granted habitants by La Compagnie des Cent-Associés (see The Canadian Encyclopedia) could no longer be divided and French-speaking Canadians had yet to acquire skills one needed in the business world.
Nearly a million French Canadians moved to the United States. That episode of Canada’s history is called the exodus. Protestants in New France had also fled to the Thirteen Colonies after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. New France was a province of France.
Louis Riel is the grandson of Jean-Baptiste Lagimonière/Lagimodière (1778-1855), a farmer and a voyageur who made a name for himself. On 21 April 1806, he married Anne-Marie Gaboury (1780 – 1875), the first white woman resident in the west, and the grandmother of legendary Louis Riel.
Upon learning that the Earl of Selkirk, DOUGLAS, THOMAS, Baron DAER and SHORTCLEUCH, 5th Earl of SELKIRK (1771 [St Mary’s Isle, Scotland] – 1820 [Pau, France]) was settling the Red River, Lagimonière and his wife went to live in the Red River settlement. But rivalry between the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company was so intense that North-West Company men nearly destroyed the settlement.
Lagimonière was sent to Montreal to speak to Lord Selkirk, but taken prisoner on his way back to Manitoba. Lord Selkirk attacked the fort and the settlers were able to resume a difficult but relatively normal life. Lord Selkirk rewarded Lagimonière for his services, by giving him a large grant of land between the Red River and the Seine, close to present-day Winnipeg. Lagimonière had become a celebrity.
The Lagimonières had several children: four girls and four boys and, at one point, they became a very prosperous family. One of the Lagimonière daughters, Julie, married a Métis, a neighbour named Louis Riel, and is the mother of Louis Riel (22 October 1844 – 16 November 1885; aged 41) who is considered the father of Manitoba.
Louis Riel (1844 -1885; by hanging)
An intellectually-gifted child, Louis Riel was sent to the Petit Séminaire, in Montréal. In a petit séminaire, one prepare for the priesthood. Louis Riel dropped out before graduation and studied law under Rodolphe Laflamme.
He was not very fond of the subtleties of laws and slowly found his way back to Manitoba working odd jobs in Chicago and St Paul, Minnesota. Many voyageurs who had been employed by John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company retired in Minnesota. Riel then travelled back to the Red River settlement, which had changed during his absence.
On his arrival in St-Boniface, the current French area of Winnipeg, Riel observed that settlers had arrived from Ontario. They were white Anglo-Saxon Protestants who disliked Catholics. Many were Orangemen or Orangists. Settlers had also moved up from the United States.
As well, land surveyors were dividing up the land, but not in the manner it had been divided formerly. The long strips of land of New France were becoming square lots. This land still belonged to the Hudson’s Bay Company, but the Crown was preparing for a purchase (1869) and no room was being made for the Métis.
Moreover, William McDougall, an outsider, had been appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the territory and was overseeing the progress of the land surveyors.
As for the Métis, they had suffered from an invasion of grasshoppers, so food was scarce. Moreover, immigrants were dwarfing Métis and Amerindians. They needed a leader and went to Louis Riel, who was literate and had studied law.
A good will mission arrives from the Federal Government. One member of this group is Donald A. Smith, the chief representative of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Frightened by Thomas Scott and Charles Boulton, Métis have them imprisoned and court-martialed. They are condemned to death by Ambroise Lépine.
Charles Boulton is pardoned, but
Thomas Scott, a Orangeman, is executed, despite pleas on the part of Donald Smith of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Manitoba enters into Confederation: 12 May 1870
The Bishop of Saint-Boniface, Bishop Taché, returns from Rome carrying and amnesty proclamation for all acts previously performed. At this point, Riel and his men reach an agreement and the Manitoba Law is passed on 12 May 1870. The Federal Government gives land to the Métis and makes both French and English the official languages of the new Province of Manitoba.
However, in 1870, after learning that Colonel Garnet Wolseley is being sent to the Red River by the new Governor General, A. G. Archibald, Riel flees to the United States but returns home to Saint-Vital in the fall of 1871. He then offers to help keep Fenians from attacking the Red River Settlement.
is elected into office in 1873;
He is re-elected to the Federal Assembly in 1874, but a motion to expel him from the room was proposed by Orangist or Orangeman Mackenzie Bowell and passed.
But Riel is re-elected into office. However, he was prevented from sitting with other members of Parliament.
At about the same time, Ambroise Lépine’s death sentence for the “murder” of Thomas is commuted. Lépine spends two years in jail and loses all his rights. However, Lépine and Riel are amnestied, in February 1875. Louis Riel’s amnesty is “conditional to five years of banishment from ‘Her Majesty’s Dominions.’”
Riel has a nervous breakdown in 1875 and is hospitalised for three years (1875-1878), under assumed names. He is treated for depression and turns to religion. At this point, Riel starts believing he has a divine mission to guide his people.
Riel was released from hospital and went to the United States where he managed to earn a living, became an American citizen, joined the Republican Party and, in 1880, married a Métis woman, Marguerite Monet. There is little information about Marguerite. Born in 1861, she died in 1886. Riel fathered three children, one of whom died as an infant.
But in June 1884, Riel is asked, by Saskatchewan Métis, Gabriel Dumont to help Métis whose rights are being violated. Dumont had been defeated and wounded at the battle of Duck Lake, on 26 March 1885. Riel goes to Saskatchewan believing that it is his divine mission to do so. He takes over a Church in Batoche, Saskatchewan, gathers a small army, but on 6July 1885, he is officially arrested and accused of ‘treason.’
He is tried and his lawyer asks that he be examined by three doctors one of whom comes to the conclusion that Riel is no longer responsible for his actions. This divided determination was not made public and Riel was condemned to death. Riel himself did not wish to use insanity as his defence.
Appeals fail so Louis Riel is hanged in Regina on 16 November 1885 and the body is then sent by train to Saint-Vital and he is buried in the cemetery of the Cathedral at Saint-Boniface.
To this day, opinion remains divided as to Riel’s guilt. Riel, who was hanged for “treason,” is nevertheless a Father of Confederation.
Yet, Louis Riel had been elected into office three times. He is still considered by many as the father of Manitoba. Moreover, Riel had brought Manitoba into CanadianConfederation as a bilingual province and with Métis being allotted the land they needed.
Yes, the Red River Rebellion was ‘treason,’ but clemency had been requested by the judge and there were mitigating circumstances: Riel’s mental health is one of these contingencies. However, the execution of Thomas Scotthad long generated enormous resentment on the part of Ontario Orangemen or Orangists. As a result, being amnestied did not weigh in Riel’s favour.
As for the North-West Rebellion of 1885, it was ‘treason.’ Riel was found guilty and condemned to death, but the judge had asked for clemency. However, Orangists remembered the execution of Thomas Scott, and despite appeals, Riel was hanged ostensibly for ‘treason,’ but also, in all likelihood, for the “murder” of Thomas Scott.
These are frightening times. The Canadian economy could use an infusion of money, but the Keystone Pipeline should be safe before crude oil travels to the United States. I hope President Donald Trump is not considering using the very pipeline President Obama had to close because it wasn’t safe. If that pipeline has been closed, exporting crude oil is not advantageous to Canadians until the pipeline is safe. I am certain former President Obama asked experts to assess the safety of the pipeline before closing the project. If it isn’t safe on the Canadian side of the border, the side Canadians control, prudence dictates vigilance and the construction of a safe pipeline, one that will not leak or threaten the environment in any way. So I had to edit my views. Exportation of crude oil may benefit Canada, but not if it uses an unsafe pipeline.
The First Nations and other Canadians must make sure they are drinking uncontaminated water and protecting the life of animals and the soil. Canada ratified the Paris Agreement. If the planet dies, we all die.
President Trump is also endangering relations between Israel and Palestinian authorities. According to Isabel Kershner of the New York Times, Israeli are feeling “emboldened” by Mr Trump’s election to the presidency. Israel is therefore beginning to build housing units in the “conquered territories.” Naftali Bennet, Israel’s education minister, is encouraging Prime Minister Netanyahu to begin “a process of annexing the West Bank settlements to Israel.” Annexationwould be a violation of the United Nations Security Council’s resolution calling for an end to the encroachment of land not allotted Israel. The United States did not veto the United Nations Security Council‘s resolution 2334 (23 December 2016) condemning encroachments by Israel on territory it was not given in 1948, when Israel was created.
The New York Times also quotes Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s “hard-line” defense minister: “We are going back to normal life in Judea and Samaria[.]” These are the West Bank’s biblical names. Israel seems to be claiming Palestine, on the grounds that it was home to Israelites two thousand years ago. In fact, the Jewish diaspora started before the Jewish-Roman wars, the last of which was fought by Emperor Hadrian (24 January 76 – 10 July 138). There is no Judea. The only territory Israeli can claim is the territory it was allotted by the United Nations in 1948. With respect to annexing territory, priority is given international laws, not scriptures. (See Jewish diaspora, Wikipedia.)
Yet, last Sunday, 22 January 2017, the Jerusalem City Council approved 566 new housing units in East Jerusalem. Oded Revivi, who represents the more than 400,000 settlers in the West Bank, says that settlers “hope that this is just the beginning of a wave of new building across our ancestral homeland after eightvery difficult years.” President Obama was cautious, but President Trump could be helping Israel provoke Palestinian authorities, the United Nations and the Arab world.
Bust of Hadrian Musei Capitolini MC817 cropped (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)
The United States may also move its Embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. People are protesting. The Middle East is a very sensitive area. At the moment, the conflict in Syria is abating but it could be reignited if the United States supports expansion. Peace is the main goal. Former President Obama was simply very cautious. Isil is the target of the Coalition fighting terrorism.
Millions have fled the Middle East creating a crisis in Europe. Peace and reconstruction are the current objectives.
Having made his views regarding Muslims and Mexicans public knowledge, President Trump’s only option is to help stop the crisis. I fear a resurgence of terrorist attacks. In fact, war could erupt. Europe cannot accommodate every refugee and Europe must not be imperiled.
President Trump is impetuous. Climate change and peace in the Middle East are sensitive issues. The new President should be careful.
A dear friend, John, tells me Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and his government have studied the matter of exporting crude oil to the United States. It appears advantages outweigh the risks by far. Most of the KeystonePipeline is in the United States and Canada’s economy is ailing, so Canada is exporting.
I therefore stand corrected. Prudence is essential, but Canada’s economy dictates measured risks. Voltaire (21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778) called Nouvelle-France a “few acres of snow” (« quelques arpents de neige »)(Candide, Chapter 23). He may have been criticizing the French government. Nouvelle-France had lost its Huguenots, Calvinist Protestants, its merchant class, when Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, an edict of tolerance towards Protestants.
My Bourbeau ancestors were well-to-do citizens of New France. They were not farmers, but Huguenot businessmen. Huguenots fled to the United States when the Édit de Nantes was revoked, in 1685. They feared persecution and death. Some converted to Roman Catholicism and stayed in New France. They were good businessmen and prospered.
When François-Xavier Garneau (15 June 1809 – 2 or 3 February 1866) wrote his Histoire du Canada, he bemoaned the departure of Huguenots. His book was censored by the Church in Quebec and he had to remove his statement regarding French Huguenots. New France was an expensive venture, but there is wealth beneath our “few acres of snow.”
It may that the Prime Minister and his cabinet took a leap of faith to protect the economy.
Exporting and the Economy
Canada is committed to protecting its environment, but I am told Monsieur Trudeau needs to export some of its natural resources or take us the poorhouse. Precautions must be taken, but families should be fed. Poverty is one of the great ills of the world.
In short, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is working for the people and he and his cabinet must protect Canadians. We have taken in a large number of refugees and more may arrive. In fact, a number of Americans are buying real estate in Canada. We may be their refuge. There are no foreigners in Canada, just plain Canadians of every ethnicity and creed.
The Environment: Saskatchewan Oil Spill
Environmentalists are concerned and I am one of them. There are oil spills. Recently, on 23 January 2017, a pipeline leaked 50,000 gallons (200,000 liters) of oil on land belonging to the First Nations, Canada’s Amerindians.
Pipelines leak occasionally. A small crack may cause a catastrophe. One worries. It could be that pipelines are affected by very cold weather. If such is the case, we need better pipelines.
I once lived in Saskatchewan and loved it. I worked in public relations for a year, but teaching was my profession. I accepted a teaching position at St Francis Xavier University, in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Yet, the accident happened in a place I called home.
My apologies to Prime Minister Trudeau. I hope sincerely that President Trump will respect Canadian policies. They differ from American policies.
Karl Bodmer (11 February 1809 – 30 October 1893) was 23 years old when he accompanied explorer, ethnologist and naturalist Prinz Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied (23 September 1782 – 3 February 1867) to the interior of the current United States. Other ethnologists and naturalists chronicled the final days of Amerindian tribes, but few hired an artist who would adorn the account of their travels. Prinz Max, as he was known to his entourage, is the author of Maximilian Prince of Wied’s Travels in the Interior of North America, during the years 1832–1834 (Reise in das Innere Nord-Amerikas ).
Confluence of the Fox River and the Wabash in Indiana
Fox River near New Harmony
I suspect Prinz Max had the financial means to hire Karl Bodmer. However, a keen keen interest in Native Americans was his primary motivation. Expeditions to the New World were hazardous. Prinz Franz had already travelled to southeast Brazil from 1815 to 1817 and knew the many dangers threatening explorers. As noted in Wikipedia, “he was a sympathetic recorder of the cultures of many of the native American tribes he encountered, notably the Mandan and the Hidatsa.” (See Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied, Wikipedia.)
As for Swiss-born Karl Bodmer, unhindered by his youth, he produced several exquisite paintings. Prince Max wrote to his brother that Bodmer “[was] a lively, very good man and companion, seem[ed] well-educated, and, [was] very pleasant and very suitable for me; I am glad I picked him. He makes no demands, and in diligence he is never lacking.” (See Karl Bodmer, Wikipedia.)
On his return to Europe, Karl Bodmer moved to Paris where he transformed his watercolours into 81 aquatints. These would adorn Maximilian Prince of Wied’s Travels in the Interior of North America, during the years 1832–1834. Bodmer later settled in Barbizon, France, and joined members of the Barbizon school, artists living near the Forest of Fontainebleau who advocated realism. Gustave Courbet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot were colleagues. Bodmer also became a French citizen.
Prinz Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied and Bodmer met at Koblenz, Germany. Prince Maximilian, Karl Bodmer and taxidermist David Dreidoppel set out for America on 17 May 1832. Their trip to the interior of North America was delayed because of an epidemic of cholera. They had arrived in Pittsburg on 4 July 1832 but did not leave until 8 October. First, they travelled down the Ohio Riverand reached Mt. Vernon, Indiana during the late eveningof 18 October 1832. The next day they continued to New Harmony, Indiana but went no further. The Prince had fallen ill, showing symptoms that suggested cholera.
It would be a four-month delay, but the three travellers did not waste much time. The Prince met famed French traveller and artist Charles Alexandre Lesueur, the author of 60 books. He also met Thomas Say, who is referred to as “the father of descriptive entomology in the United States.”
Our team of three left for St. Louis, Missouri in April 1833. Prince Maximilian took copious notes and, as we have seen in a post on the Mandans, white Amerindians, he investigated the origin of the Mandan people, some of whom were said to be the descendants of a Welsh colony. Once the Prince had collected the information he required, he, his artist, and his taxidermist returned to Germany, but, as we have seen above, Karl Bodmer soon left for Paris where he prepared the aquatints Prince Maximilian used to illustrate his four-volume account of his expedition to North America. In 1877, Bodmer was made a Knight in the French Legion of Honour, Chevalier dela Légion d’honneur, France’s most prestigious decoration.
Bodmer died in Paris, at the age of 84, about forty-four years after the publication of Maximilian Prince of Wied’s Travels in the Interior of North America, during the years 1832–1834.
Bodmer did not paint Mandan Amerindians exclusively. Mandans were the possible descendants of a Welsh colony taken to North America by Welsh Prince Madoc in 1170. His collection of paintings comprises portrayals of members of several Plains Amerindian tribes: Sioux, Assiniboine, Plains Cree, Gros Ventres (big bellies) and Blackfoot. These tribes had begun facing serious depopulation and are now bordering on extinction. Many were massacred or were starved to death when the bison was nearly exterminated. Few bisons have survived. There are less than 600,000 in the United States and about 15,000 in Canada. (See American bison, Wikipedia.)
As for the Amerindians whose manners and customs the Prince chronicled and Bodmer depicted, many died. Some were victims of massacres perpetrated by the whites. But they were also, if not mainly, victims of communicable diseases brought to the Americas by the whites. Smallpox epidemics were the worst killer and there is some evidence, perhaps inconclusive, of at least one induced smallpox epidemic, spread by blankets. As a weapon, germs seem more lethal than guns and bombs.
“You will do well to try to inoculate the Indians, by means of blankets, as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.” Jeffery Amherst
In the early days of New France, the summer of 1639, to be precise, smallpox reduced the Huron or Wyandot population, living from the great lakes to the Saint Lawrence River, to 9,000, half its former size. A significant number of disfigured Amerindians committed suicide increasing the death toll smallpox caused. Their appearance was very important to Amerindians who devoted long hours painting themselves.
The greatest harm visited upon North American aboriginals is psychological. We often look upon ourselves as we are perceived. “L’enfer, c’est les autres[,]” (Hell is other people), wrote Jean-Paul Sartre (Huis Clos). The Cherokees‘ best hope may be their conviction that they are members of the Ten Lost Tribes, which they may be. Essential to the survival of a people is its glorious past, remembered and retold from one generation to the next.
As for Amerindians who are not descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes or white Native Americans Madoc left behind in 1170, they may take genuine comfort in the artwork they have inspired, their own art and other accomplishments, the interest they have aroused among social scientists and anthropologists: ethonologists, folklorist, psychologists, sociologist, &c.
With my kindest regards to all of you.♥
P.S. My “pages” still exist, but they are in hiding.