Transcript of Northwest Rebellion of 1885
Métis Rebellion of 1885 The Métis rebellion of 1885 has proven to be a defining point of Canadian history. So who was involved? Prime Minister John A. MacDonald The Métis The Government of Canada Why did it happen? In 1870, the Métis along the Red River felt their way of life was being threatened by settler expansion in the West. At that time, many chose to relocate to Saskatchewan, near Batoche. In 1884, the same issues faced the Métis. The Métis used a French system of dividing farmland which provided each landholder access to a portion of the river. Land was divided into strips branching off of the water. The Government of Canada was using a different method of dividing land based on an English system. According to this system, landholders were given squares of land, but without guaranteed access to the river. Furthermore, the once plentiful buffalo the Métis relied upon were being driven to the brink of extinction by irresponsible hunting. The Métis sought out Louis Riel, the leader of the 1870 Red River Rebellion, to help them deal with the Government of Canada. Riel tried diplomacy, and asked the people of Saskatchewan, First Nations, Métis, and European descent, to sign a petition expressing their concerns. He sent his "Revolutionary Bill of Rights" to Ottawa. The Government of Canada, under Prime Minister MacDonald, chose to ignore the Métis demands. MacDonald had dealt with Riel in 1870, a situation resulting in Riel's banishment from Canada for five years. MacDonald was facing a political battle to gain support to complete an expensive transcontinental railway, and dismissed Métis concerns. Riel formed a Métis "provisional government". He made Gabriel Dumont, pictured here, military leader of the new government. As tensions grew on both sides, confilct eventually erupted. Dumont led a few successful skirmishes against Government forces. MacDonald sent British general Sir Frederick Middleton to put down the rebellion. Middleton assembled an army of miltia from Ontario and Quebec and headed west. The Métis expected to have several months to prepare for the upcoming conflict as the Government troops marched to Saskatchewan. So what went wrong? William Cornelius Van Horne Manager of Canadian Pacific Railway Van Horne desperately needed financial support from the Government to complete the transcontinental railway. He convinced Parliament that he could ship the troops to Saskatchewan in 10 days. Despite portions of unfinished track, Van Horne managed to get 5,000 soldiers to Saskatchewan in just nine days. Middleton fought a decisive battle against a force of 500 Métis rebels at the Battle of Batoche. This photograph captures the beginning of that battle. Many Métis leaders were captured and imprisoned, and the provisional government was disbanded. Riel was captured and sent for trial in Regina. He is pictured here at Middleton's camp following the Battle of Batoche. Riel Riel was tried for high treason in a Regina courtroom. He spoke passionately in his own defense. The Trial of Louis Riel is reenacted yearly in Regina Riel is remembered as a hero of the Métis. Riel's death brought division between French Canada, where he was seen as a hero, and English Canada where he was seen as a traitor. Van Horne got the money to complete the transcontinental railway, as shown in this video. ReferencesFull transcript
Beal, B and MacLeod, R. (2011). North-west rebellion in the Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved May 27, 2011 from http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=a1ARTA0005802#ArticleContents
Library and Archives Canada. (2003). Northwest rebellion from the Kids' Site of Canadian Trains. Retrieved May 27, 2011 from http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/2/32/h32-1030-e.html
Mein, S. North-west resistance in the Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Retrieved May 27, 2011 from http://esask.uregina.ca/entry/north-west_resistance.html
Stanley, G. (2011). Riel, Louis in the Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved MAy 27, 2011 from http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0006837
All photographs are in the public domain.