Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Riel and the Rebellion

Riel and the Rebellion: 1885 Reconsidered

Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 256
  • Book Info
    Riel and the Rebellion
    Book Description:

    This book sparked national controversy when it was first published in 1983. Updated to include recent developments, such as native rights and land claims, the cultural mythology that surrounds Riel, and the recent campaign to have him pardoned

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7936-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface to the Second Edition
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface to the First Edition
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. CHAPTER ONE The North-West Rebellion
    (pp. 3-20)

    On a world scale of violence, Canada’s North-West Rebellion of 1885 was a trifling affair. A couple of hundred able-bodied Métis from the settlements along the South Saskatchewan River took up arms.¹ They were joined at Batoche by an even smaller number of Indians. A few other Indian bands – the Crees of the Battle River country and the Assiniboines of the Eagle Hills – left their reserves and committed acts of murder and pillage, but they were not really part of Riel’s uprising.² The large majority of Plains Indians, as well as Métis, remained out of the conflict, even...

  6. CHAPTER TWO River Lots and Land Claims
    (pp. 21-63)

    Many Métis lived in 1870 in those parts of Rupert’s Land which would become the North-West Territories. With a few exceptions, the major one being the settled community of St Albert, these traders and buffalo hunters did not have well-established claims to particular pieces of land. They often had cabins in widely scattered locations that they used for wintering, but they did not have permanent farms. However, in the 1870s, as the buffalo grew less numerous, the Métis began to settle down, staking out long, narrow lots along river banks. They were reinforced in this pattern of land holding by...

  7. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  8. CHAPTER THREE The Métis Land Grant
    (pp. 64-84)

    The mixed-race people of the North-West repeatedly called for a land grant like the one provided by section 31 of the Manitoba Act. This demand was based on the view that the Métis, as descendants of the Indians, had inherited a share of their ancestors’ aboriginal title to the land. In the case of the Indians, that tide was extinguished through treaties, which involved surrender of their land rights in return for reserve lands and other compensation. The land grant authorized by the Manitoba Act could be understood along similar lines: in return for surrender of whatever share of aboriginal...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Aboriginal Title
    (pp. 85-113)

    Why did the North-West Rebellion occur, if the government responded to the grievances of the Métis? Of course, other factors contributed to the alienation of the Métis. They were bitter over the events in Manitoba, which had left them a marginal minority in their own homeland. Having moved farther west, they could see themselves once again being outnumbered by white settlers. Another consideration was the decline of the Métis economy. The buffalo vanished after 1878, adversely affecting several lines of business in which the Métis had made their living: buffalo hunting, trading with the Indians for pemmican and robes, and...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Blackmail or Indemnity?
    (pp. 114-130)

    One of the most intriguing questions about the origins of the North-West Rebellion is whether Riel tried to extract a large sum of money from the Canadian government. Did he promise to leave the North-West Territories if the government would pay him $35,000 as first instalment on an indemnity eventually worth $100,000? Evidence in this direction was introduced at his trial through the testimony of Charles Nolin and Father André. Defence counsel, intent on demonstrating Riel’s insanity, did not put up any effective cross-examination. Nor did Riel deny that he had tried to get money from the government. He more...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Trial in Error?
    (pp. 131-155)

    After the end of fighting at Batoche, Louis Riel surrendered on 15 May 1885 and was quickly transported to Regina and held in the North-West Mounted Police jail. The government now faced the ticklish problem of what to do with him. A trial for treason was anticipated, but the location raised difficulties. Riel had committed his acts in the North-West Territories, so presumably his trial should take place in that jurisdiction. However, the court system established by the North-West Territories Act of 1880 was less developed than that available in the provinces. The act did not provide for an indictment...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN Medical Manipulation
    (pp. 156-168)

    Although the Canadian government responded to Métis grievances and gave Louis Riel a fair trial, it sometimes manipulated public opinion for political reasons. The prime minister made a number of statements to the House of Commons that were less than the full truth. For example, when asked on 23 March 1885 about a Métis Bill of Rights reportedly submitted to the government, he replied: ‘The Bill of Rights had never been officially, or indeed in any way, promulgated so far as we know, and transmitted to the Government.’¹ The answer was correct to the extent that it applied to the...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT Exoneration?
    (pp. 169-190)

    The Canadian government can certainly be criticized for its part in the North-West Rebellion. It could have avoided hard feeling if it had surveyed the whole settlement of St Laurent at the outset according to the wishes of the Métis, or if it had carried out a resurvey more quickly, as it eventually did anyway. Also, it was foolish to delay so long over the Métis land grant in the North-West. When it found no feasible alternative to the Manitoba model, it would have been better to go ahead than by delay to create fear that there would be no...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 191-216)
  15. Index
    (pp. 217-225)