Search just our sites by using our customised site search engine


Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Click here to learn more about MyHeritage and get free genealogy resources

The Story of Manitoba
Chapter XXXIII The Rule of the Dictator


The majority of the English-speaking people who lived in the district around Portage la Prairie seem to have favored confederation with Canada, and they were ready to extend help and sympathy to those who attempted to check the insurrection by force of arms.' When Colonel Dennis' efforts to raise a force for the purpose of bringing Governor McDougall into the colony failed iD December, several of the leaders in the movement retired to Portage la Prairie for the winter. Major Boulton was one of them. When some of Riel's prisoners escaped early in January, they found refuge in Portage- la Prairie. The people there had little knowledge of the events which were taking place in and around Fort Garry beyond the meagre information brought by these refugees, for the mail service had been practically abolished. They had friends among the prisoners immured in Fort Garry and naturally wished to see them set free. Stories of the hardships endured by the captives were brought to the district from time to time, and one or two attempts had been made to raise a force to liberate the sufferers; but these attempts ended in talk. When Thomas Scott reached the settlement after his escape and gave the people an account of his imprisonment, the project of rescuing the other prisoners was revived. Several secret meetings were held, and a party was organized to proceed to Fort Garry, capture it during the night, and release the prisoners confined there. Although he disapproved of the scheme, Major Boulton, who had seen considerable service in the British army, finally consented to lead the expedition Mr. Farmer and Mr. Gaddy were among the other officers chosen by the men who composed the party.

On February 12th the party started 011 its march of sixty miles over the snowy trail to Winnipeg. The weather was bitterly cold, the thermometer registering more than thirty degrees below zero. The men, sixty in number, had to make the journey on foot, they had no transport, carried little food, and were poorly armed. That they set out under such conditions shows how deeply in earnest the men were. Short halts were made at Poplar Point and High Bluff to allow small detachments to join the main body, and then the men pushed on steadily. Nine hours' marching brought them to Headingly, where friendly settlers gave them shelter for the night. Soon after the cold and weary men were housed, a blizzard came up and continued for two days. This compelled them to change their plans. They found that nearly all the English and half-breeds living in the vicinity of Headingly were opposed to Riel, and at a meeting held in the house of Mr John Taylor it was decided to ask the co-operation of the English setters living in the parishes below Fort Garry as well as the help of the Metis who were opposed to Kiel's policy. Mr. Taylor and a companion were sent as delegates to the former, while Mr. Gaddy and another man were commissioned to interview Mr. Dease, the recognized leader of the Metis opponents of Riel. It should he said here that the men from Portage la Prairie had not heard of the success of Mr. Donald A. Smith's negotiations with the convention and the formation of a provisional government; nor had they heard of Riel's promise to release all his prisoners. If the people at Headingly had heard of these matters, they do not seem to have told their friends from Portage la Prairie.

At eight o'clock in the evening of the next day the party left Headingly. It was a cold, moonlit night, and as the intrepid band passed the walls of Fort Garry, it was seen by a sentry, who fired a shot to alarm the guard. The men were allowed to proceed however, without molestation. Hoping to capture Riel and hold him as a hostage, some of the men surrounded a house in the village of Winnipeg, where it was thought the Metis leader might be spending the evening; but when the owner assured them that Riel was not within, they went forward again. It was past midnight when the party reached Kildonan and took up quarters in the church.

When morning came, it did not bring the enthusiastic welcome which the Portage la Prairie men had expected. Then for the first time they seem to have heard of all that had been accomplished by Commissioner Smith and the convention towards bringing about a peaceable solution of the colony's troubles, and they found that the settlers were greatly alarmed lest the chances of this solution would be destroyed by such a hostile move against Riel as that contemplated by the Portage men. The gentlemen, who had been sent to the lower parishes, brought back more encouraging reports, however, and about mid-afternoon a contingent from these parishes, numbering more than three hundred men came marching up to the Kildonan church, led by Dr. Schultz. They had a cannon, which was drawn by four oxen, and were fully determined to storm Fort Garry and free the prisoners who had been confined there so long. Major Boulton thus found himself in command of a force of more than four hundred men, whom he must feed and shelter. As ho had no money with which to secure these necessities, the people of Kildonan provided the men with supper and breakfast, and most of them slept in the church.

During the evening a man named Parisien, supposed to be a Metis spy, was captured and confined in the church. In the morning he asked and received permission to go outside, accompanied by three guards. Many people were coming and going, and a number of cutters were standing by the church. Seeing a gun in one of the cutters, Parisien broke from his guards, seized the gun, and ran to the bank of the river, which was only a few yards distant. Just at that moment John Hugh Sutherland, a son of the late Senator Sutherland, appeared on the ice near the bank. He was riding across the river from his father's house to join the force at the church and was not aware that a prisoner had been taken and was attempting to escape. Wishing to obtain a horse, Parisien raised his gun and fired twTice at the young man, both bullets taking effect. Friends rushed to the wounded man's assistance, and he was carried to the house of Rev. Dr. Black, where Dr. Schultz and another physician did all in their power for him; but in spite of their efforts he passed away at nightfall.


TAYLOR

As soon as Sutherland fell, the men on the hank opened fire on Parisien, who, seeing that resistance was hopeless, surrendered. The crowd was disposed to treat him roughly, but Major Boulton interfered and ordered him to be confined in the church until his case could be dealt with in a legal manner. "When the force disbanded next day, Parisien was sent as a prisoner to Lower Fort Garry. On the way he made another attempt to escape; but the guard fired on him, and he was so severely wounded that he was easily recaptured. Parisien died of his wounds early in April.

Anxious to prevent a clash between the force under Major Boulton and the Metis, who rallied to Riel's support as soon as they learned that his supremacy was threatened, a number of the leading settlers opened negotiations with the insurgent leader for the release of his prisoners. He finally consented to set them free, and they reached the Kildonan church about two o'clock of March 16, the day on which Sutherland had been shot. Having accomplished one of the purposes for which they had mustered, the men under Major Boulton wished to follow up their success and oust Riel from Fort Garry; but the major urged that it was not wise to attempt anything further, and in this advice he was seconded by Bishop Machray, Archdeacon McLean, Judge Black, and others. Finally the majority of the party decided that it was better to disband and return to their homes. The men from the lower parishes departed at once, but the Portage la Prairie contingent went up to Point Douglas and camped in Boyd's store for the night.

Tn the morning Major Boulton advised his men to accept the hospitality of friends in various parts of the settlement for a time and then make their way home singly; but forty-seven of them, believing that Riel had given a pledge that they would not be molested on their journey, decided to march home in a body. Under the circumstances Major Boulton felt it his duty to go with them, and the party set off about nine o'clock on the morning of the 17th. The beaten trail led close to Fort Garry, but to avoid any occasion for a broil with the Metis there the Portage men left the trail and headed across the prairie in a direct line for St. James, although the snow was almost waist-deep. When they were opposite the fort a party of horsemen came out of it and rode across the prairie towards them, followed by about fifty armed men on foot. They were led by O'Donoghue and Lepine, and the former informed the Portage men that he had been sent by Riel to invite them to the fort for the purpose of holding a parley. Suspecting treachery, but unable to offer any effective resistance, Boulton and his men complied with O'Donoghue's request. As soon as they had entered the fort the gates were closed, about 400 of Riel's men surrounded them, and they were marched off as prisoners to a building in the middle of the fort, used as a residence for the clerks of the Hudson's Bay Company.

Major Boulton was confined in a room by himself and put in irons. In a short time Riel came to the door and said, "Major Boulton, you must prepare to die to-morrow at twelve o'clock." With some difficulty the major secured permission to communicate with his friends, and as soon as possible Archdeacon McLean came to see liim. The clergyman then tried to persuade Riel not to take the major's life, but the Metis leader would do no more than promise to postpone the execution for twelve hours. During the next day many prorni nent people in the district did their utmost to induce Riel to spare the major's life, but he was obdurate. Finally Mr. Donald A. Smith brought him to a more reasonable mood, and he promised a week's reprieve. He also promised to set Major Boulton free, if Mr. Smith would go among the English settlers and persuade them to send their delegates to his eouueil once more. This Mr. Smith undertook to do, and Archdeacon McLean promised to help him. About an hour before Major Boulton expected to be called out to be shot, the archdeacon came to him with the news that his sentence had been reversed.

But the major was to have another surprise .before morning came, less pleasant, but certainly not less surprising. He says:

"As soon as Archdeacon McLean had left, I lay down and went to sleep. I could not have been long asleep when I was suddenly awakened by some one shaking me. I looked up and saw Riel with a lantern. He said, 'Major Boulton, I have come to see you. I have come to shake you by the hand, and to make a proposition to you. I perceive that you are a man of ability, that you are a leader. The English people, they have no leader. Will you join my government, and be their leader?' The sudden transition from being under sentence of death to being asked to take a position in Kiel's government struck me as serio-comic; but I collected my wits and replied that his proposition was so startling that I could not give an answer at the moment, but that, if he would release ail the prisoners and allow me to go back to the Portage to consult with my friends. I would consider the proposition seriously. He retired, but I heard no more about joining his government."

The men who surrendered with Major Boulton were R. Adams, W. Bartlett, Thos. Baxter, W. G. Bird, Magnus Brown, Robt. Dennison, J. Dilworth, Wm. Dilworth, Wm. Farmer, John Ivy, James Jock, Arch. McDonald, Chas. McDonald, James McBain, Robt. McBain, John McKay, Alex. McLean, John McLean, M. McLeod, Alex. McPherson, Chas. Millan, J. B. Morrison, N. Morrison, A. Murray, Geo. Newcombe, Jos. Patpiin, Wm. Paquin, Alex. Parker, G. Parker, Sgt. Powers^ Wm. Salter, James Sanderson, Geo. Sandison, Thos. Scott, Jos. Smith, Lawrence Smith, Ban Sissons, W. Sutherland, John Switzer, A. Taylor, I). Taylor, H. Taylor, John Taylor, II. Williams, Geo. Wylds, and two others whose names are not given. It seems to have been Riel's intention to bold these prisoners as hostages for the good conduct of the English-speaking people of the colony. Three of them, besides Major Boulton, had been sentenced to death, but were reprieved; and Riel promised to set all free as soon as the new council met. In the meantime, however, a number of other men were arrested and confined in the prison, Dr. Cowan being one of them. The prisoners were allowed to receive food and other necessaries from their friends, and they do not seem to have suffered such hardships as were endured by the prisoners taken in December. They sometimes heard rumors of plans made by friends for their release, but nothing was done.

Riel recognized Dr. Schultz as the most dangerous of his opponents and was anxious to end his active opposition by putting him in prison once more. Shortly before the hour first fixed for the execution of Major Boulton. Riel came to him and offered to grant a reprieve, if he could induce Dr. Schultz to surrender, or if he could secure the doctor's capture. But to surrender to Riel was the last thing Dr. Schultz was likely to do. He realized that his second attempt to raise a force for the purpose of overthrowing the power of the Metis was an unpardonable offence in the eyes of their leader and that his friends could no longer protect him from Riel's vengeance. As soon as his followers had retired from Kildonan church to their homes in the lower parishes, Dr. Schultz left the colony. Guided by a half-breed named Monkman, who occupied a little farm near the mouth of the Red River for many years afterward, and accompanied by Mr. William Drever of Winnipeg, Dr. Schultz quietly left the settlement and started for Duluth. It was mid-winter, there was no trail through the woods, and the journey of five hundred miles must be made on snowshoes; nevertheless the three intrepid men reached their destination safely. Dr. Schultz and Mr, Drever went on to Toronto, and their guide returned to his home. Riel did not realize that the doctor had eluded him, and parties of his followers continued to raid different parts of the colony for some time, trying to capture his implacable opponent. On one occasion they went as far as Portage la Prairie and seized property there supposed to belong to the doctor.

By February 26th the election of the twenty-four members of the new council had been completed. The English-speaking districts had chosen delegates, as Mr. T. A. Smith had urged them to do, although he had advised them to recognize no authority beyond that of the convention which had met earlier in the month. The English delegates were John Sinclair from St, Peter's, Thomas Bunn from St. Clement's, Thomas Sinclair and E. II. G. G. Hay from St. Andrew's, Dr. Bird from St. Paul's, W. Eraser from Kildonan. A. G. B. Bannatyne from St. John's and Winnipeg, James McKay from St. James, W. Tait from Headingly, Geo. Gunn from Pojdar Point, John Nor quay from High Bluff, and William Garrioch from Portage la Prairie. The French representatives were W. B. O'Donoghue, John Bruce, Louis Schmidt, A. Millet (dit Beauchemin), B. Millet (dit Beauchemin), Pierre Parenteau, Pierre Dauphinais, B. Tourond, Pierre Poitras, Louis Lacerte, A. Lepine and A. Harrison.

No meeting of the new council was called, however, and so Riel had an excuse for delaying the fulfilment of his oft-repeated promise to liberate his prisoners. To further impress his followers with a sense of his power and to intimidate his opponents more completely, he seems to have determined to put some of his prisoners to death. Major Boulton's life had been saved through the intervention of influential friends, and Dr. Schultz could not be recaptured; but another victim was soon found. It appears that some of the candidates, who wished to represent Portage la Prairie in the new council, attempted to solicit votes among the residents of that district who were confined in Fort Garry, and that Thomas Scott warned his fellow-prisoners to have nothing to do with candidates who were favorable to Riel. There was some disturbance, and Scott was removed to a room by himself. Afterwards he asked permission to leave the room, but his guards would not allow him to do so, and an altercation ensued. In the afternoon and evening Riel and O 'Donoghue visited him, and in his discussions with them Scott failed to show that respect which the president of the provisional government and its treasurer thought due to the; positions. Some time during the night Riel summoned a court-martial, composed of Lepine and six of his men, to try Scott. According to Riel's subsequent statements, Scott was accused of disorderly conduct during the autumn, with having taken part in an insurrection against the provisional government in December, with having taken up arms against it again in February, with being abusive to his guards arid insulting to Mr. Riel, and with inciting the other prisoners to insubordination. When the accused mail was summoned before the so-called court, he stated that, not understanding French, he did not know the charge against him; yet no interpreter was provided, nor was any evidence given in his behalf. .Upon this mockery of a trial he was found guilty, and by a vote of five of the seven members of the tribunal he was sentenced to be shot at noon the next day, the 4th of March.

When Scott was informed of the fate which awaited him, he thought it was no more than an attempt to frighten him; but he sent at once for Rev. Dr. Young. The clergyman came immediately, and inquiries soon convinced him that Riel meant to have the sentence carried out. There was little time to bring available influences to bear upon Riel, but everything possible was done. Dr. Young pleaded with him to spare the man's life or at least to give him time to prepare for death. Father Lestanc urged him to be merciful; Major Boulton warned him that the crime of putting Scott to death would alienate ail sympathy from hiin and prove disastrous to his plans; Mr. D. A. Smith went to him and pleaded long and earnestly for Scott's life. But the dictator was not to be moved from his purpose. His final reply to Mr. Smith was.^'I have done three good things since I commenced. I have spared Boulton's life at your instance, and I do not regret it, for he is a fine fellow; I pardoned Gaddy, and he showed his gratitude by escaping out of the bastion, but I don't grudge him his miserable life; and now I shall shoot Scott.''

It was past the time fixed for the execution when Mr. Smith left Riel to report to Rev. Dr. Young that he had failed to secure even a postponement of the sentence. Dr. Young went at once to prepare the young man for death; but he had been in Scott's room only a short time, when his guards came in to say that the hour had arrived. Scott was allowed to say good-bye to his fellow-prisoners ; and then accompanied by Dr. Young, he w as led out to the place of execution. His eyes were covered, and he was made to kneel in the snow. There were six men in the party detailed to shoot Scott; but one of them, the father of young Parisien who lay wounded in Lower Fort Garry, is said to have refused to take a part in the execution and to have removed the cap from his gun before the order to fire was given. When the fatal word was spoken, five shots rang out, and Scott fell, pierced with three bullets. He was not quit! dead, however, and one of the Metis shot him through the head with a revolver. Dr. Young asked for the body that it might be interred in the churchyard at Kildonan, and Bishop Machray made a similar request; but both were refused. Placed in a rough coffin, the body lay in the southeastern bastion of the fort until night came, but just where it was finally deposited is not generally known.

On the following day, March 5th, Murdoch McLeod, one of the prisoners from High Bluff, was singled out from his fellows and shackled. It was feared that he would be the next victim of Riel's vengeance; but beyond being kept chained, until all the other prisoners were released, and subjected to other indignities, no further punishment was inflicted on him. Riel seems to have feared a revulsion of feeling among his own people, which would have been fatal to his schemes; for the brutal murder of Scott roused as much horror and indignation among the majority of the French and Metis settlers as it did among those of British blood.

On March 5th, the day after Scott was shot, a proclamation was published "by order of the president', .and over the signature of Louis Schmidt, announcing that Winnipeg had been made the capital of the North-West Territory. A few days later a notice in the New Nation summoned the delegates to the new council to meet on March 9th; but as few of the English members responded, the meeting was adjourned until the 15tli. The following notice was then sent to each of the members of the council:

"Mr.--:

You are hereby summoned to attend a meeting of the Council of the Provisional Government, to be held at Fort Garry on Tuesday, 15tli instant, at 10 o'clock A. M.

By order of the President,

Thomas Bunn, Secretary.

Headquarters of Provisional Government, Fort Garry, 9th March, 1870."

Bishop Tache returned to St. Boniface on March 8th, and his arrival, which had been awaited anxiously by all classes of people, helped to improve the situation in some respects, although it complicated it in others. The bishop had left the colony during the preceding summer to pay a visit to Rome, but as soon as possible after he learned of the outbreak in the Red River Settlement, he hurried home. It was felt by all parties that his influence would go far to restrain Riel and the more impetuous of his followers; and when the bishop landed on the shores of America, he was summoned to Ottawa by the Dominion government and requested to act as its delegate to Red River—the fourth which it had sent to the Metis to induce them to lay down their arms and accept the form of government which it proposed to give them. He undertook the mission and resumed his journey as soon as possible.

In the letter of instructions which Hon Joseph Howe, secretary of state, wrote to the bishop on February 16th, we find the following paragraphs:

"Your Lordship will perceive, in these papers, the policy which it was and is the desire of the Canadian Government to establish in the North-West. The people of Canada have no interest in the erection of institutions in Rupert's Land, which public opinion condemns; nor would they wish to see a fine race of people trained to discontent and insubordination, by the pressure of an unwise system of government, to which British subjects are unaccustomed or averse. They look hopefully forward to the period when institutions, moulded upon those which the other provinces enjoy, may be established, and in the meantime, would deeply regret if the civil and religious liberties of the whole population were not adequately protected by such temporary arrangements as it may be prudent at present to make.

"A convention has been called, and is now sitting at Fort Garry, to collect the views of the people as to the powers which they may consider it wise for parliament to confer, and the Local Legislature to assume. When the proceedings of that conference have been received by the Privy Council you may expect to hear from me again, and, in the meantime, should they be communicated to you on the way, His Excellency will be glad to be favored with any observations that you may have leisure to make."

The letter also contains a few words of that adverse criticism of the actions of Mr McDougall and Colonel Dennis, which appeared in many of Mr Howe's official letters during the winter; and it was accompanied by copies of a number of documents—proclamations, instructions to Governor McDougall, Rev. Thibault, and Mr. Smith, letters, etc. Subsequent letters to Bishop Tache seem to have given him fuller instructions and wider powers than those contained in Mr. Howe's letter of February 16, for he believed that he was authorized to offer amnesty to all who had taken part in the insurrection, if they would retire to their homes arid keep the peace. Of course the government had no knowledge of the death of Scott when it made this offer. That event took place after Bishop Tache left Ottawa and before he reached St. Boniface. It placed him in a very difficult position, especially as the lack of direct telegraphic communication between Fort Garry and Ottawa made it almost impossible for him to get advice from the government promptly; but believing that it was the best course to follow and that the minister's instructions gave him authority to take it, he included Riel and the others responsible for the death of Scott in the offer of amnesty. Many complications grew out of this action later

The new council met on the 15th, and after the president had made his inaugural address, the following resolutions were adopted on motion of Mr. Bunn:

"1st. That we, the representatives of the inhabitants of the North-West, consider that the Imperial Government, the Hudson's Bay Company, and the Canadian Government, in stipulating for the transfer of the government to the Dominion Government, without first consulting, or even notifying, the people of such transfer, have entirely ignored our rights as people of the North-West Territory.

"2d. That notwithstanding the insults and sufferings borne by the people of the North-West heretofore—which sufferings they still endure—the loyalty of the people of the North-West towards the Crown of England remains the same, provided the rights, properties, usages and customs of the people be respected a and we feel assured that as British subjects such rights, properties, usages and customs will undoubtedly be respected."

Later in the day Bishop Tache was invited to address the council and make public the messages which he had brought from the Dominion government. He pleaded for peace, and urged the English delegates to work in harmony with the French for the purpose of securing it; he assured the members that the government of Canada intended to deal generously with the North-West and to give it as full a measure of self-government as was enjoyed by the older provinces; he stated that the people's delegates would be received in the most friendly manner at Ottawa; and he concluded by asking for the release of the prisoners confined in Fort Garry.

The bishop's appeal seems to have made a deep impression upon Riel, and he consented to set his prisoners free. On the following day they were informed that they would be liberated, if they would swear not to take up arms again against the provisional government. Major Boulton advised them to take the oath, and all seem to have done so, when Lepine came to the prison to administer tt. Seventeen of them, including Major Boulton, were released on the 17th; and all the others, with the exception of Murdoch McLeod, were allowed their liberty on the following day. Major Boulton remained until McLeod was set free: then he left the fort and went to Kildonan.

Mr. Donald A. Smith, having done all that lay in his power to complete the task which he had undertaken at the request of the Canadian government, left Fort Garry on March 18th and started for Ottawa. The delegates, who had beer chosen to represent the colony before the government, had been ready for some time to take their departure, but had waited for more definite instructions. Judge Black was unwilling to act as a delegate, hut seems to have finally consented to do so. Father Ritchot and Mr. Alfred Scott left Fort Garry for Ottawa on March 23d, and Judge Black set out a day later. Major Boulton, having been warned by his friends that it might not be quite safe for him to remain in Kildonan. accompanied the judge on his journey to Canada.

The new council, which assembled on the 15th of March, continued to hold meetings until the 26th, attempting to formulate a constitution for the colony and to draft laws for its government. The following resolutions show some of the work accomplished:

"1st. That we, the people of Assiniboia, without disregard to the Crown of England, under whose authority we live, have deemed it necessary for the protection of life and property, and the securing of those rights and privileges which we are entitled to enjoy as British subjects, and which rights and privileges we have seen in danger, to form a Provisional Government, which is the only acting authority in this country; and we do hereby ordain and establish the following constitution:

"2nd. That the country heretofore known as Rupert's Land and the North-West, be henceforth known and styled ' Assiniboia.'

"3rd. That our assembly of representatives be henceforth styled 'The Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia.'

"4th. That ail legislative authority be vested in a President and Legislative Assembly, composed of members elected hy the people; and that at any future time another house called a Senate shall be established, when deemed necessary, by the President and the Legislature.

"5th. That the only qualifications necessary for a member of the Legislative Assembly shall be, that he shall have attained the age of twenty-three years; that he shall have been a resident of Assiniboia for a term of at least five years; that he shall be a householder, and have a ratable property of £200 sterling; and that, if an alien, he shall have first taken the oath of allegiance."

Among the laws proposed was one regarding hay privileges—a matter of great importance to all owners of stock in the settlement. It provoked so much discussion that it was thought wise to let the matter stand until the members could consult their constituents. Another matter which seems to have required much consideration was the oath of office to be taken by the members of the government. This was finally left to a committee composed of Messrs. Beauchemin, Dauphinais, Bruce, Bunn, Bannatyne and Tait; and on March 24th Riel, as president, took the following oath:

"I, Louis Riel, do hereby solemnly swear that I will faithfully fulfil, to the best of my ability, my duties as President of the Provisional Government, proclaimed on the 24th of November, 1869, and also all the duties which may become connected with the office of President of the Provisional Government of Assiniboia, as they may hereafter be defined by the voice of the people."

Oaths of office were also taken by James Ross, who was to act as chief justice Lepine, who was called the adjutant-general, and William Caldwell, who was to serve as clerk of the legislative assembly. On March 26th the council adjourned to meet a month later.

When the store of the Hudson's Bay Company in Fort Garry was closed by the rebels, the trade of the colony was greatly impeded. There was less market for the produce of the settlers, and much money was withdrawn from circulation. To meet the wishes of the people Riel opened negotiations with the company. looking to a resumption of business. Finally he wrote the following ultimatum to Governor Mactavish:

"To William Mactavish, Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company in the North-West:

"Sir—In reference to our interviews regarding the affairs of the Hudson's Bay Company in this country, I have the honor to assure you that my great desire is to open, as soon as possible, in the interests of the people, free and undisturbed, the commerce of the country.

"The people, in rallying themselves to the Provisional Government with unanimity. prescribe to each of us our respective conduct.

"The Provisional Government, established upon justice and reason, will fulfil its work.

"By the action of the Hudson's Bay Company, its commercial interests may be saved to a certain extent, but that is entirely for your consideration, and depends upon the company itself. I have had the honor to tell you that arrangements were possible, and the following are the conditions:

"1st. That the whole of the company in the North-West shall recognize the Provisional Government.

"2nd. That you, in the name of the Hudson's Bay Company, do agree to loan the Provisional Government the sum of three thousand pounds sterling.

"3rd. That 011 demand, by the Provisional Government, in case arrangements with Canada should be opposed, you do guarantee a supplement of two thousand pounds sterling to the above-mentioned sum.

"4th. That there shall be granted by the Hudson's Bay Company, for the support of the present military force, goods and provisions to the value of four thousand pounds sterling, at current prices.

"5th. That the Hudson's Bay Company do immediately put into ciiculation their bills.

"6th. That the Provisional Government shall also retain an additional specified quantity of goods in the store of the Hudson's Bay Company.

"In accepting the above conditions, the Hudson's Bay Company will be allowed to resume its business under the protection of the Provisional Government.

"Fort Garry will be open; but, in the meanwhile, it being the seat of government, a small guard of fifty men will be retained.

"Only the buildings at present occupied by the government will be retained for government purposes.

"Such, Sir, are the conditions which the situation imposes upon us.

"I have a duty to perform from which I shall not retreat. I am aware that you fully possess the knowledge of your duty, and I trust that your decision will he favorable.

"Allow me here to express my deep feeling of sympathy for you in jour continued illness, and to sincerely trust that your health may be speedily restored.

"I have the honor to be, Sir,

Your most obedient servant,

Louis Riel,

President.

Government House, Fort Garry,

March 28,1870."

Governor Mactavish was practically compelled to accept the terms offered by Riel; so the stores were soon opened, and business began to flow along the old channels.

About the same time, M. II. Robinson, who had acted as editor of the Neiv .Nation., retired to become United States consul, Mr. Malmaros having been recalled. The new pdit or of Riel's organ was Mr. Thomas Spence, the organizer and president of the ephemeral "Republic of Manitoba." Soon after he assumed the management of the paper it published a proclamation, issued by Louis Schmidt ."by order of the President" and dated April 7. It was addressed to "the inhabitants of the North and North-West;" recited the circumstances which led to the formation of a provisional government and the work which it had done; and urged all the people of the west to keep the peace and support the provisional government in every way possible. The same number of the -New Nation contained a proclamation over Riel's own name, dated April 9th and addressed to "the people of the North-West." He assured them that the provisional government was fully established and that the peace of the country was secured; offered amnesty to all who had been foolish enough to take up arms against his government; warned future disturbers of the peace that severe punishment would be meted out to them; announced that the public highways were open and that the Hudson's Bay Company had resumed business and declared that the country was about to be admitted to the Dominion on equitable terms.

On April 20th Riel ordered that the Union Jack should replace the flag of the provisional government, which had been flying over Port Garry since December 10th. This roused the wrath of O'Donoghue, who attempted to restore the ensign, bearing the shamrock as one of its emblems, to its place of honor. But Riel was determined that the British flag should remain and placed Andre Nault at the foot of the flagstaff with orders to shoot any one who attempted to pull it down. To satisfy O'Donoghue, however, the flagstaff standing on Dr. Schultz's property was removed and set up inside the walls of Port Garry, and on this the banner of the provisional government was hoisted.

The second session of the provisional assembly opened on April 26th with an address from the president. On May 5th he announced the names of his cabinet —Thomas Bunn, secretary; W. B. O'Donoghue, treasurer; A. G. B. Bannatyne, postmaster-general; A. Lepine, adjutant-general; James McKay, superintendent of Indian affairs; and John Bruce, superintendent of public works. A few-days later a number of laws relating to the administration of justice, the supreme court, district courts, duties of constables, the collection of customs, postal service, intestate estates, fires, animals at large, hay privileges, roads, sale of liquor, etc., were finally passed. The names of the magistrates appointed under the new law were announced on May 7th, and on the 9th the assembly adjourned.


Return to Book Index Page

This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus