Thomas Scott (Orangeman)

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Thomas Scott

Thomas Scott

(c. 1842 – 4 March 1870) was an Irish-born Canadian who immigrated to Canada in 1863. Scott was executed in 1870 by the provisional government of the Red River Settlement led by Louis Riel. Scott was garrisoned to the Wolseley Expedition to quell the Red River Rebellion.[1] The Wolseley Expedition consisted of 1,400 men and was led by Colonel Garnet Wolseley.[2] Scott was a member of the Orange Order which is a Protestant fraternal organization that was established in 1795.


Thomas Scott was born in the Clandeboye area of County Down, in what is now Northern Ireland. He was an immigrant to Ontario.[3] Scott was a labourer working on the "Dawson road" project, connecting Red River to Lake Superior.[4] Scott would eventually be fired from this job due to legal troubles involving his superior and would find friendship in a group focused on the annexation of the Red River Settlement to Canada. [5]

Employed by the Canadian government as a surveyor during the Red River Rebellion, Scott was arrested and imprisoned in Upper Fort Garry by Louis Riel and his men while trying to attack the fort along with 34 other volunteers. Unique amongst this group of prisoners, Scott was an extraordinarily difficult, opinionated and verbally abusive individualist who refused to acknowledge his captors' legal authority. Summarily executed for committing insubordination following a trial.


While in jail Scott became a nuisance for he caused trouble with the guards and made attempts at escaping. He was then brought in front of a court where they found him guilty of defying the authority of the Provisional Government, fighting with guards, and slandering the name of the President. [6] On March 4th, 1870, unlike the other members of his group that were imprisoned and sentenced but the acts were never carried out, he faced the firing squad.

Boulton supports Métis leader John Bruce's claim that only two bullets from the firing squad actually hit Scott, wounding him once in the left shoulder, and once in the upper chest. A man came forward and discharged his pistol close to Scott's head, but the bullet only penetrated the upper part of the left cheek and came out somewhere near the cartilage of the nose. Still not dead, Scott was placed in a kind of coffin, from which he was later reported to cry:

"For God's sake take me out of here or kill me."

which he was denied, and lived on to die slowly in his coffin.

An artist's depiction of the execution of Scott

Though relatively unknown during his lifetime, once news of his death made it to Ontario he was regarded as a martyr by the predominantly English-speaking, Protestant population. Upon learning about Scott's death, the Canadian government dispatched the Wolseley Expedition to Fort Garry from Ontario to seize the fort and force Louis Riel, now branded a murderer, to flee the settlement.

Shortly thereafter the Manitoba Act was passed the creation of the Canadian province of Manitoba occurred.

Scott's coffin was buried but later disinterred and found empty. The ultimate destination of Thomas Scott's body has not been determined. One theory is that it was taken out of the coffin by a Fenian Winnipeg-er, the proprietor of the Red Saloon, under whose floor it was buried, and years later when the site of the business was torn up for road construction that it was his body that was the skeleton that was found.[7]


Thomas Scott was a member of the Presbyterian Church and the 49th Hastings Battalion of Rifles. He also belonged to the Loyal Orange Lodge as was common amongst male Protestants of the day. The Thomas Scott Memorial Orange Hall (erected 1902) on Princess Street, Winnipeg, was named to commemorate him.


  1. ^ Bumsted, J.M. (01/22/08). "Thomas Scott". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Retrieved 02/08/15.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  2. ^ Laliberte, Larry (June 2006). "The 1870 Wolseley Expedition Route". Manitoba History. The Manitoba Historical Society. Retrieved 02/08/15.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  3. ^ "The Murder of Thomas Scott". OrangeNet. 1999. Retrieved 2007-08-19. 
  4. ^ "The Biography of Thomas Scott". Dictionary of Canadian Biographies. 1976. Retrieved 2015-02-10. 
  5. ^ "The Biography of Thomas Scott". Dictionary of Canadian Biographies. 1976. Retrieved 2015-02-10. 
  6. ^ "Centre du patrimoine". 10/02/15. Retrieved 10/02/15.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  7. ^ Qu'Appelle Progress, October 1, 1896

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