Angered by unfair treaties by the Canadian government and the dwindling buffalo population, their main source of food, Big Bear and his Cree decided to rebel after the successful Métis victory at Duck Lake. They gathered all the white settlers in the area into the local church. Thomas Quinn, the town's Indian Agent, was killed after a disagreement broke out. The Cree then shot at the settlers. Nine people were killed and three were taken as captives.
The massacre prompted the Canadian government to take notice of the growing unrest in Western Canada. The rebellion was eventually put down, and Wandering Spirit, the war chief responsible for the Frog Lake Massacre, was captured.