Talk:Louis Riel

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Featured article Louis Riel is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on May 13, 2005.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
April 21, 2005 Featured article candidate Promoted
December 11, 2007 Featured article review Kept
Current status: Featured article

Older Entriez[edit]

I can't remember and I don't really have time to look it up right now, but wasn't "David" not really his middle name? I thought that he claimed God spoke to him and assigned him that as a middle name, so he wasn't born with it as it says right now. Adam Bishop 19:51, 6 Nov 2003 (UTC)

I believe that's true. According to several books I am looking at (I'm doing an in depth essay on Riel), he called himself Louis "David" Riel when he was around 30. -Brad

He gave himself the name "David" after a religious vision. He claimed that he had seen the enemy, and it was "Goliath". See Flanagan, Louis David Riel: Prophet of the New World.


His Father married Marie Swampy Cree before he married Julie Riel.



He was born in what is now Winnepeg ,Saskatchewan, can we link NWT in his birth text to Saskatchewan? It can confuse people if we keep it like this, because there is no Regina in modern-day NWT.


Louis Riel's Father[edit]

What IS his father's name? I have seen some sources that say Louis Riel, Sr., but that seems like a bit of a cop-out. Other sources say his name was Jean-Baptiste Riel. I'm tempted to believe the latter, but I have no idea, not having been raised in Canada. Any takers? -Brad

His father was indeed Louis Riel Sr. As for a middle name for Louis Sr., I'm not entirely certain. Definately not Jean-Baptiste Riel. Louis Riel Jr.'s grandfather (Louis Sr's father in law) was Jean-Baptiste Lagimodiere, maybe that's where the confusion comes in? CWood 16:49, 5 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Jean-Baptiste is the name of Louis Riel Sr.'s father as well. (OMG Christie, did I just correct you on fur trade history!) -- JamesTeterenko 04:03, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Thomas Scott[edit]

I was going to add a bit about Thomas Scott that I read in Boulton's published memoirs -- Boulton describes the execution as having been incomplete, and Thomas Scott being buried alive (minus half his jaw) in a coffin -- but I never read any other corroborating accounts and perhaps it's just a bit of lurid hearsay. Still, if I had the memoirs handy to quote, it might make for an interesting addition to the article. -- Tlotoxl 05:55, 14 Nov 2003 (UTC)

I remember reading that it was "incomplete" in that the first few shots didn't kill him, so Riel had to go up and shoot him in the head. But I don't know the buried alive story. Adam Bishop 05:57, 14 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Ahh, you're obviously much better informed than me (or have a much better memory). My recollection is pretty sketchy since the last time I really read anything about Riel was in Grade 8 history class in 1988, but this thing about Riel shooting him in the head rings a bell. Perhaps that's why part of his jaw was missing? Hmmm, I'll try to read up in Boulton's book if I get the chance over Christmas. -- Tlotoxl 07:41, 14 Nov 2003 (UTC)

See "Thomas Scott's Body and Other Essays On Early Manitoba History" by J.M. Bumstead (ISBN: 0-88755-645-0, released in 2000) for more on this question. According to Bumstead there are many conflicting versions of what happened during the execution, and what happened to the remains. Truth be told, no one really knows for sure where Scott ended up, or if he survived the initial execution.


Sorry to jump into this old discussion, but it would seem the stories of the execution/murder played a big part in why Riel was controversial more than whatever actually happened. Should something to that extent be mentioned to explain the strong dislike in the Anglophone parts of eastern Canada?-- (talk) 16:27, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

"Riel ordered the execution of a Protestant who annoyed him, Thomas Scott" That needs fixing. First off, really? He didn't order execution, he ordered a trial. Second off it wasn't because he "annoyed him". Reducing the reasons to that is just absurd. (talk) 18:05, 28 January 2016 (UTC)


What the heck is holobshi? Google finds only two (2!) occurrences on the whole web, both without much context other than confirming it as a food item. If it's worthy of mention in this article, it really needs to be described. Sharkford 19:59, 2004 Oct 4 (UTC)

Cabbage rolls. Jonathunder 18:44, 2004 Dec 21 (UTC)
And its normally spelt holopchi in English.

CBC Newsworld Program[edit]

I have a picky question. Was the CBC Newsworld program on October 22, 2002 a dramatic re-creation of the original trial or was it a simulated retrial or Riel? Since it appears that Riel was only tried once, it could not have been a re-creation of a retrial as is stated at the end of the article. I just about changed the article, but there is a subtle difference between these two and I do not know which one is accurate. -- JamesTeterenko 06:58, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)

As I recall, it was set in a modern courtroom and used modern court procedures. Re-creation is the wrong word. Indefatigable 13:32, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I have updated the wording to call it a simulated retrial --JamesTeterenko 15:04, 22 Oct 2004 (UTC)


Near the end the article has put forth that there is an idea of Riel being pardoned by the government. How would it be possible to pardon a dead man? Especially an executed dead man. - Jeff

Posthumous pardons are not unheard of. What a pardon does is say that whether or not you actually committed a crime is irrelevant, you're forgiven anyway. A pardon basically says either "We screwed up" (which I believe would be the favored interpretation here), or "This never happened, actually". --Penta 22:30, 16 Nov 2004 (UTC)


I have added a definition of Métis to the intro, for the sake of us benighted non-Canadians. Also, why is the cabbage roll eating contest controversial? JHCC 15:03, 16 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Execution: an odd bit[edit]

Under Execution for treason there's a passage from Boulton's book, and then the next unquoted paragraph starts thus: "The cap was pulled down, and while he was praying the trap was pulled. Death was instantaneous. His pulse ceased beating four minutes after the trap-door fell." Can anyone with access to the book check whether that's still Boulton talking? If so, it should be indented. If not, the second and third sentences are obviously contradictory. Hob 23:01, 2004 Nov 16 (UTC)

I have a second odd bit from the same section that I hope someone can clarify. The text includes this quote: " … [Riel's] last words were to say good-bye to Dr. Jukes and thank him for his kindness, and just before the white cap was pulled over his face he said, 'Remerciez, Madame Forget.' meaning 'thank, Ms. Forget'. What does that all mean? Who was Dr. Jukes and what was his kindness? Who was the woman he addressed, and what did his words to her signify? SteveStrummer (talk) 18:02, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

Cabbage Roll Controversy[edit]

From the article: "...Saskatoon hosted Louis Riel Day, a summer celebration that included...a controversial cabbage roll eating contest."

Why would a cabbage roll eating contest be controversial?

Incidently, this seems to be the only article which links to cabbage roll, an article which needs help. Jonathunder 23:53, 2004 Dec 13 (UTC)

Bribe to leave Canada[edit]

Riel is a complex character, so it should be mentioned that he accepted a bribe to leave Canada following the 1869-1870 rebellion, and was perhaps prepared to do so again in 1885 (see for instance Pierre Berton's The National Dream) Fawcett5 04:34, 20 Mar 2005 (UTC)

No Alexander pardoned him and exiled him to the US along with all the other criminals — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:02, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

The Plan[edit]

Hi all, I just wanted to let you know what my plans are for the Peer Review... I intend to finish going through and rewriting all of the LR article, with a fairly high level of detail. It will take a bit more time than I originally thought. The only problem is that this will probably swing the pendulum too far the other way, and the article will grow too large. My intention is that once I finish with LR, I will spin off bits that don't seem directly relevant to LR to Red River Rebellion and North-West Rebellion, and try and bring these articles to a higher standard as well. User:JamesTeterenko has also agreed to work on the trial section, and much of this will eventually be spun off to Trial of Louis Riel. In anycase, the main LR article may become a bit bloated for awhile, but this will be addressed later. Just wanted to let you know. Cheers, Fawcett5 01:54, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Wow. I really haven't spent any time in Wikipedia in the last week. The improvements to the Louis Riel page are amazing. I should have a bit of time to help on this starting tomorrow. -- JamesTeterenko 02:29, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Just wanted to chime in and say the article is looking great - I too should be able to contribute a bit more now that I have some sources at hand to refer to. CWood 02:44, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Hi Guys, welcome back! Perfect timing too, since I feel like I'm beginning to lose a little steam on this project. As you can see, I've rewritten pretty much everything up until the trial (please check for accuracy!), so there is really not too much more to do. Well, actually there is, and I could sure use the help. Besides the material after his capture, the one thing that is really bugging me is the lead that the article is much more comprehensive, the lead really has to be expanded to 2-3 paragraphs that just concisely hit all the high that the less ambitious reader can get all the essentials without reading further. It should also get rid of most of the long-winded description of what the Métis are - that's why we have wikilinks, and maybe it can be merged. I'm also at a bit of a loss how to deal with the legacy section... there is some good material in there, but it is pretty disjointed, it would be nice if someone could figure out how to put it in a more narrative tone that would be more stylistically consistent with the rest of the article. Maybe one of you has some ideas about this... Cheers, Fawcett5 05:23, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Congratulations to Fawcett5 for the great effort put in this article. I believe that we are on our way to make this article the definite online source on Riel. I was wondering, in your effort to gather the facts on these events, did you have a chance to read French language sources? If you did, then its good. Otherwize, maybe I can help by translating some of the online and paper sources I know of. I have a book at home that includes texts written on the Riel affair by Monseigneur Taché and a few Quebec journalists not long after he was hanged. I also know of some amateur (and some more serious) online sources in French:

I will do some more research to try to find all the important French language works I can find.

-- Mathieugp 16:21, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Hi Mathieugp. Thanks for the French language references. Unfortunately, while I understand the importance of this source material, my French is pretty shaky. If you think there is a major part of the story that we are missing or bungling, or a uniquely francophone perspective that is lacking, please jump in and make the relevant edits - although aside from the trial bit, the article should not grow *too* much larger, or we will run into problems when taking it to FAC. One area that does need elaboration is the lasting impact of Riel's legacy on Quebec - Ontario relations (should be first para of the Legacy section). maybe you would have a crack? One thing that I have found is that there is a LOT of source material on Riel, and accounts tend to vary in small and not-so-small ways. So PLEASE point out bits in the text where things seem to contradict your sources, and we'll attempt to sort out a consensus..I'd like to make this as scholarly and balanced as possible, given my limited ability to do so. Fawcett5 01:57, 1 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Indeed, the legacy of Riel on Quebec is important. His hanging was perceived very negatively by a large portion of Quebec's population, especially among francophone catholics. In general, I find that the whole political aspect is not very detailed in this article as in a lot of other online sources. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to cover this topic in a neutral fashion. I will do my best, but beware that I am, like Riel and so many others, against imperialism and their resulting ethnocides! :-)
The best desciptions of the political events is in this small book I have at home. I guess I will have to start reading it over. -- Mathieugp 17:41, 1 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Issues so far[edit]

  • fugative : isn't it fugitive? Are both spelling right? Since English is not my first language, I did not correct it, but I think it is fugitive.
    • corrected. Fawcett5 18:40, 1 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  • " While a fugative, he was three times elected to the Canadian House of Commons, although he never dared take his seat. "
This sentence doesn't strike me as very neutral. Who claimed he never dared to take his seat? It could be interpreted in many ways. Wouldn't it be better to simply write that he never presented himself in the House of Commons? If there is a way to bring more light on this. Maybe we can expand it, I don't know; I didn't read enough into this aspect to know for sure.
    • I stand by this. Virtually every account describes how he feared assassination or arrest. And on at least one occasion, he travelled to Hull, with the intention of entering Ottawa, but essentially chickened out. Who could blame him? He had a $5000 bounty on his head.
      • I have a book that claims this is a historical mistake. In the prologue to Louis Riel et les troubles du Nord-Ouest, Gilles Boileau claims the reason he never took his seat is because the house had voted his expulsion. 124 for, 68 against. I guess this can be verified. -- Mathieugp 06:07, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC)
        • Your book is incorrect. Riel did not take his seat because he feared arrest and/or assassination. But he did sneak into the House of Commons and sign the Member's Roll before fleeing to New York state. He was later expelled and his seat was declared vacant because of his expulsion. colchar 01:19 2 April 2006 (UTC)
          • Actually, he was expelled twice, so yes, after the expulusions, he could not have taken up his seat. But I believe he had time to do so in each case. I'm not sure I understand what you are saying about Blake, are you suggesting that he **did not** put a bounty on Riel? If so, a more specific source would be useful, so that I can incorporate the information. Fawcett5 17:54, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  • During these years, he suffered from bouts of mental illness, including the delusion that he was a divinely chosen leader and prophet, a conviction that would subsequently resurface and influence his later actions.
This sentence is asserting a number of things are not rock-solid evidence. Here we are touching the most controversial side of Riel : his mental stability. Let us not forget that his lawyer tried to have him spared by declaring he was mentally ill, something Riel denied himself. Let us not forget how his political adversaries and his mortal ennemis (those who wished for his death) used this against him. People who believed that Riel was not mentally ill and bothered to read everything he wrote found a very rational (but religious) man. Of course, when you believe a person to be mentally ill, you tend to overlook their reasons for doing things. I believe that this sentence is likely to give an innacurate perception of Riel. Whether he was mentally ill or not is certainly a matter of opinion and I don't believe that the theory that he was not right in the head (and consequently cannot be responsible for his actions) should be taken as fact.
    • It seems indisputable that Riel was mentally ill, and to suggest otherwise I think is to whitewash and to engage in hagiography. And in this, we cannot simply rely on Riel's own writings, but must take into account contempory accounts. Even his closest supporters and friends in the Catholic Church, such as father Barnabé and indeed his own Aunt and Uncle regarded him as mentally ill. BUT - and this is crucial - to say that he suffered mental illness is NOT to say that he was insane, or unable to distinguish right from wrong. While it is possible (although I think it unlikely), I would not presume to make this judgement. I accept Riel's wonderful complexity, and this is part of it. It is unavoidable that we discuss the mental illness issue in the context of the events of 1885, as there is significant evidence that this influenced events, especially his break with the church and consequent loss of support from key Métis factions. Although there was little room to mention it, there is also ample evidence that his religous delusions also influenced his relationship with Dumont and impacted decisions that should have been made on military grounds. Fawcett5 18:40, 1 Apr 2005 (UTC)
      • There are many sources, some online, that attest the existence of a debate on Riel's alledged mental illness. There is one here: [1]. --Mathieugp 06:07, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC)
        • This, of course, was an important source document for me, and I am quite familiar with its contents. But I quote from it "Psychiatrists from 1885 to the present have generally agreed that Riel suffered from megalomania. The only dissenter has been Dr Henry Howard who did not regard Riel as insane in the legal sense of the term." There is little there to suggest that Riel was not mentally ill...and again, I must stress the key distinction between having mental illness, and being insane. Fawcett5 17:50, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  • The Red River Settlement was then part of Rupert's Land and nominally administered by the Hudson's Bay Company, although largely inhabited by the Métis, an ethnic group of mixed Cree, Ojibway, Saulteaux, French Canadian, and British descent.
This is pretty accurate as far as I know, however the omission of the presense of other Amerindian peoples on Rupert's Land is misleading. First there were the Amerindians, then later came the French and French Canadian men who had métis children with Amerindian women. Over time, métis generations came to see themselves as a new people. After the British conquest, British fur traders came to experience the lifestyle of the French Canadian/métis and an anglophone métis group appeared as well. The métis as a whole were divided along linguistic and religious lines, but Riel nevertheless tried to get them all to unite to defend their rights as a people. So in summary, in Rupert's Land you have Amerindian peoples and a new métis people.
    • very true, I have addressed this.Fawcett5 18:40, 1 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  • Descriptions of him at this time indicate that he was a fine scholar of languages, science, and philosophy, but suffered from unpredictable moodiness.
I think here we ought to mention that it was the opinion of some of his teacher(s) who found his mood to be unpredictable. That is not to say it wasn't true, but we need to say that this is how he was perceived by some people at that point. The word "suffered" here is not very neutral. Are we trying to say that his mental illness had already started?
    • Well, I think saying "Descriptions of him at this time" makes it clear that it is someones opinion in a contemporaneous account. But I agree that "suffer" lacks NPOV and have changed accordingly. Fawcett5 18:40, 1 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I will carefully re-read the rest later on.

Areas to cover[edit]

I propose we try to describe all the topics we need to cover to accurately present the topics related to Riel. This would be a good way to raise a consensus on "what should go where". Indeed, as Fawcett5 pointed out, the Louis Riel article is a bit too long and much of the contents should be moved to the Red River Rebellion article and North-West Rebellion article, leaving only a short summary of the events. The Louis Riel article should of course be more on the lines of a biography than a history course. So we have a bunch of biography articles to write up and a bunch of history articles as well. Here is what I have in mind so far. Feel free to modify/expand it.

  • Basically I agree that some material will have to be moved to Red River Rebellion and North-West Rebellion, but we should NOT just be left with a short summary. While Riel for instance played a key role in both these events, any non-Riel article will of neccessity have a broader "Non-Riel-centric" scope. What would should have here is a telling of the larger events through the lens of Riel. Fawcett5 19:14, 1 Apr 2005 (UTC)


A biography usually includes a chronological division of important periods in the life of a person. The events directly affecting a person's actions, thoughts and feeling are described. There are a lot of people who played a role in events we are dealing with.

A. Alexis André - Adams George Archibald
B. Big Bear - John Black - Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava - Edward Blake - Charles Boulton - Ignace Bourget - Mackenzie Bowell - Alfred Boyd - Pascal Breland - Thomas Bunn
C. George-Étienne Cartier - Joseph-Adolphe Chapleau - Lawrence Clarke - Crowfoot - Leif Newry Fitzroy Crozier
D. Simon James Dawson - George Taylor Denison III - John Stoughton Dennis - Alphonse Desjardins (politician) - Edgar Dewdney - Joseph Dubec - Gabriel Dumont
F. William Alexander Foster - Amédée-Emmanuel Forget - Louis-Honoré Fréchette
G. Marc-Amable Girard - Elzèar Goulet - Vital-Justin Grandin
H. Joseph Howe
I. Charles-René-Léonidas d’Irumberry de Salaberry - James Isbister
J. Honoré Jackson
L. Albert Lacombe - Emmanuel-Persillier Lachapelle - Rodolphe Laflamme - Ambroise-Dydime Lépine - Jean-Baptiste Lépine
M. Robert Machray - John A. Macdonald - Alexander Mackenzie - David Lewis Macpherson - William Mactavish - Thomas McKay- Charles Mair - William McDougall - Honoré Mercier - Frederick Dobson Middleton
N. André Nault - Charles Nolin
O. William Bernard O'Donoghue - John O'Neill (Fenian) - William Dillon Otter
P. Poundmaker
R. Hugh Richardson - Joseph-Noël Ritchot - Louis Riel - Louis Riel Sr. - James Ross (Canadian lawyer) - Joseph Royal
S. Guillaume Sayer - John Christian Schultz - Alfred Henry Scott - Thomas Scott - Donald Alexander Smith - Andrew Spence - Sam Steele - Thomas Bland Strange - Enos Stutsman
T. Alexandre Taché - Joseph Tassé - Jean-Baptiste Thibault
W. Wandering Spirit - Garnet Wolseley
Y. John Young, 1st Baron Lisgar

  • OK, I've added quite a few more here, I hope it helps. Please note that I have already made an extensive effort to stub out articles for most of the people related to Riel. But please, let's focus on one article at a time. I do intend to go back and flesh out many of these though, as time permits. Fawcett5 19:53, 1 Apr 2005 (UTC)

UPDATE - many new names added, some have only a slight connection, or really have to do with North-West Rebellion or Red River Rebellion articles.

Historical events[edit]


  • I find a timeline to be the best way to start accumulating facts and evidences. I am not sure how we should name the article though. Should we put it directly in a Timeline of Manitoban history or should be narrow the scope of it? I am surprised to find that there currently is no article on the history of Manitoba, except for the very short summary on the Manitoba article.
  • A History of Manitoba article is a very good idea. But we need to concentrate on Riel for the moment. I have strived to put the sequence of events in as linear an ordering as possible within the article. But please - no timeline section of the Riel article itself, it would detract rather than enhance. Fawcett5 19:14, 1 Apr 2005 (UTC)

We have a series of military and political events that need to be detailed. The best way to detail them is to properly highlight the actions and the time at which they occured and leave the interpretation of these to the readers.

  • I disagree that we should just provide a sequence of events. It is critical for an encylopedia to provide context and to explore motivations, albeit in as NPOV way as possible. Fawcett5 19:14, 1 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Again, I believe the timeline would be a good way to sort out what happened and when. This is something that can be accomplished very well as group since it is much easier to add/remove/modify elements in a list of events than modify someone else's paragraph.

  • There is something to this. If you think it is useful, why not put one together in a sandbox somewhere for the moment. Fawcett5 19:14, 1 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Good idea. I will start a timeline in this very talk page. When it is in better shape, we can move it to an article. -- Mathieugp


This is where it would be most important to agree on the proper article naming. Some speak of rebellion, some speak of revolt, some speak of resistance etc. What is the most neutral term we can use to refer to the events of 1869 – 1870 and those of 1885.

This is what we have now.

  • I am in favour of retaining these names. They are by far the most commonly accepted names, and the Manual of Style makes clear that the most common name should be used for article title to facilitate Google searches, etc. Variant names can be placed in the first line. Fawcett5 19:14, 1 Apr 2005 (UTC)
OK. -- Mathieugp 06:07, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The more I think about it, the more I believe we really ought to start with a timeline of events. What do you all think?

-- Mathieugp 17:41, 1 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Mathieugp - personally, I'm not a fan of timelines in biographies, however they do often work well within other articles, such the actual events. Why not create a timeline in pages such as the North West Rebellion or History of Manitoba? CWood 02:03, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I don't want a timeline in the Louis Riel article also. I guess I can start a Timeline of Manitoban history. -- Mathieugp 06:07, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Trial of Louis Riel[edit]

Just wanted to let people know I'm working on the Trial of Louis Riel page tonight. I'm doing a very sketchy version to start out with and will hopefully have it well fleshed out by the end of the weekend. So it may not look very pretty for a bit - just a warning! CWood 02:03, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC)

CW, that's awesome. For some reason, I wasn't looking forward to starting into that myself, so I'm glad you're taking it up. A couple other points of business...I moved much of the Louis Riel#Red River Rebellion to Red River Rebellion. The idea is to actually expand it a bit at RRR, and to shrink it here...So if you or anyone else is interested (uh, that would be you, James...) in excerpting the RRR section here, now is the time to do it. I'd like to get the whole article down to ~32-40K when we are done without anything ending up to cartoonish - we should still give background and explore motivations as much as possible. As for RRR, what was the old text has morphed into (a still very disjointed) lead section. After that we can move on to NWR, although there is less need to move stuff from Louis Riel in this case - I tried to keep the focus off the battles in the LR article. Fawcett5 03:37, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Oh, and CW, I need your expertise on another question... The Assiniboia article seems to me a bit suspect...what do you think? At least one account I read said that he always prefered the name Manitoba. And Asssiniboia was already the name of the HBC is the stuff there a bit off? Fawcett5 03:37, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Hmm... I'm suspicious too about the Assiniboia article, but have no definitive proof at this time. I'll keep my eyes open as I'm researching CWood 04:48, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Reducing the RRR section will take a bit of work. I'll try to tackle it tomorrow evening. -- JamesTeterenko 06:42, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Wow Fawcett, you did too good of a job on this article. I tackled the last three sections of the Red River Rebellion and removed 3KB. I didn't get to the first two sections. It is hard to remove content, since it is all so relevant. Did you want to try to summarize the first two sections? It might be easier for you. Let me know. -- JamesTeterenko 03:16, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I agree that it is trickier here to remove information, because so much of RRR is Riel-centric. NWR is easier, because it revolved less directly around Riel, especially when it came to the fighting. I'll take a look again at the first two sections. Cheers, Fawcett5 17:36, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)
If it is difficult for you too, I don't mind helping out. If I have a spare hour or so in the next few days, I'll will continue with this. I'll leave a note here to make sure we don't have two of us working on it at the same time. (I would really hate to find that after working on it for an hour that you have already done the work). --JamesTeterenko 18:46, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)
OK, James, good point. Why don't you continue along those lines, and I will focus for awhile on the version at RRR. We might want some different images for the different versions too, maybe you can help with that as well.Fawcett5 19:32, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)
    • I removed the term 'historian' from in front of Thomas Flanagan's name because he is not a historian, he is a political scientist...although he does write some history. colchar 1:23 2 April 2006 (UTC)


NWT act amendment of 1880[edit]

Fawcett - I'll change the language in that statement regarding the venue of the trial - "required" is indeed too strong. What I meant to say was that the trial could be held in the NWT and did not have to be held in Winnipeg due to the amendment. CWood 23:57, 13 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Thanks for clarifying. By the way, you wouldn't happen to know the source document of the comments attributed to J.M.S. Careless would you? I didn't add that bit, and I've been trying to find a ref. He's written a boatload of stuff. Fawcett5 00:03, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)
No prob. I'm not certain what sources were used from Careless - he definately is a prolific Cdn historian. It looks like that comment was put in by John FitzGerald very early on (under a different username). Maybe we should ask him? He's done some edits on here relatively recently.... CWood 00:17, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Translation of a talk given by historian George F. G. Stanley[edit]

Not much new information here, except maybe on the political question that is always in the background of the Riel affair.

There is an article titled 'George Stanley'. - RCNesland ----

Online source:

Originally found in Revue d'histoire de l'Amérique française, volume XVIII, number 1, june 1964. Institut d’histoire de l’Amérique française, pp. 14-26.

Louis Riel

Talk given during the dinner of our general meeting, on April 25 1964, at chalet of the Île Sainte-Hélène in Montréal.

— I —

I am very happy to be able to address you tonight on a subject which has been my passion for many years. During my youth in the West, I often heard my parents telling me stories on the Indians, the Metis, and Louis Riel. I must admit, Mister President, that it is a great honor for me to be invited to speak about Riel. I thank you for this honor you are giving me and also for the good comment you gave on the book I have just published. I cannot remain unsensitive to remarks made on the fruits of my research. This reminds me a word that Voltaire would have said after reading the Jean-Baptiste Rousseau's "l'ode à la postérité": "I doubt that this poem will reach its destination". I hope that my book will reach its destination, that is to say the public and taht it will not only accumulate dust in university libraries.

Around the time I was done with my studies and was about to start my university career, one of my teachers gave me a few advices. He said to me: "During your courses, maybe there will be a student that will not agree with you. He will manifest his dissension by shacking his head. You will be tested to convert him to your point of view right away. Don't do it. He may be the only one listening to you." I am not in class, you are not forced, like my students, to pay attention. And believe me when I say that I will not try to convert you to my point of view on Riel. I only want to present you with a few ideas on Riel which are the result of my history research work.

— II —

Louis Riel was born in Saint-Boniface on October 22, 1844. His ancestors were from Lavaltrie. His father was métis, the son of one of those coureurs de bois who had married Indian women and contributed to the creation of the nation métisse.

I am saying nation métisse, because these people had enough common features to form a nationality: the same origin, the same language, a distinct social class and a clear sense of their own identity. The mother of Riel was white, the dauther of one of the first white women to reach the North-West. As she had intended to enter religious life, she inculcated her son a very sharp religious feeling. Louis Riel thus grew up in a family where two main forces were in presence: the métis nationalism of his father and the piety of his mother.

Louis went to the school of Saint-Boniface then to the Sulpiciens of Montreal to prepare his priesthood. But it did not finish his studies in Montreal. He left college in 1865. After beginning law studies and writin some poetry, he returned to the Red River. These years in Montreal marked him. These were the years of controversy between the Ultras and the Reds, between the partisans and the adversaries of Confederation. Impassioned by politics when returning to Red River in 1868, he felt he had to devote himself to his people and to his church and that he had to fear the ambitions of the Canada of the time.

As of its arrival, he joined with those who were opposed to the sale, by the Company of Hudson Bay, of the North-West to Canada, without the assent of the inhabitants. He organized the resistance, formed a provisional government and forced Canada to deal with this government. Resulted from this the Manitoba Act and the creation of the province of Manitoba. If a man can be called the father of Manitoba, it very well should be Louis Riel.

Riel obtained guarantees for the Métis and the Catholic Church. But he did not obtain anything for himself. While being opposed to the settlement, in Manitoba, of the Canadians of Ontario who had started to immigrate there before 1869, he opposed the political forces of Ontario, both conservative and liberal. When Riel had the Ontarian orangist, Thomas Scott, killed, John A. Macdonald could no longer fulfill the promise which he had made in Riel, that is the amnesty for the events of 1869-70. Macdonald could financially help Riel to flee to the United States, but could not forgive him the act that so many Ontarian voters regarded as a murder. It is for this reason, a very political one, that Riel had to flee and live like a tracked man, and this, in spite of the fact that it is him who had made the election of Sir George Cartier in Manitoba possible, who had fought the Fenians with his Métis and had been elected three times as Member of Federal Parliament for the conservative party of John A. Macdonald.

It is fear and nervous tension which brought the access of madness from which he suffered during this time, and Riel spent two years, of 1876 to 1878, in asylums of Saint-Jean-de-Dieu and Beauport. Restored, he left for the United States, spent some time in New England, thought of going to New York and thought of going to live on a farm in Nebraska. But he was soon to be found in the West where he joined a group of American Métis, traded with the Indians and married a Métis woman named Marguerite Monet dit Belhumeur. In 1883, he became an American citizen and participated to in the organization of the republican party. After being involved in a lawsuit for infringements to the electoral law, he became schoolmaster at the mission of St Peter in Montana, and it is there that a delegation of French and English Métis from Saskatchewan found him in 1884. He was asked to return to the Canadian West to defend the rights of the Métis which the federal government abused.

You know as well as I what came next; the mobilization of the inhabitants, political effervescence, the indifference of Ottawa to the problem of the Métis, the establishment of the provisional government, the rupture with the Church, the war with the Royal Mounties at Duck Lake, the repression of the rebellion by the militia, the surrender of Riel, his trial, his execution and then the tension between ethnic groups and the establishment of the Parti nationaliste in Quebec which resulted from Riel's death.

— III —

These are the great lines of the Riel affair. From a certain point of view, it is of little interest. A handful of Mongrels twice resist the walk of progress. The first attempt ends in an agreement which favour the federal government, the second is subdued by force. We hang the leader of the resistance and the West is opened to civilization which is symbolized by the railroad. Accordingly, the history of the Canadian West does not point out Riel, Dumont, Poundmaker and Big Bear, but rather Donald A. Smith, Lord Strathcona. It is him who negotiated with the provisional government of Riel and it is him who became the great man of the Canadian Pacific, the corporation which in fact replaced the Hudson Bay Company. If the civilization of mechanics and capital was to extend itself to the West, it was only normal for the fur trade company to yiel the place to the railroad company. Were the Métis to try to resist progress and they would be pitilessly crushed. From another point of view, one can see the Métis insurrection as the noble resistance of an ethnic group, of a nation, as they called themselves. Louis Riel did not resist as a French Canadian in 1870 and 1885 but as a Métis. He did not see himself as a rebel in battle against Canada or Great Britain. He rebelled only against the destroying power which the advent of the railroad in the country represented for his people. He and his compatriots knew very well what the transfer of the Hudson Bay Company to Canada meant for them.

All that was very clear. The first Canadian colonists who had come to settle at the Red River, treated the inhabitants of the place with scorn, made them pass for backwards people, and made no case of their traditions or their institutions. Even the federal authorities, which should have understood better, sent land-surveyors to the Red River before the transfer was made. These land-surveyors, without putting any form to it, started to divide the land in a strange and symmetrical way, holding very little account to the complicated and somewhat antiquated Metis system. The very idea of land surveying made it possible to foresee the destruction of the buffalo herds and the end of the adventurous life of the Prairies, the association of men with animals. The sons of Isaac slowly took possession of the lands of Ismaël's sons.

Sir John Macdonald can be justifiably regarded as the personification of the devil in this history. After all, was it reasonable to believe that a handful of trappers and buffalo hunters were going to prevent the immigration wave from penetrating deeper into the vast plains of Western Canada? This wave was going to seize the West in spite and against all. If Macdonald did not take possession of the Prairies of the West for Canada, the United States would have probably seized them. But Macdonald made a mistake by not making the difference between the rights of the individuals and the rights of a community. He was more or less ready at the spring of 1870 to make concessions with certain families of Métis, to give them lands or certain benefits to satisfy their requests. But Macdonald could not understand that the Métis were more than a group of individuals, that they already formed a small people, that they were in fact, exactly what they had taken the habit of calling themselves, a New Nation, with its own national aspirations, and the determination to survive in spite of the new economic and political order which had just reached them. As political leader, Macdonald was a practical politician, all the opposite of the dreamer or the romantic. He knew how to tackle concrete problems, but he had less skills when dealing with principles or political abstractions. And the concept of the Métis as a nation, was for him only pure abstraction. He never believed in the New Nation, quite simply because he never understood anything about it. And he never understood anything about it because he could not conceive that a group of individuals of mixed blood could have a sens of community, of race, of nation.

It resulted from all this that after the Act of Manitoba in 1870 and the immigrants rush from Canada, a good number of the Red River Métis, refusing any compromise with regards to their identity, gathered all they had and left to resettle a little further west. For a few years, they restored the old social order, restored the old habits, revived the old traditions. But that was to last only for a little time. In the space of a few years, the economy based on the buffalo hunt and fur trade had disappeared from the plains forever. The Indians and the Métis found themselves at the edge of the ruin. They also found themselves in front of a new wave of Canadian immigrants, supported this time by the railroad and who again threatened the homogeneity of their community.

It resulted from all that what it is common to call in our history the Rebellion of the North-West. The last resistances having failed, the hope of the first inhabitants to maintain a distinct community in the West disappeared. The Indians were put in reserves, left to themselves or to the need of adapting themselves to the agricultural methods the whites. The Métis amalgamated withthe growing populations now living on the territories or were pushed to the border of civilization in poverty and misery.

— IV —

The disorders caused by the Riel affair did more than just bring about the creation of the province of Manitoba or the destruction of the Métis nation, they were responsible for the battles and the antagonism which the political union of 1867 had tried to erase between English Canadians and French Canadians. The Confederation seemed to have been, for many, the answer to the difficulties that there was to allow two cultures and two distinct national groups to coexist within the framework of a single political entity. Upper Canada, Lower Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia had finally met; their delegates had gotten along on the terms of the federal Union of 1867. Three years later, a fifth province, Manitoba as well as a vast and badly organized part of the North-West Territories came to be added to this federal union and all seemed well for the future. At that time, the news of the execution of Thomas Scott by the provisional government of Riel reached Ontario. That the execution was justified or not, that has little importance. The pretext of the execution was sufficient to give birth to a large scale political quarrel in Ontario. Liberals and conservatives united to demand that Riel and his Métis be punished. Even if Sir John Macdonald made a point of preserving Ontario's vote, it is difficult to believe that the fact of respecting the promise of an amnesty which he had given to Riel could have had the disastrous political consequences which he feared. In Manitoba, the punishment of the leader of the Métis was claimed only by a minority which admittedly spoke loudly and in shingling terms. Archibald, the lieutenant-governor of Manitoba declared in 1871 that "the general feeling in the province favours Riel... all the French Métis and the majority of the English ones look at the chiefs of the insurrection as patriots and heroes..." In a letter to Cartier, Archibald wrote: "the difficulty is not to satisfy the population of the country, but this small band of disordered and depraved men who infest the taverns of Winnipeg." It is clear that the execution of Scott had not created the same resentment among French language and English language Manitobans as with the Ontarians.

It is obvious - and for that we can refer to Macdonald's own testimony - that the question of Riel' request for amnesty was the object of considerations that were stricly political in nature. Macdonald was not opposed to an amnesty for the Métis. He however wished to preserve some votes. In his testimony to the committee investigating the causes of the disorders of the North-West, Macdonald said: "I felt that if the British government granted an amnesty, that it would honestly be accepted by the populations while if the Canadian government took the responsability of the request, that this act would be received very badly by the population, at least that of Ontario". Macdonald was at least honest by concealing this admission. However, today, I ask myself this question: would the political reaction that Macdonald feared have materialized, or rather would it have had the impact which he imagined? In any case, it could not have done more wrong to Macdonald and the Conservative Party than the scandal of the Pacific of 1872 which caused the defeat of Macdonald and gave power to the Liberals. It is, I believe, significant that the return of Riel to Canada, in 1884, did not cause more comments in the newspapers or in the Parliament only the return of William Lyon Mackenzie or Louis-Joseph Papineau after the Rebellion of 1837. The political character of the English Canadians of Ontario had quickly warmed up, one could even say ignited, but fire had quickly died out.

Despite everything, the racial tensions of the 1870s were much less intense than those of the 1880s. The events of 1885 constituted a much more serious threat for Macdonald and the young Confederation that had been those of 1870. In 1885, the political feelings were expressed much more sharply. For a number of English Canadians, Riel was twice a rebel and twice a murderer. In spite of what could have been the requests claiming a punishment for Riel in 1870, the requests which one made into 1885 were much more numerous and noisy, the tone was acuter, and their effect on the country was going to become much more extensive. As for the French Canadians, all these agitations of English Canada seemed as unreasonable as incomprehensible. For the majority of the French-Canadian population, Riel was only a poor pathetic and demented person, a man who was really not responsible for his actions, a man wh wasbeing sent to the scaffold simply because he had French-Canadian blood in the veins, because fifteen years before, he had had executed an Ontarian Orangeman, because he had offended the the English-Canadian nationalists the Ulstermen of Ontario.

English and French Canadians asked that justice be made. But the first asked for the blood of Riel because they understood justice only according to terms of Moise' law - an eye for an eye, a tooth for atooth - human life for human life. The seconds asked for forgiveness of Riel because justice wanted that a man whose insanity was obvious, could not incur death for irrational acts. There were not only the obvous factors of ignorance, fanaticism, political suitability or hysteria which contributed to the agitation of 1885 and of 1886. For many English Canadians the point in litigation was the question of the triumph of the traditions and British principles throughout Canada. For many French Canadians, they were going to know if yes or no, French Canada would be a dynamic force in the Canadian Confederation or a uselessness without influence, except inside Quebec. For both, it was to be a showdown. Could unity exist without domination? This is the question that both peoples were asking.

Of this quarrel, Riel was only the symbol. It was not the fundamental stake of the debate. The fundamental litigation was as follows: would Canada be a unitary or a federal state? Would the duality of the country exist only in the province of Quebec? or through all the country? Riel was the symbol of this duality; the symbol of the intensity of the attachment to a corner of land in this vast region whose distances and differences are frightening; he was the symbol of ethnic and cultural diversity inside the federal framework. Here is the profound significance of Riel in the history of Canada.

— V —

There is something of ironic in the execution of Riel. Because he believed he was protecting his provisional Government, Riel made the error to refuse to grant forgiveness to Thomas Scott in 1870. It is essentially for this act that he was sent to the scaffold. Sir John Macdonald, because he believed he was protecting the Confederation, made the error to refuse to grant forgiveness to Riel in 1885. Because of that, Canada was attacked by controversies which were never completely ended. In the end, the two executions demonstrated the same axiom: men, when put to death for political reasons, continue to fight a long time after they are dead.

It is, I suppose, inevitable that the events associated to Louis Riel in 1870 and 1885 find new resonances among Canadians today. The history seems to be repeated. The controversies of 1885 occupy the minds once again. More than one critic of my biography of Riel will take the occasion to warn us of what the future may reserve us.

The idea of projecting the past in the present is neither new nor original. "Any story is contemporary history", wrote the Italian historian-philosopher, Benedetto Croce. This remark contains a certain share of truth. All true story, however distant it may be, against the anecdotic, is part of the conscience of the thinking man. The French philosopher-historian, Aron, wrote: "insofar as he lives in history, the historian tends to action and seeks the past of his future". After all, no man can be detached neither from his present, nor from his past. Thus a nation or a society cannot live insulated, cut off from the world which shaped it, the world which of which it forms a part.

However, I feel obliged to say this to you: the idea that history provides the student a total comprehension of the present contains certain dangers in itself. As historians, we must accept the limits of our discipline. We should not assume too much of our research. It is impossible for us to find a complete explanation of ourselves, of our misfortunes, or our achievements in the historical documents. By relying too much on the "topicality" of passed history, on the past itself, we take the risk of exaggerating this past, to disfigure the facts and the historical truth. After all, what is history? It is quite simply the knowledge of the days past, times past, of past itself. Read and written history, for the coming future, ceases to be human reality that was to become the human reality that one would like it to be. History is the road that Destiny already traversed and not the one which Destiny will have to go through again. History and prophecy are two different things. A very famous English essay writer wrote, not without irony, that a historian is more powerful than God, because only he can alter the past. When one starts to identify history with destiny, the dialogue with the past tends to becoming a debate filled with anguish, in which the historian, in his fight with the present, seeks in the past the instruments which will help him in his efforts to give a new contour to the future.

I do not deny that there is a certain justification in the existential interpretation of history. But it is an interpretation which one must use with care and circumspection. On this subject, the words of French historian, Henri Marrou, can enlighten us: "An investigation dominated by an existential urgency, too centered on present concerns, on the problem which givens "hic and nunc", tothe historian and his contemporaries, and as if obsessed by the awaited answer, this investigation quickly loses its fruitfulness, its authenticity, its reality... From the moment the accent is put this way into the action and its effectiveness, what becomes of our patient and obstinate search for any accessible truth whatever it may be the past? The historian will be soon be necessary to the combat in which he is engaged."

En voici une petite illustration. For several years after the execution of Louis Riel in 1885, a number of books and lampoons were published on Riel and the events where he played a dominating part. For the majority, these works were too closely related to the debates of the hour to be of any actual value. Their nature was polemical rather than historical. The writers were only interested in finding, in the Riel affair, the arguments likely to be useful to them in the immediate future, rather than to take the time and trouble to confront and know Riel as he really was. It is in this way that there is a danger to interpret history in an existential way.

— VI —

There was a great change in the attitude of English Canadians towards Riel since the end of last century. The years cooled the spirits and one can now approach Riel and speak about his role in our history in a more objective way. A wall of silence prevented Riel from being included in the book Makers of Canada and Chronicles of Canada, two series of Canadian history published in English before 1914. Perhaps the editors were careful. Perhaps they believed the men who had lived in 1870 and 1885 had a too good historical memory. Towards 1930, the atmosphere had already changed. Since this time, one notices a greater sympathy and a greater comprehension - because one cannot go without the other - in the works published on Riel. I am sure that one day we will see a statue of Riel before the Parliament of Manitoba in Winnipeg! During the last thirty years, the image of Riel has exerted an always growing attraction on Canadians.

How to explain this attraction? Is this because of the controversy associated to Riel's name? Is this because we realize that by understanding Riel better that we deepen the knowledge of ourselves? To tell the truth, what attracted me the most in the story of Riel is that it contains a tragic element in the traditional sense of the word. In Riel we find an educated and skilful man, of a moving intensity and magnetism and, at the same time, a man whose defects in character contributed, with the accidents of history, to lead him to the scaffold. Because he was a tragic hero with the traditional sense, grandeur, in the historical sense, escaped him.

Riel was very complex. His character was difficult to grasp: he was proud, easily irritable, a little pharisaïc, without humour, and moody. And his reasons, were they altruistic, Messianic, or contemptible? This is not easy to answer. But I cannot doubt his sincerity. Riel was a mystic, a deeply spiritual being, a man who devoted himself to spiritual meditation since his adolescence. Perhaps he had illusions, but he never gave into charlatanism. He believed he had visions; he had faith in his mission and in his own destiny.

Was Riel mad? The way in which he was interned at Saint-Jean de Dieu et à Beauport does not lend to any ambiguity. Later, Riel attested that at the time, he had pretended to be mad, but a pretence of madness so worked out and without any reason, - even if that were true - would itself be an indication of, at the very least, a strange state of mind.

The question of Riel's madness after he left Beauport is much more difficult to evaluate. Personally, it is difficult for me to see him as a "demented" in the purely clinical sense of the term. But I am not a psychiatrist. Admittedly, he better conceals the man he was in 1870. He could not have lived the life that was his after 1869 without his spirit being affected. In 1885, its state of mind is probably that of exaltation: His visions were most probably hallucinations. His ideas and religious opinions, were undoubtedly far from orthodoxe. But was he so different from these great historical characters who had visions such as Joan of Arc and the poet Shelley? A thing is certain; today noone would think of hanging him.

One of the most moving words that Riel addressed to the jury were these ones: "I cannot give up my dignity. I find myself obliged to defend myself against a charge of high treason, to agree to live as an animal in an asylum. I do not hold animal life dearly, if, I cannot at the same time live the moral existence of an intelligent being." Louis Riel chooses to die rather than to leave his family and the nation he loves, the memory of a crazy man.

George F. G. STANLEY. Dean of the Arts and history professor Royal Military College, Kingston, Ontario.

de facto[edit]

I would like to take issue with this passage:

Whether he is seen as a de facto Father of Confederation or as a traitor, he remains one of the most complex, controversial, and ultimately tragic figures in the history of Canada.

I removed de facto from the sentence but the article was promptly reverted. Fawcett5, I appreciate your efforts to build and maintain the integrity of the article, but I feel in this case you were a bit hasty in reverting the change.

If I understand correctly from my reading, the point of this passage is to touch lightly on the opinions on the man and lead into the rest of the article. I feel that purpose is not accomplished because of the use of de facto.

I feel that using de facto in this manner loads the sentence-- removing value from the notion that Riel was a statesman, and adding that value to the notion he was a traitor. Either a modifier is needed in front of traitor, or de facto has to go.

I do not feel that Riel could only be a de facto Father of Confederation. That is very much a matter of opinion from a modern perspective, and it is a disservice to discount those opinions as somehow flawed. --Alexwcovington (talk) 06:43, 7 May 2005 (UTC)

Alex, this is curious -- to me this connotes the opposite -- as implied by the plain meaning of the phrase. Perhaps you are among those that consider a de facto spouse not a real one in some way? This is a modern usage that has perhaps coloured the meaning of the phrase. What the dictionary says is:
In fact, actually, or Exercising power or serving a function without being legally or officially established

Which certainly exactly fits the bill in Riel's case - the history books have indisputibly already been written with Riel NOT officially established as a father of Confederation and to ignore this fact is mistaken. It does imply the controversy, which I wish to do in this sentence. The plain meaning of the phrase casts no aspersions on legitimacy, quite the contrary, to me it rather says 'in spite of his historic mistreatment, he could be reasonably considered in this light". I'll revert this once more, but then let it drop if you still feel otherwise - it's after all a small detail. Fawcett5 14:41, 7 May 2005 (UTC)

I see. Well, on a basic level, it seems to break up the flow of the sentence. I've gone through some possible revisions to iron out the detail entirely (mostly trying to work in "in spite of his historic mistreatment, he could be reasonably considered in this light"), but they all seem too long or incomplete. I'm not keen on raising hell for the small detail, either... I'll wait for more comment on this. --Alexwcovington (talk) 04:50, 8 May 2005 (UTC)

Alex, you know what, when it comes right down to it, I guess if a good-faith editor like yourself finds issue with it, probably a lot of others do as well, even if it is not what I intended. Just go ahead and axe the phrase. Cheers, Fawcett5 04:59, 8 May 2005 (UTC)

Alright, we'll see how it goes over. --Alexwcovington (talk) 05:10, 8 May 2005 (UTC)
    • How can Riel be considered a Father of Confederation if Confederation took place two years prior to the first Riel Rebellion? He might have helped bring Manitoba into Confederation but that does not make him a Father of Confederation any more than those who brought Newfoundland into Confederation in 1949. colchar 1:27 2 April 2006 (UTC)
      • On the latter point, Joey Smallwood was considered a Father of Confederation. CJCurrie 06:51, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

Third child[edit]

Was the third child actually unnamed? Without consulting a reference, I believe he did live barely long enough to be baptised, which would normally imply naming (but perhaps not?). To me the more interesting detail is that the birth and death occured while Riel was imprisoned, it would be nice if someone could shoehorn in a passage later on about that... Fawcett5 15:38, 7 May 2005 (UTC)

On Riel's tombstone it states, "un garçon, né et décédé le 21 Oct 1885", after listing the other two children's names and years of birth and death. If the makers of this monument new the name, they would have put it on the tombstone. I took this to mean that he was not named. However, it is possible that the child was named but it was not known to the makers of this monument. If he was baptized, he would have been named. Since I can not verify my addition, I will modify it to reflect what is verifiable. I find it also interesting that his wife died a year after him. -- JamesTeterenko 18:01, 7 May 2005 (UTC)


I was not aware that Louis Riel was befrended with Tomás Macarro. That is a very interesting fact!

If you were not aware of it, then where did you learn it from, to add to the article? And why do you consider it significant? Worldtraveller 14:46, 13 May 2005 (UTC), I have reverted yet another edit of yours stating this alleged relationship. I will keep reverting these edits until you provide some significant sources proving this statement. Besides, if it is indeed true (which seems highly unlikely), it still does not need to be located in the first paragraph of the article. CWood 19:26, 13 May 2005 (UTC)

Because of the suspiciousness of this edit, I did a bit of research. It appears that Daniel Macarro is not notable and have marked for deletion. See Wikipedia:Votes for deletion/Daniel Macarro. --JamesTeterenko 19:46, 13 May 2005 (UTC)

Native American?[edit]

User:Bearcat removed Riel from Category:Native American leaders because "people from Canada are not Native Americans". That's not quite right - the term can be used broadly to refer to indigenous people from anywhere on the American continents, not just what's now the U.S. - but it's not a common usage in Canada (I think; see Native American name controversy) and there seems to be an effort underway to move articles out of the Native Americans categories and into regional subcategories of Category:Indigenous peoples of the Americas. However, there doesn't seem to be any general area there for political leaders; instead there are lots of little categories for particular Canadian provinces and tribes. Someone whose thoughts on the subject are clearer than mine may wish to go over to the talk pages for those categories (or see if there's an associated Wikiproject) and start/join a discussion on what to do with these. Hob 03:22, 30 October 2005 (UTC)

There are a couple of possibilities here:
  1. Equivalent "leaders", "writers", etc., subcategories of Category:First Nations, and supercategories to link them to the Native Americans categories,
  2. The existing "Native Americans" categories replaced by more inclusive terminology, with only a single subcategory in each case to group both Canadians and Americans.
I'd personally be more in favour of the former, and would be entirely willing to start that myself, but it's worth discussing. I think this generally falls under the aegis of "whenever possible, use the terminology that the people being so termed use for themselves". Bearcat 03:33, 30 October 2005 (UTC)
I am in favour of Category:First Nations. The term "Native Americans" is not generally used in Canada. Sunray 06:23, 30 October 2005 (UTC)
Update: I should also note that another user created Category:First Nations leaders shortly after I started removing Canadians from the Native Americans categories (although I didn't notice this until later)...but it's still technically problematic to put Riel in there because the Métis aren't a First Nation. Bearcat 07:38, 30 October 2005 (UTC)
I agree with Sunray's comment above. The term "Native Americans" is generally not used in Canada. A bot has changed "Native" to "Native American" in many of the articles. I've gone through and changed it to "Aboriginal peoples" OR "First Nations" depending on the context. Aren't bots against Wikipedia policy? HistoryBA 15:39, 30 October 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia policy on bots "discourages the use of bots" and sets out guidelines for using them. One must get approval before running a bot. Evidently Nat Krause did so with respect to creating disambiguation pages for Native Americans and American Indian. I'm not sure that this caused the problem described by HistoryBA, but it seems likely. If so, this would seem to illustrate why bots are discouraged. As is often the case, humans have to mop up after the machines :-) Sunray 18:16, 30 October 2005 (UTC)

Bias in article?[edit]

There are a few places in this article, which I think show bias, or at least need to be properly backed up with references.

In the section Break with Church

-it says "in fact, experiencing a significant relapse of his mental agitations" This comment doen't appear to have any basis, and really, how could it be known if Riel was in fact experiencing a relapse? "in fact" should probably be changed to "some speculate"

-it also says "Riel, undoubtedly influenced by his messianic delusions" Again, there is no way to confirm this, and putting it in the article, without any references, tends to show bias towards seeing Riel as a madman, with no real basis.

referenced now - there are several sources for this statement. Can't find the source for relapse or for oversight reagarding the CP. The railway effected the outcome of the rebellion, but no source as to Riel's opinion one way or t'other. SriMesh | talk 03:08, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

In the Section Open Rebellion

-It says "Riel had completly overlooked the significance of the nascent CP railway" It is hard to believe that he would of completly overlooked this, and again, there is no reference cited to show that this was the case.

I think that these points should be either properly referenced, taken out, or changed.

Also, I think that the introduction may need to be re-worked a bit, it gives a link to the article on the modern-day NorthWest Territories, which doesn't accurately describe the region which is being discussed. An7drew 20:04, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

Riel Reconsidered?[edit]

In the section Political Legacy

-It states that "on November 16, 1994, Suzanne Tremblay, a Bloc Québécois member of parliament, introduced private members' bill C-228, "An Act to revoke the conviction of Louis David Riel". The unsuccessful bill was widely perceived in English Canada as an attempt to arouse support for Quebec nationalism prior to the 1995 referendum on Quebec sovereignty."

But the next section Riel Reconsidered contains

-Louis Riel's conviction was officially revoked by the Parliament of Canada in 1992.[1]

Are those dates correct? If they are correct, perhaps the note about "an attempt to arouse support for Quebec nationalism" needs additional highlights, because the way it reads now it makes it seem like English Canada was being unreasonable in its view of the bill. If the dates are correct, what possible use was the bill besides to provoke emotional response from Quebec residents prior to the referendum? Jminglis 18:40, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

A little more research, and following the link provided in the biblio ( shows that the bill did not pass reading, and has not actually been passed by Canadian Parliment. The statement about his conviction being revoked should be removed. Jminglis 18:44, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

I validate what has been said by Jminglis

Throughout the years (january 1994-present march 9 2007) there have been many bills presented in both the house of commons (C-288 35th parliament -1rst session ,C-380 & C-297 35th parliament- 2nd session, C-417 & C-213 36th parliament - 1rst session, C-257 - 36th parliament - 2nd session, C-411 - 37th parliament -1rst session, C-324 37th parliament, 2nd session and the senate(s-35). It seems that all of these bills have not gone passed the first reading . However, this does not mean that they have been defeated just that they have died when the parliaments were dissolved. Alex.seguin 19:56, 13 March 2007 (UTC) march 13, 2007

Vandalism, argh[edit]

I want to stop watching this page, because I sort of don't care about the topic, but the vandals keep breaking it. Guess this Riel guy really annoyed people. Might be time to think about semi-protection. Avt tor 00:31, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

ya he annoyed people. Louis Riel should not even be considered more than a self-loathing idiot, that lived more in the United States. The fact that he is called the "Father of Manitoba" is only done to keep all the stupid French people happy. The even bigger joke is having "Louis Riel Day" in Manitoba. 98% of Manitobans do not care about Louis Riel, but we have to continue to pretend we do so that the French people still think they are important. As far as English Canada is concerned, French people have a far too large sense of entitlement and Louis Riel is nothing that history needs to be concerned about.


Ok, I've added the basic biography infobox just so the article has one. I'm sure there's a more specific one to use, but I'm not sure which one should be used. Hopefully someone will be able to improve on that. -Royalguard11(Talk·Review Me!) 00:39, 15 April 2007 (UTC)


Please correct the link to the biography at Canadian Biography Online to


the current one will litter your monitor with advertisement...

The link has been updated. -Royalguard11(Talk·Review Me!) 18:13, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

Reference Fix[edit]

Please correct the reference for: Goulet, George (2005). The Trial of Louis Riel, Justice and Mercy Denied. Tellwell Publishing, Calgary. ISBN 1-894638-70-0. A critical legal and political analysis of Riel's 1885 high treason trial.

The Tellwell edition of this guide has been out of print for a few years.

The current publisher, for the past 2 editions, is FabJob Inc. The ISBN 10 digit number is still: 1-894638-70-0 and the 13 digit ISBN is: 978-1-894638-70-8

John McDG 20:59, 11 June 2007 (UTC)JohnMcDG


I have recently added a very extensive bibliography of Louis Riel covering both French language and English language books in the French language article on him. If someone has the time to import it over here... -- Mathieugp (talk) 04:31, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

"repeatedly quarreling.."[edit]

In the "Canadian resistance.." section, a sentence reads "After repeatedly quarreling with his guards, they insisted that Scott be tried for insubordination." Now, "they" seems to refer to the Métis (or maybe to the provisional government, or to the tribunal); and it seems improbable that any of these repeatedly quarreled with Scott's guards. My guess is that it was Scott who quarreled with his guards. Unless someone tells me otherwise, I shall alter this sentence to "After Scott repeatedly quarreling with his guards, they insisted that he be tried for insubordination." Maproom (talk) 13:52, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

I believe it was Scott who was quarreling and I believe he also insulted one of them (called him a "half-breed"). I believe he was executed to be made an example of. -Royalguard11(T·R!) 20:00, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

I'm sure you are right, the page on Scott also describes this. I've changed the sentence. Maproom (talk) 21:15, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

who wrote this down[edit]

I was wondering, who wrote "THAT DUDES MY ANSESTOR!" down in article??? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:03, 25 May 2008 (UTC)

Please add Peter McCallum to this article, of those who where improsonated by Reil. I would like to expand on this subject on Peters page if possible. Melissaofseattle (talk) 05:16, 2 December 2016 (UTC)


Could anyone who knows the right way of doing it add a pronunciation for the surname? Might be worth it on the first name too, thinking about it. Hiding T 18:55, 2 September 2008 (UTC)


This is confusing: "Bill C-417[71] or the Louis Riel Act which also had a first reading in parliament to revoke the conviction of Louis Riel, and establish July 15 as Louis Riel Day was tabled." It isn't clear if 'tabled' is being used in the Canadian or American sense. (Canadian House of Commons' use of 'tabled' means proposed for discussion, but the use of the term here suggests American definition). I don't want to change it, as I don't know whether C-417[71] failed to make it into law, and the article doesn't make it clear either. Could somebody clarify this please? Thanks. 04:39, 11 October 2008 (UTC). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Marguerite Monet dit Bellehumeur[edit]

The birth date appears to be incorrect-- should be 20 yrs earlier, according to other web sources.

Dennismk (talk) 18:06, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

incorrect headings[edit]

"return of THE Riel" is not proper english. maybe it's time this page was cleaned up —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:42, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

"Complex and Tragic" are POV[edit]

In the summary it states "he remains one of the most complex, controversial, and ultimately tragic figures in the history of Canada". Aside from being a terribly cliched sentence, we can't use words like "tragic" or "complex" as these are POV statements. It is fine to say he is controversial, however, since we can actually collect evidence to support that statement. I'm going to pare that sentence down but if someone wants to discuss it more feel free. JettaMann (talk) 14:02, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Diaries of Louis Riel[edit]

Does anyone know how to get a copy of his diaries in french? Many thanks

I don't have his diary but one of the dear Canada books is about him its in french and English there called de sang sur nos terres and blood upon our land. the french is realy good but i ave never read the english one. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:57, 12 April 2017 (UTC)

Edit request from, 24 March 2011[edit]

{{edit semi-protected}} (talk) 14:47, 24 March 2011 (UTC)

Not doneThis template may only be used when followed by a specific description of the request, that is, specify what text should be removed and a verbatim copy of the text that should replace it. "Please change X" is not acceptable and will be rejected; the request must be of the form "please change X to Y"

Incorrect Title[edit]

Whoever wrote, quote "Louis Riel is a founder of Manitoba" is putting false information on wikipedia. Louis Riel is nothing but a worthless French man that thought he was more important than the average person. The only reason that people acknowledge him as the "Father of Manitoba" is to keep the French people happy. 98 percent of Manitobans do not care about Louis Riel and resent that he is tied to the province. The only thing Louis Riel is good for is demonstrating how egotistical French Canadian people are. The have a larger sense of entitlement than the Jews. Just worthless. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kparsons92 (talkcontribs) 00:51, 6 February 2012 (UTC)

Insert by RCNesland: [[Manitoba was formed by Acts of Parliament of the Parliament of Canada during the MacDonald Government. Louis Riel had no part in this government. It has been alleged that Riel was not a Canadian citizen and therefore could not have been properly judged under Canadian law. He probably was a citizen of Canada though. - RCNesland ----

Note: The following shows Properly on it's edit page. - RCNesland ----

Statutes of Canada - Respecting Manitoba and Louis David Riel ...

An act of the Parliament of Canada was passed in 1869 which was meant to incorporate Manitoba as a province of Canada. The process of incorporation was not completed until 1870. Quite often an Act of Parliament is brought into force by a proclaimation from the Governor General. It is probable that the Manitoba Act was not proclaimed in force until 1870. It is likely easy enough tofind out about a Proclamation Date. If the Manitoba Act was not in force in 1869, There was no legal validity for Riels attempt at governig and common sense would say that the name 'Manitoba was reserved for the use of the federal government. This can mean that riel was using the name 'Manitoba" illegally. - RCNesland ---- — Preceding unsigned comment added by RCNesland (talkcontribs) 07:53, 7 July 2012 (UTC) My User name is - RCNesland ----

Thank you, Kparson࿕92, who had not the courage to sign your name to your vicious — need I say, uncivil — and totally irrelevant sneers. And I'm glad to see you redlinked and out of here, and good riddance. ... Oh, only two edits, both in this comment. Well, I hope the ***** is really gone. --Thnidu (talk) 03:25, 31 August 2016 (UTC)

In popular culture[edit]

Should "The 7 Lives of Louis Riel" 2009 Fringe play be included? It features 6 different POVs on who Louis Riel was (everything from a Jet Li style super-warrior to a supervillain). A brief writeup of the production is given here: — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:32, 21 February 2012 (UTC)

Louis David Riel in Exile[edit]

Louis David Riel was a leader in the Northwest Territory in Canada until 1870. He knew that an army was aproaching from the east during that year. He was afraid of that army, so he fled southwards to the United States and stayed there in exile for about thirteen years. See main article for more details. — Preceding unsigned comment added by RCNesland (talkcontribs) 06:55, 7 July 2012 (UTC) - RCNesland ----

Edit request on 28 September 2012[edit]

Source #3 at the bottom of the page has expired. Haven't checked the others. (talk) 19:30, 28 September 2012 (UTC)

If you're referring to #3 in the footnotes, the link works for me. Are you clicking on the first link for the archive or the second link for the original? Rivertorch (talk) 09:22, 29 September 2012 (UTC)


Riel's grandparents were more travelled than the article states, with his grandmother being the first white woman to come into Saskatchewan and Alberta. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:28, 8 May 2015 (UTC)

Ethnic origin of the Riel's[edit]

In that family, the oldest Riel from Europe was an Irishman from Saint Peter's and Saint Paul's near Limerick, John-the-Baptist (later: Jean-Baptiste) Riel who, after immigration to Northern America, was called "Riel called the Irelander" (French: Riel dit L'Irlande) The family name Riel itself is of ancient Celtic origin, even among the Gauls on the Continent. Riel's father is given as John Riel, probably Sean Ryle/Reale in the authentic Irish way of spelling. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2003:45:4904:DF35:F56D:A6BA:1F72:8B6E (talk) 11:39, 8 July 2015 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 29 April 2016[edit]

On the chart, it says that Louis Riel has two kids, while on the article, he apparently fathered THREE kids. WRONG! (talk) 17:05, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done — Andy W. (talk · contrib) 17:58, 29 April 2016 (UTC)
Undid request. It is clear that the third child, "a boy who was born and died on 21 October 1885, less than one month before Riel was hanged". — Andy W. (talk · contrib) 18:01, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 13 May 2016[edit]

Category:Refugees in the United States (talk) 02:47, 13 May 2016 (UTC)

Red information icon with gradient background.svg Not done: Category doesn't seem appropriate for a historical figure. If I'm wrong, reopen. — Andy W. (talk ·ctb) 07:52, 14 May 2016 (UTC)
He was certainly a political refugee in the US. Rjensen (talk) 09:15, 14 May 2016 (UTC)


What is this "dit" you speak of?:

  • Marguerite Monet dit Bellehumeur
  • Father Fabien Martin dit Barnabé
  • Evelina Martin dit Barnabé

Yes, I know it's French and has something to do with the name, but really, folks! We have

and about 27 more in Category:Hatnote templates for names, but not even an article for "dit", not even a mention on the DAB page DIT (Redirected from Dit), not a whisper of explanation on the page. Zero, zip, rien.

Linking to this in a couple of relevant places:

Please {{Ping}} me to discuss. --Thnidu (talk) 02:08, 31 August 2016 (UTC)

@Thnidu: The fourth definition listed at wikt:dit#French (version of 18:33, 26 July 2016) says: (in names) Indicating a surname used as a family name. Please note that Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Abbreviations#Miscellanea (version of 03:35, 27 August 2016) has a guideline for the use of "also known as".
Wavelength (talk) 02:37, 31 August 2016 (UTC)
Dit name it is. Staszek Lem (talk) 03:01, 31 August 2016 (UTC)
@Wavelength and Staszek Lem: Thank you both. The Wiktionary entry is barely adequate to this purpose. The guideline for "also known as" is irrelevant, since it deals with that specific English expression and its common abbreviations "a.k.a." and "aka". Dit name is relevant and appropriate.
The question now is, how to add this link in all the relevant places. Sheesh. Ideas, anyone? --Thnidu (talk) 03:12, 31 August 2016 (UTC)
dit+canada Only some 3,700 hits. Your edit count will grow mightily. Staszek Lem (talk) 03:35, 31 August 2016 (UTC)
"Dit names" were used because the original French Canadian settlers drew from a fairly narrow range of surnames and a fairly narrow range of given names, so it was fairly common for there to be perhaps three or four "Jean Tremblays" living in the same area. Accordingly, a dit name would be used to distinguish them: one might become "Jean Tremblay dit Larivière" because he lived closer to the river; another might become "Jean Tremblay dit Beauchamp" because he had the best fields on his property; another might become "Jean Tremblay dit Lefebvre" because he was the town blacksmith. And then sometimes (but not always) the dit name would actually become the surname that some or all of his descendants might use going forward. As noted, we have the article dit name to explain this. The surname templates you've listed here all exist because those languages have special quirks to their naming conventions, such as Asian languages in which the surname goes before the given name, or the person has a patronymic instead of a surname at all — but I'm not at all clear on what purpose you think a template for dit names would serve. What would it do, exactly, that could be summarized in a few words without adding an essay to the top of each article with a dit name in it, or that couldn't be accomplished simply by wikilinking the "dit" in a dit name to dit name? Bearcat (talk) 20:50, 3 September 2016 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 24 January 2017[edit]

Not done: it's not clear what changes you want to be made. Please mention the specific changes in a "change X to Y" format. EvergreenFir (talk) 15:32, 24 January 2017 (UTC)


The Saskatchewan Métis' requested land grants were all provided by the government by the end of 1887, and the government resurveyed the Métis river lots in accordance with their wishes. The Métis did not understand the long term value of their new land, however, and it was soon bought by speculators who later turned huge profits from it. Riel's worst fears were realised—following the failed rebellion, the French language and Roman Catholic religion faced increasing marginalisation in both Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as exemplified by the controversy surrounding the Manitoba Schools Question. The Métis themselves were increasingly forced to live on undesirable land or in the shadow of Indian reserves (as they did not themselves have treaty status). Saskatchewan did not attain provincehood until 1905.[citation needed] (talk) 10:16, 24 January 2017 (UTC)

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