OCTOBER 22, 1844


Born in the Red River Settlement (current Manitoba), Riel initially trained for the priesthood, but by 1868 had become a Métis leader.  In 1869-1870, he led the Red River Rebellion and helped establish Manitoba as a province.  Riel’s execution of Canadian Thomas Scott enraged anti-Catholic/anti-French sentiment in Ontario and, in 1875, led to his exile from Canada.  Although chosen for a seat in the House of Commons three times, he was barred from taking his seat.  In 1884, while in Montana, the Métis community from the lower Saskatchewan River asked Riel to present their grievances to the Canadian government.  When the federal government ignored these concerns, a provisional government was declared.  Riel became a key figure in the short-lived 1885 North-West Rebellion.  He ultimately surrendered and was tried for treason.  In August 1885, a jury of English-speaking Protestants found Riel guilty but recommended mercy.  Despite their recommendations, he was hanged November 16, 1885.  

Source:  “Louis Riel,” The Northwest Resistance.  Retrieved 7/17/2019, https://library.usask.ca/northwest/background/riel.htm
Engraving:  Octave-Henri Julien (1852-1908), likely 1884; Photographer:  Israel Bennetto (1860-1946), pre-1906.   Public Domain in Canada:  Pre-1/1/1949.  Public Domain in the US:  Pre-1/1/1925.  Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 70 years or less.

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