OCTOBER 22, 1844


Riel, born in the Red River Settlement (current Manitoba), initially trained for the priesthood, but by 1868 had become a Métis leader. In 1869-1870, he led the Red River Rebellion and the provisional government that helped establish Manitoba as a province. Riel’s decision to execute Thomas Scott enraged anti-Catholic/anti-French sentiment in Ontario and, in 1875, led to Riel’s exile from Canada.  Although elected to the House of Commons three times, he was barred from taking his seat. In 1884, the Métis community from the lower Saskatchewan River asked Riel to return from Montana and 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 surrendered and was tried for treason. In August 1885, a jury of English-speaking Protestants found Riel guilty but recommended mercy. However, 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.  

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