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Ck>mmaDder of the Canadian MUitiai 



Canadian North-West: 




Uhe ^arralibi^ of %hxtt IxtBuxxtdiom 


Ex-Capt. Queen's Own 
Late Kditor 0/ " The Canadian Monthly," etc., etc 


Whitby : 


Entered according to the Act of the Parliament of Canada, in the year one-thou- 
Band ei},'ht hundred and eighty-five, by Hdmkb, Kosk & Co., in the office of 
the Minister of Agriculture. 





^hc Jloblcst ^imlitics of ii ^ruc cEomaii, 

" No true lijc is long. " 





*' No fabled land of joy and song is tki» 
That lieth in the glow of eventide ; 
Not sung by bards of old in minstrel strain, 
Yet he who reads its history shall learn 
Of doughty deeds well worth all knightly fame. 
It is a land of rivers flowing free, 
Lake-mirrored mountains, rising proud and stem, — 
A land of spreading prairies ocean wide, 
Where harsh sounds slumber in the hush of gloom. 

And peace hath brooded with outstretched wings. 
« * ♦ * # ♦ 

And here a mighty people shall arise, 
A peopled nurtured in full liberty ; 

Yet, not forgetful of the mother land. 

Who scans with kindly eye her child's career. 

Wafting a blessing o'er the mighty sea. 

* * * * * 

Such be thy future ; 0, thou land of hope, 

Where, in the fear of God and love of home, 

Thy people shall increase — 0, may thy soil 

Bear many a thinker, many a man of might, 

Many a statesman fitted to control, 

Many a hero, fitted to command. 

Such may thy future be — not great alone, 

In never-sated commerce, — rather great 

In all that welds a people heart to heart ; 

Among thy sons may many a leader spring, 

By whom the ship of State well piloted, 

Thy haven of wide Empire thou may'st reach, 

An empire stretching from the western wave 

To where the rosy dawn enflames the seas," 

— J. H. Bowes, in The ^Varsity, 



N adding to the already numerous works on the 
Canadian North- West, I have sought to make a 
contribution of more than passing interest. With 
this end in view, I have not confined the narrative 
to recent events ; but have told the story from 
the beginning. It may fairly be clafimed that 
there is some advantage in this. It will enable 
the reader to follow the successive steps in the 
development of the country, and to trace in the 
past history some of the remote causes of the present rebellion. 
These revolts, in some degree at least, are the legacy of 
the days of monopoly and privilege. Neither the Hudson 
Bay Company nor the North- West Fur Company, of Montreal 
was a colonising institution. Both were opposed to the settler, 
and both desired to keep the territory wild and uncultivated. 
Only thus could it be useful to a great fur-trading corpora- 
tion. Though the rule of these trading corporations has 
passed away, jealousy of the intruding settler remains, and 
the aggressive spirit of monopoly which marked the dominion 
of the companies still manifests itself. The Indian shares the 
one ; the half-breed inherits the other. Both, it may be saidj 
must be exorcised ere the North- West can become a desirable 
possession of the Dominion, and a safe home for the settler. 

In dealing with the later revolt, I have in the main confined 
myself to the narrative of the spirited and successful efibrt oi 
he volunteers a,U'l other Canadian troops to suppress it. 


However inadequately treated, the story has been told, I 
would fain believe, without partiality or exaggeration. Of the 
insurgents I have striven to write without prejudice. The 
immediate causes of the outbreak, and the question of respon- 
sibility for its occurrence, I have but lightly touched on, as the 
time has not yet come to speak or to write with full knowledge 
of the subject. The facts upon which dispassionateness could 
rely were, in truth, not before me. In whatever criticism of 
the Administration I have ventured upon, I hope I have not 
forgotten what is due by a subject to the Government of the 
country of which I am a citizen and have been a soldier. In 
what afterwards has to be said, when the nation's inquest on 
the insurrection has developed the facts, I would ask that' the 
voice of patriotism be heard, rather than that of party objur- 

In preparing the volume, I have been under repeated obliga- 
tions, which I desire here to acknowledge, to Messrs. Hunter, 
Rose & Co., Publishers, and to my friend, Mr. Wm. William- 
son, Bookseller, Toronto. I am also indebted to Mr. Wm. Hous- 
ton, M.A., and to Mr. John Watson, his assistant ; to Mr. W. H. 
Van der Smissen, M.A. ; and to Mr. James Bain, jr. ; the Libra- 
rians, respectively, of the Library of the Legislative Assembly 
of Ontario, the Library of Toronto University, and the Toron- 
to Public Library. To Mr. Bain I am chiefly beholden for 
facilities in getting access to works on the early history of 
Canada and the North- West, with which the Toronto Public 
Library has been enriched by the generosity of Mr. John 
Hallam. Mr. Bain's intimate acquaintance with Canadian 
literature enhances the benefit to be derived from consultation 
in this valuable department of the City Library. 

To Mr. R. Lovell Gibson, of Montreal, to Mr. Fulford Arnold i, 
and to my son, Mr. Gra3me Gibson Adam, of Toronto, my 
thanks are also due for ready aid in placing material at my 
hand in the preparation of the book. 


Tov.ONTo, July 15tli, 1885. 


Chaptek I.- 













The Hudson Bay Company 

The North-West Fur Co., of Montreal 

-Early Diacoverers of the North- West : 

(a) The English Trader, Alexander Henry 

(b) Joseph La France, and Samutl Heaino 

(c) Sir Alexander Mackenzie - • - 
The Selkirk Settlement and its Fate 
-The Massacie at Red River, and after 
-The Nor*- Westers on the Pacific Coast, and the 

Amalgamation of the Rival Fur Companies - 

Indian Tribes of the Older Provinces and the 

North- West . . - - - 

—Fifty Years' Interval— 1820 to 1870 

— Transfer of the Hudson Bay Territories to the 
Dominion . - . . . 

— The Riel Red River Rebellion - . . 

— The Province of Manitoba and the Era of Settle- 
ment ...... 

— Riel's Second Insurrection : 

Causes of the Outbreak . - . 

-The First Overt Act : 

Duck Lake, and the Mounted Police - 

— Calling out the Volunteers . . . 

-Over " The Ga^s " to Qu'AppeUe - 











Vlll COXTi^NTS. 


XVTII.— Middleton's March to Clarke's Crossing - • 273 

XIX.— Otter's Flying Column— The Dash to Battleford - 287 

XX.— The Frog Lake Massacre - - - - 301 
XXI. — Otter Attacks Poundmaker : 

The Fight at Cut Knife Hill - - - 317 
XXII. — The Campaign on the South Saskatchewan : 

With Middleton at Fish Creek - - 328 

XXIII.— The Crisis at Hand 336 

XXIV.— The Lines before Batoche - - - - 343 

XXV.— Charging the Rifle Pits— Rout of the Rebels - 353 

XXVI.— After Batoche— The " Big BeaT " Hunt - - 364 

XXVII.— The Nation's Heroes— Counting the Cost - - 372 

XXVJII. — Remedial Measures — The Country's Future - 381 


Supplemental List of StaflF and Company OflScers of corps serving 

in the North- West - - - - - - 389 





^E should be glad if we could say that the 
world had outgrown monopolies. One 
monopoly on this Continent it has however 
outgrown. A great Fur-trading Corpora- 
tion that had seen ten British Sovereigns 
come and go while it held sway over the 
territories once ceded to His Serene High- 
ness, Rupert, Prince Palatine of the Rhine, 
yielded up its proprietaiy interests to the 
government of a young and lusty nation. In 18G9, the rule 
over the " Great Lone Land " of the Honourable Company of 
Merchant Adventurers trading to Hudson Bay ceased, and 
the Dominion of Canada took over almost its entire interests. 
With the relinquishment of iis rights and privileges, though it 
stipulated for the retention of some of its trading posts and a 


certain portion of land, the Company parted with not a few of 
the factors, trappers, voyageurs, and labourers, that had grown 
grey in its service. It parted with its millions of acres of 
territory, some of its isolated posts, and their treasuries of fox- 
skin, marten, mink, musk-rat, and otter. It parted with the 
traditions and associations of centuries of traffic, and all the 
pretensions that adhere to absolute power in the hands of an 
old and wealthy corporation and a long-established monopoly. 
So scattered and distant were the possessions of the Company 
that many moons rose and waned ere the news reached the 
secluded inmates of its lonely stockaded posts that the great 
trading Company had transferred its interests to the British 
Government, and from it to the Canadian people. The price 
of the transfer was a million and a half of dollars. 

The cession of the interests of the Hudson Bay Company, 
in the vast tract of country known as Rupert's Land, set at rest 
the long vexed question of the right of that corporation to the 
lordship of the region known as the Hudson Bay Territories. 
It set at rest, also, not only the validity of the Company's title 
to the territory, but the equally delicate question of the area 
over which the Company was supposed to rule. Both questions 
often disturbed the councils of the Company, and at successive 
periods were the subjects of contemplated parliamentary 
enquiry. Not only was it held that the Company, in the course 
of time, had extended its territorial claims much further than 
the charter, or any sound construction of it, would warrant, 
but the charter itself was repeatedly called in question; In 
the year 1670, when the Company was founded, it seems 
clear that the English Sovereign, Charles II, had no legal right 
to the country, for it was then and for long after the posses- 
sion of France. By the treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye (1632) 
the English had resigned to the French Crown all interest in 
Nouvellc France. The Treaty of Ryswick, (1697) moreover, 
confirmed French right to the country. Hence Charles's gift to 
his cousin^ Prince Rupcrt^aiid to those associated with hira in fchq 


organisation of the Hudson Bay Company, was gratuitous if not 
illegal. The subsequent re-transfer of the country to Britain, 
by the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), may be said, however, to have 
given the Company a right to its possessions, a right which was 
practically confirmed by the Conquest, and by the Treaty of 
Paris, in 1763. But conceding this, there arose the other ques- 
tion, namely, to what extent of territory, by the terms of the 
original charter, was the Company entitled. The text of the 
charter conveys only those lands whose waters draiu into 
Hudson Bay, or, more specifically, " all the lands and territories 
upon the countries, coasts, and confines of the seas, etc., that lie 
within Hudson Straits." This very materially limited the area 
of the Company's sway in the North- West, and nullified its 
claim over the country which drains into the St. Lawrence, 
into the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Arctic Oceans. The 
Company, of course, never acknowledged this view of the 
matter ; but had its title been tested in a court of law, its 
territorial assumptions would have been greatly abridged. 

But, as we have said, all these disturbing questions, as to 
the title and the area of the possessions of the Hudson Bay 
Company, were settled by the sale and transfer of the teTri- 
tory to the Canadian Dominion. That territory, which in- 
cluded at first only the land bordering on Hudson Bay and 
Strait, by process, partly of territorial aggrandisement and 
partly of later trading-license, came to include : (1.) Labrador ; 
(2.) Prince Rupert Land ; (3.) The districts of the Red River, 
Swan River, and the Saskatchewan; (4.) The North- West 
Territories ; and (5.) Mackenzie river, British Columbia and 
Vancouver. By the expiry of a special charter, the two latter 
districts, in 1858, reverted to the Crown, and, in 1863, were 
erected into a British colony. All the other districts, with tho 
reservation of the trading-posts, and one-twentieth of the land, 
passed in 1869, as we have stated, to the Imperial Government, 
and, for the compensation named, from it i) the Dominion of 


To what national and commercial purposes this great acqui- 
sition has been put by the Dominion Government will be seen 
from later chapters in the present work. Meantime let us 
review briefly the more prominent incidents in the history ol 
this great trading corporation, which so long held sway over 
the country. In 1610, the Bay that bears his name, or, as the 
French called it, " the great North Sea," was discovered by 
the ill-fated Henry Hudson, who found himself within its 
waters in quest of that will-o'-the-wisp of the period, a north- 
west passage to India. The winter of 1610 Hudson spent at 
the foot of the inland sea now known as James' Bay. The 
rigours of the season, and want of .food, led his men to mutiny, 
and to leave him with his son and a small following to the 
tender mercies of the region, when they betook themselves 
with a lie in their mouth to England. In 1612 an expedition 
was fitted out for the relief of Hudson, under the command of 
Captain, afterwards Sir Thomas, Button ; but no trace of the 
navigator or of his party was ever found. 

The next venture westward was that of Champlain, who, 
in 1615, made his untoward voyage from the St. Lawrence, by 
way of the Ottawa and Lake Nipissing, to la Mer Bovxe, 
the inland sea of the Hurons, and the seat of the Jesuit mis- 
sions on the Matchedash peninsula. Following upon Cham- 
plain's expedition came the organisation of the One Hundred 
Associates, which had been given its charter, in 1627, by Car- 
dinal Richelieu, prime minister to Louis XIII. The operations 
of this Company were interrupted by the first English con- 
quest of Canada ; hence little was done in prosecuting trade 
in the West, if we except M. De Caen's enterprises, until the 
period of M. Montmagny's governorship. Under this Gover- 
nor, another trading company was established, known as La 
Compagnie de MontrM, and M. Maisonneuve, a gallant and 
much-tried Frenchman, was appointed to the charge of its 
afiairs. The calamitous condition of the Colony, owing to wars 
with the Iroquois, seriously hampered this Company's work j 


knd we have consequently little record of its operations during 
the period of its existence, viz., from 1640 to 1663. Three 
years afterwards, however, two French Huguenots made their 
way round Lake Superior, ascended the Kaministiquia river, 
and following the water-way, subsequently known as the Daw- 
son route, reached Winnipeg river and lake, and probed a route 
for themselves down the Nelson to the sea discovered by 
Henry Hudson. In process of time they returned to Quebec, 
and proceeded to France, where they endeavoured to interest 
capitalists in opening up the fur-bearing regions of Hudson 
Bay to commerce. But French enterprise was then looking to 
the East rather than to the West, to the extension of trade in 
the rich archipelago of the East Indies, rather than to that 
in the frozen seas of the North. Silks and spices, and the 
diamonds of the Orient, were more attractive just then to the 
Gallic sense than the skins of wild beasts. The two French 
explorers we have referred to were thus foiled in the at- 
tempt to enlist French capital in their enterprise. One of 
the two, M. de Grosseliez, was, however, not to be baulked. 
He proceeded to England, and there met with the retired 
student-soldier, Prince Rupert, whose head was filled with 
many curious schemes of enterprise; and his imagination 
was readily fired with the story M. de Grosseliez had to tell 

The result after a time was the formation of the English 
Hudson Bay Company, and the grant of Charles II. over the 
region in which the Company intended to operate. In the in- 
terval, Hudson Bay had been explored by mariners, who, in 
1631, had set out from London and from Bristol, with the still 
delusive hope of reaching the Pacific and the far-distant 
Cathay. The London venture was commanded by Captain 
Fox, and the Bristol expedition by Captain James, the latter 
giving his name to the Southern inlet of Hudson Bay. Both 
expeditions were barren of result, save to impress upon the 


minds 'of their commanders the inhospitable character of the 
region and the terrors of a winter on its coasts.* 

A New England captain connected with the Newfoundland 
trade was the first to sail to Hudson Bay to further the in- 
terests of the new-formed Company. Presently, a governor 
was dispatched to establish and take charge of a fort on the 
Rupert river, and one on the Nelson. By the year 1686 the 
Hudson Bay Company had organised five trading-posts round 
the shores of James and Hudson Bay. These were known 
as the Albany, the Moose, the Rupert, the Nelson, and the 
Severn factories. The right to establish these posts was 
actively combated by the French, who sent contingents from 
Quebec, by the Ottawa and by Lake Superior, to harass the 
English in their possession of them. For a number of years 
a keen conflict was maintained between the two races, and the 
forts successively changed hands as fortune happened to favour 
the one or the other. Possession was further varied by the 
Treaties of Ryswick and Utrecht, previously referred to. 

Meanwhile the French were active in the lower waters of 
the continent ; for in 1 672 La Salle had discovered the Miss- 
issippi, Joliet and Marquette had traced the outline of the 
Georgian Bay and Lake Superior, and Father Hennepin had 
seen and made a chart of the Falls of Niagara. Later on M. 
du Luth and M. de la Verandrye had penetrated into all the 
bays of Lake Superior, and the latter, in 1732, had constructed 
a fort on the Lake of the Woods. At the period of the Con- 
quest the French had done far more to discover and open 
up what is now our North-West than the English. Up to 
1763, they had gone even as far west ^ the Assiniboine and 
the Saskatchewan. They had established Fort Maurepas on 
the Winnipeg, Fort Dauphin on Lake Manitoba, Fort Bourbon 

* For an account of the earlier voyages to Hudson Bay — those of Wm. Baffin, 
Sir Martin Frobisher, and Master John Davis, with the voyages of Sebastian Cabot 
to Newfoundland — see Eundall'a Narrative of Vouagta towards the North-West^ 
ipG-lG^l—aan of th« Ualduyt Society Publications : London, 1849. 


On Cedar Lake, and Fort si la Corne below the forks of the 
Saskatchewan, The Hudson Bay Company, on the contrary, 
had done little, as yet, to invade the continent. The trade of 
the Company hardly extended beyond the shores of Hudson 
Bay, or, at most, a short distance down the Albany river and 
the Churchill, Inactive in their work, for a time they found 
their charter ineffectual to keep out interlopers from sharing 
the profits of the growing fur trade. Petitioning Parliament 
they, now and again, got a confirmation of their title, and in- 
creased powers of trade ; though one of the objects for which 
the Company had originally secured its charter, the prosecution 
of discovery in the Arctic regions, had been little promoted. 
Hence, enemies in Parliament repeatedly tried to limit the Com- 
pany's privileges and to annul its charter. Instigated by these 
enemies, rival traders fitted out expeditions to Hudson Bay to 
embarrass the Company and seize some portion of its trade. 
The fate of these expeditions was, however, adverse to rivalry ; 
for no better sport was found for the employes of the privileged 
Company than to board the vessels, capture their crews, and 
wreck the crafts on the shores of the Bay. 

But not thus could the Hudson Bay Company choke off 
competition from the interior. The French in the South were 
materially interfering with its trade, and the Company found 
that to retain it its employes had to organise corps of traders 
and voyageurs, who would ascend the rivers and establish 
posts in the valleys of the Red River and Saskatchewan and 
the region of the great lakes. This was a matter that entailed 
no little difficulty and risk. To the "Hudson Bays" the 
interior was an unknown wilderness ; and as yet they had not 
learned the craft of the Indian woodsman or the skill of the 
French coureur de hois. But they had more to contend with 
than the tyranny of Nature and the perils of the way. The 
colony of New France by this time had grown to considerable 
proportions, and the French trader was to be met with all over 
the country. M. de Vaudi'euil gives the population of Nouvelle 


France, in 1760, as 70,000, exclusive of voyageurs and those 
engaged in trade with the Indians. The French, moreover, 
held the two great water-ways to the West, the St. Lawrence 
and the Mississippi. From these inlets their countrymen had 
spread far to the North- West ; and in their traffic with the 
Indians of the Red River and Saskatchewan districts they had 
cut off much trade that previously had found its way to the 
Hudson Bay posts on the Albany, the Nelson, the Churchill, 
and the Severn. Presently war with the English again broke 
out, and from across the Atlantic came the invading forces of 
Britain and contingents from her colonies on the coast. To 
some extent this withdrew the French traders to their posts on 
the meadows of the Mississippi, and to those on the Ohio and 
the Alleghany. The time was therefore favourable £o the 
Hudson Bay Company employes in again diverting the fur 
trade to the old posts by the Northern sea. More effectually 
to secure this trade, the Company sent its servants to establish 
posts in the South, and by the year 1774 Cumberland House 
was founded on the Saskatchewan, and at a somewhat later 
day an extensive circle of forts, tributary to that at York 
Factory, was established and equipped. 

Of the character and trade of these forts we get an intelli- 
gent idea from a graphic sketch of the Hudson Bay Company, 
in a volume of an English periodical, published in the year 
1870.* The writer is an old employ^ of the Company. 

" A typical fort," he says, " of the Hudson Bay Company 
at best was not a very lively sort of affair. Though sometimes 
built on a commanding situation at the head of some beautiful 
river, and backed by wave after wave of dark pine forest, it 
was not unpicturesque in appearance. Fancy a parallelogram 
of greater or less extent, enclosed by a picket twenty-five or 
thirty feet in height, composed of upright trunks of trees, 
placed in a trench, and fastened along the top by a rail, and 
you have the enclosure. At each corner was a strong bastion, 

♦ " The Story of a Dead Monoroly." Comkill Magazine, Auguist, 1870. 


built of squared logs, and pierced for guns which could sweep 
every side of the fort. Inside this picket was a gallery run- 
ning right round the enclosure, just high enough for a man's 
head to be level with the top of the fence. At intervals, all 
along the side of the picket, were loop-holes for musketry, and 
over the gateway was another bastion, from which shot could 
be poured on any party attempting to carry the gate. Al- 
together, though incapable of withstanding a ten-pounder for 
a couple of hours, it was strong enough to resist ahnost any 
attack the Indians could bring against it. Inside this enclosure 
were the store-houses, the residences of the employes, wells, and 
sometimes a good garden. All night long, a voyageur would, 
watch by watch, pace round this gallery, crying out at inter- 
vals, with a quid of tobacco in his cheek, the hours and the 
state of the weather. This was a precaution in case of fire, 
and the hour-calling was to prevent him falling asleep for any 
length of time. Some of the less important and more distant 
outposts were only rough little log-cabins among the snow, 
without picket or other enclosure, where a ' postmaster ' resided 
to superintend the affiairs of the Company. 

" The mode of trading was peculiar. It was an entire system 
of barter, a ' made ' or ' typical ' beaver-skin being the stand- 
ard of trade. It was, in fact, the currency of the country. 
Thus an Indian arriving at one of the Company's establish- 
ments with a bundle of furs which he intends to sell, proceeds, 
in the first instance, to the trading-room : there the trader sep- 
arates the furs into lots, and, after adding up the amount 
delivers to the Indian a number of little pieces of wood, iu' 
dicating the number of ' made beavers ' to which his ' hunt ' 
amounts. He is next taken to the store-room, where he finds 
himself surrounded by bales of blankets, slop-coats, guns, 
scalping-knives, tomahawks (all made in Birmingham), pow- 
der-horns, flints, axes, etc. Each article has a recognised value 
in ' made-beavers ; ' a slop-coat, for example, may be worth five 
' made-beavers,' for which the Indian delivers up twelve of his 
pieces of wood ; for a gun he gives twenty ; for a knife two ; 
and so on, until his stock of wooden cash is expended. * * * 
After finishing he is presented with some trifle in addition to 
the payment of his furs, and makes room for someone else." 

Of these trading establishments of the Hudson Bay Company, 
the writer adds : " There were in 18G0 over 150, in charge of 


twenty-five chief factors and twenty-eight chief traders, with 
150 clerks and 1200 other servants." " The trading districts of 
the Company," he states, " were thirty-eight in number, divided 
into five departments, and extending over a country nearly as 
l)ig as Europe, though thinly peopled by some 1GO,000 natives, 
Esquimaux, Indians, and half-breeds." 

We make no excuse for taking up space with this extended 
quotation, fur we duem a description of a Hudson Bay Com- 
pany post, and an account of the mode of barter with the 
Indian, to be as novel and interesting to the untravelled Can- 
adian as they must be to the average Englishman. The pic- 
turesque features of life in the North- West in the palmy days 
of the Hudson Bay Company, or of the North-West Fur Com- 
pany, of Montreal, are many and full of interest,— not only to 
the historian, but to the narrator of adventure and the de- 
scriptive writer. How fascinating and prolific a theme the 
subject has been to such story-tellers as Cooper, Bailantyne* 
Mayne-Reid, and others, the voracious youthful reader of their 
books must well know. Life in the North-West in the olden 
time, of course, had its drawbacks, in isolation from one's kith 
and kin ; in the utter desolation and dreariness of its long and 
severe winters ; in the fatigues and hardships of the voyages 
from ])ost to post, or those entailed in getting in and out of the 
territory ; and in the risks run, from both white men and 
Indians, at a time of war between the two races that long and 
bitterly strove for possession of the country. On the other 
hand, there were many countervailing pleasures and advan- 
tages, known only to those who have realised the charm of 
living in Nature's solitudes, away from the worries and con- 
ventionalities of civilisation, amidst surroundings that con- 
tributed to the building up of a healthy physical frame, and, 
in the case of a successful factor or trader, that enabled him in 
time to retire with a more than average share of this world's 
goods. The writer from whom we have already quoted may 
be trusted to say what present pleasure and store of future 


memories were to be extracted from life in the North- West, 
and from employment in the Hudson Bay Company's service 
when that corporation was in its prime. Here is an extract 
from the article we have already referred to : 

"We, who knew the Company in its palmy days, who drank 
its good wine and ate of its salt; who hobnobbed in its pick- 
eted forts with the sturdy factors, at great oaken tables laden 
with beaver-tails, buffalo-tongues, and huge roasts of moose, of 
elk, and of caribou; dishes of juicy antelope and luscious sal- 
mon from the rivers of its empire of territory ; ptarmigan from 
Hudson Bay ; oulachan, most delicious of fish, from Vancouver 
Island ; and snowy hares from the Eskimo along the shores of 
the Arctic sea : We, who shared its stirring enterprises, and 
floated down far western rivers in its birch bark canoes, who 
have been honoured by seeing our names carved on tamarack 
' lob-sticks ' on the Albany river, and on cedar ones on the 
Columbia, in return for regales of tea, tobacco, and rum lar- 
gessed unto its voyageurs : We, who were in a word, of it, 
have precious memories in relation to the great corporation, 
and may be excused for lingering fondly over its history, even 
at a time when the world is most disposed to hold its achieve- 
ments cheaply, and to dwell severely upon its misdoings and 

We have no wish to become one of those to whom the 
writer alludes in this passage, who refuse the meed of admira- 
tion for the Company's achievments, or who desire to arraign 
its administration in respect of its many " misdoings and short- 
comings." While the Company pursued its operations, its 
government was paternal, and its sway, in the main, just But 
it was only and wholly a trading corporation : its motive was 
to make money and to pay large dividends. It had no other 
raison d'etre. Unlike the East India Company, its adminis- 
tration was not utterly unscrupulous or wholly devoid of con- 
science. If it was arrogant in its claims to territory, it did 
not disturb the natives in their rights, or dispossess them of 
their inheritance. Against rival trading companies it waged a 
long and bitter war ; but its rival was in the territory with 

20 THE north-west: its history and its troubles. 

no higher motives than those that actuated the Company they 
desire to oust. It was the interest of neither Company to 
promote colonisation, though the Montreal institution, to make 
a point against the English traders, made a show of encour- 
aging settlement. The influence of both upon the Indian 
must be conceded to be bad; though their common half-breed 
descendants may be said to be more useful in the country 
than the aboriginal inhabitant, and more likely to cultivate 
and civilise it. But the latter has his rights in the country, as 
its first possessor ; and so long as the tribes exist these rights 
should be respected and their interests conserved. Not only 
should they be respected, they should be freely recognised and 
generously dealt with. The same may be said for their descen- 
dants, the Mdtis. 

The exclusive privileges of the Hudson Bay Company, being 
opposed to the best interests of Canada, and antagonistic to 
the progress as well as to the spirit of the age, could not, of 
course, be suffered to run on in perpetua. Its shareholders 
saw this in 1838, when the last renewal of its charter was 
granted. They saw this more clearly in 1859, when its charter 
had run out. At both of these j^eriods there was much agita- 
tion over what was termed the usurpation of the Company. 
While its operations were confined to the shores of Hudson 
Bay, there were few to call in question its charter, or quarrel 
with its license to trade. But when its employes ascended the 
rivers to the plains of the South, they came into collision with 
the French joint-stock Company, whose traders had long 
roamed over the valleys of the Assiniboine and the Saskatch- 
ewan, and excited prejudice by the claim of privilege and the 
assumption of power. For many years hostility to the Hud- 
son Bay Company was actively fostered in Canada. Not only 
was it natural that the Colony should favour its own Com- 
pany ; it was peculiarly its interest to do so. The trade of the 
North- West Company specially enriched it. It did more : it 
kept open a home route to the West, and made Montreal the 


Centre of a large and lucrative trade. After the embroilment 
of this Company with the Selkirk colony on the Red River, it 
coalesced with the older English Company, and much of the 
trade returned to its former outlet on Hudson Bay. This 
amalgamation did not a little to revive Canadian antipathy to 
the parent institution. The aggressions in Oregon, and the 
later extension of its trade to the Pacific, increased public dis- 
trust of the Company and fanned the flame of hostility. The 
Company, moreover, in asserting its power to enact tariffs, to 
levy taxes, and collect customs dues, made itself more obnox- 
ious, and intensified public feeling against it, when it ap- 
proached the Imperial authorities for a renewal of its charter. 

Its policy towards settlers added to the counts of the in- 
dictment which confronted its paid advocates in parliament. 
Complaints were frequently made that immigrants, after fulfil- 
ling the hard conditions imposed upon the settler, failed to get 
from the Company's officers the title-deeds to their lands. In 
this respect, it is to be feared, history has repeated itself. Set- 
tlers also complained that an embargo was placed upon any 
little trade with the Indians, which they, on occasion, might 
effect. Their houses were entered in search of furs, which, 
when discovered, were confiscated ; and the settlers' possessions 
not infrequently were destroyed and themselves taken captive. 
The Company's rule in the West was often arbitrary and op- 
pressive. Little was done to ameliorate the condition of the 
settler's life, but much often to annoy and impoverish him. 
Water communication was nowhere facilitated, nor were roads 
opened up. The character and resources of the region were 
belied, and everything was done to dissuade or retard immi- 
gration. It may be doubted whether the country has ever 
fully recovered from the effects of the circulation of these 

Such a policy as we have referred to was sure to react upon 
the Company. In 1857, the Imperial Parliament empowered a 
Committee to take evidence in regard to the administration 


of the Hudson Bay'Company, and to consider the state of tlio 
British Possessions in North America under its rule. The re- 
port of this Committee exhausts the arguments for and against 
the Company : the report itself is a model of statesmanlike ex- 
cellence. It is one of the most valuable State papers in connec- 
tion with Canadian affairs it has been our privilege to in- 
spect. The eminence and high character of the Committee, its 
adequate powers, the fulness of the evidence it elicited, and 
the dispassionateness and impartiality with which it discharged 
its functions, give a value to the Eeport unusual among politi- 
cal documents. The finding of the Committee was adverse to 
the continuance of Hudson Bay Company rule in such portions 
of the country as were fit for settlement, with which Canada 
was willing to open and maintain communication, and for 
which she would provide the means of local administration. 
In this finding, the Committee not only paid regard to the rea- 
sonable desires of the settlers themselves, but had in view the 
extension of the territory of an important and growing col- 
ony, and the interest and policy of the British Crown. The 
opinion was also expressed, that it would be proper to termin- 
ate the Company's connection with Vancouver's Island, as the 
best means of favouring the development of the great natural 
resources of that and other portions of the adjacent coun- 
try which might afterwards become part of a British col- 
ony on the Pacific coast. In respect of the remainder of the 
Hudson Bay Territory, " in which, for the present at least, there 
can be no prospect of settlement for the purposes of colonisa- 
tion," the Committee thought it desirable that the Company 
should continue to enjtiy the privilege of exclusive trade, and 
to throw over it and the Indians inhabiting it whatever pro- 
tection it could afibrd.* 

•It is due here to say that during the sittings of this important Committee of the 
British Parliament the interests of Canada were most zealously watched by t',3 
late Hon. Chief Justice Draper, to whose ability and hi^h sense of honour, tlie 
Committee male suitable ackuowledgmunt, as well as ex^iressed its indebtedness 


The action taken by Parliament on this weighty Report, and 
the subsequent negotiations by the Crown for the cession of the 
Hudson Bay Territories, are matters of history. The immedi- 
ate result of the transfer was the unhappy outbreak in 18G9 ; 
though the following year saw the retreat of disloj'alty and 
the advance of law and order. A vast continent came into the 
possession of the Canadian people ; — boundless stretches of rich 
prairie, verdant slopes and navigable rivers, with, it must not 
be concealed, not a little of rock and reeking swamp, and, in 
the inhospitable north, leagues of snow and desolation. What 
the country has become in the fifteen years that have elaps- 
ed since it passed from the sway of the Hudson Bay Com- 
pany is no slight tribute to the sagacity and foresight of those 
who were instrumental in ne^jotiating its transfer to the Can- 
adian people. As a preserve for game it has lost its value ; and 
in this respect the native inhabitant is a keen sufferer, while 
the fur trader has been despoiled of his trade. But in cattle- 
raising and agriculture, the hunter, as well as the settler, has a 
more assured means of livelihood than any to be found in the 
fruits of the chase. 

There are problems yet to be worked out in the settlement 
of the country, in turning the plains from a breeding- ground 
of buffalo to the purposes of the agriculturist and the civilised 
settler. But, for their solution, sagacity and prudence should 
be all that is necessary, coupled with patriotism and the reso- 
lution to do riorht, and to see that riofht alone is done. What- 
ever difficulties beset the immediate future, it is hoped that 
these will neither be prolonged nor insurmountable. The in- 
surgents of the North-West must be cured of their disposition 
to resort to insurgency. No men, race, or class of men, what- 
ever be their grievance, must be suffered to throw over consti- 
tutional means of seeking redress; nor should the ear of justice 

for valuable information placed by Mr. Draper at its disposal while acting at the 
enquiry as the representative of the Canadian Government. 


be inaccessible, or the hand of administration slow, in the appli- 
cation of a remedy. The resort to arms must be treated with 
no sentimental, still less with partisan or racial, leniency. In- 
surrection should meet with speedy suppression, and seditious 
speech sharply dealt with. There must be unfailing protection 
to life and property, abiding peace, and absolute security. Only 
on these conditions can the country be favourably settled, and 
a material and a moral advance made on the rule of the Hud- 
son Bay Company. 




HE North- West Fur Company, of Montreal, was 
for the space of nearly forty years an active and 
formidable rival of the Hudson Bay Company. 
It was entirely a Canadian venture, a private 
joint-stock company, composed of French, Scot- 
tish, and, to some extent, half-breed traders, 
without charter, or, so far as we can make out, 
license from the Government. Its object was to 
pursue the peltry trade, and to traffic and barter with the 
Indians. Next to the Hudson Bay Company, it was the most 
powerful trading organisation that ever entered the field of 
commerce in the North- West. Its history is marked by 
chronic feuds with the employes of its great English rival, and 
by a sanguinary conflict with Lord Selkirk's settlement on the 
Red River. In its encounter with the latter, twenty-two lives 
were lost, including the Hudson Bay Governor. Towards the 
colony of the Scottish nobleman it pursued a relentless and 
cruel policy. In its hostility it was actuated by the same 
spirit of opposition as that which actuated the English Com- 
pany in resisting the entrance of a rival in its own field. 
Neither Company loved the other ; and when the colony was 
founded it was with glee the Hudson Bay Company ofiicials 
saw the jealousy with which it was regarded by the rival insti- 
B 25 


tution. This jealousy it became the purpose of the Hudson 
Bay Company to inflame. By every art it embittered the 
feeling between the Nor'- Westers and the colony; and, later 
on, it readily lent its aid as an ally in the strife. Hard indeed 
was the lot of the Selkirk settlement under conditions so 
adverse. But it is not our purpose here to narrate the history 
of its career or to record its fate. This will be told in another 

The feud with the Scotch immigrants of the Selkirk colony 
was only an incident, though a prominent one, in the history 
of the conflict between the two trading organisations locally 
known as the "Nor'-Westers" and the "Hudson Bays." The 
intrusion of the former into what was deemed the exclusive 
possessions of the latter, was the occasion of a long and bitter 
strife. Organised in 1783, the North- West Company was not 
long in building up a successful trade, for its operations were 
conducted with skill, vigour, and enterprise. From the period 
of the Conquest to that of the establishment of the Canadian 
Company, many private traders had penetrated into the North- 
West. The head of Lake Superior was their common rendez- 
vous. From there the usual route to the west was by Rainy 
River, the Lake of the Woods, and the Winnipeg. Reaching 
the Red River they gradually extended their operations as far 
west as the Saskatchewan, and, ere long, to the forks of the 
Athabasca. There they intercepted the trade which was wont 
to seek the Hudson Bay posts on the Churchill. This rivalry 
at last woke the English Company from its lethargy, and it 
determined to send traders inland to recover its monopoly. 
By this time, however, the Montreal Company was not only in 
the field; it was strongly entrenched. Already it had posses- 
sion of the trade of the Red River, and had established a fort 
at the mouth of the Souris. 

But the Canadian Company was not only active; it was 
shrewd. The principle on which it was organised was a sort 
of co-operative one, which gave to its servants a share in tho 


profits of the business. Proportionately, all were partners in 
the concern ; hence, all had a personal interest in its suc- 
cess. The effect of this was to strengthen the Company, and 
to make it a formidable rival in the field. Every year saw its 
enterprising traders extend their operations further to the 
west. This could not go on undisturbed. The Hudson Bay 
Company, now fully alarmed at the encroachments of its rival, 
bestirred itself to oppose it. Wherever the Nor'- Westers con- 
structed a fort there the Hudson Bays established a rival one. 
Brought thus into close proximity, each bidding against the 
other for trade, it was impossible that they could live in peace. 
Each, moreover, claimed a right to th^ territory, the one by 
virtue of its charter, the other by right of discovery and first 
occupancy. It will be seen there was no lack of matter to 
wrangle over. 

Now began a many -years' conflict. The Hudson Bay Com- 
pany was a newcomer in the territory; the French had been 
actively in possession for over a century. As early as 1G27. 
forty years before the Hudson Bays had obtained their 
charter, a body of French traders, known as the "One Hun- 
dred Associates," was trafficing on the plains of the North- 
West. King Charles's deed to the Hudson Bay Company 
seems, indeed, to have been issued with a knowledge of this 
circumstance, for it cedes only those lands "not possessed by 
the subjects of any other Christian King or State." The 
French histoiian, Charlevoix, who visited Canada in 1720, and 
was well informed on the subject of the trade of the rival 
nations in Hudson Bay and the North-West, speaks scornfully 
of the pretensions of the English in these regions. A French 
Company operating in the territorj?^, and long in possession of 
it, was SUT9 to be aware of these facts, and naturally influenced 
by them. But the Nor'- Westers had another and a demon- 
strative ally in their employes, the Mdtis, or Bois-hrMes, who, 
of course, took the French view of the case. These "Half- 
breeds," who to-day form a considerable and an unsettled por- 


tion of the population of tlie North- West, were the progeny of 
the early French voyageur who had mated with the Indian. 
Later on, the Scotch trader and Company's employ^ was not 
loath to follow the example set him by his French fellow- 
countryman. He was of one mind with him, who, in the 
Laureate's poem, sighs for a barbarian's retreat, and escape 
from the links of habit and the ties of a conventional world: 

" There the passions cramped no longer shall have scope and breathing- 
I will take some savage woman, she shall rear my dusky race." 

The writer from wl^iom we have already quoted, * on the 
characteristic features of Hudson Bay rule in the North- West, 
speaks thus with reference to the Company's officers mating 
with the Indian races: 

"When the young clerk," he writes, "went out to the coun- 
try, a wife as a compagnon de voyage was out of the question ; 
and most frequently, when he was able to marry, he was far 
distant from the women of his own race, or from civilisation of 
any sort. The same was true of the early pioneers all over the 
American continent, few of them caring to take wives with 
them, but preferring, for a time at least, to push their fortunes 
alone. Absence from home, and a familiarity with the race 
around them, soon broke the links which once bound them to 
their fatherland and the women of their country, and many 
took wives from among the daughters of the soil. This was 
particularly common among the servants of the great fur com- 
panies, not only because few white women cared to take up 
their lot with the rovers of the wide fur-countries, but that it 
was also a matter of policy to ingratiate themselves with the 
powerful Indian tribes among whom they were thrown. The 
Hudson Bay Company, ever the most shrewd of merchants — 
most cautious of Scotchmen- — encouraged this mating with the 
Indian races among their officers and voyageurs, mainly in 
order that their employes might have ties which would retain 
them in the country and consolidate the foundations of the 
Company by bonds of relationship and friendship between all 

• " Story of a Dead Monopoly." Vide ComhiU, August, 1870. 


their factors, traders, and servants generally. So sons and 
daughters were born to the Macs and Pierres ; and the blood of 
Indian warriors, mingling with that of " Hieland lairds " and 
French bourgeois, the traders, the' trappers, and the voyageurs 
of the gi*eat Fur Company, began to flow in a steady stream all 
through ' His Majesty's Plantations in North America,' deep- 
ening and expanding until it reached from the Atlantic to the 
Pacific, from York Factory to Fort Victoria. * * * It used 
to be noted in the Company, in latter days, that if an officer 
married a " white girl " on any of his visits to Montreal or 
Victoria, he could give no surer guarantee of his fitness for 
non-advancement in the Company. ' Oor ain fish -guts to oor 
ain sea-maws/ used to be the motto of the Board of Manage- 
ment, composed of old factors who had daughters to marry. 
Young officers, knowing this, proceeded accordingly." 

But we have digressed somewhat from the matter before us. 
We were speaking of the " Half-breed " as an interested party 
in the feud between the rival trading Companies. He was, in 
truth, an influential factor in the struggle. At the time of 
which we write the " Metis" were almost entirely of French 
extraction, and were exclusively in the employ of the North- 
West Company. At a later date, on the Hudson Bay Com- 
pany beginning to trade in the south, its officers formed liasons 
with the young women of the various tribes, and an English, in 
contradistinction to a French half-breed race, in process of time 
sprung up. As yet, as we have said however, the Half-breed 
was of French descent and owned his allegiance to the Cana- 
dian Company. To that Company he naturally looked for 
employment; and he took to its service not only with alac- 
rit}' but with ancestral pride. For his duties he was admirably 
fitted ; for the Half-breed possesses, in addition to the French- 
man's versatility and ready resource, the Indian's skill as a 
canoeist and his intuitive knowledge of the woods. The pride 
and stately dignity of the old French noblesse, and the magnifi- 
cence of the Highland laird, who had now become an opulent 
fur-trader and possessor of large interests in the vast domain 
of the West, attracted the eye and won the heart of the simple 


child of the woods. This was true, indeed, not only of the 
Half-breed, but of the full-blooded Indian. To the French, both 
were drawn by characteristics of race, which found no counter- 
part in the English. The French race was quick to merge into 
the Indian, and to pick up the habits, and not infrequently the 
vices, of the dusky children of the woods. Parkman, the his- 
torian, remarks that the French colonists of Canada held, from 
the beginning, a peculiar intimacy of relation with the Indian 
tribes. Here are some passages from this gniphic writer,* 
which shew how French influence diffused itself throughout 
Canada, and infected both the Indian and the Half-breed. He 
is speaking specially of the period of French military domina- 
tion in the colony : 

" France laboured," he says, "with eager diligence to conciliate 
the Indians and win them to espouse her cause. Her agents 
were busy in every village, studying the language of the in- 
mates, complying with their usages, flattering their prejudices, 
caressing them, cajoling them, and whispering friendly warnings 
in their ears aorainst the wicked designs of the English. When 
a party of Indian chiefs visited a French fort, they were greet- 
ed with the firing of cannon and rolling of drums ; they were 
regaled at the tables of the ofticers, and bribed with medals 
and decorations, scarlet uniforms, and French flags. Far wiser 
than their rivals, the French never ruffled the self-complacent 
dignity of their guests, never insulted their religious notions, 
nor ridiculed their ancient customs. They met the savage 
half way, and showed an abundant readiness to mould their 
own features after his likeness. Count Frontenac himself, 
plumed and painted like an Indian chief, danced the war-dance 
and yelled the war-song at the camp-fires of his delighted allies. 
In its efforts to win the friendship and alliance of the Indian 
tribes, the French Government found every advantage in the 
peculiar character of its subjects — that pliant and plastic temper 
which forms so marked a contrast to the stubborn spirit of the 
Englishman. At first, great hopes were entertained that, by 
the mingling of French and Indians, the latter would be won 

***The Conspiracy of Pontiac." Vol. L 


over to civilisation and the Church ; but the effect was precisely 
the reverse ; for, as Charlevoix observes, the savages did not 
become French, but the French became savages. Hundreds 
betook themselves to the forest never to return. These over- 
flowings of French civilisation were merged in the waste of 
barbarism, as a river is lost in the sands of the desert. The 
wandering Frenchman chose a wife or a concubine among his 
Indian friends ; and, in a few generations, scarcely a tribe of 
the west was free from an infusion of Celtic blood. The 
French Empire in America could exhibit among its subjects 
every shade of colour from white to red, every gradation of 
culture, from the highest civilisation of Paris to the rudest bar- 
barism of the wigwam." 

" The fur-trade engendered a peculiar class of men, known 
by the appropriate name of bush-rangers, or coureurs de hois, 
half-civilised vagrants, whose chief vocation was conducting 
the canoes of the traders along the lakes and rivers of the in- 
terior ; many of them, however, shaking loose every tie of 
blood and kindred, identified themselves with the Indians, and 
sank into utter barbarism. In many a squalid camp among 
the plains and forests of the west, the traveller would have 
encountered men owning the blood and speaking the language 
of France, yet, in their swarthy visages and barbarous cos- 
tume, seeming more akin to those with whom they had cast 
their lot. The renegade of civilisation caught the habits and 
imbibed the prejudices of his chosen associates. He loved to 
decorate his long hair with eagle feathei-s, to make his face 
hideous with vermilion, ochre, and soot, and to adorn his greasy 
hunting frock with horse-hair fringes. His dwelling, if he 
had one, was a wigwam. He lounged on a bear-skin while his 
squaw boiled his venison and lighted his pipe. In hunting, in 
dancing, in singing, in taking a scalp, he rivalled the genuine 
Indian. His mind was tinctured with the superstitions, of the 
forest. He had faith in the magic drum of the conjuror ; he 
was not sure that a thunder-cloud could not be frightened 
away by whistling at it through the wing-bone of an eagle ; 
he carried the tail of a rattle-snake in his bullet pouch by way 
of amulet ; and he placed implicit trust in his dreams. This 
class of men is not yet extinct. In the cheerless wilds beyond 
the northern lakes, or among the mountain solitudes of the 
distant west, they may still be found, unchanged in life and 


character since the day when Louis the Great claimed sovereign- 
ty over this desert empire." 

In a fine passage, in the work from which we have made this 
extract, Mr. Parkman draws a characteristic picture of the 
Canadian woodsman, in contrast with the sturdy English col- 
onist, whose political and religious life developed a type quite 
diffeient from the easy-going French-Canadian, the product of 
feudalism and Mother-Church. Says this interesting writer : 

" In every quality of efficiency and strength, the Canadian 
fell miserably below his rival ; but in all that pleases the eye 
and interests the imagination, he far surpassed him. Buoyant 
and gay, like his ancestry of France, he made the frozen 
wilderness ring with merriment, answered the surly howling 
of the pine forest with peals of laughter, and warmed with 
revelry the groaning ice of the St. Lawrence. Carefess and 
thoughtless, he lived happy in the midst of poverty, content if 
he could but gain the means to fill his tobacco-pouch, and dec- 
orate the cap of his mistress with a ribbon. The example of a 
beggared nobility, who, proud and penniless, could only assert 
their rank by idleness and ostentation, was not lost upon him. 
A rightful heir to French bravery and French restlessness, he 
had an eager love of wandering and adventure ; and this pro- 
pensity found ample scope in the service of the fur-trade, the 
engrossing occupation and chief source of income to the colony. 
When the priest of St. Anne's had shrived him of his sins ; 
when, after the parting carousal, he embarked with his com- 
rades in the deep-laden canoe ; when their oars kept time to the 
measured cadence of their song, and the blue, sunny bosom of 
the Ottawa opened before them; when their frail bark quiver- 
ed among the milky foam and black recks of the rapid ; and 
when, around their camp-fire, they wasted half the night with 
jests and laughter, — then the Canadian was in his element. 
His footsteps explored the farthest hiding-places of the wilder- 
ness. In the evening dance, his red cap mingled with the 
scalp-locks and feathers of the Indian braves ; or, stretched on 
a bear-skin by the side of his dusky mistress, he watched the 
gambols of his hybrid ofispring, in happy oblivion of the part- 
ner whom he left unnumbered leagues behind. The fur-trade 
engendered a peculiar class of restless bush-rangers, more akin 


to Indians than to white men. Those who had once felt the 
fascinations of the forest were unfitted ever after for a life of 
quiet labour ; and with this spirit the whole colony of Canada 
was infected." 

Such were the characteristics of the French Canadian and 
the half-breed who eagerly entered the employment of the 
North- West Fur Company, and worked long and unweariedly 
in its interests. For a time no other race or class of men could 
have been more serviceable to the Company. They were 
inured to hardships ; they were at home in the woods ; their 
relations with the Indians were of the happiest ; and they 
were never home-sick, or out of humour with their surround- 
ings. Furthermore, they were always loyal to the Company. 
With zest did they enter into the feuds between it and its 
rival, and with equal zest did they take up their masters' 
unfortunate quarrel with Lord Selkirk and his colony. This 
nobleman's settlement on the Red River was, naturally enough, 
considered an usurpation, for he had acquired his rights by 
purchase from the Hudson Bay Company, who had neither 
discovered the region nor had been in occupancy. On the 
other hand, the North- West traders were the discoverers, and for 
many years had been in possession. In a dispassionate review 
of the facts, it is important that this should be borne in mind. 
The Conquest may be said to have given the English a right 
to the territory ; but in the absence of any confirmation of its 
charter, subsequent to that occurrence, it can hardly be said to 
have transfen-ed that right to the Hudson Bay Company. 

It is important also to note that the discoverers were not 
unauthorised adventurers. French trading operations were 
always coupled with the motive of discovery. It was the 
invariable policy of the French Government, through its repre- 
sentatives at Quebec, to encourage geographical research and 
advance the possessions of the Crown. As early as the year 
1717, M. de la NoUe, a young French lieutenant, was com- 
missioned by M. de Vaudieuil, the Governor, to proceed to the 


west on a mission of trade and discovery. By this and the enter- 
prises which immediately followed it, the whole vast interior, 
as far west as the Rocky Mountains, became known to the 
French ; and in the region they speedily established their forts. 
In 1731, they erected Fort St. Pierre, at the discharge of the 
Lac la Pluie (Rainy Lake), and in the follo^fing year founded 
Fort St. Charles on the Lake of the Woods, and Fort Maurepas 
on the "Winnipeg. In 1738, all the district of the Assiniboine 
was within the area of their operations, and Fort La Reine, on 
the St. Charles, and Fort Bourbon, on the Rivifere des Biches, 
were established. Five years later, the Verandryes took posses- 
sion of the Upper Mississippi and ascended the Saskatchewan 
in the interest of French trade. In 1766, the famous post 
of Michillimackinac, at the entrance of the Lac des Illinois 
(Michigan), was established. Other parts of the continent 
were also covered by the operations of the French traders and 
discoverers. Hudson Bay had early been reached by way of 
the Saguena}' and Lake St. John, by the Ottawa, and by Lakes 
Nipigon and Winnipeg. The Kaministiquia, at the head of 
Lake Superior, as we have seen, was the base of supplies for 
operations in the west, and the great rallying-place of the 
French trader and voyageur. In short, the whole country was 
probed and made known to the outer world by the enterprise 
of the French and the French Canadians. As a consequence, 
any maps of the interior that were at all trustworthy were 
those of the French : the charts of the English, until long after 
the Conquest, were ludicrously inaccurate. Hence the opposi- 
tion to the assumptions of the Hudson Bay Company, and the 
hostile rivalry which it engendered. After the Conquest, it is 
true, the French for a time abandoned their western posses- 
sions; but the old trading habit returned, stimulated, as we 
have seen, by the sturdy Scotch and the organization of the 
Canadian " Nor'- Westers." The success of this Company wa-^ 
remarkable. It had, however, its periods of trade depression 
and its years of disaster. A scourge of small-pox would break 


out among the Indians and for the season destroy its trade. 
Another year, there would be great floods in the west, and 
trade would be impeded if not wholly lost. Then there came 
the era of strife with the Red River colony and collision with 
the "Hudson Bays." In these engagements forts were fired 
and fur-depots destroyed. For a time hostilities were keen 
and continuous, and on both sides ruinous. Finally, the Hud- 
son Bays and the Nor'-Westers coalesced ; and from 1821 the 
amalgamated corporations traded under the old English title 
and charter of the Hudson Bay Company. This coalition of 
the Nor'-Westers with its English rival gave great strength 
to the united Company. It brought it an accession of capable 
traders and intelligent voyageurs and discoverers. In the 
service of the North-West Company were men — Alexander 
Mackenzie and David Thompson among the number — whose 
names will be forever identified with discovery in the North- 
West. The writer from whom we have more than once 
quoted, an old employ^ of the Hudson Bay Company, thus 
writes of the character and social status of the men it took over 
with the North-West Company : 

" The sleepy old Hudson Bay Company were astounded at 
the magnificence of the newcomers, and old traders yet talk 
of the lordly Nor'- Wester. It was in those days that young 
Washington Irving was their guest, when he made his memor- 
able journey to Montreal. The agents who presided over the 
affairs of the Company at headquarters were very important 
personages indeed, as might be expected. They were veterans 
that had grown grey in the wilds, and were full of all the 
traditions of the fur trade ; and around them circled the laur- 
els gained in the North. They were, in fact, a sort of com- 
mercial aristocracy in Quebec and Montreal, in days when 
nearly everybody was more or less directly interested in the 
fur trade." 

In Washington Irving's " Astoria," the record of John Jacob 
Astor's Fur-trading Expedition on the waters of the Columbia 
River, occurs a graphic description of the North-West Com- 


pany in the days of its prime. As the passage admirably 
describes a gathering at the annual conference of the Company 
at Fort William, we make no excuse for its insertion here, and 
with it shall conclude the present chapter. 

" To behold the North-West Company in all its state and 
grandeur it was necessary to witness the annual gathering 
at Fort William, near what is now called the Grand Por- 
tage, on Lake Superior. Here two or three of the leading 
partners from Montreal proceeded once a year to meet the 
partners from the various trading- places in the wilderness, to 
discuss the affairs of the Company during the preceding year, 
and to arrange plans for the future. On these occasions might 
be seen the change since the unceremonious times of the old 
French traders, with their roystering coureurs de bois. Now 
the aristocratic character of the Briton, or rather the feudal 
spirit of the Highlander, shone out magnificently ; every part- 
ner who had charge of an interior post, and had a score of 
retainers at his command, felt like the chieftain of a Highland 
clan, and was almost as important in the eyes of his depen- 
dants as of himself. To him a visit to the grand conference 
at Fort William was a most important event, and he repaired 
thither as to a meeting of Parliament. The partners from Mon- 
treal, however, were the lords of the ascendant. Coming from 
the midst of a luxurious and ostentatious life, they quite eclipsed 
their compeers from the woods, whose forms and faces had 
been battered by hard living and rough service, and whose gar- 
ments and equipments were all the worse for wear. Indeed 
the partners from below considered the whole dignity of the 
Company as represented in their own persons, and conducted 
themselves in suitable style. They ascended the rivers in great 
state, like sovereigns making a progress, or rather like High- 
land chieftains navigating their subject lakes. They were 
wrapped in rich furs, their huge canoes freighted with every 
convenience and luxury, and manned by Canadian voyageurs 
as obedient as clansmen. They carried with them cooks and 
bakers, together with delicacies of every kind, and abundance 
of choice wines for the banquets which attended this great con- 
vocation. Happy were they, too, if thej'^ could meet with any 
distinguished stranger — above all, with some titled member of 
the British nobility — to accompany them on this stately occa- 


sion, and grace their high solemnities. Fort William, the 
scene of this important meeting, was a considerable village on 
the banks of Lake Superior. Here, in an immense wooden 
building, was the great council-chamber, and also the banquet- 
ing-hall, decorated with Indian arms and accoutrements, and 
the trophies of the fur trade. The house swarmed at this time 
with traders and voyageurs from Montreal bound to the in- 
terior posts, and some from the interior posts bound to Mon- 
treal. The councils were held in great state, for every member 
felt as if sitting in Parliament, and every retainer and depen- 
dant looked up to the assemblage with awe, as to the House 
of Lords. There was a vast deal of solemn deliberation and 
hard Scottish reasoning, with an occasional swell of pompous 
declamation. These grave and weighty councils were alter- 
nated with huge feasts and revels. The tables in the great 
banqueting-room groaned under the weight of game of all 
kinds,; — of venison from the woods, and fish from the lakes ; 
with hunters' delicacies, such as buffaloes' tongues and beavers' 
tails ; and various luxuries from Montreal. There was no stint 
of generous wine, for it was a hard-drinking period, a time of 
loyal toasts and Bacchanalian songs and brimming bumpers. 
While the chiefs thus revelled in the hall, and made the raf- 
ters resound with bursts of loyalty and old Scottish song, 
chanted in voices cracked and sharpened by the Northern 
blast, their merriment was echoed and prolonged by a mongrel 
legion of retainers, Canadian voyageurs, half-breeds, Indian 
hunters, and vagabond hangers-on, who feasted sumptuously 
without, on the crumbs from their table, and made the welkin 
ring with old French ditties, mingled with Indian yelps and 



The English Trader, Alexander, Henry. 

NE of the conditions on which the Hudson Bay 
Company received its original charter was that 
it should interest itself in geographical research. 
To a trading corporation this was a foolish pro- 
viso. We have seen that the Company took no 
thought to colonise its possessions : on the con- 
trary, it did all it could to prevent settlement. 
The aid it gave to discovery, if we except some 
little assistance to the expeditions to the Arctic 
Seas in search of Franklin, was very slight. It sought solely 
its own interests. If it opened up regions in the North- West, 
it was to establish a trading-post, not to set up a meteorological 
station or erect an observatory. We doubt if its administra- 
tive officers could give, even approximately, the latitude and 
longitude of any one of its stations. Many of its traders and 
voyageurs doubtless, in time, became very familiar with the 
North- West, but only a few of them caught the adventurous 
spirit of the old navigators and travellers, and forgot their 
trading operations in their eagerness to explore the country. 
From the earliest period of colonial settlement at Quebec, the 
French led the van in all exploratory effort. The great water- 



ways of the country gave facilities in probing the continent. 
Quebec was but the gateway to the Far West. From its portal 
the Jesuit was the first to lead ofi" in the adventurous mission 
of carrying the Cross into the Canadian wilderness. Closely 
following the Black Robes, Champlain pursued his toilsome 
journey, by the Ottawa and Lake Nipissing, to the inland sea 
of the Hurons.* From the home of the Wyandot, detachments 
of the French missionaries threaded their way through the 
maze of islands in the Georgian Bay to the St. Mary's river 
and Lake Superior. Later on, Marquette tracked the mighty 
waters of Superior, and penetrated to the Mississippi. Down 
this great artery La Salle carried the fleur de lis to the 
Gulf of Mexico, and finally found an unknown grave in Texas. 
From the beginning of the seventeenth century the adventur- 
ous spirits of old France were to be found on all the great 
waters of the continent ; and the footsteps of French traders, 
guided, it may be, by an Algonquin Indian, might be traced on 
the crisp snow of even the western prairie. Over the latter, 
in 1738, the Verandryes, father and son, braved their course to 
the far Rockies, through untold dangers and over almost insur- 
mountable obstacles. 

War was not long in following on the trail of the explorer. 
Over the route taken by Joliet and Marquette to the west 
might be seen the armed column of Rogers' Rangers, on its way 
to the fort at Detroit. English garrisons were also to be found 
at Sault Ste. Marie, and at Green Bay, on Lake Michigan. 
Ere long the woods at Mackinaw resounded with the shrieks 
of Pontiac's victims in the treacherously captured garrison of 
Michillimackinac ; while a storm of blood and fire was passing 
over the region between Lake Erie and the Alleghanies. 
English and French blood also flowed freely on the shores of 
Lakes St. George and Champlain, and the woods of the neigh- 

* For an account of this iU-atarred expedition, and the subsequent Iroquoia mag- 
sacre of the Hurons and Jesuit Missionaries, see the Author's article on "The 
Georgian Bay and Muskoka Lakes," in Picturesque Canada, 


bourhood rang nightly with the hideous shouts of the war- 
dance. For a time exploration held its breath while the con- 
tinent was thrilled with the shock of battle at Quebec. 

We have mentioned the tragedy enacted at l^lichillimackinac, 
the result of the "conspiracy of Pontiac," whom Parkman 
terms the " Satan of the forest paradise." As it happened, the 
pioneer of the English fur trade in the west, Alexander Henry, 
had come to the Fort shortly after the Conquest to pursue his 
trade, and was one of its inmates at the time of the massacre- 
Some extracts from this trader's narrative of the occurrence, 
Mr. Parkman weaves into his own history of the Indian war 
after the Conquest. Henry's narrative is replete with interest, 
not only for the thrilling personal account he gives of the Ojib- 
way surprise and massacre of the English garrison, but for its 
record of trading operations in Western Canada, and in the 
Indian territories beyond the Red River. His work, * which 
is dated from Montreal, in 1809, is well written, and covers a 
period of trade and adventure from the years 1760 to 1776. 
In August, 1761, while as yet there had been no treaty of 
peace between the English and the Indians who had taken 
part with the French against the conquerors of the country, 
Henry decided to set out on a trading expedition from 
Montreal to Mackinaw, at the entrance to Lake Michigan. 
Receiving permission from General Gage, who was then Com- 
mander-in-Chief in Canada, and providing himself with a 
passport from the town major, he left Montreal on the 2nd of 
August, and Lachine on the following day. His party followed 
the usual route to the west, by the Ottawa and Lake Nipissing, 
By the end of the month, Henry had entered the Georgian Bay, 
and early in September, he reached the island of Michillimack- 
inac, sometimes called the " Great Turtle." Here our traveller 
was cautioned not to remain, as the Indians of the region were 

* " Travels and Adventures in Canada and the Indian Territories." By Alezan- 
der.Henry,iEsq. New York, 1809. 


hostile to his countrymen, and the few French-Canadians at 
the Fort were far from friendly. But Henry disregarded this 
advice, for the place was important to him in preparing his 
outfit for trade in the North-West ; though he took the precau- 
tion to cross the straits of Mackinaw and enter the Fort. The 
Fort at this time was garrisoned by a small number of militia 
who, having families, as Henry tells us, became less soldiers 
than settlers. Not a few of them had served in the French 
army ; at the Conquest they entered the service and accepted 
the pay of Britain. 

At the Fort, Henry was inform<3d that the whole band of 
Chippeways from the neighbouring island of Michillimackinac 
intended to pay him a visit, a piece of information which was 
far from agreeable to the adventurous trader. The report was 
true. Here is Henry's account of the unwelcome visit : 

" At two o'clock in the afternoon, the Chippeways came to 
my house, about sixty in number, headed by Minavavana, their 
chief. They walked in single file, each with his tomahawk in 
one hand and scalping-knife in the other. Their bodies were 
naked from the waist upward, except in a few instances, where 
blankets were thrown loosely over the shoulders. Their faces 
were painted with charcoal, worked up with grease ; their 
bodies with white clay, in patterns of curious fancies. Some 
had feathers thrust through their noses, and their heads decor- 
ated with the same. It is unnecessary to dwell on the sensations 
with which I beheld the approach of this uncouth, if not jfright- 
ful, assemblage." 

In the colloquy that ensued, Henry was far from being 
assured ; for, after an interval of pipe-smoking, during which 
the English trader endured the tortures of suspense, the chief 
addressed him in these words : 

" Englishman, it is to you that I speak, and I demand your 
attention ! Englishman, it is your people that have made war 
with our father, the French king. You are his enemy ; and 
how, then, could you have the boldness to venture among us 
his children ? You know that his enemies are ours. English- 
man, although you have conquered the French, you have not 

42 THB NORTfl-WESf : its HISTORY AND 11*8 f ROlTBLES. 

yet conquered us ! We are not your slaves. These lakes 
these woods and mountains, were left to us by our ancestors. 
They are our inheritance ; and we will part with them to none. 
" Englishman, our fathei', the King of France, employed oui 
young men to make war upon your nation. In this warfare 
many of them have been killed ; and it is our custom to retali- 
ate, until such time as the spirits of the slain are satisfied. 
But the spirits of the slain are to be satisfied in either of two 
ways : the first, by the spilling of the blood of the nation by 
which they fell ; the other, by covering the bodies of the dead, 
and thus allaying the resentment of their relations. This is 
done by making presents." 

Here Hemy, we can imagine, breathed freely. It was his 
trading outfit, not his life, that was most in danger. 

" Englishman, your king has never sent us any presents, nor 
entered into any treaty with us, wherefore he and we are still 
at war; and, until he does these things, we must consider that 
we have no other father or friend among the white men than 
the King of France ; but, for you, we have taken into consid- 
eration that you have ventured your life among us, in the 
expectation that we should not molest you. You do not come 
armed, with an intention to make war; you come in peace, to 
trade with us, and supply us with necessaries, of which we are 
much in want. We shall regard you, therefore, as a brother ; 
and you may sleep tranquilly without fear of the Chippeways. 
As a token of our friendship, we present you with this pipe 
to smoke." 

The natural apprehension with which Henry regarded the 
visit of the Chippeways, as will be seen, was relieved by the 
turn things had taken. It was not his life, but his goods, they 
wanted. There is a delightful naivete about the chief's speech, 
in his remarks about the giving of presents, a hint which 
Henry was slow to take, though he reluctantly acceded to a 
later request that the delegation should be allowed to taste his 
English " milk," i. e. rum. There is an amusing delicacy about 
the request for the rum, as Henry states it, which the Indians 
wanted to drink, so as to know " whether or not there was any 
difierence between the English and the French milk," adding, 


" that it was long since they had tasted any." Deeming it 
prudent that the rum should not be " drunk on the premises," 
he hastened to get some few presents, which he gave them, as 
he observes, with the utmost good will, and was glad to see 
them take their departure. 

Henry's relief from this visitation was but the prelude, how- 
ever, to another. No sooner were the Chippeways gone than 
two hundred of the neighbouring tribe of the Ottawas, from 
L'Arbre Croche, came out of Lake Michigan and drew their 
canoes up on the beach. They had heard of the arrival of the 
Englishman, Henry, and his trading expedition. The Ottawas, 
unlike the Ojibways, manifested no nice sense of delicacy in 
their overtures to the trader ; nor in their demands did they 
beat about the bush. They summoned Henry to appear before 
them, and without any preliminary palaver informed him of 
their object in coming to the Fort. Their demand was that 
Henry and the other traders who had come to Michillimack- 
inac should distribute, on credit, to each of the tribes merchan- 
dise and ammunition to the amount of fifty beaver-skins, the 
value of the goods to be repaid the traders on the return next 
summer of the Indians from their winter hunts. The demand 
was refused, as the Ottawas were known to be "bad pay;" 
but it was threateningly renewed, and the traders were given 
twenty-four hours for reflection. The next day there was a 
Council ; but Henry and his party thought it safest not to be 
present, though a message was sent asking that the amount of 
the credit demanded might be reduced. This was not enter- 
tained ; and threats of death were returned by the messenger 
should their demands not be complied with. That night news 
fortunately reached the small garrison of the near approach of 
some 300 men of the 60th Regiment, who had been sent from 
Detroit on detachment dutj'' at Michillimackinac and the other 
posts in the west. Henry and the traders spent a night of 
terror in their barricaded cabins, but on the morrow were re- 
lieved beyond measure to find that the Ottawas had fled with 


the dawn as the detachment of English troops reached the 

Free now to pursue his mission of trade, Henry got his party 
under way and despatched it to Sault Ste. Marie. For the 
next two years he seems to have spent the time alternately at 
the " Soo " and at Mackinaw. At the close of the year 1762, 
the post at the " Soo " was accidentally burned, and Henry in- 
forms us, that to obtain suitable shelter, and save themselves 
from famine, the garrison and the traders withdrew to Macki- 
naw. During the winter, rumours were rife of hostile designs 
against the English soldiery at Michillimackinac. The garri- 
son at this time, according to Henry, consisted of ninety pri- 
vates, two subalterns, and the Commandant. There seems to be 
doubt, however, of the accuracy of this statement. Parkman, 
who quotes from the letters of Captain Etherington, the Com- 
mandant of the Fort, gives the number of rank and file as 
thirty-five, exclusive of officers, traders, and non-combatants. 
The trader, Henry, was again an inmate of the Fort. Spring 
passed without incident, save an increasing restlessness among 
the Chippeways (Ojibways) of the district. To this little heed 
was paid by the deluded garrison. The Indians, indeed, were 
allowed to come to the Fort to buy from the traders knives 
and tomahawks. Henry, alone, seems to have been apprehen- 
sive. An Indian, named Wawatam, had taken a great liking 
to him, and imparted to him his fears for the safety of Henry 
and the garrison. This Henry communicated to Etherington, 
the Commandant, but the latter only laughed at the trader's 
uneasiness. The Indians, he affirmed, were friendly, and to em- 
pha-sise this, he added, that the Chippeways were on the morrow 
to play a game of baggattaway (lacrosse) with a band of the 
Sac Indians from Wisconsin. Unfortunate delusion ! The mor- 
row was the 4th of June, the birthday of King George. Here 
is Parkman's account of what happened on that anniversary : 

" The discipline of the garrison (on account of its being the 
King's birthday) was relaxed, and some license allowed to the 


soldiers .... Women and children were moving about the doors ; 
knots of Canadian voyageurs reclined on the ground, smoking 
and conversing ; soldiers were lounging listlessly at the doors 
and windows of the barracks, or strolling in careless undress 
about the area. 

" Without the fort the scene was of a very different charac- 
ter. The gates were wide open, and soldiers were collected in 
groups under the shadow of the palisades, watching the Indian 
ball-play. Most of them were without arms, and mingled 
among them were a great number of Canadians, while a mul- 
titude of Indian squaws, wrapped in blankets, were conspicuous 
in the crowd. 

" Captain Etherington and Lieutenant Leslie stood near the 
gate, the former indulging his inveterate English propensity ; 
for, as Henry informs us, he had promised the Ojibways that' 
he would bet on their side against the Sacs. Indian chiefs and 
warriors were also among the spectators, intent, apparently, on 
watching the game, but with thoughts, in fact, far otherwise 

" The plain in front was covered by the ball-players. The 
game in which they were engaged, called haggattaivay by the 
Ojibways, is still, as it always has been, a favourite with many 
Indian tribes. At either extremity of the gi'ound, a tall post 
was planted, marking the stations of the rival parties. The 
object of each was to defend its own post, and drive the ball to 
that of its adversary. Hundreds of lithe and agile figures 
were leaping and bounding upon the plain. Each was nearly 
naked, his loose black hair flying in the wind, and each bore in 
his hand a bat of a form peculiar to this game. At one moment 
the whole were crowded together, a dense throng of combat- 
ants, all struggling for the ball ; at the next, they were scatter- 
ed again, and running over the ground like hounds in full cry. 
Each, in his excitement, yelled and shouted at the top of his 
voice. Rushing and striking, tripping their adversaries, or 
hurling them to the ground, they pursued the animating con- 
test amid the laughter and applause of the spectators. Sud- 
denly, from the midst of the multitude, the ball soared into the 
air, and, descending in a wide curve, fell near the pickets of the 
fort. This was no chance stroke. It was part of a preconcert- 
ed stratagem to ensure the surprise and destruction of the 
garrison. As if in pursuit of the ball, the players turned and 


came rushing, a maddened and tumultuous throng, towards the 
gate. In a moment they had reached it. The amazed English 
had no time to think or act. The shrill cries of the ball-play- 
ers were changed to the ferocious war-whoop. The warriors 
snatched from the squaws the hatchets, which the latter, with 
this design, had concealed beneath their blankets. Some of 
the Indians assailed the spectators without, while others rushed 
into the fort, and all was carnage and confusion, At the out- 
set, several strong hands had fastened their gripe upon Ether- 
ington and Leslie, and led them away from the scene of the 
massacre towards the woods. Within the area of the fort, the 
men were slaughtered without mercy ! " 

While this butchery was going on, the traveller, Henry, tells 
us that he was in the Fort, employed in writing letters to be 
forwarded to his friends in Montreal. Presently the Indian 
war-cry reached his ears, and going to the window, he says : 

" I saw a crowd of Indians within the fort furiously cutting 
down every Englishman they found. I had in the room in 
which I was a fowling-piece, loaded with swan-shot. This I 
immediately seized, and held it for a few minutes, waiting to 
hear the drum beat to arms. In this dreadful interval, I saw 
several of my countrymen fall, and more than one struggling 
between the knees of an Indian, who, holding him in this man- 
ner, scalped him while yet living, At length, disappointed in 
the hope of seeing resistance made to the enemy, and sensible, 
of course, that no effort of my own unassisted arm could avail 
against four hundred Indians, I thought only of seeking 

This shelter, Henry sought at the house of his neighbour, a 
French-Canadian, who, with his countrymen, allies of the 
Indians, was exempt from attack. But its owner, a M. Lang- 
lade, refused to succour Henry, being unfriendly to the English, 
and disliking Henry as a rival in trade. Fortunately, a Paw- 
nee slave of the Frenchman showed our trader the humanity 
which her master had withheld, and conducted him to a place 
of hiding. Here he was subsequently discovered, but though 
his life was spared, he was subjected to every horror, and taken 
from one place of confinement to another. The thrilling dan- 


gers through which he passed, during the next few weeks, fill 
many ptiges in his narrative. For some time, he tells us, his 
only covering was an old shirt ; his bed was the bare ground ; 
and for days he was left without food. In one passage he 
says : " I confess that in the canoe with the Chippeways I was 
offered bread — but bread, with what accompaniment ! They 
had a loaf which they cut with the same knives they had used 
in the massacre — knives still covered with blood. The blood 
they moistened with spittle, and, rubbing it on the bread, 
offered this for food to their prisoners, telling them to eat the 
blood of their countrymen." 

We need not further follow the fortunes of Alexander 
Henry, except to see what became of him and his fellow-pris- 
oners taken at Michillimackinac, and to glance briefly at his 
subsequent travels in the North- Wost. To the friendship of 
the Indian, Wawatam, who interceded with the chief of the 
Ojibways for his life and personal safety, Henry owed his 
release from his savage captors. Painted and attired as an 
Indian, he spent the following winter with his rescuer on the 
north shore of Lake Huron. The remainder of the English 
prisoners were rescued by the Ottawas, of Lake Michigan, a 
neighbouring tribe who being incensed at the Chippeways' at- 
tack on Michillimackinac without having been asked to partici- 
pate in it, wished to deprive them of some of the glory of the 
victory, and induced their captors to give up the soldiers and 
traders still in their possession. These the Ottawas took to 
L Montreal, and received a ransom for them on their arrival, in 
■^ August, 1763. Henry, in the summer of the following year, 
had the opportunity, of which he gladly availed himself, to 
accompany a party of the Chippeways, of Sault Ste. Marie, who 
were setting out for Niagara, to which place they had been 
summoned by Sir William Johnson, for the purpose of entering 
into a treaty of peace with Great Britain. On the 18th of 
June, we learn from his narrative, that Henry was at Lac aux 
Claies (Lake Siracoe), from which he proceeded with the 


48 a:HE KORTH-WeST: ll'S HlSTORt AUD Its tROUBLfiS. 

Indian delegation by " the carrying-place " to Toronto,* 
thence across Lake Ontario to Niagara. 

At Niagara, Henry joined an army, consisting of some three 
thousand men, under General Bradstreet, who were about to pro- 
ceed to Detroit, to raise Pontiac's siege of that fort, which, for 
over a year, had been gallantly defended by Major Gladwyn^ its 
commandant. In the spring of 1769, we find him again at Sault 
Ste. Marie, pursuing his trading operations as far west as 
Michipicoten, on Lake Superior. Here, for a number of years, 
he was engaged in mining and prospecting, while at intervals 
he continued his fur-trade with the Indians. His success in 
the latter seems to have been great, for he writes, that in 
June, 1775, he left the Sault on his first trading expedition to the 
head of Lake Superior " with goods and provisions to the value 
of three thousand pounds sterling, on board twelve small canoes 
and four large ones." From here he proceeds, by the Grand 
Portage, to the Lake of the Woods, and ere long to the village 
of the Christineaux, or Crees, on Lake Winnipeg. Like most 
travellers of the period, Henry never fails to omit some descrip- 
tion of the tribes among whom for a time he sojourned, and of 
the social customs that prevail amongst them. Here are a few 
extracts from his narrative, chiefly concerning the female 

" The dress and other exterior appearances of the Christin- 
eaux are very distinguishable from those of the Chippeways and 
the Wood Indians. The men were almost entirely naked, and 
their bodies painted with a red ochre, procured in the moun- 
tains. Their ears were pierced, and filled with the bones of 
fish and of land animals. The women wore their hair of a great 
length, both behind and before, dividing it on the forehead and 
at the back of the head, and collecting the hair of each side 

*The following is Henry's reference at this period (1769) to the capital of Ontario : 
'* Toranto, or Toronto, is the name of a French trading-house, on Lake Ontario, 
built near the site of the present tjwn of York, the capital of the Province of 
Upper Canada." At the time our author's book was published (1809) York had 
been founded some sixteen years. 


into a roil, whicli is fastened above the ear ; and this roll, like 
the tuft on the heads of the men, is covered with a piece of 
skin. The skin is painted, or else ornamented, with beads 
of various colours. The rolls, with their coverings, resemble a 
pair of large horns. 

" The ears of the women are pierced and decorated like those 
of the men. Their clothing is of leather, or dressed skins of 
the wild ox and the elk. The dress, falling from the shoulders 
to below the knee, is of one entire piece. Girls of an early age 
wear their dresses shorter than those more advanced. The 
same garment covers the shoulders and the bosom ; and is fast- 
ened by a strap, which passes over the shoulders ; it is confined 
about the waist by a girdle. The stockings are of leather, 
made in the fashion of leggings. The arms, to the shoulders, 
are left naked, or are provided with sleeves, which are some- 
times put on, and sometimes suffered to hang vacant from the 
shoulders. The wrists are adorned with bracelets of copper 
or brass, manufactured from old kettles. In general, one per- 
son is worth but one dress ; and this is worn as long as it will 
last, or till a new one is made, and then thrown away. The 
women, like the men, paint their faces with red ochre ; and in 
addition, usually tatoo two lines, reaching from the lip to the 
chin, or from the corners of the mouth to the ears. They omit 
nothing to make themselves lovely. 

" Such are the exterior beauties of the female Christineaux ; 
and not content with the power belonging to these attractions, 
they condescend to beguile, with tender looks, the hearts of 
passing strangers. The men, too, unlike the Chippeways (who 
are of a jealous temper), eagerly encourage them in this design. 
One of the chiefs assured me that the children borne by the 
women to Europeans were bolder warriors and better hunters 
than themselves. The Christineaux have usually two wives 
each, and often three ; and make no difficulty in lending one of 
them, for a length of time, to a friend. Some of my men 
entered into agreements with the respective husbands, in virtue 
of which they embarked the women in the canoes, promising to 
return them next year. The women so selected consider them- 
selves as honoured ; and the husband who should refuse to lend 
his wife would fall under the condemnation of the sex in 

Such was the far from uncommon morality of this Indian 


tribe, and such the morality which Henry seems to have been 
obliged to countenance on the part of those who had entered 
his service. From the village of the Christineaux Henry and 
his party continued their voyage westward to Lac de Bourbon 
(Cedar Lake), where the elder Verandrye had established a 
fort about the year 1736. On the way he met the two broth- 
ers, Frobisher, who had been actively intercepting the trade of 
the Indians with the Hudson Bay Company, and had met with 
much success. He also fell in with Peter Pond, a Boston trader, 
of unenviable repute, who, in later years, was tried in the Que- 
bec Courts for the murder, in the North- West, of a Mr. Wadin, 
a fur trader. Pond had the luck to be released, on the ground 
that the jurisdiction of the Court did not extend to the distant 
territories of the North- West. Mr. Charles Lindsey, whose 
knowledge of early Canadian history is both extensive and 
accurate, states that this Peter Pond was at the elbow of the 
American Commissioners in settling boundary matters after 
the peace of 1793. "Pond," he observes, "is said to have 
designated to the American Commissioners a boundary line 
through the middle of the upper St. Lawrence and the Lakes, 
and through the interior countries to the north-west corner of 
the Lake of the Woods, thence west to the Mississippi ; a line 
tbat was accepted by the British Commissioners." * 

Joining their forces, for greater safety, the traders hurried 
forward, as there were signs of an early winter overtaking 
them, for which they were as yet unprepared. Moreover, the 
combined party was short of provisions : one hundred and 
thirty men, it was found, made large demands on the commis- 
sariat. The exigencies of the situation are thus described by 
our traveller : 

" On the twenty-first of September, it blew hard and snow 
began to fall. The storm continued till the twenty-fifth, by 

* "An Investigation of the Unsettled Boundaries of Ontario." By Charles 
Liudsey. Toronto : Hunter, Rose & Co., 1873. 


which time the small lakes were frozen over, and two feet o< 
snow lay on level ground in the woods. This early severity of 
the season filled us with serious alarm, for the country was 
uninhabited for two hundred miles on every side of us, and, if 
detained by winter, our destruction was certain. In this state 
of peril we continued our voyage day and night. The fears of 
our men were a sufficient motive for their exertions." 

But the party was beset by other perils besides those of the 
advancing season. At the mouth of the Saskatchewan, which 
was reached early in October, the traders were enabled to eke 
out their provisions with a supply of sturgeon from the river 
and of wild fowl from the reeds on its banks. Ascendingf the 
stream some leagues, they arrived at the village of a chief> 
locally known as the " Pelican," who with a large armed follow- 
ing barred all progress until black-mail was levied on the party. 
To this exaction, which was a heavy one, they had to submit 
rather than lose their lives, and with them, of course, all their 
effects. Finally, on the 2Gth of the month, they reached 
Cumberland House, a factory on Sturgeon Lake, which had 
been erected the previous year by Samuel Hearne, an explorer 
in the employ of the Hudson Bay Company. Of this notable 
traveller we shall have something to say in our next chapter. 
The past on Sturgeon Lake, which Henry informs us was then 
garrisoned by Orkney Highlanders, was established by the 
Hudson Bay Company to restore the trade which for sometime 
had been intercepted by Canadian merchants in its passage to 
the Churchill. Though the rival traders were unwelcome 
guests at Cumberland House, they were treated, nevertheless, 
with forbearance and civility. Here the expedition broke up ; 
some portion of it going in one direction, some in another. 

Henry and the brothers Frobisher resolved on joining their 
stock-in-trade, and on wintering together, in some favourable 
location, in the direction of the Churchill river. Crossing 
Sturgeon Lake, they ascended the Malign river, so called by 
the Canadians, we are told, from the vexatious delays occasioned 



by its numerous and strong rapids. The traders and their 
party of forty men at length reached Beaver Lake, where they 
determined to encamp for the winter. The camp-larder was 
kept well filled by the Indians. The supplies consisted of 
moose and beaver ; of pike, pickerel and sturgeon ; but chiefly 
of trout " from ten to fifty pounds weight," caught through 
holes in the ice, as our historian narrates, in twenty and thirty ^ 
fathoms of water. | 

Fortunately, there was no lack of food, for the winter was | 
long and severe ; the thermometer frequently registering 32° 
below zero. Notwithstanding the inclemency of the season 
Henry, early in the year 1776, determined to see something of 
the western prairies, and, if possible, to reach the country of 
the Assiniboines. In the expedition, he was to be accompanied 
by Joseph Frobisher as far as Cumberland House, 120 miles 
distant from Beaver Lake. Attended by three men, and pro- 
vided with supplies of pemmican (dried meat), frozen fish, and 
roasted maize, the ptirty set out on snow-shoes, well wrapped 
in bufialo robes, and made Cumberland House after a four 
days' tramp. The snow, says the narrator, was on an average 
four feet deep. From Cumberland House, our trader and his 
party pursued a westerly course on the ice, by way of 
Sturgeon Lake, to the Saskatchewan. The depth of the 
snow greatly impeded their progress; and by the time they 
reached Fort des Prairies, almost a month's journey from 
their last stopping-place, our travellers had exhausted their 
provisions, and, for the time being, their strength. But for 
chance putting in their way a deer that had broken through 
the ice, and, unable to extricate itself, had been frozen to death, 
the expedition would have been in great straits for food. 

Resting for a few days at Fort des Prairies, Henry and his 
attendants set out now for the plains, which they followed for 
many days' tramp towards the south-west. On the plains thej' 
suffered much from cold and exposure, for, in the absence of 
wood, they were unable to make a fire when they encamped. 


They also suffered greatly from blinding snow storms and 
piercing cold winds. Much to their relief, they at last reaohed 
the village of the Osinipoilles, or Assiniboines, where they were 
received with marked hospitality and ostentatious kindness. 
On their arrival, there was the usual " pow-wow," with the 
declamation of the chief, and the "ughs" of approving warriors; 
a lengthened period of pipe-smoking and mental stock-taking; 
ending with a great feast, and its scenes of gormandising and 
post-prandial Indian characteristics. 

The stay of our leader and his party among the Assiniboines 
was both pleasant and profitable. The tribal village was a con- 
siderable one, for Henry informs us that there were at least two 
hundred wigwams, each containing from two to four families. 
Here, for the first time, he saw a herd of hardy Indian ponies 
feeding on the skirts of the plain, and getting at the succulent 
grass by scraping the deep snow with their feet. Here, also, 
he had his first experience of a buffalo hunt, or, more properly, 
a hattvbe. Accepting the chief's invitation, Henry tells us, that 
he set out with a party of forty Indians and a number of 
women, for an island on the plain, some five miles from the 
village, where the buffalo were to be entrapped. Here is his 
account of the incidents of the hunt. 

" Arrived at the island, the women pitched a few tents, while 
the chief led his hunters to the southern end, where there was 
a pound or enclosure. The fence was about four feet high, 
formed of strong stakes of birch wood, wattled with smaller 
branches of the same. The day was spent in making repairs ; 
and by the evening, all was ready for the hunt. 

" At daylight, several of the more expert hunters were sent 
to decoy the animals into the pound. They were dressed in 
ox-skins, with the hair and horns. Their faces were covered, 
and their walk and gestures so closely resembled those of the 
animals themselves, that had I not been in the secret, I should 
have been as much deceived as the oxen. 

" At ten o'clock, one of the hunters returned, bringing infor- 
mation of the herd. Immediately, all the dogs were muzzled ; 
9,nd this done, the whole crowd of men and women auiroanded 


the outside of the pound. The herd, of which the extent was 
so great that I cannot pretend to estimate the number, was 
distant half a mile, advancing slowly, and frequently stopping 
to feed. The part played by the decoyers was that of approach- 
ing them within hearing, and then bellowing like themselves. 
On hearing the noise, the oxen did not fail to give it attention; 
and, whether from curiosity or sympathy, advanced to meet 
those from whom it proceeded. These, in the meantime, fell 
back deliberately towards the pound, always repeating the call 
whenever the oxen stopped. This was reiterated until the 
leaders of the herd had followed the decoyers into the jaws of 
the pound, which, though wide asunder toward the plain, 
terminated like a funnel in a small aperture or gateway; and 
within this was the pound itself. The Indians remark, that in 
all herds of animals there are chiefs or leaders, by whom the 
motions of the rest are determined. 

"The decoyers now retired within the pound, and were 
followed by the oxen. But the former retired still further, 
withdrawing themselves at certain movable parts of the fence, 
while the latter were fallen upon by all the hunters, and 
presently wounded and killed by showers of aftows. Amid 
the uproar which ensued, the oxen made several attempts to 
force the fence ; but the Indians stopped them, and drove them 
back by shaking skins before their eyes. Skins were also 
made use of to stop the entrance, being let down by strings as 
soon as the buffalo were inside. The slaughter was prolonged 
till the evening, when the hunters returned to their tents. 
Next morning all the tongues of the butchered oxen were 
presented to the chief, to the number of seventy-two. The 
women brought the meat to the village on sledges drawn by 
dogs. The lumps on the shoulders, and the hearts, as well as 
the tongues, were set apart for feasts; while the rest was 
consumed as ordinary food, or dried, for sale at the fort." 

It was the wish of our adventurous traveller to proceed further 
to the west, until he should reach the mountains, of which he 
had often heard, and the ocean that lay beyond. Like other 
travellers in the region, he imagined that the Rocky Mountains 
and the Pacific were less distant than was the fact. Even the 
cartographers of the period had hazy notions of the vast 
solitudes of the west, for they placed the coast-line of the 


Pacific only a little beyond Lake Athabasca. Few as yek 
knew the wide extent of the prairies. In some degree, the 
chief of the Assiniboines undeceived our traveller, and 
informed him that the mountains he desired to reach were far 
distant. Moreover, he told him, that between the village and 
the snow-capped "Rockies," there lay the country of the 
Snake-Indians and the Blackfeet, over which it was perilous 
to travel. Henry reluctantly concluded to w^end his way 

From the interestinfj narrative of this trader, we shall make 
one more extract, describing the people among whom he had 
pleasantly sojourned : 

" The men among the Assiniboines are well made, but 
their colour is much deeper than that of the more northern 
Indians. Some of the women are tolerably handsome, consider- 
ing how they live, exposed to the extremes of heat and cold, 
and enveloped by an atmosphere of smoke for at least one 
half of the year. Their dress is of the same material, and of 
the same form, as that of the female Christineaux. The 
married women suffer their hair to grow at random, and even 
hang over their eyes. [The fashion we should nowadays 
describe as " banged."] All the sex is fond of garnishing the 
lower edge of the dress with small bells, deer-hoofs, pieces of 
metal, or anything capable of making a noise. When they 
move, the sounds keep time and make a fantastic harmony. 

" The Assiniboines treat their slaves with great cruelty. As 
an example, one of the principal chiefs, whose tent was near 
that which we occupied, had a female slave, of about twenty 
years of age. I saw her always on the outside of the door of 
the tent, exposed to the severest cold ; and having asked the 
reason, I was told that she was a slave. The information 
induced me to speak to her master, in the hope of procuring 
some mitigation of the hardships she underwent ; but he gave 
me for answer, that he had taken her on the other side of the 
western mountains ; that at the same time he had lost a 
brother and a son in battle ; and that the enterprise had taken 
place in order to release one of his own nation, who had been 
a slave in hers, and who had been used with much greater 
severity than that which she experienced. The reality of the 


last of these facts appeared to me to be impossible. The 
wretched woman fed and slept with the dogs, scrambled with 
them for the bones which were thrown out of the tent. When 
her master was within, she was never permitted to enter ; at 
all seasons the children amused themselves with impunity in 
tormenting her, thrusting lighted sticks into her face ; and if 
she succeeded in warding off these outrages, she was violently 
beaten. I was not successful in procuring any diminution 
of her sufferings ; but I drew some relief from the idea that 
their duration could not be long. They were too heavy to be 

Contact with Europeans has had some influence, since the 
period of Henry's narrative, in rendering the Indian heart 
less inhuman. That it has not wholly civilised the tribes of 
the region, or taken from them their lust of blood, present day 
events, which have turned the strained eyes and anxious 
hearts of the people of the Dominion to the still desolate plains 
of the North- West, only too sadly indicate. But cruel as the 
Osinipoilles were to their enemies, our travellers found them 
friendly to the white man, and to those who treated them 
fairly, they were kind and hospitable. As yet, they had had 
little acquaintance with Europeans, at least not sufficient, as 
Henry observes, to affect their simple, pristine habits. Unlike 
their neighbours, the Christineaux, of whom they lived in fear, 
they were a harmless people, " with a large share of simplicity 
of manners and plain dealing." 

The Assiniboines, on being apprised of Henry's decision to 
proceed eastward, concluded to accompany him as far as Fort 
des Prairies, where the chief wished to barter peltry for neces- 
saries and the inevitable trinket. So nomadic are the Indians 
in their habits, that it was with little surprise Henrj'^ learned 
that on the morrow the whole camp would be in motion. At 
daybreak the lodges were struck; the poles and their bark 
covering were transferred to dog sleighs ; and at sunrise, amid 
the yelps and bowlings of the dogs, the village denizens filed 
Qut over the plain. The line of march, we are told, exceeded. 


three miles in length. On the way they fell in with another 
tribe (numbering a hundred tents), who were also proceeding 
to the Fort for the purposes of trade. Nearing their destina- 
tion, both tribes encamped in a wood ; their principal men 
only coming on to the trading-post with the products of the 

At the Fort, after a brief rest, Henry parted with his Indian 
friends, and continued his way from the Saskatchewan to 
Cumberland House, thence to his old camp on Beaver Lake. 
Here he found his men all in good health, but anxious for a 
change of scene. As spring was returning, and the water- 
fowl beginning to reappear, Henry and his friend, Frobisher, 
thought it would be safe to undertake a journey northward 
to Athabasca, which they had previously agreed upon. Ere 
long, our indefatigable travellers were again on the way, and 
Henry had additional matter furnished him for his narrative. 
On the fifth day they reached the Churchill, from which they 
turned westward, towards the high latitudes of Lake Athabasca. 
Having gone about three hundred miles, they found the lakes 
and streams still frozen, and their progress consequently im- 
peded. Reaching the Rapide du Serpent, they met a large 
party of Athabasca Indians journeying southward, and after a 
brief parley, they concluded to return with the Indians to their 
point of departure. From the Athabascas, Henry acquired a 
good deal of information about their country, and of the streams 
that flow northward to the Arctic Ocean. Possessed of this 
information, he seems to have been more content to give up 
his expedition. By the first of July they were back again at 
Beaver Lake. 

Here, having completed his commercial adventure, and made 
over the remainder of his merchandise to a brother of FrobLsh- 
er's, Henry, with his friend and following, set out on their 
return journey to the Grand Portage, near Lake SujDcrior, and 
from there to Montreal. We need not follow our trader 
further, save to relate his safe deliverance from the accidents 



and perils of the way, and his grateful arrival at the commer- 
cial metropolis of Eastern Canada. On an island in the Lake 
of the Woods, Henry observes, that he hailed a party of 
Indians, whom he saw encamped near by, in the hope of pur- 
chasing provisions, of which he and his men were much in 
need. He tells us, that " he found them full of a story that 
some strange nation had entered Montreal, taken Quebec, 
killed all the English, and would certainly be at the Grai.d 
Portage before we arrived there." From this disquieting, but 
distorted rumour, our trader was to get his first inkling of what 
had been going on in the outer world while he was figur- 
atively entombed in the wilds of the Far West. Continuing 
his journey, he was not long in learning of the outbreak of the 
American Revolution, and of Montgomery's abortive expedition 
to Quebec. Arriving, finally, at Montreal, the last words 
of Henry's narrative inform us, that " he found the province 
delivered from the irruption of the colonists, and protected by 
the forces of General Burgoyne." 



Joseph La France, and Samuel Hearne. 

'HE interest that centres in these old narratives 
of traders and discoverers in the Canadian 
North-West, few are aware of. Their un- 
wieldy quartos, it is to be feared, are seldom 
looked into; the notion prevails that their 
■writ^'s are either egotistical or garrulous, per- 
haps both. In some instances, the charge is 
true ; but allowance may well be made for 
this, when one considers to what danger they committed 
themselves, and what unrewarded toil was theirs, in venturing 
upon the journeys they undertook, through countries that 
were wholly unknown, and among tribes that were hostile 
and barbarous. Courageous as they were, there was need for 
courage ; for seldom a day would pass without their being 
confronted by "peril in some shape or other, to which the most 
daring would have to pay the tribute of fear. Known as the 
country now is, and the terrors of the way, consequently, in 
large measure, discounted, there are few who would care to 

trust themselves to even a holiday excursion in the sombre 



woods of the region, or on the awesome solitudes of the plains. 
Only a comfortable Pullman on the Canadian Pacific, well filled 
with friends, would give assurance to the nervous traveller in 
passing over a thousand miles of solitude, allay the spectre of 
his disturbing thoughts, and dispel the traditional memory of 
the stealthy Indian, his scalping-knife and tomahawk. 

Of the narratives of early English discoverers in the 
North- West, that of Alexander Henry, of which we made free 
use in our last chapter, is perhaps the most attractive. With 
the exception of his work, we know of none, save the records 
of afew French travellers, that treats of the region and period 
with so much intelligence, and personal and literary interest. 
Many years afterwards, we come to later travellers, and to des- 
criptions of the country and its people under altered circumstan- 
ces. The chief English narratives of the time deal with more 
northern regions. We have thus little account of early travels 
in the districts that have since been brought within civilisa- 
tion, and in some measure opened for settlement. Most writers 
treat of the territory round Hudson Bay, and of the waters 
that drain into the Arctic seas. This, of course, we naturally 
expect ; first, because the English approach to the region was 
via Hudson Straits, and, secondly, because the main object of 
discovery at the period was not to explore the interior of the 
continent, but to find a water highway to the Pacific. Of those 
who did explore the interior of the Continent, as it happens, 
they have not, to any extent, written about it. This is notably 
the case with both Hearne and Mackenzie, the former of whom 
discovered and wrote of the Copper Mine River, and the latter 
of the river that bears his name — both waters falling into the 
Arctic Ocean. The saiiie is true of other and less known wri- 
ters. The literature that deals with the Arctic seas, in con- 
nection with a waterway to the west, far exceeds that which 


deals with the inland possessions of the Hudson Bay Company 
or the overland route to the Pacific. 

From an early period the great Trading Company was im- 
portuned to extend its operations into the interior, and to do 
something to open up the country southward. Too long, it 
may be said, it refrained from adventuring in what was known 
to be a rough and wild country. But it was more than this ; 
it was a dangerous one. It was a country that was in posses- 
sion of a people with whom the English were almost incess- 
antly at war, and who were not only hostile themselves, but 
who had infected the native with the same bitter hostility. As 
far as trade was concerned, the Fur Company, unless forced to 
do so, had no cause to take up national quarrels. So long as 
the Indians brought peltry to the forts, the Company's em- 
ployes had neither the motive nor the desire to undergo the 
toil and the risk of long journeys in search of it. Were we 
the most partisan of the Company's apologists, this is all that 
can be said for its failure to open up the country. 

That the Hudson Bay Company wished to conceal all 
knowledge of the country, and that it resorted to untruth, as 
well as concealment, may be taken for granted. Both are now 
well ascertained facts. But when a great corporation has the 
monopoly of a valuable trade, it need occasion little surprise 
if it be jealous of interference with its right and privilege. 
Both its right and its privilege, we know, were long called in 
question ; and its jealousy of rivals in the field, at successive 
intervals, became a matter of grave public interest. One of 
the earliest writers to arraign the Company on its shortcom- 
ings is Arthur Dobbs, whose "Account of the Countries 
adjoining Hudson Bay " was published in the year 1744. 
Considering the early period in which he wrote, and the fact 
that his account of the country is written out from the oral 


report of a half-breed French trader, his work is of fair interest 
and accuracy. It has the serious drawback, however, of being 
without index, contents, or division into chapters. The chief 
source of his information was a native, named Joseph La 
France, whom he describes as a " French Canadese Indian." 
This half-breed, we learn, was born at Michillimackinac early 
in the eighteenth century, and on the death of his mother, 
when he was but five years old, he was taken by his father to 
Quebec to learn French. When he had grown up, he took to 
the fur- trade ; and for over twenty years travelled through the 
whole of the French Colony, and into many portions of the 
North-Wcet. He seems to have been an intelligent observer 
of the country, and to be more than usually familiar with 
what was going on in it. 

From Mr Dobbs's narrative of La France's story, we learn 
that he was a French outlaw, or, at least, an unlicensed, run- 
away trader ; and that he came to the English, at Hudson Bay, 
owing to a falling out with the French Governor. Here is an 
extract from the narrator's account of this incident : " About 
six years ago he (La France) went to Montreal with two 
Indians and a considerable cargo of furs, where he found the 
Governor of Canada, who wintered there. He made him a 
present of marten-skins, and also 1000 crowns for a conge, or 
license to trade in the following year. But in spring he would 
neither give him his conge nor his money, under pretence that 
he had sold brandy to the Indians, which is prohibited, and 
threatened him with imprisonment for demanding his money^ 
So he was obliged to steal away with his two Indians, three 
canoes, and what goods he had got in exchange for his furs." 

La France, the narrator states later on, was met on 
Lake Nipissing by a brother-in-law of the Governor, who was 
crossing the lake with thirty soldiers and a number of Indian 


guides and carriers, conveyed in a fleet of nine canoes. Here 
our trader was seized, as a runaway without a passport, and 
his goods were confiscated. During the night he managed, 
however, to make his escape, " with only his gun and five 
charges of powder and ball." After many hardships, he 
reached Sault Ste Marie, and here determined to go to the 
English post on Hudson Bay. He left the Sault in the 
beginning of the winter of 1739, and, as we are told, lived and 
hunted for a while on the north shore of Lake Superior, with 
the Saulteaux, among whom he had previously traded. 
Through the country of this tribe, and through the territories 
inhabited by the Sturgeon Indians, the Sioux, the Crees, and 
Ai5siniboines, he successively passed, feeding himself on the 
way by the aid of his rod and gun, and sheltering himself at 
night under brushwood, or whatever cover was available. 
The spring of 1742 had arrived by the time he reached the 
Nelson River. Here he met with a party of Indians, 100 
canoes in number, on their way to York Factory, with their 
product of the winter's hunt. Setting out with these Indians, 
La France spent the next few weeks on the river, and arrived 
at the Factory on the 24th of June. Mr. Dobbs, quoting from 
our trader, gives some facts, which are here worth recording, 
of the trade of the period at York Factory, and the small sums 
allowed the Indians in exchange for the peltry. 

"The natives," he says, "are so discouraged in their trade 
with the Hudson Bay Company that no peltry is worth the 
carriage, and the finest furs are sold for very little. When La 
France's party arrived at the Factory, in June, 1742, the prices 
asked for European goods were much higher than the settled 
prices fixed by the Company, which the Governors fix so, to 
shew the Company how zealous they are to improve their 
trade, and sell their goods to advantage. They give but a 
pound of gunpowder for four beavers ; a fathom (sic) of tobacco 
for 7 beavers ; a pound of shot for 1 ; an ell of coarse cloth for 


15 ; a blanket for 12 ; 2 fish-hooks or three flints for 1 ; a gun 
for 25 ; a pistol for 10; a common hat, with white lace f!) 7 ; 
an axe, 4 ; a bill-hook, 1 ; a gallon of brandy, 4 ; a checked shirt, 
7 ; — all of which are sold at a monstrous profit, even to 2000 
per cent. Notwithstanding this discouragement, the two fleets 
which accompanied La France carried down 200 packs of 100 
each — 20,000 beavers ; and the other Indians who arrived that 
year, he computed, carried down 300 packs of 200 each — , 
30,000— in all 50,000 beavers, and above 9000 martens * 

As we have previously recorded, the half-breed, Joseph La 
France, an extract from whose narrative is here given by us, 
found his way to England in one of the trading-ships of 
the season. Here he seems to have met with the writer who 
becomes the historian of his travels. This writer appears to 
have been a person of influence, for he is styled, in a letter oc- 
curring in the text, the Honourable Arthur Dobbs. Mr. Dobbs 
has a mission, in which he takes evident delight, namely, to 
censure the Hudson Bay Company, and, in true John Bull 
fashion, to excite the feelings of his countrymen against the 
French, and their monopoly of the inland fur-trade in the Can- 
adian colony. This is the burden of his work ; though in his 
pages there is much information that, at the period, must have 
been new and important with regard to the colony, its charac- 
teristic features, its trade and people. From La France's know- 
ledge of the country, supplemented by considerable reading. 
Ids historian is enabled to describe, with tolerable accuracy, the 
situation, extent, and physical aspects of the rivers, lakes, and 
plains of the interior. He is also able to give a familiar ac- 
count of the Indian tribes, their habits and pursuits, and some 
detail of the animal life of the regions traversed. 

In some parts, Mr. Dobbs's narrative reads as if he were de- 
scribing a terrestrial paradise. So far as his lumbering sen- 

* " An Account of the Countries adjoining Hudson Bay." By Arthur Dobbs* 
London, 1744. 


te^es permit, he grows eloquent over the great lakes and 
wide stretches of fair territory in various portions of the coun- 
try. At the same time, he bemoans the melancholy fact that 
this great possession is cursed by the laissez-faire administra 
tion of a gigantic monopoly. He has a great deal to say of a 
Captain Middleton, a navigator in the employ of the Hudson 
Bay Company, whom he accuses of studied concealment of his 
discoveries, and wicked aspersion of the country and its North- 
em approaches. With Middleton he enters into a long corres- 
pondence over a presumed waterway from Hudson Bay to Japan, 
a waterway which Middleton, for sinister purposes, he thinks, 
conceals. In this delusion he his encouraged by the receipt of 
letters from some of the crew and subordinate officers who made 
voyages with Middleton. Of the practicability of the Hudson 
Bay route to the North- West, and its advantage in giving speedy 
access to the heart of the continent, Mr. Dobbs held strong opin- 
ions, and, in the main, his views were correct. We are to-day 
only finding this out. The Canadian Hudson Bay Expedition 
of 1884, for which the Dominion Parliament voted $100,000, 
but reiterates what Mr. Dobbs had to say of the route one hun- 
dred and fifty j^ears ago. The commercial importance of the 
Expedition, and the results obtained through the labours of 
Lieut. Gordon and his staff, are nevertheless great. The in- 
formation gleaned respecting the route establishes not only its 
feasibility, but its gi-eat advantage in materially shortening 
the passage between Europe and Asia. To those in search of 
facts on this subject, we commend a perusal of the Report of the 
Expedition, also a valuable compilation from the pen of Mr. 

In connection with this region, the period of which we write 
supplies us with one other work of more than average note in 

* " Our North Land : a Narrative of the Hudson Bay Expedition of 1884." By 
Charles R. Tuttle. Toronto, 1885. 


the records of discovery in the North- West, We refer to the 
account of the expedition, during the years 1770-72, to the 
Copper Mine River, undertaken at the request of the Hudson 
Bay authorities by Samuel Hearne, an old employ^ of the Com- 
pany. A further object of that expedition was to discover, if 
possible, a practicable passage-way to the Northern Ocean. 
Mr. Hearne's name, it will be remembered, we have already men- 
tioned in connection with the founding of the Company's post at 
Cumberland House. He was a trusted servant of the Company. 
Though his name appears in the literature of Arctic travel, in 
connection with his famous journey to the country of the Copper 
Mine Indians, he is well known as an early traveller and vet- 
eran explorer in the Canadian North- West. So intelligent an 
observer, and so capable a writer, as he is, it is a matter of re- 
gret that he left no work recording his travels in the latter 
region. His only published work is his " Journey to the Copper 
Mine River," which was issued in London, in 1795. 

In the introduction to that work, Mr. Hearne pays some at- 
tention to the writers who preceded him in describing the 
country, and refers by name to Arthur Dobbs, whose book we 
have just epitomised. His object in noticing these early writers 
is to relieve his employers, the Hudson Bay Company, from 
what he terms *' the aspersions of interested parties," who ac- 
cuse the Company of being adverse to discovery. In the advo- 
cacy of his patrons, he points with evident pride to their en- 
couragement of his own expedition, though he is frank enough 
to admit that the Company's past actions in Hudson Bay, and 
the secrecy which characterised investigation in the region, 
may have justly prejudiced public opinion against the Company. 
In regard to his expedition to the Copper Mine River, there is 
no doubt that the Company was both liberal in the treatment of 
its employ^, and generous in providing him with repeated out- 


fits for the journey. We say repeated, for Hearne had to re- 
turn twice before making a successful start, owing to the break 
down of expeditions after they had been some weeks on the 
way. The failure of the first expedition was due to his having 
attached to his party two white men — favourites of the Gov- 
ernor of Prince of Wales's Fort, from which Hearne started, — 
men whom he could make nothing of, and whose idleness en- 
couraged mutiny and desertion in the ranks. The second ex- 
pedition was unsuccessful from a rather amusing cause. This 
cause is explained by an Indian chief, named Matonabbee, 
whom Hearne meets in his distress, and who, on the return of 
the expedition, agrees to go with it on its third venture. Here 
is Hearne's account of Matonabbee's explanation of the failure 
of the second expedition : " He attributed all our misfortunes," 
writes Hearne, " to the misconduct of my guides, and to the 
plan we pursued, by the desire of the Governor, of not talcing 
any women with us on this journey. ' This,' he said, * was the 
principal thing that occasioned all our wants, for,' said he, 
' when all the men are heavy laden they can neither hunt nor 
travel to any considerable distance ; and in case they meet with 
success in hunting, who is to carry the produce of their labour ? 
Women,' added he, * were made for labour ; one of them can 
carry, or haul, as much as two men can. They also pitch our 
tents, make and mend our clothing, keep us warm at night ; 
and, in fact, there is no such thing as travelling any consider- 
able distance, or any length of time, in this country, without 
their assistance. Women,' said he, again, ' though they do every- 
thing, are maintained at a trifling expense ; for as they always 
act as cooks, the very licking of their fingers, in scarce times, 
is sufficient for their subsistence.' This, however odd it may 
appear," remarks Hearne, " is but too true a description of the 
situation of women in this country ; it is at least so in appear- 


ance ; for the women always carry the provisions, and it is more 
than probable they help themselves when the men are not 

Could argument go further in support of the theory of the 
indispensableness of women in such expeditions as that to 
which Hearne had committed himself ! " Revolt of women," 
do we hear ? Why, the cry is monstrous, when they possess 
the priceless privilege of " licking their fingers," while their 
lords' share was but the crumbs of the feast, not to speak of 
" sly snacks " which the women might have by the way, or 
hoarded store, to be partaken of without fear " when the men 
are not present ! " But the injustice to the sisterhood, among 
these Noi-thern Indians, has not yet been fully told. Reading 
on in Hearne's narrative, we make a discovery, which we will 
ask our readers if it does not throw light on the Governor's 
despatch of the second expedition womenless. We find that 
our author, in a footnote, gives a sketch of the person and 
habits of the Governor of the Fort, which, though no doubt 
true, is too indelicate to transfer to our pages ; and we wonder 
at Hearne's indiscretion in giving it publicity when he had 
just been making a case for his employers and their adminis- 
tration in the district. But for our discovery. The Governor, 
it seems, was an Indian, a native of the Fort, who had been 
educated in England. On his appointment to the Hudson 
Bay post, we learn that though an able and competent official, 
he lapsed into the practices of his ancestry. He had many 
wives. Of these he was jealous ; and of other men's he was 
covetous. Need we make the deduction? Hearne's second 
expedition was sent off without women. After Metonabbee's 
explanation of its failure, not so was the third. 

On the 7th of December, 1770, Hearne left Prince of Wales's 
Fort, at the mouth of the Churchill, on his third essay to reach 


the Copper Mines. The direction his party took was north- 
west by west, through thick scrubby woods, consisting chiefly 
of stunted pine, with dwarf juniper intermixed here and there, 
particularly round the margins of ponds and swamps, and 
dark willow bushes. Among the rocks and sides of the hills 
there were also clumps of poplar. So barren of animal life 
was the region that the party was frequently in great straits 
for food. Passing through this desolation, they found the 
country improve, and that deer was to be met with. By the 
end of the year they reached Island Lake, 102° west longitude 
from Greenwich, a march of 7° westward, and 2° to the north 
from the Fort. 

At Island Lake, which is a rendezvous of the Northern 
Indians who trade with the Hudson Bay post on the Churchill, 
the party rested for a while, and took the opportunity to 
repair their snowshoes and sledges, in preparation for their 
long journey. The game of the region enabled them also to 
provide a bountiful stock of provisions. By the 21st of 
February, they reached Snowbird Lake, where they found 
plenty of deer, among which the Indians, with their usual 
improvidence, made great havoc and indulged in inordinate 
feasts. Feasting, however, was excusable, as the cold was 
intense. Several of the Indians, our author relates, were much 
frozen ; but none of them more so than one of Matonabbee's 
wives, " whose thighs and buttocks were in a manner incrust- 
ed with frost ; and when thawed, several blisters arose, nearly 
as large as a sheep's bladder." Hearne adds, that " the pain 
the poor woman suffered on this occasion was greatly 
aggravated by the laughter and jeering of her companions, 
who said that she was rightly served for belting her clothes so 
high. I must acknowledge that I was not of the number of 
those who pitied her, as I thought she took too much paiu.s to 


show her garters, which, though by no means considered here 
as bordering on indecency, is by far too airy to withstand the 
rigorous cold of a severe winter in a high Northern latitude." 

The attractions of the sex in the cold regions of the North 
are not many. The women, as a rule, are very masculine, and 
even when young are perfect ' antidotes to love and gallantry.' 
Their much out-door life, exposure to long and severe winters, 
hard labour in hauling heavy loads, and their nomadic habits, 
make early havoc of their beauty. In what their beauty 
consists, Hearne tells us ; namely, " A broad, flat face ; small 
eyes ; high cheek-bones ; three or four black lines across each 
cheek ; a low forehead ; a large, broad chin ; a clumsy hook 
nose ; and a tawny hide." Those beauties, he adds, are greatly 
heightened, or at least rendered more valuable, when tie pos- 
sessor " is a good cook, is capable of dressing all kinds of skins, 
converting them into the different parts of their clothing, and 
able to carry eight or ten stone in summer, or haul a much 
greater weight in winter." Their wants are few, as are those 
of the tribe in general. Their whole aim is to secure a com- 
fortable subsistence. Even in obtaining this they show little 
ambition. Were they to do so, they would only be unhappy ; 
for those who exert themselves in gaining a more comfortable 
living, the more readily fall a prey to the strongest among the 
men, who afterwards make slaves of them. Among the men 
of this tribe it is the custom to wrestle for the women to whom 
they are attached, and, as a matter of course, the best athlete 
carries off the prize. Hearne tells us that : 

" A weak man, unless he be a good hunter and well-beloved, 
is seldom permitted to keep a wife that a stronger man thinks 
worth his notice. ... It was often unpleasant to me," he adds, 
" to see the object of the contest sitting in pensive silence watch- 
ing her fate, while her husband and his rival were contending 
for the prize. I have indeed, not only felt pity for those poor 


wretched victims, but tlie utmost indignation when I have 
seen them won perhaps by a man whom they mortally hated, 
On those occasions their grief and reluctance to follow their new 
lord has been so great that the business has ended in the 
greatest brutality ; for in this struggle, I have seen the poor 
girl stripped quite naked, and carried by main force to her 
new lodgings. At other times it was pleasant enough to see a 
fine girl led off the field from a husband she disliked, with a 
tear in one eye and a finger on the other : for custom, or deli- 
cacy if you please, has taught them to think it necessary to 
whimper a little, let the change be ever so much to their incli- 

In May, 1771, the expedition reached Lake Clowey, five de- 
grees east of Lake Athabasca. From here, the route lay due 
North. While at Clowey, the party was joined by a number of 
neighbouring Indians, who accompanied Hearne on his expe- 
dition. Their reason for doing so transpired only on the way. 
It seems they had an old quarrel with the Esquimaux at the 
mouth of the Copper Mine River, and, without Hearne's know- 
ledge, they had secured promise of assistance from the Indians 
belonging to the expedition, in avenging themselves on their 
enemies. Hearne's protests against this proceeding were un- 
availing ; his entreaties were received with derision ; and he 
was personally accused of cowardice. As his personal safety 
depended on the favourable opinion his followers entertained 
of him, he was reluctantly obliged to conceal his humanity, if 
not to manifest a bellicose tone and manner. As he tells us, 
he made no further attempt to turn the current of national 

On the first of June, the party rid itself of the women, chil- 
dren, dogs, heavy baggage, and other encumbrances, and with 
speed pursued the journey northward. By the end of the 
month, the lakes and rivers were free of ice, and they now 
made use of their canoes. Before the month was out, they 
reached the country of the Copper Indians ; and here, by means 


of an interpreter, Hearne informed the natives of the objects 
of the expedition. The calumet was smoked with their chiefs, 
who declared themselves pleased with the visit and the pros- 
pect of trade with the white man. The pow-wow ended with 
the usual exchange of presents. Hearne remarks that though 
the Copper Indians " have some European commodities among 
them, which they purchase from the Northern Indians, the 
same articles from the hands of an Englishman were more 
prized. As I was the first whom they had ever seen, and in 
all probability might be the last, it was curious to see how 
they flocked about me, and expressed as much desire to ex- 
amine me from top to toe as a European naturalist would a 
nondescript animal. They, however, found and pronounced 
me to be a perfect human being, except in the coJour of my 
hair and eyes ; the former, they said, was like the stained hair 
of a buffalo's tail, and the latter, being light, was like those of 
a gull. The whiteness of my skin also was, in their opinion, 
no ornament, as they said it resembled meat which had been 
sodden in water till all the blood was extracted. On the whole 
I was viewed as a great curiosity in this part of the world." 

The month of July brought Hearne and his party to the up- 
per portion of the Copper Mine River. Here, on its banks, 
they found the musk-ox, or moose, feeding ; they also met with 
the ground squirrel, and got on the track of bears. Hearne pro- 
ceeded with his survey. He had not gone far down the river 
before he was startled by the intelligence that the scouts of his 
party had come across a camp of Esquimaux. Instantly, the 
whole of his followers put on the war-paint. But we must 
leave Hearne to tell the story of what followed : — 

" By the time the Indians had made themselves thus com- 
pletely frightful," he writes, " it was near one o'clock in the 
morning of the seventeenth ; when finding aU the Esquimaux, 
whom they had now reached, quiet in their huts, they rushed 


From a Portrait of five years ago 


from their ambuscade and fell on the poor unsuspecting crea- 
tures, unperceived, till close to the very eaves of their huts, 
when they soon began the bloody massacre, while I stood 
neuter in the rear. 

" In a few seconds the horrible scene commenced ; it was 
shocking beyond description ; the poor, unhappy victims were 
surprised in the midst of their sleep, and had neither time nor 
power to make any resistance. Men, women, and children — in 
all upwards of twenty — ran out of their huts naked, and en- 
deavoured to make their escape; but the Indians having 
possession of all the land side, to no place could they fly for 
shelter. One alternative only remained, that of jumping into 
the river ; but, as none of them attempted it, they all fell a 
sacrifice to Indian barbarity. 

" The shrieks and groans of the poor expiring wretches were 
dreadful ; and my horror was much increased at seeing a young 
girl, seemingly about eighteen years of age, killed so near me, 
that when the first spear was stuck into her side she fell down 
at my feet and twisted round my legs, so that it was with 
difficulty I could disengage myself from her dying grasp. As 
two Indians pursued this unfortunate victim, I begged very 
hard for her life. The murderers made no reply till they had 
stuck both their spears through her body, and transfixed her 
to the ground. They then looked at me sternly in the face, 
and began to ridicule me, by asking if I wanted an Esquimaux 
wife; and paid not the smallest regard to the shrieks and 
agony of the poor wretch who was twisting round their spears 
like an eel. . . . My situation and the terror of my mind 
at beholding this butchery cannot easily be conceived, much 
less described. Even to this hour I never reflect on the tran- 
sactions of that horrid day without shedding teai'S." 

After this scene of wanton atrocity, Hearne's task in com- 
pleting the survey of the river, and making an examination of 
the region, as may readily be imagined, was not a pleasant one. 
A neighbouring camp of Esquimaux, whose inmates had escaped, 
though they had heard of the massacre, kept Hearne's party on 
the qui vlve for reprisals. None, however, was offered ; and 
our traveller was enabled to reach the Arctic Sea and the 
mouth of the Copper Mine River in safety. Here, he tells us. 


he erected a mark, and took possession of the coast on behalf 
of the Hudson Bay Company. The appearance of the coast was 
desolate in the extreme. Landward, nothing was seen, save a 
few cranberry bushes, and a range of barren hills and marshes. 
Seaward, broken ice was still visible. In a ravine were a few 
miserable hovels, mostly underground, which had been deserted 
by some wandering family of Esquimaux. Strewn about was 
the debris of bones and scraps of skins ; in some of the huts 
were stone kettles, horn dishes and spoons, and severalhatchets, 
rudely headed with copper. 

The animal life of the region consisted of mice, Alpine hares, 
wolverines, and ground-squirrels. Musk-oxen, bears, and deer, 
and a beautiful breed of dogs, with sharp, erect ears, pointed 
noses, and bushy tails, were also met with. About the shores 
were flocks of sea-fowl, comprising loons, geese, and Arctic 
gulls. On drifting hummocks of ice, seals were visible. Of 
the richness of the copper mines, Hearne, evidently, was not 
convinced. One piece of the ore, weighing over four pounds, 
he found tolerably pure and of good quality ; but his search for 
the metal was on the whole indifferently rewarded. He ap- 
pears to have contented himself, however, with a surface 
survey ; and, probably from want of tools, made no excava- 
tions. Seemingly to justify his unsuccess in finding copper, 
Hearne, with no little simplicity, tells the following story, 
which he gathered from the Indians of the region : 

"There is a strange tradition among those people, that the 
first person who discovered those mines was a woman, and that 
she conducted parties to the place for several years. On one 
occasion some of the men were rude to her, and she made a vow 
to be revenged on them. She is said to have been a great con- 
juror. Accordingly, when the men had loaded themselves with 
copper and were going to return, she refused to accompany 
them, saying that she would sit on the mine till she sunk into 
the ground, and that the copper would sink with her. The 


next year, when the men went for more copper, they found her 
sunk up to the waist, though still alive, and the quantity of 
copper much decreased. On their repeating their visit the fol- 
lowing year, she had quite disappeared, and all the principal 
part of the mine with her; so that after a period nothing 
remained on the surface but a few small pieces, and these were 
scattered at a considerable distance from each other. Before 
that period, they say the copper lay on the surface in such large 
heaps that the Indians had nothing to do but turn it over and 
pick such pieces as would best suit the different uses for which 
they intended it." 

Hearne, by this time, made all haste out of the country 
inhabited by the Copper and the Dog-rib Indians. With 
his followers, the Northern Indians, he set out for the south, 
hoping to be able to make a detour westward, to Lake Atha- 
basca, before returning to the shores of Hudson Bay. He had 
no motive for lingering in the scenes of his discovery. The 
country he found disappointing : it was poorly settled ; and 
any trade to be done with the native tribes he was willing 
should be done through the medium of the Northern Indians. 
This tribe, after Hearne's visit, he tells us, fell a prey to small- 
pox, contracted through contact with the Athabascas of the 
south ; while the once powerful race of the Dog-rib Indians 
sank back into barbarism. 

By the end of July, Hearne's party rejoined the women of 
the tribe, whom they had left behind when on their way down 
the Copper Mine River. It was January of the following 
year before they arrived at Lake Athabasca, and the end of 
J une (1772), ereHearne reached Prince of Wales's Fort. The 
incidents of the return journey are few, and need not detain 
us. It was a long and toilsome undertaking ; how long and 
toilsome one fails to realize by the mere reading of Hearne's 
narrative. To gain any adequate conception of the extent of 
this journey, one should have at hand a large English chart or 


Survey map, when the distance will begin to dawn upon one as 
the numerous meridional lines, in tracking the route of our ad- 
venturous explorer, are crossed. The time consumed in the- 
expeditions was two years, seven months, and twenty-four days. 
On his march southward, Hearne seems not to have heard 
anything of Great Slave Lake, the eastern flank of which ho 
must have passed close by on his way to the Athaba^sca. Of 
the latter lake and surrounding country, not very much is yet 
known, for the district is beyond hope of any likely settle- 
ment from the North- West. On Hearne's visit to the Lake, 
now over a hundred years ago, he found it stocked with quan- 
tities of fish, and numerous herds of deer were grazing on its 
banks. The lake was full of islands, most of which our author 
found clothed with fine tall poplars, birch, and pines. The 
pictorial representation of the lake, which appears in his book, 
except for the absence of life, would indicate the presence of 
tke landscape gardener. Nature's sohtudes are not so tidy and 
prim as his engraving represents them. 

Only one other incident in this remarkable journey must 
we take up space to recount. About the middle of January, 
the author relates, as some of his companions were hunting, 
they saw the track of a strange snow-shoe, which they followed ; 
and at a considerable distance came to a little hut, where they 
discovered a young woman sitting alone. As they found that 
she understood their language, they brought her with them to 
the tents. On examination, she proved to be one of the West- 
em Dog-rib Indians, who had been taken prisoner by the 
Athabasca Indians two summers before. In the following 
summer, when the Indians who took her prisoner were near 
this region, she had eloped from them, with the intent of re- 
turning to her own country. The distance, however, was 
great j and, having come there by a tortuous canoe voyage, she 


could not discover the track, and despaired of ever finding hei 
way out. So she built the hut in which she was found, and 
here she had resided since the first setting in of the Fall. 

" From her account of the moons past since her elopement," 
Hearne states, " it appeared that she had been nearly seven 
months without seeing a human face ; during all which time, 
she had supported hereelf by snaring partridges, rabbits, and 
squirrels. She had also killed two or three beaver and some 
porcupine. That she did not seem to be in want, is evident, 
as she had a small stock of provisions by her when she was 
discovered ; she was in good health and condition, and I think 
one of the finest women, of a real Indian, that I have seen in 
any part of North America. 

" The methods practised by this poor creature to procure a 
livelihood were truly astonishing, and are great proofs that 
necessity is the real mother of invention. When the few deer- 
sinews that she had an opportunity of taking with her were 
expended in making snares, and in making her clothing, she 
had nothing to supply their place but the sinews of the rab- 
bits' legs and feet ; these she twisted together for that purpose 
with great dexterity and success. What she caught in these 
snares not only furnished her with a comfortable subsistence, 
but, with their skins, she was enabled to make herself suits of 
neat and warm clothing for the winter. It is scarcely possible 
lo conceive that a person in her forlorn situation could be so 
composed as to be capable of contriving, or executing, anything 
that was not absolutely necessary to her existence. But there 
was sufticient proof that she had extended her care much 
further, as all her clothing, besides being calculated for real 
service, showed great taste, and exhibited no little variety of 
ornament. The materials, though rude, were ver}' curiously 
wrought, and so judiciously placed as to make the whole of her 
garb have a very pleasing, though rather romantic, appearance. 

"Her leisure hours from hunting had been employed in 
twisting the inner rind, or bark of wiUows, into small lines, 
like net-wire, of which she had some hundred fathoms by her ; 
with this she intended to make a fishing-net, as soon as the 
spring advanced. Five or six inches of an iron hoop, made 
into a knife, and the shank of an arrow-head of iron, which 
served her as an awl, were all the metals this poor woman had 


with her when she eloped ; and, with these implements, she 
had made herself complete snowshoes, and several other useful 
articles. Her method of making a fire was equally singular 
and curious : having no other materials for that purpose than 
two hard sulphurous stones, these, by long friction and hard 
knocking, produced a few sparks, which at length communi- 
cated to some touchwood ; but as this method was attended with 
great trouble, and not always with success, she did not suffer 
the fire to go out all winter. The singularity of the circum- 
stance, and the comeliness of her person, and her approved 
accomplishment, occasioned a strong contest between several 
of the Indians of my party, who should have her for wife ; 
and the poor girl was actually won and lost at wrestling by 
near half a score of different men the same evening." 

Let us hope that the wilderness joust furnished this exem- 
plary maiden with a chivalrous knight for husband. On the 
16th of January, Heame's party crossed the Athabasca River, 
which flowed into the southern side of the lake ; and from this 
point they headed for the east, taking advantage, as much as 
possible, of the ice in the lakes to facilitate travel. Soon they 
left the level country of the Athabasca region, and approached 
the Stoney Mountains, which bound the northern Indian coun- 
try. With May, the annual thaw set in, and travelling became 
bad. But with Spring came the water-fowl and a change of 
diet ; and the party made continuous and sometimes merry 
progress. The remainder of Hearne's narrative is taken up 
with extended discussions on natural history, and with 
accounts of the Indian tribes. Into these we shall not follow 
him, but dismiss his interesting work with the announcement 
of his safe arrival at the Hudson Bay Factory, at the end of 
June, 1772. 



Sir AlexaTuLer Mackenzie. 

E now come to the other important publica- 
tion of the period, Alexander Mackenzie's 
Journal of his Voyage through the North- 
West Continent of America. This interest- 
ing work, which appeared in London, in 
1801, contains the record of two journeys 
undertaken by this able and enterprising 
representative of the North-West Fur Com- 
pany, in the years 1789 and 1793. The first of these journeys 
■deals with the river which bears his name, and which was 
traced from its source, in Great Slave Lake, to the Arctic Sea. 
The second consists of his diary while exploring the Peace 
River, from the Lake of the Hills, through the Rocky Moun- 
4/ains to the waters of the Pacific. Prefixed to these narra- 
tives is a description of the route and the characteristics of 
the Canadian Fur Trade, from Montreal, via the Ottawa and 
the upper shores of Lake Superior, across the Continent, to 
the Canading trading-post, Fort Chipewyan, on the Lake of 
the Hills. The situation of the latter, which for some years 
•was Mackenzie's headquarters, may be roughly located, as in 

so TfiE KOHTfi-WES'f : ITS lllSTOtlY AND ItS tHotJBtfiS. 

latitude 58'' North, and longitude llO^' West (of Greenwich). 
It lies immediately south of Great Slave Lake, with which it 
is connected by the Slave River. The Elk, or Athabasca, 
River flows into it on the south ; and, at its eastern end, the 
Peace River joins its waters. 

Almost the whole of the route, from Montreal to this distant 
post on the Lake of the Hills, can be followed by water 
though it is broken by innumerable and toilsome portages. 
Mackenzie's introductory chapter will still be found a lucid and 
accurate guide over this great stretch of country, a valuable 
record of the Indian tribes met with en route, and an instruc- 
tive history of the growth and development of the Canadian 
fur-trade. At its outset, Mackenzie has something to say of 
the native forester, the coureur des hois, and the habits which 
the European acquired from him, of a free, but far from correct 
manner of living in the woods. The influence of the early 
French missionaries, if it was ever practically operative on the 
Indian tribes, in Mackenzie's day had long lost its savour. 
Any restraint upon lawlessness, in his time, was exercised, not 
through the missions, which had languished or by stake and 
torch had been hastened to a close, but through the military 
and trading-posts that had taken their place. The initial 
work of the missionaries, however, was done : they were the 
avant-couriers of civilisation in Canada ; and however few the 
converts they made to their faith, they glorified it through 
weariful years of toil and bloodshed, and to-day the Canadian 
people reap the priceless benefit. Nor must it be forgotten in 
speaking, as Mackenzie does^ of the merely transient influence 
of the Church in the Wilderness, that this is due less to the 
failure of the work of the missionaries than to the pernicious 
example set before the Indians by the lay European. It may 
be true, what Mackenzie says, that greater results would have 


followed evangelisation, had the missionaries tirst taught the 
Indians how to surround themselves with the comforts of 
civilisation ; but perhaps a more important truth lies back 
of that, in the step which should have preceded it, namely, to 
have kept their countrymen out of the wilderness until they 
themselves were Christianised. Having made these strictures 
upon this portion of Mackenzie's narrative, it is only justice to 
let our author himself be heard. Here is the passage which 
arrested us : 

' As for the missionaries, if sufferings and hardships in the 
prosecution of the great work which they had undertaken de- 
serve applause and admiration, they had an undoubted claim 
to be admired and applauded ; they spared no labour, and 
avoided no danger, in the execution of their important office ; 
and it is to be seriously lamented that their pious endeavours 
did not meet with the success which they deserved ; for there is 
hardly a trace to be found, beyond the cultivated parts, of their 
meritorious functions. 

" The cause of this failure must be attributed to a want of 
due consideration in the mode employed by the missionaries to 
propagate the religion of which they were the zealous minis- 
ters. They habituated themselves to the savage life, and 
naturalised themselves to the savage manners, and, by thus be- 
coming dependent, as it were, on the natives, they acquired their 
contempt rather than their veneration. If they had been as 
well acquainted with human nature as they were with the 
articles of faith, they would have known that the uncultivated 
mind of an Indian must be disposed by much preparatory 
method and instruction to receive the revealed truths of Chris- 
tianity, to act under its sanctions, and le impelled to good by 
the hope of its reward, or turned from evil by the fear of its 
punishment. They should have begun their work by teaching 
some of those useful arts which are the inlets of knowledge and 
lead the mind by degrees to objects of higher comprehension. 
Agriculture, so formed to fix and combine society, and so pre- 
paratory to objects of superior consideration, should have been 
the first thing introduced among a savage people ; it attaches 
the wandering tribe to that spot where it adda so much to 



their comforts ; while it gives them a sense of property and of 
lasting possession, instead of the uncertain hopes of the chase 
and the fugitive produce of uncultivated wilds." 

Our author, before delivering himself of this judgment, had 
better have enlarged his reading on the subject of French i 
missionary enterprise in the wilds of Canada. Had he con-' 
sidered what had been the experience of the Church previous 
to his own day, or could he have known what has been the, 
experience of Government farm instructors since, he would! 
have been slow to hazard an opinion on so knotty a problem 
as the civilisation of the Indian. He forgets, moreover, that a 
common necessity, and often a common peril, herded mission- 
aries and Indians together, in constant fear from the hereditary 
foes of each, with few opportunities to sow fields, and fewer 
still to reap them. Querulousness is free to say, of course, that 
" the missionary habituated himself to the savage life ; " but 
querulousness does not say how else he could have subsisted. 
It may have been a mistake to have sent the missionary first, 
and the squatter and politician land-agent afterwards ; but had 
the process been reversed, we fear, there would have been 
little, if any, need to send the missionary. 

On his own field, Mackenzie is strong. He knows the fur- 
trade ; and he had exceptional opportunities of becoming 
acquainted with the country. We have previously observed 
that, after the Conquest, many Canadians withdrew their 
trading operations from the West. The war unsettled the 
whole land. It brought together, in mortal combat, the two 
great European nations that had long striven for dominion on 
the continent of the New World. To the north of the lakes, 
war threw the Indians into the French camp, and infected 
them, far and wide, with a bitter hostility to the English. 
The loss of Canada to France did little to soften the feeling of 


antipathy. Despite this feeling, the great English Fur Com- 
pany on the shores of Hudson Bay thought the time favourable 
to extend its trade to the south. It did so ; but for a time it 
was at great disadvantage. In coming inland, it had a difficult 
road to get over, and a long and toilsome transport. The 
risks were many; for the country was unknown and trade 
unsettled. Moreover, its agents knew little of the people, and 
less of their language. With Canada, the case was different. 
In resuming her commerce in the woods, she walked in her old 
paths. After the war the people took heart, and the pulse of 
trade again began to beat. Once more Lachine was gay with 
the throng of departing voyageurs. The little chapel at Ste 
Anne's heard again the Pater Fosters of the kneeling boatmen, 
or the heart-flutterings of his deserted sweetheart. The 
rugged coureur des hois toiled once more across the portages 
of the dark Ottawa, lightly skimmed his canoe over the 
gleaming water- sketches of Lake Nipissing, and stoutly 
stemmed the rapids of the Sault and the Kaministiquia. 
Camp fires were lit, as of yore, on the banks of the Lake of the 
Woods; and sturgeon were speared through the ice of the 
distant Saskatchewan. Canadian trade was again in full 

Just before Mackenzie's advent, a number of traders had 
gone to the Far West. Among the number was the English- 
man, Henry, and the brothers, Frobisher. Pond, from Boston, 
and his victim, the Swiss Wadin, were also in the territories. 
About this time the North- West Fur Company was founded, 
with the Frobishers' and Simon M'Tavish at its head. 
Mackenzie tell us, that at this period he had spent five years 
in the counting-house of a Mr. Gregory, a Montreal merchant. 
In 1784, he left that employment, with a small adventure of 
^is own. in trade, and, set out for Detroit^ Here he was follow- 


ed by one of his late principals, who proposed to him a journey 
to the Indian country, to be undertaken next summer. This 
he agreed to ; and proceeding to the fair meadows of the Grand 
Portage, he formally entered the service of the North- West 
Fur Company. From its post on the Rainy Kiver, Mackenzie 
set out for Fort Chipewyan, on the " Lake of the Hills," or as 
it is now known, Lake Athabasca. Two months afterwards 
he arrived at the post. Here, for eight years, was his head- 
quarters; and from here he started on his two celebrated 
voyages. The post received its name from the Chipewyans, a 
tribe of Indians, whose principal lodges lay in the district, and 
who, in Mackenzie's day, were a numerous people. Their 
territories extended from the Churchill, in the east, to the 
Columbia River, in the west. The origin of the tribe, like 
that of the aborigines of the whole country, can only be con- 
jectured. Like other members of the Algonquin family, they 
are very superstitious. Mackenzie tells us that they have a 
tradition amongst them, that : 

" They originally came from another country, inhabited by a 
wicked people, and had traversed a great lake, which was 
narrow, shallow, and full of islands, where they suffered great 
misery, it being always winter, with ice and deep snow. They 
believe, also, that in ancient times their ancestors lived till 
their feet were worn out with walking, and their throats with 
eating. They describe a deluge, when the waters spread over 
the whole earth, except the highest mountains, on the tops of 
which they preserved themselves. 
^ " They believe that immediately after death they pass into 
another world, where they arrive at a large river, on which 
they embark on a stone canoe, and that a gentle current bears 
them on to an extensive lake, in the centre of which is a 
beautiful island ; and that, in the view of this delightful abode, 
they receive that judgment for their conduct during life which 
determinates their final state and unalterable allotment. If 
ihcir good actions are declared to predominate, they are landed 


upon the island, where there is to be no end to their happiness ; 
which, however, according to their notions, consists in an 
eternal enjoyment of sensual pleasure and gratification. But 
if their bad actions weigh down the balance, the stone canoe 
sinks at once, and leaves them up to their chins in the water, 
to behold and regret the reward enjoyed by the good, and 
eternally struggling, but with unavailing endeavours, to reach 
the blissful island, from which they are excluded for ever." 

While an inmate of Fort Chipewyan, Mackenzie was ever 
haunted by projects of discovery. He was a born traveller, 
capable in command, full of resource, able to withstand the 
toil of arduous undertakings, and anxious, as we learn from 
his work, to extend the boundaries of geographical science, and 
add new countries to the realms of commerce. Such a task as 
he proposed to himself, to trace the water-ways from Lake 
Athabasca to the Frozen Ocean, was both laborious and 
hazardous. Never before had the waters of the region borne 
any other craft than the canoe of the savage; nor had the 
report of a firelock ever disturbed its solitudes or rang through 
its wastes. It was known that from Great Slave Lake a great 
water flowed out towards the mountains that hem in the vast 
plains ; but whither, and through what devious paths it led, no 
man knew. Mackenzie set himself to solve the problem. In 
solving it he gave his name to the river. 

On the 3rd of June, 1789, Mackenzie set out on his voyage 
of discovery. His party consisted of four Canadians, two of 
whom were attended by their wives, and a German. For 
guide and interpreter, he took with him an Indian, who had 
accompanied Hearne in his journey to the Copper Mine River. 
Two wives of the guide, and two young Indians, were also of 
the party. A convoy from the Fort accompanied the expedi- 
tion until it was well under way. At the outset there 
occurred the usual defection from the ranks, owing to some of 


the party losing heart in presence of the difficulties of the 
undertaking. This defection was soon, however, though only 
in part, made good. After our travellers had been out some 
ten days, they came to rapids and other obstructions to naviga- 
tion on the river, which entailed considerable and toilsome 
portaging. At the end of the portage, the expedition made a 
lengthened halt to recruit strength, overhaul the supplies for 
the voyage, and repair their canoes. While in camp, a section 
of the party added to the stores the product of a good day's 
hunt. This consisted of moose, buffalo, and beaver, with a 
basketful of carp, trout, and poisson inconnu. 

Proceeding on the journey, the party passed by the lodges 
of some of the Red-Knife Indians, one of whom they took for 
a guide, but who was not long in losing his course on the lake 
portions of the river. It turned out that he had travelled no 
great distance down its waters. As they were now in sight of 
the Rocky Mountains, they speedily recovered their course ; 
and, being favoured with a good wind, to catch which they 
rigged a light sail, they got well again on the way. About the 
middle of July they reached the encampment of some families 
of the Slave and the Dog-rib Indians, So novel a sight to 
them were Europeans that they fled at their appearing. Re- 
covering from their alarm, and being attracted by trinkets held 
out for their acceptance, they suffered themselves to be 
approached. On seeking information from them respecting 
the river, Mackenzie could only extract from them the fabulous. 
They earnestly dissuaded him from pursuing his voyage, say- 
ing, that it would require several winters to get to the sea, 
that the party would encounter monsters of horrid shape and 
destructive power on their way, and that old age would 
certainly come upon ere they could possibly return. The 
effect of these, fahlea. was to discompose, for a time the mipd^ ot\ 


Mackenzie's Indian employes, who had already tired of the 
voyage. They had themselves gathered more exaggerated 
stories than had come to their leader's ears ; and it was with 
difficulty he could persuade them of their absurdity, and 
reasure them that no mishap would befall them. Their 
greatest dread was that they would find few animals in the 
country beyond them, and that, as they proceeded, the scarcity 
would increase, and all would perish from want. By dint of 
bribery, and the exercise of some little tact, Mackenzie was 
fortunate, however, to induce one of the Indians of the region 
to join the party, and this allayed the fears of his nervous 
following. The Indiana of this encampment were fancifully 
dressed, " Their ornaments," our traveller relates, " consists 
of gorgets ; bracelets for the arms and wrists, made of wood, 
horn, or bone ; garters ; and a kind of band to go round the 
head, composed of strips of leather, embroidered with porcu- 
pine quills, stuck round with the claws of bears or wild- 
fowl inverted, to which are suspended a few short thongs of 
the skin of an animal that resembles the ermine, in the form 
of a tassel. Their cinctures and garters are formed of porcu- 
pine quills woven with sinews, in a style of peculiar skill and 

As the expedition proceeded down the river its current 
quickened, and, though it was only the middle of July, the 
temperature rapidly fell Camping on its banks one night, 
Mackenzie noticed the water rise and flow visibly towards his 
tent. In the morning it had receded. This was a clear indica- 
tion of approach to the sea. There were also solar indications 
of a high latitude. Some pages later oa. in the narrative we: 
find the following : 

" I sat up all night to observe the sun. At half-past twelve- 
I called up one o£ the men to view a spectacle which he ha- 1 

88 THE north-we;st: its history and its troubles. 

never before seen. On seeing the sun so high, he thought it 
was a signal to embark, and began to call the rest of his com- 
panions, who would scarcely be persuaded by me that the sun 
had not descended nearer to the horizon, and that it was now 
but a short time past midnight." 

A few voyages further on, the river perceptibly widened, now 
expanding into an estuary, with numerous islands within its 
embrace, and anon, contracting its banks. The cold became 
more intense; and the animal life changed. Presently, a wan- 
dering family of Esquimaux was sighted ; and with difficulty 
the interpreter made out that our voyageurs had reached the 
sea, and that a few more camps would close it against them. 
Continuing their passage a day or two further, they found the 
river full of broken ice, with whales disporting in the clear 
water, and traces visible of the Polar bear and the Arctic fox. 
Seaward, a heavy fog rested on the waters and concealed the 
view. Setting sail in the larger canoe, Mackenzie visited 
many of the islands of the region, in the hope of meeting other 
parties of Esquimaux, from whom he might learn something of 
the unknown beyond. His search was unrewarded, and the 
party prepared to return. 

Retracing their course, a few camps back, the expedition 
came upon a lodge of Northern Indians. From them they 
learned that a strong party of Esquimaux occasionally ascended 
the river in large canoes in search of flint stones, which they 
make use of to point their spears and arrows. They told Mac- 
kenzie that the Esquimaux were now at a lake due east from 
the spot where he was now encamped, and that they were there 
killing reindeer, and would soon begin " to catch big fish for 
the winter stock." They also informed our traveller that the 
Esquimaux had reported their seeing, some winters ago, a num- 
ber of large canoes full of white men far to the westward, in a 
lake which they called " White Man's I^ake." It was difiicult, 


they said however, to reach the lake, for when the ice breaks 
up, it soon freezes again. This was the extent of the informa- 
tion Mackenzie could glean with reference to an open sea and 
a North- West passage to the Pacific. He pursued his return 
journey. Nothing of note happened on the homeward voyage, 
save a repetition of the incidents that marked the passage of 
the expedition outwards — the consternation of Indian tribes 
that had never seen a white man. With one consent they fled 
at his approach. In August, our travellers had returned to a 
region where it was sufficiently dark at night to render the 
stars visible. By the middle of September they had completed 
their journey. 

Three years after Mackenzie returned from his thousand- 
mile voyage on the great river that was henceforth to bear his 
name, he undertook a second voyage, with a view to trace the 
course of the Peace River and its affluents, and to endeavour, 
if possible, to find a passage by its waters to the Pacific Ocean. 
This new voyage was a much more serious undertaking than 
the former one. In the Mackenzie River he had a noble 
stream that drained a vast territory, a stream that presented 
few obstacles to the voya'jeur, its early course being facilitated 
by a succession of almost unbroken lacustrian pathways. In 
his new journey, though the region presented a like terraqeous 
aspect, the difficulties of navigation were tenfold what he had 
experienced on his first voyage. The Peace River, which 
drains into Lake Athabasca, has its source in the Rocky Moun- 
tains, the brooding cliffs and gigantic firs of which frown all 
along its course, and frequently throw themselves into its 
waters to fret and obstruct their passage. 

In October, 1792, Mackenzie journeyed to a western post of 
the Company, some distance from Fort Chipewyan, there to 
spend the winter and make preparations for the outfit of his 


expedition in the following spring. In May, 1793, he and his 
party left the post arid launched their canoes on the river. 
Passing the confluehce of the Bear River, the course of the 
Peace River for A lime took our travellers south-west; but 
they had not goll^ far until a succession of rapids and cascades 
compelled them to leave its course and portage for a consider- 
able distance. Returning to the river, Mackenzie relates that i 

" We now continued our toilsome and perilous progress west 
by north ; and as we proceeded the rapidity of the current in- 
creased, BO that in the distance of two miles we were obliged 
to unload four times, and carry everything but the canoe ; in- 
deed, in many places, it was with the utmost difficulty that we 
could prevent her being dashed to pieces against the rocks by 
the violence of the eddies. At five o'clock we had proceeded to 
where the river was one continuous rapid. Here we again 
took everything out of the canoe, in order to tow her up with 
the line, though the rocks were so shelving as greatly to in- 
crease the toil and hazard of that operation. At length, how- 
ever, the agitation of the water was so great, that a wave 
striking the bow of the canoe broke the line, and filled us with 
incredible dismay, as it appeared impossible that the vessel 
could escape from being dashed to pieces, and those who were 
in her from perishing. Another wave, however, more propi- 
tious than the former, drove her out of the tumbling water, so 
that the men were able to bring her ashore, and though she 
had been carried over rocks by the swells which left them a 
moment naked after, the canoe had received no material injury. 
The men were, however, in such a state from their late alarm 
that it would not only have been unavailing but imprudent to 
have proposed any further progi'ess at present, particularly as 
the river above us, as far as we could see, was one white sheet 
of foaming water." 

Proceeding on foot some distance through the wo.ods, Mac- 
kenzie could see no end to the rapids, and he returned from 
his reconnoitring excursion tired out in body and in spirit. 
Next day he despatched several of the Indians to the summit 
of the hills in the neighbourhood, with instructions to force a 



•way northward, keeping the river in sight, and to advise him 
when they saw smooth water. After a time they returned 
with a favourable report. Another party of Indians was now 
instructed to cut a path through the woods, for the transfer of 
the canoes and the baggage. This toilsome work accomplished^ 
they proceeded on the voyage, at every new turn of the river 
great hills and defiles revealing their menacing fronts as they 
passed by. Each day's journey added new terrors to the way. 
Huge precipices rose sheer up from the water, and lofty snow- 
caj^ped peaks gleamed down the ravine upon them as they 
poled their fatiguing course up the torrent. Suddenly the river 
would utterly change its appearance, the waters breaking away 
from the beetling crags that frowned upon it, and for a time, 
quietly meandering over brief stretches of placid meadow. As 
suddenly would it dash in again on the flanks of the mountain, 
and burrow hiding-places in gloomy caverns, or impetuously 
cleave a channel for itself under clammy over-hanging cliflfa. 
On the banks of the river Nature presented itself in like vary- 
ing moods. Towards the bottom of the heights, which were 
clear of snow, the trees might be seen putting forth their 
leaves, while those in the middle and upper parts still retained 
all the characteristics of winter. Another day's advance was 
made, but only to meet with new discouragements and more 
formidable difiiculties. 

Presently, the expedition was forced to face a new problem 
From the melting of the snow, the river became too swollen to 
enable the canoes to live in the current. It also overflowed its 
banks ; and it was found impossible to keep in the channel. 
For some weeks the party made what advance they could, 
proceeding alternately along its banks and in the stream. The 
prospect finally became too discouraging. Now, however, they 
fell in with some natives of the district, who for a time con* 


ducted them on another branch of the river ; until it, too,, be- 
came unnavigable. The Indians here suggested an ascent of 
the mountains, and a tramp through its defiles to the sea. This 
bold project Mackenzie was ready to carry out. " In the 
present state of my information," he narrates, " to proceed fur- 
ther up the river was considered a fruitless waste of toilsome 
exertion; and to return unsuccessful, after all our labour, 
sufferings, and hunger, was an idea too painful to indulge." 
After mature consideration, he determined to be the first white 
man to cross the Rockies to the Pacific. 

Coming to this conclusion, the party proceeded to " cache " 
j"he larger canoe, and the stores they were not likely to want 
until their return. Making their burdens as light as possible, 
they began the ascent of the mountains, and by relays of guides, 
they were able to make satisfactory though wearisome progress. 

" We carried on our backs," writes Mackenzie, " four bags 
and a half of pemmican, weighing about eighty-five pounds 
each ; a case with my instruments, a parcel of goods for 
presents, weighing ninety pounds, and a parcel containing am- 
munition of the same weight. Each of the Canadians had a 
burden of ninety pounds, with a gun and some ammunition. 
The Indians had aV)out forty-five i)ound weight of pemmican 
to carry, beside their guns, &c., with which they were very much 
dissatisfied, and if they had dared would have instantly left us. 
. . . In this state of equipment we began our journey, the 
commencement of which was a steep ascent of about a mile ; 
it Iciy along a well-baaten path, but the country through which 
it led was rugged and ridgy and full of wood. When we were 
in a state of extreme heat, from the toil of our journey, the 
rain came on and continued till the evening, and even when it 
ceased the underwood continued its drippings upon us." 

It would weary the reader to record even a tithe of the details 
of this painful journey. Day followed day, with the same tale of 
weariful plodding, through deep canyons, over mammoth fallen 
timber, and across shoulders of the mountains — one hope sustain- 


ing the party, that the furthest ridge would be reached and the 
curtains roll up and disclose the sea. At length this cheer was 
theirs. '' They came to a hill," writes Mackenzie, " the descent 
of which was more steep than its ascent, and was succeeded by 
another, whose top, though not so elevated as the last, afforded 
a view of the range of mountains, covered with snow, which 
according to the intelligence of our guide, terminates in the 
ocean." As they neared this range, the mountains seemed to 
recede, as if in mockery of their anxious longings. Finally the 
goal is reached. By a rapid descent, they get down to a lower 
elevation, and reach a stream on which they were able to launch 
their canoes and transfer their burdens to the river. Through 
further vicissitude and many days' toil, the expedition is at 
last rewarded by a sight of the coast. It is reached at a meri- 
dian which Mackenzie registers as 52*^ 21' 33", a little to the 
north of Queen Charlotte Sound.* Here, as our traveller relates 
he mixes some vermilion in melted grease, and with it inscribes 
on a rock on the coast this legend: "Alexander Mackenzie, 
from Canada, by land, the tiventy-second of July, one tJwusand 
seven hundred and ninety-three ! " 

This feat of Mackenzie and his party, in crossing the Rocky 
Mountains at that early period, deserves high praise. It may 
be that the route which he took from the Peace River, across 
the " Mountains of the Sea," and what is now known as Bri- 
tish Columbia, does not present the obstacles to be met witli 
in the passes in the higher elevations to the south. But that 
it was a toilsome and daring venture, no one can prudently 
deny. The route he followed, we judge, must been either the 

* Later research has enabled the writer to state more definitely the region where 
Mackenzie reached the waters of the Pacific. It appears he approached the coast 
by the Bella Coola River and North lientinck arm, thence down Burke Channel 
to the Sea. Turning North- Westward, he subsequently entered Dean Channe', 
and ascended Cascade Inlet, to the rock on which he painted his inscrijition and 
where he took his observations. 


Pine River or the Peace River Pass ; and the great river he 
speaks of sailing down after crossing the mountains, no doubt, 
was the Fraser. Leaving that stream about the region of Lake 
Quesnel, and following westward the course of the Salmon 
River, he would reach the sea in the neighbourhood of Dean 
Channel, in an alignment with the southern point of Queen 
Charlotte Islands, or about the latitude indicated in the text. 
At the coast, Mackenzie met with Indians who had previously- 
seen and traded with the white man. The previous year. Cap- 
tain Vancouver, a Dutch navigator of the Royal Navy, had 
cruised round the Island, surveyed its deeply fissured coasts, 
and claimed it for the British Crown. Fourteen years earlier, 
Captain Cook had coasted all along the Northern Pacific; 
while in the interval a British colony had planted itself on the 
shores of Nootka Sound, which was the occasion of historic 
trouble with the Court of Spain. 

Mackenzie's return voyage was exceedingly tedious. The 
party was short of provisions ; the guide decamped, taking the 
canoe with him ; and many of the natives were hostile. As 
the season was now the end of July, the weather was warm 
and genial ; and this in some degree ameliorated the condi- 
tion of the party. In the sad plight they were in, Mackenzie 
had time to note the beauty of the natural surroundings. 
Here is a description of a scene on his return journey : 

" It was now one in the afternoon, and we had to ascend the 
summit of the first mountain before night came on, in order to 
louk for water. The fatigue of ascending these precipices I 
shall not attempt to describe. It was past five when we ar- 
rived at a spot where we could get water, and in such an ex- 
tremity of weariness, that it was with great pain any of us 
could crawl about to gather wood for the necessary purpose of 
making a fire. But it was not possible to be in this situation 
without contemplating the wonders of it. Such was the depth 
of the precipices below, and the height of the mountains above, 
with the rude and wild magnificence of the scenery around, 
that I shall not attempt to describe such an astonishing and 
awlul combination of objects, of w^liich, indeed, no description 


can convey an adequate idea. Even at this place, which is 
only, as it were, the first step towards gaining the summit of 
the mountains, the climate was very sensibly changed. The 
air that fanned the village, which we left at noon, was mild 
and cheering ; the grass was verdant ; and the wild fruits ripe 
around it. But here the snow was not yet dissolved, the 
ground was still bound by the frost, the herbage had scarce 
begun to spring, and the berry bushes were just beginning to 

Mackenzie followed the path by which he had come to the 
sea. In time the expedition got over the mountains, and, re- 
covering the canoe and the provisions they had concealed on 
the Peace River, they made rapid progress homeward. The 
water of the river was much lower than on the upward voyage, 
though the portaging was still frequent and wearisome. Salmon 
were plentiful and the whortleberries ripe. But for heavy 
rains the condition of the returning voyageurs would have been 
pleasant and happy. On leaving the mountains, the rains how- 
ever ceased ; and for the rest of the voyage they had the rich 
valleys of the Peace River, which lie within the Fertile Belt to 
journey through, and to invigorate both mind and body. " Each 
day," says our traveller, " we were on the water before day- 
light ; and when the sun rose a beautiful country appeared 
around us, enriched and animated by large herds of wild cattle. 
. . . . As we approached Fort Chipewj'^an, the country in- 
creased in beauty, though the cattle appeared proportionately 
to diminish. At length, as we rounded the point and came in 
view of the Fort, we threw out our flag, and accompanied it 
with a general discharge of our firearms ; while the men were 
in such spirits and made such an active use of their paddles, 
that we arrived before the two men whom we left here in the 
spring, could recover their senses to answer us. Here, on the 
24th of August, 1793, my voyages of discovery terminate. 
Their toils and their dangers, their solicitudes and sufferings, 
have not been exaggerated in my description. On the contrary, 
in many instances, language has failed me in the attempt to de- 
scribe them. I received, however, the reward of my labours, 
for they were crowned with success." 



''^^ EW records of colonial settlement are more sad 
than those of the community that strove to 
root itself, early in the century, in the soil of the 
Red River. Sorely tried as the Scot has ever 
been, seldom has it been his lot to suffer so 
keenly. In the year 1811, a small band of Scot- 
tish Highlanders, with a sprinkling of Celts from 
the west of Ireland, landed at York Factory, and 
after a winter spent on the Nelson River, proceeded to settle 
on the virgin prairies of the Canadian North- West. Cheer- 
less as was their surroundings on the bleak moorlands of 
the Old World they had left, more cheerless still was their 
introduction to the wild wastes of the New. When they 
came inland from the forbidding shores of Hudson Bay, to 
the banks of the Red River, they found that the heart of the 
continent did not warm to them. It gave them no welcome. 
Tear-dimmed eyes had watched their departing forms, as the 
vessel bore them from the home of their fathers; but knit 
brows scowled upon them as they set down their household 
gods to domicile themselves in a land which they now looked 



upon as the heritage of their children. What a step-mother the 
country was to be to them and theirs, it was not long ere they 
unhappily found out. 

We have already seen that the North-West Fur Company 
was in occupancy of the region to which the colony had emi- 
grated, and that the title to possession of its rival, the Hudson 
Bay Company, was held in light esteem by it and its employes. 
But the Nor'- Westers themselves had acquired no proprietary 
interests in the soil : they were merely traders, doing business 
in the territory, and had no pretext to dispossess even the 
wandering Indian of his hereditary claim to the land. The 
Selkirk settlers were there not only by right of purchase from 
the Hudson Bay Company, whose title to possession, however 
imperfect it was, was certainly better than that of the Nor'- 
Westers ; but they were there after the Indian title had been 
quieted for a consideration paid them by the founder of the 
colony. The claim of the colony to possession was thus 
doubly valid. But however valid it might be, it did not suit 
the Nor'-Westers to have their hunting-grounds encroached 
upon by a people whose pursuits would prove disastrous to 
the interests which, as a trading corporation, they wished to 
conserve. It still less suited this Canadian Company to have 
a settlement grow up in the midst of its trade, by right of pur- 
chase from an organisation whose claims to possession it 
ignored, and which had been founded under the direct auspices 
of a powerful, and now likely to be actively aggressive, rival. 
In this latter circumstance is the gravamen of the matter. It 
was unfortunate that the colony came upon the scene at the 
time and in the manner it did. It was unfortunate even in the 
route by which it came to the country. All the circumstances 
attending its arrival at Red River were construed as a menace 
to the rival traders. First of all, the colony was unwelcome 


because it was an undesirable intrusion upon lands which both 
Companies were interested in preserving for the purposes of the 
fur-trade. Secondly, it was unwelcome, because it had come to 
the country directly from the headquarters, the trading-posts, 
of its rivals. And, thirdly, it was unwelcome, because it had 
acquired the right to its location from a Company whose terri- 
torial claims were strenuously opposed by an organisation that 
had long been in occupancy. For these several reasons, the 
North- West Fur Company and its people, from the first, mani- 
fested hostility to the intruders, and looked sullenly upon the 
arrival of each instalment of the colonists. How this aversion 
afterwards found expression in overt acts of hostile intent, and 
finally, ended in foul murder and ruthless expatriation, we 
shall soon discover. Meantime, let us see who were these peo_ 
pie that had taken up their abode in the solitudes of the Far 
West, and who was the promoter of the scheme under which 
the colony came to settle. 

After the Rebellion of 1745, a change came over the national 
and social condition of the Scottish Highlands. The heavy 
hand of power that then fell upon romantic Caledonia broke 
up the clans and severed many of the links that bound the 
Gael to his chieftain. With the snapping of these links were 
also severed the patriarchal relations the head of the clan held 
with his following. England's foreign wars, no less than the 
suppression of Jacobinism, broke up the feudal system, and 
drew the Highlander from his glens and straths to dye Conti- 
nental battle-grounds with his life-blood. This break-up of 
the old order of things entailed great suffering upon the faithful 
clansmen of stem Caledonia. They were now as sheep without 
a shepherd. From being sturdy, well-fed retainers, and liege- 
men of the chiefs of their ancestral houses, they became cottars 
and crofters, holders of small farms, from which they strove to 


wrest a poor and often precarious subsistence. Later on, the 
well-to-do, and moneyed, lowland farmer came in among theni 
and outbid them for their holdings, while the southern mag- 
nate began to buy up their ancestral acres, to turn them into 
game-preserves and mammoth sheep pastures. For long it 
went hard with the poor Highlander. There was a time when 

" — the Bsh of the lake, and the deer of the vale, 
Were less free to Lord Dacre than Allan-a-dale ; " 

but that time was not now. In this period of transition the 
noble endurance and many sterling qualities of the Scottish Celt 
were manifested in full and heroic force. The drain of 
absenteeism went on, and the poor Highlander, in his struggle 
with the hard conditions of his lot, daily became poorer. But, 
unlike the Irish Celt, upon whom governments ever lavished 
their consideration and bounty, the Scottish Celt never shewed 
the world that he had a grievance. Nor did he manifest his 
distress in petulance and crime. 

It has been remarked, that the Scot rarely complains that 
the world he has been brought into is too stern for his temper. 
The little world of Celtic Scotland, at the beginning of the 
century, was, however, a hard foster-father to the poor cottar, 
who was struggling for existence by the firths and estuaries of 
Northern Britain. Self-reliant as he was by nature, if he 
could not extract a living in the scenes of his birth, he was 
determined that he would not stay there to disgrace himself 
and his country by becoming a pauper. In other climes he 
would find that subsistence which his own had denied him* 
Deeply attached to the land of his fathers, the spirit of his 
fathers was in his breast, and in other lands he would achieve 
success and make a fairer home for his children. Emigration 
was the stern but accepted remedy. 


Just at this time, there comes upon the scene a philanthropic 
Scottish nobleman, some thirty years of age, " full six feet 
high," with a kindly heart and pleasant countenance. His name 
is Thomas Douglas, and his title, fifth Earl of Selkirk, Baron 
Daer and Shortcleugh. He it was who was to become the 
Moses of the Scottish Exodus. On the family escutcheon were 
the arms of the Douglasses of Marr, and in the traditions of the 
house the record of their noble deeds. But knightly service 
was to take a new form: this scion of the twin-houses of 
Douglas and Angus was now to lead, not a cavalcade to battle, 
but the quieter pageant of a ship-load of simple, trusting hearts 
bound to a new Land of Promise. Early had the attention of 
this compassionate nobleman been drawn to the condition of 
the expatriated cottars in the north of Scotland. He had 
appealed to Government for their relief, and had frequently 
addressed the public, through pamphlets and articles in the 
press, on the subject of emigration to the British Colonies. In 
this he saw a remedy for the poverty and distress that were 
prevalent in the less fruitful regions of his country. In 
emigration, moreover, he saw the bettering of the lot of those 
who would take advantage of it. In 1803, at his own expense, 
and under his personal supervision, he transferred a band of 
800 Highlanders from their native moors to comfortable homes 
on Prince Edward Island, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The 
descendants of those Highland colonists, now grown a numerous 
people, form the substantial yeomanry of one of the most 
prosperous provinces of our Young Dominion. 

From the New Canaan of these cottars of Skye and Inver- 
ness, Lord Selkirk came to Canada, to cast about him for other 
desirable sites for colonial settlement. We find him interested 
in the western portion of what is now the Province of Ontario; 
and, in 1804, we learn that he was in correspondence with the 


Provincial Executive, with a view to giving aid to schemes of 
colonisation in Upper Canada. For some reason, however, his 
proposals were not taken advantage of, and, for a time, he re- 
turned to Scotland. There, his earnest desire to benefit the 
peasantry of his native country, led him to urge emigration in 
the most hearty manner, and, ere long, to formulate a scheme 
for planting a colony somewhere in the interior of the Hudson 
Bay Territory. To extend to the incipient colony every advan- 
tage it could have, in material as well as in moral support, the 
Earl and other members of his family acquired a large mone- 
tary interest in the Hudson Bay Company. The amount of 
this interest is said to have been £35,000, or about a fourth of 
its entire capital. A meeting of the general Court of Proprie- 
tors of the Company was then called, and the Selkirk proposal 
submitted to it. A grant of land was asked on which to settle 
a colony, to be located in the Assiniboine district, — the expense 
of transport, the purchase of necessaries for the voyage, and 
the support of the colon}'' for a time after settlement, the 
cost of agricultural and house-building implements, and the 
outlay for quieting the Indian title, — were all to be borne by 
the noble applicant. The proposal, owing to alarm being taken 
at the scheme by some members of the Court, who were stock- 
holders in the rival Canadian Company, met with active oppo- 
sition. The grant was, however, carried by a large majority 
vote. The prospectus of the scheme was now launched, and 
emigrants were invited to join the colony. In the summer of 
1811, a party of some seventy Highland cottars from Suther- 
landshire, with a small contingent from the west of Ireland, set 
sail for Hudson Bay. Mr. Miles Macdonell, formerly a Captain 
in the Queen's Rangers, a corps that had done duty in Canada 
during Simcoe's administration, was appointed Governor by the 
Hudson Bay Company, and by Lord Selkirk, was given chaige 


of the colony. The emigrants spent the winter at the Com- 
pany's post on the Nelson, and the next season arrived at Red 

We have referred to the opposition to the colony, manifested 
at the meeting of shareholders in London, which was convened 
to consider Lord Selkirk's application for a grant of land for 
the purposes of settlement. It is worth while particularly to 
notice from whom this opposition came, and what were the 
apparent motives that prompted it. We have already said 
that objection was taken to the founding of the colony liy men 
who held stock, not only in the Hudson Bay Company, but in 
the rival Canadian institution. From the literature of the 
period we learn that these objectors had acquired shares in the 
Hudson Bay Company only a short time before the call for a 
general meeting. The disingenuousness of their protest against 
the grant of land to the colony may therefore be judged from 
this fact. But not only were they largely interested in the 
North-West Fur Company, they were known to be its active 
London agents, and notoriously hostile to all settlement in the 
fur-trading territory. After this statement, little argument 
we think is needed to support the opinion, that the enmity of 
these gentlemen was incited by questionable motives, and that 
they had acquired their interest in one commercial company to 
work out purposes of their own in the administration of 
another. Such a proceeding, unhappily, is not unknown in 
the world of commerce : its effects in this instance, as we shall 
see, were to bring on the ill-fated colony a pall of disaster. 

So far as Lord Selkirk is concerned, he is to be relieved of any 
reflection in regard to the arrangements he made for the weal 
of the colony. His care and forethought were in a thousand 
ways manifested ; and everything he could reasonably do he 
did to make smooth the path of settlement. The situation 


chosen for the Colony was the banks of the Red River, near 
the confluence of the Assiniboine, — now the site of the Prairie 
capital, the city of Winnipeg. The title given to it was the 
Kildonan Settlement, from the name of the parish in Suther- 
landshire from which the bulk of the settlers had emigrated. 
Here, in the autumn of 1812, when other sections of Canada 
were in the turmoil of invasion, a peaceful colony sought to 
found homes for themselves in the wilderness. "The spot 
which had been selected," — so writes a chronicler of the period, 
— " had been ascertained to be of the highest fertility and the 
most easy of cultivation. Houses were built; a mill was 
erected ; sheep and cattle were sent up to the settlement ; and 
all practicable means were taken to forward the agricultural 
purposes of the colony." Two years afterwards, it received 
some additions to its number, and in September, 1814, we 
learn, that the whole colony comprised two hundred settlers. 
The first two winters were spent at the wooded region of 
Pembina, close to the international boundary line, where Fort 
Daer had been erected by Governor Macdonell's orders, so as 
to afford better shelter and protection through the severe 
winter months. In the spring the settlers returned to their 
summer operations in the neighbourhood of the Colony's loca- 
tion, close by the Forks of the Assiniboine. Here Fort 
Douglas was erected as a refuge in emergency, and as a 
storehouse of supplies. As yet the colony had not become 
self-supporting ; some root-crops had been raised, but, so far, 
little had been done in growing grain. There was want of 
horses and oxen. Abundant supplies of fish were to be had ; 
but bufialo and even smaller game were scarce. For the latter 
they had to depend upon the Indians, who though at first 
friendly, were now being alienated by the malice of the hostile 
Nor'-Westers. While there was likelihood of the colony 


suffering from the malevolence of these traders, it was in 
no apprehension as to its future. For contingencies, in the 
event of trouble, the settlers were in some measure prepared. 
Fort Douglas was capable of defence, for, thanks to the pre- 
vision of Lord Selkirk, some light brass field-pieces had been 
sent into the country, to be mounted on its ramparts ; and the 
settlers had been furnished with arms and ammunition. But, 
as we have said, the settlement felt quite secure in its peaceful 
mission to the country, and had no dread of serious molesta- 
tion. An authority of the period * emphasises this fact : 

" In short, the settlers appeared confident of their security, 
contented with their situation, and happy in their prospects ; 
nor did there exist any reasonable ground to doubt that, if 
left undisturbed, the colony in a few years would have been 
completely and firmly established. This, indeed, must have 
been the decided opinion at the time, even of those who proved 
to be its most inveterate opponents, otherwise they never 
would have thought it necessary to take violent means to 
destroy it. Had the settlement been likely to fail from causes 
inherent in its nature, or arising from the remoteness of its 
situation, or other local circumstances, its enemies (and none 
were better judges than they) would doubtless have left it to 
its fate ; and, remaining passive spectators of its destruction, 
would gladly have permitted the colony to die a natural death, 
instead of incurring anxiety, expense, and the risk of the ven- 
geance of the law, by adopting those active measures to which 
they resorted for the purpose of strangling it in its infancy." 

But had the situation of the colony been more serious than 
it was, Scottish resoluteness and tenacity of purpose in the 
face of danger, would have acquiesced in the dispensation and 
contentedly accepted it. The Highland heart, though it had 
its tender spots, and was keenly sensitive to kindness, partic- 

• " Statement respecting the Earl of Selkirk's Settlement of Kildonan, on the 
Red River, its destruction in the years 1815 and 1816, and the massacre of GU)v 
eruor Semple and his Party." Loudon, 1817. 


ularly in amelioration of an exile's lot, was "dour" when 
opposition thwarted, and hard as flint when it had to fight. 
Unkindly as was his lot in the land of his fathers, there is no 
doubt, for a time at least, that the Scottish settler pined for its 
shores again. Years hence, did all go well, there was prospect 
of he and his being better off in the wilderness to which he 
had come. But as yet he had not got over his home-sickness, 
and the memory of the old land was heavy on his heart. We 
can imagine him wistfully recalling the loved scenes of his 
former life ; and, as he looks on the rough surroundings of his 
inland home, longing for a sight of his native hills, and sighing 
for the sound of the sea. 

" ! gie me a sough o' the auld saut sea, 

A scent o' his brine again, 
To stiffen the wilt that this wilderness 

Has brought on this breast and brain. 

Let me hear his roar on the rocky shore. 

His thud on the shelly sand ; 
For my spirit's bowed, and my heart is dowed, 

Wi' the gloom o' this forest land." 

In the year 1814, the smouldering fires of the Nor'-Wester's 
enmity emitted puffs of flame. In January, Miles Macdonell, 
the Governor of the colony, had found it necessary to issue a 
proclamation forbidding the export from the territory of the 
food-supplies that were required for the support of those who 
had come to the colony and of those who were about to arrive 
in it. The proclamation was construed by the North- West 
Fur Company as a menace to its traders, and likely to deprive 
them of a source, hitherto relied upon, of their support. There 
would appear little ground of justification for this view of 
the matter. The truth is, the Company was not so much 
apprehensive for the safety and comfort of its employes, as it 
was anxious for a pretext to quarrel with the colony. How- 


ever this may be, the proclamation was considered a casus belli. 
Before proceeding further, it may be well to give an extract 
from the offending document. Here is the essential part of it. 
Says the Governor : 

" And whereas the welfare of the families at present forming 
settlements on the Red River, with those on the way to it, 
passing the winter at York or Churchill Forts in Hudson Bay, 
as also those who are expected to arrive next autumn, renders 
it a necessary and indispensable part of my duty to provide 
for their support. In the yet uncultivated state of the country, 
the ordinary resources derived from the buffalo and other wild 
animals hunted within the territory are not deemed more than 
adequate for the requisite supply ; wherefore, it is hereby 
ordered, that no persons trading in furs or provisions within 
the territory, for the Honourable the Hudson Bay Company, 
the North- West Company, or any individual or unconnected 
traders or persons whatever, shall take out any provisions, 
either of flesh, grain, or vegetables, procured or raised within 
the said territory, by water or land-carriage, for one twelve- 
month from the date hereof; save and except what may be 
judged necessary for the trading-parties at this present time 
within the territory, to carry them to their respective destina- 
tions, and who may, on due application to me, obtain license 
for the same. The provisions procured and raised as above 
shall be taken for the use of the colony ; and that no losses 
may accrue to the parties concerned, they will be paid for by 
British bills at the customary rates. 

"And be it hereby further made known, that whosoever 
shall be detected in attempting to convey out any provisions 
prohibit^ed as above, either by land or water, shall be taken 
into custody and prosecuted as the laws in such cases direct ; 
and the provisions so taken, as well as any goods or chattels 
of what nature soever which may be taken along with them, 
and also the craft, cattle, and carriages, instrumental in convey- 
ing away the same, to any part but the settlement on Red 
Eiver, shall be forfeited. Given under my hand, at Fort 
Daer, Pembina, the 8th of January, 1814. By order of the 

This proclamation, however essential its issue to the pre- 
servation and comfort of the colony, was a brusque assertion 


of rights in the territory ill for the Nor'- Wester to brook. In 
its effect on his own comfort, in placing an embargo on 
supplies, he was naturally eager to resent its publication and 
defy its authority. But the proclamation was the result of 
causes which the Nor'-Westers themselves had set in motion. 
From the time of the colony's first appearing, they had 
maliciously taken care to keep the territory clear of game 
Nor was this all : to prevent the settlers from obtaining pro- 
visions they systematically bought up any surplus food to be 
had ; and, through the active agency of the unfriendly half- 
breeds, they had dissuaded the Indians from selling them the 
produce of the chase. For the Governor's edict there may not 
have been immediate and pressing necessity ; but as a precau- 
tionary measure, in view of additions to the colony, its issue 
was justifiable. That its promulgation gave offence to the 
Nor'-Westers, we can readily believe ; but we are far from 
sympathising with them in the use they made of it as a brand 
of strife. 

The issue of this document, if it was not the beginning, was 
the active fomenter, of lengthened hostility to the Selkirk 
Settlement. The partiftrs of the North- West Fur Company 
who met at Fort William, in 1814, for their summer parlia- 
ment, were loud in their protest against the Governor's 
proclamation, and fixed in their determination to suppress the 
colony. They spoke excitedly of their rights in the interior 
and bitterly of their dislike of the Hudson Bay Governor. 
Scotch, as was the Kildonan Settlement, its active suppressors 
were of the same nationality. It was the old story, their foes 
were of their own household. The partners who were entrusted 
with the grim work of breaking up the colony were' the twin- 
worthies, Duncan Cameron, and Alexander McDonell. They 
were iustructed to proceed to Fort Gibraltar, a trading-post of 


the Company, at the Forks of the Assiniboine, within half a 
mile of the Red River Settlement. From this station, which 
had not heretofore been honoured by the presence of a resident- 
partner of the Company, they were to do what they could to 
harass the settlers. At first the Company was wary in show- 
ing its animus to the colonists. The initial step was to coax 
the settlers to leave the territory, and, failing in that, to 
intimidate them by threats of Indian massacre. In the art oi 
coaxing, Cameron displayed much talent : he was moreover 
assisted in his overtures by a knowledge of Gaelic, by a 
cunning tongue, and a plausible address. With these gifts he 
was enabled, first, to disarm suspicion of the intentions of the 
Company ; secondly, to ingratiate himself with the heads of 
influential families in the Settlement ; and, finally, to make 
them discontented with their surroundings, dissatisfied with 
their superiors, and doubtful of their prospects in the territory. 
This was the first assault on the integrity of the colony. 

The next undermining act was to excite the fears of the settlers 
by disseminating reports of Indian treachery and threatened 
massacre. These reports, so far as the Indians were concerned, 
were wholly and cruelly untrue. Their dusky brethren had 
always shown themselves friendly ; and in supplying the colony 
with game from the plains, they had found it to their advan- 
tage to continue in amity. They were, however, insidiously 
approached by the Nor'-Westers, with the view of exciting 
them to rise against the colony. Both the Salteaux and the 
Crees were repeatedly urged to destroy it. It is on record, 
that a Chippewa chief was offered rum and tobacco for his 
tribe, if he would even intercept the bearer of despatches to 
and from the Gove "nor. From these malignant acts the in- 
triguers of Fort Gibraltar resorted to more violent measures. 
But the measures were not only violent, they were base and 


pitiful. They comprised acts of daily harassment, and weari- 
ful attacks upon a peaceable and dependent colony. The 
horses and cattle of the settlers were shot by stealth in their 
enclosures ; and, as was threatened, the downfall of the colony 
was decided upon by fair means or foul. The next step was 
to starve the settlers out of the country. A Hudson Bay 
party, with 600 bags of pemmican, was captured on the Qu' 
Appelle river, on the way to Fort Douglas. To reduce the 
Settletiient to a more tractable and dependent mood, a raid 
was also made upon the arms and ammunition. From Fort 
Douglas a howitzer and other field-pieces were boldly abstract- 
ed ; and drunken Indians were sent in among the women and 
children to frighten them out of their wits. Cameron, the 
Company's agent, now gave out that he had been armtd with 
official authority to protect the peace of the territory, and that 
he was in receipt of His Majesty's commission to enforce 
obedience to his orders. To give colour to this imposture, he 
issued sundry intimidating proclamations, and ostentatiously 
paraded himself in the uniform of what turned out to be a dis- 
banded Canadian regiment. Under this pretended authority, 
he employed his half-breeds to enter the houses of the settlers, 
to serve them with injunctions, to abstract their weapons of 
defence, and, in some instances, to take their inmates prisoners. 
By bribery, and such harassing acts as we have mentioned, a 
few of the colonists were induced to abandon their homes, and 
received money and supplies to quit the country. But most of 
the colony were true to one another, and loyal to their common 
interest. No arts could allure or threats intimidate them to 
give up possession of their territory. Opposition only the 
more firmly rooted them to the soil. 

It would be tedious to dwell longer upon the means adopted 
by Cameron and his colleagues to seduce the settlers from their 


allegiance and to weaken their hold upon the Settlement. The 
Nor'-Westers quickly saw that half measures would have little 
effect in putting a stop to colonisation, and that recourse must 
needs be had to harsher procedure. We have already said 
that Cameron had made the settlers liberal offers to leave the 
country. These overtures were renewed ; and large bribes of 
money and land in Canada were held out as an inducement to 
desertion. This lure of the Company, and the discouragement 
of the situation, at last had effect upon a few of the indentured 
servants of the colony. These were prevailed upon to deseit 
before the expiration of their contracts, and to carry away 
with them their working tools and many of the implements of 
husbandry. Their defection had its influence upon others ; 
for during the winter of 1815 more of them deserted their 
employments, and others secretly engaged to abandon the 
settlement in the spring. After the raid upon the Fort, and 
the loss of their means of defence, many of the settlers began 
to despair ; and this feeling was intensified by still further acts 
of hostility and aggression. 

About this time Miles Macdonell, the Governor of the dis- 
trict, had been served with a warrant of arrest, issued by a 
magistrate of the Indian territory, on a charge of having 
feloniously taken a quantity of provisions belonging to the 
North-West Company. This warrant, Macdonell, at first, paid 
no heed to ; but the colony being threatened with dire mishap 
unless he surrendered himself, he thought it prudent to do so, 
and proceeded to Canada for trial. The Governor was taken to 
Montreal, where he was long and vexatiously detained. 
Meanwhile the poor colony was subjected to further and more 
wanton outrage. The settlers were frequently fired upon by the 
half-breeds ; their houses were broken up and pillaged ; many 
of the labourers, quietly employed 'in tillage, were forcibly 


seized and detained as prisoners ; horses were stolen and cattle 
driven away ; and, finally, the whole colony was ordered tn 
leave the Red River. Things had now come to such a pass 
that nothing but abandonment could save the lives of the colon- 
ists. In June, 1815, about sixty of the settlers fled for safety 
to a Hudson Bay post on Jack Fish River, at the northern 
end of Lake Winnipeg. To mark the triumph of this seriou?} 
defection, a number of clerks and servants of the North- 
West Company proceeded to the Settlement, and " setting firo 
to the houses, the mill, and other buildings, burnt them to tho 
ground." On this happening, the remainder of the settlers — • 
134) in number — abandoned the place, and accompanied the 
North- West traders to the annual rendezvous at Fort William. 
From this post on Lake Superior they proceeded to Upper 

Before we come to a new era of disaster, in connection with 
the history of this ill-fated colony, let us see what report was 
given to the outer world of these inhuman proceedings of tho 
agents of the North-West Fur Company. In a volume issued 
at the period, from which we have already quoted, we have 
the means of ascertaining what colour was given to the foul 
acts of the Canadian Fur-traders. The Honourable Wm. 
M'Gillivray, the founder and chief partner of the North-West 
Company, and a member of the Lower Canada Legislature and 
Executive Council, had been written to for information respect- 
ing the Red River colonists by Sir Frederick Robinson, at the 
time in command of His Majesty's forces in Upper Canada. 
From the report of this chief of the Canadian traders we learn 
of the infamy of the Company's gloss upon their years of 
hostility to the colony. His language is that of humane con- 
cern for the settlers, and of artfully simulated compassion for 
their fate. We are unwilling even to seem to do a wrong to 


this gentleman's memory, or unfairly to hold his Company 

responsible for acts which they no doubt disowned. But the 

evidence is both clear and strong against this corporation ; and 

it is impossible to think that McGillivray was ignorant of the 

true facts of the case. Here are a few extracts from his report. 

In accounting for the failure of the colony he first arraigns the 

Governor, Miles Macdonell, for his indiscretions, and goes on to 

say that " the disorder excited in the country by those (Mac- 
donell's) acts of violence, the disgust given to the settlers by 
the extensive disadvantages of the country, as well as the 
violence and tyranny of their leader, and the dread of the 
native Indians and mixed breed, all contributed to break up 
the colony. Some few of the settlers," he adds, " have 
returned to Hudson Bay, and the remainder threw themselves 
upon the compassion of the North- West Company to obtain 
means of conveyance to Canada. . . . Under these cir- 
cumstances," the writer continues, " partly from compassion 
towards these poor people, and pai'tly from a dread of the 
consequences of their remaining in the interior (because, in the 
event of the Indians attacking them, it was feared that the 
Hatchet, once raised, would not discriminate between a trader 
and a settler, but that all the white men in the country might 
become its victims), the North- West Company has offered these 
settlers a conveyance to this province, and the means of sub- 
sistence since they left the Bed Biver." McGillivray concludes 
by begging Sir Frederick Bobinson's " protection and favour 
for the poor settlers." 

Of course, no reasonable man will nowadays grow very 
indignant over the cant, not to speak of the deceit, of this 
letter. History is likely to docket it at its true worth. From 
the testimony taken in the Courts at the period, and particular- 
ly from the sworn evidence of credible agents of Lord Selkirk, 
and of honest people connected with his Settlement, there can 
be no question of the criminality of the traders of the North- 
West Company in the outrages committed upon the Bed Biver 
colony, or of the responsibility of the administration of that 


trading corporation for the acts of its servants. The writer of 
the above letter knew but too well, not only what was the 
attitude of his company towards the colony, but he also knew 
the declared and avowed policy of the Trading Partners, of 
whom he was one, towards Lord Selkirk and the rival English 
Company with which he was associated. Occupying the posi- 
tion he did, as the ear and mouthpiece of all the doings of his 
Company, it was impossible that he could be ignorant of the 
instructions that had been issued from his Board to harass the 
colony, to make life a burden to the settlers, and if need be, to 
resort to violent measures to ruin the Settlement and root it, 
stem and branch, from the country. The abundant evidence, 
existing in contemporary affidavits, to criminate this trading 
corporation in its policy of extermination, renders it unneces- 
sary to dwell upon the matter further. We shall quote but 
a sentence or two from a letter of one of the partners, written 
to a friend in Montreal, just after the general conference of the 
traders at Fort William, in the summer of 1814. The writer 
is Alexander McDonell, the colleague of Duncan Cameron, 
who was in command of Fort Gibraltar. A contemporary 
critic says, " the letter speaks a language that cannot be 
misunderstood : " 

" You see myself and our mutual friend, Mr. Cameron, so 
far on our way to commence open hostilities against the enemy 
in Red River. Much is expected from us, if we believe some 
— ^perhaps too much. One thing is certain, we will do our 
best to defend what we consider our rights in the interior. 
Something serious will undoubtedly take place. Nothing but 
the complete downfall of the colony will satisfy some, by fair 
or foul means — a most desirable object if it can be accomplish- 
ed. So here is at them with all my heart and energy ! " 

The writer of this letter is Alexander McDonell, one of the 
most zealous instigators of strife in the North- West Fur 


Company's employ, a frequent leader of raids upon the colony, 
and an inciter to acts of wanton aggression. It is told of him 
that on one occasion he brought from the plains into the 
Settlement a number of Cree Indians, whom he thought that 
by filling with liquor he could inflame to attack the colony 
and murder the settlers. As it mercifully happened, however, 
an Indian drunk was more humane than a white man sober. 
In the history of European intercourse with Indians, this is not 
the first time the world has known them to possess, not only a 
high ideal of morality, but a realisation of it that would put 
to shame many of those who conceive themselves to rank higher 
in the scale of humanity. They returned to their wigwams on 
the Qu'Appelle without doing the behests of McDonell, but' 
instead, sent the pipe of peace to the colony as an assurance of 
friendship. Nor were the acts of this man, and of his fellow- 
conspirator, Cameron, unauthorised, or at least unapproved of, 
by the North-West Company. The contrary is on record: 
they were not only rewarded but honoured by the Company ; 
while there is also evidence that considerable sums were paid, 
on their report of partisan service being rendered by the 
deserters of the colony, to these and other disafiected settlers 
who had been incited to revolt by Cameron's treachery. Here 
are some extracts from this worthy's report to headquarters of 
the men who rendered, and the value put upon, these services. 
Of one man McDonell speaks thus : 

" A smart fellow. Left the H. B. Company in April last — a 
true partisan, steady and brave. Took a most active part in 
the campaign of this spring, and deserves from fifteen to 
twenty pounds. He has lost about X20 by leaving the Hud- 
son Bay Co. a month before the expiration of his contract." 
Of another the same writer affirms that : " This man left the 
H. B. Co. in the month of April, owing to which he lost three 
years' wages. His b3haviour towards us has been that of a 


true partisan, steady, brave, and resolute; was something 
of a leading character among his countrymen, and deserves at 
least about £20." But these were minor Judases: here we 
have a traitor whom thirty pieces of silver would not satisfy. 
Cameron thus writes of George Campbell : " This (Geo. Camp- 
bell) is a very decent man, and a great partisan, who often 
exposed his life for the N. W. Co. He has been of very 
essential service in the transactions of the Red River, and 
deserves at least £100, Halifax, and every other service that 
can be rendered to him by the North-West Company. Rather 
than his merits and services should go unrewarded, I would 
give him a £100 myself, although I have already been a good 
deal out of pocket by my campaign to Red River." 

But we must get back to the larger theatre of events. 
During these trying times for the Selkirk settlers the founder 
of the colony had not been idle. We may be sure he was not 
callous to the ruin of his colony, or indifferent when he heard 
of its dispersion. For more than a year he had been in corres- 
pondence with the Canadian authorities, with a view to 
obtaining military protection for the Settlement. In this, 
however, he had failed. The North-West Company was a 
powerful institution in the provinces, and its coils of interest 
and partisan favour were even wound about the Executive. 
Lord Selkirk came to Canada to see what could be done. 
Here he heard with dismay of the fate of his colony. There 
was but one ray of hope. The detachment of settlers that had 
cone noi'th to Lake Winnipeg might not have left the country. 
This was the case: they had even now returned to the smok- 
ing ruins of their homesteads, and, figuratively, had sat down 
by the waters of Babylon and wept. To clear the debris from 
the ground, re-erect devastated homes, and plant something 
for the wants of the coming winter, was the determined resolu- 
tion, as it was soon the accomplished work, of the returned 
settlers. The resurrected colony had had by this time an 


important addition of new settlers, who had come to Hudson 
Bay in the summer of 1815. In spite of the past, and the far 
from pacific present outlook, there were those who fondly 
thought the colony might yet live. 

Lord Selkirk was still detained in Canada endeavouring to 
induce the Govei'nment to extend its authority, with the 
symbol of its power, to the North-West. In this task he 
found himself seriously handicapped by the overshadowing 
influence of the Canadian traders. They had possession of all 
the avenues to Government favour, and had effectually pre- 
judiced public opinion against him and his colony. It was hard 
to do battle against such odds. His representative, Governor 
Miles Macdonell, was still under arrest in Montreal, and others 
of his agents were in trouble. To add to the difficulties of his 
position, detachments of refugees from his colony came dribb- 
ling into Canada, and they naturally turned to him for support. 
This was not denied them. But his chief effort was at 
present directed towards obtaining evidence, to enable him to 
fasten responsibility for the troubles upon those who had 
occasioned them. This was important, not only to put another 
face upon things in Canada, and meet the lies of the North- 
West Company, but to enable him to set himself right in 
Britain. The undertaking was no light one ; but Lord Selkirk 
shirked no difficulties, and was too much in earnest to spare 
himself labour. His correspondence at the period indicates a 
man of great ability, of untiring energy, and of self-sacrificing 
enthusiasm. His most striking characteristics are his manifest 
fairness, control of temper under great provocation, and con- 
scientious desire to get at the truth. No one dipping into the 
history of the time can fail to gain this impression of the man, 
or remain insensible to the honourableness of his actions and 
the high impelling motive of his work^ 



Leaving Lord Selkirk for a while at Montreal, let us see how 
it fared with the partially restored colony. With the return 
of the contingent that had gone to Jack Fish River, there had 
come from Scotland an infusion of new blood. With the 
recruits to the colony and the returned emigrants was a Mr. 
Colin Robertson, a Hudson Bay Company officer, who was 
able to render great service in re-establishing the Settlement. 
Encouraged by this official, it fast regained its old spirit and 
strength. Once again, however, in this western paradise, was 
seen the trail of the serpent. Our quondam friends, Duncan 
Cameron and Alexander McDonell, were back in the region. 
The former re-occupied Fort Gibraltar; while the latter pro- 
ceeded to his late post on the Qu'Appelle River, Neither of 
these worthies expected to see aught again in Kildonan of 
Lord Selkirk's settlers ; but Lord Selkirk's settlers were not 
only there, they were there in force. If a bold front augured 
anything, they were there also to stay. 

Cameron was not long in resuminof his old tactics. But this 
time he counted without his host. Robertson, who had 
assumed charge of the colony, determined to act not alone on 
the defensive. On the first occasion of trouble emanating 
from Fort Gibraltar, out he and his force sallied from Fort 
Douglas. Quickly traversing the distance between the two 
Forts, the Selkirk banners gained speedy access to the rival 
post. Robertson's following took the garrison by surprise, 
captured Cameron, and recovered the field-pieces and stands of 
arms that had been previously carried from the Settlement. 
This was a new turn for things to take. Fortunately, no 
blood was shed. Cameron was released on promise of good 
behaviour and reinstated in his command of the Fort. The 
winter passed without incident, save rumours of some ominous 
movement in the west. There McDonell,^ who had beea in- 


dignant at the capture of the Fort and the humiliation of his 
partner, was actively preparing a campaign for the Spring. 
When that season arrived, Cameron was again caught plotting 
against the colony, and was once more laid by the heels and 
taken to Hudson Bay. This precipitated events, and brings 
us to a crisis in the history of the Settlement. It also brings on 
the scene an ill-fated Hudson Bay Governor. 

This officer was Governor Robert Semple, who had been 
appointed to the chief control of all the factories in the terri- 
tory. On his tour of inspection of the posts he came to 
Red River in the Spring of 1816. At the moment the pros- 
pects of the colony seemed brighter. The new Governor 
brought fresh courage, and the prestige and authority that 
belonged to his position. Colin Robertson, who was a host in 
himself, had also stayed the heart of the colony ; while its old 
head. Miles Macdonell, had by this time returned. It really 
seemed possible for the Settlement to survive : the Scotch 
thistles were hard to eradicate. 



< HERE is a story told of a child whose eyes had 
been operated upon for cataract. One stormy 
night while the thunder roared and the light - 
ning flashed, the child is reported to have be- 
come frightened, and to have torn the band- 
ages from her eyes. As she did so a flash of 
lightning illuminated the darkened room. The 
bright light she saw for an instant; but the 
glare was too much for her weak eyes, and she relapsed into 
the gloom of the sightless and became permanently blind. 
The story recalls the situation of the Red River colony and 
its momentary streak of hope. For an instant there was a 
flash of bright anticipation and a gleam of promise. The next 
moment it was gone, and darkness once more enveloped the 

Just after Governor Semple's arrival, the storm clouds gath- 
ered fast over the doomed colony. The news of its reconstruc- 
tion had reached distant Canada, and there was a pressing for- 
ward of partners to strangle the new birth. As the weeks 
passed, a cordon of fate converged upon this cradle of westerr 
civilisation. In the east, an expedition was fitting out at Fort 



William : in the west, Alexander McDonell was marshalling 
the half-breeds. Northward, on the Qu'Appelle, a French 
Canadian banditti were engaging in all sorts of lawlessness: 
and all around there was ferment and trouble. On the 12th of 
May, as a Hudson Bay party was coming down the Qu'Appelle 
river, it was set upon by a number of Canadians and Half- 
breeds, in the employ of the North- West Company. In com- 
mand of the attacking party was a man named Cuthbert Grant, 
who was now to earn his title to infamy for his share in the 
coming events. The Hudson Bay employes were taken pris- 
oners; their furs and food-supplies were confiscated; and 
another post of the Company was captured and wrecked. A 
junction of Cuthbert Grant's rabble was now formed with the 
Nor'-Westers under Alexander McDonell, and all proceeded to 
Portage des Prairies. From here, on the 18th of June, Mc- 
Donell despatched Grant, with seventy Ishmaels of the plains, 
to attack the colony on the Red River. On the 20th a mes- 
senger brought report of an affray which had occurred at Seven 
Oaks, or as it is otherwise known, Frog Plain, in front of Fort 
Douglas. Here is the lanfjuao;e in which McDonell announces 
the result of the enoragement to his ruffian crew : " Sacre nom 
de Dieu ! Bonnes nouvelles ! Vingt-deux Anglais de taes ! " 

An account of this atrocity will have more interest if we 
quote the deposition of an eye-witness, taken down immedia- 
tely after the massacre. The narrator is John Pritchard, an 
Englishman, who had been in the employ of the North- West 
Company, but who had left its service to become a settler at 
Red River. Pritchard's account of the affray substantially 
agrees with that of other credible witnesses. They all testify 
to the fact that the Indians had no hand in the massacre ; on 
the contrary, they were the first to apprise the colonists of dan- 
ger, and were anxious, if not to avert their fate, to share it 



with them. The attacking party, composed of Bois-BvAlSs, in 

the service of the North- West Company, was commandec 

by the unscrupulous Cuthbert Grant. Here is Pritchard's 

narrative : 

" On the afternoon of the 19th of June (181 G) a man in the 
watch-house called out, that the half-breeds were coming. The 
Governor (Mr. Semple), some other gentleman, and myself, 
looked through spy -glasses, and distinctly saw some armed 
people on horseback passing along the plains. A man then 
called out, they, (meaning the half-breeds) are making for the 
settlers; on which the Governor said, 'we must go out and 
meet these people ; let twenty men follow me. We proceeded 
by the old road leading down the settlement. As we were 
going along we met many of the settlers running to the fort, 
crying, " the half-breeds ! the half-breeds ! " When we were 
advanced about three-quarters of a mile along the settlement, 
we saw some people on horseback behind a point of woods. 
On our nearer approach the party seemed more numerous ; on 
which the Governor made a halt and sent for a field-piece, 
which, delaying to arrive, he ordered us to advance. We had 
not proceeded far before the half-breeds on horseback, their 
faces painted in the most hideous manner, and in the dresses of 
Indian warriors, came forward and surrounded us in the form 
of a half moon. We then extended our line, and moved more 
into the open plain ; as they advanced we retreated a few 
steps backwards, and then saw a Canadian, named Boucher, 
ride up to us waving his hand and calling out ' What do you 
want ? ' 

" The Governor replied, ' What do you want ? ' To which 
Boucher answered, ' We want our fort.' The Governor said, 
' Go to your fort.' They were, by this time, near each other, 
and consequently spoke too low for me to hear. Being at 
some little distance to the right of the Governor, J saw him 
take hold of Boucher's gun, and almost immediately a general 
discharge of fire-arms took place ; but whether it began on our 
side, or that of the enemy it was impossible to distinguish : 
my attention was then directed towards my personal defence. 
In a few minutes almost all our people were either killed or 
wounded. Captain Rogers having fallen, rose again and came 
towards me, when, not seeing one of (Jur party who was not 



either killed or disabled, I called out to him, 'for God's sake 
give yourself up.' He ran towards the enemy for that purpose, 
myself following him ; he raised up his hands, and in English 
and broken French called out for mercy. A half-breed shot 
bim through the head, and another cut open his belly with a 
knife, with the nwst horrid imprecations. Fortunately for 
me, a Canadian, joining his entreaties to mine, saved me, 
though with the greatest difficulty, from sharing the fate of 
my friend at that moment. After this, I was rescued from 
death, in the most providential manner, no less than six dif- 
ferent times on my road to and at the Frog Plain, the head- 
quarters of the murderers. I there saw i?;lexander Murray 
and his wife, two of Wm. JBannerman's children, and Alex- 
ander Sutherland, settlers likewise, Anthony McDonell, a ser- 
vant, all pi'isoners, having been taken before the action oc- 
curred. With the exception of myself, no quarter was given 
to any of us. The knife, axe, or ball put a period to the ex- 
istence of the wounded; and on the bodies of the dead were 
practised all those horrible barbarities which characterise the 
inhuman heart of the savage. 

" The mild and amiable Mr. Semple, lying upon his side (his 
thigh having been broken), and supporting his head upon his 
hand, addressed the chief commander of our enemies, by 
inquiring if he was Mr. Grant, and, being answered in the 
affirmative, said, ' I am not mortally wounded, and if you 
could get me conveyed to the fort, I think I should live.' 
Grant promised he would do so, and immediately left him in 
the care of a Canadian, who afterwards related that an Indian 
of their party came up and shot Mr. Semple in the breast. 
I entreated Grant to procure me the watch, or even the 
seals of Mr. Semple, for the purpose of transmitting them 
to his friends, but I did not succeed. Our force amounted to 
twenty-eight persons, of whom twenty-one were. killed, and 
one wounded. The Governor; Captain Rogers ; Mr. J. White, 
surgeon ; Mr. A. McLean, settler ; Mr. W^ilkinson, private sec- 
retary to the Governor ; and Lieutenant Holt of the Swedish 
navy ; and fifteen servants were killed. Mr. J. P. Bourke, 
store-keeper, was wounded, but saved himself by flight. The 
enemy, I am told, numbered sixty-two persons, the greater 
pait of them were the contracted servants and clerks of the 


North-West Company. They had one man killed and one 

Such are the incidents of this calamitous story. The colony 
had no chance of making a fight for itself, for before it could 
sally out to support its chiefs, the scuffle had ended in whole- 
sale murder. Inflamed with passion, and intoxicated with 
success, the half-breeds demanded the instant surrender of 
Fort Douglas, prefacing their demand by threats of indiscrim- 
inate slaughter if it was not complied with. Each male 
inmate of the Fort now nerved himself for the crisis. The 
desire was to defend the stockade, and to trust to relief arriv- 
ing from some heaven-directed quarter. But relief there could 
be none. On the contrary, other besiegers were pressing 
forward, under McDonell from Portage des Prairie, and under 
McLeod from Fort William. Meanwhile a message arrived 
from Grant, stating that " an attack would that night be made 
upon the Fort, and that if a single shot was fired in defence of 
the place, a general massacre would ensue." Pritchard, who 
had been taken prisoner, endeavoured to make terms with 
Grant for the safety of the colony ; but no terms would satisfy 
him, save unconditional surrender. " You see," observed Grant, 
" the little quarter we have shown you, and now, if any further 
resistance is made, no man, woman, or child shall be spared." 
" Being fully convinced," remarks Pritchard, " of the inevitable 
destruction of these poor souls, I asked Grant if there was any 
means by which the lives of the women and children could be 

* Those who find a grim satisfaction in tracing judgments in this world for wrongs 
committed against our fellow-creatures, will be interested in a record, which ap- 
pears in Ross's " Red River Settlement," of the fate that befell half of the ruffians 
who were concerned in the murder of Governor Semple and the settlers. Ross traces 
to a violent or sudden death no less than twenty-six out of the sixty-five who com- 
posed the attacking party. The list, if to be relied upon, is significant of th© 
Nemesis that pursues ill-deeda. 


saved. I entreated him, in the name of his deceased father, 
whose countrywomen they were, to take^pity and spare them." 
His answer, at last, was, " that if all public property were 
given up, the settlers should be allowed to depart in peace, 
and that he would give a safe escort until they had passed the 
North-West Company's track near Lake Winnipeg." Extort- 
ing these terms from Grant, Pritchard begged to be allowed to 
go on parole to the Fort to state them to his countrymen. 
This was agreed to, and he had thus an opportunity of dissuad- 
ing those in the Fort from resorting to a fruitless defence, and 
of bringing death, and worse than death, upon those who 
would otherwise become the half-breeds' victims. 

On his arrival at the Fort, Pritchard observes, "what a 
scene of distress presented itself ! The widows, children, and 
relations of the slain, in the horrors of despair, were lamenting 
the dead, and trembling for the safety of the survivors." 
After a long and anxious parley, a surrender was decided 
upon ; and the settlers once more accepted the inevitable — 
banishment from the homes they had endeavoured to rear in 
the wilderness. On his way back to Frog Plain, " the shades 
of night," relates the intermediary, " hid from my view what 
the dawn of the following day too clearly exposed — the mang- 
led and disfigured bodies of the dead. From what I saw, and 
what I have been told, I do not suppose that more than one- 
fourth of our party were mortally wounded when they fell, 
but were most inhumanly butchered afterwards." Two days 
later saw the embarkment of the Ked River colony for Hudson 
Bay, and the razing, from the desolate wastes of Rupert's Land, 
of the foundations of its first civilised community. On the 
way to Lake Winnipeg, the colony met the incoming bands of 
the North- West traders, under Norman McLeod, the Fort 
William partner, accompanied by other influential agents and 


shareholders of that powerful company. To this partner, high 
in authority, the poor persecuted colonists might naturally 
have looked for succour and sympathy in this the hour of 
their dire distress. It would not have been too much to hope 
that, being a magistrate, he would have taken their deposi- 
tions with the view of visiting upon lawlessness the righteous 
punishment of outraged law. As a fellow-creature, he might 
at least have spared them indignity, while their kindred lay 
yet unburied on the lands from which they had just been 

This was not their fate. The first accost of McLeod was 
"whether that rascal and scoundrel, Robertson, was in the 
boats ? " and if Governor Semple was with them, if not, what 
was his fate ? The whole party was disembarked, and for 
days was subjected to the closest and most insulting exam- 
ination. Every trunk, box, and chest was pryed into, and 
the books and diaries of the late Governor were abstracted. 
The private papers and family records of a number of the 
settlers were also overhauled, and many of them retained, 
particularly those that preserved the history of the misdoings 
of the North-West traders. Not a few of the colonists were 
deprived of their liberty, and prevented from going off with 
their departing kinsmen. Not only were they deprived of 
their liberty, however, but, as a contemporary historian grimly 
relates, " they were all imprisoned together, in order that they 
might become better accquainted, " with a guard set over them, 
composed of those very ruffians by whom their friends had 
been butchered, and from whom they themselves had almost 
miraculously escaped at the time of the massacre. " In the 
whole of these proceedings," the same authority writes, " there 
appears such a horrible mixture of mock judicial solemnity 
and real cruelty, — such a medley of folly and atrocity ; of the 


semblance of law and the substance of injustice, as migbt, 
indeed, stagger the belief of any one who has not had an 
opportunity of perusing the documents which have been 

While the remainder of the again exiled settlers were being 
permitted to make good their escape to the bleak shores ol 
Hudson Bay, let us see what Lord Selkirk was about in 
Canada. Enmity between the North-West Company and his 
people, he might well think, could not last forever : surely 
there would come a time when the colony would be suffered 
to exist. The territory was vast; only a fringe of it was 
really known. For generations, a settlement on the Red River, 
compared with the extent of the whole territory, could be no 
more than a barnacle on the side of a vessel, or a handful of 
seaweed flung upon the shore. To resent the intrusion of 
settlers seemed to Lord Selkirk the most fatuous policy, as it 
was the most cruel attitude for a body of wealthy Scotchmen 
to assume towards their poor, but deserving, countrymen. 
Moreover, in the coming time, as Lord Selkirk no doubt saw, 
to encourage the half-breeds in their opposition to the colony 
was sure, as it has'done, to bring a harvest of trouble. To- 
day Canada is paying for that time of devilment. 

But back of the half-breeds was ever the implacable enmity 
of the Nor'- Westers. Against this enmity Lord Selkirk could 
make no headway, either with the chiefs of the Company or 
with the leaders of the Government. The administration of a 
country was never more thoroughly identified with the con. 
ceras of a private enterprise, and never more careful not to 
interfere with its interests or ofiend its officers, than was the 
Canadian Executive of the period in its relations with the 
North- West Fur-traders. To discover this must have been an 
occasion of grief to the high-minded nobleman, through whose 


instrumentality the poor cottars of the Orkneys had been 
relieved from dormant poverty only to meet wandering 
wretchedness. But Canada was just then in its most unlovely 
and immature political condition. It was ruled by an oligarchy 
whose motto, as has been remarked, was expressed by the 
French proverb : Noiis avons I'avantage, profitoTis nous. Ad 
official class had grown up, composed of social aristocrats, who 
were not over scrupulous, at times, of the means by which 
they attained power, or conscientious in the use they made of 
it. Liberalism, at a later day, changed all that ; but though 
the necessity for reform was even then urgent, the means by 
which it could be brought about were not yet available. 

FaiKng in all attempts to procure from the Government an 
armed force for the protection of the colony, or even to get an 
official representative, with the requisite authority and essential 
impartiality, to go to the Settlement as its resident guardian 
Lord Selkirk looked in other quarters for the aid he was in 
need of. Though at heavy cost to himself, he was fortunate 
in being able to obtain this. 1 j close of the struggle with 
France, and the termination of the War of 1812-14, had released 
from active service two Swiss regiments, then in Canada, that 
had borne a good reputation for efficiency and discipline. A 
number of the men of these disbanded corps Lord Selkirk was 
able to engage for the defence of his colony and to take a share 
in its settlement. They were just the material he was in need 
of, capable from their military training to withstand attack 
upon the colony, and being men of respectable character likely 
to make good settlers. He made a bargain with about a 
hundred of them, or more precisely, with eighty of the De 
Mueron, and twenty of the Watteville, regiments. These he 
clothed and armed at his own expense, and with thirty canoe- 
men started off to Red River. All that the Government 


furnished him was a personal body-guard of one sergeant and 
six soldiers. 

Before leaving Canada Lord Selkirk had taken care to get 
himself officially appointed and sworn in as a magistrate. On 
his way westward, looking to the contingency of having to 
take civil proceedings against those who had been, or were 
likely yet to be, troublesome to the colony, he endeavoured at 
Sault Ste Marie to induce two magistrates of the place to 
accompany him. In this, however, he was not successful, a 
circumstance which he thus regrets : " I am therefore reduced 
to the alternative," writes his Lordship," " of acting alone, or of 
allowing audacious crimes to pass unpunished. In these cir- 
cumstances I cannot doubt that it is my duty to act, though I 
am not without apprehension that the law may be openly 
resisted by a set of people who have been accustomed to con- 
sider force as the only true criterion of right." Crossing 
Lake Superior, his party fell in with Miles Macdonell, who hav- 
ing again been driven from Eed River, was on his way to 
Canada with the news of the further destruction of the colony. 
From the Governor Lord Selkirk heard with dismay of the 
butchery on Frog Plain, and the murder of Semple and his 
party. With aid so near, how bitter was the news of this 
second overthrow of his colony, and the wrecking of the 
hopes he had cherished for its future, the reader may imagine. 

On the 12th of August Selkirk and his armed contingent 
arrived at Fort William. Here, as the reader will be aware* 
was the western headquarters of the North-West traders, and 
here were imprisoned some of the prominent men of the Sel- 
kirk Settlement. Their release was instantly called for, an 
order which the partners, in presence of such a force as accom- 
panied Lord Selkirk, were not slow to obey. Selkirk now took 
the depositions of the released prisoners, and found out the 


enoraiity of the crimes either perpetrated or instigated by the 
servants of the North-West Company. So clearly was their 
guilt established, and so incensed was his Lordship at the out- 
rages that had been committed, that, by authority invested in 
him as a magistrate, he arrested a number of the leading part- 
ners of the Company, and sent them under escort to York for 
trial. The military expedition spent the winter at Fort 
William, and in the Spring proceeded to Red River. 

It was the end of June before Lord Selkirk himself reached 
the colony, and for the first time set eyes upon the scene of its 
troubles. The settlers who had sought refuge at Norway 
House, on Lake Winnipeg, were again recalled, and the de- 
spoiled homesteads once more put in habitable condition. A 
general muster of the resurrected colony being now made, the 
Settlement was formally inaugurated and received its designa- 
tion, of Kildonan. The land, the title of which had been fur- 
ther secured by treaty with the Indians, was now ordered to 
be fully surveyed^ and roads and bridges were commissioned to 
be built. Under these favourab.. conditions, the colony took 
now a new start, and though, in later chapters we shall hear 
of its chequered career, the future was more auspicious to 
it than had been the past. Passing southward to the Missis- 
sippi, thence eastward to Washington, its founder made a wide 
detour on his return to Canada. There he was wanted to con- 
found the machinations of his inveterate enemies, the fur- 
traders, and there he desired to bring them to justice. 

From chronicling the incidents of this portion of the Selkirk 
career, the historian may well wish to escape. It is a part of 
the drama upon which he and any lover of Canada may be 
excused for dropping the curtain. Justice, at the period, had 
either departed from the country, or had become afflicted with 
A serious moral and physical squint. Not in Lower, not in Upper 


Canada, could Selkirk receive fair hearing or decent treatment. 
With subservient juries, a besmirched judiciary, and a partisan 
government, honour and good faith hid their heads. Men of 
good standing and large stake in the country, men otherwise 
humane and reputable, vied with each other to defeat justice 
and to shield crime. Nor did the clerical office hasten to ex- 
tend its comfort, or even refrain from persecution. A certain 
redoubtable Rector of York, whom we otherwise love to recall 
as one of the sturdy founders of the Province, and whose soul, 
in later days, we believe was right before God, was among the 
most noisy of Selkirk's defamers, and the most influential 
withholder from him of justice. Never was man more perse- 
cuted than was Lord Selkirk, during the year of the state trials 
in Canada, and never in the history of the older provinces has 
there been so flagrant and prolonged a violation of law. In 
sadness of spirit the would-be founder of the Selkirk Settle- 
ment betook himself from the country, and in broken health 
returned to the Old World to die. 




^ 1^1 EFORE dealing, in historic order, with the amal- 
FiCif^^ gamation of the rival Fur Companies, let us look a 
^C ^b^^ little more closely at the events that preceded it, in 
"^^1 connection with the chief commerce of the country, 
the Fur trade of the continent, and at the explorations 
that followed upon its enterprising pursuit. To this 
pursuit we chiefly owe the opening up of the vast region 
embraced in the Dominion of Canada, from the slender thread 
of settlement on the banks of the St Lawrence westward to 
the Pacific, and from the shores of Hudson Bay to the 49th 
parallel, which in 1846 became the international boundary. 
South of this line, the principal voyages of exploration across 
the continent, at the beginning of the century, were the 
American expeditions in 1804-6 of Lewis and Clarke, up the 
Missouri and down the Columbia rivers, and the later trading 
operations of John Jacob Astor, who established Astoria, the 
great western emporium of the Fur-trade. In this trade 
Astor laid the foundations of his colossal fortune. Closely 
following on these enterprises, and growing out of them, came 


132 THE north-west; its history and its troubles, 

the prolonged international controversy on the Oregon ques- 
tion, which from the year 1818 down to the year 1846 formed 
a bone of contention between Great Britain and the United 
States. The treaty of 1846 between the two countries estab- 
lished the Canadian boundary line and settled the vexed 
question of the national ownership of the northern California 

Lewis and Clarke accomplished for the United States what 
Sir Alexander Mackenzie had accomplished for Canada. 
They opened up an overland route to the Pacific, and di- 
vested the region of much of its terror to the heart of incom- 
ing civilisation. Over much of the territory opened up by 
these explorers, French enterprise had already traversed. 
Indeed, to the French and the Scotch belong the honors of 
discovery over most of the continent. The whole country 
west of the Great Lakes was early made known by Frenchmen. 
In 1679 La Salle erected Fort Michillimackinac, at the 
entrance of Lake Michigan, and penetrated by the waters of 
the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. In the same year 
Du Luth reached the western extremity of Lake Superior, and 
took possession of the sources of the Mississippi. About the 
same period Perrot and Le Sueur journeyed over the region 
and established forts at suitable points by order of the French 
Governor. In 1742, Verandrye reached the country of the 
Mandans, in what is now the territory of Dakota, and tracked 
the upper waters of the Missouri. Later on we find him 
roaming over the vast plains of the Saskatchewan, and probing 
the continent as far west as the Rocky Mountains. In the 
track of the French traders, a series of posts was established, 
extending from Sault Ste Marie and the Kaministiquia to the 
distant Saskatchewan and the hyperborean Athabasca. Later 
still we have the chain of trading establishments of the North- 


West Company, that linled the country from New Brunswick 
Post, at the source of the Moose River, to the distant Fraser, 
the Thompson, the Peace, and the Mackenzie rivers. Then 
came the cluster of Hudson Bay posts that figure so 
prominently in connection with the fur-trade in the North- 
West — Cumberland House, Norway House, Hudson House, 
Carlton House, Manchester House, and the inumerable trading 
stations of that great Corporation. 

But in this enumeration we by no means exhaust the enter- 
prise, or tell the whole story, of Franco-Canadian and Scottish- 
Canadian trade. Even American historians give the palm to 
Canada for her labours in opening the continent to commerce. 
We know how enthusiastically Parkman speaks of French 
achievement in conducting enterprises of territorial conquest, 
and in heroically bringing the recesses of the wilderness to the 
knowledge of the outer world. Now comes a later historian, 
Mr Hubert Bancroft, who, in one of his many rich historical 
volumes, gives us this further testimony to the zeal and enter- 
prise of Canadians in prosecuting discovery on the continent. 
Says Mr. Bancroft, speaking of Lewis and Clarke's expedition 
up the Missouri : 

"In the course of our narrative we shall see that army 
captains and soldiers were no match for Scotch fur-traders and 
Canadian voyageurs in forest travel. When Lewis and Clarke 
set out on their expedition the great Unknown Region, as it 
was called, equivalent to one thousand miles square and more, 
between the headwaters of the Missouri and the Pacific Ocean, 
was, if we except the interior of Alaska and the Stikeen 
country, further removed from civilisation than any other part 
of North America. The Hudson Bay Company had explored 
its borders north. English ships had sailed through many 
channels in search of Anian Strait and a northern passage, and 
Heame had pursued his grumbling way from Fort Churchill 
to the mouth of the Copper Mine. The Canadian merchants 
had taken possession of the Canadian North- West, and had 


planted their forts from Lake Superior to Athabasca, while 
the determined Mackenzie had followed the river which bears 
his name to the Arctic Ocean, and had crossed from Peace 
River to the Pacific."* 

In addition to Mackenzie's work on the west of the Rocky 
Mountains, we must not omit to note the labours of James 
Finlay, another Scotchman, who ascended the Peace River 
some four years after Mackenzie, and explored the branch of 
that river to which he gave his name. In this region the 
name of another Scot is associated with the waters of the 
Fraser; while the other great river of British Columbia bears the 
name of yet another Scotchman, David Thompson. All three 
were employes of the North- West Company, of Montreal ; 
Fraser indeed was one of Cuthbert Grant's followers in the 
Company's raids on the Selkirk settlement, and was present 
at the massacre of Governor Semple and his party. Of David 
Thompson we get a portrait in Mr. Bancroft's volume, which 
we take the liberty to quote : 

" David Thompson was an entirely different order of man 
from the orthodox fur-trader. Tall and fine looking, of sandy 
complexion, with large features, deep-set studious eyes, high 
forehead and broad shoulders, the intellectual was set upon 
the physical. His deeds have never been trumpeted as have 
those of some of the others ; but in the westward explorations 
of the North-West Company no man performed more valuable 
service or estimated his achievements more modestly. Un- 
happily his last days were not as pleasant as fell to the lot of 
some of the worn-out members of the Company. He retired 
almost blind to Lachine House, once the headquarters of the 
Company, where he was met with in 1831 in a very decrepid 

•"History of the North-West Coast." VoL ii. 1800-46. By Hubert Howe 
Bancroft. (Vol. 28 of Works.) San Francisco, 1884. 

t.A manuscript volume of Voyages in the North- West, undertaken by David 
Thompson, is in the possession of Mr. Charles Lindsey, City Begistrar, Toronto, 
which we should be glad to see published. 


With Simon Fraser was intimately associated a brother 
Scot, named John Stuart, whose memory is perpetuated io 
Stuart's Lake and River, in British Columbia. In their way, 
these Scotchmen were odd characters, though of great service to 
the North-West Company, in establishing trading posts on the 
hither side of the Rockies. Fraser, .we learn, was " an illiterate, 
ill-bred, fault-finding man, of jealous disposition, but ambitious 
and energetic, with considerable conscience, and in the main hold- 
ing to honest convictions." Of Stuart, who accompanied Frasei 
in his journeyings in British Columbia, in the years 1806-8, and 
who was with him in his tracking the Fraser River, Bancroft 
quotes a description from an M.S. journal of a navigator, named 
Anderson, who had made a voyage along the Pacific Coast. The 
sketch is as follows : 

" In comparing these two persons I should call Stuart the 
nobler, the more dignified man, but one whose broad, calm 
intellect had received no more culture than Fraser's. Stuart's 
courage and powers of endurance were equal in every respect 
to those of his colleague, and while in temper, tongue, ideas, 
and bodily motion he was less hasty, within a given time he 
would accomplish as much or more than Fraser, and do it 
better. Both were exceedingly eccentric, one quietly so, the 
other in a more demonstrative way ; but it happened that the 
angularities of one so dovetailed into those of the other that 
co-operation, harmony, and good-fellowship characterised all 
their intercourse. Stuart was one of the senior partners in the 
North- West Company, and for a time was in charge of the 
Athabasca department. As his territory in the west was 
boundless, he deemed it his duty to extend the limits of his 
operations. Twice he traversed the continent, besides under- 
taking many minor excursions. In fact, he was always on the 
move. On retiring from the service he settled at Torres, 
Scotland, where he died in 1846." 

On the Walla- Walla and the Columbia rivers, the North- 
West Company had in its service a whole colony of Scotch- 
men, of whom some mention should be made, in connection 


with the Canadian Fur-trade in the region the fervid Scot 
loved to call New Caledonia. The area of the Company's 
trading operations was by no means confined to the district of 
the Red River, the doings in which engrossed our attention 
in the last chapter. The Nor'-Westers did a thriving trade on 
the Columbia River, in Oregon, where they had an important 
and lucrative post. Their business on the coast was also 
extensive, reaching from California in the south to New Arch- 
angel in the north. On the Pacific slope, in the year 1817, 
the Company had over three hundred Canadians in its employ. 
From its ports three or four ships were annually despatched to 
London, by way of Cape Horn, freighted with furs. The ships 
on the return passage brought supplies for the various estab- 
lishments on the coast. The North- West Qompany had here 
no Hudson Bay rival ; its chief competitor was John Jacob 
Astor, the wealthy fur-monopolist of the United States. In 
1810, this young German trader founded Fort Astoria, the 
great Fur mart on the Columbia River, familiar to readers of 
Washington Irving's narrative of the western fur-trade. Astor, 
it seems, was very anxious to attach to his service some of the 
more prominent Scotchmen among the Nor'-Westers. He 
even made overtures to the Company to join him in partner- 
ship. The advantage of an alliance, he pointed out, was his 
ability to ship furs in American vessels to India and China, 
which the North-West Company was unable to do, in conse- 
quence of the East India Company's monopoly of trade. 

The resident agents took the matter into consideration, but 
after an exchange of views with the wintering partners in the 
interior the proposition was declined. But not only was the 
proposition declined ; it was decided to give Mr. Astor and his 
Pacific Fur Company a lively opposition in Oregon territory^ 
This, of course, occurred long before international boundaries 


Commanding the Midland Battalion 


were determined ; indeed, it happened within two years of 
the breakinor out of the War of 1812. But if Astor could 


not form an alliance with the Canadian Company, he could 
seduce from its employment the men he sought to aid him in 
his enterprise. By dint of offers of partnership and rapid pro- 
motion, he enticed some twenty Canadians to enter his service. 
Placing these men at the head of two expeditions, Astor des- 
patched one overland, and the other he sent round Cape Horn 
to the mouth of the Columbia. The breaking out of the wan 
and the active competition of the North- West Company, male 
havoc, however, of Aster's plans, and ere long broke up the 
arrangement between him and his Montreal Scotchmen. On 
the Pacific, Britannia's " wooden walls " were cruising about, 
and made trading operations too hazardous to be profitably 
engaged in. Fort Astoria, in the fortunes of war, and through 
the ceaseless rivalry of the Nor'- Westers, changed hands and 
became Fort George, though, by the Treaty of Ghent, in Decem- 
ber, 1814, the post was restored. 

With the collapse of Astor's project, his Scotch partners 
returned to their former allegiance, and again entered the 
service of the North- West Company. Of these Scotchmen, and 
their countrymen who had remained in the service of the 
Canadian Company, now gathered in the Oregon district, we 
find representatives of almost all the clans whose patronymic 
have the prefix of Mac. There were McTavishes, McGillivrays, 
Mackenzies, McGillises, McKays, McLellans, McDougalls, 
MacMillans, and McDonalds. Besides these, there were 
Rosses, Frasers, Keiths, Stuarts, and Bethunes, Highland and 
Lowland — a terrible array of Scots. Is there a Scotchman 
who will forgive us if, in conjunction with the names of these 
sturdy sons of Caledonia, we place an extract from a local 




history* of the doings of a once national day of revehy, at 
that distant period of time, and amid savage surroundings, 
uneheered by the restraining and refining influences of Scottish 
gentlewomen ? We quote from a writer who has not failed to 
give a picture of the nobler side of the Scottish character. 

" As these were days of intoxication, before absolute mon- 
opoly regulated the morals of the region, New Year's day was 
the signal among the Canadians for a grand debauch, which 
the sober savage begged leave to witness. Drinking set in, 
and quarrelling soon followed, whereat the natives hid them- 
selves, saying the white men had run mad. When they saw 
those who had raved the loudest in the morning becoming 
quiet in the afternoon, they said the white man's senses had 
returned to him. Then they went their way, wondering how 
such superior beings should voluntarily lay aside their reason 
for a time and become beasts." 

But these bacchanalian indulgences were necessarily of rare 
occurrence ; and fortunately they were so, for the employes of 
the North- West Company were naturally mettlesome, and if 
too much " fool's-water " flowed, they would have made a nice 
bear-garden of the country. On the Pacjific coast, and particu- 
larly in the disputed Oregon territory, at the time we speak of, 
alcohol, however, flowed freely. Bancroft relates that, at a 
somewhat later period, the entire property of a village would 
sometimes be swept into the pockets of a trader during one 
debauch. Through drink, the outrages committed by settlers 
and desperadoes of the border on the poor Indian, equal any in 
the annals of crime. But drink, alas ! was not always the ex- 
cuse for inhumanity to the Indian. It is said that five hundred 
millions of dollars have been spent by the Government of the 
United States on Indian wars. The bloodshed is incalculable. 
" All our Indian wars," writes Bancroft, " may be traced imme- 

•Hubert Bancroft's " History of the North-West Coast" Vol. 2, p. 281. 

The nor'- westers on the pacific coast. 139 

diately to one of three causes, namely, outrages by border men, 
failure of Government in fulfilling its promises, and frauds per- 
petrated by agents." 

" Nowhere," writes the same authority, ** does the Hudson 
Bay system claim our admiration to greater extent than in its 
treatment of offenders. The object was in all cases even and 
exact justice, not indiscriminate retaliation. Unlike the peo- 
ple of the United States, the British North Americans did not 
seek to revenge themselves upon savage wrong-doers after the 
fashion of savages. When an offence was committed they did 
not go out and shoot down the first Indian they met ; they did 
not butcher innocent women and children ; they did not scalp 
or offer a reward for scalps. Professing Christianity and civil- 
isation, the argument that as brutes or savages treat us, so we 
must treat brutes and savages, had no force. A stolen article 
must be restored, and the tribe harbouring a thief was cut off 
from commercial intercourse. The fort gates were closed to 
them; they could neither sell nor buy until the thief was 
brought to punishment. 

" If an Indian murdered a white man, or any person in the 
employ of the Company, the tribe to which he belonged were 
assured that they had nothing to fear, that King George men 
were single-hearted and just; that unlike the Indians them- 
selves, they did not deem it fair to punish the innocent for the 
deeds of the guilty ; but the murderer must be delivered to 
them. This demand was enforced with inexorable persistency; 
and herein was the secret of their strength. In all that vast 
realm which they ruled there was not mountain distant enough, 
nor forest deep enough, nor icy cave dark enough, to hide the 
felon from their justice, though none but he did have aught to 
fear. This certainty of punishment acted upon the savage 
mind with all the power of a superstition. Felons trembled 
before the white man's justice as in the presence of the Al- 

It is a common failing to call every nation but one's own a 
hard name, and to some it is extremely agreeable to find that 
other nation's escutcheons are stained by crimes from which 
their own is free. We have no sympathy with this national 


self-righteousness. Being conscious of our own national short- 
comings, we think it better befits us to bemoan these than to 
point the finger at another's misfortunes or another's mistakes. 
Were we inclined to indulge the boasting propensity, we should 
content ourselves with setting against this tribute to the hu- 
manity and justice of the Hudson Bay Company but one ex- 
tract from the unhappy history of the dealings of our neigh- 
bours to the south of us with the aborigines. It occurs in the 
legislative journals of the State of Idaho : 

" Resolved : That three men be appointed to select twenty- 
five men to go Indian-hunting, and all those who can fit them- 
selves out shall receive a nominal sum for all scalps they may 
bring in ; and all who cannot fit themselves out shall be fitted 
out by the committee, and when they bring in scalps it shall 
be deducted out. That for every buck scalp be paid $100; for 
every squaw, $50 ; and $25 for everything in the shape of an 
Indian under ten years of age. That each scalp shall have the 
curl of the head, and each man shall make oath that the said 
scalp was taken by the company." 

To the care of such men was committed the wards of the 
American nation ! 

But we have allowed our finding ourselves on American ter- 
ritory, where the North-West Company had established trade 
relations, to take us into subjects somewhat foreign to the im- 
mediate purj^ose of this chapter. We were referring to the 
Scotch in the Columbia district, and to the palmy days of the 
Nor' -Wester supremacy in Oregon, under James Keith, Angus 
Bethune, and Donald Mackenzie. The story of these times, 
just after the close of the War of 1812-14, reads like a romance- 
Innumerable books have been written on the fur trade of the 
Columbia, perhaps the best of which are Washington Irving's 
" Astoria ; " Ross Cox's " Adventures on the Columbia River ; " 
Alexander Ross's " The Fur Hunters of the Far West," and hia 


" Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon." Ross wj;s 
among the first to join the Astor enterprise, which he fully and 
graphically describes in the latter mentiftned work. After 
spending some fifteen years in the Columbia district, he 
went to settle at Red River, and there wrote one of the 
best accounts we have of the Selkirk * Settlement and ils 
subsequent history, a work which appeared in London, in 185o. 
Irving's " Astoria " contains some severe strictures upon the 
Scotchmen who had joined Astor in his enterprises in Oregon. 
Its author rates them soundly for being the cause of the 
failure, as he thinks, of the wealthy trader's schemes. But 
Bancroft, in his " History of the North- West Coast," comes 
chivalrously to their rescue, and shows that it was the war 
and the shrewd competition of the rival Canadian Company 
that occasioned his discomfiture.* Another interesting work, 
dealing with the region we are referring to, is Harmon's 
" Journal of Voyages and Travels in the Interior of North 
America," which was published in Andover in 1820. Daniel 
Harmon was also a partner in the North- West Company, 
though, by nationality, neither a Scot nor a Canadian, but, we 
believe, a Vermonter. It is said of this " Green Mountain 
Boy " that he was one of the few among the fur traders who 
carried his religion into the wilderness ; but while stationed at 
Fort McLeod near the Fraser River, a daughter by an Indian 
mother was born to him, whom he called Polly Harmon ; so 
that this good man's piety did not prevent his propagating his 
kind in the wilderness. It is added, however, that Harmon 

•" That these Scotchmen were bad men, disloyal to Astor by reason of their 
nationality and former associations, as certain writers would have us believe, is in 
view of the circumstances absurd. In their agreement with Astor they reserved 
the right to close the business should their interests Feem so to dictate. Whatevt r 
loss might arise from the failure of the enterprise fell on them in proportion to thei;> 
Bhare."— UuLert, Howe Bancroft 


was most affectionately attached to his dusky offspring, and 
that he always endeavoured to do his duty by them. In his 
journal occurs an earnest passage anent Sabbath desecration 
among the servants of the Company in their lonely stockaded 
posts. " Our men," he writes, " play at cards on the Sabbath 
the same as on any other day. For such improper conduct I 
once reproved them ; but their reply was, there is no Sabbath 
in this country, and, they added, no God or devil ; and their 
behaviour but too plainly shows that they spoke as they 
think." But however much was unrobust in Harmon's 
Christianity, and is didactically nauseous in his narrative, he 
did one noble act on his emerging from the wilderness, which, 
as Bancroft remarks, " partners with more gentlemanly pre- 
tensions might well have followed. His uncouth progeny 
by their Indian mother he did not desert, but took them all 
with him to his old home, made the woman his lawful wife, 
and educated his children in all his own high and holy prin- 
ciples." For the credit of the Scottish and the Canadian 
name, it is to be said, that this act of justice and humanity 
found many a parallel in the careers of servants of both the 
Hudson Bay and the North-West companies. 

But events recall us to the Canadian side of the boundary 
line. In 1818, when Fort Astoria again changed its flag, after 
its restitution to the Americans, under the Treaty of Ghent, 
most of the Canadian traders returned to Fort William, to 
Red River, and to Montreal. Donald Mackenzie was the only 
one of the influential partners to remain. For a number of 
years he continued to trade on the Williamette and Snake rivers 
and in the country of the Nez Percys, having Fort Walla- Walla 
as his headquarters. In 1822 he, however, crossed the moun- 
tains to York Factory, and three years later succeeded Robert 
Felly in the Governorship of the Red River colony. The 


departure of the Canadians from Oregon is tlius graphically 
sketched by Bancroft : 

"It was a grand affair, this journey of the North-West 
brigade from the mouth of the Columbia to Fort William and 
Montreal ; it was at once a triumph and a dead-march. Ten 
canoes, five of bark and five of cedar, each carrying a crew of 
seven and two passengers, ninety in all, and all well armed, 
embarked at Fort George (Astoria.) Of the party were 
McTavish, McDonald, John Stuart, David Stuart, Clarke, 
Mackenzie, Pillot, Wallace, McGillis, Franchere, and others, 
some of whom were destined for the upper stations. Short 
was the leave-taking for so large a company, for now thei-e 
were not many left at the fort to say farewell. The voyageurs 
donned their broadest bonnets; arms were glittering, flags 
flying, the guns sounded their adieu, and midst ringing cheers, 
in gayest mood the party rounded Tongue Point, and placed 
their breast under the current. 

" On the 17th of April they arrived at Rocky Mountain 
House on their way to the Athabasca river. This post was 
more a provision depot for the supplying of the North-West 
Company's people in their passage of the mountains, than a 
fur-hunting establishment. The glittering crystal eminences 
on which was perched the curved-horn mountain-goat, beyond 
the reach even of hungry wolves ; the deep dense forests, 
snow-whited and sepulchral ; the resting streams, laughing or 
raging according as their progress was impeded ; the roystering 
torrent which no cold, dead, calm breath of nature could hush ; 
these and like superlative beauties met the eye of the foot- 
sore travellers at every turn." 

From the Company's supply-house in the mountain pass, the 
Scotch traders pushed forward to the Athabasca river, down 
whose waters the gay flotilla proceeded at a rapid pace. 
From the Athabasca they portaged across to Beaver River, 
descending which they entered Moore River, and traveled 
Moore Lake. From here the route lay across the plains to 
Fort Vermilion, on the Saskatchewan, thence to Cumberland 
House and on to English Lake. Crossing this they proceeded 


to lakes Bourbon and Winnipeg, thence by the Winnipeg 
River to the Lake of the Woods, and over the portage to Fort 
William, where they anived about the middle of July. 

At Fort William the Nor'- Westers were greatly exercised 
over the discussion in the English Parliament of the affairs of 
the rival trading companies. Both companies had considerable 
influence in English politics. Each was eager to have its own 
version of the Selkirk affair laid before the House and the 
country. Neither hesitated to resort to sharp dealing to 
accomplish its purpose. Associated as was Lord Selkirk with 
the Hudson Bay Company, it does not seem that the latter 
very warmly espoused his interests. Its concern was more 
about its charter and its rights in the territory, which the 
Noith-West Company was continually assailing. There is 
truth, we fear, in what the Canadian traders affirmed, that 
their rivals cared little for Selkirk's philanthropy, and only 
used it as a lever against the Nor'-Westers to drive them 
from the field and secure a monopoly of trade. With Selkirk, 
the case was different. He was no trader, but a lover of his 
kind. Stock in the Hudson Bays he purchased only to give 
influence to his name in the territory, to secure facilities in 
the transport of his people to Red River, and, as he hoped, 
protection when they got there. We have seen how his 
expectations failed him. On his return to England, in 1818, 
it was to hear still ringing in his ears the notes of conflict on 
the distant continent he had left. The whole matter of his 
colony's troubles was brought up in the House of Commons, 
and a Blue Book was the result of the call for papers and 
correspondence. Little else, however, was done. From Lon- 
don the broken-spirited nobleman retired for rest to the 
continent ; but the most untroubled rest he could find he found 
in the grave. Surrounded by his wife and daughters, this 


true patriot and baffled philanthropist died at Pau, in the 
south of France, on the 8ih of April, 1820.* So ended a 
sorely-troubled, but not wholly wasted, life. 

With the death of Lord Selkirk the occasion for further 
dissension between the rival Fur Companies in some measure 
ceased. The English Government, though it did not see its 
way to effect anything by legislative enactments, endeavoured 
to do something by mediation. With its aid, and the inter- 
position of the Hon. Edward Ellice, one of the most influential 
of the resident English partners of the North- West Company, 
a basis of agreement between the companies was arrived at. 
This basis of agreement developed into a joint-stock partner- 
ship, which was entered into on the 26th of March, 1821. 
Each company was to furnish a like amount of capital, and 
the profits were to be equally divided. The name pf the older 
chartered institution was to be retained. The stock of the 
united company was to be divided into one hundred shares, 
forty of which were to go to the chief factors and traders in 
the territory, and the remaining sixty were to be appropriated 
by the resident partners of both companies in England.-j* The 
terms of the partnership required the appointment of the chief 
factors and chief traders to be made equally from the old 
servants of the companies. Thus in every respect the two 
companies came together upon an equal footing. An Act of 

* It is both a duty and a pleasure here to call attention to an interesting 
memorial of this unselfish nobleman and his life-work — the substance of a book 
isdutd in London, in 1882, en " Manitoba : its Infancy, Growth, and Present 
Condition," by the llev. Prof. Bryce, M.A., of Manitoba College. 

f " Each contributed either in money or in stock £200,000. The capital stock of 
the Hudson Bay Company at this time was but £100,000 ; and it was obliged to 
call in a like amount to make its contribution equivalent to that of the North- 
Wost Company. After the union, profits were added to the principal after pay- 
ing ten per cent, dividends annually, until th; capital stock wa" £')O0j0OQ. — Vidi 
Huuse of Oomiu jUS Report, (quoted by Bj^iciolti." 


Parliament was passed uniting the two corporations, and 
renewing the license to trade in the Hudson Bay territories, 
The license was for a period of twenty-one years. Provision 
was made in the Act for commissioning the Company's servants 
as justices of the peace ; while the jurisdiction of the Upper 
Canada Courts was extended to the Pacific. Thus was the union 
consummated between these long hostile Fur Companies. 

With the union of the companies, fur stock again rose to a 
premium. Dividends that for years had fallen to 4 per cent., 
and even to nothing, now mounted to 10 and to even 20 per cent., 
with a handsome rest and an occasional large bonus. Posts 
that had fallen into decay were re-established, and trade was 
extended in all directions. Nor was amalgamation without its 
benefit on both human and brute life in the territories. The 
demoralisation of the Indians, occasioned by the introduction 
of intoxicating liquors during the period of strife, ceased ; while 
hunting "out of season," which was now strictly forbidden, had 
its effect upon the peltries and tended to conserve trade. But 
the country, in the years of even the poorest yield, was drained 
to an enormous extent of game. There are records extant of 
the "take" of one year, that of 1800, by the traders of the 
North-West Company. We give the figures in a footnote, that 
the reader may realise the extent and value of the trade.* 
The gross returns of this one company for the year 1700, 
amounted to £40,000 sterling. Some fifteen years later, when 
the Nor'-Westers had absorbed the X.Y. Company, a rival 
Canadian institution, the gross value of its trade was £120,000. 
To affiliate with so enterprising a company of traders might 
well wake the Hudson Bay Company from its frozen sleep. 

♦ The fur yield for 1800, of the N.-W. Co. was as follows: 106,000 beaver, 2,100 
l>ear, 5,500 fox, 4,600 otter, 17,000 musqnash, 320 marten, ;i,800 mink, 600 lynx, 
600 wolverine, 1,650 fisher, 100 raccoon, 3,800 wolf, 700 elk, 1,950 deer, and 500 
Vuffj^lo 1 Briti^b, Americai, ijt might well be said, was the f ui-bnater's para^^se. 


The competition, though deadly between the heads of the 
rival companies, was not always carried on by the employes at 
swoids-point. Tricks were sometimes in order to get the ad- 
vantage of a rival. In close proximity as were many of the 
forts of the companies, there was sometimes a good deal of 
manoeuvring to get hold of Indians known to be approaching 
the posts after a hunting expedition. The question often pre- 
sented itself to the inmates of one or other of the forts, how to 
inveigle the returned hunters to their special trading-post and 
secure the furs without the interference of their rivals. Ban- 
croft tells the story how this question was on one occasion 

" There were too many," he writes, " to coerce, therefore 
courtesy should do it (i.e., defeat the vigilance of the rival 
traders). Childish rivalry for the moment should give place 
to friendship's hallowed communion, A grand ball should be 
given to the honourable North- West Company, and on the spot. 
When drink was not wanting, a ball in fur-hunting circles was 
a matter quickly arranged. Invitations were answered by 
the dancers presenting themselves in the evening at the hour 
named in grandest apparel, with clean capotes, bright hat- 
cords, and new embroidered moccasins. The native fiddler 
struck up a Scotch reel, and while from the huge fire came 
fitful gusts from savoury roasts, the guests were invited to 
manifest their appreciation of the entertainment by the mea- 
sure of their potations. Would they not drink ? Would they 
not dance ? Would they not take another drink ? and another, 
and another ? 

" This within the palisades ; while down in the hollow be- 
hind the fort muffled men with packs and snow-shoes were 
hurrying to and fro, hitching dogs to sledges, patting the crea- 
tures to keep them quiet, and directing their eager movements 
only by signs and whispers. Finally, the sledges being well 
loaded with goods and the bells all removed from the dogs' 
necks, the party started at a round pace for the Indian camp. 
Long after the noiseless train had departed, the sound of rev- 
elry was borne upon the frosty aix» until finally stillnesa 


reigned. Next day the North- West look-out reported the re- 
turned hunters. With bells ringing merrily a party set out in 
pursuit, only after a long day's journey to find the hunters all 
dead-drunk, with not so much as a musquash left to sell. 

" Yes, it was a brilliant ball, but the Nov'- Westers swore 
there should be dancing to another tune ere long. Soon 
opportunity offered. Rival trains in search of the same 
hunters meeting one cold day, it was proposed to build a 
rousing fire, and eat and drink together. Soon a huge pile of 
logs was crackling furiously, and spirits were flowing freely. 
This time the Nor'- Westers by spilling their liquor upon the 
snow were at length enabled to put their competitors into a 
state of intoxication ; then, tying them to their sledges, they 
sent the dogs homeward, while they went forward to the 
Indian camp and secured the furs." 

But all occasion for these rivalries, with the enmities they 
gave rise to, had now happily passed. Even hostility to 
colonisation, by the conditions of the new license, was 
specifically forbidden, and was now also a thing of the past. 
Under the regime of toleration, the much trampled on colony 
of the Red River shewed germs of new life. Since the troubles 
of 1816, it had, however, a new and peculiar visitation, froifi 
which it was now happily recovering. But we must leave 
one of its settlers, the historian, Alexander Ross, to tell the 
story of this new misfortune : 

" Every step," writes Ross, " was now a progressive one : 
agricultural labour advanced, the crops looked healthy and 
vigorous, and promised a rich harvest. In short, hope once 
more revived, and everything put on a thriving and pros- 
perous appearance : when, lo ! in the midst of all these pleasing 
anticipations, just as the corn was in ear, and the barley 
almost ripe, a cloud of grasshoppers from the west darkened 
the air, and fell like a heavy shower of snow on the devoted 
colony. This stern visitation happened in the last week of 
July, and late one afternoon. Next morning, when the people 
arose, it was not to gladness, but to sorrow; all their hopes 
were in a moment blighted ! Crops, gardens, and every green 


herb in the settlement had perished, with the exception of a 
few ears of the barley, half ripe, gleaned in the women's 
aprons. This sudden and unexpected disaster was more than 
they could bear. The unfortunate immigrants looked up 
towards heaven and wept." * 

Not figuratively, but in sad truth, there was left to the 
colony neither " seed to the sower nor bread to the eater ! " 
Is it a wonder that many a Scottish immigrant turned heart- 
broken from the settlement ? And turning from the settle- 
iiient he might be excused for saying that it was " no abode 
for civilised men ! " 

* While this chapter was passing through the press, the author had the i^leasure 
to receive a courteous invitation to visit the library of Wna. J, Macdonell, Esq., a 
worthy Scottish gentleman, well known in Toronto for his literary tastes, for his 
unostentatious charity, and for his many years zealous representation of France 
as local Consul. In the course of a pleasant chat, among his books, the writer 
discovered that his venerable entertainer was a nephew of Miles Macdonell, first 
Governor of the Selkirk Colony, and was shown, appended to the Selkirk " Me* 
morial " to the Duke of Richmond, the Canadian Governor-General, in 1819, a 
manuscript letter of Lord Selkirk to Mr. Macdonell's father, brother of Gover- 
nor Miles Macdonell, with a number of letters from the latter, referring to the 
affairs of the colony. 

The purport of the Selkirk letter, which is dated Montreal, Dec. 1, 1815, is to 
interest his correspondent, then in Boston, to secure for him a few chosen men of 
good character, to go with him to Red River, and to whom he would give a free 
passage and good wages for a time while in his service. To those accepting the 
proposal, and accompanying his Lordship, a grant of land would be given at the 
close of the engagement, should the person settle in the colony, or if not, a free 
passage back to Canada. A free passage is also offered to any young woman who 
may agree, at the invitation of the person entering his employ, to come to the 
colony as his wife. The interesting letter thus concludes : " I propose, early next 
spring," says Lord Selkirk, "to go up with these people myself, which may serve 
as an answer to anyone who apprehends danger from the Indians. I think these 
men will be satisfied when they know that they wiU be exposed to no danger but 
Buch as I must share with them. I have the most unquestionable evidence that 
the people who committed such unjustifiable outrages against your brother Miles, 
were not Indians, but British subjects, whom I am determined to bring to justice, 
and I trust that the example of their punishment will prevent any similar attempt 
from being made in future." 

The existence of these letters, and their value in throwing light on the early 
history of the country, call urgently for the founding, in our midst, of an Historical 
Society, in the archives of which they may be preserved, and where they may be 
accessible to students of our local annals. 



AVAGERY, it has been said, is civilisation's child- 
hood. We should like to think so. Despite past 
experience of the Indian in his savage state, we 
should like to think, that in his brutalised condition 
there were the makings of something better. We 
should like to think, that as it has been the fate of 
some portions of the race to lapse into barbarism, that out of 
barbarism they will yet emerge. We should like to think, 
that, in the philanthropies of a coming day, forces will yet be 
moved to restore the Indian to civilisation, and to eradicate 
from his nature those dispositions and tendencies that drag 
him backward in the path of progress, or, while imitating bad 
examples set before him, that civilise him out of existence. 
We are told that a race that cannot itself contribute its re- 
deemers will never be redeemed. But this is too pessimistic a 
view to be willingly entertained. We admit it would be en- 
couraging to find, that, when some advance has been made by 
the savage towards civilisation, reversionary tendencies did not 
persistently crop out; and undo the work that had been done. 

But have the conditions been favourable to the experiment I 



Has the reclamation of the Indian been tried under conditions 
so auspicious that one might look for anything but failure ; 
and has it been tried with earnestness and persistence ? People 
who speak hopelessly of the civilisation of the aborigines have 
spoken with like hopelessness of the " lapsed masses " of their 
own kind. There is one feature, at least, of encouragement in 
the Indian's case, namely, that we have never enslaved him, 
though, unfortunately, he has enslaved himseK. But for the 
latter we are more responsible', perhaps, than he. Too often 
we have made of the" noble savage an ignoble brute. 

The problem of Indian civilisation is a profoundly interest- 
ing one.. To the people of this continent, it is more however 
than this. On three specific grounds it is of momentous im- 
port: first, as a duty incumbent upon governments, in the 
management of those wards of a nation whose hunting-grounds 
the country has appropriated ; secondly, as a Christian people, 
responsible for the care and wellbeing of their less favoured 
brethren ; and thirdly, in the relation of all towards subject 
tribes whose good-will it is desirable to propitiate, for the sake 
of the poor settler who makes his habitation among them. The 
Indian Question, long ago, became one peculiarly appropriate 
for the white race to discuss. As has been said of it, it is a 
question entirely of the white man's making. We came to the 
Indian, not the Indian to us. We were the aggressors. We 
invaded his territory, and we made of it an aceldama of blood. 
With one hand we held before him the Cross ; with the other 
we cut him down with the sword. While we taught him that 
Christ's kingdom was peace, we showed him that man's mis- 
sion was war. So far from bringing him the olive branch, we 
have brought him fire-arms and fire-water, and what was worse* 
the diseases of lust, and an example in morals he has not been 
slow to copy. We speak of the failure of efibrts to civilise, 


but we do not boast of the failure to exterminate. In the face 
of our relations with him, it ill becomes our humanity to say, 
that " the only good Indian is a dead one ! " 

Before passing any hasty judgment upon what civilisation 
is pleased to call " the savage tribes " of this continent, it is 
worth while for a moment to look at the relations civilisation 
has had with the savages. Tribal wars, we know, are of im- 
memorial antiquity ; but had the incoming of Europeans no in- 
fluence in either extending them, or in adding to their ferocity ? 
It would be easy to prove that the contrary is the fact. What, 
for instance, gave increased violence to Iroquois enmity to 
the Hurons, but the intermeddling, in 1615, of Champlain and 
his French following. In the early colonial days, settlement 
on the Atlantic seaboard was effected only after devastating 
wars had been waged upon the natives. What story is more 
harrowing in all history than that of Spanish settlement in 
Florida, or more revolting than the narrative of King Philips' 
War in New England ? Nor do we find the records of Dutch 
colonisation in New York State, or the contemporary history of 
Virginia, less full of horrors. Westward, the same tale of car- 
nage is written over the face of the country. Let the reader 
recall the strife between the red man and the white in the re- 
gion between the Alleghanies and the Ohio, and say on which 
side was displayed the greatest ferocit3\ But we need not go 
so far back in history for instances of inhumanity towards the 
Indian. To read the relations with the red man of recent bor- 
der men in Kentucky, of Indianized white men in Texas, 
and of the traditional trader and cow-boy of the western 
plains, would curdle the blood of the most abandoned repre- 
sentative of modern civilisation. In all the range and license 
of human passion, history has no greater atrocities to chronicle. 


The blood of white men, it is true, has been freely outpoured 
by the hand of the Indian. But this blood has, in the main, 
flowed at the instigation of white men, to revenge themselves 
on their European rivals. In shedding it the Indian ally has 
not scantily shed his own. A recent American writer,* on 
colonial relations with the Indians, bears testimony to this fact. 
Here are his remarks : 

" During our whole colonial and provincial period it was the 
hard fate of the Indians to bear the brunt of every quarrel be- 
tween the rival European colonists in their jealousies and strug- 
gles for dominion and the profits of the fur-trade. No sooner 
had one of the rivals conciliated or established friendly rela- 
tions with one or more of the tribes, than the representatives 
of the other rival would seek to thwart any advantage of their 
opponents by openly or covertly forming alliances with other 
tribes. Tribes which might otherwise have lived in a state of 
suspended animosity towards each other were thus driven to 
take the war-path. So, too, it has happened that the whole or 
a portion of a tribe, or of allied tribes, in the course of a cen- 
tury was found in the pay and service of the French against 
the English ; of the English against the French ; of the 
Spaniards against the French ; and of the French against the 
Spaniards ; and then of the armies of Great Britain and our 
own provincial forces against the French, followed in a few 
years by their enlistment by Great Britain to aid her in crush- 
ing the rebellion of her own colonies." 

The heat of these periods of conflict among Europeans on 
this continent has long passed, and we ought now to be just 
and humane enough to lay at our own doors responsibility for 
inciting the Indians to acts of savagery. There is the more 
reason for this, as these acts were mainly the result of our 
own follies and our own intrigues. It may be that, as Horace 
Greeley on one occasion wrote, "it needs but little familia- 

* " The Red Man and the White Man in North America." By George E. Ellis, 
Boston, 1882. (Page 346). 


rity with the actual, palpable aborigines to convince any one 
that the poetic Indian, the Indian of Cooper and Longfellow, 
is only visible to the poet's eye." But while we divest the child 
Df the woods of those fictional fascinations that have made him 
an interesting and picturesque figure in the world of western 
humanity, we are not called upon to paint him in the pigments 
■of the pit, or to endow him with the attributes of fiends. No 
doubt, the Indian, in mental characteristics, is alien to the Euro- 
pean race, that his thoughts run in a different channel from our 
thoughts, and that he is a creature of instinct rather than of 
reason ; but though of another mental type, it does not follow 
that we should visit upon him giant injustice, or that he should 
even forfeit his claim to considerate treatment at our hands. 

The late General Custer, of the American army, has told us 
that while he found much to interest him in the study of the 
Indian character, particularly in the wonderful power and sub- 
tlety of his senses, he was compelled to admit, from his intimate 
association with the red man, that he was essentially a savage ; 
and that while civilisation may and should do much for him, it 
can never civilise him. But this unfortunate, foolhardy officer 
lived among Indians who were the hunted of the earth, and 
whose every instinct was trained to its acutest sense, that their 
possessors might cunningly hold their own against men who 
were known to glory in the professional title of " Indian 
fighters." How difierent is the judgment of Catlin, the great 
delineator of Indian character. Of the North American Indian, 
this great painter sympathetically, though frankly writes, that 
in his native state, " he is an hospitable, honest, faithful, brave, 
warlike, cruel, revengeful, relentless, yet honourable, contem- 
plative and religious being." He adds, "I have lived with 
thousands and teus of thousands of these knights of the forest, 
whose whole lives are lives of chivalry, and whose daily feats 


with their naked limbs, might vie with those of the Grecian 
youth in the beautiful rivalry of the Olympian games." In 
another passage he affirms, that " they have learned their worst 
vices from contamination with Europeans," but withal that 
they are nature's noblemen, and deserve ever to be spoken of 
with sympathy, " as a people who are dying of broken hearts, 
and who never can speak in the civilised world in their own 

The truth is, that on this continent, as elsewhere among 
tribes living in a state of nature, opinions are formed about the 
aboriginal inhabitants pretty much as individual experience 
has enabled the writer personally to judge. This experience 
has been more or less determined by the attitude assumed 
towards them of the observer of their manners and customs. 
The mild Livingstone, travelling unarmed in the heart of 
Africa, has given us a picture of the native tribes of the Dark 
Continent altogether diflFerent from that of the bumptious, 
self-asserting Stanley, with his self-cocking revolver and 
explosive bullets. Similarly, in the western world, we have 
diversities of portraiture of our native tribes, limned according 
to the dispositions and bearing of the writers who have made 
their acquaintance. As with the white man so with the red, 
there are two sides to the Indian shield ; each represents the 
Indian character in the mood in which you force the savage tc 
look at himself. Take this one other, and a dispassionate, 
view of the Indian character from Jonathan Carver : 

" That the Indians," writes he, " are of a cruel, revengeful, 
inexorable disposition, that they will watch whole days un- 
mindful of the calls of nature, and make their way through 
pathless, and almost unbounded woods, subsisting only on the 
scanty produce of them, to pursue and revenge themselves on 
an enemy ; that they hear unmoved the piercing cries of such 
as unhappily fall into their hands, and receive a diabolical 


pleasure from the tortures they inflict on their prisoners, I 
readily grant ; but let us look on the reverse of this terrifying 
picture, and we shall find them temperate both in their diet 
and potations (I speak of those tribes who have little com- 
munication with Europeans) that they withstand, with 
unexampled patience, the attacks of hunger, or the inclemency 
of the seasons, and esteem the gratification of their appetites 
but a secondary consideration. We shall likewise see them 
sociable and humane to those whom they consider their friends, 
and even to their adopted enemies ; and ready to partake with 
them of the last morsel or to risk their lives in their defence. 
The honour of their tribe and the welfare of their nation is 
the first and predominant emotion of their hearts ; and hence 
proceed in a great measure all their virtues and their vices. 
Actuated by this, they brave every danger, endure the most 
exquisite torments, and expire triumphing in their fortitude, 
not as a personal qualification, but as a national characteristic."* 

Ethnically, the Indians of Canada, if not one people, have de- 
scended from a well-defined parent stock, the Huron-Iroquois 
tribe. Professor Huxley hypothetically represents the old 
Mexican and South-America races as the true American stock, 
and speaks of the Red Indians of North America as the pro- 
duct of an intermixture of the autochthonous, or indigenous, 
native race with the Eskimo. The affinity of the latter with 
the Asiatic Mongol is now pretty well established ; and we 
may look upon our native races as remote descendants of the 
Asiatic continent. We shall leave to Dr. Daniel W^ilson, the 
learned President of Toronto University, the ethnological ques- 
tions that arise out of this aspect of the Indian problem, pre- 
mising that the bulk of our readers are not absorbingly inter- 
ested in skull formations, as indications of racial unity, or in 
the subtler philological questions that bear on the problem of 
Indian origin. Whether the dolichocephalic head-form, charac- 

* Carver's "Travels through the Interior Parts of North America, in the years 
1766-68," (page 409-12), London, 1779. 


teristic of the Huron-Iroquois stock, had precedence, when it 
crowned the body of the savage nomad, over the brachycopha- 
lic cranial features of the southern Indian tribes, in this part 
of the continent, we take it, is to most readers not a theme of 
delirious popular excitement, though in saying this we are far 
from wishing to slight the valuable labours of our native anti- 
quaries. It will suffice for the unlearned (among the hosts oi 
which the writer sadly finds himself) to know that our precur- 
sors in the occupancy of the soil of Canada were of the great 
Huron-Iroquois family, and that their earliest home, as Dr. 
Wilson tells us,* was " within the area latterly embraced in 
Upper and Low^^r Canada." 

There are some facts connected with the early movements of 
the primitive Indian tribes of Canada which are worthy to be 
noted, as they enter into the history of the country ; and these, 
with the assistance of the authority we have quoted, we may for 
a brief moment glance at. Though research has enabled our 
ethnologists to trace to one parent stock the Iroquois and the 
Huron, or Wyandot, history knows them for centuries only as 
cruel, bitter, and relentless foes. Let us see how this came 
about. When Cartier discovered the St. Lawrence, and won- 
deringly threaded his way up to the palisaded Indian towns of 
Stadacona and Hochelaga, he found these strongholds and the 
whole valley of the St. Lawrence populous with Indians of the 
Huron-Iroquois tribe. Seventy years later, when Champlain 
came to the country, the Huron-Iroquois warriors had vanished, 
and only a few Algonquins, in their birch-bark wigwams, were 
found in their place. Tradition furnishes but a hazy clue to 
this Hegira. A woman, so the story goes, was the cause of 
the migration. 

♦ See an interesting and erudite article on " A Typical Race of American Abor- 
igines," contributed by President Daniel Wilson, LL.D., to the Transactions of tha 
iRoyal Society of Canada^ for the year 1884. 


When both tribes sojourned together in neighbouring vil- 
lages at Hochelaga, it seems, that a Seneca maiden was wronged 
]n her affections by a Seneca chief. To avenge herself, she 
plighted her troth to a young Huron warrior, on his undertak- 
ing to slay the ungallant betrayer. This accomplished, the 
Iroquois, taking up the dead man's quarrel, fell upon their 
Huron kinsmen, and, to save themselves, they fled up the Ot- 
tawa to the homes they are subsequently known to have 
founded. The story further goes, that the Iroqniois, under a 
similar incentive to revenge, themselves deserted the region to 
visit their wrath upon the Eries, to the west of Niagara, 
after which they settled where we subsequently find them, in 
the valley of the Mohawk. Another tradition accounts for the 
Seneca exodus from Hochelaga, by the assertion that they were 
driven from the region by the Algonquins. This is not impro- 
bable, for in the subsequent many years struggle between the 
Hurons and the Iroquois, we find the Algonquins active allies 
of the Hurons. They were themselves also to suffer from the 
fierce onslaughts of the common foe. I'he story of the Huron- 
Iroquois conflict, during the years 1640-48, will always be 
sadly, though' proudly, associated with the unquenchable zeal 
of the Jesuit missionaries and their heroic martyrdom. There 
is no grander page in the world's religious history than that 
which records the doings of their Church in the wilderness, 
and enshrines the names of Brebeuf, Bressani, Lallemant, 
Jogues, and Daniel. 

The different families of the great Huron nation that once 
peopled New France have almost wholly disappeared. Nearly 
all that is left of them are the ossuaries, the bone-pits, of a 
race that were once the sole possessors of the land. Their few 
modern representatives are gathered in meagre bands on re- 
serves in various sections of the two older Provinces. These 


comprise some 29,000 in all, of which about 17,000 are in the 
Upper, and 12,000 are in the Lower Province. In Quebec 
Province, of these 12,000, the bulk are Algonquins and Iroquois. 
The habitat of the latter is chiefly Caughnawaga and St. Regis: 
the Algonquins are scattered throughout the Province, though 
the largest portion are in Pontiac county and the Ottawa and 
Temiscamingue districts. Other branches of the Algonquin 
family, the Montagnais, the Naskapees, and the Micmacs, are 
mainly to be found on the Lower St. Lawrence. Only a rem- 
nant, under 800, of the Huron tribe finds a home at Lordtte. 
About the same number of Abenakis are domiciled in St. 
Francis. The Indians of the Maritime Provinces, numbering 
some 4,000, are chiefly Micmacs and Amalicites. 

Generically, the bulk of the Indians of the Province of Ontario 
are of the Algonquin family. They are known by their tribal 
names, Chipeways, Ojibways, Mississaguas, and the various 
branches of the Iroquois stock — the Mohawks, Oneidas, and 
those included in the colony of the Six Nations, on the Grand 
River. This latter colony furnishes, perhaps, the best example 
in the Province of the civilised Indian, who hg,s left his no- 
madic ways and settled down to agricultural and industrial 
pursuits. It is composed of remnants of the Six Nation con- 
federacy, descendants of the Mohawk chief. Brant, and his 
followers, who, during the revolutionary war, remained attached 
to Imperial interests. The Ojibways and Ottawas are princi- 
pally met with on the islands and shores of the Georgian Bay, 
and on Lakes Huron and Superior. The demand for labour, 
occasioned by the extensive lumbering operations of the dis- 
trict, affords these Indians a good field for lucrative work. 
Some are successful traders, while many make a fair support 
by fishing. The Algonquins of the Province are almost en- 
tirely confined to the County of Renfrew : to the north of these 


ire the Nipissings, who belong to the Chipeway tribe, and at 
present find remunerative employment in the construction of 
a local section of the Canadian Pacific railway. The Mississa- 
guas find their home on the lakes in the County of Northum- 
berland, and about the neighbourhood of Peterboro': the 
Mohawks have a fine reserve on the Bay of Quints, and are 
making encouraging progress in agriculture. Portions of the 
lands of the latter are leased to white tenants. On the Thames, 
ind in the Sarnia district, are the reserves of the Chipeways, 
the Munceys, and the Oneidas, These tribes farm consider- 
ably, and have a number of flourishing schools in their allotted 
districts. In the township of Gibson, in the Muskoka district, 
a, small colony of Iroquois and Algonquins came recently from 
the Lake of the Two Mountains to settle; during the year 
1883 they added fifty acres to the cleared land within their 
reserve and are prosperous and contented. Less than a hun- 
dred of enfranchised Wyandots, or Hurons, have an asylum in 
the township of Anderdon, in the county of Essex. These, with 
the three hundred of this tribe at Lorette, are the only repre- 
sentatives of the Hurons now in Canada.* In 1648, prior to 
the Iroquois extermination of their kinsmen, they numbered 
some thirty thousand souls, lodged in villages on the Matche- 
dash peninsula, between Lake Simcoe and the Georgian Bay. 

• From late official documents we find the total number of Indians in Canada t« 
be about 132,000. They are dispersed as follows . 

In Ontario and Quebec 29,000 

— Maritime Provinces 4,000 

— Labrador and Arctic Coast 9,000 

— Manitoba and the North- West Territories 34,000 

— Athabasca District, and on the Peace and I y, qqq 

the Mackenzie Rivers J " * 

— British Columbia 89,000 



The Indians of the North-West may be said to represent 
five distinct families, viz., the Algonquins; the Assiniboines, 
or Stoneys, who are allied to the Sioux ; the Blackfeet, includ- 
ing the Sarcees, Bloods, Piegans, and the Indians of the eastern 
slope of the Rocky Mountains ; the Chippewj'ans, or Tinnds, a 
branch of the Montagnais ; and the Eskimos, or Innoits, who 
belong to the Algonquin family, and are allied to the Kam- 
Bchatkans or northern Mongols. The total number of Indians 
in the Province of Manitoba and the North-West Territories is 
in the neighbourhood of 34,000. Besides these some 17,000 
inhabit the region of the Peace River, the Mackenzie River, 
and the watershed of the Athabasca. To the north and east 
of these, some 9000 are supposed to frequent the sterile shores 
of Labrador and the Arctic Coast. In British Columbia, the 
number of Indians is estimated at 39,000, Unhappily, a large 
proportion of the latter are degraded and dissolute ; they are 
given to polygamy, to indulgence in a pernicious feast, known 
as the " Potlach," and to heathenish dances, the most disgusting 
of which is the " Tamanawa." The depravity of many of the 
women of the British Columbia tribes is great ; large numbers 
of them frequent white centres and live a life of prostitution. 
There is much need of a moral regeneration on the Pacific, and 
particularly of legislation that will suppress the degrading 
spectacle of the tribal orgies. 

The Manitoba Indians are mainly Algonquin. The tribe to 
the east of tho Province is the Salteaux, or Chipeway, who 
roam westward from Sault Ste. Marie, round the north shore 
of Lake Superior, and along the margin of those "liquid 
battalions " that mark with a " silver streak " the country be- 
tween the Kaministiquia and the Red River. " The Salteaux," 
remarks Archbishop Tachd,* " are a high-spirited, proud, and 

* " Sketch of the North-West of America." By Mgr. Tach^, Bishop of St Boni. 
face. Translated by Captain D. R. Cameron, Montreal, 1870. 


excessively superstitious people, and, in consequence, difficult 
to tame. Of all our Indians, these have had the greatest facili- 
ties for learning the truths of religion, and they, too, have least 
profited by their opportunities, and count fewest Christians 
amongst their number. , . . Nearly all have a great liking 
for intoxicating drink, which is one of the causes of their 
callousness." To the north and west of the Province are the 
Christineaux, or Crees : this tribe consists of two classes, the 
Crees of the Plains, and the Wood Crees. The former live in 
" loges," or leathern wigwams, while the latter, like the Salt- 
eaux, house themselves in birch-bark huts. In 1874, Govern- 
ment made a Treaty (No. 4) with the Cree Salteaux, in which 
the latter surrendered their right to a territory estimated at a 
hundred thousand square miles. Allied to the Crees are the 
Muskegons, or Swampies, so called from the swampy character 
of the district which they inhabit, — " the neighbourhood of the 
group of lakes which collect the water of the great rivers flow- 
ing into Hudson Bay." Many of the Cree tribe are leaders 
of the present revolt in the North -West, that notorious rascal. 
Big Bear, and the participants in the atrocities at Fort Pitt, 
being of the number. Westward, outside of the Province, are 
the Assiniboines of the plain and of the forest. With the 
Salteaux, this tribe formerly kept up lively hostilities against 
the Sioux, to the south ; and, with the Crees, they have long 
been at enmity with the Blackfeet. The latter are the Iroquois 
of the west, and with the Bloods, Piegans, and Sarcees, to 
whom they are related, are a warlike people. Treaty No. 7, 
effected in September, 1877, includes this tribe. The Indians 
of the remaining family to be enumerated in the North- West 
are the Chippewyans, or Montagnais ("Tinn<^s" they are 
familiarly called). The region occupied by this peaceful tribe 
covers the district of the English, or Churchill, the Athabasca, 


and the Mackenzie rivers. This tribe includes the Cariboo 
Eaters, the Yellow Knives, the Castors, the Slaves (which em- 
brace the Dog-rib and the Hare-skin Indians), and the Mon- 
tagnais proper. 

The condition of the Treaty Indians in Manitoba and Kee- 
watin is on the whole gratifying. Some bands lead a shift- 
less and vagabond life ; but the majority are prosperous, and 
not a few are well-to-do. On some reserves, it occasionally 
happens, that a tribe will want Government assistance more 
largely in one season than in another. This may arise from a 
period of drought, or from a visitation from the grasshopper, 
or from the year's fishing being poor and the product of the 
chase light. The Indians of Manitoba, however, may be said 
to be comfortably off, and to be rapidly acquiring facility in 
the management of the farm. The scarcity of large game now 
on the plains must drive them to agriculture, as a means of 
subsistence, unless they betake themselves to the northern 
lakes for fish and fowl. Those with large families have a 
goodly income from the Government annuities; and the in- 
creasing number of settlers^^gives them opportunity, in various 
employments, to add to their means of livelihood. As herds- 
men, they are finding increasing demand for their services, 
though in this, as in other light vocations, they are brought 
into competition with their partial kinsmen, the Half-breed. 

Of the tribes in the Territories, an encouraging number have 
of late years taken to agriculture, and to living in substantial 
huts on their reserves, in place of the conventional wigwams. 
Many of these Indians follow agriculture with a fair measure of 
success, in which the Government lends its aid, by money 
grants for seed, oxen, and implements, and by farm instruction, 
and the agency of good schools. In addition to the practical 
encouragement given the tribes through the Government's 


Indian Agencies, sustained by liberal annual grants from Par- 
liament, the Indians have the benefit of instruction in indus- 
trial and educational institutions, which are maintained by the 
various religious denominations, Protestant and Roman Catho- 
lic These missions, however, are in sad need of augmentation 
and extension. So vast is the territory, and so numerous are 
the reserves, that only a large and efficiently maintained staff 
can overtake the work. 

The Parliamentary appropriation for 1884, we learn from 
a recent Government Blue Book, was, for Manitoba and the 
North- West Territories, over a million of dollars. Of this 
large sum, almost a half was disbursed for provisions for desti- 
tute Indians. This fact, while it speaks well for the liberality 
of Parliament, and attests the humanity of our treatment of 
the red man, is not creditable to the Indian's industry, or to 
his disposition to improve his environment. Evidently, in the 
North- West, savage life, if it has begun has not advanced far 
in the effort to raise itself in the scale of being. Looking at 
the events of the past few months, it would seem that what- 
ever has been done for the Indian, that and more we must con- 
tinue to do. Among some of the tribes there is a culpable 
amount of sloth and vagrancy. The idle Indian must be 
taught that if he is to be fed he must work. And while he is 
fed, if he is not effusively grateful, he must, at least, be pas- 
sively loyal. 


FIFTY years' interval — 1820 TO 1870. 

PON the amalgamation of the rival Fur Companies, 
the Red River colony began a new era in its 
chequered career. Its troubles, however, were not 
over : its cup of bitterness was not yet full. The 
Iliad of its woe, besides narratinoj the doinofs of the 
turbulent Fur traders, and chronicling the visitation of 
its plague of gi'asshoppers, has yet to recount disaster from 
floods, and the continued grindings of a hard-visaged monopoly. 
For long there was little progress and few additions to the 
population, for the Hudson Bay Company had locked the door 
on the colony and put the key in its pocket. 

Though a good deal of space has been taken up in the pre- 
ceding chapters with Scottish lawlessness in the region, it is 
not to be supposed that this was a new and sinister develop- 
ment of the national character. On the contrary, these dis- 
turbances were as exceptional as, in point of time and place, 
they were local. They arose out of peculiar circumstances ; 
and when the occasion passed that gave them birth, Scottish 
humanity and respect for law and order quickly asserted their 
presence and influence. Speaking of a later time, a thoughtful 



writer,* who has recently passed away, has left on record this 
testimony to the wholesome conservatism of the Scottish 
character, in its influence on the social fabric of the North- 
West. Says the writer: " The Scottish respect for constituted 
authority, for the ordinances of religion, and the Christian 
code of morality, which is instinctive with many of the old 
settlers as well as the more recent arrivals, has fortunately 
proved a strong barrier against the disintegrating and unsettling 
influences of a sudden influx of settlement," But the day of 
rapid colonisation was yet distant. There was a long period of 
q[uiescence between the restoration of peace in the settlement 
and the manifestation of anything like national life. The 
period of development to manhood, with the activities of a 
well-organised and progressive community, was long in com- 
ing. But this was occasioned by the circumstances of the 
colony ; and is explained by its isolation, its remoteness from 
the seaboard, its small and half-savage population, and by the 
repressive influences of the monopoly that still hung over it. 
More than all, perhaps, its non-progress was due to the false 
reports the monopolists circulated of the poor soil of the colony 
and its rigorous climate. It received a character in those 
days that long stuck to it. 

How the countiy was slandered by the agents of the great 
Fur Company was not only outrageous, it Was farcical. To use 
an early phrase of Horace Walpole, " history never can describe 
it and keep its countenance." When the true facts came out, 
the shifts and contradictions to which its servants had to 
resort, were most amusing. The evidence of officers of the Hud- 
son Bay Company, taken at the examination before a Com- 
mittee of the English Parliament, was tinged with that 

* "The Scot in British North America," Vol. 4. By Wm. J. Rattray, B.A. 
roronto : 1883. 

FIFTY YEARS* INTERVAL — 1820 TO 1870. 167 

delightful bias which a writer of the period describes, as being 
"congenial to find old gentlemen deeply interested in fur.'' 
This, in short, is the explanation of the matter : the Company 
was interested in fur, and not in settlement. Meanwhile, the 
giant stripling was kept in small clothes. 

Through the generosity of Lord Selkirk, the efiects of the 
grasshopper blight were got over by the bringing in of seed, 
and of provisions for the time being, from Illinois and other 
regions to the south. This occasioned a draft of over a 
thousand pounds sterling upon the Selkirk estate. But this 
aid, however timely, was merely temporary. The colony was 
ere long thrown upon its own resources, and these unhappily 
were not well managed. Abortive enterprises, such as the 
Bufialo-Wool Company, and the experimental Hay Field 
Farm, long kept the colony back, and still further discouraged 
the settlers. The latter, however, had some relief in getting 
rid of the governorship of Alexander McDonell, whose steward- 
ship was notoriously bad, and whose imposts on goods coming 
into the country were vexatious and fraudulent. Despite the 
difficulties, the colony made progress, and time brought cheer. 
Cattle were imported, and with better agricultural implements 
came improved farming. Industries, too, soon began to stir in 
the womb of the colony, and ere long had their auspicious 
birth. As they awoke to life, the stoical Indian paused for a 
moment in his basket-making, and Jean Baptiste thought his 
trapping days had come to an end. 

About this time the colony was consolidated, by gathering 
round a common centre, known as " The Forks," formed 
by the junction of the Eed River and the Assiniboine. The 
French Canadians, who had come from the border settlement, 
at Pembina, removed to St. Boniface, alongside the Scotch 
colony; while the half-breeds stationed themselves at White 


Horse Plains, some little distance up the Assiniboine. In the 
coming together of these incongruous elements of race and 
religion, we see the first beginnings in the community of creed 
warfare and political strife. Ross, the early historian of the 
colony, thus writes of the event : 

" We have now seen all the different classes of which this 
infant colony was composed brought together. The better to 
advance each other's interest, as well as for mutual support, 
all sects and creeds associated together indiscriminately, and 
were united like members of the same family, in peace, charity, 
and good-fellowship. This state of things lasted till the 
Churchmen began to feel uneasy, and the Catholics grew 
jealous ; so that projects were set on foot to separate the tares 
from the wheat. Whatever reason might be urged for this 
division, in a religious point of view, it was, politically con- 
sidered, an ill-judged step ; yet the measure was carried, and 
the separation took place, inflicting a wound which has never 
been healed to this day. _From these original causes party spirit 
has been gaining ground ever since. The Canadians became 
jealous of the Scotch, the half-breeds of both ; and their sep- 
arate interests, as agriculturists, voyageurs, or hunters, had 
little tendency to unite them. At length, indeed, the Canadians 
and the half-breeds came to a good understanding with each 
other ; leaving them but two parties, the Scotch and the 
French. Betweeji these, although there is, and always has 
been, a fair show of mutual good feeling, anything like 
cordiality in a common sentiment seemed impossible ; and they 
remain to this day politically divided." 

But for a time party strife was to give way before the grief 
of a common sorrow. The winter of 182G-7 brought to the 
colony such a disaster as it had never known. Already it had 
suflfered from almost every plague that malignancy could dream 
of : it was now to complete its experience of the cycle of woe. 
Hardly had the autumn closed when the settlement was 
invaded by legions of mice, which, like the grasshoppei's, 
devoured every bit of grain, standing or" stalked, together with 
the straw in the barns and even the stubble on the field. 


fiFTY years' interval — 1820 TO 1870. 169 

Before this army of rodents all game disappeared, and the 
plains were soon barren of life. Winter set in with unusual 
severity, and with it came the most continuous storms that 
had ever been known, which drove the buffalo beyond the 
hunter's reach, and buried the colony under mountains of 
snow. For a time there could be no communication between 
the colonists, and no assistance rendered to those most sorely 
in need. A famine, moreover, was in every home. 

" Families here and there " — writes Ross — " despairing of 
life, huddled themselves together for warmth, and in too many 
cases their shelter proved their grave. At first, the heat of 
their bodies melted the snow ; they became wet, and being 
without food or fuel, the cold soon penetrated, and in several 
instances, froze the whole into a body of solid ice. Some, 
again, was found in a state of wild delirium, frantic, mad ; 
while others were picked up, one here and one there, frozen to 
death in their fruitless attempts to reach Pembina — some half 
way, some more, some less ; one woman was found with an 
infant on her back, within a quarter of a mile of Pembina. 
The poor creature must have travelled at least 125 miles in 
three days and nights, till she sunk at last in the too unequal 
struggle for life." 

Those who were found alive had devoured their horses, 
their dogs, raw hides, and even their shoes. Ross states that 
thirty-three lives were lost : one man, with his wife and three 
children, were dug out of the snow, where they had been 
buried for five days and nights, without food, fire, or the light 
of the sun. Such are the incidents of this heart-rending tale. 
But hardly had those of the colonists as were in a position to 
see the winter through escaped from its terrors ere new 
disaster came upon them. The cold had been intense, the 
thermometer often registering 45° below zero, while the snow 
lay on the ground to the depth of four or five feet. The ice 
measured five feet seven inches in thickness 1 With the spring 


all this came to be melted, and the colony, with its varied 
experience, had added to it that of a deluge. We again resort 
to the narrative of an eye-witness : 

" On the fourth of May, the water overflowed the banks of 
the Red River, and now spread so fast, that almost before the 
people were aware of the danger it had reached their dwell- 
ings. Terror was depicted on every countenance. So level 
was the country, and so rapid the rise of the waters, that on 
the fifth the settlers had to fly from their homes for dear life, 
some of them saving only the clothes they had on their backs. 
The shrieks of children, the lowing of cattle, and the howling 
of dogs, added terror to the scene. The country presented the 
appearance of a vast lake. The ice now drifted in a straight 
course from point to point, carrying destruction before it ; and 
the trees were bent like willows by the force of the current. 
While the frightened inhabitants were collected in groups on 
any dry spot that remained visible above the waste of waters, 
their houses, barns, carriages, furniture, fencing, and every 
description of property, might be seen floating along over the 
wide extended plain, to be engulfed in Lake Winnipeg. 
Hardly a house or building of any kind was left standing in 
the colony. Many of the buildings drifted along whole and 
entii'c ; and in some were seen dogs, howling dismally, and cats 
that jumped frantically from side to side of their precarious 
abodes. The most singular spectacle was a house in flames, 
drifting along in the night, its one half immersed in water, 
and the remainder furiously burning. This accident was 
caused by the hasty retreat of the occupiers. At one spot the 
writer fell in with a man who had two of his oxen tied to- 
gether, with his wife and four cliildren fixed on their backs, 
as on a floating stage. The water continued rising till the 
21st, and extended far over the plains ; where cattle used to 
graze boats were now plying under full sail." 

From the perils of inundation the ill-fated settlers at last 
escaped. It was the middle of June ere they saw the waters 
abate, and the sodden site of their colony, which had been 
covered by a flood fifteen feet deep, show itself. The distress 
that foUowed this period of horrors was piteous. The little 

FIFTY years' interval — 1820 TO 1870. 171 

market of the place, as a matter of course, was sensibly 
affected by the famine. We are told that " wheat, which had 
fallen to 2s. per bushel at the commencement of the disaster, 
now rose to 15s. ; and beef from |d to 8d per pound." What 
wonder that, speaking of another misfortune which befell the 
settlement, its Governor, in the bitterness of his heart, should 
exclaim : " Red River is like a Lybian tiger ; the more I try to 
tamo it, the more savage it becomes ; . . .for every step I try 
to bring it forward, disappointments drag it two backward ! " 
Both man and nature seem to have conspired to crush the 

Courage was not lacking, however, to grapple with disaster, 
and to renew the effort to put the colony yet on its feet. At 
this time Red River received a great impetus from the exer- 
tions of a new Governor-in-chief of the Hudson Bay Company, 
Mr. (afterwards Sir) George Simpson, a worthy Scottish gentle- 
man, who, for forty years, was to conduct its affairs in this 
country. The great public services of this distinguished officer 
of the Company, no less than his admirably performed official 
duties, well deserve to be recorded in a%^ history of the North- 
West. He was the one servant of the Company who, while 
mindful of its trading mission, did not forget the claims of 
science, or the obligations that lay upon it to advance the 
interests of geographical discovery. As has been well said of 
him : " To his skilful direction and the eagerness with which 
he assisted Franklin, Richardson, Ross, Back, and other ex- 
plorers, the most valuable results were due. It was he who 
Bent out Dease, Thomas Simpson, Rae, Anderson, and Stewart 
upon the path of research ; and at every fort or factory, con- 
trolled by the Governor, any explorer was sure of shelter, 
suppliesj, information, and advice." He has left behind him a 


most interesting record of a journey round the world,* in the 
early portion of which we have a graphic narrative of his 
trans-continental tour from Lachine, near Montreal, where he 
long resided, to the Pacific. Our fast contracting space pre- 
vents us from giving any notice of this journey ; but tlio 
volume itself is well worthy of perusal, and we heartily coni- 
mend it our readers. We content ourselves with making Lu'o 
one extract, a tribute to the arduous labour and high moli\\3 
of Lord Selkirk in founding the colony of Red River. Says 
Sir George : 

"To mould this secluded spot into the nucleus of a vast 
civilisation was the arduous and honourable task which Lord 
Selkirk imposed on himself. . . His was a pure spirit of 
colonisation. He courted not for himself the virgin secrets of 
some golden sierra ; he needed no outlet for a starving tenantry ; 
he sought no asylum for a persecuted faith : the object for 
which he longed was to make the wilderness glad and to see 
the desert blossom as the rose." 

During Governor Simpson's long tenure of office not only 
were the material affairs of the colony advanced, but old 
wounds were healed, old jealousies removed, clashing interests 
reconciled, and the various elements of strife pacified and 
allayed. However afterwards he belied the country, in his 
advocacy of the trading monopoly of his employers, he was a 
sincere friend of the colony, and in his book wrote truthfully, 
though perhaps with a too exuberant colour, of the attractions 
of the Canadian North- West. Unfortunately, there came a 
time when the ever out-cropping monopoly of the Hudson Bay 
Company again jarred upon the colony, and as the wedge, 
cleaving its way inward, severed the interests of traders and 

* "An Overland Joiorney round the World, during the years 1841-2. By Sir 
George Simpson, Governai-in-chief of the Hudson Bay Territory." London, 1843. 

FIFTY tears' interval — 1820 TO 1870. 173 

settlers, Sir George took up a position, if not inimical to the 
colony, at least hostile to its expansion. 

In 1835, the Hudson Bay Company acquired from the 
representatives of Lord Selkirk all the family's interest in the 
lands and buildings embraced in the colony of the Red River. 
The interest was acquired by purchase, the price being the 
amount — £85,000— which it had cost his Lordship and his 
executors to found, and so far maintain, this settlement in the 
wilderness. The Selkirk family, it seems, had found it diffi- 
cult and unsatisfactory to maintain relations with the colony 
while its affairs were managed by the Hudson Bay Company. 
Whatever the motive to sell, we can well understand the 
family desiring to get rid of its burden of responsibility. 
With this change of masters came the era of quasi -constitu- 
tional rule, and the organisation of local courts of justice, with 
a code of laws for the colony. That the first council was 
largely composed of old fur-traders, sinecurists, and other ser- 
vants of the Company, need occasion little surprise ; though in 
justice, it is to be said, that these were the men who had the 
most influence in the country and had the largest stake in it. 
This change in the management of the Settlement at first was 
not quietly acquiesced in by the colonists. Indeed, for some 
time they were kept in the dark about the transfer. The 
Scotch portion had always chafed under the paternal system of 
the Company's agency ; they now feared being subject to its 
exclusive control. But while the ruling power was in the hands 
of Sir George, they had little cause to complain ; and the 
colony made an unchecked advance in the march of progress. 

Meanwhile, the Scotch, as perhaps it was well for them, 
though not for the colony, were not having it all their own 
way. The half-breeds, who were the hunters, and coiise- 
c^uently the main feeders of the colony, were, by reason ol 


their usefulness, pampered and spoiled. As they were mnch 
made of, crowds of them clustered round the Settlement, and 
they soon became a formidable party. " Time and numbers," 
we are told, " increased their boldness, until it became their 
habit to bully the Company into their views." In 1834 we 
meet with the first instance of their in tractable ness, and of 
the igniting of the inflammable materials of which the race 
is composed. The exciting cause of the trouble was the trivial 
circumstance of one of the Hudson Bay people chastising a 
half-breed, named Larocque, " who had provoked him by his 
insolent and over-bearing conduct." The race instantly took 
up the aggrieved man's quarrel, and demanded the surrender 
from the Governor of the person who had made the assault. 
The whole half-breed race of French extraction, we learn, took 
up the war-song, and, after the fashion of the Indians, resorted 
to the war-dance, while a buzz of anxiety pervaded the colony. 
Overtures were made to pacifiy the breeds, and a deputation 
was sent by the Governor to effect, if possible, a friendly 
settlement. Mr. Ross, the colony's historian, who was one of 
the deputation, thus narrates the result : 

" On arriving at the place where the hostile party were 
assembled, we were struck with their savage appearance. 
They resembled more a troop of furies than human beings, all 
occupied in the Indian dance. As the arguments upon which 
we entered would only tire the reader, we shall pass them by, 
simply remarking, that reason is but a feeble weapon against 
brute force. Nevertheless, after a two hours' parley, reason 
triumphed, and we got the knotty point settled by making a 
few trifling concessions, taking no small credit to ourselves for 
our diplomatic success. We must confess, however, that the 
bearing of the half-breeds became haughtier than ever, for the 
spring was no sooner ushered in, than another physical demon- 
stration took place at the gates of Fort Garry. This was the 

introduction of a new series of demands Demand 

after demand now followed in close suQQesaion. These wqtq 

FIFTY years' interval — 1820 TO 1870. 175 

all feelers set forth covertly by designing and disaffected 
demagogues, who made dupes of the silly half-breeds to answer 
their own vile purposes, by always pushing them forward in 
the front rank to screen themselves ; yet, during all these 
hostile attempts and foolish demands, no act of outrage was 
committed. " Left to themselves," adds the historian, " the 
half-breeds are credulous and noisy, but are by no means a 
bad people." 

How far this character is still true of the half-breed, many 
to-day have their doubts. The present writer inclines to the 
belief that it is true : that the half-breed, and even the whole 
breed, is not the human monster some would depict. In many 
of their characteristics they are mere children; and, like children, 
they are readily influenced by example, and are plastic in the 
hands of designing people. Those of French parentage have in 
an exaggerated degree the faults of their sires — they are vola- 
tile and unsedate. " They farm to-day, hunt to-morrow, and 
fish the next : " the world's cares sit lightly upon them ; but 
in the main they are contented and happy, and if they are let 
alone, they are a peaceable and friendly people. They suit the 
country in which they find a home, and, if properly treated, 
can be well-behaved and useful in the community. At the 
time of which we write, and for some years afterwards, the 
great drawback to the colony was the want of a market and 
the precariousness of the trapper's trade. This is well brought 
out in Mr. Ross's volume, a further and final extract from which 
we here take the liberty to quote. 

" Our population is made up of two classes nearly equal in 
number: the European or agricultural party, and the native or 
aboriginal party, called hunters or half-breeds, differing as 
much in their habits of life and daily pursuits as in the colour 
of their skin. In the present state of things, their interests are 
exactly opposed to each other, inasmuch as a market for one 
party shuts up all prospect against the other. The plain 
business is as uncertain as the wind that blows. One year 


may prove abundant, and the next a complete failure. When 
the plains fail, the farmer's produce is in demand ; and when 
the crops fail, the hunter finds a ready market ; but when both 
are successful, there is not a tithe of a market for either within 
the colony. Such a state of things as now exists cramps in- 
dustry, and renders labour — the great source of wealth in other 
countries — utterly fruitless. Hence an idle, vagrant, and 
grumbling population — a population with barns full, stores 
teaming with plenty, and yet their wives and children half 
naked, insomuch that the more industrious and wealthy can 
scarcely command a shilling to pay the doctor's bill, or their 
children's education. Singular assemblage of wealth and want, 
of abundance and wretchedness ! " 

Such, up to a comparatively recent period, was the condition 
of thinos in what used to be the remote and isolated Red River 
Colony. But its day of small things finally came to an end. 
An era dawned when the new wine burst the old bottles : the 
sealed book was at last opened. Parental rule, contracted hori- 
zons, jealously-guarded enclosures — were all sloughed off, and 
the fledgeling prepared itself for a far, circuitous flight. 

From the parent nest went forth other timid flutterers to 
colonise new sections of the country, and to form centres of 
life where life had hardly ever been. The question of colonisa- 
tion now took a wider range than the development of a local 
colony. The outer world began to hear facts about the country 
so long defamed : whisperings of its fertile soil and wonderful 
crops were eagerly caught up and circulated ; and many came 
to augment the population. These saw for themselves that the 
ill-conditioned fellows who had been protesting against the 
absolute power of a trading monopoly, so long exercised to 
keep the country unknown, were right, and that the region 
was not, as it had been represented, a sterile waste. It was 
found that even the name of the territory, associated in the 
mind with the Arctic surroundings of Hudson Bay, was itself 
a prejudice. Had they thought at all, they would have sur- 

FIFTY YEAES* INTERVAL — 1820 TO 1870. 177 

mised that a region extending through twenty degrees of lati- 
tude and fifty of longitude, must vary much in climate, in soil, 
and in physical characteristics. But there were other facts 
they could not well know. They did not know, for instance, 
that " nature marching from east to west, showered her boun- 
ties on the land of the United States until she reached the 
Mississippi, but there she turned aside and went northward to 
favour British territory." They did not know of those fertile 
zones, " which curve towards the north, as they proceed west- 
ward, so that the western extremity of the belt is several de- 
grees of latitude higher than the eastern, the curves apparently 
corresponding pretty closely with certain isothermal lines."* 
When these facts became known, there was, for a time, a rage 
for the literature of travel in the North- West, a rage which the 
present writer hopes, with a pardonable degree of interest, may 
not have died out ere his book appears. 

Among the first of these modern books of travel in the region 
is one we have already referred to, which contained glowing 
descriptions of the country, descriptions which came to be in 
curious contrast to later, though far from impartial, public tes- 
timony from the same writer. Sir George Simpson was bound 
up body and soul, if we may so speak without irreverence or 
disparagement, in the Hudson Bay corporation ; but before he 
allowed himself to look upon the country in the light of a fur- 
trader, he spoke eulogistical ly of its attractions and hopefully 
of its future, as the happy abode of thousands of his country- 
men. There may be poetry, but there is also fact, in this early, 
unwitting testimony of the worthy Governor to the fertility of 
portions of the valley of the Kaministiquia and the sylvan 
beauties of the Lake of the Woods : 

• Fiom an article, entited, " The Last Great Monopoly," in the Westminster Es- 
vieWy for July, 1867. 


" The river during the day's march," writes Sir George, 
" passed through forests of elm, oak, fir, and birch, being studded 
with hills not less fertile and lovely than its banks ; and many 
a spot reminded us of the rich and quiet scenery of England. 
The paths of the different portages were spangled with violets, 
roses, and many other wild flowers, while the currant, the goose- 
berry, the raspberry, the plum, the cherry, and even the vine, 
were abundant. All this bounty of nature was inspired as it 
were with life by the cheerful notes of a variety of birds, and by 
the restless flutter of butterflies of the brightest hues. Compared 
with the adamantine deserts of Lake Superior, the Kaministiquia 
presented a perfect Paradise. One cannot pass through this 
fine valley without feeling that it is destined, sooner or later, 
to become the happy home of civilised men, with their bleating 
flocks and lowing herds and their full garners." 

Equally impassioned, though perhaps more justified by facts, 
is his description of the luxuriant banks of the Saskatchewan, 
where were 

" Lofty hills, and long valleys full of sylvan lakes, while the 
bright green of the surface, as far as the eye could reach, assum- 
ed a foreign tinge under an uninterrupted profusion of roses 
and blue bells. On the summit of one of these hills we com- 
manded one of the few extensive prospects that we had of late 
enjoyed. One range of heights rose behind another, each be- 
coming fainter as it receded from the eye, till the furthest was 
blended in almost undistinguishable confusion with the clouds, 
while the softest vales spread a panorama of hanging copses 
and glittering lakes at our feet." 

From this imaginable " Land of the Lotus " came the testi- 
mony of other writers who, in quick succession, were to traverse 
the country. About this time the Imperial and the CanadiaA 
Governments commissioned experts to report upon the terri- 
tory. Captain Palliser, in command of the British Expedition, 
wrote of the Fertile Belt in terms that at the time seemed ex- 
travagant. He speaks of a partially wooded country, abound- 
ing in lakes and rich natural pasturage, " in some parts rivalling 
the finest park scenery of England." Comment is also made cm 

flPTY years' interval — 1820 TO 1870. 179 

tlie fact that, in the region, spring commences about a month 
earlier than on the shores of the great lakes to the eastward: 
which are four or five degrees of latitude further south, and 
that even in the winter horses and cattle may be left for the 
season out of doors to obtain their own food. Professor Hind's 
testimony was an equal surprise to the outer world. He states 
that in one district only — that of the Eed River and the Assi- 
niboine — millions of acres of land which cannot be surpassed 
for fertility, being composed of rich praiiie mould nearly two 
feet deep, lie free and unoccupied, awaiting settlement. West- 
ward of this region, he brought before a wondering world the 
extraordinary luxuriance of the alluvial plains of the North 
Saskatchewan, rich in water, wood, and pasturage. Of these 
plains he thus writes : 

" It is a physical reality of the highest importance to the 
interests of British North America that this continuous belt 
can be settled and cultivated from a few miles west of the Lake 
of the Woods to the passes of the Rocky Mountains ; and any 
line of communication, whether by waggon-road or railway, 
passing through it, will eventually enjoy the great advantage of 
being fed by an agricultural population from one extremity to 
the other. No other part of the American continent possesses 
an approach even to this singularly favourable disposition of 
soil and climate ; which last feature, notwithstanding its rigour 
during the winter season, confers, on account of its humidity, 
inestimable value on British America south of the fifty-fourth 

Following the reports of these Government expeditions came 
graphic records of the journeys of distinguished English and 
Canadian travellers, who fell under the fascination of a holiday 
tour through the woods and waters of the Canadian Far- West. 

♦ " Narrative of the Canadian Red River Exploring Expedition of 1857, and of 
the Assiniboine and Saskatchewan Exploring Expedition of 1858." Undeitaken 
l)y Authority of the Canadian Government. By Prof. Henry Youle Hind, M.A. 
2 vols. London, 1860. 


The more notable of these records are the volumes of the Earl 
of Southesk (1859) ; Lord Milton and Dr. Cheadle (1863) ; 
Captain Butler (1870), and our own Dr. Grant, the genial Prin- 
cipal of Queen's University (1872). Later days have brought 
us a whole library of books on the North- West, each with its 
own feature of interest, yet each freighted with the burden of 
commendation of the country and its wonderful resources. Be- 
fore leaving this literature, let us sample the records of two of 
these Enoflish travellers. The first shall be from the narrative 
of Milton and Cheadle, with regard to the Red River and the 
Saskatchewan regions. 

" In 1862, we found them (the Red River colonists) a very 
heterogeneous community of about 8,000 souls — Englishmen, 
Irishmen, Scotchmen, English Canadians, French Canadians, 
Americans, English half-breeds, Canadian half-breeds, and In- 
dians. Nearly the whole population, with the exception of a 
few store-keepers and free-traders, live by the Hudson Bay 
Company, and the Company is King. The Company makes 
the laws, buys the produce of the chase and the farm, supplying 
in return the other necessaries and luxuries of life. The farmers 
of Red River are wealthy in flocks, and herds, and grain, more 
than sufficient for their own wants, and live in comparative 
comfort. Thesoilisso fertile that wheat is raised, year after 
year, fifty and sixty bushels to the acre, without any manure 
being required. The pasturage is of the finest quality, and un- 
limited in extent : the countless herds of bufialo which the land 
has supported is sufficient evidence of this. * * » 

" We now entered a most glorious country — not indeed 
grandly picturesque, but rich and beautiful : a country of rolling 
hills and fertile valleys, of lakes and streams, groves of birch 
and aspen, and miniature prairies ; a land of a kindly soil, and 
full of promise to the settlers to come in future years, when an 
enlightened policy shall open out the wealth now uncared for 
or unknown. * * The flowers in the open glade were 
very gay ; tiger lilies, roses, the Gallardia pida, the blue 
borage, the white and purple vetch, red orchis, and the marsh 
violet were the most conspicuous. ♦ * ♦ 

FIFTY YEA-IIS' INTERVAL — 1820 TO 1870. 181 

" Rich prairies, with from three to five feet of alluvial soil 
are ready for the plough, or offer the luxuriant grasses, which 
in the old time fattened countless bands of buffalo, to domesti- 
cated herds. Woods, lakes, and streams diversified the scene, 
and offer timber, fish, and myriads of wild fowl ; yet this 
glorious country, estimated at G5,000 square miles, and 40 
millions of acres of the richest soil, capable of supporting 20 
millions of people, is from its isolated position, and the difficul- 
ties put in the way of settlement by the governing power, 
hitherto loft utterly neglected and useless, except for the sup- 
port of a few Indians and the employes of the Hudson Bay 
Company. " * 

Our extract from Captain Butler, for the sake of variety, 
shall be of another character. Let us select a passage in which 
that graphic writer describes the exhilarating experience of 
" running a rapid " on the Winnipeg River. The experience was 
gained while the writer was making his way to Fort Garry, 
with the Wolseley Red River Expedition, as an intelligence 
officer attached to the 69th Regiment of Foot. 

" It is difficult to find in life any event which so effectually 
condenses nervous sensation into the shortest possible space of 
time, as does the work of shooting or running a rapid. There 
is no toil, no heart-breaking labour about it, but as much cool- 
ness, dexterity and skill, as man can throw into the work of 
hand, eye, and head ; knowledge of when to strike and how to 
do it ; knowledge of water and of rock, and of tiie one hun- 
dred combinations which rock and water can assume — for these 
two things, rock and water, taken in the abstract, fail as com- 
pletely to convey any idea of their fierce embracings in the 
throes of a rapid, as the fire burning quietly in a drawing-room 
fire-place fails to convey the idea of a house wrapped and 
sheeted in flames. Above the rapid all is still and quiet, and 
one cannot see what is going on below the first rim of the 
rush, but stray shoots of spray and the deafening roar of de- 

* " The North-West Passage by Land ; a narrative of an expedition from the 
Atlantic to the Pacific," By Viscount Milton, M.P., and W. J3. Cheadle, MA., 
M-D. London, 1864. 


scending water tell well enough what is about to happen. The 
Indian has got some rock or mark to steer by, and knows well 
the door by which he is to enter the slope of water. As the 
canoe — never appearing so frail a thing as when it is about to 
commence its series of wild leaps and rushes — nears the rim 
where the waters disappear from view, the bowsman stands 
up and, stretching forward his head, peers down the eddying 
I'ush ; in a second he is on his knees again ; without turning 
his head he speaks a word or two to those who are behind him ; 
then the canoe is in the rim ; she dips to it, shooting her bows 
clear out of the water and striking hard against the lower level. 
After that there is no time for thought ; the eye is not quick 
enou'^h to take in the rushing scene. There is a rock here and 
a big green cave of water there ; there is a tumultuous rising 
and sinking of snow-tipped waves ; there are places that are 
smooth-running for a moment, and then yawn and open up into 
great gurgling chasms the next ; there are strange whirls and 
backward eddies and rocks, rough and smooth and polished — 
and through all this the canoe glances like an arrow, dips like 
a wild bird down the wing of the storm, now slanting from 
a rock, now edging a green cavern, now breaking through a 
backward rolling billow, without a word spoken, but with every 
now and again a quick convulsive twist and turn of the bow- 
paddle to edge far off some rock, to put her full through some 
boiling billow, to hold her steady down the slope of some thun- 
dering chute which has the power of a thousand horses : for 
remember, this river of rapids, this -Winnipeg, is no moun- 
tain torrent, no brawling brook, but over every rocky 
ledge and wave-worn precipice there rushes twice a vaster 
volume than Rhine itself pours forth. The rocks which strew 
the torrent are frequently the most trifling of the dangers of 
the descent, formidable though they appear to the stranger. 
Sometimes a huge boulder will stand full in the midst of the 
channel, apparently presenting an obstacle from which escape 
seems impossible. The canoe is rushing full towards it, and no 
power can save it. There is just one power that can do it, and 
the rock itself provides it. Not the skill of man could run 
the boat hows on to that rock. There is a wilder sweep of 
water rushing off the polished sides than on to them, and the 
instant that we touch that sweep, we shoot away with re- 

FIFTY years' interval— 1820 TO 1870. 183 

doubled speed. No, the rock is not as treacherous as the 
whirlpool and twisting billow. "* 

Never, it will be said, has pen better described the peril and 
excitement of this characteristically Canadian sport. But we 
must more rapidly bridge over our half century of Red River 
history, and speed on to events of immediate interest and later 
date. Let us return to the colony where, in Whittier's words, 

" Out and in the river is winding 
The links of its long, red chain, 
Through belts of dusky pine-laad 
And gusty leagues of plain." 

Here, in this oasis of civilisation, the primeval solitudes 
which once had been given up to the musquash and buffalo, were 
now beginning to be populous with immigrants and the des- 
cendants of the early Orkney settlers. The flowery meadow, 
which used to be the haunt of the prairie-bird and the blue- 
winged teal, was now being covered with the comfortable habi- 
tations of well-to-do traders and thriving farmers. The little 
settlement of Kildonan blossomed out into the town of Win- 
nipeg. The successive incidents of note in the progress of the 
colony can be briefly enumerated. On the establishment, in 
1835, of a Council of Assiniboia, the colony assumed a civic 
status and dignity which boded well for its future development. 
Its judicial system began, in 1839, with a Recordership ; but its 
ecclesiastical and educational systems had an earlier start. 

The Anglican Church in the Province may be said to have 
been founded, in 1820, by the Rev. Archdeacon Cochran ; 
though some few years earlier, the Rev. John West, M.A., a 
Hudson Bay Chaplain, ministered to the Protestant commu- 

* " The Great Lone Land : a Narrative of Travel and Adventure in the North- 
West of America." By Captain W. F. Butlef, F.R.G.S. (pages 184-5). Loudon, 


aity. In 1849, the Church had so flourished as to have a 
Bishopric in the district, the Rev. David Anderson becoming 
first Bishop of Rupert's Land. It was not until 1852, that 
the Presbyterian body had a resident minister. In that year 
the Rev. Dr. John Black arrived in the colony, and was gladly 
hailed by the Scotch settlers, who had long hungered for a 
shepherd of their own communion. On his arrival, it is re- 
corded, that 300 of the settlers, who had previously worshipped 
m the Anglican fold, rallied round Mr. Black, and formed a 
Church after the faith of their fathers. The Methodic deno- 
mination, at an early day, had labourers in the field, and flour- 
ishing missions, not only in Red River, but on the Saskatchewan 
and other distrJbts in the West. Its permanent foothold in Win- 
nipeg dates, however, from the arrival, in 18C8, of the Rev. Mr. 
Young, a zealous representative of his Church. It is sad to note 
the fate of the predecessor of this gentleman, the Rev. George 
McDougall, who, as Methodist Missionary among the Indians, 
like St. Paul of old, was often in perils by the way, and who, as 
it has been said of him, " crowned a life of heroic struggle and 
self-sacrifice, by a martyr's death at his perilous post of duty." 
The incidents of the death of this fearless soldier of the Cross 
are thus feelingly narrated in The Scot in British North 
America : 

" On the 24th of January, 1876, while hunting bufialo about 
thirty miles from Morley ville, to procure a supply of meat for 
the mission, he started to return to camp in advance of his 
party. It was a wild, stormy night, and a fierce wind swept 
the prairie laden with drifting snow. Mr. McDougall missed 
his way, and as a protracted search by his friends proved fruit- 
less, the painful conclusion that he had perished from cold and 
exhaustion forced itself upon them. Twelve days afterwards, 
his body was found by a half-breed, stretched in death on the 
snow-covered prairie, the folded hands and placid expression of 

FIFTY TEARS* INTERVAL — 1820 TO 1870. 185 

the features showing that the intrepid soul of the missionary 
had met death in the spirit of calm and trustful resignation — 

' Like one who draws the drapery of his couch 
Around him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.'" 

But the earliest missions in the country were those of the 
Roman Catholic Church, whose first representative was the 
Rev. Father Provencher. This worthy priest came to Red 
River in 1818, and was made Bishop of Juliopolis four years 
afterwards. On his death, in 1853, the present distinguished 
Archbishop Tach^ succeeded him in the See, the title of which 
was changed to St. Boniface. Convents and other educational 
agencies of the Romish Church were established in 1844. But 
much as we may wish to dwell on the Christian work of the 
Roman Catholic priesthood and sisterhood in the North-West, 
our space here does not justify our doing so. As the work 
was too good and self-sacrificing to be merely passingly ac- 
knowledged, we hope elsewhere to do it justice. 

Recurring to the material progress of the incipient city, we 
may note the fact that for some time it rejoiced in the honors 
of a garrison town. From 1846 to 1848 a wing of the Gth 
Regiment of Foot was quartered at Red River ; and for a num- 
ber of years following the colony was protected by a corps of 
enrolled pensioners. Lord Selkirk's detachment of disbanded 
Swiss did not remain in the colony, but emigrated to more 
rapidly rising settlements on the Upper Mississippi. From 
1857 to 1861 a company of the Royal Canadian Rifles occupied 
Fort Garry, during the excitement caused by the restless 
movements on the borders of the Sioux Indians. Their mass- 
acre of white settlers in Minnesota occurred in ]862 ; happily, 
in their visits to Red River, they were got rid of without 
bloodshed. In 1853 a public mail service was established, 


which, to the delight of the settlers, took the place of the bi- 
annual packet-post via Hudson Bay. In 1859, that distin- 
guishing mark of civilisation, a local newspaper, was founded, 
— ^the " Nor'-Wester " becoming the pioneer of the very able 
and enterprising modern press of Winnipeg. Three years 
afterwards, in the placing of a light draft steamboat on the 
river, facilities were afforded for communicating with the outer 
world; and the same season the village of Winnipeg was 
officially ushered into being. Could these means of communica- 
tion be improved, many of its far-seeing inhabitants prophesied 
that the day would not be distant when it would become a 
great city.* 

In the history of the Red River colony we now near modem 
times. The era of absolutism was to go, and that of freedom 
and progress was to usurp its place. The "Company of 
Adventurers" that for two centuries had been the absolute 
lords and proprietors of this great domain of the west, and 
that had adventured little in the territory save the money 
which had earned it royal dividends, was to abrogate its 
privileges and waive its long claim to monopoly. The Hudson 
Bay traders had not even been called upon to pay the consider- 
tion which King Char]<^ had stipulated should bind the bar- 
gain — viz., " two elks and two biack beavers, whensoever and 
as often as we, our heirs and successors, shall happen to enter 
the said countries, territories, and regions." Verily, Prince 
Rupert had had a cousinly gift, and the descendants of the 
Prince and his associates have been royally dealt with. But 

* Ross gives the total population, in 1849, of the Red River Settlement, as 5391, 
housed in 745 dwellings. The area of cultivated land at the period, he states, was 
6392 acres. He adds, in 1855, when his narrative went to press, that " there is no 
later census than the above ; but the population of the colony this year is supposed 
to be about 6500 souls," 

FIFTY YfiABS* INtERVAL— 1820 TO 1870. 18? 

tli6 age was averse to monopolies ; and when the interests of 
its equally favoured eastern rival had been assumed by the 
Crown, the great North- Western trading Company, however 
many and influential its advocates, could not long expect 
immunity from a like fate. The colony was now to yield to 
civilisation something more than beaver-skins and other pro- 
ducts of the chase. 



HE conflict between the past and the future, after 
these years of repression and strife, was now to be 
settled in favour of the coming time. The old was 
at last to give way to the new. In the unequal 
struggle with the advancing tide of civilisation, the 
Hudson Bay Company saw that it was finally to be 
worsted ; and before the fate that impended was forced upon 
it, it discreetly endeavoured to secure terms upon which it 
might gracefully capitulate. While negotiations were pending, 
we can imagine with what feelings gouty old directors of the 
Company would meet at the London Board Room, in Fen- 
church Street, and rail at the times being out of joint. How 
irately they would storm at the colonising spirit, and, in testy 
mood, splutter out expletives against the restless ambition of a 
young and progressive people ! Yet, they were wise in their 
day and generation. They did not stand broom in hand, like 
Mrs. Partington, and hope successfully to sweep back the in- 
coming tide of settlement, but allowed themselves to be borne 
shoreward to pick up on the beach the rich wreckage the ocean 
had spared them of their doomed argosy. 



That the day was coming — had indeed now come — when 
the Company's rule was to cease, and the teeming life of the 
East was to be poured in upon the favoured plains of the 
West, the Company saw but too clearly ; and seeing this, it 
made haste to set its house in order and make the best bargain 
possible. Already the voice of the colonists, petitioning the 
Canadian Parliament for relief from the tyranny of their 
situation, had been heard, and favourably heard, in England. 
As freemen they asked to be free. They asked for immunity 
from arbitrary arrest ; from exorbitant imposts upon goods 
brought into the country ; from the outrage of having their 
houses entered and effects confiscated at the caprice of a self- 
constituted authority ; and relief, generally, from a rule that 
had become obnoxious, and a tyranny that was now galling. 
Here is the concluding portion of the colonists' petition, after 
reciting the grievances of which they complained : 

" The Council (called into existence by the Hudson Bay 
Company) imposes taxes, creates offences, and punishes the 
same by fines and imprisonment, — i.e., the Governor and 
Council make the laws, judge the laws, and execute their own 
sentence. We have no voice in their selection, neither have 
we any constitutional means of controlling their action. Under 
this system our energies are paralysed, and discontent is in- 
creasing to such a degree that events fatal to British interests, 
and particularly to the interests of Canada, and even to 
civilisation and humanity, may soon take place. When we 
contemplate the mighty tide of immigration which has flowed 
toward the north these six years past, and has already filled 
the valley of the Upper Mississippi with settlers, and which 
will this year flow over the height of land, and fill up the 
valley of Red River, is there no danger of being carried away 
by that flood, and that we may thereby lose our nationality ? 
We love the British name ! We are proud of that glorious 
fabric, the British Constitution. We have represented our 
grievances to the Imperial Government, but through the 
chicanery of the Company and its false representations, we 

190 THE NORTH-WEST : IT^ flisfORY AND tTS T?ROttiL^. 

have not been heard, much less have our grievances been 
redressed. We, therefore, as dutiful and loyal subjects of the 
British Crown, humbly pray that your Honourable House will 
take into immediate consideration the subject of this our peti- 
tion, and that such measures may be devised and adopted as 
will extend to us the protection of the Canadian Government, 
laws, and institutions, and make us equal participators in 
those rights and liberties enjoyed by British subjects in what- 
ever part of the world they reside." 

This petition foreshadowed the close of the Company's anoma- 
lous rule in Rupert's Land. But the document was not alone 
instrumental in bringing about a change. The time had come 
for a new order of things. The time had come for extensive 
settlement in territories now known, not only to be of vast ex- 
tent, but capable of great and successful colonisation — a colo- 
nisation which the Company had long resisted, and, could it 
have had a renewal of its Charter, it would still have exercised 
its power and influence to resist. From 1857, when its affairs 
were discussed in the British and the Canadian Parliaments, 
the Company showed commendable zeal in endeavouring to 
adapt the machinery of its organisation to the purposes of colo- 
nisation ; but in this it signally failed, with all the aid it had 
from a syndicate of financiers, to whom it turned in a fright 
to save its doomed monopoly. But though its administration 
was doomed, there was no serious desire, on the part of either 
governments to do it injustice, far less a wrong. Nor, finally, 
was injustice or wrong done it, save, it may be, in the extrava- 
gant rhetoric of such of the colonists as had petitioned against 
the continuance of its rule. 

We have no motive in pressing the case unduly against the 
Hudson Bay Company ; and in proof of this, we shall not bur- 
den our pages with any of the indictments which at this period 
found ready, and perhaps not over temperate, voice against its 
administration. On the other hand, we shall not quarrel with 

^iUnsfer of Hudson bay territories to boMiNiou. 191 

its advocates. There were partisans on both sides ; and, as 
usually happens, on both sides there was something for par- 
tisans to say. Objection has been taken to the statement that 
the settlers of Red River were in a condition of thraldom, and 
that the Hudson Bay Company was a monster of tyranny and 
oppression. We have not made either statement, though as a 
matter of history we record the fact that both statements were 
repeatedly and publicly made. It may be true, as was urged 
by the objectors, that unprincipled men in the colony put them- 
selves in an attitude of culpable and unreasoning defiance to- 
wards the Company ; that they filled the minds of the settlers 
with exaggerated notions of their being an abused people ; and 
that the local press was made reprehensible use of to keep the 
colony in a ferment, and to incite a peaceable and uncomplain- 
ing community to revolt. These counter-statements may, or 
may not, be true ; in any case, the common sense of impartial 
readers of the colony's annals will guide them to a conclusion 
that will not far outrage facts. 

What these facts are the reader who has followed us so far 
will not require to be told. The Company had had a long 
term of right and unrestricted power in the territory. The 
right was always questioned ; the power was now going to be 
disputed. It had exercised both to the detriment of the set- 
tlers who had long been in the country ; and to those who were 
now coming into it the Company was not disposed to abate one 
jot or tittle of any right or prerogative it had hitherto possess- 
ed, and was able to maintain the possession of. A policy so 
obstructive, as well as anomalous, could not hope in these 
modem days to withstand the assaults of freemen, or be other 
than a bone of contention among those who saw that the coun- 
try was being held, not for the good of the settler, not for the 
development of the territory, not for the advancement of civil- 


isation, but for the sole enrichment of a few privileged mono- 
polists. This view of the case may not be altogether just to 
the Company, the paternal rule of which was in many respects 
good, and suitable to the time and the people. But in the 
evolution of time, and in the development of the people, it was 
impossible that that rule could continue to be suitable ; sooner 
or later, antagonism to it was sure to come. 

Meanwhile, as the hopes of the settlers rose, in anticipation 
of early political connection with Canada, distrust began to be 
felt by the servants of the Company, of the permanency of their 
relations with Fenchurch Street. Should this link snap, and 
the traders be thrown over by the great monopoly, it was fore- 
seen that the official class would at once lose influence, and be 
at the disadvantage of the settlers. This feeling served to unite 
in a closer bond the French and the half-breeds, whose interests 
were specially bound up in the fur trade, and to range them in 
sharper hostility to the other section of the colony composed 
of the farmers and the free-traders. In this attitude of class- 
antagonism, it cannot be disguised, that the French received 
encouragement from the Church ; and hence arose new elements 
of disaffection, and new grounds for dislike of the coming 

The change, nevertheless, was to come. The French people, 
jealous of their language, their religion, and their institutions, 
naturally found support from the Roman Catholics in their de- 
sire to uphold their racial possessions ; and the Church had its 
own reasons for assuming this position. As the Hudson Bay 
Company had hitherto objected to the settler, that the Pro- 
vince might be kept as a preserve for game, so the Bomish 
Priesthood wished now to exclude the English Protestant, that 
the country might be kept as a preserve of the Church. But 
the dread of interference, with their religion at least, was an 


unfounded one, as French Catholics, who had had experience 
of English toleration in the Province of Quebec, might have 
been assured. The only ground of apprehension, which could 
cause a moment's uneasiness to Frenchman or Catholic, lay in 
the subordination of the language of France to that of the in- 
vading Anglo-Saxon, who, in the opening up of the country, 
was sure to be in the ascendant. But to object to the encroach- 
ment of the English tongue was to object to the encroachment 
of the sea. And the sea was now fast approaching. The wave 
of Canadian sympathy was soon to break over the plains of 
Red River, and to draw into its embrace the return attach- 
ment of kin to kin. In this meeting of the waters there was 
to be no receding. For a time the intruding wave was to be 
dyked out by the antipathies of a half-alien people, but the 
waters were to have their way and begin to submerge the land. 
The language in which these antipathies was expressed may 
be judged, in some respects at least, from the guarded comments 
of A.rchbishop Tachd, in a work which appeared in 1868, en- 
titled, " A Sketch of the North- West of America." Says this 
distinguished Prelate : 

" In the Colony there is nervousness and uneasiness about 
the future. Some who hope to gain by any change are clam- 
orous for one : others dwelling more upon the system of govern- 
ment than upon its application, would like to try a change, 
certain that they would never return to the primitive state 
from which they desired to escape ; a greater number — the 
majority — dread that change. Many are very reasonable ; the 
country might gain by the change, and it would obtain many 
advantages which it now lacks; but the existing population 
would certainly be losers. As we love the people more than 
the land in which they live, as we prefer the well-being of the 
former to the splendour of the latter, we now repeat that for 
our population we very much dread some of the promised 


The language of the Archbishop, under the circumstances, ia 
very natural. There is uneasiness expressed at not knowing 
in what the change is to consist ; and, reading between the 
lines, we see a strong preference for the continuance of the 
status quo. The attitude of the French half-breeds is equally 
plain, and to some extent reasonable. They looked coldly on 
any movement which was to ally them with the East without 
their consent, and without some assurance that what they 
termed their " superior rights " in the country, were to be 
respected. Nor was the feeling of uncertainty as to the future, 
and the desire first to be consulted ere any change was made, 
less marked in the case of many of the English. As a local 
writer has put it : " they wanted to escape from the incubus of 
the Hudson Bay Company ; but they (especially those who had 
emigrated from Ontario), wanted to have a voice in the man- 
agement of their own affairs, and they were greatly disap- 
pointed when they found that the Canadian authorities pro- 
posed sending up a government 'all ready made,' to take the 
place of the Company's rule. They felt as if they were getting 
from under one dead weight to place themselves under ano- 

The Hon. William Macdougall, C.B., was to take the first 
step in the Canadian Parliament towards admitting into the 
Confederation the territorial possessions of the Hudson Bay 
Company. This gentleman, who was at the time Minister of 
Public Works, moved a series of Resolutions with the design of 
incorporating Rupert's Land and the North- West Territory into 
the new-formed Dominion. On these Resolutions^ was based 

* " History of Manitoba," By the late Hon. Donald Gunn, and C. R. Tuttle, 
Ottawa, 1880. 

+ These Resolutions were moved on the 4th, and passed on the 11th, of December, 
1867, during the First Session of the First Parliament of the Dominion of Canada, 
—provision having been made in the British North America Act in anticipation of 
the admission of tho territory into Confederation. 


an Address to Her Majesty, praying for Imperial sanction to 
the union, and for authority to legislate for the future welfare 
and good government of the country. The answer to this 
overture was, that when the value set upon the territory had 
been determined and agreed upon between the Hudson Bay 
Company and the Canadian Government, Her Majesty's consent 
would be obtained and an Imperial Act would be passed rati- 
fying the transfer. In the following year, to expedite matters, 
Mr. Macdougall, the mover of the Resolutions, and Sir Geo. E. 
Cartier, visited England to arrange the terms of purchase. 
After some delay, and not a little haggling, these were agreed 
to ; and late in the year 1869, a formal Deed of Surrender of 
the Territories was executed. The terms and conditions of 
that surrender were, in brief, that the Canadian Government 
was to pay to the Hudson Bay Company the sum of £300,000 ; 
that the Company was to be permitted to retain all the trading 
posts or stations then actually in possession or in occupation, 
with the blocks of land adjoining ; and that one-twentieth of 
all the lands in the Fertile Belt, when the same were surveyed 
and set out for settlement, was to be allotted to the Company. 
It was moreover stipulated, that all titles to land conferred 
by the Company, up to the 8th day of March, 1869, were to be 
confirmed, and that the Indian claims to portions of the terri- ' 
tory were to be settled by the purchasing party. 

Such were the terms on which the Canadian Government 
acquired this vast tenitory, a territory estimated at over 
2,300,000 square miles. In the Fertile Belt alone, which 
covers an area exceeding three hundred million acres, it is cal- 
culated that there is agricultural lands suflScient to support a 
population of twenty-five millions. In acquiring this great 
possession, the next step was to provide it with some terri- 


torial form of government. In taking this step our Canadian 
authorities, unhappily, met with difficulty. 

This difficulty was no inconsiderable one ; but the Canadian 
Government, if it was premature in its action, was not half- 
hearted in its purpose to acquire and enter into possession of 
the territory. Our public men, it may at least be said, apprec- 
iated the value of the domain the country had just acquired. 
With spirit they determined that it should at once be opened 
ap. During the Session of 1869, an Act was passed at Ottawa 
providing a provisional form of government in the territory ; 
and in October of the same year, the Hon. Wm. Macdougall 
was appointed Lieutenant-Governor. Surveying parties had 
already been sent to the Red River Settlement to lay out 
townships, and to institute an extended series of surveys. 
Governor Macdougall was now himself to set out to assume 
the duties of his office, and, in conjunction with the local Hud- 
son Bay Governor, to organise the territory, and " to be in the 
place of his government when, by the Queen's Proclamation, 
it should become a portion of the Dominion of Canada." The 
embarassing incidents connected with this step are so well 
known that we need not take up much space to chronicle 
them. They will be more fitly told, however, in a succeeding 
• chapter. 




Monsieur, — Le Comitd national dcs M^tis de la 
Riviere Rouge intirae si Monsieur W. Macdougall 
I'ordre de ne pas entrer sur le territoire du nord- 
ouest, sans une permission sp^ciale de ce Comitd. 
Par ordre du President, John Bruce, 
Louis Riel, 
Dat^ k St. Norbert, Riviere Rouge, Secretaire.* 

ce 21e jour d'octobre, 18G9. 
With such courtesy did the " The New Nation " greet the 
duly constituted Governor of the North- West Territories, on 
his arrival at the frontier of his kingdom, in the month of 
November, 1869. To give ^clat to the occasion. Nature had 
laid a carpet of snow on the threshold of the territory, and the 
Half-breed had erected an arch of welcome, which closer 

♦ Translation : To Mr W. Macdougall. 

Sir, — The National Committee of the Mdtis (Half-breeds) of the Red River order 
Mr. W. Macdougall not to enter the territory of the North-Weat without the 
special permission of this Committee. By order of the President, John Bruce, 

Louis Kiel. Secretary. 
T)ated at St. Norbert, Red River, 
the 21st Oct., 1869. 



observation discovered to be a combined bulletin-board and 
barricade. It was an ill-mannered act of the enemy to keep 
at the bleak outskirts of the country the whole machinery of an 
Imported government, and to guard its portals with a structure 
upon which the thunder of proclamations was powerless to 
make an impression. 

But what was the motive of this obstruction ? All told, 
there were not over five hundred white people in the Settle- 
ment, including the Half-breeds, who, as we have seen, were 
of French -Canadian and English and Scotch extraction. The 
Half-breeds were pretty equally divided in the community, 
one portion being of the house of Esau, and the other of the 
tribe of Jacob, The former were hunters, the latter farmers. 
Both were full of the past, a past of isolation from the world, 
and of inherited possession of the territory, the latter being 
strongly impressed upon their minds. Under the circum- 
stances, it was natural that the tribal instinct should rebel at 
intrusion. Like people who were not quite sure of their social 
position, or of the strength of their moral claim to generous 
treatment at the hands of the Government, they were ready to 
take any false step which jealousy or intrigue whispered into 
their ears. 

At the period the little colony was a seething cauldron of 
intrigue. There were clashing interests of race and religion, 
each striving for dominancy, and the favoured expansion of its 
objects and views. There were the interests of the old Com- 
pany traders, who were sullen at the recent trend of afiairs, 
and were mentally and, in their representative, McTavish, 
physically sick of the situation. Then there were the Fenian 
filibusters, who would fain find lodgment in the territory, 
and whose recently awakened hopes led them to instil disaffec- 
tion, and busily to distribute the apples of discord. Finally, 


there was Nova Scotia, in the person of the Hon. Joseph 
Howe, who, in his recent vigit to the country, had spread 
abroad the significance of " better terms." The combustible 
material was simply waiting the application of a match. The 
match somehow was found, and M. Louis Riel was the man 
who lit it. Riel, though not a Half-breed, had many Half- 
breed connections ; and by his powers of oratory he had gained 
great influence over them. He eagerly espoused their cause, 
and thoroughly identified himself with their assumptions and 
interests. Without physical courage, he had considerable 
moral determination, and a force of character, which however 
had its fits of weakness. On the threatened transfer of the 
territory he assumed the role of a mimic revolutionist, and, as 
we shall see, for a time posed as a successful dictator. 

" To appreciate the inner history of the Red River revolt," 
says a modern writer, with a delightful sense of humour, " it is 
necessary to observe the exceptional variety and intricacy of 
the interests that were involved. Never was there such a mix- 
ture of elements in such a little pot before ! No wonder it 
came to spasmodic ebullition, and boiled over in wide-spread 
confusion. When the history of Red River shall some day be 
written gravely, it will be read as an extravagant burlesque. 

" First must be named the difierence of race, dividing the- 
little community with natural rivalries. Next the difference 
of religion, separating the people into two antagonistic parties. 
Then must be considered the separate interests of the powerful 
Hudson Bay Trading Company, with its own policy to pursue, 
and its great profits to make, an association surrounded, of 
course, with enemies, as every monopoly is sure to be. With 
all this, however, it must be remembered that the isolated con- 
dition which the people here all shared tended strongly to unite 
all interests against the outside world of foreigners. But to 
assist the complication we must take into account the diver- 
gent interest of a number of energetic American residents, and 
their sympathisers within and without the settlement, who 
covertly or openly avowed a policy of annexation to the United 
S^Ates. Add still tb s influence of a restless but imbecile Fenian 


party, whose aim was to establish an Independent Republic, 
from which they might make wars upon Canada and Great 
Britain. The imbroglio is not yet complete. It is no secret 
that the Government at Ottawa were themselves divided as to 
the policy to be adopted in Manitoba. The Quebec party were 
naturally for increasing their own influence, perpetuating the 
Catholic religion, and strengthening the French interests in the 
new country. The Ontario party were equally determined to 
prevent the growth of a second Quebec in the Dominion, and 
set themselves in unreasoning haste to secure Protestant and 
English ascendancy. 

" Here are the ingredients of our olla podrida : Rivalries of 
race and of creed; Orangeism, Ultramontanism, Red Repub- 
licanism, Monopolies, Fenianism, Spread-Eagleism, and Annexa- 
tion ; and, not least active, Ishmaelism, the natural sentiment of 
the country." * 

It is of course possible unwisely to belittle the incidents con- 
nected with the Red River revolt, which we are free to admit, 
were, with one exception, ludicrously disproportionate to the 
serious aspect aflfairs at one time assumed and the belligerent 
attitude of the disaffected elements in the community. That 
the insurrection aimed at being something more than " a tem- 
pest in a teapot " is clear from the array of so many warring 
forces enumerated in the above extract. That it fell far short 
of its aims is due more to the good fortune of the friends of 
the Settlement than to the ambitious designs of its enemies. 
But in saying this, we are not to be understood as paying the 
friends of the colony a compliment. They are as little entitled 
to credit for what they accomplished as their foes are entitled 
to credit for what they did not accomplish. Luck, for once, 
was on the side of the blunderers. The whole history, in- 
deed, is one huge blunder, a blunder that, had the designs 
of the malcontents not miscarried, would have entailed the 
most calamitous consequences to Canada and to the Empire. 

* "The Canadian Domiuion." By Charles Marshall. Loudon, 187L 


IMUivjl ' ^"9^k 


B| i|| 


B^'^' <ii 






f # 










Ciommanding Q. R. 



The loss of the Red Kiver, as has been remarked, would have 
prevented the Confederation of the North American Cclonies 
and the consolidation of British power in the New World. 

It is proverbially easy to criticise after the event, and to 
indicate what ought to have been done, before taking possession 
of the country, and what ought to have been left undone. Oi! 
what ought to have been done, nothing will more readily 
strike the non-political reader of the history than the propriety 
of first consulting the wishes of the people, in regard to taking 
over them and the territory, and of giving them a represent- 
ative voice in determining what mode of government they 
thought suitable for the country and their choice of the men 
who were to rule over it. But to do this, it may be said, was 
to usurp the prerogative of the politician, and the politician, 
then as now, was paramount. Then as now, " Ishmaelism 

But let us return to Mr. Macdougall and the barred-out 
government on the threshold of the territory. This gentleman 
became the unfortunate victim of conspiring Fate. We have 
seen that he was stopped at Pembina by order of a so-called 
Committee of the Mdtis, who had usurped authority in the 
district, and refused to let him in to the Canaan of his hopes. 
From this awkward position he did all that man could do, in a 
dignified way, and with the slender means at his disposal, to 
relieve himself. But the dilemma continued. A provisional 
government had been formed by the French half-breeds, who 
had previously extended their politeness to the Canadian sur- 
veyors, in notifiying them to desist from their work and to 
quit the south side of the Assiniboine. Colonel Dennis, who 
was at the head of the surveying staff, had interviews with 
the local Hudson Bay Governor, and, later, had invoked the 
aid of the dominant Church, to bring ^tq terms the belligerent 


half-breeds. The result, in both cases, was failure : Governor 
McTavish is reported to have said " that the Canadian Govern- 
ment had no right to proceed with the surveys without the 
consent of the half-breeds ; " and Rome was sullen, the priests 
declining to interfere on the plea that to do so would imperil 
the influence of the Church. 

Protests and proclamafions from the Lieutenant-Governor 
on the confines of the country were equally unavailing. The 
National Committee had him at a disadvantage, and it deter- 
mined to keep him in an embarassing position until " terms " 
could be come to with the authorities at Ottawa. Nor was 
there hope from within the colony. The Hudson Bay represen- 
tative, if he had cared, might have nipped the insurrection in 
the bud ; but we have seen that, by extraordinary fatuity, this 
ofiicial was not even advised of a change of masters. It is 
true, that the sale of the territory had not at this time been 
formally completed ; the money had not been paid over ; and 
the Queen's Proclamation had not yet issued. These facts 
increased the delicacy of Mr. Macdougall's position, and tied 
the hands of both him and his Government. Nor could force 
be legally resorted to, had it been prudent to use it, and had 
the Government been able on the spot to exercise it. Other 
arts failed, and time brought discomfiture. 

Meanwhile, the insurgents, growing bolder, had taken 
possession of Fort Garry. The Half-breed Council, pluming 
themselves on having expelled the invaders of their rights, by 
Proclamation now called upon the inhabitants to send delegates 
to a National Convention. To the Convention the English 
were invited to send representatives to discuss the situation ; 
and this, at the last moment, they agreed to do in the hope of 
influencing the Committee to some good purpose. They soon 
found, however, that they were being made use of to give a 


colour of unanimity to proceedings which they could not en- 
dorse. Pacific measures were not to be expected from men 
whose heads had been turned by the elevation of their position. 
At first respecting the authority of the Hudson Bay Company, 
the insurgents proceeded ere long to disregard it, and to erect 
an authority of their own. They seized the books and records 
of the Council of Assiniboia, and prepared to form a Provisional 
Government. On the 1st of December, the now famed " Bill 
of Rights " was passed, which sent the English delegates to 
their homes, and left Kiel and his councillors to unmask their 
designs and unfurl the flag of rebellion. The first act in the 
drama of rebellion was to seize many of the loyal inhabitants 
and to incarcerate them as political prisoners. Insurgency 
now reigned, and the year closed on loyalty abashed and law 

On the 18th of December, the Hon. Mr. Macdougall, finding 
his commission as Lieutenant-Governor worthless, left Pembina 
and returned to Canada. His withdrawal removed one ob- 
stacle to peace in the Colony ; but peace was not now the object 
Bought by the insurgents who, through intimidation, had 
snatched power, and were eager to retain it. During the winter 
anarchy continued to reign, and the loyal inhabitants, in con- 
sequence of disunited counsels and from want of a leader, were 
powerless to allay it. A prominent resident of Winnipeg, Dr. 
John Schultz, for a time led the only organised opposition to 
the triumvirate who composed the Provisional Government ; 
but he and his following were ere long made prisoners and 
marched into Fort Garry. Terrorism unnerved the remaindei 
of the community. Meanwhile the Provisional Government 
enjoyed its easily won, honours and. conducted itself autocratic 


The insurgent leaders were not more than three in number. 
The first was Louis Riel, who had supplanted Bruce in the 
Presidency, and was an old prot^g^ of Archbishop Tachd ; the 
second, was the so-styled Honourable W. B. O'Donoghue, Secre- 
tary of the Treasury, and the representative of Fenianism in 
the Rebel Cabinet ; the third was a French-Canadian, the 
Hon. A. Lepine, who was dignified with the title and honours 
of Adjutant-General, and was subsequently to stain his hands 
by carrying out Kiel's orders in the foul murder of a prisoner. 
These worthies were the chief actors in all that was done dur- 
ing this period of usurped authority. In the main, they were 
careful to pay some regard to the forms of law, and cunning 
enough to throw over their acts the segis of the Provisional 
Government. By this course they were able to coquette with 
the Dominion authorities ; to send and receive delegates to and 
from Ottawa ; and to secure recognition of their representative 
status, and some degree of sympathy for what they termed 
their " Bill of Rights." They were thus also able to make use 
of the influence of the Church, and to keep the Hudson Bay 
officials, though they made free uae of the Company's supplies, 
in an obliging state of masterly inactivity. 

For the next few weeks the monotony of flushed success was 
broken by musterings on one side and dispersions on the other; 
by records of bloodless battles and hollow victories ; of prison- 
ers captured and prisoners released ; and of thrilling announce- 
ments in the " rebel rag,* The New Nation. In this official 
newspaper of the insurgent chiefs, the whole miserable farce of 
playing at Government may be read, with the pitiful gasconade 
of Gallic cockiness, Fenian sedition, and Half-breed insolence. 
How the constituted authorities of the country came to trifle 
and temporise with all this treason, and suffered themselves to 
be bullied by the presumption of vain braggarts and arrant 


cowards, in this wretched fiasco, will remain a humiliating re- 
flection to the Canadian patriot. But an event was now to 
happen which, unchallenged and condoned, was forever after- 
wards to bring the blush of shame to the cheek of every Cana- 
dian who recalls it. To such depths partyism at the time 
consigned patriotism, that the murder of Thomas Scott, though 
it evoked the righteous indignation of the whole country, was 
ineffectual with the politicians to bring the culprit to justice. 
But, as the proverb expresses it, "there is good in things evil;" 
and there was one good to come of the atrocity now about to 
be perpetrated — it, for a time, rid the country of the assassins 
who had possessed it. In this damning act of Kiel's usurpation 
of power — the outcome of personal malignity and lawless pas- 
sion — his voluntary flight and accepted outlawry enabled the 
district to receive its political autonomy unembarrassed by his 
malign presence and influence. This, at least, was something 
to be thankful for. 

Let us now record what has been termed " the dark crime of 
the rebellion." Thomas Scott, a young English-speaking 
Canadian, it seems had become obnoxious to Kiel in the Colony 
by his somewhat effusive loyalty and a rather reckless disre- 
gard of his own life. As an Orangeman, the Fenian flag on 
Fort Garry, to this sturdy Briton, was a hated symbol of dis- 
loyalty and an irritating emblem of rebellion. Scott's blood 
boiled at sight of the flaunting flag, and he became a bitter 
and outspoken foe of the Catholic usurpers of Government. 
Captured once by Kiel, he refused to acknowledge his authority, 
and, escaping, defied it. Captured a second time, Kiel found 
him confirmed in his contumacy, and he determined to wreak 
his spite upon him. He ordered a court-martial, of his own 
choosing, to try his victim, but took care to hear no defence, to 
allow him no counsel^ and to keep him in ignorance of the ciime 


of which he was accused. He did not even know the language 
and purport of the proceedings that were taken against him. 
The mock trial occurred on the evening of the 3rd of March, 
1870, and lasted a little over two hours. Its finding was fatal ; 
Scott was sentenced to be shot at ten o'clock the next morning. 

The sentence fell on the incredulous ears of Kiel's victim, 
but was impressed by the grim humanity of the offer to send 
for a clergyman. On the fatal morning, the clergyman — the 
Rev. George Young — secured a two hours' respite for the con- 
demned loyalist, so as to obtain time to summon those who 
would intercede for Scott's life, or, if unsuccessful, to prepare 
the unfortunate for death. No intercession availed : Kiel's 
black heart was obdurate ; and his victim's death was to him 
too sweet revenge to forego it. At noon, in the courtyard of 
Fort Garry, the revolting scene, the tragic horror, took place ; 
Scott was in very truth shot down like a dog, and like a dog 
was buried. 

The assassins called the event * a military execution,' and 
spoke of it as * a military necessity.' It was the former, after 
no fashion known in military circles among civilised people : 
it could only have been the latter to craven-hearted knaves, 
who wanted to play the despot in a cowed, unprotected, and 
isolated community. By this bloodthirsty display of power, 
Kiel entrenched himself more firmly in the position he had 
usurped. The inhabitants of the district shunned him as they 
would a wild beast : the news of his cold-blooded murder 
created horror wherever it reached. Presently Archbishop 
Tach6, who had been absent at Kome during the winter, came 
upon the scene, with power delegated him by the Canadian 
Government to negotiate for peace. This power, it may here 
be said, had been conferred some time before Kiel's deed of 
darkness bad been committed. It seemed to make little dijQt- 


erence, however, to the Archbishop, for, on his arrival in the 
colony, he took the red hand of murder, and proceeded to con- 
fer with the gitasvGovernment with which he had been com- 
missioned to treat. Happily, the Prelate's influence was 
beneficent, for turbulent passions were sensibly allayed, and 
reason, if not conscience, again asserted itself. 

As the season advanced, the influence of pacific measures, 
both at Ottawa and in the colony, had its effect. To the 
influence, in the scene of strife, of the Hon. Donald A. Smith, 
Commissioner of the Dominion Government, and a director of 
the Hudson Bay Company, much was due, in softening the 
asperities of the conflict, and in securing redress of grievances 
when the trouble was over. The Dominion Parliament passed 
an Act erecting the Red River settlements into a separate 
Province, called Manitoba, with a representative legislature, 
instead of the territorial form of government at first proposed.* 
The Act provided for the representation of the Province in 
the Federal Parliament, and the maintenance of government. 
It also made provision for the allotment of land to the half- 
breeds. A new Lieutenant-Governor was at the same time 

The reign of terror now drew to a close. Word came from 
Canada of the despatch of troops to the mimic seat of war 
under Colonel (now Lord) Wolseley. Much was expected 
from this expedition ; though whether Riel and his rabble 
troops would resist, or flee from, its approach, was a matter of 
doubt. Fortunately, the expedition was of sufficient strength 
to incite to discretion : moreover, it was of good stuff", and 
admirably commanded. Leaving Toronto on the 25th of May, 
1870, Colonel Wolseley and his force proceeded by water to Fort 
William, thence over the 600 miles of the Dawson route, with 

* Moi^an's *' The Dominion Atunial Register," for 1879L 


its innumerable and toilsome portages, to Fort Garry. There 
the first detachment arrived at 10 o'clock on the morning of 
the 24th of August, and at once entered the Fort. One hour 
before,— fitting end to the farce, — " the Little Napoleon " of 
the Red River revolt, in craven fear, fled. With like stealth, 
did the " Provisional Government " vanish, and the rebel army 
dissolve before the approach of the troops.* 

* Literature has well preserved the history of this expedition of Colonel Wolse- 
ley, who, with his English and Canadian troops, made a gallant entry into Red 
River, over a most difficult route, from Port Arthur, via Lake of the Woods, to 
the Settlement. Its record in Capt. Huyshe's Narrative (London, 1871), is still 
interesting reading. 



HE Mission of the Red River Expedition was one of 
peace, and in peace it accomplished its purpose. It 
established, as Colonel Wolseley, its commanding 
officer, phrased it, " Her Majesty's Sovereign au- 
thority in the district," which lawlessness for a time had 
at naught. Representing no party in religion or in 
politics, it afforded equal protection to all. Peace, happily, 
being restored, the troops were withdrawn, and the Hon. 
Mr. Archibald, the new Lieutenant-Governor, arrived on the 
scene. For a time partisan feeling ran high ; one side 
clamouring for arrests and imprisonments, the other for con- 
ciliatory measures and an amnesty.' But the new Governor 
was judicious, and took no hasty step. Time, he thought, 
would bring sobriety and returning reason, and with time the 
breach between parties would heal. 

The immediate care of the authorities was to re-establish 
peace and order ; and, with security to life and property, to 
set up some civil authority which would impress the native 
mind with a distinct and tangible idea of government. In 
January, 1 871, a general election was held in the new Province* 



for the return of members to the Legislative Assembly : in the 
same month a Ministry was formed, the members of which, 
after re-election in the usual way, took charge of their res- 
pective portfoKos. Members were also elected to represent the 
Province in the Federal Parliament ; and gentlemen were nom- 
inated to serve on the Executive Council of the North- West. 
The function of the latter was to assist the Lieutenant-Gover- 
nor of Manitoba, who in the meantime was to be ex officio 
Lieutenant-Governor of the region without the area of the 
Province, in passing laws and ordinances for the Government 
of the territory. Thus the first steps were taken to raise the 
new territorial acquisition of Canada in the political and social 
scale, and to supplant the Hudson Bay Company as a govern- 
ing body. 

In the Dominion Act calling the Province into existence, 
provision was made to meet the cost of Government, by an 
annual subsidy, and a grant of so much money per head of 
the population, as determined by the decennial census. To do 
justice to the half-breeds, and to remove their grievances, in 
Canada's assuming the Government of the territory, nearly a 
million and a-half of acres of land were reserved by the 
Dominion Government for allotment among those who at the 
time of the transfer were resident within the limits defined 
as the boundaries of Manitoba. By a subsequent Act, scrip, 
representing in land the equivalent of $160, was given to each 
head of a half-breed family ; and, similarly, scrip was issued to 
the Selkirk colonists who had been in the country between the 
years 1813 and 1835. The claims of actual settlers to considera- 
tion were also duly acknowledged, and provision made that they 
should receive patents from the Crown for all lands of which 
they were in bona fide possession at the date of the transfer.* 

* Morgan's " Dominion Annual Register," for 1879. 


Province of Manitoba, aKd teHA of settlement. 211 

A system of survey was also proceeded with ; townships, 
thirty-six miles square, were blocked out ; roads and bridges 
were built; and public buildings erected. As the surveys 
advanced, the allotment of lands was made to the Hudson Bay 
Company, to the half-breeds, and to the early white settlers ; 
while land was appropriated for school purposes. Arrange- 
ments were now made by Treaty for extinguishing the Indian 
title throughout the territory. From 1871 to 1876 seven 
treaties were concluded with various Indian tribes inhabiting 
the region, extending from Lake Superior to the eastern base 
of the Rocky Mountains. The area embraced in the surren- 
dered territory is estimated at 450,000 square miles, and 
covers the whole Fertile Belt as described in the Hudson Bay 
Company's Deed of Surrender. Of this area, reserves, of the 
tribes own choosing, were set apart for the support of the 
Indians, each family receiving a tract equal to about 160 acres. 
The conditions of the relinquishment were the payment of an 
annuity of $5 to each member of the tribe, $25 to each chief, 
with a suit of clothes every third year, together with an 
appropriation for schools, and supplies of cattle and implements 
when the Indians settled down on their respective reserves to 
agricultural pursuits. It was furthermore stipulated, that the 
sale of all intoxicating liquors should be absolutely prohibited, 
either on or out of the reserves. 

Such, in brief, were the steps taken by the Canadian authori' 
ties to organise the once Hudson Bay Territory, and to carve a 
section out of it that would worthily rank among the older 
Provinces of the Dominion. In time the boundaries of the 
new Province were enlarged, and a more extended area was 
embraced in its limits. At a later date, the North West Terri- 
tory was further parcelled out and given a separate govern- 
ment. Manitoba now extends from the western boundary of 


Ontario, long in dispute, to 101° 80' west longitude, and from 
tlie international boundary to nearly 53° north latitude. The 
desolate territory of Keewatin, lies to the north of this Pro- 
vince, sweeping past the western shores of Hudson Bay, to th« 
Frozen Ocean. On the west, lie the rich districts of Alberta, 
Saskatchewan, Athabasca, and Assiniboia, bounded by the 
towering Rockies and British Columbia, the Dominion Pro- 
vince on the Pacific. Through these districts run twenty meri- 
dian lines of longitude, and, at least, ten of latitude, that are 
adapted for settlement. This vast basin is channelled by great 
fertilising streams, and gemmed by the most beautiful prairie 
flowers, fringed on the north by a sheltering line of forest. 
For farming and grazing purposes, no land on this planet is 
more suitable ; the soil is a black alluvium of gi'cat depth and 
almost inexliaustible fertility, broken by occasional groups of 
low hills, composed chiefly of sand and gravel. The soil of 
Manitoba, having originally been the bed of a lake, is mainly 
formed of a rich silt deposited during the eons of the past. No 
account of its amazing productiveness can possibly be exagger- 
ated ; and being comparatively free of timber, it is at once ready 
for the settler's plough. Of the beauty of the Red River prai- 
rie, under different aspects and lights, we get a charming de- 
scription from the pen of an eminent native geologist, the son 
of an equally eminent Canadian savant.* 

" But the country must be seen in its extraordinary aspects 
before it can be rightly valued and understood, in reference to 
its future occupation by an energetic and civilised race, able to 
improve its vast capabilities and appreciate its boundless beau- 
ties. It must be seen at sunrise, when the vast plain suddenl}' 
flashes with rose-coloured light, as the rays of the sun sparkle 

• From the Report of Dr. George M. Dawson, Geologist and Naturalist to the 
British North America Boundary Commission, quoted by Prof. Macoun, in his in- 
teresting work on " Manitoba and the North West."— Guelpb, 1882. 


in the dew on the long rich grass, gently stirred by the unfail- 
ing morning breeze. It must be seen at noonday, when refrac- 
tion swells into the forms of distant hill-ranges the ancient 
beaches and ridges of Lake Winnipeg, which mark its former 
extension ; when each willow bush is magnified into a grove, 
each far- distant clump of aspens, not seen before, into wide 
forests, and the outline of wooded river banks, far beyond un- 
assisted vision, rise into view. It must be seen at sunset, 
when just as the ball of fire is dipping below the horizon, he 
throws a flood of red light, indescribably magnificent, upon the 
illimitable waving green, the colours blending and separating 
with the gentle roll of the long grass, seemingly magnified to- 
ward the horizon into the distant heaving swell of a parti- 
coloured sea. It must be seen too by moonlight, when the 
summits of the low green grass waves are tipped with silver, 
and the stars in the west suddenly disappear as they touch the 
earth. Finally, it must be seen at night, when the distant 
prairies are in a blaze, thirty, fifty, or seventy miles away ; 
when the fire reaches clumps of aspen, and the forked tips of 
the flames magnified by refraction, flash and quiver in the 
horizon, and the reflected light from rolling clouds of smoke 
above tell of the havoc which is raging below. These are some 
of the scenes which must be witnessed and felt before the mind 
forms a true conception of those prairie wastes, in the unre- 
lieved immensity which belongs to them, in common with the 
ocean, but which, unlike the everchanging and unstable sea, 
seems to offer a bountiful recompense, in a secure, though dis- 
tant home, to millions of our fellow men," 

The next, and an important undertaking, in connection with 
the acquirement of the North-West, was to provide facilities 
for getting access to it. In 1871, British Columbia expressed 
a desire to enter Confederation, but stipulated before doing so, 
that it be connected with the East by a railway across the 
continent. The Canadian reader will not need to be remind- 
ed of the difiiculties, of a party character, that beset this 
enterprise, or of the political crisis that came upon the country 
fct its inception. Into these difficulties it is of course unneces- 
sary here to enter : we simply refer to them as part of the 


history of the undertaking, and as forming serious obstacles 
in the way of carrying out the contemplated project. Aftei 
many misadventures, the construction of a road fell into com- 
petent hands, and the beneficent project of a Canadian Pacific 
Railway was got under way. Already this mammoth enterprise 
Hears completion ; but years must elapse ere its influence can be 
fully felt, in ministering to the wants of a Greater Britain in 
the Canadian North- West, and even in determining the destiny 
of the country. 

Not only, however, does the iron road span the continent, 
but that other agent and bond of civilisation, the telegraph, is 
fast spinning its web throughout the North-West. It seems 
but yesterday that we read the congratulatory messages which 
passed between the Governor-General at Ottawa, and the Lieu- 
tenant-Governor of Manitoba, at Winnipeg, on the completion 
of the telegraphic communication with the Prairie Province. 
Yet, since 1871, what marvellous progress has been made ! In 
that year Winnipeg had only a weekly mail from the East, 
ma tlie United States ; though, in the following year, on the 
opening of the Pembina Branch Railway, postal facilities were 
greatly increased. Now, on the completion of the connecting 
links of the Canadian Pacific, in the region north of Lake 
Superior, a daily mail and through transport connect East and 
West in closest embrace ; and the Canadian can travel on the 
road and its connections for three thousand continuous miles, 
without quitting British Territory. 

Within the Province of Manitoba, the same tale of advance- 
ment may be told. Winnipeg, " the Bull's Eye of the Dominion," 
as Lord Dufierin termed it, has assumed quite a metropolitan 
character, and has a large and rapidly increasing population. 
The value of the real and personal property within its limits 
would astound the old Selkirk colonist; while its social and 


intellectual progress are no less a marvel. In some respects, 
one may regret the absence of the simplicity and restful aspect 
of the old-time colony, and its homely, primitive life ; but there 
is room on the plains for innumerable Arcadias of thrift and 
comfort, and no lack of opportunity, in Nature's solitudes, for 
getting near to Nature's God. In recounting these prosaic 
facts of North-West progress, let us pause a moment to hear 
the poet's description of the prairies, and his vision of the 
coming life which is to people them : 

" These are the gardens of the desert, these 
The unshorn fields, boundless and beautiful, 
For which the speech of England has no name — 
The prairies. I behold them for the first, 
And my heart swells, while the dilated sight 
Takes in the encircling vastness. Lo ! they stretch, 
In airy undulations, far away, 
As if the Ocean, in his gentlest swell. 
Stood still, with all his rounded billows fixed, 
And motionless forever. * * 
Man hath no power in all this glorious work ; 
The hand that built the firmament hath heaved 
And smoothed these verdant swells, and sown their slopes 
With herbage, planted them with island groves, 
And hedged them round with forests. Fitting floor 
For this magnificent temple of the sky — 
With flowers whose glory and whose multitude 
Rival the constellations. The great heavens 
Seem to stoop down upon the scene in love — 
A nearer vault, and of a tenderer blue. 
Than that which bonds above our eastern hills. 
As o'er the verdant waste I guide my steed. 
Among the high rank grass that sweeps his sides. 
The hollow beating of his footsteps seems 
A sacrilegious sound. I think of those 
Upon whose rest he tramples. Are they here — • 
The dead of other days ? And did the dust 
Of these fair solitudes onca stir with life 
And bum with passion * * a race 


That long has passed away 1 * * The red man 

Has left the blooming wilds he ranged so long, 

And nearer to the Rocky Mountains sought 

A wilder hunting-ground. The beaver builds 

No longer by these streams, but far away 

On waters whose blue surface ne'er gave back 

The white man's face. * * In these plains 

The bison feeds no more. Twice twenty leagues 

Beyond remotest smoke of hunter's camp 

Roams the majestic brute in herds that shake 

The earth with thundering steps — yet here I meet 

His ancient footprints stamped beside the pool. 

Still this great solitude is quick with life. 

Myriads of insects, gaudy as the flowers 

They flutter over, gentle quadrupeds, 

And birds, that scarce have learned the fear of man, 

Are here, and sliding reptiles of the ground, 

Startlingly beautiful. The graceful deer 

Bounds to the wood at my approach. The bee, 

A more adventurous colonist than man. 

With whom he came across the eastern deep, 

Fills the savannas with his murmurings. 

And hides his sweets, as in the golden age, 

Within the hollow oak. I listen long 

To his domestic hum, and think I hear 

The sound of that advancing multitude 

Which soon shall fill these deserts. From the ground 

Comes up the laugh of children, the soft voice 

Of maidens, and the sweet and solemn hymn 

Of Sabbath worshippers. The low of herds 

Blends with the rustling of the heavy grain 

Over the dark brown furrow. All at once 

A fresher wind sweeps by, and breaks my dream, 

And I am in the wilderness alone. " 

But the solitudes were now being broken in upon by a stream 
of immigrants, whose condition in life was here to be bettered, 
and whose future, with ordinary prudence and industry, would 
at least be relieved from apprehension. By the possession of 


thii* vast domain, which now dignifies Canada and adds im- 
measurably to her resources, the Dominion was at length to 
place herself in line with her powerful neighbour to the South. 
She was also to take her rightful position as the great North- 
ern nation of the Western Continent, the inheritor of those 
mental and physical endowments that distinguish the Anglo- 
Saxon race, and the perpetuator of the honours and traditions 
that shed a glory on the country from which she sprung. Im- 
portant, also, in its central situation, is the possession of the 
Prairie Province to the Dominion, in its tendency to gather 
within its rich and attractive limits the best brain and muscle 
of other sections of Canada, and thus rivet the links that bind 
the whole Confederation. In this view, the Province may 
truly be termed the national l\eart of the country, or, as Lord 
DufFerin, with a statesman's v^ion, phrased it, " the future 
umbilicus of the Dominion." The Winnipeg speech, in 1877, 
of that clever and versatile nobleman, will doubtless be fresh 
in the memory of our readers. In praise of Manitoba, the 
Governor-General spoke in impassioned and felicitous terms. 
Let us quote but a brief paragraph : 

" From its geographical position, and its peculiar characteris- 
tics, Manitoba may be regarded as the keystone of that mighty 
arch of sister Provinces which spans the continent. It was 
here that Canada, emerging from her woods and forests, first 
gazed upon her rolling prairies and unexplored North- West, 
and learnt, as by an unexpected revelation, that her historical 
territories of the Canadas, her Eastern seaboards of New 
Brunswick, Labrador, and Nova Scotia, her Laurentian lakes 
and valleys, corn lands and pastures, though themselves more 
extensive than half a dozen European kingdoms, were but the 
vestibules and antechambers to that, till then, undreamt-of 
Dominion, whose illimitable dimensions alike confound the 
arithmetic of the surveyor and the verification of the explorer. 
It was hence that counting her past achievements as but the 
preface and prelude to her future exertions and expanding 


destinies, she took a fresh departure, received the afflatus of a 
more Imperial inspiration, and felt herself no longer a mere 
settler along the banks of a single river, but the owner of half 
a continent, and in the amplitude of her possession, in the 
wealth of her resources, in the sinews of her material might, 
the peer of any power on earth." 

With like heartiness did a later Governor-General, the Mar- 
quis of Lome, speak of the new Province and its exceptionally 
advantageous position ; though, in some respects, his words are 
an echo of his eloquent predecessor. Says Lord Lome : 

" To be ignorant of the North-West is to be ignorant of the 
greater portion of our country. Unknown a few years ago, 
except for some differences which had arisen amongst its peo- 
ple, we see Winnipeg now with a population unanimously 
joining in happy concord, and rapidly lifting it to the front 
rank amongst the commercial centres of the continent. We 
may look in vain elsewhere for a situation so favourable and so 
commanding, many as are the fair regions of which we can 
boast. There may be some among you before whose eyes the 
whole wonderful panorama of our Provinces has passed — the 
ocean garden Island of Prince Edward, the magnificent valleys 
of the St. John and Sussex, the marvellous country, the home 
of 'Evangeline,' where Blomidon looks down on the tides of 
Fundy, and over tracts of red soil picher than the weald of 
Kent. You may have seen the fortified Paradise of Quebec, 
and Montreal, whose prosperity and beauty are worthy of her 
great St. Lawrence, and you may have admired the well- 
wrought and splendid Province of Ontario, and rejoiced at the 
growth of her capital, Toronto, and yet nowhere can you find a 
situation whose natural advantages promise so great a future 
as that which seems ensured to Manitoba, and to Winnipeg, 
the Heart City of the Dominion." 

W^innipeg's progress was naturally that of other towns with- 
in and without the Province. As if by enchantment, have 
sprung up villages and hamlets in favourable locations over the 
face of the country. The present troubles have made the names 
of many of these settlements familiar to Canadian ears. Maps 
of the line of railway, telegrams chronicling local items, and 


postmarks on correspondence from the region, have so promi- 
nently brought the localities of the North- West to the every- 
day knowledge of our people, that we can scarcely realise the 
fact that but a few years ago the towns were non-existent and 
their sites the virgin prairie. To contrast ths City of Winni- 
peg of to-day with the Fort Garry of fifteen years ago, is rela- 
tively to contrast the modern British metropolis with the Lon- 
dini um of the Romans, and to reach it from civilisation was 
as difficult as to reach York from London at the time of the 
Heptarchy. Hear an old resident of Winnipeg, as he recites 
his experience in reaching the colony from the Mississippi, in 
the year 1867. 

" I remember well the difficulties experienced during my first 
trip to Fort Garry, the site of the present City of Winnipeg. 
An Indian pony attached to a rude ox-cart was the only con- 
veyance to be had, and with that I set out to travel some GOO 

miles over the houseless prairie to my destination 

^To-day you may make the journey in less than twenty-four 
hours (which originally took me three weeksj, seated in a com- 
fortable Pullman car, instead of the Red River cart of former 
years. When I first travelled over the route, no houses were 
to be met with, no settlers to ofl*er you hospitality ; the cart- 
trail of the prairie was the only mark to guide you on your 
way. Now the country is studded with farms and farm-houses ; 
cities, towns, and villages have sprung into existence, and rail- 
ways are to be found running in every direction. . . Never 
shall I forget the scene that presented itself when I first saw 
Fort Garry. Hundreds of Indian lodges and tepees covered 
the plain, many of the aborigines and plain hunters having 
congregated at the spot to obtain supplies for the winter hunt. 
Half a mile from the Fort stood about a dozen houses, the homes 
and shops of the free-traders. There were not, I suppose, one 
hundred men, all told, living in the place where to-day is a city 
of over 30,000 inhabitants."* 

• From a paper entitled " Seventeen Years in the North-West," read by Mr 
Alexander Begg, before tho Boyal Colonial Institute. Vol. 15 of Proceedings, 
1883-4. London, 1884, 


In the organisation and development of this great territory 
it was hardly to be expected that the Dominion authoritie.q 
would meet with no difficulty, or wholly succeed in satisfying 
the wants, reasonable and unreasonable, of the North- West. 
The Government, naturally enough, had to feel its way in 
adapting the machinery of the State to the circumstances oi 
the country and the people. While feeling its way, it was at 
an early day committed to a vast project which complicated its 
dealings with Manitoba, as well as added to its Parliamentary 
trials. In the Land Question it had one source of trouble ; in 
the Railway Question it had another. Both matters have some- 
what strained Federal relations with the Province, and made it 
difficult for the Ottawa authorities to moderate the Provincial 
demands upon the public chest. In the example which had 
been set it by Provinces to the east of Ontario, in clamouring 
for "better terms," this difficulty has not been lessened. The 
railway project was so great an undertaking that no capitalists 
could well be got to take hold of it without imposing conditions 
which the Government had to accept. None of these condi- 
tions, happily, were very onerous ; and few can be said to be 
disadvantageous, if we except the not unreasonable grant- 
ing of a monopoly. In the contract certain prohibitions were 
imposed upon the country by the Canadian Pacific Railway 
Company, which had to be respected by the young Province. 
Manitoba, proving restive under these conditions, passed several 
Acts in her Local Legislature adverse to the interests of the 
Pacific Railway Company, and in violation of the agreement 
with the Federal Government. These Acts had to be dis- 
allowed, and disallowance created ill-feeling. Looking back 
on the bargain, it is now to be regretted that the Government 
was compelled to yield a monopoly to the Syndicate ; but no 
Company was likely to be got to construct the road without 


being assured that, for a time at least, it would not have to 
meet competition. Competing lines there must one day be ; 
but before these become urgently necessary the Pacific Railway 
Syndicate is likely to find it to be its interest to meet any 
reasonable demand of commerce, though the monopoly clause, 
we believe, operates for twenty years. 

Besides the Railway policy, and growing out of it, there is 
another cause of irritation, expressed by the "Farmer's Union," 
at what is spoken of as the excessive charges of the Railway 
Company in transporting the surplus wheat to a market. Other 
grievances, in the fiscal policy of the Dominion, which it is 
claimed is unsuited to a purely agricultural people, perpetuate 
soreness of feeling, and, with chronic complaints against the 
Land Regulations, more or less agitate and unsettle the com- 
munity. These irritations the Government, however, must, in 
some measure, smooth over by concessions which, while not do- 
ing injustice to the other members of the Confederation, will 
meet the special circumstances of the Province. 

Fortunately, none of these grievances have led the people of 
Manitoba to do more than agitate, in a legitimate and consti- 
tutional way, for their redress. There is throughout the Pro- 
vince a profound respect for law and order ; and though, as in 
all communities, there are senseless brawlers, the strong com- 
mon sense of the people has kept them, and is likely to keep 
them, loyal to the nation, and true to the men, whatever the 
party badge may be, who guide its destinies. It is a gratify- 
ing fact, and it speaks well for the political and social progress 
of the Province, that in the present trouble on the Saskat- 
chewan, no element of disafiection finds lodgment within its 
borders. The scene of strife lies without the limits of the Pro- 
vince ; and no body of men engaged in the conflict has done 
more than have the Winnipeg regiments to quell disaffectioa 


and restore the blessings of peace. In the chapters to follow, 
in dealing with the trouble in the North-West, we trust that 
we shall pen no word that will even seem to be unjust, still 
less vindictive. Whatever has given rise to the rebellion, and 
actuated its chiefs in their criminal course, we shall not forget 
that a certain sympathy is due to men who, while they havQ 
unwisely resented intrusion, are the country's pioneers, and 
have at least a sentimental claim to possession, and to generous 
treatment by the nation. 

Justice, it has been wisely said, issues from two factors — 
sympathy and intelligence. Lacking these no one can be abso- 
lutely just. The exercise of both sympathy and intelligenca 
seems to be a special necessity in treating of the present out* 
break and the Governmeut's dealings with the North-West. 
Intelligence with regard to facts must precede safe criticism : 
it is a necessary postulate of all discussion. Sympathy, in 
some degree at least, is essential to the formation of correct 
opinions, and a safeguard against hasty or harsh judgments- 
We need sympathy and intelligence in considering the acts oi 
those who have been in revolt, and particularly in weighing 
the motives which prompted them in their course. A measure 
of both is also needed in discussing the acts of the Government 
of the country, no matter of what party, that assumes the re- 
sponsibility of efficiently and in good faith administering its 
affairs. In approaching the subject of the present insurrection^ 
and particularly in tracing its origin and the motive of its 
actors, both sympathy and intelligence are needed. We hope 
to be guided by these essential qualities. 



Causes of the Outbreak. 

[HETHER it is possible, and if possible, whether it 
is wise for the writer of contemporary history to 
endeavour to divine the causes of events just hap- 
pening, are questions that may well be asked by 
those interested. They are questions, moreover, the 
writer may well ask himself. As one grows older, if age 
would gain by experience, one learns the wisdom of keeping 
Bilence on many things. Where causes are not on the surface, 
and where there is a conflict of opinion as to the agencies that 
have provoked disturbance, silence is fitting, until a full light 
can be shed upon the matter at issue. If one reflects at all, 
there is another thought worth considering. Some one has re- 
marked, that a deliberate inquiry into the causes of trouble is 
apt to raise a doubt whether the matter is worth inquiring 
into. And there is wisdom in the observation ; for, after the 
event has happened, what matters it to know its producing 
cause, and what profit is there in getting into a wrangle as to 
who is responsible, or upon whose shoulders the blame should 
rest, where responsibility and blame can never justly, perhaps, 



be fixed. There is, of course, necessity in getting, if possible, 
at facts, for facts are the bases of experience ; and it is proper 
for the nation, if it has gone wrong, to get that information 
which will set it right and afterwards guide it in the right. 
In the interests of justice, no less than for the purposes of 
punishment, it is also necessary to be informed of facts, and to 
get at the accurate results of inquiry. The sooner this is done, 
the sooner sound objects of inquiry are satisfied and a know- 
ledge of facts made serviceable. Premature discussion of a 
matter has only one justification : it clears the way for more 
intelligent inquiry. In discussing the matter at the head of 
our chapter, this is the only excuse we can offer for introduc- 
ing the subject. 

What then are the facts of the case, and where lies responsi- 
bility for the present outbreak ? The facts lie deep ; deeper, in 
our judgment, than party hostility is inclined to look for them. 
With some, the disposition, at present, is to hold the Depart- 
ment of the Interior responsible, and to arraign the Govern- 
ment before the country for its defective Land Regulations and 
for the chicanery of its officials in the North- West. Well, 
nothing is easier to some people than to jump at conclusions ; 
and, in these days, nothing is more common than for one polit- 
ical party to cast reproaches at the other. To make political 
capital out of the saddest calamity that could befall a nation, 
we would fain hope there is no party in the State to attempt. 
In this serious matter, we are not careful to defend the Govern- 
ment, if the Government is in default. Neither shall we raise 
a voice to exonerate negligent or corrupt officials, if officials 
have been negligent and corrupt. We are not writing a polit- 
ical history, still less a partisan one ; nor are we even sitting 
on a Commission of Inquiry. What facts are before us we 


shall deal with impartially, knowing neither party in our con- 
ference with truth. 

Reference in our last chapter has been made to grievances 
complained of by the people of Manitoba, which, though real 
and oppressive, and which some day are likely to find voice ia 
tones that will startle the politicians at Ottawa, had little or 
nothing to do with the insurrection on the Saskatchewan. The 
rising on the Saskatchewan was not a rising of settlers, but of 
French half-breeds, and through the influence of the latter, to 
some extent of Indians, In the history of the affair, the 
majority of the Indian tribes have, so far, maintained their 
traditional loyalty to the Great Mother beyond the sea. Their 
historic attitude, as allies of the nation, has been little disturb- 
ed ; and they have, happily, been true to the fealty pledged in 
the several treaties which at various times have been entered 
into with them. The nature of the obligations which they 
came under in the latter will be better understood if we quote 
a clause from one of the treaties. We shall select the one 
known as the Lake Winnipeg Treaty (or Treaty No. 5) which was 
negotiated in 1875 by the Hon. Alex, Morris, P.C, at the time 
Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba. It is to the following 
effect : 

'' And the undersigned chiefs, on their own behalf, and on 
behalf of all other Indians inhabiting the tract within ceded, 
do hereby solemnly promise and engage to strictly observe this 
treaty, and also to conduct and behave themselves as good and 
loyal subjects of Her Majesty the Queen. They promise and 
engage that they will, in all respects, obey and abide by the 
law, and they will maintain peace and good order between 
each other, and also between themselves and other tribes of 
Indians, and between themselves and others of Her Majesty's 
subjects, whether Indians or whites, now inhabiting or here- 
after to inhabit any part of the said ceded tracts ; and that 
they will not molest the person or property of any inhabitant 


of such ceded tracts, or the property of Her Majesty the Queen, 
or interfere with or trouble any person passing or travelling 
through the said tracts or any part thereof: and that they wiU 
aid and assist the officers of Her Majesty in bringing to justice 
and punishment any Indian offending against the stipulations 
of this treaty, or infringing the laws in force in the country so 

These obligations, comprehensive as they are, most of the 
Indians of the North- West, as we have said, have respected, 
and to the letter been faithful. Even the non-treaty Indians, 
and those who have come into the country from the United 
States, have been orderly and well behaved. Though some 
bands of them, such as Sitting Bull and his Sioux, have been a 
source of anxiety to the Government, they have occasioned 
little trouble, and on the whole been grateful for obtaining the 
means of subsistence on Canadian soil. Such of them as have 
not been faithful to their treaties we shall deal with in another 
chapter. That they have broken faith with their Queen has 
hardly been their own fault, for they were cajoled into rebellion 
by the half-breeds. During a period of lawlessness among the 
latter, it is not to be wondered at that the Indians should be- 
come unsettled, and take a license which, in the absence of 
incitement, they would never dream of taking. It would be a 
surprise, indeed, had their attitude been other than friendly, 
for the Indians have never been oppressed, and they had there- 
fore no grievances to redress. They have always been well, if 
not generously, treated by the Government ; its agents have in 
the main been faithful, and not a few of them have been com- 
passionate ; while the attitude towards them of the settler has 
been uniformly kind and conciliatory. The influence of the 

* " The Treaties of Canada with the Indians of Manitoba and the North-West 
Territories; including the negotiations on which they are based, &c." By th« 
Hon. Alex. Morris, P. C, late Lieut. -Governor of Manitoba, &c. Torooto, 1880. 

Kiel's second insurrection. 227 

missions has also been an ameliorating factor, and has removed 
any root of bitterness between the white man and the red. So 
much of a victory, and a bloodless one, has been gained over 

Where then has been the trouble ? The trouble, as we have 
said, has arisen with the half-breeds ; and it is a trouble we 
have brought upon ourselves. It is a trouble that has seen its 
counterpart in civilisation, in families where illegitimate off- 
spring have had to be dealt with, and the penalty paid for 
youthful indiscretion. This lies at the root of the matter : the 
higher civilisation in its contact with the Indians during the 
fur-trading period imposed little restraint upon passion ; and, 
in cohabiting with the dusky womanhood of the plains, the 
trader has left us a legacy of mischief. From the early days ol 
the Selkirk Settlement we have inherited another legacy, which 
to-day calls for its meed of punishment. We then taught the 
half-breed how to act towards the intruding settler in the 
North- West, and gave him lessons in lawlessness and disregard 
of justice, which the traditions of the hois-hrMSs of 1816 have 
kept fresh in his memory. 

We do not say that this explains the whole matter, for, how- 
ever harmonious the relations may be between the white 
man and the half-breed, there is in the composition of the 
latter a restlessness and craving for excitement which must 
find vent in some direction. Hitherto this restlessness has 
been drawn off in the exciting life of a voyageur, a coureur de 
bois, or a hunter on the plains ; but so soon as there is nothing 
for Nimrod to do, save to take up agriculture and pursue the 
quiet tenor of settlement duties, the temperamental character- 
istics are bound to show themselves, though not, as we should 
expect, in wholly unregenerate acts. As a class, we have no 
disposition to say an unkind word of the half-breed : in our 


pages we have already seen much of him, and generally to hia 
advantage. Lord Dufferin was just as well as happy in the 
compliment he paid to them, in his notable Winnipeg speech, 
which is here worth recording. 

" There is no doubt," said his Excellency, " that a great deal 
of the good feeling subsisting between the red men and our- 
selves is due to the influence and interposition of that invalu- 
able class of men the half-breed settlers and pioneers of 
Manitoba, who, combining as they do the hardihood, the 
endurance, and love of enterprise generated by the strain of 
Indian blood within their veins, with the civilisation, the 
instruction, and the intellectual power derived from their 
fathers, have preached the gospel of peace and good will and 
mutual respect, with equally beneficent results, to the Indian 
chieftain in his lodge, and the British settler in his shanty. 
They have been the ambassadors between the east and the 
west, the interpreters of civilisation and its exigencies to the 
dwellers on the prairie, as well as the exponents to the 
white man of the consideration justly due to the susceptibilities, 
the sensitive self-respect, the prejudices, the innate craving for 
justice of the Indian race. In fact, they have done for the 
colony, what otherwise would have been left unaccomplished, 
and have introduced between the white population and the red 
man a traditional feeling of amity and friendship, which, but 
for them, it might have been impossible to establish." * 

But whatever have been the relations between the Indian 
and the half-breed, and undoubtedly they have been happy, 
those between the latter and the English Protestant settler 
have not always been amicable. We have seen what they 
were in 1869, in 1849, in 1834, as well as at the Selkirk period. 
Throughout the course of their history, the half-breeds have 
shown much jealousy of English-speaking immigrants, and a 
disinclination to settle down peaceably to the routine occupation 
of an advanced civilisation. In their relations with Govern- 

* Leggo'a " History of the Administration of the Earl of Duflferin, late Governor- 
General of Canada." (Page 605-6.) Montreal, 1878. 

riel's second insurrection. 229 

ment they have thoroughly understood the art of being trouble- 
some, arid had a keen knowledge of wha,t gains are likely to be 
got by a troublesome people. With a section of the half-breeds 
it has beeri especially difficult to deal. We refer to those who 
dd not identify themselves with the Indians, live with them, 
and speak their language. Or who have not taken to farming 
and a settled life, but who retain their nomadic habits, and 
live by and trade in the products of the chase. In the extinc- 
tion of large game in the country, their existence is an in • 
creasingly precarious one, and their means of livelihood 
uncertain. It is with this class, though not altogether, that 
trouble has arisen, and continued trouble is to be feared. 
They do not settle on the lands Government has given them, 
but look upon the whole country as their own and the Indians 
exclusive possession. They have been known repeatedly to 
play the game of the " bounty jumper," receiving scrip for 
lands in one part of the country, which they sell to speculators, 
and turn up elsewhere to make further claims upon the 

How far the domiciled half-breeds have legitimate grievances 
to complain of, it would be premature to say. Of late, we 
know, there has been considerable friction in the relations be- 
tween them and the Indian agencies of the North-West, for 
which there may be good reason, and the full extent of which 
the unofficial public may not know. It is possible that these 
grievances have gone long without redress, not because the 
authorities were ill-disposed, but because they were afar off, 
and, it is to be feared, were too much occupied with the i)arty 
game. If this be the case, there is ground for sympathy, 
thoucrh not for armed rebellion. 

In connection with the Saskatchewan outbreak, and as an 
excuse for it, we hear a good deal of " pigeon-holing " of com- 

2.^0 THE NORf^-WESf : ITS HISTORY ANt) iTtJ tllOUfeLfeS. 

plaints in the Department of the Interior, which, if true, is not 
only a gross dereliction of duty, but an inexcusable cruelty and 
wrong. In this matter, not only the Opposition, but Ministeri- 
alists and the whole country have a right and a duty to pei'form 
in getting at the facts. The facts, we trust, will belie current 
rumour, and relieve from an uncomfortable suspicion both the 
Department and its head. The nation's honour and good faith 
are concerned in this matter, and he would be no friend of the 
country who, in the absence of proof, would meanwhile believe 
the charge to be true. How far the Lieutenant-Governor of 
the North- West Territories and the local machinery of his 
administration can be relieved from blame, we shall not under- 
take to say. Being on the spot, and the immediate source of 
appeal, it is unaccountable that any pretext for insurrection 
uhould exist without the officials of the Territory being aware 
of it. If aware of it, how comes it that the Government wa»s 
not advised, and preparations made to redress the grievances 
and forestall treason ? 

There can be little question that the Departmental System 
of Government, and the remoteness of the controlling hand 
from the scene of operations in the North-West, have created 
dissatisfaction among the settlers generally. This was almost 
sure to be the result of a distant Government's administration, 
and of the withholding, from political reasons, or perhaps 
because it could not trust its officials, of plenary power in 
dealing with the settler on the spot. We do not know, of 
course, all the difficulties of the position ; and Government in 
this, as we trust in other matters, may be justified in pursuing 
a policy which came to be obligatory. Hence, caution here 
becomes us. It must also be said, in regard to other causes of 
complaint, that the Government could not be responsible for 
discontent occasioned by the misdirected ambition of land spec- 

eiel's second insurrection. 231 

"ulators, still less for discontent incident to the failure of the 
•crops. In the years 1883-i, we know that severe frosts visited 
the region of the North Saskatchewan, and did incalculable 
"damage. In this region, also, the change in the route of the 
Pacific Railway confounded the designs of speculators, and 
provoked much discontent, which, as was sure to happen, was 
vented on the Government. However wise and prudent Go- 
vernment may be, and however immaculate the character oi 
its officials, neither can hope always to escape attack from 
grumbling farmers or from ruined speculators. En this imper- 
fect world, Governments, and Government officials and ma- 
chinery, are sure to be railed at. With Providence, and the 
weather, they must take their share of abuse. 

Referring to the character and actions of Government offi- 
cials in the North- West, and particularly to charges against a 
person high in authority in the region, we here may be per- 
mitted to quote a paragraph bearing on the subject, from the 
correspondence of a Ministerial organ, which is manifestly 
unprejudiced and wisely admonitory. The matter is a delicate 
one, because personal ; and though we do not shirk responsi- 
bility for any strictures of our own, we have no desire to do' 
injustice to any one by uninformed comment or indiscriminate 
criticism, where what seems good authority can be cited for 
statements, the publicity of which may do good, or throw light 
on the causes of the insurrection- In lieu of any remarks of 
our own we therefore, with more confidence, quote the follow- 
.ing from the Toronto Mail, of April 20th : 

" Complaint," says the journal's North- West correspondent^, 
"is also made of the character of some of the officials sent up 
here. One thing is certain, that Half-breeds ought to be em- 
ployed, wherever practicable, to deal with the Indians. An- 
-other thing is measurably true — that it will not do to put-^ 
-Bcaly ward politicians from Eastern Canada into positions of 

232 tME iJoHTft-wfist : its history and its trouble^. 

trust, where they come in daily contact with the settler, stand- 
ing, as it were, between him and the Government. Both poli- 
tical parties have been guilty of this sort of thing; and the 
sooner an end is made of it the better for the peace of the 
country. As for the attacks on Lieutenant-Governor Dewdney, 
lie seems to me to have acted imprudently in some things ; 
but nobody, except the more violent partisans and those spec- 
ulators whose efforts to grab land or contracts he has foiled, 
deems him corrupt or incompetent. He was badly advised, 
however, when he became interested in town sites and bonanza 
farms. His connection with them at once brought him into 
antagonism with the proprietors of rival booms, and the dig- 
nity of the office has suffered in consequence." 

What other producing causes of insurrection exist, inquiiy, we 
ti'ust, will elicit and time prove. An individual may from 
varied motives, such as ill-directed ambition, morbid vanity, or 
religious fanaticism, be incited to take up arms against con- 
stituted authority ; but these are not the motives that prompt 
a whole community to rebellion, though religious and racial 
jealousies, we know, are frequent incentives to strife. That 
there is a close bond of sympathy between the Mdtis and the 
French Canadians there is plenty of evidence. How far this 
. sympathy has acted, if not as a stimulant to insurrection, then 
as a more than likely condoner of it, we may judge from the 
emeute of 18G9-7(). The intrig-ues of the Church in the North- 
West, it is abundantly plain, have found active abettors in the 
Quebec Province ; and both politics and religion have not 
lacked a channel of communication between Ottawa and 
Winnipeg. French dominion, losing its hold in the east, 
naturally enough, sought to make good its losses in the west. 
But if it failed also in the west, this should be the end of it j 
there should be no plotting of rebellion. 

It is but just to say, however, that Kiel seems to have had 
little or no countenance from the Roman Catholic priesthood 


Commandinsr Royal Qreoadiers. 

Kiel's second insurrection. 233 

in his present insurrection. There would seem to be an entire 
breaking away from the Church, so far as its local representa^ 
tives are concerned. Whether this is the result of a general 
loosening of religious bonds, in a time of relaxed faith, or of 
the influence of Montana godlessness upon the chief insurgents, 
it would be hard to say. Kiel, himself, seems to be still under 
religious influences ; though, in the motives that have inspired 
him, whether affected or not, he appears to be under the 
hallucination of some Mormon Joe Smith, rather than under 
the sober dictates and restraints of Mother Church. The im- 
prisonment and murder of priests, and the disregard of their 
sacred calling, is undoubted proof that the clergy were opposed 
to the rebellion, and withstood lawlessness to the shedding of 
blood. Riel, moreover, is reported to have told his people not 
to ask for the support of the clergy in their defiance of author- 
ity, as they would not receive it. He adds, significantly, that, 
** this is a matter affecting our civil and political rights, and 
has nothing to do with the Church." 

But time will bring all this out. It will also bring out how 
far the haK-breeds have received encouragement from reckless 
white settlers in the Saskatchewan region. Already it is 
talked of that the insurgent leaders were abetted in their 
course by other communities than the half-breed village of 
Batoche. Agitators in Prince Albert are said to have invited 
Riel to the settlement, and to have given him hope of aid in 
his rising against authority. This is a matter that should be 
closely inquired into : if the oflicials of the administration in 
the district were worth anything, it ought long ago to be with- 
in the privity of the Government. 

But the curious fact with regard to the outbreak, is Govern- 
inent's alleged ignorance of the circumstance that serious 
trouble impended. Of this we are. assured by the repeated 


statements of the Premier, by the asseverations of various 
members of the Ministry, and by emphatic protests from the 
Department of the Interior, Accepting these statements, aa 
we are bound to do, in reliance on the honajldes of honourable 
gentlemen, we can scarcely doubt the fact, however, that the 
Government was aware of discontent among the half-breeds 
and informed of their many unsettled claims. With the large 
BtafF of officials and representatives in the North-West, and the 
Government's many friends, ecclesiastical and political, it is 
incredible that the authorities were not made acquainted with 
the designs of Riel and his lieutenants. If the land-claims of 
the half-breeds were solely the cause of trouble, this surely 
was also known to Government; and, if known, why was 
justice withheld, and why did humanity disregard them ? The 
promptness with which they are now being settled by Com- 
missioners would indicate that the claims were just ; and this 
makes the case look ugly for Government. 

Our own opinion, however, is that the land-claims, though 
doubtless a source of irritation, were not the sole cause of 
trouble. Riel, at least, has no such pretext to advance in 
justification of his conduct. Some time ago he became an 
American citizen, and had therefore no rights in the country 
to champion. We have already referred to the historical 
causes which, though in the background, seem to have been 
operative in producing disaffection, and in widening the breach 
between the half-breed and the settler. The movement has an 
historical and scientific side. This is a side which the popular, 
and even the political, mind does npt very closely Ipok a^. 
But it is a point of view which has its advantages and its in- 
struction. The social position of the half-breed has never been 
much coDsidered ; and his civil status in the community, in 
Bommon Justice, has yet to be determined- The half-breec^ 

Kiel's second insurrection. 233 

have been treated neither as white men nor as Indians. The 
failure to recognise, and to do justice to their civil rights, has 
therefore had much to do with the present uprising. Again 
we say, tliat grievances do not justify rebellion, far less the 
atrocities of Indian warfare. But that the half-breeds had 
unredressed grievances goes far to mitigate their crime, and. 
to call for clemency in settling accounts. 

Like the Indians, the half-breeds have suffered heavy loss- 
by the intrusion of the settlers. They have seen the game,, 
which hitherto was their sole means of livelihood, driven from' 
the plains. They have also, in great measure, lost employment- 
by the Fur Company. With their half kin, they have looked' 
upon the land as their exclusive and inalienable possession;, 
but, unlike their half kin, they were not disj"»osed to submit 
quietly to be dispossessed of it. Receiving no Government 
annuity, and scorning the charity of the Indian Department, 
their case has called for exceptional treatment. Exceptional 
treatment have they had ? This is a question the nation has 
to put to itself ; and in it lies the kernel of the matter. If they 
have not received this treatment, there is little difficulty in 
tracing the causes of the rebellion. 



Duck Lake and the Mounted Police. 

ROM the cause we now come to the effect, — from 
the consideration of thg motive of the actors to 
the act itself. After more than a year of agita- 
tion on the North Saskatchewan, Riel and his 
half-breeds had worked themselves up to action, 
and were now about to slip in the path of wrong. 
Already the leader of the movement had steeled 
his heart against every humane feeling that en- 
nobles mankind, and was calling on the Spirit of Evil to 

" make thick (his) blood, 

Stop i;p the access and passage to remorse 

That no compunctious visitings of nature should ^ 

Shake (his) fell purpose, or keep peace between 

The efifectand it." 

But to picture the rebel chief possessed of such nerve and 
resolution as Shakespeare represents Lady Macbeth as being 
endowed with, is to make a hero of a very unheroic figure. 
Whatever influence Riel exercised over the half-breed mind, it 
was not the influence derived from coure^e. To his powers of 
atump oratory, and. his gifts as an agitator at M^tis gatherings^ 


he owed his sway. But when it came to acts, Kiel's star paled 
before that of his able lieutenant, Gabriel Dumont, who is a 
bom leader of men, the embodiment of physical courage, and a 
military tactician of no mean order. It was at Dumont's in- 
vitation that Riel returned from Montana to his mother's 
homestead at St. Vital, and from that slumbering French vill- 
age on the Red River it was Dumont who carried him off to 
the half-breed settlement on the Saskatchewan. With Dumont 
he stumped the St. Laurent region, and re-kindled the embers 
of half-breed discontent and jealousy. In Dumont's company 
he appeared among the white settlers of Prince Albert, and 
there, with cunning purpose, loosened the rough tongue of mis- 
directed speculation and noisy grumbling. At the St. Laurent 
meetings, in the early part of March, Riel had Dumont's active 
assistance in drawing up the Revolutionary Bill of Rights ; * 
and it was Dumont who, reckless of danger, was to take the 
field to assert them. 

♦ This Bill of Eights, or what may be termed, the Rebel Platform, makes the 
following among other demands : 

(a) " That the half-breeds of the North-West Territories be given grants similar 
to those accorded to the half-breeds of Manitoba by the Act of 1870. 

(6) That patents be issued to all half-breed and white settlers who have fairly 
earned the right of possession to their farms ; that the timber regulations be made 
more liberal ; and the settler be treated as having rights in the country. 

(c) That the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan be forthwith organised with 
legislatures of their own, bo that the people may be no longer subject to the despot- 
ism of Mr. Dewdney ; and, in the new provincial legislatures, that the M^tis shall 
have a fair and reasonable share of representation. 

(d) That the offices of trust throughout these provinces be given to residents of 
the country, as far as practicable, and that we denounce the appointment of dis- 
reputable outsiders and repudiate their authority. 

(e) That this region be administered for the benefit of the actual settler, and not 
for the advantage of the alien speculator ; and that all lawful customs and usages 
which obtain among the M^tis be respected. 

(/) That better provision be made for the Indians, the Parliamentary grant to be 
increased, and lands set apart as an endowment for the establishment of hospitals 
and schools for the use of whites, half-breefls, and Indians, at aiich places aa tha 
l^rovincial le^latives may determine^ 


In seeking to enforce the demands embodied in the " Bill of 
Rights," which we herewith append, the delegates to the St. 
Laurent meeting, after unanimously adopting the Resolutions, 
sanctioned the instant forming of a Provisional Government. 
In this action, history, with ludicrous exactitude, repeats itself. 
Just fifteen years before, in the Red River Rebellion, Riel 
guardedly prefaced his usurpation of authority by a similar, 
quasi legal act. How anxious he was to shield himself under 
the forms which are supposed to give sanctity to rebellion, it 
might be well to indicate before proceeding with the narrative 
of events that were now to happen. We cannot better do this 
than by quoting from the Mail's despatch the report of its 
intelligent correspondent. Says the writer : 

" At the meeting speeches were made on behalf of the half- 
breeds by Riel, Maxime Lepine, and Charles Nolan ; and on 
behalf of the white settlers by Archibald Davidson, George 
Fisher, and Alexander Waller (or Walter). It was determined 
to embody this Bill of Rights in a memorial and send it to the 
newspapers, to leading members of Parliament, and to the 
Dominion authorities. Nolan and Riel then moved that, as the 
Government had for fifteen years neglected to settle the half- 
breed claims, though it had repeatedly (and more especially by 
providing for their adjustment in the Dominion Land Act of 
1883) confessed their justice, the meeting should assume that 
the Government had abdicated its functions through such neg- 
lect, and should proceed to establish a Provisional Government 
based upon the principles involved in the Bill of Rights. This 

(g) That the Land Department of the Dominion Government be administered as 
far as practicable from Winnipeg, so that settlers may not be compelled, as hereto- 
fore, to go to Ottawa for the settlement of questions in dispute between them and 
the laud commissioner." 

[For the above the author is indebted to the Toronto Mail of the 13th of April 
last, in which issue the " Bill of Rights " appears as a special despatch to that, 
journal. Its correspondent states, in sending it, that he does not pretend to givei 
the actual language, but merely the substance, of the Resolutions. We have some- 
what abridged the report, and altered the order, though not the wording, of the: 


"was agreed to, and a Government was there ahd then formed 
with Kiel as president. The latter announced that no hostile 
movement would be made unless word were received from 
Ottawa refusing to grant the demands in the Bill of Rights. 
If, however, the Government should appoint a Commission 
to deal with the half-breed claims and pledge itself to deal 
with the questions affecting white settlers, then the Provisional 
Government, on obtaining reasonable guarantees that this 
would be done, would disband. Bloodshed was to be avoided 
unless the provocation amounted to life or death for the revolt- 
ed settlers. In the meantime the authority of the Dominion 
would be repudiated, and supplies collected to provide against 
the emergency of war. Immediately after the meeting, Alex- 
ander Fisher, La valine, and Lepine, who had charge of supplies,, 
began to levy on the freighters and settlers. Kiel, Dumont,. 
and others turned their attention to the Indians, with whom' 
they had had talks during the winter ; and tobacco men were- 
sent out in all directions informing the chiefs and head-men. 
re^ardinff what had been done." 

With these acts the insurrection had its beginning. In time 
we shall discover how far the half-breeds had justification foi 
thus resisting authority, and for committing the country to the 
horrors, not to speak of the expense, of civil war. The dis- 
passionate reader of the proceedings we have quoted will not 
fail to see much of an exculpatory character in the actions, ao 
far, of Kiel and his following. If constitutional means were 
tried and failed them, and patience gave out in seeking the 
redress of their grievances, there is a strong argument for 
leniency, at least, in passing judgment upon the acts of rebellion. 
So early as 1882, the half-breeds had protested against the 
action of the Dominion surveyors, in disregarding the peculiar 
conformation of their little farms on the banks of the Saskat- 
chewan, and in cutting up their holdings under what is known 
as the block system of survey. This action of the surveyors. 
If not purely wanton, was supremely silly and impolitic. 
Equally impolitic was the alleged disregard by the authorities 


of the protests of the M^tis ; though, it is said, the protests were 
not disregarded, but, on the contrary, that the surveyors were 
withdrawn. But the mischief had already been done ; and the 
half-breeds seem to have had no assurance that the obnoxious 
system of surveys would not afterwards be pursued. Neither 
does assurance seem to have been given them that their com- 
plaint with regard to the cutting of timber on their lands, 
which was the cause of further discontent, would receive atten- 
tion, and a more liberal policy be adopted. 

There is more excuse for the Government's refusal to assign 
new lands in the North- West Territories to half-breeds who 
had already received land-grants in Manitoba. At the same 
time, there is reason in what they urged, that if the white settler 
was not debarred from ta,king up two free homesteads, why 
should the native of the soil be refused a similar privilege. To' 
discriminate in this matter, and against the half-breed, waat 
surely a perilous policy. 

But the period of discussion was past ; the time had now 
come for action. Kiel, as we have seen, cast about him for 
Indian support, and the storekeepers and freighters were fallea 
upon for supplies to arm and feed the insurgents. Crossing 
the river at Batoche, the stores were pillaged, and a look-out 
kept for the Mounted Police, who might be expected to make a 
descent from Carlton. Fort Carlton is an old trading-post 
(dating from 1797) of the Hudson's Bay Company, on the north 
branch of the Saskatchewan. Here at Carlton, up the river 
at Edmonton, and down the river at Prince Albert, portions of 
the Mounted Police were stationed; and, with the main body 
at Forts McLeod and Calgary, in the neighbourhood of the: 
Rockies, it performed its functions as a constabulary force. 
The Mounted Police were organised in 1874, and have been of 
great service in maintaining a wholesome check upon Indiaa 


lawlessness, in the vast and comparatively unorganised regions 
of the Far West. The force now consists of about 500 men, 
commanded by Commissioner Irvine, assisted by Adjutant 
Cotton. Under these officers there are six superintendents 
and twelve inspectors, who take charge of detachments of the 
force at various posts throughout the territory. Among the 
former, the names of superintendents N. F, Crozier, and W. M. 
Herchmer, and among the latter, the names of Inspector Francis 
Jeffrey Dickens, a son of the celebrated novelist, aad S. B. 
Steele, will be most familiar to Canadian ears. Though the 
force can hardly be said to inspire the Indian and half-breed 
with that awe which should strike terror to the heart of con- 
scious guilt, as a conservator of peace it has, time and again, 
rendered signal service to the country, and had its courage and 
temper often sorely tried, under circumstances that have called 
into exercise the highest qualities of the patriot soldier. 

It was upon a portion of this force, on its way from Carlton 
to Duck Lake, to convey Government stores to a place of safety 
at Prince Albert, that Kiel's first blow was to descend. To 
seize these stores, and probably to display their fighting 
qualities before the admiring eyes of Beardy's band of Indians, 
whose reserve was close to Duck Lake, the half-breeds mus- 
tered early in the day of the 26th of March, 1885. The rebel 
force was about 200 strong, under the command of Gabriel 
Dumont, Garnieu, and other notable plain hunters of the in- 
surgent M^tis. Many were well mounted on their hardy 
Indian ponies, and were armed with Winchester rifles and 

Duck Lake lies about half-way between Batoche, on the 
south branch, and Carlton, on the north branch, of the Sas' 
katchewan, — the whole distance between the rivers being not 
more than fourteen miles from village to Fort. About fifty 

242 THE Noiifii-WEST: its iiiyxoRY a.nd its troubles. 

miles to the north east the two branches of the river meet at 

■ a point, called " The Forks," below Prince Albert, and near td 

the site of the old French trading-post, erected in 1753, by M. 

' de la Come. The country between the rivei*s here partakes ol 

the usual undulating character of the North- West, occasional 

bluffs and high land alternating with open rolling prairie, over 

" which is a well-defined trail, flanked by coulees with a pro- 

. fusion of scrub, and here and there a sheet of water. Winter's 

unsullied mantle was still on the ground. 

Posting the bulk of his force in a wood near by Duck Lake, 
^Dumont moved forward his mounted half-breeds and Indiana 
to reconnoitre the gi'ound and await the approach of Crozier'a 
unsuspecting cavalcade. The strength of the Mounted Police 
was under eighty, with whom were about forty volunteers 
and civilians, in sleighs, from Prince Albert, the whole being 
commanded by Superintendent Crozier. With Crozier waa 
Captain Moore, of the Prince Albert volunteers, and a loyal • 
half-breed interpreter, named Joseph McKay. On the forces 
sighting each other, there was a forward movement on both 
sides for a conference. Taken by surprise, the Police were 
especially at a disadvantage ; while the half-breeds were ready 
for action, and with instinctive shrewdnes's had well chosen 
their ground. The engagement which followed has many 
points of resemblance to the Frog Plain affray, at the Selkirk 
Settlement, in 1816, Both actions were between white men 
and half-breeds, and both began in a scuffle during a parley, 
and ended in a few moments in a massacre. 

In the absence of accurate official reports, it is almost im- 
possible to describe the order and details of the encounter. 
Nor do the accounts of eye-witnesses of the engagement at all 
help one, for these are confused and contradictory. The whole 
af&ir was a matter of but a few minutes' duration. The 


Mounted Police on their approach, were, it seems, summoned 
by the half-breeds to surrender, a summons which, of course, 
they did not obey. Confronted by this menacing group of 
half-breeds, Crozier's column halted, and McKay, the interpre- 
ter, came forward to confer with the advanced party of the 
insurgents. The Cree chief, Beardy, was with the latter. 
During the brief parley, Beardy took hold of McKay's rifle ; 
and Dumont, seeing the action, and anticipating the result of 
the scuffle, signalled his half-breeds to withdraw to the couMes 
for protection. Crozier, some paces off, at the head of his 
column, interpreting this movement as a hint to surround 
his force, with more haste than discretion, gave the order to 
fire. The half-breeds instantly replied ; and their superior aim 
wrought fell havoc in the loyal ranks. Death's fleet message 
came to twelve of Crozier's following, and their lifeless bodies 
Btrewed the snow-white plain. Exposed as was his whole 
party, Crozier gave the command to retire, and until out of gun- 
Bhot another dozen became the target for rebel bullets. For- 
tunately the retreating column was not pursued, and the one- 
Bided slaughter ceased. The rebel casualties, according to first 
report, was but one wounded, though later accounts acknow- 
ledge a loss of four killed. 

The losses of Crozier's escort were heavy, falling chiefly on 
the brave Prince Albert Volunteers and civilians who had 
accompanied the Mounted Police on their mission to Duck 
Lake. The Police, on the action opening, drew the sleighs 
across the trail for a breastwork, and so in great measure, 
protected themselves. The Prince Albert men, unfortunately, 
had but a slight three-rail fence for cover ; and even this failed 
them, for their leader (Lieutenant Morton) had advanced un- 
guardedly to within a short distance of Chief Beardy's house^ 
from which came a galling flank fire from the Indians and half- 


breeds who were concealed within it. It was here they sus- 
tained their heaviest loss. Among those to fall were Lieut, 
Morton, a farmer from County Bruce, Ontario ; A. W. R. 
Markley, an old resident of the Red River Colony, and formerly 
of Ottawa; S. C. Elliott, son of Judge Elliott, of London, 
Ont., and nephew of the Hon. Edward Blake ; Wm. Napier, 
late of Edinburgh, Scotland, nephew of Sir Charles Napier, 
and law student in the office of McLean & Elliott, of Prince 
Albert ; Robert Middleton and Daniel MacKenzie, natives of 
Prince Edward Island ; Charles Hewitt, formerly of Portage 
La Prairie ; Daniel McPhail, of McPhail Bros., Prince Albert ; 
Alex. Fisher, a young Englishman ; Wm. Baikie, of Orkney 
an old Hudson Bay employ^ ; and Joseph Anderson, a native 

The wounded Prince Albert volunteers were Captain 
Moore, whose leg was broken ; Sergeant A. McNabb ; and 
Alex. S. Stewart. Two of the Mounted Police were killed, 
viz.. Constables T. G, Gibson, and George P. Arnold. The 
wounded Policemen were Inspector Howe, of the Gu^i Detach- 
ment, son of the late Hon. Joseph Howe ; Corporal Gilchrist ; 
and Constables M. K. Garrett, J. J. Wood, Sidney F. Gordon, 
A. M. Smith, and A. Miller. From correspondence which 
appears in the Battleford Herald, and the Winnipeg Sun, we 
learn that the bodies of the civilians who fell during the en- 
gagement bad to be left on the field, as they lay so close to the 
house garrisoned by the rebels that it would have been fool- 
hardy to have brought them in before the retreat. The last 
words of a few of the stricken brave, we transcribe from the 
same correspondence. The faltering messages to friends and 
dear ones may well be preserved in this narrative. As Arnold 
fell, he cheerily said, " Tell the boys I died game ! " Gilchrist's 
request was that his comrades &hould not " let the black devils 


get his scalp." Napier's last gasp was broken by the utterance, 
" Write to my father, and tell him I died manfully." Tho 
gallant Elliott cried, " Fight on, boys ; don't let them beat us ! " 
Baikie's prayer was, " I am shot, God have mercy on my soul ! " 
while Morton whispered to a volunteer who had come to hia 
succour: "You can't do anything for me. I am mortally 
wounded. Take care of my wife and family, and tell them 
I died like a man on the battlefield ! ' " 

*' Glorious it is to emulate the brave ; 

And for a country, and a country's right. 
To strive, to fall, and gain a bloody grave 

Ajnid the foremost heroes in the fight." 

In such sorrow and anger as may be imagined but not de- 
scribed, Crozier and his detachment reached Carlton, where 
he was presently joined by Commissioner Irvine with a strong 
contingent of the Police. Irvine's column had itself been in 
danger on the way to Carlton, but escaped attack by making 
a wide detour through the Birch Hills on the east. As it waa 
determined not to hold the post at Carlton, it was evacuated 
and burnt, and the combined party proceeded to Prince Albert. 
Here the greatest excitement prevailed ; for, learning of the up- 
rising, the settlers and their families throughout the district, 
flocked to the town for safety, and for weeks were in alarm oi 
an attack upon the place. 

The arrival of the Carlton garrison at Prince Albert gave 4 
measure of security to its inhabitants, though the dread of 
attack, the remoteness from succour, and the interruption of 
telegraphic communication, kept the settlement for a long 
while in the agonies of suspense. Apprehension was increased 
by uncertainty with regard to the attitude of the large bands oi 
Indians whose reserves extend along the North Saskatc'iew-an. 
A descent of Indians might come from any quaiter. White 


Cap and his Sioux were close by, at Moosewood. The pagan, 
Beardy, was known to have been with the half-breeds at Duck 
Lake ; while Okemasis and One Arrow were in the immediate 
proximity. North of Carlton were the bands of Atakakoop, 
Mistowasis, and Pete-qua-quay, who, it was feared, might take 
the war-path at any moment. Nor was the outlook more 
assuring in the region between Battle River and the N. Sas- 
katchewan. There Poundmaker and Strike-him-on-the-back 
were known to be ugly. Westward, matters were worse ; for 
Big Bear had left his reserve and was threatening mischief ; 
while at Frog Lake, near Fort Pitt, immediate trouble seemed 
brewing. Throughout the region the aspect appalled the 
stoutest hearts, and gave occasion for the gi-eatest alarm and 

On the South Saskatchewan disquieting rumours were also 
rife ; while apprehension was increased by the interruption of 
the mails and the cutting of the telegraph wires. Already tha 
Government had taken active steps to assert its authority and 
save life. News of the uprising had electrified the whole 
country ; and the volunteers of Winnipeg and the chief centres 
in the east were eager to offer their services to the Government. 
The Minister of Militia and the officials of his Department, at 
Ottawa, nobly rose to the occasion, and gratifyingly met the 
demands made upon them. In these demands assurance was 
given to Canada and the Empire that the heroic qualities of 
the race had not degenerated in the New World, and that the 
Colonial status had not wholly dwarfed patriotism. 

The Dominion authorities were fortunate at this juncture in 
having in command of the militia a distinguished officer of the 
British army, who had seen varied service, and was known to 
possess, in happy combination, the essential soldierly qualities 
of courage and (Jiscretion. This officer, Major-General Middle-- 


ton, C.B.,* after a hasty conference with the Militia authorities, 
in concert with the Governor-General, the Premier and the 
Cabinet, proceeded instantly to Winnipeg, thence to Qu'Ap- 
.pelle, to place and take charge of a small army in the field. 
On the General's statF was Lord Melgund, military secretary to 
the Marquis of Lansdowne."!* Meanwhile, Kiel and his half- 
breeds were not idle. Runners speedily carried, far and wide, 
the " news of battle " to Indian and half-breed settlements ; 

* Major-General Frederick D. Middleton, who came to Canada ia November, 
1884, as successor to General Luard in the command of the Militia of the Dominion, 
Is the third son of the late Major-General Charles Middleton of the British army. 
In 1842, he graduated at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and obtained an 
ensigncy in the same year. He saw his first active service in New Zealand, but 
won his chief laurels in India during the Sepoy Rebellion, of 1857-8. He was 
present at the relief of Lucknow, acting first as Orderly Officer to General Franks, 
and later as Aide-de-Camp to General Lugard. For gallant conduct during skir- 
mishes with the mutineers, and in command of storming parties, he repeatedly 
won promotion ; while for cool daring on the field he was recommended to Lord 
Clyde as having deserved the honour of the Victoria Cross. Unfortunately, being 
at the time on the personal staff of the General, the honour, though richly deserved, 
was withheld. Throughout the Mutiny, General Middleton was on many occasions 
specially mentioned in home despatches. In 1861, he came to Canada as Major of 
the 29th Regiment, and remained here on the staff of General Windham, from the 
period of the Trent affair to the withdrawal of the British troops from the country. 
The gallant General is married to a Montreal lady, and so far, at least, may be 
claimed as a Canadian. 

+ Viscount Melgund, eldest son of the Earl of Minto, came to Canada as Mili- 
tary Secretary to His Excellency, the Governor-General At the outbreak of the 
Insurrection in the North-West, he received permission \o attach himself to Gen- 
eral Middleton's staff at the front. Lord Melgund has seen milit.'wy service in many 
quarters of the Empire, and taken part in various campaigns, at one time as a Volun- 
teer, at another as a Regular. In 1867, he entered the Scots Fusilier Guards, but re- 
tired three years later. He was in Paris during the Commune ; served with the 
Oarlist Army in Spain ; and was an attacM with the Turkish Army in 1877. In 
1879,he was on the staff of Sir Frederick Roberts in Afghanistan, and accompanied 
the General to South Africa in 1881. In the following year he served in the 
Egyptian Campaign, as Captain in the Mounted Infantry, was severely wounded 
at Magyr, and was present at Tel-el-Kebir. Under the pseudonym of " Mr, 
Bolly," Lord Melgund is widely known in England aa one of ihe most daring 
gentleman riders in Britain. 


and an army of scouts radiated from Batoche to keep rebel" 
dom advised of every movement outside. 

While these events were happening, the pallid dead who had 
fallen at Duck Lake, and were yet alas ! unburied, slept tho 
sleep of the brave, and with eager and touching enthusiasm 
Canada's sons in the east rose to avenofe them.* 

* Since this chapter was written, the successes of the North- West Field Force 
have enabled the friends of one of the fallen at Duck Lake to recover the body of 
a hero from the battle-field. A despatch from London, Ontario (June 19th), con- 
veys the intelligence that the body of Lieut. Skeffington C. Elliott, the esteemed 
Don of Hon, Justice Elliott, was exhumed and brought to London for interment in 
the family burying vault. As befited the occasion, the brave Prince Albert vol- 
unteer was given the honors of a military funeral in his native city, representatives 
being present of the various metropolitan and county corps, together with the 
municipal officers, members of the Middlesex T^aw Association, the London Board 
»)f Education, and other local societies. The funeral obsequies were most im- 
pressive, the populace turning out en masse to do honor to the fallen ofiicer. The 
Rector of the Cronyn Memorial Church officiated, and tho firing party was fur- 
bished by the 7th Fusileeia. 



F there is one circumstance more than anothei 
that gives hope for the future of Canadian 
Nationality it is to be found in the alacrity and 
enthusiasm with which the youth of the country 
rally on occasion for its defence, or for the sup- 
pression of armed disturbance within its borders. 
The military spirit has always been strongly 
marked in the training and temper of the Cana- 
dian people ; though, oddly enough, in the Mother-land, credit 
has rarely been given them for the fact. It has been the 
fashion in England to speak slightingly of this spirit, and to 
represent Canadians as unwilling to bear their share in the 
defence of the Empire. For long, it was considered doubtful 
whether Canada, in the event of embroilment with her great 
neighbour to the South, would unite heartily in making an 
effective resistance to invasion. It was affirmed that, when 
danger menaced, some organic weakness would show itself, 
fatal to vigorous and united action. But not only were the 
people misrepresented ; the country itself was given up. I\ 
P 249 


was alleged that its peculiar conformation, and long line of 
frontier, made it impossible of defence; and the belief v/as 
entertained that, if invaded, the colony would become an easy 
conquest. To retain it was therefore long held to be an ele- 
ment of national weakness. Such were the calumnies which 
insular ignorance was wont to heap upon Canada and Canadians. 

After the withdrawal of the English troops from the country, 
It was seen that Canada did not seriously miss them. It was 
then seen that, colony as she was, she aspired to be a nation, 
and in the aspiration, she sought to rely upon herself. If the 
events of the War of 1812 were not remembered to her honour, 
the attitude of Canada duriag the Trent affair, and the prompt 
rallying of her hardy sons to repel Fenian invasion, in 1866, 
must have opened the eyes of old countrymen to the loyalty 
and valour of her citizen soldiery. More recently, the offer of 
Canadian contingents, for Britain's service in Egypt, shows the 
spirit that animates her people, and is the most effective reply 
to the popular misapprehension. The number of Canadian 
military school cadets that annually find their way into English 
regiments is another proof, were proof wanted, of their apti- 
tude for military service, and their readiness to aid the Mother- 
land in her hour of need. The annual presence at Wimbledon 
of her crack rifle shots should also count for something in 
removing misapprehension, and in assuring old Albion that 
her military prestige is not likely to suffer eclipse beyond the 

But the assurance was of most value to her own people. 
When the insurrection broke out in the North-West, it was 
with pride the country saw the eager rall^'^ing of her sons to 
repress it, and to restore the blessings of peace. The response 
to the call for troops was immediate and enthusiastic. It wag 
a response which gave assurance that, young as the nation was. 


it had passed from the adolescent stage into full manhood. I\ 
was a response which showed that Canada had resourced 
within her borders equal to any emergency, and that if she 
spread herself over a Continent, over a Continent she was able 
to throw the shield of her protection. Nor was this all, for it 
also showed that 

" Old England still hath heroes, 

To wear her sword and shield J 
We knew them not while near ua. 

We know them in the field." 

In Toronto, the military as well as civil heart of the Province, 
the last days of March saw an unusual sight. News of the 
rising on the Saskatchewan had been telegraphed over the 
country, and the Ontario Capital was one of the first to be 
communicated with, in the call for troops for active service in 
the North- West. To the prompt call of the Hon. A. P. Caron, 
Minister of Militia, the citizen-soldiery of Toronto made prompt 
response. The two city battalions mustered in the drill shed in 
full force ; while the Department at Ottawa, and the Brigade 
Office at Toronto, were inundated with applications from 
officers commanding country regiments, to be allowed to go to 
the front. The " Queen's Own," whose military recordf deser- 
vedly stood high at Ottawa, was called upon for a quota of 250 
men. The summons to arms of its commanding officer brought 
550 rank and file at a few houi-s' notice. The same quota was 
asked for, and with like alacrity furnished, in the case of the 
" Royal Grenadiers." 

The scenes in the Toronto drill shed, from the 28th to the 
30th of March, were long to be remembered. No such excite' 
ment had been witnessed since the closing days of May, 1866, 
when, for the most part, a former generatioa, the sires of the 
eager youths, who were [now fitting themselves out at the call 


of duty, took hurried leave of those dear to them in the sum- 
mons to the Niagara peninsula, to repel the Fenian invader. 
Again were the scenes enacted of that stirring time: the 
hurrying to and fro from armoury to parade ground ; the 
bugle summons to " fall in " ; the hasty roll call ; the " proving " 
the companies ; the inspection of clothing, arms and accoutre- 
ments ; and the momentary " stand at ease ! " Then came the 
sharp calling of the brigade to " attention " ; the few words 
of orders ; the march oiF to the station ; and the final leave- 
taking, with the ardent hand-clasp and tender look of fare- 
well, which spoke the words the tongue could not articulate. 

"Let them go with the cheers of the country to speed them, 

The gallant, devoted, and flower of the land ; 
We well may be proud that young Britain could breed them, 

And match her past heroes at Freedom's command. 
They have joined honest hands for the future of nations. 

The grandeur of law and humanity's due : 
Belief that God's blessing through aU their relations 

Is with them, inspires our success to the True !" 

From early dawn on the 27th March the headquarters (To- 
ronto) of Military District No. 2, were astir with the exciting 
duties of the hour. On that day the Deputy- Adjutant General, 
Lt. Col. R. B. Denison, received orders from Ottawa to call out 
«C" Company, School of Infantry, at Toronto, Lt.-Col. W. D. 
Otter, Commandant. Col. Otter, with the military prompti- 
tude which characterises all his movements, was ready with 
his command at an hour's notice. The same day this able 
officer was given charge of the Toronto Expeditionary Force, 
and had instructions to hold himself in readiness, with " C " 
Company, and the contingents of the Queen's Own and the 
10th Royals, for route orders, via the Canadian Pacific Rail- 
way, to the North-West. All Saturday and Sunday, the 28th 
and 29th insts., the requu'ed quota of the city Rifle and Infan- 


try regiments paraded at the Drill Shed, and received the 
necessary outfit for proceeding to the front. In view of the 
still inclement weather, and the exposed route by which the 
force was to reach the North-west, this outfit was largely 
added to by the thoughtful provision of the Mayor and various 
members of Toronto municipality. 

By Monday, the 30th, thanks to the efforts of the City Cor- 
poration, and the unwearied labours of the District Staff" — 
Deputy Adj.-General Denison, Brigade-Major, Lt.-Col. Milsom, 
and the Sup't. of Stores, Lt.-Col. Alger — the volunteers were 
in readiness to leave Toronto.* Marching orders had been im- 
patiently awaited. For forty-eight hours dark coat and red 
had massed together on the rallying ground, inspired with but 
one purpose and animated by a common feeling. With beau- 
tiful enthusiasm all were eager for the fray. During the period 

* The composition and strength of the Toronto Expeditionary Force (Lt.-Col. W. 
D. Otter in command), were as follows : 

(a) Infantry School Corps, " " Company, 85 men and 4 officers (MajorJHenry 
Smith ; Lieutenants J. W. Sears, and R. L. Wadmore ; Soigeon, Dr. F. W. 

(6) 2nd Battalion " Queen's Own Rifles" (Lt.-Col. A.A. Miller in command), 257 
men and 18 officers (Major D. H. Allan ; Adjutant, Capt. J. M. Delamere ; Quar- 
termaster, James Heakes ; Surgeons, Drs. Jos. W, Lesslie, and W, Nattresa ; 
Capts. T. Brown, H. E. Kersteman, J. C. McGee, W. 0. Macdonald ; Lieuten- 
ants P. D. Hughes, W. G. Mutton, H. Brock, R. S. Cassels, E. V. Gunther ; 
2nd Lieuts., A. Y. Scott, A. B. Lee, J. George.) 

(c) 10th Battalion " Royal Grenadiers" (Lt.-Col. H. J. Grasett [late Lieut. 100th 
Foot] in command) 250 men and 17 officers (Major G. D. Dawson [late Lieut 47th 
Foot]; Adjt., Capt. F. F. Mauley ; Paymaster and Acting Quartermaster, Lieut. 
W. S. Lowe ; Surgeon, Dr. G. S. Ryerson ; Capts. F. A. Caaton, James Mason, 
0. L. Leigh-Spencer, C. Greville Harston ; Lieuts. D. M. Howard, And. Irving ; 
G. P. Eliot, Forbes Michie, W. C. Fitch ; 2nd Lieuts. Jno. Morrow, J. D. Hay, 

A. C. Gibson). 

The Expeditionary Force had attached to its staff as Supply Officer, Lt.-CoL 

B. Lamontagne, Deputy Adj.-General of the Ottawa Military District (No. 4.) 
[For the revision of the above lists the author is indebted to Lt.-Col. 0. T. Gill* 

Inor, formerly Commanding Officer " Queen's Own Rifles," and to Major A. B. 
Harrison, in temporary command of the 10th " Royal Grenadiers."] 


the Drill Shed had been almost continuously filled with an im- 
mense concourse of townspeople, anxious to spend the parting 
moments with those dear to them, and with tender solicitude 
bent on seeing them ofi" with a fervent " God speed ! " As the 
morning passed, the crowd grew more dense, and by noon, not 
only the approaches to the Drill Shed, but the streets on the 
line of march to the station, were choked with a surging mass, 
which, heedless of the threatening rain, had gathered to 
give the brave lads a farewell cheer. What had been the 
home parting from each familiar figure in dark green and 
red there is no need to lift domestic veils to divine. That 
assuredly was tender; and now, while excitement glistened in 
the eye of love, the heart was filled with misgivings in taking, 
it might be, the last farewell. Nor was the solicitude confined 
to those who were to be left behind : in the effort to suppress 
emotion in many a manly breast we saw the eye averted, the 
muscles of the mouth quiver, and the lip bitten, that the mind 
might be kept from its sorrow and the rising tear be suppressed. 
But now came the enlivening music, with the roll of drums, 
and the heart recovered its composure as the eye caught sight 
of the compact column and the martial bearing of Toronto's 

*' Now all with life and motion swarms, 
Glistens the street with burnished arms." 

It was a proud moment ! a moment which Canadian verse, 
we doubt not, will yet enshrine in its treasures, and long keep 
green the memory of. As we looked on the stirring scene, we 
mentally obsers^ed, what an impetus to patriotism was here, and 
how deep must be the impress of such a sight on the national 
heart ! Than this, what influence, we thought, could be more 
eli'ective to weld Confederation, or more potent to charge the 


nation's veins with the tingling thrill of patriot enthusiam and 
the nation's brain with the fire of a common sentiment ! 

But while Toronto's volunteers were leaving the Union 
Station, and the hearts of ten thousand onlookers went out in 
sympathy with their ready response to the call of duty, tha 
summons to arms was elsewhere being answered with like 
patriotic ardour. Manitoba's gallant sons were already in the 
field. The 90th " Winnipeg Rifles," under Lt.-Col. A. Mackeand ; 
a Cavalry Troop, under Capt. Knight ; and a Field Battery, 
under Major Jar vis, all of Winnipeg, were the first to be with 
General Middleton at Qu'Appelle. Besides these local corps 
the 91st Winnipeg Infantry, 400 strong, under Lt.-Col. 
Thos. Scott, M.P., was instantly organised, together with three 
companies of Scouts and one of Rangers, under Major Boulton, 
and Capts. Dennis, White, and Stewart. Capt. Dennis's Scouts 
were composed of Dominion Land Surveyors. The other 
Scouts and Rangers were drawn from the loyal yeomen of the 

"A" Battery, from Quebec, and " B" Battery, from Kings- 
ton, under the command of Lt.-Col. Montizambert, had gone 
forward from the East. The Governor-General's Foot Guards, 
and a company of sharpshooters, from Ottawa, under Capt. 
Todd, were also under way. To follow these, in rapid succes- 
sion, there went forward a Battalion from York and Simcoe, 
commanded by Lt.-Col. Wm. E. O'Brien, M.P. ; the "Mid- 
landers," under Lt.-Col. A. T. Williams, M.P., of Port Hope ; 
the " 65th," Lt. Col. Ouimet, M.P, of Montreal ; the " 9th," Lt.- 
Col. Amyot, M. P., of Quebec ; the Governor-General's Body 
Guard (73 men and horses), Lt.-Col. G. T. Denison, of Toronto,* 

• The Governor-General's Body Guard for Ontario was called out on the Ist of 
April and left Toronto for the front five days afterwards. The following are tha 
officers who accompanied the corps on active service : Major Commanding, (Lt.< 


and the 7th Fusiliers, Lt.-Col. W. M. Williams, of London. Later 
in the month of April, there were also to go to the front, "A" 
Troop, Cavalry School Corps (45 men and horses), Lt.-Col. 
Turnbull, of Quebec ; and a Provisional Battalion from Halifax 
(350 strong) under Lt.-Col. Bremner. 

But this hasty mobilising of volunteers was creditable not 
only in the numbers that turned out at a daj^'s call for the 
nation's service ; its strength and effectiveness lay in the spirit 
that animated the men. To see the force on parade, those 
who usually fail to dissociate the volunteer from the trades- 
man and the clerk, must have found it difficult to realise the 
fact that it had never seen active service ; that its ranks knew 
war only by tradition ; and, for the most part, had received 
military training, not on the open field, but in a contracted 
drill shed. In the ranks were mingled the brawn and muscle 
of machine shops, athletes from cricket and lacrosse grounds, 
clerks from "store and office, undergraduates from the univer- 
sities, together with the delicately nurtured sons of wealth, 
and the blest blood and intellect of local families of influence. 
But, shoulder to shoulder, there was no distinction of birth, 
nor in the spirit of emulation that infected all ranks. All were 
actuated by a genuine desire to serve the country, and uncon- 
scious of the destiny that lay before them on the lonely prairies 
of the west, were eager to win the badge of a nation's honour 
and the laurel of military renown. 

As an indication of the martial spirit by which young and 
old were actuated in the eager press to the front, the following 
" Incident," told in verse by J. A. Eraser, jr., a talented young 
Torontonian, is worthy of preservation in these pages : 

Col.) G. T. Denison ; Captain Orlando Dunn ; Lieut Wm. H. Merritt ; 2nd. 
Lieuts., F. A. Fleming and T. B. Browning; Adjutant, Capt. C. A. K, Demson j 
Burgeon, Dr. J. B. Baldwin. 


*• The call ' To arms ! ' resounded through the city broadjand fair. 
And volunteers in masses came, prepared to do and dare ; 
Young lads, whose cheeks scarce showed the down, men bearded, stout and 

Assembled at the first alarm, in bold, undaunted throng. 
' 111 volunteer ! ' an old man cried, ' I've served the Queen befox-e ; 
I fought the Russ at Inkerman, the Sepoy at Cawnpore ; ' 
And as he stood erect and tall, with proud and flashing eye, 
What though his hair were white as snow ? He could but do or die. 
'You are too old,' the answer was ; * too old to serve her now.' 
Then o'er his face a wonder flashed, a scowl came on his brow, 
And then a tear stole down his cheek, a sob his strong voice shook, — 
• Sir, put me in a uniform, and see how old I'll look ! '" 

Nor was the military ardour confined to those who were 
further to share it. It was but a day's work to change tho 
usual aspect of tranquil industry over the country, and to 
fire the populace with " war's fitful fever." As the trains sped 
on their way from Toronto with the several contingents, tho 
people, catching the excitement of the time, turned out in 
whole towns'-strength to see the expeditionary force pass by, 
and with cheers and God-speeds ! to relieve surcharged feel- 
ing. A people, whose military enthusiasm could be so pro- 
foundly stirred, must have had an ancestry not unfamiliar with 
martial deeds. Here was a young nation that had heard little 
of the cannon's roar save in the feu-de-joie on some gala day, 
when the troops mustered for inspection by the reviewing 
General, suddenly infected with the death-thirst of the battle- 
field, and its young life eager to launch itself on the tide of 
war, and win the fame which is the hero's meed. Surely, it 
will be said, there is a bright future for a nation whose pulses 
can be so quickened at the summons of patriotism, and whose 
young men respond so eagerly at the call of duty. 

But these gallant youths are the sons of no pampered sol- 
dier ancestry ; for the most part, their sires were the rough 
toilers of the land, the sturdy pioneers of the once wilderness 


their offspring are now passing through. The names of the 
stations on the Canadian Pacific, just east of Toronto, recall 
the wrestlings of their fathers in founding a nation in the 
backwoods once entirely peopled by the red Indian. Through 
the region opened up by the iron highway to the Ottawa, the 
stealthy Iroquois was wont to find his way to the sheepfold of 
the Huron ; and down its waterways the descending birchbarks 
of the latter would occasionally steal to wreak Wyandot 
vengeance on the tribal enemy. Of these days we have left 
us but the tradition, and, in the region, the beautiful Indian no- 
menclature. Happily both are being treasured. Canadian liter- 
ature, in the researches of its later writers, is recounting, often 
with infinite charm, the story of that early time. In the dis- 
trict through which the Toronto contingent was now speed- 
ing, a Canadian Parkman* has preserved for us, with inimitable 
literary grace, the chief incidents of the local history. Let 
us interrupt our narrative for a little with an extract: 

" Of the Trent Yalley, as it was two hundred and seventy 
years ago, Champlain gave such glimpses as must have stirred 
the sportsmen at the Court of Mary de Medici and Louis XIII. 
No part of Canada owes more to its pioneers than this charm- 
ing and now most healthful lake-land. Some of the finest 
towns were, two generations ago, jungles reeking with malaria, 
and infested by wolves, black-flies, black snakes, and black 
bears. All honour to the men whose hands or brain wrought 
the transformation ! . . Of the Iroquois domination, but 
few traces remain — a few sonorous names. The race of athletes 
who lorded it over half the Continent, whose alliance was 
eagerly courted by France and England, were, after all, unable 
to maintain their foothold against the despised Ojibways. Of 
these the Mississagas became specially numerous and aggressive, 
80 that their totem, the crane, was a familiar hieroglyph on 
our forest trees from the beginning of last century. The 

• J. Howard Hunter, M.A., in the article on " Central Ontario," in Picturesque 


Mississagas so multiplied in their northern nests, that presently, 
by mere numbers, they overwhelmed the Iroquois. 

" The Mississagas, though not endowed with the Mohawk 
verve or intellect, were no more destitute of {)oetry than valour. 
Take the names of some of their chiefs. One chief's name 
signified ' He who makes footsteps in the sky ; ' another was 
Waivanosh, ' He who ambles the water.' A local Indian mis- 
sionary was, through his mother, descended from a famous 
line of poetic warriors ; his grandfather was Waubuno, ' The 
Morning Light.' On occasion, the Mississaga could come down 
to prose. Scugog describes the clay bottom and submerged 
banks of that lake, which, taking a steamer at Port Perry, we 
traverse on our summer excursion to Lindsay and Sturgeon 
Lake. Chemong aptly names the lake whose tide of silt some- 
times even retards our canoe when we are fishing or fowling. 
Omemee, ' the wild pigeon,' has given its name, not only to 
Pigeon Lake and its chief affluent, but to the town where 
Pigeon Creek lingers on its to the lake. Sturgeon Lake 
is linked to Pigeon Lake by a double gateway. This ' rocky 
portal ' the Mississagas described by Bobcaygeon. In our tune 
the name has been transferred to the romantic village on the 
upper outlet, and the latter is now the ' North River.' By a 
I'eprehensible levity, the lower outlet is now called ' The Little 
Bob.' The steamer Beauhocage, which plies between Lindsay 
and Bobcaygeon, would evidently take us back for the latter 
name to the old French explorers, and to their outspoken 
admiration of the lovely woodlands on these waters. At the 
south-west corner of Stony Lake the overflow of the whole 
lake-chain is gathered into a crystal funnel, well named ' Clear 
Lake,' and thence" poured into Rice Lake through the Otonabee. 
" On Rice Lake, the chief Indian settlement is Hiawatha, — 
named after the Hercules of Ojibway mythology, which the 
American poet has immortalised in his melodious trochaics. 
At Hiawatha and on Scugog Island, you may still find, in the 
ordinary language of the Ojibway, fragments of fine imagery 
and picture-talk, often in the very words which Longfellow 
has so happily woven into his poem. And the scenery of this 
Trent Valley reproduces that of the Vale of Tawasentha. 
Here are ' the wild rice of the river,' and ' the Indian village,' 
and ' the groves of singing pine-trees, ever sighing, ever sing- 
ing.' At Fenelon Falls we have the ' Laughing Water,' and 


not far below is Sturgeon Lake, the realm of the ' king of 
fishes.' Sturgeon of portentous size are yet met with, though 
falling somewhat short of the comprehensive fish sung by 
Longfellow, which swallowed Hiawatha, canoe and all ! " 

Leaving the lacustrine beauty of the region of these rich 
Indian appellatives, the face of Nature puts on a visible frowni 
and closing day brought the expedition to what the imagina- 
tion might fitly conceive as the confines of an Inferno. Still 
eastward, the railway train, with its martial freight, rushes 
like some weird spectre through belts of hardy pine, to which 
the granite soil gives but a sparse sustenance, and over the 
borderland, which it now crosses, " between the oldest sedi- 
mentary rocks and the still more ancient Laurentian series." 
By midnight Carleton Place and an appetising supper were 
reached. Here an incident occurred which we may well stop 
to chronicle. In expectation of the arrival of the Toronto 
detachment, a number of patriotic Members of Parliament, 
hailing from the west, had for the afternoon left their arduous 
legislative duties at Ottawa to speed on the way the young 
martial life of the Provincial capital. In meeting the troops 
at Carleton Place, they had also this object, to present a 
flag to the Toronto Contingent, which was to be donated by 
the graceful hands of a lady, — Mrs. Edward Blake, wife of the 
honourable, the leader of the Opposition. After supper, the 
men were drawn up on the platform, under Colonel Otter, and 
the Commandant and officers of the Queen's Own and Grena- 
diers, were introduced to Mrs. Blake, by Mr. W. Mulock, M.P. 
Mr. Mulock, addressing Colonel Otter, spoke as follows : 

" I have been desired by a number of the Membere of the 
House of Coramonr, to assist in the presentation of this flag for 
your command. In discharging this pleasing duty, let me say 
that this act has no significance, except as evidencing the fact 
that whatever difierences Members of the House may have in 

Calling out the volunteers. 261 

oih^lt maiters, they are a unit in support of law and order, and 
will, I am sure, co-operate in every possible way for the restora- 
tion of peace and quiet in our land. May this flag ever float 
over a law-abiding people ; and may the brave citizen soldiers 
under your command return in safety to their homes after £v 
speedy accomplishment of the object of the expedition." 

Mrs. Blake then presented a handsome Union Jack to the 
Commanding Ofiicer, with the few following heartfelt words : 

" A number of my friends in the House of Commons, desirous 
of expressing their sympathy and good wishes for the men 
under your command, and on tlie expedition on which they 
have now stai-tetl, have desired me to present you with this 
flag. I do so with great pleasure, and at the same time would 
like to add my own heartfelt prayer for your speedy success 
and safe keeping." 

In acknowledgment of the gift, Colonel Otter made the 
following observations : 

" M rs. Blake and Gentlemen; I accept this flag from your 
hands as indicating, as you have said, that the House of Com- 
mons is a unit in tlie maintenance, not only of the integrity of 
Canada, but of the Empire of which she forms so considerable a 
part. I hope the men under my command will successfully 
accomplish the object of the expedition, and shortly return to 
their lond ones at home in safety, and will serve their country 
as Britons always do. On an occasion such as this, nothing 
more fitting could be presented than the British flag — the em- 
blem of law, justice, and freedom. It will be ours to preserve 
it, and guard it carefully, as a reminder that the people of 
Canada are with us in our undertaking. I acknowledge the 
kindness which has prompted the representatives of the people 
to make this presentation to us, and I thank you as the bearer 
of the gift." 

This graceful and patriotic act, we can well believe, had, as 
was observed, no political significance. As Colonel Otter hap- 
pily remarked, on such an occasion, and, we might add, to such 
a body of men, nothing more fitting than the nation's flag could 
be presented. We should like to believe that the assurance 


which accompanied the flag was genuine, viz., that Parliaraeni 
was a unit in desiring to maintain the integiity of Canada and 
the Empire. We do not churlishly call the assurance in ques- 
tion ; but " acts speak louder than words," and the intensity ol 
party and sectional feeling that finds frequent and acrid ex- 
pression in and out of the national Parliament, is not favourable 
to the maintenance of Confederation or to the increasing ad- 
hesion of the people. To seek to limit the license of party 
objurgation, we know, is like seeking to control the four cardinal 
winds. Nevertheless, it is to be said, that the violence of party 
Tin Canada, is a disruptive force which, if not in danger of 
i breaking up the Dominion into fragmentary Provinces, is in 
danger at least, of sapping the foundations of order and destroy- 
tlng confidence in the future of the country. This is a danger 
which politicians, we know, deride ; but it is a danger, never- 
iheless, and one which partyism, for its own sinister end, con- 
ceals, and has an interest in concealing. 

Our remarks may seem inopportune as a pendant to a loyal 
*!,nd kindly act ; but we have only to look a little way ahead 
iin the records of Parliamentary proceedings at Ottawa, from 
the period when the flag was presented, to discover how far 
the country's banner symbolised unity of patriotic feeling, and 
aegard for the nation's weal over the pettiness of party 
conflict and the incendiary declamation of faction. We de- 
sire to draw no line between the existing parties that would 
separate them into loyalists and non-loj'alists, into patriots and 
non-patriots, into nationalists and anti-nationalists. There is 
aio such distinction to be made ; for true patriotism exists 
•among both parties; and, so far, the flag might fitly wave 
•over both camps, as from both camps it came. The exception 
We take is to the disloyalty of party in the concrete, not to 
the disloyalty of either party in the abstract; for both are 


tainted with the virus of faction. It is disloyalty, not to the 
Crown, but to the individual, and to the public conscience of 
the nation which the individual represents. It is disloyalty to 
the high ideals of public life which party dethrones, and to 
that high sense of duty and keen sense of honour which party- 
ism and the arts of partyism set at nought. The moral injury 
to the nation which this atmosphere of party scuffling inflicts, 
and the deterioration of public character for which party is 
responsible, few adequately estimate. Nor does the evil stop 
with Parliament ; the press of the whole country is more or 
less infected with the poison; and the clear streams of politi- 
cal life that should flow from it are too often foul with tho 
vapours of vituperation and unclean with the sewerage oi 


OVER "the gaps to qu appelle. 

ESPITE the noisome influences referred to in 
our last chapter the national heart is ever warm, 
and, on great occasions at least, the national 
brain is clear. The attitude of the nation 
towards disaffection in the North- West, it is 
safe to say, was manly, healthy, and vigorous. 
In the fullest and freest sense, ife was patriotic. 
Parliament, too, shared the national feelings of 
the country. If there was guilt to be charged against the Ad- 
ministration, if there had been a flagitious use of patronage, if 
there was criminal neglect of protests and complaints, in the 
presence of revolt neither Parliament nor the country stopped 
to be querulous or censorious. There was no sympathy with the 
feeling that cropped out in some quarters to hold up our public 
men to public reprobation. Faction might choose an inopportune 
moment for its firework, but the nation was in no mood just 
then to encourage it. At another time it might hector and vitu- 
perate, and rise to the screaming level of captious criticism. 
But at present it was too indignant at armed revolt to listen 
to grumbling Cassandras; and only a persistent optimism 
would mollify it. A great emergency called for the exercise of 

higher powers than the Parliamentary picking up of pins ;, and 



Commanding: Governor-General's Body Guard. 


the country addressed itself to the duty of the hour with the 
coolness and self-possession of one who had not lost his head. 

Other cries were now heard of an aspersive and mischievous 
character. Disloyalty and faction had not yet done their work. 
Permission, it was urged, should have been sou(]jht at Washing- 
ton for the transport of the troops to the North- West through 
United States territory, rather than expose them to the hard- 
ships of transit over the incompleted portions of the line of the 
Canadian Pacific. Relying on the enterprise and activity of 
the Railway Company, the Government, fortunately, otherwise 
determined ; and the country was saved the humiliation of 
reaching its western domains over other avenues than its own 
means of access. The Militia Department then came in for its 
Bhare of criticism. The Volunteers, it was said, were ineffi- 
ciently armed and indifferently equipped. The labour that at 
this time fell upon the Department was of a kind to stagger an 
indolent imagination. Yet, admirably as the strain upon its 
resources and strength was met, there were not a few to with- 
hold from it its well-earned meed of praise, and to harass it 
with the jibes of untimely comment. Well has it been said 
that "what most recommends party government is that it 
enables its opponents to slander the country's rulers without 
sedition and, at times, to overthrow them without treason." 

In other quarters fell the floutings of detraction and ill- 
timed criticism. Even the militia of the country did not 
escape. It had been said, that it was not a good instrument to 
employ in keeping the peace, " as it lacks that perfect self con- 
trol which belongs to discipline, and shares the political passions 
of the combatants." Well, twelve years' experience of militia 
service, in the closest relation that officer and men could come 
to, in trouble and in peace, enables the writer to say that, so 
far as Ontario is concerned, the statement labels the force. 


Nor would it be difficult in other Provinces to show, that when 
the Canadian volunteer is on active service he loyally does his 
duty. The same may be said of the much maligned Irishman, 
who, in the ranks of the British army, as well as in the Cana- 
dian militia, has been no whit less loyal and true than his com- 
rade of Albion and Scotia. 

But the charge, on one occasion, was more explicit. It 
was said that "a, summons to the militia of the Dominion to 
take the field would meet with a strange response from the 
French Province : there, national enthusiasm would grow pale 
at the prospect of fighting its own race." How far the writer 
was mistaken in this prognostication, recent events overwhelm- 
ingly prove. The service which " A " Battery, from Quebec, 
has rendered in the North- West, and the loss it has nobly 
suffered, amply refutes the charge. Had signal opportunity in 
the field offered, we are sure the gallant 65th, the 9th Quebecers, 
and " A" troop, Cavalry School Corps, would have given equally 
good account of themselves. In the sister Province, we know 
that national traditions are closely and laudably cherished, but 
honour is no less cherished. It was perhaps a vain boast, that 
" the last shot fired in the New World for the maintenance of 
British connection would be fired by a French Canadian;" but 
in the case of many of our French compatriots there is more 
than a sentimental basis for the historic remark. Invidious 
comment of the kind we have referred to is to be deprecated, 
as it tends to incite bad blood, and to introduce into the service 
class and sectional feeling which should be wholly blended in 
the national militia. Equally to be deprecated is the foolish 
talk that exalts the deeds of one regiment at the expense of 
another, and leads the men to beat the tom tom of a section 
of the community or a part of the country rather than the 
CaJiadian people as a body and Canada as a whole.. 

avER THE "gaps" TO qu'appelle. 267 

In interrupting the narrative with these observations, we 
trust that we shall not be thought wanting in sympathy with 
Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, in their often thankless task 
of keeping a watchful eye on the Administration. Doubtless, 
when the causes of the trouble in the North-West come to 
be finally determined, it will be found that our rulers have not 
acquitted themselves fully of their duty. But until the facts 
are all before us, or until there was an actual break-down in 
our Militia organisation, the Opposition obviously but wasted 
their powder in making premature and unsupported attacks. 
The feeling, we confess, however, was a natural one, that un- 
accustomed as was our Militia Department to meet the emer- 
gency of civil war, it was therefore supposed that everything 
was going wrong, and that men were being sent to the front 
ill-prepared for the services required of them. Happily, such 
was not the case ; and Mr. Blake must have been reading the 
history of Whitehall maladministration in England, at the 
outbreak of the Crimean War, to have supposed there was 
occasion in Canada for his daily f usilade of interrogation, and 
the expenditure of his virile energy in criticism of the Depart- 
ment and the Government. In England, in 1854, there was 
need of Mr. Layard to badger Lord Palmerston and his Min- 
ister of War ; but just then in Canada there was no need of a 
Mr. Layard. Mr. Blake's good sense enabled him speedily to 
see this, and led him to reserve his strength for a fitting time 
of reckoning. 

Meanwhile the North- West expeditionary force had begun 
to feel the real stress of the situation. The trains had ploughed 
their way to the frontier of that realm of solitude, the upper 
shores of Lake Superior ; and the batteries had already tackled 
the "gaps." Over the desolate region was still spread the 
white garmeni of the north, and its folds, hung heavily upon. 


the outstretched arms of hemlock and pine. The troops had 
now an opportunity, not of " conquering nature for political 
purposes," as a certain well known and brilliant writer had 
termed the work of constnicting the railway to the north of 
the lakes, but of conquering nature for the purposes of war. 
On their dread mission, nature seems to have confronted them 
with every obstacle that would inure them to hardship, and 
steel their hearts for the coming conflict. Stem was her look 
on these early days in April when, amid the disarray of con- 
struction trains and all the impedimenta of the incompleted 
road, the tenderly reared city volunteer had to pick his path 
over a region that would have appalled a Cyclops to face. 
And what relief was there to ride, for the conveyances were 
open platform cars and uncovered sleighs ; while the thermo- 
meter registered 20° and 30° below zero ? Yet there was but 
choice of these and the alternative of a bleak tramp on the 
shore-ice of Lake Superior, where, when the sun came out, the 
glare on face and eyes blinded and blistered hundreds of the 
marching column. What wonder that a few, becoming delirious 
on the march, dropped by the way from pain and utter weari- 
ness I But of murmuring there was little or none : the spirit 
of the men was heroic. 

But let us get some idea of time and distance — of the length 
and difficulties of the route, and the short period in which 
it was traversed. To any reader of our work outside the 
Dominion, this information will be helpful. We have said 
that the decision of the Government was to transport the 
troops by the all-rail route, so far as completed, of the Canadian 
Pacific Railway. On the north shore of Lake Superior, parts 
of the road — 72 miles in length — were at the period incomplete. 
Had navigation been open, advantage would have been taken 
of the Company's fleet of stealers on the Upper Lakes, an<i 

OVER Tflk "gaps" to qu'appelle. ^6^ 

ihe troops forwarded by the Georgian Bay and Lake Superior 
to Port Arthur, thence to Manitoba and the Far West. But 
the lakes were still in the grip of the Frost-King, and the only 
alternative was to make the circuit from Toronto to the 
Ottawa, thence directly eastward, in the line of the trapper's 
route to the old regions of the fur-trade, the new territories 
acquired by the Dominion. We append a table of distances in 
the route ' to the front.'* 

Of the 184-2 miles from Toronto to Qu'Appelle, only 72 miles 
of track were unfinished, and had to be traversed on sleighs or 
on f oot.-f This break consisted of three gaps, the bridging over 
of which was the chief difficulty in the path of the troops. 
The first gap began at Dog Lake, north of Michipicoten River, 
and extended 42 miles west, to near Jack Fish Bay. Then 
came a completed stretch of 15 miles ; then a gap of 15 miles ; 
after which were 150 miles of track, and, finally, another gap 
15 miles in length. Leaving Toronto at noon on Monday, the 
30th of March, the expedition took supper, as we have seen, 


♦Toronto to Carleton Place Junction 234 

Carleton Place Junction to Sudbury , 265 

Sudbury to Dog Ijake (first gap in the rail) 261 

Dog Lake to Nepigon (due south of Lake Nepigon) 255 

Nepigon to Port Arthur (formerly Prince Arthur's Landing) 68 

Port Arthur to Winnipeg (capital of Manitoba) 435 

Winnipeg to Qu'Appelle Station 324 

Total distance, Toronto to Qu'Appelle 1842 

Qu'Appelle, via Prairie trail to Clarke's Crossing, on the N. Sas- 
katchewan 208 


+ Since April of the present year, this portion of the track has been laid, and the 
line completed 500 miles west of Qu'Appelle to Calgary, and about 150 miles further, 
to Stephen, the station on the summit of the Rocky Mountains. The line on the 
Pacific side of the Kockies is also well under way, and the links in the chain front 
tea to sea aU but meet. 


at Carleton Place towards midnight of the same day. Within 
twenty-four hours, the transport train was speeding past 
Sudbury in a snow storm, some 250 miles north-west of Tor- 
onto, and 500 miles round by rail. On the 5th inst. (Easter 
Sunday !) the head of the brigade marched twenty miles over 
the frozen surface of Lake Superior, from Port Munro west- 
ward. By dawn of Monday, the 6th, the column passed 
through Port Arthur ; and on the following morning arrived at 
Winnipeg. This portion of the Brigade, composed of the 
Queen's Own and " C " Company of the Toronto Infantry 
School, rested at Winnipeg on Tuesday, and proceeded the 
same evening to Qu'Appelle. 

The balance of the brigade, consisting of the Grenadiers and 
Capt. Todd's company of Ottawa Foot Guards, reached Winni- 
peg at 1 A.M. on Wednesday, the 8th inst., and on the morrow 
joined their Toronto comrades at Qu'Appelle Station. The men 
were all in good health, though much weather-beaten and 
fatigued. Some portions of the march severely tested the 
strength and endurance of the column ; while the whole passage 
of " the gaps " was monotonous and trying. Old campaigners- 
wore loud in their praise of the men : one man who had been 
in the Soudan affirmed that the march across the sands of the 
desert was not more trying than had been the tramp over the 
ice and snow of Superior. Sleet pelted them, and driving snow 
blinded their steps ; while faces were blistered and eyes in- 
flamed from the glare of the sun on the frozen surface of the- 
lake. Not a few were badly frost-bitten, and all were foot- 
sore and weary. The casualties were nevertheless slight ; only 
two men were unable to keep up with the column. One- 
officer, Lieut. Morrow, was disabled by an accidental pistol 
shot, and a private of the Grenadiers fell and broke his arm. 
The latter pluckily insisted, however, on going forward witht 

OVER THE "gaps" TO QU'APPELLfi. 271 

liis comrades, though Lieut. Morrow, and one other invalid, 
Capt. Spencer, of the Grenadiers, were compelled to return. 
Here are some passages culled from newspaper correspondence, 
and from letters of the men en rovfe : 

" Crossing the gaps in the railway, we had a taste of what we 
might expect later on in our journey to the front; but the 
courage of the men never failed, and the tramp, tramp of the 
column, as it wended its way, amid the silent woods or trackless 
wastes of Lake Superior, was a weariness to muscle and brain. 
But the most severe trial occurred in the night march from 
Red Rock to Nepigon, a distance of only seven miles across the 
lake. Yet it took nearly five hours to accomplish the task. 
After leaving the cars, the battalion paraded in line, a couple 
of camp-fires serving to make the darkness visible. All the 
men were anxious to start, and when the word was given to 
march, it was greeted with cheers. It was impossible to main- 
tain the formation of fours, therefore an order was given, 
" left turn, quick march ! " We turned obedient to the order, 
but the march was anything but quick. Then into the solemn 
darkness of the pines and hemlock the column slowly moved. 
On each side the snow lay four feet deep. It was impossible 
to keep the track, and a mis-step buried the unfortunate vol- 
unteer up to his neck. It now began to rain, and for three 
mortal hours there was a continuous downpour. 

" The lake was reached at last, to the extreme pleasure of 
all in the corps. The wildness of the afternoon, and the rain 
turned the snow into slush, and at every step the men sank 
half a foot. All attempts to preserve distance were soon aban- 
doned by the men, who clasped hands to prevent each other 
from falling. The officers struggled on, arms linked, for the 
same purpose. Now and then men would drop in the ranks, 
the fact being discovered only by those in the rear stumbling 
over them. Some actually fell asleep as they marched. 

" One brave fellow had plodded on without a murmur fov 
three days. He had been ailing, but through fear of bein*^ 
left behind in the hospital, he refrained from making his ill- 
ness known. He tramped half-way across last night's march 
reeling like a drunken man ; but nature gave out at last, and 
with a groan he fell on the snow. There he lay, the pitiless 
rain beating on a boyish, upturned face, until a passing sleigh 


stopped behind him. The driver, flashing his lantern on the 
u|)turned face, said he was dead. ' Not yet, old man,' was the 
reply of the youth, as he opened his eyes. ' I'm not yet even 
a candidate for the hospital ! ' He was placed on a sleigh and 
carried tlie rest of the journey; and next morning, after a good 
sleep and warm breakfast, he was as lively as a cricket, and 
ready for the fray." 

Such are a few of the incidents of this eventful and trying 
march. It is but just to say that the officials of the Railway 
Company did everything that was possible to mitigate the 
discomforts of the passage. The supply officers on the line of 
march also did their duty in providing the men with the 
creature comforts. The strain on the resources of the rail- 
way, involved in the movement of the eastern volunteers to 
the front, was great, but great as it was the staff was equal to 
the demands upon the road. In the first twenty days of April, 
the Railway Company conveyed over its nearly two thousand 
(niles of track 3,000 officers and men, 150 horses, and four guns, 
in addition to the Winnipeg regiments and other local organ- 
isations moved to various points in the west. 


middleton's march to Clarke's crossing. 

' mass two or three thousand troops, on war's 
horrid mission, in the peaceful valley of the 
Qu'Appelle seemed little short of an outrage. 
Had the season been summer, when the prairie 
flowers were in bloom, it would have been 
desecration. To have cut up that rich carpet of red 
lilies, white anemones, and purple pentstemons, 
with the great wheels of the cannon, and tramp- 
led its beauty under the heedless heel of armed 
men, would have been a great wrong to Nature, and wakened 
keener sorrow than that which stirred the heart of the Scottish 
poet when his ploughshare upturned the Mountain Daisy and 
crushed it " beneath the furrow's weight." But Nature's pro- 
tecting covering was still over the region, and the rich soil had 
not yet thrown up its scented life to be mangled under foot. 
No matter were winter's robe soiled by the tramplings of the 
troops, and its beauty marred by the movement of three or four 
hundred transport carts, for the storm-king was abroad as the 
troops mustered at Qu'Appelle, and the day's soilings would be 
heavily coated by the night's white shroud. 



" The night sets in on a world of snow, 

While the air grows sharp and chill, 
And the warning roar of a fearful blow 

Is heard on the distant hill ; 
And the norther, see ! on the mountain peak 
In his breath how the old trees writhe and shriek I 
He shouts on the plain, ho-ho ! ho-ho ! 
He drives from his nostrils the blinding snow, 

And growls with a savage will." 

But the valley of the Qu'Appelle had seen strife ere now 
Long ago its plains had often witnessed the shock of inter- 
tribal encounter. Between the Crees and the Blackfeet there 
had been years of feud, though the presence of the Mounted 
Police and the influence of a better day had now taught them 
peace. Savagery was in truth giving place to civilisation. 
The beautiful district was fast becoming the favoured resort 
of the settler, from the issue of the river at " The Elbow," on 
the South Saskatchewan, to its junction with the Assiniboine, 
at Fort Ellice. The region, geographically, belongs to the 
Second Prairie Steppe, succeeding that of the Lake Winnipeg 
basin, which forms the First. It extends from the Souris River 
on the south, and circling round the Pheasant, File, and Touch- 
wood Hills, bears away northward to the Birch Hills, this side of 
Prince Albert. On the east it is bounded by the western 
limits of the Province of Manitoba, in long. 101° 30', and ex- 
tends to the Lignite Tertiary Plateau, in about long. 107° W. 
North-westward of this great tract lay the scene of the insurrec- 
tion. In that quarter, also, stretched the line of loyal settle- 
ment along the North Saskatchewan that was in jeopardy 
from the outbreak. Hither had General Middleton and his 
staff* come, with the Winnipeg volunteers, to organise the 

* The following officers composed the General's Field staff : Lord Melgund ; Hon. 
Maurice GifFord, brother of Lord Gifford, of Ashantee fame ; Hon. C. Freer, 
1,'randson of Lord Saye and Sale ; Capt. Wise, and Lieut. Doucet, A.D.O. Capt. 
Buchan, of the 90th Winnipeg Rifles, and formerly of the " Queen's Own," 
Iforonto, acted as Field Adjutant, 

middleton's march to Clarke's crossing, 275 

North-West Field Force and determine the plan of the cam- 
paign. The date of the encounter with the rebels at Duck 
Lake, it will be remembered, was the 26th of March. On tha 
23rd, anticipating trouble in the North- West, the Major-Gen- 
eral in command of the Militia, left Ottawa for Winnipeg. On 
the 26 th he reached the Prairie Capital, and the following day 
left, with the Manitoba troops, for Qu'Appelle. Here was the 
military rendezvous and the base of operations. 

The morning of the 30th of March saw the first, though a 
precautionary, movement of the Field Force. On that day the 
General sent forward from the Fort three companies of the 
Winnipeg Rifles and the Armstrong gun, to protect the north- 
em approaches to the rallying-place, to gather news of the 
rebels and of the threatened rising of the Indians in the neigh- 
bourhood, and to extend succour to such of the northern 
settlers as were fleeing from their homes to a place of safety. 
With the rebels, it was thought, there would be a speedy reck- 
oning, though the character of the country was favourable to 
guerilla warfare, and the half-breeds knew every nook and 
covert of the region. The chief alarm was as to the attitude 
of the Indians. All eyes were turned upon their reserves, and 
the restless movements of the young braves of the several 
tribes gave occasion for much uneasiness. Where the Indians 
were likely to be approached by the disloyal half-breeds, it 
was feared they would go on the war-path. In the isolated 
districts in the north, where hunger was not satisfied, it was 
considered certain they would make descent upon settlements 
and raid Hudson Bay posts for food and provender. Battleford 
and Prince Albert were known to be in especial danger. Hence 
the campaign had in view, not only to suppress the half-breed 
insurrection, but to relieve the settlements on the North 
Saskatchewan from apprehended attack. The more speedy 


the attainment of this dual object, the less danger there would 
be of a general Indian uprising. 

With wise and prompt decision, General Middleton's design 
was to make an instant movement on the heart of the insurrec- 
tion. Not an hour had been lost in reaching the base of 
operations ; and with cool impatience tha General awaited the 
arrival of the troops from the East. Nor had the latter tarried 
on the way ; in ten days, thanks to the railway facilities, two 
thousand miles had been covered, jplus the weariful march over 
" the gaps " on the road. This, it will be remembered, was a 
greater distance than that traversed in 1870 by General 
Wolseley's expedition, which consumed the whole summer of 
that year in its transportation from Toronto to the Red Eiver. 
But toilsome as had been the journey of the troops to Qu'Ap- 
pelle, a forlorn two hundred mile march lay before them ere 
they could look upon the foe. 

The period of the year, as it happened, was the worst the 
Fates could have chosen for moving a body of men over the 
Prairie trail to the front. Earlier, or later, in the season travel 
over the region would have been shorn of its discomfort and 
difficulty. From the arsenals of the north, the hoar monarch- 
was discharging the last of his wintry weapons. Snow still 
lay heavy on the plains, and the warm spring sun melted 
down earth's white covering to be frozen over night and again 
thawed the next day. The line of march was either spongy 
with sodden earth or covered with water a foot deep. Such 
was the condition of the country the Field Force had to trav- 
erse, in this " land of magnificent distances." 

Pending the arrival of the Eastern troops there was much to 
be done. The organisation and equipment of an army in the 
field was no light task, with every contingency to be pro- 
vided for, and provision made for a distant march from the 


base of supplies. Each arm of tlie service had to be instructed 
in its duties, if not actually called into existence. There was, 
first, the Intelligence Department, which had to be organised 
ab initio. Fortunately, as the corps of Scouts and Rangers 
were raised in the territories, they wanted little drill in their 
duties. Then came the Commissariat and Transport service, 
which needed the expenditure of no little energy and foresight 
to make efficient. Following these, came the Hospital and 
Ambulance brigade, provision for whose important duties much 
care and forethought were demanded. Finally, there was the 
fighting arm of the force, which, to be effective, called for the 
careful inspection of the Major-General in command, and his 
constant oversight in drill and discipline. In addition to all 
this work, disposition had to be made of the various brigades 
to take the field, and corps stationed to keep open the lines of 
communication and supply. That everything went well dur- 
ing this period of hasty labour, and its attendant excitement, 
is its own tribute to the thorough work of the Commanding 
Ofiicer and his staff", as well as to the energy and spirit of all 

The immediate task was to get the troops, ammunition and 
forage, over two hundred miles to a rallying point on the South 
Saskatchewan. The route of the main column was the line of 
telegraphic communication from Qu'Appelle, via the Touch- 
wood hills and Humboldt, to Clarke's Crossing. At the Crossing 
a junction was to be effected with another column, to be for- 
warded by boat on the South Saskatchewan, from the neigh- 
bourhood of Swift Current, thirty-two miles westward by rail. 
At the present time of writing we are without reasons for this 
division of the Field Force, and can only infer the following 
as necessitating the movement. First, the difficulty of trans- 
port over a single trail for so large a number of troops. Sec- 


ondly, the obvious advantage of approaching the enemy from 
two different points. And, thirdly, the urgency of early relief 
reachingr the settlements on the North Saskatchewan, and the 
fear that this might not be practicable if the half-breeds and 
Indians successfully withstood the advance of the main column. 
But whatever were the General's reasons, we may be sure he 
fully weighed them. 

By the oth of April "A" and " B " Batteries reached Winni- 
peg, and proceeded at once to Qu'Appelle. Within three days 
the Ottawa and Toronto volunteers were expected forward. 
The General now prepared for an advance. The transport 
service had been organised under Capt. S. L. Bedson, late 
Warden of the Manitoba Penitentiary, with the assistance of 
Messrs J. H. E. Secretan and Thos. Lusted. Some six hundred 
teams were pressed into service, and supplies drawn from the 
resources of the Hudson Bay Company and other contractors 
in Winnipeg. Already some two hundred teams had been 
despatched with rations and forage for the use of the column 
until it reached Humboldt, nearly two-thirds of the way to 
the river-crossing. The remainder of the teams were grouped 
into two grand divisions. These were again broken into sub- 
divisions of ten teams each, over which were placed responsible 
headmen. Each head teamster was supplied with cooking kit 
for so many men, and given directions for camping and mess- 
ing. Nightly camping sites, some twenty miles apart, were 
determined on ; and, so far as the roads would permit, these 
were to be adhered to. Regulations were also issued to guide 
the order of march, and instructions given in the formation of 
corrals at the various encampments. 

At last came " route orders," which were received by all 
ranks with glee, a glee that neither the condition of the roads 
nor the storm that was blowing could check. After a hasty 


breakfast, on the morning of Monday, the 6th, the troops par • 
aded at 5.45 a.m., and were inspected by the General, who 
addressed them in a few stirring words of admonition and en- 
couragement. An hour later, the column filed away to the 
northward, and the blinding snow soon hid Fort Qu'Appelle 
from view. The scouts led the way on each side of the trail ; 
then came half a company of the 90th, as advance guard, with 
one field piece ; then the main body of the North-West Field 
Force; after which came the baggage with the other field 
piece, its accompanying guard bringing up the rear. The trail 
was found to be in a frightful condition ; and the march was 
impeded, not only by pools of water and heavy roads, but by 
a stiff gale from the north, blindingly freighted with sleet and 

The route lay due north, a little east of long. 104° W., and 
across the 51st meridian. On the right rose the File Hills, 
and to the north of these the Beaver Hills. Opposite the 
latter, lay the Little and Big Touchwood Hills, the line of 
march trending ofi" westward between these two elevated pla- 
teaux, where it enters a great saline depression, full of white 
mud swamps and brackish marsl^ This Salt Plain extends 
from the Touchwood Hills to near Humboldt, some sixty miles 
from the Saskatchewan. To the west of the plain are the 
Quill Lakes, and to the east is the head of Long or Last Moun- 
tain Lake, the haunt of innumerable pelican, water-hen, grebe, 
snipe, and plover. Long Lake lies due north of Regina, the capital 
of the North-West Territories, and is the favourite resort of the 
Indian for fish as well as of the white sportsman. The lake is 
forty miles in length, and about one and a half in breadth^ 
The projected Prince Albert railway, a northern branch of the 
Canadian Pacific, will skirt its western shores, and connect the 
settlements on the North Saskatchewan with the capital of tho 


Territories. Of the country lying between Fort Ellice (at the 
confluence of the Qu'Appelle and the Assiniboine) and " The 
Elbow " of the South Saskatchewan, we get a pleasing descrip- 
tion from the facile pen of Principal Grant, of Queen's Univer- 
sity.* It is thus described by Doctor Grant : 

" Between the mouth of the Qu'Appelle and any point on 
the Saskatchewan every day's ride reveals new scenes of a 
country, bleak enough in winter, but in summer fair and 
promising as the heart of man can desire; rolling and level 
prairie ; gently swelling uplands ; wooded knolls ; broken hills, 
with gleaming lakes interspersed. One trail leads to the Elbow 
of the South Saskatchewan, and thence to Battleford ; another 
to Fort Carlton ; another to Fort Pelly. The most beautiful 
section of this region is the Touchwood Hills — a succession of 
elevated prairie uplands extensive enough to constitute a 
province. At a distance they appear as a line of hills stretch- 
ing away in a north-westerly direction, but the rise from the 
level prairie is so gentle and undulating that the traveller 
never finds out where the hills actually commence. There are 
no sharply defined summits from which other hills and the 
distant plain on either side can be seen. Grassy or wooded 
knolls enclose fields that look as if they had been cultivated to 
produce hay crops ; or sparkling lakelets, the homes of snipe, 
plover, and duck. Long reaches of fertile lowlands alternate 
with hillsides as fertile. Avenues of whispering trees promise 
lodge or gate, but lead only to Chateaux en Espagne. Beyond 
the Touchwood Hills we come to the watershed of the South 
Saskatchewan ; another region that may easily be converted 
into a garden ; now boldly irregular and again a stretch of 
level prairie ; at intervals swelling into softly-rounded knolls, 
or opening out into fair expanses ; well-wooded, and abounding 
in pools and lakelets, most of them alkaline." 

But we return to the North- West Field Force, which we saw 
setting out to cross the country we have been describing, under 
a terrific snow storm. Hay ward Creek, some twelve miles from 
Fort Qu'Appelle, was as far as the wearied column had been 

*See Ficturesgiue Canada, article on " Winnipeg to the Rocky Mountains." 

MiDDL Eton's mauch to clarke's ctiossiNd. ^81 

able to gain on the first day's march. The country was cover- 
ed with water, the meltings of the winter's snow which before 
the thaw set in had been three feet deep on the level. What 
the force suffered on this first day's tramp may in part be 
gathered from the following jottings of a journalist who had 
been permitted to accompany the column : 

" All day Monday it blew a hurricane from the North, and 
the men had to get out of the waggons and foot it to keep 
from freezing. They sufiered terribly from snow and cold." 
A.t noon it was G0° above zero, but the cold then set in, and 
before 4 p.m. it was 10° below zero. The wind in the afternoon 
blew 40 miles an hour, and when it abated at sundown the 
glass fell to 20° below zero. The men spent a miserable night, 
but stood it pretty well. The waggons were formed into a 
corral, and the troops slept in their blankets, the tents being 
generally discarded, as the wind blew them down or ripped 
them. The trail is exceedingly heavy. We have been going 
through an undulating country with scrub up to the present, 
but our next camp will be in the Touchwood Hills. The 
weather to-day is bright but extremely cold, and the men will 
have another bad night of it. At parade to-day many of the 
men were limping with cold and rheumatism, from the wet 
march yesterday and the exposure over night. But there was 
no grumbling, and cold is better than rain."* 

As the column passed through the File Hill country, the 
Indians were found to be pacific, and were doubtless whole- 

*In these narratives from the front we shall find ourselves under repeated obli- 
gations to the representatives of the Toronto Globe and Mail, as well as to the cor- 
respondence appearing in the Toronto World, Tdegram, and News. We shall also 
be indebted to writers in the Toronto Week, Truth, and Monetary Times, to corres- 
pondents in the field of the Illustrated War News, and to representatives of the 
Montreal Star, Witness, Gazette, and Herald, and the Winnipeg Times. But our 
indebtedness will chiefly be to Mr. Ham, the able and intelligent correspondent 
of the Toronto Mail, whose initials, "G. H. H." will be very familiar to readers 
of that enterprising journal. The author will also owe his acknowledgments to 
Mr. W. P. McKenzie, to " W. W. F.,'' and particularly to " J. B. A.," of St. 
B mi face, whose impartial and instructive letters on the situation in the Ncrth- 
We^it also appeared in the Mail. Tu all, the author prufEers his grateful thanks. 


somely impressed by the martial appearance of the Field Force. 
At the outbreak of the insurrection fears were entertained ol 
a rising among the Crees in the neighbourhood, there having 
been threatening movements on the reserves at Crooked Lake, 
on the Qu'Appelle river ; and Chief Pie-a-pot had been restless 
on the Indian Head hills. Fortunately the Indian agent of 
Treaty No. 4 (Lt.-Col. Allan Macdonald) was able to " soothe 
the savage breast," and, by timely doles of tea and tobacco, to 
lull to quietness Pasquah, Loud Voice, O'Soup, Little Child, 
Star Blanket, Little Black Bear, and other local chieftains of 
the dusky clan.s. 

But if tea and tobacco — the proverbial weaknesses of the 
Indian tribes — had lost their soothing charm for the native 
denizens of the Qu'Appelle district, and if Middleton's column 
had failed to awe them with the passing pageant, there now 
came the stirring spectacle of " the guns." Three hours after 
the column had marched out of Qu'Appelle, a train steamed 
alongside the station, south of the river, with " A " and " B " 
Batteries, under Col. Montizambert, and a battalion that had 
been recruited to accompany the two field-pieces that were to 
follow the General. By the latter's instructions the artillery 
brigade was here divided. " A " Battery, from Quebec, had 
orders to follow the main column, and " B " Battery was direct- 
ed to await Col. Otter's arrival and be attached to his command. 
The brigade consisted of the two batteries, with a foot bat-i 
talion to protect them, in all 230 officers and men, thirty-five 
horses, and four field guns. The men were armed with short 
Enfields. Closely in the wake of the battteries, there arrived 
at Qu'Appelle the Toronto Expeditionary Force, consisting of 
the " Queen's Own," the "Grenadiers," "C" Company Infantry 
School, with Capt. Todd's sharpshooters of the Ottawa Foot 
Guards. With the arrival of this additional force, the Second 

middleton's march to Clarke's crossing. 283 

Field Column, under Colonel Otter, was now made up and 
despatched to Swift Current. 

The additions to the main Field Force were the first to move 
off the ground. These consisted (1) of 60 Mounted Infantry, a 
body of Scouts under Major Boulton, a loj'^al officer who figured 
in the Red River Rebellion of 1869-70, and at one time under 
sentence of death by Riel; (2) "A" Battery,* 115 men and 
two guns ; (?) Colonel Grasett's battalion of the 10th Royal 
Grenadiera, 15 officers and 248 men ; and (4) half of " C " 
Company (35 men) Toronto School of Infantry, under Major 
Smith and Lieut. Scott. Accompanying the latter, and in tem- 
porary command, was Major-General Laurie, of Nova Scotia. 
Lt.-Col. Forrest, who had been acting as Supply Officer to the 
Batteiy, was appointed Paymaster to the force in the field, with 
his headquarters at Qu'Appelle. A mail service was now or- 
ganised by Mr Nursey, and a telegraph field stafi", by Mr Geo. 
Wood. Two hospital field corps were also organised, one to 
accompany General Middleton, and the other to be attached to 
Colonel Otter's column.-f- There was also to go forward, and 

*The following are the officers of "A" Battery, Quebec, ordered to overtaka 
General Middleton, with four companies and two guns. Lt.-Col. C. E. Montizam- 
bert in chief command. Major C. J. Short and Capt. C. W. Drury in charge of 
the Battery ; Capt. Jas. Peters in command of the battalion. Company officers ; 
No. 1, Lt. J. A. G. Hudon ; No. 2, Lt. V. B. Rivers, with Lt. O. C. Pelletier, ol 
the 9th Batt attached ; No. 3, Capt. A. A. Farley, with Lt. Prower attached ; 
No. 4, Lt. Imlah, with Lt. Ciraon attached. Lt. W, H. Disbrowe, of the Winni- 
peg Cavalry, accompanied the battery as a supernumerary. The acting Surgeon 
was Dr. J. A. Grant, of the 1st Batt. Gov. General's Foot Guards. 

tThe following is the Field Staff of Hospital Corps, No. 1 : Surgeon- General D. 
Beigin, M.D., M.P., Cornwall ; Deputy Surgeon-General T. G. Roddick, M.D., 
Montreal ; Surgeon Major C. M. Douglas, V.C., Montreal ; Surgeons, Dr. Jas. 
Bell, Montreal, and Dr. E. A Gravely, Cornwall ; Assist. Surgeons, Dr. Pelletier, 
Montreal, Dr. Allyne, Quebec, Dr. Powell, Ottawa ; in charge of hospital and 
medical stores. Dr. Roddick, of Montreal ; Purveyor, with headquarters at Winni- 
peg, Dr. Sullivan, of Kingston. The following compose Field Hospital Corps, No. 
2 : Surgeon- Major, Dr. H. R. Casgrain, Windsor ; Surgeons, J. F. Williams, 
Barrie, A. Schmidt, Montreal, M. McKay, River St. John, N.S., F. J. White, 
Newfoundland, W.McQuaig, Vankleek Hill, and R. Tumboll, RusseU. 

^84 TtiE iJORTH-WESt: FfS filSToM ANt) itS T&OUULEg. 

take a prominent part in the operations at the front, two Gat- 
ling guns, from Colt's Firearm Manufactory, Hartford, Conn. 
One of these was assigned to Colonel Otter's Field force, 
and the other was attached to General Middleton's column, 
with Lieut. Howard, of the Connecticut National Guards, New 
Haven, in command of the gun platoon. 

This exhausts the catalogue of the provision so far made to 
take the field. Alas ! that it was a provision necessitated by 
civil war. This fact humbles the nation's pride in the success 
of its efforts to place a competent force in the field. It will be 
seen that the arrangements were not left to chance ; all mani- 
festly had been well planned. For this the country's thanka 
are unquestionably due to the Minister of the Militia, to the 
officials of his Department, and, above all, to the Major-General 
in command. The latter, as we shall see later on, is a strong 
figure in the picture. General Middleton is an old campaign- 
er, and has reached that age when maturity usually brings dis- 
cretion, good judgment, ready resource, and strong common 
sense. The harness of his duties sits easily upon him ; and he 
works well himself and all works well with him. What 
was specially to commend him to the nation, was his care of 
the lads under him, his sympathy with them in their heroism 
as well as in their fatigues, and his admirable conservatism (we 
use the term in its highest non-political sense) in handling his 
men. He remembered that he was sent to suppress an armed in- 
surrection, not aggressively to take the field, or to repel inva- 
sion. He also remembered that he was leading, not paid regulars 
to battle, but civilians for the time being enrolled as militia 
volunteers. Nor is there anything about him of the marti- 
net, and less of that official rigeur of manner that so often 
offensively marks the relations of the "regular" officer with 
the rank and file of the volunteers. With this brief intro* 

Middleton's march to Clarke's crossing. 285 

duction to the leader of tlie North-West army in the field, let 
us rejoin the column: we shall see more of this able officer by- 

Thirty miles north of Qu'Appelle, the column halted for 
a day or two to recruit strength, and to allow the battery to 
overtake the main body. The men needed the rest. They 
were well nigh exhausted from cold, discomfort, and fatigue. 
They had marched nearly all the way, for the terrible condition 
of the trail, and the intense cold and fierce head wind, made it 
almost impossible to make use of the waggons. The stress of 
the march told severely on not a few of the men. They suffer- 
ed chiefly from swollen feet, and from rheumatic pains in body 
and limbs, occasioned by sleeping, or trying to sleep, on wet 
ground, which by morning was frozen hard. As they proceed- 
ed northward their plight grew worse; for each day the sun's 
rays gained in strength, and the increasing warmth softened 
the trail and made the marching heavier. 

The tramp over the Great Salt Plain added to the prevailing 
discomfort ; but the endurance of the men was beyond praise, 
and Humboldt at last was reached. The date was April the 12th. 
Here the column was once more considerately permitted to 
rest. The few days' halt enabled the Grenadiers and Boulton's 
Scouts to overtake, and be merged in, the main body. The 
parade-state now showed a strength of about 950 men, made 
up as follows : artillerymen 183 ; infantry G17 ; cavalry and 
mounted scouts, close upon loO.* With the now combine I 

*The combined column, up to this date, was, in addition to the armed teamsters, 
composed of the following : General's staff, 5 ; Capt. French's Scents, 30; Major 
Boulton's Scouts, 60 ; Major Jarvis's Winnipeg Battery, 68 ; Capt. Knight's Cav- 
alry, 38; Col. McKeand's 90th Battalion, 325; CoL Giasett's 10th Grenadiers, 
265 ; Col. Montizambert's "A" Battery, IIS ; and Maj )r Smith's "C" Co. 
School of Infantry, 35,— a total of 950 officers and men. la addition there was a 
small hospital corps, which had been organised in t le prairie capital, under the 
command of Drs. Whiteford and Codd, of Winnipeg. 

286 THE north-west: its history and its troubles. 

force a dash was to be made for the river crossing. On reach- 
ing the Saskatchewan the General hoped to have more definite 
news of the rebel movements, and thus see his way clear tc 
give effect to his own plans. So far as he could rely upon hia 
Intelligence Department, it was ascertained that Riel was forti- 
fying himself at Batoche, and had with him about 250 Mdtis 
and a like number of Teten Sioux. Batoche is a half-breed 
village in the centre of the St. Laurent district, on the South 
Saskatchewan. It is situate about sixty miles from Humboldt 
and forty from Prince Albert. The village is surrounded by 
heavy woods, which would be favourable to the insurgents; 
and it was known that they were actively entrenching them- 

The troops being now rested, the order came to move on to 
the telegraph crossing at Clarke's. On this march both wind and 
weather were more favourable. The trail, in some respects, also 
improved. The alkaline swamps were passed, and any ponds to 
be met with were of sweet water. The blustering cold winds 
also moderated, and the prairie became more free of snow. It 
was now possible to get a dry place for the night's encampment 
and wood for a cheery camp fire. The region, otherwise, was 
still bleak and desolate, for the rebels had effectively scoured 
the country, and swept it clean of cattle and emptied the barns 
of fodder and grain. But in a little over two days the fifty- 
five miles were covered, and the General and the head of the 
column reached the objective point on the Saskatchewan. Here, 
for a while, we shall leave the main Field Force, and accom- 
pany the Second Division in its march to the north. 



*HE measures devised to meet the interruption of 
the general tranquillity of the North-West could 
hardly be said to be lacking in any particular. 
But the completeness of the military arrange- 
ments was not their sole merit. Both the Militia 
Department and the Commander of the Forces 
showed a genius for anticipating wants and for 
taking a comprehensive survey of the situation. 
Everything that human foresight could well devise seems to 
have been thought of and put in the way of immediate execu- 
tion. Not only was the main column, which was to march 
upon the rebels, placed efficiently in the field, but, on their 
arrival, other brigades were despatched to relieve settlements 
in jeopardy in other parts of the country. Disposition was 
also made of the troops at central points, to prevent the 
possibility of a general Indian uprising. 

The region of actual armed insurrection was as yet com- 
paratively a small one; how large it might become no one 
knew and few dared to think. Grave fears had for some time 



been entertained for the safety of many an isolated post, while 
hope was almost abandoned in the case of not a few beleaguered 
settlements. From along the North Saskatchewan news had 
come of the restlessness of the Indians ; and already it was 
known that there had been a massacre of white settlers at 
Frog Lake, to the north-west of Fort Pitt. From the latter 
post the small garrison of Mounted Police had escaped down 
the river in a leaky scow, while the settlers and their families 
were flying for succour to any place of safety. The frozen 
blasts from the north were freighted with the cry of women 
and children in distress, while every scout brought news of 
some cold-blooded murder, of raiding of farms, burning of 
homesteads, and general devastation. It was a time of license 
for barbarism. In the region no white man was now sure of 
his life. However friendly had been his relations with the In- 
dian, and no matter what kindness he had shewn him, there 
were Indians bad enough to forget the claims of gratitude, and 
cowardly enough to shoot a man in the back. In this dread 
time even the agents of civilisation fell unoffending victims at 
their post. Payne, a Government Farm instructor, on a reserve 
of the Stoneys near Battleford, was brutally murdered, and his 
mutilated body strewed the barnyard of the farm. 

In such a time of anxiety and trouble did the Second Field 
Force concentrate at Swift Current, whither it had come from 
the general rallying-point at Qu'Appelle. It was General Mid- 
dleton's design that this column under Colonel Otter should 
disembark at Swift Current station, march to the South Sas- 
katchewan, and there take the river route to Clarke's Crossinor, 
thence by prairie trail to Battleford, This plan however was 
interfered with, in consequence of the water being low in the 
river. To go by boat, it was feared, would be risky and tedious, 
while relief would be delayed in reaching Battleford. It 


was therefore determined to make a dash across the prairia 
and carry instant relief to the beleaguered town. The situation 
of the once capital of the North- West Territories was at thia 
time a very critical one. We shall best get an idea of this by 
quoting from a Battleford journal, whose editor thus comnients 
on the condition of things in the embryo city just before the 
arrival of the Flying Column. We quote from Mr. P. G. Laurie, 
of the Saskatchewan Herald : 

"Most outsiders," writes Mr Laurie, "do not properly appre- 
ciate the dangers of the situation in which for so long a time 
we were placed. In the Fort were well nigh six hundred souls. 
Of these only about two hundred were capable of action in case 
of attack. The palisade environing the fort is about ninety by 
one hundred yards in length. But one gun, the Mounted 
Police seven-pounder, was in the fort, and this could only be 
relied on to protect two sides of the bastion. Fifty men for 
each side was certainly a weak garrison ; and if stormed simul- 
taneously from all quarters, by determined men in sufficient 
numbers, it is questionable if the attack could have been suc- 
cessfully resisted. It was impossible to tell at what hour such 
an attack would be made, and equally impossible to estimate 
coiTcctly the force that might be collected from the disloyal 
reserves all along the Saskatchewan Valley. It might be two 
hundred ; it could well be many times that number. Suppose, 
too, tlie enemy had been sufficiently strong to prevent our 
access to the river, not a drop of water could be got in the fort, 
and without access to the river our capitulation would have 
been a matter of a few days at the furthest. It was indeed 
a trying situation !" 

The situation was fully apprehended by Colonel Otter and 
his staff. The position was critical, and there was urgent need 
of an expeditious movement. Colonel Otter was the very man 
to respond to the need, and the troops that composed his 
column were but too eager to distinguish themselves. The 
opportunity of making a memorable march, we need hardly 
say, was readily embraced, and the force prepared at once to 


Bet out. The signal success achieved by the column, in cover- 
ing a distance of one hundred and eighty miles in five and a 
half days, is almost without a parallel in military annals. But 
where the martial enthusiasm and stirring impulse of a Queen's 
Own movement are manifested, as they were manifested on 
this march, we were sure of witnessing some feat of distinc- 
tion. This was certain to be the case with a corps that had 
been trained under the inspiriting influences of commanding 
officers such as Colonels Gillmor and Otter. 

Nor were the other component parts of the Division less eager 
to distinguish themselves. Capt. Todd's Ottawa Foot Guards, 
a splendid body of men, were anxious to acquit themselves 
with honour ; and " B " Battery, the School of Infantry, and the 
Mounted Police, were all anxious to do their duty. The force 
reached Swift Current from Qu'Appelle on Saturday, the 11th 
of April, and encamped over the Sunday on the line of the 
railway. The place derives its name from a stream, Swift 
Current Creek, which rises in the Cypress Hills, to the south- 
west, and flows into the South Saskatchewan. On Sunday 
there was a Church parade for service on the plain, which was 
conducted by Pte. Acheson of " G " Co. Q.O.R., and who, as a 
student of Wycliffe College, Toronto, naturally chose the 
Anglican form of worship. A correspondent of the Toronto 
Globe supplies us with the following account of the impressive 
service : 

" That portion of the service specially prepared for military 
campaigns was read, and its beautiful and touching language 
seemed to bring home to the men with double force the reality 
that they were on active service, and that the dangers of their 
position wore not insignificant. The eye of the King of Kings 
aiid Lord of Lords was upon them, and to Him they had turned 
to supplicate blessings, protection and guidance in the conflict 
to which they were hastening. The grand old hymn, ' Nearer 

otter's flying column. 291 

toy God to TLee,' was sung with spirit, and its touching melody 
seemed doubly impressive as it was caught up by the wind.i 
and its solemn cadence carried out over that boundless prairie. 
The sun was shining brightly, and the day would have been 
hot had it not been for a tempering wind that blew in from 
the south-west." 

And well might the force reverently supplicate protection 
from Him who is a " strong tower of defence," for already tho 
" flapping of the wings of the Angel of Death " might be heard 
over the plain, and to their comrades of the First Division 
only a few more shadows brought the sharp summons of the 
last enemy. Before three Sundays had passed, the dread sum- 
mons was also to come to eight of those now in the encamp- 
ment, who were to meet death on the battle-field, while twelve 
others of the force were to be counted among the casualties of 
the engagement. 

Nearly the whole of the following week was consumed in 
the march from the railway to the South Saskatchewan, and 
in ferrying the troops across the river, with some two hundred 
teams, heavily loaded with stores, forage and ammunition. On 
arriving at the river it was found that the transport service 
could not be relied on for an expeditious moving of the force 
northward by boat. The water was low, and as yet only The 
Northcote, of the Hudson Bay Company's service, had been 
able to get down the river from Medicine Hat. It was there- 
fore determined to take the prairie trail to Battleford, and to 
Bend the supplies for General Middleton's division by boat. In 
this latter undertaking Messrs G. H. R. Wainwright, and H, 
Gait, of the North-West Navigation Co., were to render im- 
portant service ; while the Midland Battalion, under Col. A. T, 
Williams, was to accompany the steamer as an escort. This 
expedition on the Saskatchewan had a trying ordeal to go 
through, from the difficulties of navigation and the assaults of 



disloyal half-breed scouts on the banks. The boat, though 
banked with bales of hay and flour sacks, was in repeated 
danger from the covert firing of the breeds in the woods ; while 
its living freight was in constant peril from the attacks in the 
run down the river. The transport brigade for Battleford was 
organised and superintended by Messrs E. N, Armit, and George 
-Murphy, of Winnipeg, who by the morning of the 18th inst., had 
the waggon train ready for the inarch to the north. On 
tbe route the transport was in charge of Mr. M. W. "White* 
member for Regina of the North-West Council, and formerly of 
Hamilton, Ont. 

At two o'clock on Saturday, the 18th of April, the bugles of 
the Queen's Own struck up an enlivening march, and the Second 
Division of the North-West Field Force filed away over the 
prairie.* The route of march lay almost due north on the line 
10H° W. of Greenwich, and across the 51st and 52nd north 
meridians. The country through which the column passed 
was an untenanted plain, and the incidents of the march were 
thus few and uninteresting. One day was like another, as 
happens often at sea, save that each day the pace quickened, 
iind the night's rest was more and more keenly sought to re- 
cruit the exhausted strength of the rapid flight over the prairie. 
Happy the volunteer who had not to go on picket or guard 
<iuty when the curtain of night fell on the plain ; and happier 
lie who could get "a lift" on the waggons when the day 

*Thi8 Division, under the command of Lt. -Col. Otter, consisted of 50 Mounted 
Police, under Col. Herchmer, who also acted as chief of the Field Staff ; .50 Ottawa 
Foot Guards, under Capt. Todd ; 30 of " C " Co. School of Infantry, under Lts. 
Wadmore and Sears ; 268 officers and men of the 2nd Batt. Queen's Own Rifles, 
tinder Lt.-Col. Miller; and 112 oflRcers and men of "B" Battery, under Major 
•Short. The Re 1 Cross Ambulance corps, patriotically organised by Mr. E. W. 
Wragge, of Toronto, and in charge of Dr. Nattress, of the Queen's Own, ac- 
ccmpanied the brigade, A Gatling gun also formed part of the equipment of the* 

' otter's flying column. 293 

dawned and the column was once more on its way. Of tho 
march we gather the following incidents from the Globes cor- 
respondence — dated " In Camp on the Prairie, April 2 2d :" 

* We have been marching about thirty miles a day since \vt» 
left the Saskatchewan, and expect to reach Battleford on Fii- 
day, the day after to-morrow. We left our Camp at the Sas- 
katchewan on Saturday and marched all Sunday. There is a 
waggon for every ten men ; but when all our baggage and tents 
are put on only two or three can ride at a time : as some of 
the boys are used up and not able to walk at all, most of us 
have to tramp all the while. We reckon to have come 140 
miles, and I have not been in the waggons more than twenty 
miles altogether, so have walked fully twenty miles a day, and 
been on outpost and guard duty all night for two nights. This 
is my second night. I go on guard as soon as we get into 
camp, two hours on and four hours off, so have four hours 
walking during the night. The guard is not as hard as picket 
duty, for we can stay in the tent four hours out of every six, 
while the pickets are out all night about a quarter of a mile 
from camp. 

" I will give you my work for twenty-four hours, so you will 
have some idea of what we have to do. On Monday night I 
was told off for duty after marching all day. We had to go 
out on picket without any supper as it was late when wo 
halted, so taking a few 'hard tack' in my pocket I went on 
with the others. We formed a line of men round the camp 
with four main posts, twenty-one on each post. Fourteen stayed 
at the post, and seven went out scouting for two hours. I 
went on at eight o'clock, stayed till ten, went back to the post 
till two A..M, then on again till four, so had four hours walking 
daring the night. The night was cold, and it was impossible 
to sleep on the post, as we had no tent, and of course could 
not light any fires. We went back to camp at 5 A.M., and a 
worse broken up lot of fellows it would be hard to find. The 
tents were all struck when we got back ready to start ; and all 
the breakfast we got was some tea, almost cold, and hard tack. 
Fully half of the picket were so used up they coul I not walk. 
Some of them had to be helped on the waggons. I was able to 
walk, so had to do it, all the wnggons bein«r than full. 
We marched six,teeA miles and halted two Uoois iur di..ner^ 


and I had a good sleep during that time. I got a chance to 
ride for an hour, and then walked again till we halted for the 
night, doing twelve miles in the afternoon. After supper and 
getting baggage off and tents up, I turned in at nine o'clock 
and never moved till four this morning." 

By Tuesday night the wearied column had reached the 
neighbourhood of Eagle Creek, about midway between the 
South and North Saskatchewan. Over the creek a bridge was 
extemporised, and the force, crossing the stream, proceeded on 
its way. Thursday morning brought the column to within 
Bight of the Indian Reserve of Mosquito's band, where Payne, 
the white Farm Instructor, met his foul death at the hands oi 
those whom he was instructing in the peaceful art of the 
farmer ! The afternoon march took the column through the 
deserted reserve and past the desolate home of the unfortunate 
Farm Instructor. The mutilated body of the poor Indian 
Agent was found in an outhouse with his head smashed in, 
and the lifeless body of another white man, a Belgian rancher, 
was discovered near by. Nightfall saw the Division approach 
the low range of mountains, known as the Wolf and the Slid- 
ing Hills, which hem in Battleford on the south. As these 
hills are more or less covered with timber, in which the Indian 
marauders of the region could find cover from which to fire on 
the troops, a halt was called for the night on the borders of 
the prairie. The men slept under arms, while the sky was 
illumined by the Indian vandals setting fire to the houses 
in Battleford, a piece of parting pleasantry on the approach of 
the troops. 

The excitement which this grim devastation created in the 
ranks of the relieving column was intense. The men, tired out 
as they were, clamoured to make a dash through the three 
miles of poplar and underbrush that intervened between the 
camp and the high banks of the Battle River, and, desceading 

otter's flying column. 295 

to the plain, to rush upon the Indian miscreants. But gallant 
as was the intent, Colonel Otter saw that the risk was too great 
to permit him to give the men their way. There was not only 
the risk of conflict with the Indians on the plain ; there was 
danger in being ambushed in a locality unknown to himself 
and the troops. Had he yielded, and the charge been made, it 
might have been said of it, as General Bosquet is reported to 
have said of the headlong rush of the English Light Brigade 
at Balaklava, " It was magnificent, but it was not war ! "* And 
Colonel Otter was right ; the lives of his men were more to 
him than the safety of a few houses and stores, or even a de- 
camped Judge's residence. Of the arrival at, and entry into, 
Battleford on the sixth day of the unparalleled march across 
the plains, we have the following record from a volunteer cor- 
respondent : 

" On Thursday evening we arrived within three miles of 
Battleford, where we camped for the night. The Indians were 
between us and the town, and all ranks were anxious to get 
on ; but the Colonel decided to wait till daylight before mak- 
ing an attack. That night the Indians burned the Hudson 
Bay store and the Government House, and sacked the town. 
The Mounted Police were out scouting, and a young fellow 
who was with them was killed. I was on outpost duty that 
night and could plainly see the blaze from the burning houses. 
About one o'clock in the morning the Indians tried to surprise 
our camp, but retired when they found us on the watch. We 
gave them a few bullets, but could not tell whether we killed 
any of them or not. Next morning we marched into Old 
Battleford ; but not an Indian was to be seen. The stores we 
found plundered, and many of them burnt. All the people are 
in the Fort on the other side of the Battle River and between 
the latter and the Saskatchewan. The Indians have stolen or 
destroyed, I should say, over $50,000 worth of goods, and got 
off clear, and we only a few miles away. We were all wild to 

•Q'est.magiiifique, maia ce u'est ]^ ^uene I, 


get after them, but had to go into camp. On Friday night 
some twenty police joined us here from Fort Pitt, with the 
news that it had been taken by tlie Indians. The police es- 
caped by the help of a friendly Indian ; but two of them were 
killed during the retreat. The Stoney Indians who sacked 
this place have joined Poundraaker, and are at his. reserve, 
some thirty-five miles from here. To make a descent upon 
them, we expect, will be our next move." 

The march of Colonel Otter's column to the relief of Battle- 
ford may not inaptly compare with incidents in the military 
annals of the Old World. It would be foolish to liken it to 
the relief of Poona or Cawnpore, for it lacks the tragic incid- 
ents which marked the relief by the British troops of these 
Indian cities. But it was lacking only in this particular. 
The rapidity of the forced march, the toil undergone by our 
volunteers en route, and the eager anxiety of all ranks to reach 
Battleford before savage lust of blood would be slaked in the 
massacre of the white refugees in the Fort, were features in 
common with the famed relieving expeditions of the barbaric 
East. " The looting of the town," writes a journalist after the 
arrival of Otter's column, " was about as complete as the 
Indian could make it. Nothing escaped his rapacity. The 
devil in his nature had full vent. The contents of the houses 
were smashed and strewed about with a fury as fiendish as it 
was vain. Household goda^ — treasures infinitely more of the 
heart than of the pocket, — ^were tumbled about in indescribable 
confusion ; and cosy comfort, which years had fashioned and 
time had rendered doubly dear, was converted into desolation. 
Vast stores of provisions wei-e carted away, and what the 
marauders could not carry ofi' they destroyed." Nor was this 
riot of pillage and purposeless wrecking of stores and houses 
confined to the town. Similar rapine had been going on over 
the district, alike in the rosideAce of the well-to-do, and in the 


Cknumanding Machine Gun Platoon Seco-d Conr.coticut National Guird 


modest home of the poor settler. " Humanitarian critics in 
the east," writes an indignant resident of Battleford, "may 
counsel clemency in dealing with the Indian ; but these peace 
exhorters should be here to witness the wreck of all our 
possessions, and undergo the mental strain of many weeks' 
dread of nightly massacre, before they are competent to say 
what shall be the fate of those whose hands are red with th« 
blood of the settler, and whose lawlessness was restrained only 
by innate cowardice and the approach of the troops." 

Fortunately this carnival of license ended with the appear- 
ance of the relieving column on the heights over-looking the 
Battle River and the low, rich plain on which stood New 
Battleford. To the townspeople and settlers of the neighbour- 
hood, who had for weeks been immured in the Police Barracks 
at Battleford, the dawn of Friday, the 24th of April, was 
freighted with joy. At sight of the troops all turned out to 
greet them with cheers ; and the citizens and relieved garrison 
hastened to make provision for their rest and refreshment. 
Colonel Morris, of the Mounted Police, who had been in charge 
of the Fort, was hearty in his welcome of Colonel Otter and 
his command, and no less hearty in extending the courtesies 
of the post to his old comrade, Colonel Herchmer, and his 
mounted detachment. For a time all was bustle and excite- 
ment ; but a day or two saw the Second Field Division settle 
down to routine camp duty, varied by the occasional excite- 
ment of camp sports, or of news of Indians on the war-path, 
brought in by the ubiquitous scout. Camp was pitched on 
the plain between the Battle River and the North Saskat- 
chewan, and the men for a time worked off their superabund- 
ant vitality in erecting earthworks to protect it, and in build- 
ing a bridge over the Battle River. A daily garrison was also 
told off for duty at tlia Industrial School on, the. heights,, at. 


occupy that commanding post of observation, and on occasion 
to give note of warning. 

The inaction that followed soon chafed the eager spirits oi 
the camp. All were anxious for a brush with the Indian, the 
more so as news had reached the garrison of fighting on the 
South Saskatchewan, and of the heroism of comrades at the 
Barttle of Fish Creek. But orders came not. The men grew 
tired of nursing their abraded heels and of mollifying with 
ointment each other's sun-scorched faces. Soon, too, the mend- 
ing of rents in their uniform palled, though the exhilaration 
of this necessary task was not without its relief. Its comical 
aspect is thus portrayed in a letter from a young divinity 
Btudent in the ranks to his father, a well-known and worthy 
clergyman, whose parish is in the north-west suburb of Toronto. 
As the letter appeared in the Toronto Mail, we have no scruple 
on the score of delicacy in transferring it to our pages. Nor, 
in doing so, shall we be charged, we hope, with making an 
oblique partisan attack upon the Government. The innocent, 
clever fun in the extract should relieve the writer and our- 
selves from a charge so false. 

" Our clothes," writes this militant Churchman, "are begin- 
ning to show signs of wear, especially the rear of our unmen- 
tionables ; mine gave out entirely. One sleeve came out of 
my overcoat, and I made use of the latter to make up the for- 
mer deficiency, or, as I told an officer last night who asked 
me what had become of my sleeve, ' I took a detachment from 
the right subdivision of my overcoat to reinforce the rearguard 
of my trowsers.' However, the strength of the reinforcement 
only serves to show the weakness and utter demoralisation 
and rottenness of the said rearguard ; and, consequently, I have 
applied to the Colonel for their superannuation, and for the 
attachment to my command of one of a hundred new pairs 
daily expected from headquarters. One night on picket I felt 
a little cool for want of this rearguard, and to supply its place 
I took off my rifle sling, fastened it to my waist belt before and 

6tteb's flying column. ^OO 

behind, passed it through my legs, an J thus pressed the tail of 
my overcoat into service as a substitute, and a very good one 
it proved ! Otherwise, I have in no way suffered from the 
col'l since leaving Qu'Appelle, and very little then, the north- 
shore trip having done much in hardening us. Life as a sol- 
dier is by no means bad, in fact, it imj^roves as we go on, and 
would be first rate if we could only drop into Toronto occasion- 
ally, or even get the mails regularly." * 

Such was the spirit and good humour, not only of the 
"Queen's Own," but of all the Battleford troops, as well ol 
their comrades in other portions of the North- West. From 
all quarters came the same note of cheerfulness, the same manly 
undergoing of hardship, and, from the battle-field, a courageous 
f.icing of death ! In closing this chapter, let us signalise the 
great march we have attempted to describe by quoting the 
compliments it elicited in Parliament, and the well-merited 
praise awarded to the whole force in the field. On the 27th 
of April, after the march to Battleford, and the gallant con- 
duct of the troops at Fish Creek, Mr. J. D. Edgar, M.P. for 
AVest Ontario, rose in the House and made the following 
remarks, with the accompanying enquiry of the Minister oi 
Militia : 

•* While the whole country has been excited about the troops 
under Gen. Middleton, all Canadians, I am sure, are filled with 
«,d miration at the extraordinary and brilliant march made by 
Cul. Otter's column from the Saskatchewan to Battleford, and 
everybody is interested in knowing how the troops have stood 
that extraordinary strain. I have no doubt the Government 
have informed themselves of the general health of that column, 
;aud I would like to know from the Minister what the report is.. 

Hon. Mr. Caron — It gives me very great pleasure, indeed, in 
answer to the question, to state that the hon. gentleman has 
•qualified the march of Col. Otter's column as it should be 
•qualified. That march is considered by those who are author- 
ities in such matters — I mean military men — to have been a 
unarch deserving of all the encomiums that can be given to a 


feat of that kind. We always knew Col. Otter to be one of 
the very best men we had in the Canadian sei'vice, and in the 
opportunity which has been given of showing his great value 
he has not been found wanting. I am happy to state that 
from the telegram I have received from Battleford, I have 
reason to believe the troops are in the very best possible health 
and spirits, and that they have stood that wonderful march 
(for it was a wonderful march) in a manner that could not 
have been expected from them. 1 received yesterday a cipher 
telegram from the Major-General, in which he speaks in the 
highest possible terms of the behaviour of the troops in their 
Hrst engagement. He confirms the news which appeared in 
the press of this morning of the encounter, and mentions the 
names of our brave volunteers who have fallen on the field. I 
am sure I am merely expressing the views and the opinion of the 
whole country in saying that we all deeply regret the loss we 
have suffered. They died the death of soldiers, and I am sure 
the country must be proud of the manner in which they have 
done their duty." (Cheers.) 



HILE the tender blades of the prairie grass in 
the North- West were springing rapidly from 
the womb of earth, and 

*' The mother of months in meadow and plain 
Filled the shadows and windy places 
With lisp of leaves and ripple of rain," 

a deed of horror was being enacted in an 
isolated region beyond the frost-liberated 
waters of the North Saskatchewan. The 
scene was Frog Lake, in the neighbourhood of Fort Pitt. For 
a time the facts of the tragedy did not transpire, and in the 
absence of reliable information, as often happens, idle rumour 
exaggerated the report. The first startling intelligence was of 
the wholesale massacre of the Government Indian Agents of 
the district, the Farm Instructors and Hudson Bay officials, 
with their wives and families, the Priests of the Roman Catho- 
lie mission, and the garrison of mounted constabulary at Fort 
Pitt. A later report still further exaggerated the facts, with 
the tidings that all of one sex had been butchered, and the 
other reserved to suffer the nameless horrors of Indian indig- 
nity and savage lust. Calamitous as was the occurrence, tha 



facts were not quite so incredible. The truth was finally got 
at, and the enormity of Big Bear's crimes reached the outer 
world. In brief these crimes consisted in the murder, in cold 
blood, of two Oblat Fathers of the Catholic Mission ; one Lay 
Brother ; one chief Indian Agent ; two Farm Instructors ; two 
Mounted Police ; two Hudson Bay Company employes, and the 
capture and detention of some thirty others, men, women, and 
children. The indictment further included the wrecking of 
the settlements ; the raiding of the posts ; the burning of the 
Mission Church, the bodies of the Priests being flung upon the 
pyre ; and the seizure of cattle and stores, wherever marauding 
hands cuuld reach them. The captives, for the space of two 
months, were in hourly fear for their lives. Dragged to and 
fro over a wild and desolate region, they for a time lived a 
living death. 

The region of the Indian rising, in the Fort Pitt Agency ex- 
tends from Fort Pitt on the Upper Saskatchewan, north-west- 
ward to Frog Lake on the western flank of the Moose Hills, 
and south of the Beaver River. Roughly speaking, the meri- 
dians 110*^ W. and 54° N. may be said to intersect each other 
at the north-east angle of Frog Lake. The Indian reserves at 
the Lake were occupied by the small bands of Chiefs Wee- 
mis-ti-co-wa-sis, Ne-paw-hay-haw, and Puska-ah-go-win, in all 
less than two hundred souls. But the region, of late, had be- 
come the stalking ground of the large and restless tribes of 
Big Bear, Lucky Man, Little Poplar, and Wandering Spirit, 
Eome six or seven hundred in number. At Fort Pitt the band, 
nearly two hundred strong, of See-kas-kootch had a reserve 
and at Long Lake, a considerable distance to the northward, a 
hundred troublesome Chippewyans were located. Over all 
these bands Big Bear dominated, and his malign influence and 
the fear of his name, disaffected the whole district, and finally 
led most of them to go forth with him on tbe war-path. 


The action of Big Bear, and the insurrection of Riel and his 
half-breeds, incited other bands, if not to murder, to acta of 
thievery and lawless intimidation. Not less than five thousand 
Indians, on the North Saskatchewan, were known to be more 
or less disaffected. Besides the bands we have mentioned, and 
Beardy's Duck Lake following, all the Indians round Battleford 
were actively hostile. These included the Eagle Hill Indiana 
under Chiefs Mosquito, Bear's Head, Lean Man, and Red 
Pheasant; with the bands under Poundmnker, Little Pine, and 
Sweet Grass, or Strike-him-on-the-back, all situate in the 
neighbourhood of the Battle River. On the reserves at Jack 
Fish Creek, the bands of Moosomin, and Napahase, were also 
feared to be unfriendly, together with the following of Mista- 
wasis and One Arrow. 

The sedition of Riel was the signal for the rising of this 
mass of disaffection. His runners carried news of the half- 
breed revolt throughout the district, and the Indian nature 
could not resist the contagion. We have seen whut j)art the 
Willow Crees of Duck Lake played in the first uprising, and 
we have been witness to the devilment of the marauding 
bands round Battleford. Let us now move westward to the 
troubled region of Fort Pitt and the lair of the Pontiac of the 
North-West, the notorious rascal Big Bear. His stalking 
ground was the whole district between Edmonton and Battle- 
ford, but lay chiefly round Long, Frog, and Stoney Lakes, 
north of the Saskatchewan. In this district Big Bear had long 
been a source of anxiety to the Government Agents at Fort 
Pitt, as he had formerly been troublesome at Fort Walsh, in 
the Cypress Hills. At the latter Fort he refused to take 
treaty in the summer of 1879, when Little Pine and Lucky 
Man, chiefs of his own tribe, became adherents to Treaty No. 
6, made at Forts Carlton and Pitt in the Fall of 1876. The 


reason assigned for refusing treaty was some scruple he had to 
the indignity of hanging for murder, a punishment he was 
richly to merit by his subsequent acts. Towards the close of 
1882 he signed adhesion to treaty and agreed to go on a re- 
serve in the neighbourhood of Fort Pitt. Here, as a corres- 
pondent remarks, it was thought that amidst hitherto quiet 
and peaceful bands of his own nation in the district, and 
hemmed in on the south by the Upper Saskatchewan, he would 
settle down and give no further trouble. But trouble from the 
first he has given and continued to give, and has repeatedly 
been guilty of acts of violence and intimidation. Time and 
again he has attempted to overawe the Police at the Pitt 
Agency, and summoned the various bands in the district to 
take up the hatchet and tomahawk. At repeated pow-wows 
he has incited his followers to acts of sedition, and endeavoured 
to persuade his braves to exterminate the settlers. He also 
revived the " Thirst Dance " with all its revolting features. 

Fort Pitt is a fort only in name. It lies unprotected on a 
low, rich flat somewhat back from the north shore of the Upper 
Saskatchewan, and is situate about a hundred miles from 
Battleford on the East, and two hundred miles from Edmonton 
on the West. Here, on Good Friday, the 3rd of April, Henry 
Quinn, nephew of the local Government Indian Agent, who 
had escaped from Frog Lake with his life, brought the news to 
the Foi-t of the massacre of the whites at the Lake, and of the 
capture by Big Bear of those he wished to hold as prisoners. 
The horror occurred on the previous day. Big Bear, Wandering 
Spirit, and Little Bear and their bands, being its chief actors. 
The victims of the massacre, it was reported, were Thomas 
Quinn, resident Indian Agent; John Delaney, Farm Instructor ; 
John A. Gowanlock, millwright; Fathers Farfard and Marchand, 


of tho TjT^Ian Mission; J. DilJ, a storekeeper; W. Gilchrist; J. 
Wiliscroft; and C. Gouin. 

The ill-fated missionaries were Oblat Fathers engaged in the 
Belf-saerificing duties of the Indian Missions in this outlying 
portion of the diocese of Bishop Grandin, of Prince Albert. 
Father Farfard was a Lower Canadian, and for the past nine 
years had been occupied in missionary work in the North- 
West. Father Marchand was a native of Fiance. He came to 
Canada two years ago, and, accepting duty in the Battleford 
Missions, had recently settled at Frog Lake. 

Thos. Quinn, the trusted Indian Agent of the Government, 
was a native of Red River. His father was an Irish trader in 
that region, and his mother a Cree half-breed. Physically, 
Quinn was a fine specimen of humanity : he was a thorough 
frontiersman, an accomplished horseman, and an expert canoe- 
ist. He is said to have laboured long and zealously for the 
conversion of his Pagan brethren, and to have earnestly sought 
the amelioration of their condition. His fate at the hands of 
those to whom he had been kind is a grim commentary on the 
results anticipated from Indian evangelisation. But, in a re- 
flection of this sort, the agitated condition of the country, and 
the example of the seditious half-breeds, have to be borne in 
mind, and allowance made for their effects on imperfect civilis- 

John Delaney, the Farm Instructor, had in 1882 come with 
his wife from the neighbourhood of Ottawa, and had the super- 
vision of four bands of Indians in proximity to Frog Lake. 
His official duties were also to attend to the issue of Govern- 
ment rations to the followers of Big Bear. We are told that 
he was engaged in the performance of this humane duty when 
the outbreak took place. A like beneficent work had brought 
Mr. J. A. Gowanlock to Frog Lake : he was engaged in erecting 



a mill for the benefit of the Indians of the district. Mr. and 
Mrs. Gowanlock belonged to Parkdale, the western suburb of 
Toronto. Theirs is a sad tale. The young couple had been 
but a few months married, and had come to Frog Lake in the 
previous December. The story we have to tell of the massacre 
is taken from the lips of the surviving -wives of Delaney and 
Gowanlock.* After the shooting of their husbands, these un- 
fortunate gentlewomen were dragged from the lifeless bodies 
of their loved protectors, and for two months were the terror- 
stricken captives of the Indian murderers. For this long 
period they were in ignorance of what had happened elsewhere 
in the Territories, and were unaware that their fate had be- 
come known to their kin and the people of Canada. Not 
knowing this, how sad was their plight in their forced march- 
ings and counter-marchings with their hunted Indian captors, 
for hope of freedom or rescue never came to relieve or buoy 
their minds ! 

The dread incidents of the massacre are briefly as follows : 
On one of the closing days of March a message reached the 
home of the Gowanlocks, informing its inmates that Mr. Quinn, 
the Indian agent, had fears of a rising among Big Bear's band, 
and advising Mr. and Mrs. Gowanlock to come to Quinn's 
house, and from there the small colony of white settlers would 
proceed to Fort Pitt for safety. The Gowanlocks, thus warned, 
set out for the rendezvous. On their way they called at the 
homestead of Delaney, the Farm Instructor, where their fear 
of pending trouble was allayed, and they abode with the 
Delaneys two nights. At dawn on Thursday, the 2nd of 
April, the household was startled at seeing the place surround- 

♦Fof the basis of this narrative we are indebted to " A. S. O. E.," the Olohe 
fipecial correspondent, who transmits the combined story of Mrs. Delaney and Mrs. 
Gowanlock to the Toronto Olohe, under date. Battleford the 12th of June. 


ed by some thirty armed Indians, most of them mounted on 
their prairie ponies. Tlie leaders forced their way into tho 
house, and took possession of all ^ the arms and ammunition 
they could find, informing the Delaneys and their guests, tiu 
Gowanlocks, that they had need of the weapons, Tluy then 
required the inmates of the homestead to go with them, fui' 
they wished to save them — such was the pretext, — from half- 
breeds who were coming to attack them. In their fear, though 
not suspecting molestation, they complied with the Indians' 
wishes, and set out for Quinn's home, and from Quinn's to tho 
Mission House. At Quinn's a like demand was made for all 
the arms at the Agency, and the story was repeated of threat- 
ened attack by the breeds. At the mission morning mass was 
being celebrated, which the Indians interrupted, and all were 
ordered back to Delaney's, together with the half-breeds who 
had been taken prisoners by the Indians, and had sought tho 
shelter of the Church. 

At the Delaney's all were left for a time in quiet. The In- 
dians soon returned, however, after looting a couple of stores in 
the neighbourhood ; and some, it is supposed, gaining access to 
the sacramental wine at the Priests'. Big Bear now appeare I 
on the scene. To the Delaneys the Chief, with affected guile- 
lessness, imparted his fears of the hostile intent of his young 
braves. He assured the Instructor, however, that he and his 
wife would be safe. The whole were now ordered to thj 
Indian camp, though as yet none apprehended serious trouble. 
The tragic events that followed we shall leave Mrs. Gowanlock 
to relate : 

" We all left Mrs. Delaney's house together. When we left 
no one knew what was going to happen, and I do not tliink it 
was really snppo^oil any of us wcr.- in datigcr. As wo left, Vu> 
house my husband took uic with LUu and we walked, qa 


together. We had gone only a few paces when the Indiana 
began firing. Mr. Dill, Mr. Quinn, and Mr. Gilchrist were shot 
first, though I did not see them shot ; but as soon as I saw Mr. 
Willscroft, an old grey-headed man, fall in front of us, I then 
knew all were being killed. I became greatly alarmed. I saw 
an Indian aiming at my husband by my side. In a moment 
he fell, reaching out his arms towards me as he sank. I 
caught him, and we fell together. I lay upon him, resMng my 
iace upon his, and his breath was scarcely gone when I was 
forced away by an Indian. It was not the Indian who fired 
that dragged me from my husband. I was almost crazy with 
grief ; but I remember seeing the two priests shot and also Mr. 
Delaney. They were in front of me. One of the priests, when 
shot, was leaning over Mr. Delaney. I saw them fall, but 
it appeared to me like some terrible dream. I did not seem 
to know what it all meant, and I went through it dazed and 
stunned, with only the power of my limbs left me to follow 
afttjr the Indian, as he dragged me after him. I was pulled 
tlirough the sloughs and coarse brush, which wet me through 
and tore my clothes and flesh, and I must have suffered in- 
tensely from rough treatment, though my grief and terror 
rendered me unconscious of much of my suffering. . . After 
this I was not subjected to any very severe hardship, but my 
mental anxiety, verging on derangement, was my worst trouble. 
I never knew what next was cominof ; 1 did not fear actual 
death at the hands of the Indians, but I dreaded ill-treatment 
and abuse a thousand times worse than death itself." 

Mrs. Delaney's personal experience is as unspeakably sad. 
After reciting the facts connected with the early morning's 
proceedings, in which she took part, she enumerates those who 
fell, among whom were Mr. Dill, Mr. Quinn, Mr. Willscroft, 
Ml-. Gouin, Mr. Gilchrist, and Mr, Gowanlock. The latter she 
saw fall. Here is a portion of her piteous narrative : 

" Mrs. Gowanlock was beside her husband when he fell, and 
as he dropped she leaned down over him, putting her face to 
his. As two shots had been fired at her husband some sup- 
posed that she had fallen at the second shot. When I saw Mrs. 
Qowanlock fall I saw some hideous object, an Indian got up 


in frightful costume, take aim at my husband. Before I could 
speak my husband staggered away, but came back and said to 
me, 'I am shot.' He then fell, and I called the priest and told 
him what had happened. While he was praying with my 
husband the same hideous Indian fired again, and I thought 
his shot was meant for me, and I laid my head down upon my 
husband and waited — it seemed an age — but it was for ray poor 
husband, and he never spoke afterwards. Almost immediately 
another Indian ran up and ordered me away. I wanted to 
stay, but he dragged me off, pulling me along by the arms 
through the brush and brier and through the creek, where the 
water reached to my waist. I was put into an Indian tent and 
left there until nightfall, without anything offered me to eat, 
though I could not have eaten anything. I was not allowed 
outside of the tent, and so had no opportunity of returning to 
my dead husband, and have never seen him since." 

Escape from the heart-rending situation which had so 
suddenly environed these poor women was not to come for two 
months after these events occurred. Thanks to the humanity 
of their fellow-prisoner half-breeds, relief, however, was in 
some measure to be theirs. To their protection and incessant 
interposition, they owed their lives and all that a woman holds 
dear. In their trying situation Heaven's mercy seemed mir- 
aculously extended to them ; for at nightfull on the day of the 
massacre, while Mrs. Delaney and Mrs. Gowanlock were con- 
fined in separate tepees among the Indians, some half-breeds 
in the camp purchased their release by giving up their 
horses and a little money they had concealed upon their per- 
sons. The names of their half-breed liberators are John 
Pritchard and Adolphus Nolan, with two others, named Blondiu 
and Goulois. To Pritchard, especially, do the women acknow- 
ledge their eternal gratitude. By the purchase, the women 
came together, and in their common captivity were tenderly 
cared for. At Pritchard's interpo.sition they were also per 
mitted. to travel, with the haJf -breed jgriaoaers. 


" Every other day," observes Mrs. Delaney, " we were moved 
with the entire camp from one place to another. Big Bear's 
treatment of us would have been cruel in the extreme, but 
Pritchard saved us from the agony and torture of forced marches 
through sloughs, brush, and rough land. Frequent attempts 
were made to reach us by the Indians, but the half-breeds 
watched night after night, armed and ready to keep ofi' any 
attempt to ill-treat us. Four different nights Indians approach- 
ed our tent, but the determination of our protectors saved us. 
There is no telling what abuse we might have been subject to 
but for their presence." 

Mrs. Gowanlock's testimony to Pritchard's fidelity and con- 
stant thoughtfulness is equally hearUelt and siucere. She 
remarks : 

" I dread to imagine what would have been done to us had 
it not been for John Pritchard and those who were with him. 
We were not compelled to march on foot, although once or 
twice Mrs. Delaney and I walked off together when the cart 
was not ready, John Pritchard often made his children walk 
that we might ride. I had no idea where we were being taken 
to, or what was going to be done with us, but I kept up as 
best I could. We had heard nothing of troops coming, nor had 
we heard anything of Kiel's rebellion, further than early in 
March that there was likely to be one. We had nothing at all 
to look forward to, and hope was not entertained for a moment. 
Sometimes John Pritchard encouraged me and would tell us 
that he would do what he could to get us to our friends, but 
this, our only hope, was only of momentary comfort, and the 
terrible present would drive away all expectations of ever again 
seeing home and friends. For two months we travelled on, 
going long and short distances by daylight, according to the 
inclination of Big Bear. I frequently saw him. He would 
come into our tent and talk to us. Mr. Pritchard would inter- 
pret, and Big Bear professed sorrow, telling us it was all the 
fault of his braves whom he could not control. I did not be- 
lieve this altogether, although he had very little control over 
his band. Wandering Spirit seemed to have more influence 
with the tribe than anyone else. He was one of Big Bear's 
councillors, and th§ man \srho fired tl^e ^rsi; shot, the shot that 


killed Mr. Quinn. The Indians would contend with one another 
for the honour of having killed the whites, and would even 
quarrel over the disputes that would arise between themselves 
on this account. The squaws would come to our tent — not a 
tepee such as the Indians used — and jeer and laugh at us and 
ask us how we liked it ; and shortly before we escaped they 
kept saying they wanted to kill us." 

We shall anticipate events if we here give the sequel to this 
lamentable story. But it will be better to complete the sad 
narrative in the present chapter ; and we do so more willingly, 
as what we have now to tell has a measurably happy ending 
in escape and succour. About the time General Middleton's 
Field Division reached Humboldt, on the way to the seat of 
insurrection, Big Bear's band, in their wanderings to and fro 
with the Frog Lake captives, threatened a descent upon Fort 
Pitt. This post at the time contained a small garrison of 
Mounted Police, a few Hudson Bay Company ofBcials and 
their familie3, together with the Missionary and the Farm In- 
structor of Onion Lake, who, in the disturbed state of the 
district, had sought the protection of the Fort for themselves 
fcnd their households. In anticipation of attack by Big Bear's 
young braves, willing hands within Fort Pitt were busily em- 
ployed pulling down all outside buildings, blocking up windows, 
making loop holes for musketry, erecting bastions, and generally 
fortifying the defences of the post. Before two weeks in April 
had passed over, word was brought to the Fort of the approach 
of Big Bear, Little Poplar, and Wandering Spirit, with some 
ten or twelve lodges of Indians. On the 14th inst., they were 
descried on an eminence, some eight hundred yards from the 
post, where they made night hideous with the war-dance, and 
frightened the garrison by firing stray shots into the Fort, and 
by scouting round its defence^ 


Double sentries were now mounted all day, and during the 
niglit the whole garrison was under arms. Even young girls, 
inmates of the Fort, pluckily stationed themselves at loopholes, 
rifle in hand, ready to withstand attack. Next morning a 
message was received from Big Bear requiring the garrison to 
evacuate the Fort and give up arms. A council was now 
called, and it was decided that Mr. Maclean, the Hudson Bay 
Factor at the post, should seek an interview with the Indian 
Chief, and learn from him whether he would protect life on 
the post being surrendered to pillage. At the parley that en- 
sued, Maclean was told that the Indians wanted to raid the 
fort, and not to kill the inmates. Protection was guaranteed 
to the Hudson Bay officials and their families, if they at once 
surrendered themselves ; and a personal message was sent by 
Big Bear, urging the Mounted Police to make good their escape 
from the Fort. They were also informed that he would not be 
answerable for the actions of his followers if they continued 
to defend the place. Maclean, meanwhile, was held a prisoner. 
In view of the situation, and anxious for the safety of his 
wife and family, of ten children, as well as for the other in- 
mates of the Fort, Maclean took Big Bear at his word, and 
sent a letter directing his family to join him, and urging all 
the Hudson Bay Company employes to do the same. As the 
latter numbered only twenty- eight souls, men, women, and 
children, and the Mounted Police, all told, were but fifteen men, 
with Inspector Dickens in command, the impossibility of hold- 
ing the Fort against two hundred and fifty Indians, was patent 
to everyone. The Hudson Bay people therefore marched out 
of the Fort, and proceeded to Big Bear's camp on the hill, 
where they gave themselves up. The garrison being thua 
depleted, the Police saw discretion ' lay in making speedy 
escape from the beleagured Fort. They were hastened in this. 


act by the killing of one of their number (Constable Cowan*), 
and the wounding of another (Constable Loasby), who were 
shot while scouting on the plain. That evening, the night ol 
the 15th inst., the intrepid Police stole from the Fort, carrying 
with them the colours and their wounded comrade. With 
difficulty the fugitives crossed the ice-choked river, and camp- 
ed till dawn on the southern bank of the Saskatchewan, 

At four o'clock the next morning, in a heavy snow storm, 
and with ice running very strong in the river, the gallant 
troopers boarded a scow and set off for Battleford. For days 
they kept to the river, not daring to land on the banks, for 
fear of capture by hostile Indians. Only when they reached 
some island on the way, were they able to get under canvass 
over night and to start a fire to thaw their half-frozen limbs. 
In the passage down the stream they were in constant peril 
from ice-jams, and occasionally got caught on sandbars at 
bends in the river. On the eighth day out, their troubles 
happily ended, on arriving at Battleford, where they were en- 
thusiastically greeted by their comrades in the garrison, the 
Police band playing them into fort. 

The whites, who surrendered themselves prisoners to Big 
Bear at Fort Pitt, besides Maclean, the Hudson Bay Factor, 
and his family, were the Rev. Charlas Quinney, of the Church 
of England Mission, at Onion Lake ; his wifp ; Mr. Mann, the 
local Farm Instructor, and family of five children, Mr. Stanley 
Simpson, Hudson Bay Clerk, with a number of the Company's 

• A correspondent of the Montreal Witness states that Cowan's mutilated body 
was found some weeks afterwards in a little clearing in the bush close to Fort Pitt. 
He relates some horrible details in regard to the fate of this and other victims of 
Indian malignity in the district. " Cowan's he;xrt," he describes, " had been cut 
from the body, the limbs had been gashed by knives, and the red-skinned fiends had 
finished by carrying off the scalp of the dead constable. A pair of handcufEs," 
he adds, " had been put on his wrists by way of special indignitY." 


servants, some few French Canadians, and friendly Indians. 
These prisoners, with those who had fallen into his hands at 
Frog Lake, Big Bear took away northward with him, and were 
unwilling witnesses of the plundering operations of his band 
over the region as far west as Victoria and north to the Beaver 
River. For weeks they had to tramp through swamps and 
muskegs, and over a wild unbroken country ; for the Indians 
avoided the ordinary trails, lest they should meet with Major 
Steele's loyal scouts who were on their track, and the forces of 
General Strange, who had set out from Edmonton to operate 
against them. Towards the end of May the troops got repeat- 
edly on the track of the fugitives, and had several engagements 
with the Indians. Advantage, by the white prisoners, was 
iilways sought to be taken of these fights to make good their 
escape ; and the half-breeds and not a few of the Indians, who 
had been forced by Big Bear to rise against the whites, were 
xlso eager to part company with their captors. But for a time 
they were too closely watched. The Plain Crees made them- 
selves particularly officious in preventing escape, and but for 
the Wood Crees they would ere this have massacred all the 

But to some of the prisoners escape, providentially, was soon 
to come. While the Indians were holding a " thirst dance," 
about the 28th of May, scouts brought news to the camp of 
the approach of an armed force,* which for some hours had a 
hot engagement with the young fighting braves of the band. 
In the fight the Indians pursued their usual tactics of drawing 
the troops on to an ambuscade ; but fortunately the ruse was 

•This force was a portion of General Strange's Division from Edmonton, that 
had been detailed to seek to rescue the white captives. It consisted of three com- 
panies of CoL Osborne Smith's Battalion of Winnipeg Light Infantry ; two Com- 
panies of Col. Ouimet's 65th Regiment, of Montreal ; Major Mutton's local Mounted 
^iHes ; and some fifty men of Uie Mo^uted Police and Scouts, under Mftjor Steele^ 


detected, and the troops were withdrawn to the fear, before 
being surrounded and cut oif. This enabled the Indians again 
to get away with their captives, when they took to still more 
unfrequented paths, and to a region of muskeg and swamp 
where it was impossible safely to follow them. Mr. Quinney, 
the missionary, states that camp was formed that night about 
sixteen miles from the scene of the engagement, and not far 
from Red Deer Creek. A few days after this, some of the 
Indians who were restive under Big Bear's leadership, and 
notably a friendly Indian, named Long Fellow, facilitated the 
escape of Rev. Mr. Quinney, his wife, Mr. Cameron, a Hudson 
Bay Clerk, and Francis Dufresne, an employ^ of the Company, 
with a few half-breed women. After a fatiguing march, of 
about twenty miles, they came to the North Saskatchewan, and 
were gratified to hear two prolonged whistles from a steamboat 
on the river. By this time it was dark. The party took to 
s-houting, and finally their cries met the response of a friendly 
cheer, and the whole were soon in safety. 

About the same time, the Indians becoming excited at the 
daring of loyal scouts who were constantly on their track, 
hastened their movement northward, and the half-breed pro- 
tectors of Mrs. Delaney and Mrs. Gowanlock, watching their 
opportunity, and taking advantage of the morning fog over the 
lakes of the region, turned into the woods and made off with 
all speed for the south. For a time they moved backwards 
and forwards, so as to avoid their trail being discovered ; but 
finally were able to strike a scout, named Wm. McKay, of 
Battleford, who with eight others conducted the whole party 
in safety to Fort Pitt. Here the sufferings of the two poor 
gentlewomen, and the toils and anxiety of their humane half- 
breed deliverers, were happily forgotten in the welcome they 


received from the garrison, and the thoughtful provision made 
for them by Colonels B. Van Straubenzie, and A. T. Williams. 
Another fortnight was to elapse ere the remainder of the 
white prisoners effected their escape. Big Bear was now being 
hard pressed by General Strange's troops, and these had had 
engagements with his band at Frenchman's Butte and at Loon 
Lake. After these fights there were repeated quarrels between 
the Wood Crees and the followers of Big Bear. The former 
determined to separate from the band, and to take the white 
prisoners with them. The plight of the latter was now pitiful. 
Utterly weary of the incessant marching, it is said that the 
young girls repeatedly fell down exhausted at the feet of the 
mounted Indians, and begged to be allowed to die where they 
fell. But their captors kicked them up and forced them on. 
Provisions were now also getting scarce, and the daily allow- 
ance was not sufficient to enable them to continue the march. 
Their friends, the Wood Crees, here again interfered, and when 
the part}'' was near Lac des lies, they gave them their freedom, 
with one or two horses to enable them to make good their 
escape. For a time, it seemed, they had secured release only 
to perish from hunger by the way. One morning all they had 
for breakfast was one rabbit for twenty-eight people. But 
their trials were soon over, for on the 18th of June one of their 
number reached an outpost of the troops not far from Beaver 
Kiver, and a relieving party set out instantly to bring them 
in. Canon Mackay, who was with the outpost of scouts, 
secured their transportation to Loon Lake ; and Captain Bed- 
son, on Mackenzie, the Mail correspondent's riding in to Fort 
Pitt with news of the release of the prisoners, was sent off by 
the authorities to take provisions to them and to convey them 
to the Fort. The party arrived at the Pitt Agency on tho 
22nd of June. 



EFORE leaving the North Saskatchewan, and 
returning to General Middleton's column, in tho 
hot contests with the Half-breeds on the South 
branch of the river, let us chronicle a movement 
of Colonel Otter's force against Poundmaker's 
band, which occupied a strong position some 
thirty-five miles distant from Battleford. The 
engagement took place on Saturday, the 2nd of 
May, between a Hying column of 300 men, under Colonel Otter, 
and about GOO Indians, posted near Poundmaker's reserve, close 
by Battle River. Brief telegraphic despatches reached the 
East on Tuesday, the 5th inst., stating that the fight began at 
five o'clock in the morning and lasted till noon. Our loss was 
seven killed and twelve wounded. The casualties of the In- 
dians were supposed to be not far short of eighty. The des- 
patches closed with the following words: "Colonel Otter 
covered, including the engagement, seventy miles, fought the 
battle and returned inside of thirty hours." 



On reading the despatch our first emotions were of pity. In 
our heart there was no response to the strain of heroics that 
announced the achievement. Whatever military necessity 
existed for the movement, we regretted that the forces of 
civilisation had to be used for such a purpose. To enforce 
respect for law and order upon savage life at the mouth of 
Gatling guns and seven-pounders, we could not holp reflecting, 
was a grave step in the history of the insurrection, and a dire 
calamity. From a military point of view it was doubtless 
necessary to overawe Poundmaker by a display of our strength 
on the field, and if possible, happily, to hem in the insurrection. 
Moreover, there were scores to be settled with his band for 
their plundering and intimidation in the region, for the murder 
of Payne and Applegarth, the local farm instructors, and for 
the shooting of at least two of the settlers. There was also 
the need of keeping Poundmaker from joining Kiel and his 
half-breeds, and of giving aid to Big Bear and his bands in the 
west. But whatever justification there was for sallying out 
with an armed force against the Indians, we could have wished 
that Colonel Otter had met Poundmaker anywhere but on his 
own reserves and surrounded by the tepees of his women and 

It is little palliation to say that the Indians fired the first 
shot : this they naturally would do on the advance upon their 
encampment of an armed force. There is a sounder plea, in 
what seems to be the case, that the band was about to take 
part in extending the flame of insurrection, and in joining the 
forces of Big Bear or Riel. In preventing this, the presence of 
the flying column may be said to find its true justification. 
But it is to be borne in mind, that the insurrection in the 
North-West was not a rising of Indians, though the Indians, 
unhappily, were led to take part in it. Their part in it, how- 


ever, has been singularly slight ; and considering the example 
that had been set them by the half-breeds, it is a marvel that 
the flames of the contest did not envelop the whole territory. 
But in these remarks we have no desire to criticise Colonel 
Otter's action, or to question the expediency of his military 
operations. No doubt, he considered the step a necessary one ; 
though the embittered condition of the local mind at Battle- 
ford, if he listened to that, was at the time, we fear, perilous 
to the retention of a calm and pacific judgment. In the absence 
of official reports of the engagement, or of the reasons that led 
to it, we are content to rely upon the Commanding Officer's 
caution and good feeling, as well as on the motives of human- 

Poundmaker, against whose band the movement was directed, 
has the reputation of being one of the most sagacious Indiana 
in the North- West. The Cree Chief, moreover, is a particularly 
handsome and refined-looking specimen of his race. Through 
his veins courses the blood of the Cree, the Blackfoot, and the 
Assiniboine or Stoney ; though at one time each of these tribes 
was the hereditary enemy of the other. It was mainly at his 
interposition that they all buried the hatchet. In 1881, when 
Lord Lome went across the plains, Poundmaker, it is known, 
joined the party for the purpose of interpreting the language 
of the Blackfoot into Cree, as the Governor-General's Cree in- 
terpreter did not understand Blackfoot. He was also of ser- 
vice as a guide to the party, for Poundmaker knows the North- 
West as the sailor knows the sea. Cut Knife Hill, the scene 
of the conflict, is an elevated ridge on his reserve, flanked by 
scrub-covered ravines and almost impregnable coulees. lo 
derives its name from a raiding Chief, Cut Knife, whose follow- 
ers were here once set upon, and paid the penalty of their 
career of plunder and scalping by the death of their leader and 


the extermination of the band. The hill was now to receive a 
further baptism of blood. 

On a bright May day afternoon (Friday, the 2nd inst.), 
Colonel Otter's column crossed the Battle River, and gaining 
its southern heights turned westward towards Poundmaker's 
reserve, through an undulating country, interspersed with high 
bluffs, thickly covered with sedge, elm, and small poplar. The 
fighting force, in addition to the armed teamsters, who had 
charge of the provisions, ammunition, and forage, numbered 
about 320 men. The order of the column was as follows : a 
small force of scouts on horseback, under Mr. Charles Ross ; 
75 Mounted Police, under Colonel Herchmer and Inspector 
Neale ; 80 men of " B " Battery, with two seven-pounders and 
the Gatling gun, under Major Short, with a garrison division 
under Capt. Farley ; 45 men of " C " Co. Infantry School, com- 
manded by Lieuts. Wadmore and Sears ; 20 Ottawa Foot- 
Guards, under Lt. Gray ; 50 men of the Queen's Own, Capt. 
Thomas Brown, and Lieuts. Hughes and Brock in command ; 
the line of teams, with tents, provisions, and forage ; and, 
finally, 50 of the Battleford Rifles, under Capt. Nash, late of 
the Queen's Own. Accompanying the column were the Signal 
Corps, of the Queen's Own Rifles, and the Ambulance Brigade, 
the latter under Surgeons Strange and Lesslie. The force 
marched some sixteen miles before sundown, when a halt was 
called for supper and a rest until moonrise. 

At eleven o'clock the column resumed the march, the scouts 
carefully feeling the way. Most of the men on foot were 
taken up on the waggons and refreshed themselves with what 
bleep they could obtain in the lullaby of creaking wheels and 
under the soporific influence of the moonbeams. At daybreak 
all were astir momentarily expecting to come across the enemy. 
Passing through a deserted Indian encampment, the trail 


seemed to end in a series of scrub-covered elevations, towering 
above which rose Cut Knife Hill, flanked by a succession of 
gorges. A herd of cattle was peacefully grazing on the near 
hillsides, while, across the trail, brawled a winding creek, in a 
deep depression of the land. As yet there was no sign of the 
Indians. Fording the brook, and toiling up the heights on the 
further side, the column suddenly pulled up at sight of the 
mounted scouts falling back on the gallop with news of the 
enemy. A moment later a flight of bullets whistled through 
the air, and told its own story, that the fight had begun. 

The videttes of the Mounted Police, who had nearly reached 
the summit of Cut Knife, instantly dismounted, and were joined 
by their comrades from the head of the column. They extend- 
ed on the double, and rushed to the crest of the hill ; while 
" B " Battery dashed after them with two seven-pounders aud 
the Gatling. Gaining the ridge, the Police poured a withering 
fire upon the advancing Indians, while the guns unlimbered 
and prepared for action. Undaunted by the fire of the skir- 
mishers, a posse of yelling braves made a rush to capture the 
field-pieces, but were checkmated by a volley from Farley's 
foot division of the battery, which had been ordered up in 
support. To the right of the guns " C " Co. extended to the 
edge of the hill ; and No. 1 Co. Queen's Own, in skirmishing 
order, deployed to the left of the Police. In a minute or two 
the seven-pounders belched shrapnel shell at the enemy ; and, 
with appalling effect, the Gatling raked the coulees with a 
thousand shot. Above the din of the guns was now heard the 
war-whoop of hundreds of advancing Indians, and from the 
ravine, served by the Gatling, came the death-wail of a score 
of prostrate braves. Despite the noise, the Indian fire was hot 
and incessant ; and it seemed to come from ever^ quarter. 


For a time the safety of the column was in doubt. But 
under the steady fire of the skirmishing line the confusion, 
Incident to the sudden opening of the fight, passed away, and 
confidence was restored by a good disposition of the force. 
The Indians now made an effort to surround the troops. This 
action was observed, however, by their wary commander, and 
the Ottawa Guards and the Battleford Rifles were ordered into 
positions to foil the movement. The latter were subsequently 
recalled to act as reserves, to guard the kraal of Police and 
Battery horses, and to protect the laager of waggons, the 
ammunition, and the Field Hospital. In these important 
duties the Rifles did good and efficient service. Once more, 
however, the rear was threatened, as far back as the creek, 
and once more the Battleford Company was called on to show 
its mettle. Dashing into the scrub at the ambushed enemy, 
they gallantly cleared it of the half-breeds who had taken 
possession of it and kept the trail open to the crossing. 

The enemy's fire continued to play hot on the ridge. The 
heights in front of Cut Knife were reinforced by the Indians, 
and showers of bullets sped across the ravine and fell thick in 
the skirmishing line. On both flanks of the hill the coulees 
were packed with redskins, and from the brushwood cover 
white pufls of smoke would disclose the hiding-place of Indian 
marksmen. Already their fell work had made many demands 
on the ambulance, and not a few had passed need of a surgeon. 
A Mounted Policeman, Corporal Sleigh, who had escaped from 
Fort Pitt, was the first to fall, mortally wounded. A bullet 
entered his mouth, and passed out at the back of his head. 
The brave fellow is said to have raised himself on one knee, 
while the blood streamed forth from the wound, and, taking 
aim at an Indian, fired and fell dead. Private Arthur Dobbs, 
of the Battleford Rifles, had also fallen, and rendexed his last 


account. So had Pte. John Rogers, of the Ottawa Foot Guards, 
and Brigade Bugler Herbert Foulkes, of the School of Infantr}'. 
Among the wounded were Lieut. Pelletier, Sergt. Gaffney, 
Corp. Morton, and Gunner Reynolds, all of "B" Battery ; Sergt. 
Winters, and Pte. McQuilkin, of the Foot Guards ; and Sergt. 
Ward, of the Mounted Police. Four men of the Queen's Own 
were also carried from the field, viz., Col.-Sergt. Cooper, Ptes. 
Lloyd, C. Varey, and Geo. Watts. Bugler E. Gilbert, of the 
Battleford Rifles, was also borne to the rear ; and Brigade 
Sergt.-Major Spackman, of " C " Co., received a flesh wound in 
the arm. Meanwhile the morning hours passed, and heaven's 
unruffled blue vault looked down on the carnage on hill and 

Whatever were our compunctions in regard to the attack 
upon the Indians, there was no doubt now of their own mur- 
derous intent, either in moving to assault Battleford, or to join 
Reil in his defence of Batoche. That they were well prepared 
to receive Colonel Otter's troops, and had designedly endea- 
voured to entrap them to ruin, the morning's fight, and the 
tactics pursued, sufiiciently attest. Even the grazing cattle on 
the hillsides was seen to be a ruse, for the ravines were alive 
with redmen, and every covey had its marksman. Even In- 
dians of tender years were armed, and with bows and arrows 
offered a menacing resistance. But for the cannon it would 
have gone hard with Otter's Flying Column. For the musketry 
fire the enemy cared little : only the shrieking shrapnel held 
them in check, and the Gatling fast reduced them to carrion. 

* For the details of this engagement we are indebted to '* W. W. F." correspond* 
ent of the Toronto Mail; but we are specially beholden to *' W. A. H.," whos« 
long and graphic account of the fight appeared in the columns of the Montreal Star. 
We have also had the advantage of listening to the recital of the main facts by a 
gallant non-commissioned officer who was present. We refer to Sergt. F. Kennedy, 
of the " Queen's Own." 


In clearing the coulees and protecting the guns, more than 
once there was a hand to hand conflict, in which Indian disre- 
gard of life had at times the advantage. Then only the stub- 
bornness of true heroism saved the column from disaster. Every 
man stood nobly to his post. The scout, Ross, seemed omni- 
present ; and his experience of Indian fighting, as well as his 
personal bravery, contributed in no little degree to the success 
of the day. Colonels Otter and Herchmer, and Adjutant Sears 
and Capt. Mutton, of the staff, constantly exposed themselves 
in their trying position. Colonel Otter, himself, was ever in 
the thick of the fighting, and his cool watchfulness of the weak 
points of the field, and ready resource in meeting them, gained 
him the admiration, as well as the increasing confidence, of his 
men. While the Mounted Police and the Battery were gallant- 
ly holding the often threatened crest of the hill, the flanks 
were repeatedly the object of attack. Again and again it was 
necessary to clear the coulees of the crouching Indians who in- 
fested them ; and when a warrior was struck he could be seen 
making a death-leap into the air from behind his retreat. On 
the right, " C " Co., the Police, and the foot battery, performed • 
the hazardous duty of clearing the coulees ; and on the left, 
the posts of danger were held by the Guards and the Queen's 
Own. From a hill on the left the enemy were gallantly dis- 
lodged by the Ottawa and Toronto Companies, Lt. Gray of the 
former and Capts. Brown and Hughes, and Lieut. Brock of 
the latter being in repeated danger. 

The position of the sun now indicated the approach of noon, 
but the fortunes of the day were not yet decided. Both sides 
stubbornly held their ground, though the troops had gained- 
strong positions on the adjacent heights. Two hills on the- 
right, beyond a pond in the ravine, were taken by the Guards, 
" C " Company, and " B " Battery. The enemy's camp in the 


distance, and an elevation on the left, from which the Indian 
movements were directed, were now shelled and cleared by 
the seven-pounders, at a range of 2,000 yards. Other advan- 
tageous positions were also being fought for and occupied. 
Just then, unhappily, the gun carriages broke from the strain 
of the recoil, and could not be moved forward with safety to 
follow up the attack. There was much risk also in further 
pressing the fighting, for the Indians had two to one of a fight- 
ing force. The losses of the troops were moreover heavy, and 
they were beyond timely reach of fresh support. The force 
was also exhausted, and no one had eaten breakfast. A with- 
drawal from the field was therefore wisely determined. True, 
much of the moral effect of the morning's engagement would 
be lost by a retreat. But wisdom seemed to counsel it, and 
though there was danger in withdrawal, it was admirably 
managed. A further reason for retreat was the difficulty of 
successfully holding the positions occupied after nightfall, and 
the probability that the enemy would receive large reinforce- 
ments before morning. Already Indian signal fires had been 
lighted on the heights, with the apparent intention of attract- 
ing aid. 

It was close upon one o'clock when the order to withdraw 
was given. The difficulty of calling in the gallant force, and 
getting it back over the gully through w^hich ran the creek, 
was obviously great. It was a crucial test of Otter's general- 
ship ; but luck, as well as strategy, attended the movement. 
The first to be convoyed from the field were the waggons con- 
taining the dead and wounded. Then followed a field-piece, 
in charge of Captain Rutherford, who after repairing the break 
in the carriage, got the gun in position to cover the retiring 
column. The other field-piece and the Gatling Major Short 
adroitly withdrew, and posted them on a sandhill to the rear 


of the creek, commanding both ravines. The advanced line of 
skirmishers, which now became the rear-guard, slowly left Cut 
Knife Hill, skirmishing in alternate lines down to the creek. 
The Indians, realising the movement instantly began to pour 
over the crest of the hill. Here they were exposed to the fire 
of the guns from the sandhills in rear, and to volley-firing 
from the retiring troops. The Gatling at this time, served by 
Major Short, did terrible execution, and caused many a brave 
to sing the death-song and the squaws to howl their lament. 

From scores of lurking-places the Indians now intrepidly 
came forth ; but they evidently had had enough of the fighting, 
for they did not follow the column. Withdrawing the flank- 
ing parties, the force was compactly concentrated in the line of 
the trail, with a strong rear-guard told ofi" to cover the retreat, 
and to fire the prairie to prevent pursuit. Passing through a 
ravine to overtake the column, the scouts, it is said, counted 
twenty dead Indians in one spot, where a shrapnel had burst. 
The loss of the enemy, the scouts estimated, at from a hundred 
to a hundred and fifty lives. Our own loss was eight killed 
and thirteen wounded. One poor fellow, Pte. Osgoode, of the 
Ottawa Foot Guards, was reported missing, and though he was 
seen to fall, he was inadvertently left on the field. Teamster 
Winder was killed just before the retire. Corporal Lowry, of 
the Mounted Police, died in the waggon which conveyed him 
from the field; and Trumpeter Patrick Burke, of the same 
corps, died at Battleford next day. 

At ten o'clock on Saturday night, through the inky dark- 
ness, the lights of Battleford could be descried, and half an 
hour later the last of the waggons filed in to Fort Otter. There 
had been but one halt, for dinner, from the battlefield to the 
camp, the thirty-five miles having been covered during the 
afternoon and evening. Reaching camp, the wearied column 


sought needed rest, though the eagerness of comrades to learn 
news of the battle, and the no less eagerness of those who had 
come from the field to recount modestly their share in it, de- 
layed retirement. The wounded were taken to the Industrial 
School, which had been extemporised as an hospital, and the 
surgeons were busy with their sad task all night. Thanks to 
careful tending, all of the wounded lived, save Burke, who died 
on the Sabbath morning. A sad incident is related in connec- 
tion with the death of this gallant trooper. It seems he had a 
wife and seven children then in Battleford. On the Sunday 
morning, learning that her husband had been wounded, she 
crossed the river to the hospital, and on the way passed a 
waggon with her husband's remains. The sad story is thus 
told by the Montreal Stars correspondent : 

" Before nine o'clock, Burke of the Mounted Police expired. 
His wife crossed from the fort at an early hour to the Indus- 
trial School. Buoyed up with the false hope that her wounded 
husband would recover, she drove towards the temporary hos- 
pital when she was passed by a waggon actually conveying 
his lifeless body to an unoccupied house. Her companions un- 
able to keep up the ruse longer, immediately communicated 
the painful intelligence. With an agonised wail, which moved 
the uniformed spectators to tears, the bereft widow alighted 
and following the waggon she threw herself upon the prostrate 
form as soon as it was laid beside the other dead. Two child- 
ren of tender years, unable to comprehend the outburst of 
grief, clung crying to their mother. Such was the sad scene 
witnessed by a score or more of sympathetic spectators on that 
bright May morning. All day long an endless throng wended 
their way towards the little house near the ferry to have a last 
look at the victims of Cut Knife Hill. The countenance of 
each unfortunate man lay composed in death. A peculiar feel- 
ing of gloom pervaded the camp until the final interment took 
place. Volunteers moved about in groups of threes or fours 
conversing in low tones of the fate of their companions, or dis- 
cussing the possibility of prompt and eflfective vengeance.'* 



With Middleton at Fish Greek. 

ET us now return to General Middleton, in his 
operations against the insurgent half-breeds on 
the South Saskatchewan. It will be remembered 
that we left the main division of the North- West 
Expeditionary Field Force at Clarke's Crossing, 
where the General in command awaited supplies 
at the Ferry, the Gatling gun, and the Midland 
Battalion, that was to convoy the Northcote down 
the river from Swift Current. But the river stern-wheeler 
was expected for another and a military purpose. The General 
wished to make use of it in co-operating with his land force in 
the attack upon the enemy. In this desire he was for a 
time baulked. The craft, at this period of the year, when the 
water was low, was not given to rapid transit. Moreover she 
was heavily loaded with military stores and supplies far the 
troops, in addition to her armament of strong two-inch plank, 
doubled round her lower deck and bulwarks to protect her 
boilers and to shield the troops from anticipated attack. She 
had on board four companies of the First Provisional Battalion 



under Lt.-Col. A. T. H. Williams, M.P., of Port Hope. This 
battalion, composed of town and country yeomen, drawn from 
the region lying between Bowmanville and Kingston, including 
the counties to the rear, was, under its able and soldierly com- 
mander, to give a good account of itself.* Besides the com- 
panies of the " Midlanders," the NortJicote had on board Lt. 
Howard, in charge of the Gatling gun ; a veteran of the Crimea, 
Lt.-Col. B. Van Straubenzie (late Major 100th Foot), Deputy 
Adj.-Genl. of Military District No. 5 (Montreal) ; Surgeon-Genl. 
Roddick, with additions to the hospital staff at Saskatoon, 
where, after the fight at Fish Creek, the large number of 
wounded at that and subsequent engagements were taken. 

So great were the difiiculties of navigation that the North- 
cote, though she left Swift Current on the 22nd of April, did 
not reach Clarke's Crossing until the 5th of May. In the 
meantime General Middleton determined to advance. The 
fighting force now at his disposal was, as we have seen, not far 
short of a thousand men. As many more had assembled at 
Winnipeg, waiting orders to proceed to the front, in addition 
to the troops that had gone west to Calgary, and those that 
were now at Battleford. At Prince Albert there was also a 

*The following are the staff and company officers of the First Provisional (Mid- 
land) Batt., under the command of Lt.-Col. Arthur T. H. Williams, of the 46th 
East Durham Infantry. Majors H. K. Smith, 47th Batt. Kingston, and Lt.-Col 
James Deacon, 45th Batt. Lindsay. Adjt. E. G. Ponton, Belleville ; Paymaster, 
Capt. J. Leystock Reid ; Quartermaster, Lt. J. P. Clemes, Port Hope ; Surgeons, 
Dr. Horsey, Ottawa, and Dr. Jas. Might, Port Hope. 15th (Belleville) Capt. and 
Adj. T. C. Lazier, Lts. J. E. Helliwell and C. G. E. Kenny. 40th (Northumber- 
land) Capt. R, H. Bonnycastle and Lt. J. E. Givan. 45th (West Durham) Capts. 
John Hughes, and J. C. Grace. 46th (East Durham) Capts. R. Dingwall, Port 
Hope, and C. H. Winslow, Millbrook ; Lts. R. W. Smart, Port Hope, and J. V. 
Preston, Lifford. 47th (Frontenac) Capt. T. Kelly; Lts. Sharp and Hubbell. 
49th (Hastings) Capt. E. Harrison; Lts. H. A. Yeomans, and R. J. Bell. 57th 
(Peterboro') Capts. J. A. Howard, and Thos. Burke ; Lts. F. H. Brennan and J. 
L. Weller (R.M.C.) The following were also attached as 2nd Lieuts.; R. J. Cart- 
wright, 0. E. Cartwright, G. E. Laidlaw, H. C. Ponton, A. T. Tomlinson, and 
D. C. F. Blisa. 


large detachment of the Mounted Police, under Colonel Irvine, 
a portion of which the Major-General hoped might be free to 
strike the rebels in the rear. Dividing his force into two 
columns, on the 22nd April, General Middleton placed the left 
one under Col. Montizambert and despatched it across the river 
to move on the enemy along the opposite bank. This force, 
besides 80 armed teamsters, consisted of 250 of the Grenadiers ; 
50 men of the Winnipeg Battery ; and 25 of French's Scouts. 
Lord Melgund accompanied it as chief of staff. The right 
column, under General Middleton, with Lt.-Col. Houghton as 
chief of staff, was composed of the following troops : 300 of the 
90th Batt.; 40 of "C" Company; 120 men of "A" Battery; 
40 of Boulton's Mounted Scouts, and about 60 teamsters. On 
the General's staff were his two A.D.C.'s, Lts. Wise and Doucet. 
With each battery were two nine-pounders, muzzle-loading 
rifled guns, with fuse shrapnel, percussion shells and case shot. 
On the afternoon of Thursday, the 23rd of April, the com- 
mand was given for both columns to advance. Communication 
across the river, which is here over 200 yards wide, was kept 
up by means of flags. Instructions had been issued to proceed 
with caution. The two divisions marched to within twenty 
miles of Batoche, where they halted for the night, strong 
scouting parties being thrown out to feel the ground for the 
morrow's advance, and to ensure the safety of the camps. The 
Friday morning opened with rain ; but spite of its discomfort 
the order was again given to advance. Beaching a point about 
fifteen miles south of Batoche, the Mounted Scouts under 
Major Boulton encountered the rebels, who instantly opened 
fire. The time was nine o'clock A.M. The shots came from a 
body of half-breeds on horseback, who, after delivering their 
fire, wheeled about and galloped under cover within the ravine. 
The ravine is an abrupt, wood-clad depression, skirting the 


northern slope of the prairie, within a mile and a half of the 
Saskatchewan. A stream winds through it, which must be- 
come historic in our native annals, as Fish Creek. On the 
northern rise of the ravine are a few rebel farm-houses, while 
its eastern end is heavily wooded. Its width is about two 
hundred yards. On a series of ledges sloping down to the 
creek, the half-breeds had dug in parallel lines well-covered 
rifle-pits. These were constructed at such points as would 
best shelter their inmates, and effectively mask the fire. Only 
the bayonet could adequately cope with the enemy so en- 

When the loyal scouts fell back on the column, the latter 
was divided into two wings, half of the 90th, " A " Battery, and 
" C " Co. School of Infantry, forming the right wing ; the re- 
mainder of the Winnipeg Battalion, with Boulton's Mounted 
Corps, forming the left. The whole advanced, in extended 
order, and circled round the entrance to the ravine, in a sort of 
half-moon formation. " A " Battery, under Capt. Peters moved 
to the front at the gallop ; but had difficulty at first in bring- 
ing the guns into position. The garrison division of the 
Battery, under Lieut. Rivers, closely followed the guns in sup- 
port. The left wing was the first to come under fire, and was 
for a time alarmingly exposed while unable efiectively to re- 
turn a shot. The brush was densely thick, and as the rain 
was falling, the smoke hung in clouds a few feet above the 
muzzles of the rifles. 

The evident intention of the enemy was to draw the troops 
into the ravine, and there pour upon them a murderous fire. 
Had the men's eagerness to get at the breeds not been checked, 
the ravine would have become a veritable valley of death. As 
it was, the men recklessly exposed themselves, and for a time 
to little purpose, as the natural advantages of the enemy's 


position, in the hell-pits they had dug for themselves, effectu- 
ally shielded them from danger. The brunt of the fighting 
fell disastrously upon the gallant Ninetieth. From the outset 
they were incessantly exposed to the concealed fire of the 
dusky foe. But they stubbornly held their ground; and, tak- 
ing advantage of whatever cover was available, they spiritedly 
gave back the fierce fire of lead. Round the mouth of the 
ravine, where the enemy had their stronghold, a terrific fusilade 
was kept up throughout the morning ; while a desperate con- 
flict was raging in the bluffs on either side. Here the black 
coat of many a prostrate Winnipeg rifleman showed how fierce 
had been the strife. 

The morning's death-roll and other casualties of this gallant 
regiment, which was to bear so noble a part in the now opened 
campaign, attest the heroism which actuated its ranks. Two 
of its officers, viz.,Capt. Wm. Clark, and Lieut. Charles Swinford, 
were to fall, the latter subsequently dyins: of hVs wo mds. Among 

the first of the rank and file of the 90th to give up their life 
on the battle-field, were Privates Ferguson and Hutchinson, of 
" A " Co., who fell in the opening charge, and were both shot 
in the heart. The death missive was also to come to Privates 
Wheeler, of " B " Co., and Ennis of " D " Co. The 90th, during 
the day, had fourteen wounded, viz., Corps. Thacker, Leth- 
bridge, and Code ; Ptes. Kemp, Matthews, Lowell, Swan, Jarvis, 
Johnson, Chambers, Canniif, Bowden, Hislop, and Blackwood 
— a glorious list of casualties ! 

The death-roll of " A " Battery comprised three gunners — 
Demanolly, Harrison, and Cook ; with the following wounded : 
Sergt.-Major McWhinney ; Gunners Moiseau, Ainsworth, Asse- 
lin, Imrie, Woodman, Langarell, Ouillette, and McGrath ; Bom- 
bardier Taylor ; and Drivers Turner and Wilson — a proud total 
of three dead and twelve wounded ! " C " Company, Infantry 


School, lost one killed — Pte. A. G. Watson — and six wounded. 
The names of the latter are as follows : Col.-Sergt. R. Cum- 
mings ; Ptes. H. Jones, R Jones, E. Harris, R. H. Dunn, and 
E. Macdonald. Capt. Gardner, of Boulton's Mounted Seout5;, 
was also wounded ; and the troop suffered the following losses : 
Sergt. Stewart, and Troopers Langford, Perrine, King, Bruce, 
Thompson, and D'Arcy Baker — all wounded. 

But the engagement was not yet over. Though hemmed in 
on three sides, the half-breeds stubbornly kept to their rifle- 
pits, from which the hurtling shell and enfilading musketry 
fire failed to dislodge them. So closely were they now beset 
that the encouraging voice of Dumont, their half-breed leader, 
could be distinctly heard. It was now past noon, and the state 
of affaii-s, if not critical for the M^tis marksmen, was decidedly 
unpleasant. More than one rifle-pit had become the grave of 
a half-breed ; while, in the bush, many of his dusky kin had 
gone to the happy hunting-grounds of the race. But the rebel 
commander kept his head, and had well gauged the strength of 
the force opposed to him. His only fear was of the crossing 
of Montizambert's force from the west side of the Saskatche- 
wan, and cutting off his retreat. But this force, though it had 
been signalled early in the day, had not yet joined Middleton. 

Meanwhile death was reaping his harvest ; and, outside the 
crowded hospital tents, the pitiless rain beat on the fevered 
faces of the wounded. 

" The fight rolls on, Deatn stalks around, 
And blood-red gashes drench the ground." 

Middleton's force continued to close in upon the enemy. The 
guns took up new positions ; and the battery supports, and the 
thin red line of "C" Company, under Major Smith, pressed on 
to secure possession of a knoll some distance up the ravine. 
On the left, a company of the 90th, under Capt. Forrest, an ' 


Lt. Hugh J. Macdonald, the gallant son of the Dominion Pre- 
mier, made a dash across an open stretch of prairie, and gained 
the top of the gully. In other parts of the battle-field, Capt. 
Peters of the Battery, Major Boulton, of the Mounted Scouts, 
and Majors Buchan and Boswell, of the Rifles, were pluckily 
contesting points of advantage with the enemy. The latter, 
now hard pressed, sullenly withdrew, but still showing too bold 
a front for defeat. The gunners, getting the position of the 
rebel farm-houses, now hotly played upon them, and drove the 
half-breeds further up the ravine. The houses were then set 
on fire, and the guns brought to bear on the Indian ponies, 
that were coralled in the woods. In ten minutes the equine 
Bartholomew was complete. 

At last our Canadian Blucher came up. Montizambert's 
Column, with difficulty had got punted across the river, and 
Capt. Mason's Co. of the Grenadiers was the first to appear on 
the scene. It was quickly followed by the remainder of the 
battalion, by the Winnipeg Artillery, and by Lord Melgund 
and the Scouts. The fresh troops were sent to relieve the 
fatigued advanced skirmishers, but the guns were ordered to 
the rear. From now till dusk the firing was weak and desul- 
tory, the half-breeds having melted away from the ground. 
Presently the bugles sounded the recall, and the rain damped 
the waning ardour of the troops. The fight was over, though 
the day can hardly be said to be won. It brought no signal 

What were the decisive results of the day's engagement 
could at least be counted under the white sheets, and their 
country's flag, by the hospital door. Of the 350 men actively en- 
gaged in the heatof the strife, close upo» 50 were hors-de-combat 
How many more hearts were to be pierced, when news of the 
day's conflict reached the friends of the fallen, one shuddered to 


think. To one man in the field the cessation of the fight must 
have brought infinite relief. Old campaigner as he was, the 
strain of the day's anxieties on General Middleton must have 
been intense. Through the varying fortunes of the day he 
bore himself valorously, and personally directed each move- 
ment, no matter into what danger it led him. Frequently, 
while riding along the front lines, giving orders and encourag- 
ing the men, he exposed himself recklessly. Early in the fight 
a bullet pierced his cap. Equally heroic was the bearing of 
his two aides-de-camp, Capts. Wise and Doucet, who were both 
wounded. The former had his horse shot under him, as had 
Major Buchan, Field Adjutant, and Major Boulton, in command 
of the Mounted Scouts. Cool and soldier-like was also the 
conduct, during the day, of Col. Houghton, chief of the Gene- 
ral's field stafi", and of Capt. Haig, R. E., acting Q.M.G. 

To be " mentioned in the despatches " is an honor that fell 
to the lot of a young hero in the fight, which, before closing 
this chapter, we must not omit to chronicle. Says General 
Middleton : 

" I cannot conclude this report without mentioning a little 
bugler of the 90th regiment, named Wm, Buchanan, who made 
himself particularly useful in carrying ammunition to the 
right front when the fire was very hot. This he did with 
peculiar nonchalence, walking calmly about crying, ' Now, boys, 
who's for cartridge ? ' " 

The number of rebels known to be present at Fish Creek, 
under Gabriel Dumont, was 280 men. They had eleven killed 
or died of wounds, and eighteen wounded. 



HE battle of Fish Creek was the prologue to a 
three days' hot fighting before Batoche, which 
was happily to end the insurrection and dash 
the hopes of the madman, Riel, and his law- 
less half-breeds. For a fortnight after the 
alFair of the 24th of April, there hung over 
the region a heavy electrical atmosphere of 
pent-up war feeling and military preparation, 
soon to discharge itself on the wooded ravines that encom- 
pass Batoche. With even greater activity and excitement 
did the breeds prepare to make a determined stand round the 
homesteads their sedition had emperilled ; and Nature helped 
them in their work. Her hand, in seeming kindness, had 
raised a rampart of woods around her wild and wayward 
children, and locked them in the fastnesses of Mother Earth. 
From Dumont's Crossing to Batoche, the whole country is 
a mass of wooded ravines, often fifty feet deep, and the val- 
leys are covered with underbrush. In these ravines tribal 
instinct and tactical skill planned a defence well calculated 
to keep the loyal troops at bay. " The half-breeds," it has 



been remarked, " adopt the Indian mode of fighting, but they 
graft upon it something they have learned from the white 
man. A guerilla warfare, carried on in ambush, is distinctly 
Indian ; but the addition of artificial rifle-pits is the utilisation 
of a lesson which the half-breeds have learned from thewhites." 
Nor was courage wanting when the time came to defend 
these rifie-pits. Still less was courage wanting to attack 
them. " If these brave lads of mine were only regulars !" 
General Middleton is reported to have said, he would not 
have restrained the eager desire of the volunteers to charge 
the pits and drive out the enemy. But as this would have in- 
volved too great a sacrifice of life, he acted discreetly in check- 
ing the valour of his men. 

What valour had been permitted to display itself on the 
battlefield, the high Cairn and rustic Cross erected on the 
banks of the Saskatchewan, where the heroes of Fish Creek 
lie buried, will ever remain a witness. On the day following 
the battle, the last sad rites were paid to the fallen volunteers, 
in the presence of the whole camp. When their sorrowing 
comrades consigned the dead to their last resting-pJace, General 
Middleton read the burial service, and the firing-party paid 
their remains the honours of a parting salute. 

" Not in the quiet churchyard, near those who loved them best ; 

But by the wild Saskatchewan they laid them to their rest. 
A simple soldier's funeral in that lonely spot was theirs, 

Made consecrate and holy by a nation's tears and prayers. 
A few short prayers were uttered, straight from their comrades' hearts — 

A volley fired in honor, and the company departs- 
Their requiem — the music of the river's surging tide ; 

Their funeral wreaths — the wild flowers that grow on every side ; 
Their monument — undying praise from each Canadian heart, 

That hears how, for their country's sake, they nobly bore their part. 
So, resting in their peaceful graves, beneath the i rairie sod, 

Enshrined in golden memories, we yield them up to God."* 

• E. C. P. in the Toronto Mail of May 6th. 


Before dismissing the troops from the solemn scenes of which 
they had been witness, the General addressed them in a few 
brief words characteristic of the soldier : " Well, men," said he, 
" your comrades have found a soldier's grave ; let us hope we 
shall have an opportunity to avenge their deaths !" In the de- 
termination to seek that opportunity all ranks prepared for the 
coming march to Batoche. 

For some days the many wounded received the tender con- 
sideration of the General-in-Command, and the skilful tendance 
of the surgeons and volunteer nurses on the field. Nor were 
they forgotten at home. The results of the engagement touched 
the nation's heart with a thrill of pity. Throughout Ontario, 
relief committees, organised chiefly by the gentler sex, went to 
work with a will, and poured creature comforts and the thought- 
ful needs of the hospital wards, in rich abundance, into the 
North- West. One of the first and most substantial of these 
services was rendered by the "Toronto Volunteers' Supply 
Fund," in kind charge of Mrs. Edward Blake, by whose instru- 
mentality, and that of other willing workers, some car loads of 
most acceptable necessaries were forwarded in the care of 
Lieut. Hume Blake. In other towns of importance, in and out 
of the Province, similar relief associations were organised for 
the benefit of those who had stepped into the breach in the 
hour of the country's peril. Military chaplains were also sent 
forward. Toronto liberality was further to show itself in 
the organisation and despatch to the front of the Red Cross 
Ambulance Corps, the energetic mover in which was Mr. 
Edmund Wragge,* local manager of the Grand Trunk R.R., 
assisted by Dr. Ellis and Mr. A. H. Smith. 

*Thi3 Red Cross Ambulance Corps, which left Toronto for the North-West on 
the loth of April, consisted of seven Surgical dresseia, under the direction of Dr. 
Nattress. The following are the names of those selected for the duty : D, 0. R. 

•rfiE CRISIS AT HAl^D. §39 

Pity for Canada's wounded sons also stirred the tender heart 
of a lady near the throne of her for whom they had bled. 
With characteristic though tfulness the Princess Louise initiated 
a movement in London for sending to the North- West ambul- 
ance appliances and the cordial of other comforts for the 
wounded. This graceful act, we can well imagine, brought the 
poet's couplet to the mind and tongue of many a tossed sufferer, 
as he partook of the cheer which royal hands had forwarded — 

" When pain and anguish wring the brow 
A ministering angel thou ! " 

Nor were Winnipeg's gallant sons forgotten. At such a time 
when pride in the heroic deeds of the dark-coated 90th well 
nigh extinguished sorrow for those whom death had called out 
from the ranks, the suffering wounded were forwarded many 
tokens of kindness and remembrance. From other sections of 
the Prairie Province also came the healing balm of kind offer- 
ings, and a common pride in the achievements of the regiment. 
One of the latest battalions to be enrolled in the Canadian 
Militia, the Winnipeg Rifles had won a name for themselves 
for well-approved valour. When the regiment took the field, 
its first Colonel, Wm. Nassau Kennedy, lay dying in a London 
hospital on his way home from the Soudan, whither he had 
gone at General Wolseley's request in charge of the Canadian 
Voyageurs on the Nile. The death of this estimable officer, in 
Britain's service in the Far East, appeared specially to conse- 
crate his late regiment to a high and honourable mission in the 
campaign just opened ; and his gallant spirit seemed to per- 
vade all ranks.* 

Jones, M.D., Hospital Surgeon; O. Weed, B.A., W. Mustard, B.A., and R. J 
Wood, of Toronto, J. F. Brown, B. A., Guelph, D. Patullo, M.B., Brampton, and 
J. R. Robertson, of London, Eng. 

*The following are the staff and company officers of the 90th Batt., "Winnipeg 
Hifles," Lt.-CoL Alfred Mackeand iu command. Majors Chas. AL Boswell, 


By this time May had come, though the Northcote hadn't 
She was still aground in the river, though now daily expected 
Humboldt had been garrisoned by the Governor-General's 
Body Guard ; and the York and Simcoe Battalion, commanded 
by Lt.-Col. W. E. O'Brien, had reached Qu'Appelle. This fine 
regiment was composed of part of the York Rangers and the 
Simcoe Foresters. The York Companies were drawn from 
Parkdale, Seaton Village, Yorkville, Riverside, Newmarket, 
and Aurora : the Simcoe Companies from Barrie, Bond Head, 
Collingwood, Penetanguishene, Orillia, Alliston, Tay, Vespra, 
and Cookstown.* Though expecting to be ordered to join the 
column under Middleton, this battalion meanwhile guard- 
ing the base of supplies on the line of railway. The Body 
Guard occupied an important point, overlooking the main 
approach to the rebel positions, and in the line of communica- 
tion north, south, and west. Under Lieut.-Col. G. T. Denison, 
its able and experienced commanding officer, the Body Guard 
did important scouting and outpost duty ; and, by an elaborate 
series of entrenchments, had converted the simple telegraph 

and Lawrence Buchan ; Paymaster A. H. Witcher ; Quartermaster H. Swinford ; 
Surgeon Dr. Geo. T. Orton; Assist. -Surgeon Dr . J, W. Whiteford. Capts. C. F. 
Forrest, H. N. Euttan, W. A. Wilkes, C. A. Worsnop, R. G. Whitla, Wm. 
Clark; Lts. Hugh J. Macdonald, G. W. Stewart, H. Bolster, Zach. "Woods, E. 
G. Piche, F. L. Campbell ; 2nd Lts. R. L. Sewell, J. G. Healy, C. Swinford, H. 
M. Arnold, A. E. McPhillips, and R. C. Laurie. 

*The following are the staff and company officers of the York and Simcoe Batt., 
under the command of Lt.-Col. W. E. OBrien, M.P., (35th Batt.), of Barrie. 
Majors, Lt.-Col. R. Tyrwhitt, 35th Batt , and Lt.-Col. A. Wyndham, 12th Batt ; 
Adjt. Major Jas. Ward, 35th ; Paymaster, Capt. Wm. Hunter, late 35th ; Quarter 
master, Lt. Lionel F. Smith ; Supply Officer, Lt. G. H. Bate, G.G.F.G. ; Surgeon, 
Dr. John L. G. McCarthy, 35th Batt. Captains (35th), Majors W. J. Graham, and 
Peter Burnet, Allison Tieadly, R. G. Campbell ; (12th), Jno. T. Thompson, Geo. 
H. C. Brooke, and Joseph F. Smith. Lieuts. (35th), Capt. John Landrigan, Thos. 
H. Drinkwater, Chas. S. F. Spry ; (12th), Lts. Geo. Vennell, John T. Symons, 
Thos. Booth, and John K. Leslie G.G.F.G., Lt. S. L. Shannon. 2nd Lieuts. 
(35th) Thos. H. Banting, K, L. Burnet, 1. T. Lennon, and R. D. Ramsay ; (12th) 
2nd Lts. Wm. J. Fleury, aud John A. W. Allan. 

tHE CRISIS At HAlti). ^41 

station of Humboldt into a fortified military encampraen*^. 
The labour and tedium of this work was occasionally relieved 
by a scamper over the prairie, to gather news of the rebel 
half-breeds, and watch the movements of the Indians. In 
this roving, free-lance work Lord Melgund had already dis- 
tinguished himself, by capturing, and, with the assistance of 
Capt. French's scouts, bringing into camp some of Kiel's 
" runnel's " with messages for one or two of the unfriendly 
neighbouring tribes. In this risky service, Lieut. Wm. Hamil- 
ton Merritt, with a detachment of the Body Guard, was also 
successful, after an exciting chase, in capturing on the plains a 
strong party of disaffected Sioux, of White Cap's band. These 
Indians had sought an asylum in Canada, after participating 
in the Minnesota massacre in the year 18G2, and had been 
given a reserve on the South Saskatchewan. Ungratefully 
violating the country's hospitality, by various acts of lawless- 
ness and sedition, a roving band of them fell in with the pic- 
turesque Nemesis of a gallantly led troop of the Body Guard, 
and were taken prisoners. 

At last the Northcote arrived, having crutched rather than 
steamed her way down the river. With her came the needed 
supplies, the Midlanders, and the Gatling. In her wake also 
came some ten barges, built at Swift Current, that had been 
despatched to the front, to facilitate, if need be, the crossing 
of the river, and to be of assistance in operating against the 
enemy. The water was now rising in the Saskatchewan, and 
the supply difficulty was solved. It remained now but for 
General Middleton to relieve himself of the wounded, and to 
move his lines closer to Batoche. A number of ambulances 
were extemporised, by stretching buffalo skins tightly across 
the waggons, on which the wounded were carefully placed, 
and thus conveyed to Saskatoon. Here the hospital corps, under 
Surgeon-Genl. Roddick, and Dr. Douglas, V.C, an old army 


surgeon, decorated for personal bravery in the field, were 
ready to extend to them the skill of their professional services. 
Finally, on the 7th of May, the lagging camp was struck at 
Fish Creek, and a forward movement made to Gabriel Dumont's 
Crossing, about eight miles south of Batoche. The advance 
was unopposed. There now joined the General's personal staff 
Lieut. Frere, a son of Sir Bartle Frere, who assumed the duties 
of one of the wounded aides-de-tiamp. A strong reconnaiss- 
ance was now made as far north as the Crossing, through the 
beautiful hilly country of the French half-breeds. " What 
fools these mortals be ! " is the borrowed phrase made use of 
by a press correspondent with the column, as the troops march- 
ed by the deserted homes and neglected farms of this fertile 
valley. For the sham glory of cutting a figure in a wicked 
rebellion, which was sure to bring ruin to the individual M^tis, 
and desolation to as fair a region as ever man owned for a 
home, these misguided half-breeds sacrificed every comfort 
and recklessly imperilled their lives. The whole district was 
deserted. " It is now a Great Lone Land with a vengeance," 
writes the correspondent we have just referred to,* "and yet 
in the bright May sunshine the grass grows green, the wild 
crocus and anemone dot the prairie, the trees begin to bud, 
and bluff and wood and lakelet combine to make as pretty a 
picture as painter or poet ever saw. But it is beauty without 
life, except that of the prairie chicken, the wild gopher, and 
the song birds that are greeting the sunshine." Before night 
the column made a detour to the eastward, away from the 
river and the wooded bluffs at the Crossing, so as to reach a 
clear site on the prairie for the evening's camp, and from which 
to advance on the morrow the contracting lines around 

* Mr. G. H. Ham, Special Correspondent of the Toronto Mail, 



'^ AJOE. Boulton's Mounted Scouts led the way. 
Then came the Grenadiers, with Capt. Gas- 
ton's company as advance guard ; following 
which was the Gatling, in charge of Lt. Ho- 
ward; then the 90th Battalion; and "A" 
Battery, with two guns. In the centre of 
the advancing column was the Ammunition 
train, followed by the Ambulance Corps. 
Next came the Winnipeg Battery, with two guns ; two com- 
panies of the Midland Provisional Battalion, under Gol. Williams, 
bringing up the rear. The flanks were protected by Capt. 
French's Mounted Scouts. Such was the order of the unob- 
structed advance upon Batoche, on the morning of Saturday, 
the 9th of May. 

The column, which had rested over night about eight miles 
east of the village of Batoche, paraded after a hasty breakfast 
at 5 A.M. on Saturday, and half an hour later was under way. 
The total strength of the column was a trifle over 900 men. 
Since it first took the field it had to some extent been de- 
pleted by the casualties at Fish Creek ; but these had been 
made good by the arrival of two companies of the Midland 

Battalion. To support the column, and divert the attention of 



the rebels, it was arranged that the Nortlicote, flanked by two 
barges, and having on Board " C " Company, School of Infantry, 
in command of Major Smith, should go down the stream to 
Batoche, and on a preconcerted signal engage the enemy from 
the river. The difficulties of this undertaking, and the mis- 
carriage of the arrangements, we shall subsequently relate. 

Meanwhile Middleton's force reached the deserted reserva- 
tion of the band of Teten Sioux, under One Arrow, and pre- 
sently came in view of the Parish Church of St. Laurent, and 
a neighbouring school, on the heights. The cross-crowned bel- 
fry tower of St. Antoine de Padone looks down, on one side, 
over the prairie trail to Humboldt, and on the other, on the 
curving line of the Saskatchewan and the sleeping plain of the 
village of Batoche. Nearing the outskirts of the settlement, 
the Scouts fell back and " A " Battery moved to the front. A 
well-directed shell was now fired at a house by the side of a 
ravine on the right, and a number of rebels were seen to 
scamper off to the bush. Some days previous to the approach 
to Batoche, the General-in-Command had issued a proclamation 
in French to the inhabitants of the region, requiring them to 
surrender to the troops or take the consequences. The pro- 
clamation the General caused to be distributed by the agency 
of a few Sioux prisoners, whom he released for the purpose.* 

The Gatling was now ordered to the front, under an escort 
of Boulton's Horse. When within a hundred yards of the 
church and schoolhouse, and just as the gun was sighted 
for the latter, the door of the church opened and a priest came 

•Translation of General Middleton's Proclamation : " Those half-breeds and 
Indians who have been forced to join the rebels, and also those mistaken Indians 
who have joined voluntarily, are informed by this that if they give up at once and 
return to their houses and reserves they will be protected and pardoned. The 
troops sent by the Government do not desire to make war against these men, but 
only against Kiel, his council, and his principal accomplices. (Signed) Middleton. " 


forward and waived a white handkerchief. The General and 
his staff at once rode up, when four priests, five nuns, and 
some few loyal inhabitants of the district, who had taken re- 
fuge in the church, advanced and claimed the protection of the 
troops. The forlorn refugees were instantly taken care of, and 
appeared extremely thankful for their rescue. From the priests 
some information was gleaned of the strength and disposition 
of the rebel forces. The sad story was also gathered of what 
both priests and nuns had suffered by discountenancing re- 
bellion, and in exerting themselves to keep the M^tis quiet. 
Their lives, it was learned, had been repeatedly threatened by 
the half-breeds. But for the interposition of one of the rebel 
leaders, who insisted that the church should not be desecrated 
by murder, they would have fallen victims to the enmity of 
Riel and his reckless following.* 

During the conversation with the priests, a reconnaissance had 
been going on, in the endeavour to find advantageous positions 
for shelling the rebel stronghold. The church and schoolhouse, 
as we have said, occupy a prominent position commanding the 
village and the approach to it from the south. They stand on 
a ridge some two hundred yards back from the river. This 

•Here are the names, so fai* as can be ascertained, of the men who composed 
Kiel's Provisional Government, with the chief rebel leaders. A few are irreconcil- 
ables from the period of Kiel's first insurrection, at Red River. Gabriel Dumont, who 
may be styled the rebel Commander-in-chief; Andrew Nolin, Commissariat Officer ; 
his brother Charles, said to be one of the chief instigators of the insmrection ; 
Albert Monkman, accused of inciting the Indians to revolt, a member of the 
Council, and present at the fight at Duck Lake ; Alex. Fisher, Receiver-General 
of the rebel government ; W. H. J. Jackson, Kiel's private secretary ; Maxima 
Lepine, and M. Jobin, members of the Council, and A. Lomborbark, Sioux 
Interpreter. The following are known to have taken a prominent part in the in- 
surrection, to be captains of companies, or guards over prisoners : Delorme, Dumaia, 
Tourand, Gervais, Poitras, Fider, Pilon, Parentot, Dubois, Pochelot, and Vendue, 
In some instances, two or more of the same family, brothers, or father and son, 
were in revolt ; and, in not a few cases, were recognised in fights, or were seen by 
loyal scouts, with arms in their hands. 


ridge which, to the south of Batoche, towers in high bluffa 
over the river, curves away to the east at the church and the 
cemetery, and forms what may be termed the secondary banks 
of the Saskatchewan. Between this lofty ridge and the lower 
wooded bluffs that border the river, there is an oblong open 
plain, the site of the village. Through the middle of this 
plain winds the trail, from the south and east, to the river 
crossing. On the plain are a few stores, Riel's Council Cham- 
ber, Batoche's house, and several half-breed dwellings. Close 
by the river, at the upper end of the plain, and concealed by a 
skirting of woods, was the half-breed and Indian camp. On 
the west side, at the foot of its sloping wooded banks, were 
also a few houses and the gaudily coloured tepees of Indians. 
Grazing on the slopes were some cattle and Indian ponies. 

In the bluffs surrounding Batoche, which nestles prettily in 
an elliptical basin, the rebels had entrenched themselves in 
rifle-pits. Wooded ravines break the continuity of the sur- 
rounding ridge, and from the east afford glimpses of the slum- 
bering village. But the Catling disturbs its quiet, though as 
yet the half-breeds are nowhere to be seen. Suddenly, while 
the staff on the ridge was watching the effect of a shell from 
the battery, a volley of musketry and the whoop of Indians and 
half-breeds came from the bush immediately in front of the 
group. Fortunately, the bullets went high, and no one was 
hit, though the suddenness of the fire almost caused a panic. 
The Battery guns were speedily withdrawn, though not before 
there was danger of their capture. But Captain Peters here 
galloped up with the Catling, and Lt. Howard, at great personal 
risk, rushed it to the front, and, turning the cylinder, dis- 
charged a torrent of lead. 

Simultaneously with the advance of the Catling two com- 
panies of the Grenadiers were ordered to take up a position in 


rear of the schoolhouse, and to the right of the spot where the 
action began. Detecting this movement, the rebels made an 
effort to turn the left flank of the 10th, by concentrating a 
heavy fire from the bush, overlooking the high banks of the 
river, on the advanced line. But as the enemy seemed here to 
be armed only with shot-guns, their fire fell short. The skir- 
mishing line was now strengthened by the dismounted men of 
" A " Battery, and by the sharpshooters, armed with Martini- 
- Henry rifles, of the 90th. Both of these corps took up a posi- 
tion on the crest of the rising ground near the church, and for 
a time kept up a smart fire on the ravine in front and on the 
bush on the hill. The main body of the DOth was deployed in 
rear, and held in readiness to move in any direction. Present- 
ly part of it received orders to support the right centre, upon 
which a hot fire now poared from a hitherto concealed row of 
rifle-pits on broken ground to the right. The remainder advanced 
to support the left centre and left. The Winnipeg Battery 
took up a position on the right ; and, on the extreme right, 
Boulton's Horse looked after that flank. 

** A " Battery men, supported by French's Scouts, now made 
a movement towards the river, rounding the edge of the rido-e 
on which they had previously been stationed, and into a coulee 
that winds down to the plain. Here they encountered the 
enemy in strong force, and were compelled to fall back, with 
the loss of one killed and two or three wounded. The rebel 
fire now became general, and the troops began to realise tliQ 
extent and ramifications of the rifle-pits. A more formidabla 
lurking-place of danger could hardly be conceived ; but Fish 
Creek had taught the troops to be wary of these death-traps, 
and the General was careful to caution the men against unduly 
exposing themselves. But there was more danger than from 
the enemy's fire ; for, at this time, the underbrush along the 


skirmishing line was ignited by the flame of fire which was 
maintained on the rebels, and dense clouds of smoke rolled 
along the ground. The next hour was an uncomfortable one 
for the troops ; but they never flinched from their positions, 
until ordered to fall back a little, when the fighting was re- 
newed with vigour. 

The steady play of the guns, which had continued with little 
interruption since the morning, and in which the Winnipeg 
Battery had taken an active share, had by 2 p.m., in great 
measure, subdued the enemy's fire. Taking advantage of a 
lull in the fighting, a company of the Midland Battalion was 
sent up the ravine, with a stretcher in charge of Dr. Codd, of 
Winnipeg, to recover the body of Gunner Phillips, of "A" 
Battery, who had fallen early in the day. The Midlanders met 
with a hot fire in the coulee, but were successful in bringing 
out the body, without loss to themselves. The poor Gun- 
ner's remains were carried to the rear, and in the evening were 
buried by his comrades of the Battery, Chaplain Gordon, of 
Winnipeg, officiating. It is related that while the reverend 
gentleman was reading a portion of Scripture at the grave, his 
words were punctuated by a volley from the enemy's sharp- 
shooters, while " the staccato crashes of the Gatling broke in 
on his voice, but did not drown it." 

' Hark ! the muffled drum sounds the last march of the brave, 
The soldier retreats to his quarters — the grave. 
Under Death, whom he owns his commander-in-chief. 
No more he'll turn out with the ready relief ; 
STet spite of Death's terrors or hostile alarms 
When he hears the last bugle he'll stand to his arms." 

From now on till evening the firing languished, and, as little 
was to be gained by exposing the men to the fire of con- 
cealed marksmen in well-sheltered rifle-pits, the bulk of the 
fighting line was withdrawn. Arrangements were now made 


for the night's camp, and for protection from attack. Early in 
the afternoon some tents and waggons had been ordered up from 
the site of Friday night's camp, and: the latter were formed into 
a zareba, outside of which the troops were busy throwing up 
entrenchments. A field hospital and the headquarters of the 
Commissariat were established ; and the wounded were tended 
and the men had supper. While the men were at their 
meal, the brave Howard came into camp with the Gatling, and 
received the cheers of the men for his heroic act in saving the 
guns from capture in the morning.* This brave officer, to 
whom Canada owes much for his services on the field, in charge 
of the Gatling gun, was for five years in the United States 
Cavalry, and latterly was in command of the machine gun 
platoon of the Connecticut National Guard. At the time Dr. 
Gatling acquired his services, Lt. Howard was engaged in the 
Winchester arms factory, and he received leave of absence to 
accompany the guns to the North-West. He is well acquainted 
with projectiles and arms of precision, and, by his bearing 
under fire, was even reckless in practically exemplifying their 
use. Had the rebels had a Gatling or two, with a hero like 
Howard in command, it would have gone ill with the North- 
West Expeditionary Force. 

*" The Gatling gun weighs about 1,500 lbs., and is precisely of the same design 
as the ordinary cannon. There are ten chambers that revolve in the barrel proper, 
and each chamber has an independent lock. The main barrel is eight inches in 
diameter. The size of cartridge used is that of the ordinary 45 government rifle 
calibre. Each feed drum contains 240 rounds. The firing is done by operating a 
crank ; the cartridge is exploded by a hammer which works with such great rapi- 
dity that 120 cartridges are fired in a minute. The movement of the gun can be so 
adjusted as to make it either stationary or oscillating, so that the gun practice can 
become either scattered or centrifugal in its execution. At 700 yards the Gatlii-g 
gun has been known to hit a 12 x 15 ft. target 396 times out of 400 shots. At 1,200 
yards 4l3 out of 600 shots have struck a 9 + 25 ft. target. To show the rapidity 
with which the gun can be worked, it might be explained that the time occupied 
in coming into action front from trot and firing is 10 seconds ; rear limber, mount . 
and off, 13 seconds." 


On the Sunday morning the camp was in motion at sunrise, 
the troops having bivouacked on the ground with their arms 
beside them. The column of attack was formed under the eye 
of the General. The Grenadiers marched out to occupy the 
centre and the left, while the Midlanders took up a position 
on the right. Beyond occupying the shelter trenches, and 
keeping up a desultory fire on the enemy, which was replied 
to without vim, little was done all day. In the afternoon a 
feint was made to draw the rebels from their rifle-pits, but 
only a few of the Mdtis marksmen left their hiding-places, 
and the skirmishing line of the 90th drove them quickly back. 
The only other incident of note was the shelling of the cemetery, 
by the Winnipeg Battery, where a number of half-breeds for a 
time had massed. The Mounted Scouts, under Capt. French, 
manoeuvred for a while to the north-east of Batoche, and 
succeeded in capturing a number of Indian ponies. On their 
return to camp, the Scouts were joined by Dennis's Horse, a 
company of Mounted Surveyors that had galloped in from the 
south. Presently, the advanced lines were withdrawn, and 
night again fell upon the camp. 

Monday was, in part, a repetition of the previous day, save 
that the 90th moved to the fi'ont, while the Grenadiers stayed 
in camp. The enemy was again found safely ensconced in his 
rifle-pits. In the seclusion of their position, the half-breeds 
were able to bid defiance to both musketry and gun fire; 
while the shells but further protected them by covering the 
pits with the debris of shattered timber. A strong reconnais- 
sance was undertaken by the General north-eastward, accom- 
panied by Boulton's and Dennis's Horse, and the Gatling. 
Here they found Batoche defended by a Sebastopol of rifle- 
pits. These were strategically located so as to ofier opposition 
from whatever quarter the village v/as approached. We quote 


from G. II. II., the Mail correspondent, the following descrip- 
tion of these rebel trenches : 

" As a prominent military man remarked, an engineer could 
profitably take lessons from these untaught M^tis of the west, 
The rebel position (it could not be called lines, for the pits 
run in all places and in all directions), demonstrated that the 
plans of defence were admirably conceived and excellently 
executed. It seemed as if they expected the troops to como 
along the river bank, and had prepared a ravine, a short dis- 
tance up stream, to give us a warm reception. Weeks must 
have been spent in fortifying the place, since every conceiv- 
able point of vantage for a radius of a couple of miles was 
utilised. All their pits were deep, with narrow entrances, 
which widened at the bottom, thus giving perfect protection. 
Notched logs, the notches turned downwards, formed a parapet, 
earth being piled on top, and the notches cleared for loop holes. 
Lines of sight for the rebel marksmen were cleared in the 
brush. There were trenches of communication between the 
pits, arranged en echelon on the main road from Humboldt, 
but fortunately we did not come that way. Not alone in the 
field had the enemy prepared for a determined stand, but the 
houses in the village were also ready for an emergency. Even 
the tents in which some of the rebel warriors lived were not 
without protection. Almost every one had a rifle-pit, and 
under the cart or waggon — for some of these people have dis- 
carded the old-fashioned Red River cart — a parapeted hole was 
dug for defence. If they had prepared for us at Fish Creek, 
they had a thousand times more so at Batoche's. It was their 
last ditch. No trail, no pathway, however insignificant, 
was left unguarded ; no ravine, no gully that was not made a 
point of attack or defence." 

Nothing came of the reconnaissance save to bring home to 
the General's mind the fact that the defences of the revolted 
half-breeds could be carried only at the point of the bayonet. 
This was what the troops wanted. The harassing desultory 
fire, one day after another, all chafed under ; and the return to 
camp each evening, with nothing accomplished, made the men 
sullen. Middleton's economy of the lives of the troops, how- 


ever kindly intentioned, only fretted his gallant force. As the 
day's wounded were brought into camp, the limit of the men's 
Eorbearance seemed to be reached. To-morrow, despite orders, 
they would do something. 

The three days' casualties were three killed and some sixteen 
or more wounded. Besides Phillips, the Batteryman, who was 
killed on Saturday, another and a young hero was to fall the 
same day. This was Pte. Thomas Moor, of C. Co. Grenadiers, 
who won the goal of a soldier's ambition — an honoured death 
on the battlefield. Of the same regiment Capt. Mason received 
a severe wound in the thigh, while StafF-sergt. Mitchell was 
struck by a bullet in the forehead. Of the gallant 10th, Corp. 
Foley, and Ptes. Cantwell, Martin, Brisbane, Stead and Scovell 
were also wounded. The 90th had one killed, Pte. R. R. Har- 
disty, a comrade whom the regiment sincerely mourned. The 
90th wounded included Corp. Kemp, and Ptes. Baron and 
Erickson. " A " Battery had four wounded : Driver Stout 
and Gunners Fairbanks, Charpentier, and Cowley. Of French's 
Scouts, Troopers Allen and Cook were wounded. The latter 
was gallantly snatched from the hands of death by his intrepid 



' By heavens ! 'tis day indeed begun ! 
Yefc once more gaze upon the sun. 
For many here, now armed for fight, 
Shall never see that sun at night. 
Iq many a heart the blood beats high, 
Flushed vi^ith the hope of victory ; 
And ere the bell the hour repeat, 
Shall many a heart have ceased to beat." 

'UESDAY, the 12th inst., was the fourth day of 
the investiture of Batoche. In the three days 
desultory fighting the temper of the troops had 
been sorely tried. There had been no appreci- 
''<fi//^ able blow struck at the enemy; and at long 
'^ ^ range he was not even assailable. The force, 
in truth, was too weak for aggressive measures, 
unless boldly conceived and recklessly acted on. 
Moreover, both Colonel Irvine and the steamer had failed to 
co-operate ; and General Middleton, no doubt wisely enough, 
thought it wouldn't do to be precipitate. With the systematia 
deliberation which characterised all his movements, he was 
ready to give effect to his own plans ; but he was not willing 
to risk the troops in an unequal encounter. He acted, an 1 



acted rightly, on the good old military maxim : " Conquest is 
twice achieved when the achiever brings home full numbers." 

But, if we may say it without offence, there was another 
factor on the field besides the General ; and the kindly old 
warrior knew it. There was the ardour of youth, and, when 
the fight began, the unrestrainable impulse, with each gallant 
soul, to do a deed of daiing. There was, moreover, in every- 
man's breast, a conscious realisation that he had right on his 
side, than which there is no higher impelling motive to fidelity 
and heroism. We may not be justified in saying that, on the 
rebel side, there was not a similar consciousness of right ; for 
treason, like party rancour, sometimes puts on the cloak of 
patriotism and complacently felicitates itself on its well-doing. 
But if there was right on their side, by the close of the day 
there were many to deny it. Defeat, we know, brings weak- 
ness ; but defeat in an honourable cause does not usually mani- 
fest itself in whining excuses for fighting, or exculpate itseK 
on the plea that its actors, against their wishes, were forced to 
take up arms. But we are anticipating events. 

Moving out with the mounted troops, the Gatling, and a 
detachment of " A " Battery, with one gun. General Middleton 
took up a position with his staff on the plateau, on the extreme 
right front, overlooking Batoche. Here Capt. Drury opened 
the memorable day's fight with a shower of shrapnel directed 
at the village and at the rifle-pits in the brush immediately in 
front. The fire was instantly returned ; and Lieut. Kippin, of 
Dennis's Surveyor Scouts, was the first to fall, mortally wound- 
ed. The infantry, led by Colonel Van Straubenzie, meanwhile 
took up their daily position in the shelter trenches in the 
advanced lines along the front. The Grenadiers held the 
centre, the 90th the right, and the Midlanders the left. For a 
time the morning salute from the trenches occupied by the 


troops, was hot and vigorous — a premonitory symptom of the 
men's impatience. While coolly superintending these move- 
ments, and planning how best to strike the enemy a decided 
blow that day, the General observed a white flag flying at a 
point in the rebel lines. Presently, two prisoners on parole 
advanced with the flag, and a note for the Major-General. The 
note read as follows : 

" Sib : If -you massacre our families we will begin by killing Indian Agent Lash 

and other prisoners. 

Louis David Rikl." 

To this first confession of weakness, on the part of the rebel 
chief, the General made the following response : 

"Mr. Riel : I am most anxious to avoid killing women and children, and have 
always been so. Put women and children in some place and I won't harm them. 
I trust to your honour not to put men with them. 

Fred, Middleton, 
Major-General Commanding." 

Before the prisoner, Astley, had well got back to the rebel 
lines, the half-breeds in the pits took up the firing, which was 
hotly returned from our trenches. The morning passed in such 
manoeuvring, and the General and his stafi" returned to camp. 
After the men had partaken of a hasty dinner in the trenches, 
Colonel Straubenzie informed the regimental commanders that 
the General wished to press the fighting, and to relax no dis- 
creet effort in pressing forward. 

The beginning of the end now drew near. By this tima 
Colonel Williams had extended the Midlanders to the extreme 
left of the lines and advanced to a position overlooking the 
river. Grasett and the Grenadiers now cleared the enemy 
from the high ground near the Church ; while McKeand an 1 
the 90th, running a gauntlet of fire, pressed forward th ir 
right. The beleaii;uered line, on the extreme riirht, was cou» 


tracting under the fire of Boulton's and Dennis's troopers, who 
had dismounted and were pressing the enemy hard on his 
flank. The General, who had meantime ridden forward to the 
church, now gave the order for a reconnaissance in force. In- 
stantly, the whole line made a forward movement, and it was 
soon seen that the men were about to pass from the control of 
command. Already the Midland Battalion had taken the bit 
in their mouth. Pressing along, the river bank, with unbend- 
ing courage, and with a contagious cheer, they drove the half- 
breeds from the rifle-pits back to the cemetery. From the 
cemetery the Midlanders entered a small ravine, that wound 
round its base, and poured in on the rifle-pits a hot enfilading 
fire, Grasett, meanwhile, had swung round his right, and 
gained cover for his Grenadiers on new ground over the ridge. 
The Grenadier left, led by Straubenzie, also crossed the ridge 
and joined the Midlanders, bayoneting the flying breeds as 
they advanced. 

The attack on the whole line being now fully developed, the 
rebels, who seemed to be much demoralised, and some say un- 
der the influence of a superstition, abandoned their fastnesses 
and fled. At this juncture, another note from Riel found its 
way to the General. This was its purport : 

" General : Your prompt answer to my note shows that I was right in mention- 
ing to you the cause of humanity. We will gather our families in one place, and 
as soon as this is done we will let you know. 

" (Signed), Louis David Riel." 

On the envelope was written the following : 

"I do not like war, and if you do not retreat, and refuse an interview, the ques- 
tion remains the same concerning the prisoners." 

The practical reply Riel got to his note was the ringing cheer 
of the victorious volunteers, and their hot dash into the key of 
the position. The formal reply was» that " the troops would 


cease firing when the enemy did, and not before." But there 
was work yet to be done. The half-breeds and Indians who 
held the inner defences, seeing the day lost, for a time fought 
with the courage of despair. But they could not withstand the 
bayonet; while the Catling and the nine-pounder, catching the 
enemy now in the ravines, mowed them down with the iron hail. 
Still more closely did our long line of skirmishers converge 
upon the now doomed rebels. But there were ridges yet to get 
over, and gullies to cross ; and many a young life fell out by 
the way — the stretcher and ambulance being in frequent re- 
quisition. This was the crisis of the day. 

The din now became furious ; for both the Quebec and the 
Winnipeg Batteries were plying their thunder, and there was 
the crash of the Gatling and the incessant fusilade of Snider, 
Martini, and Winchester. On the right, the 90th were having 
it hot ; though they were gallantly supported by the battery- 
men and by Boul ton's troopers. At the head of the latter, im- 
petuously leading in the assault, fell Capt. E. T. Brown 

•• And round him gathers still the strife, 
And death in every form is rife." 

Again was the moment critical. The right skirmishing line 
had here to charge a series of rifle-pits, skilfully placed en 
echelon, to guard the trail from the East. But half an hour 
sufficed to clear them, and to drive their dark-skinned occu- 
pants back on the village. Had the enemy not been dazed at 
the unexpected turn of events, at one or other of the many 
formidable lines of defence they might have successfully stem- 
med the advance. But bafiled in one quarter, the troops, now 
fairly furious, would have overcome in another ; for nothing 
could withstand the headlong rush of the men» 



At the southern end of the line, on went the Midlanders, un- 
flinchingly led by their gallant Colonel and Major Hughes, and 
closely followed by Capt. French and his Scouts. On, too, went 
Grasett and his Grenadiers ; but, alas ! not all of them, for 
Death met the brave Lieut. Fitch in the moment of victory ; 
while Major Dawson and Adjutant Manley fell wounded. 
Hardisty and Fraser, of the Winnipeg Rifles, were also sum- 
moned from the field. Stubbornly charging the centre, on, too, 
came McKeand, with Buchan, Boswell, and Ruttan, of the 
90th, until the plain was reached, when house after house was 
carried — 

" Then grim Death grew sated, and the field was won ! " 

Among the first to reach the village were two gallant oflficers 
who, now, alas ! are both beyond earthly honour. One of these 
was Capt. French, who was the first to dash into Batoche's 
house, in quest of Riel's prisoners. Reckless of life, he rushed 
up a flight of stairs in the building, and, passing by an open 
window, received a bullet in his breast. Pressing on after him 
were some volunteers, into the arms of one of whom he fell, 
exclaiming : " Don't forget, boys, that I led you here ! " Close 
behind him was Colonel Williams, with Capts. Young and Den- 
nis. The former, entering a neighbouring house, wrenched the 
fastenings from a trap door, and there found and released the 
white captives. Thenceforward all was over. 

The scene which ensued in the village baffles description- 
Over the ploughed field and the nearer plain came the rush of 
red coat and rifleman, and before them the flying Mdtis and 
Indians. Up, too, dashed the Gatiing, and the Winnipeg nine- 
pounder ; while, in a heterogeneous mass, mixed Batteryman, 
Scout, Infantryman, and Trooper. To add to the medley, from 
every hole and corner trooped half-breed women and children 


while, limping along, came wounded rebel and painted savage. 
To complete the picture, up rode Col. Montizambert, gal- 
lantly leading the Quebec Battery ; then the General and his 
Btafi*; followed by black robe, nun, and surgeon. 

At this stage of the exciting day's events, the whistle of the 
Northcote, with her consort the Marquis, was heard in the 
river. The latter had on board some twenty-five men of the 
Mounted Police. The main body of the constabulary was still 
shut up with Colonel Irvine at Prince Albert. The Northcote, 
with " C" Company, School of Infantry, about whose safety, and 
that of the sick and wounded on board, there had been much 
anxiety felt during the investment of Batoche, had had a peril- 
ous journey down the river. On leaving Gabriel's Crossing, on 
the morning of the 9th inst., rebel spies tracked the movements 
of the boat down to Batoche, and raked it with a continuous 
fire from the brush and timber that border the river. As the 
steamer was strongly bulwarked, few casualties occurred ; and 
the troops, from behind their shelter, maintained a vigorous 
fusilade on the banks. Nearing Batoche, the craft got into 
the rapids, and was forced to run the gauntlet of the fire the 
Mdtis had prepared for her. At the village a storm of shot 
was directed against the steamer, and the ferry cable was low- 
ered in expectation of coralling the stern-wheeler, and mas- 
sacring its human freight. Fortunately, the cable did no 
more damage than bring down the smoke-stack, and strew the 
hurricane deck with the masts and spars. For nearly five 
miles the steamer was followed by half-breed and Indian 
marksmen, until spent with their fatiguing and profitless pur- 
suit, they gave up hope of capture and returned to Batoche. 
The craft, in her hot chase down the river, was piloted by 
Captains Seager and Street, thv former having a narrow escape 
from the enemy's fire. On board the steamer was Chief Trana- 


port officer Bedson, with Major Smith, and Lt. Scott, of the " C " 
Company. Lieuts. Elliott and Gibson, of the Grenadiers, were 
also on board ; and Capt. Wise, A.D.C., and Lt. Hugh J. Mac- 
donald, were in the saloon on the sick list. Proceeding some 
distance down the river for wood, the Marquis was met at the 
Hudson Bay ferry. After repairs to the Norilicote, both 
steamers returned up stream with their marine guard in time 
to witness the capitulation of Batoche. 

It is a well-worn saying, but a true one, that " next to defeat 
the saddest thing is victory." After the day's engagement 
came the drear duty of counting the cost. The casualties of 
the four days' fighting were eight killed and forty-five 
wounded.* The losses of the 10th and 90th, it will be seen, 
are specially heavy. In the gallant charge over the open 
ground both regiments sufiered severely. Of the victory 
General Middleton wrote in the following terms to the Hon. 
M. Caron, Minister of Militia : — 

"Have just made a general attack and carried the whole 
Settlement. The men behaved splendidly. The rebels are in 
full tlight, and we are now masters of the place. Most of 
my force will bivouac here. * * Since my last evening's 

* The official list of the entire number of killed and wounded before Batoche is 
as follows : — 

Killed : — French's Scouts, Capt. John French ; Boulton's Horse, Capt. E. T. 
Brown ; Dennis's Surveyors' Corps, Lt. A. W. Kippen ; 10th Grenadiers, Lt. 
Wm. Fitch and Pte. Thos. Moor; "A" Battery, Wm. Phillips j 90th Rifles, 
Ptes. Jas. Fraser, and Richd. Hardisty. 

Wounded : — 10th Grenadiers, Major Dawson, Capts. Mason, and Manley, Staff- 
Sergt. Mitchell, Corp. Foley, Ptes. Stead, Scovell, Cantwell, Martin, Quigley, 
Cook, Barbour, Marshall, Wilson, Brisbane, Eager, McLow, Bugler Gaughan ; 
90th Rifles, Sergt-Major Watson, Sergt. Jackes, Corpls. Kemp and Gillies, Ptes. 
Baron, Young, Watson and Erickson ; Midland Batt., Lieuts. Helliwell and Laid- 
law, Sergts. Wright, and Christie, Corp. Helliwell, Ptes. Barton, and Daley ; 
"A" Battery, Driver Stout, Gunners Cowlej', Charpentier, and Fairbanks ; French's 
Scouts, Troopers Allan, Cook, and Gillen ; Boulton's Horse, Trooper Hay ; Dennis's 
Surveyors' Corps, Troopers Garden and Wheeled. 


lOtb Royal Grenadieia. 


despatch I have ascertained some particulars of our victory, 
which was most complete. I have myself counted twelve half- 
breeds on the field, and we have four wounded besides in the 
hospital, and two Sioux. As far as I can learn, Riel and Du- 
mont left as soon as they saw us getting well in. The extra- 
ordinary skill displayed in making rifle-pits at the proper 
points, and the number of them, are very remarkable ; and had 
we advanced rashly, I believe we might have been destroyed. 
After reconnoitring, I forced on my left, which was the key of 
the position, and then advanced the whole line with a cheer 
and a dash worthy of the soldiers of any army. 

" The efiect was remarkable. The enemy in front of our 
left was forced back from pit to pit, and those in the strongest 
pit, facing east, found themselves turned and our men behind 
them. Then commenced a sauve qui petit. * * The conduct 
of the troops was beyond praise, the Midland and Royal Gren- 
adiers vieing with each other in gallantry They were well 
supported bj' the Ninetieth, and flanked by the mounted 
portion of the troops. The Artillery and Gatling also assisted 
in the attack with good eflect. * * My staff gave me every 
assistance. The medical arrangements, under Brigade-Surgeon 
Orton, were, as usual, most excellent and efficiently carried out." 

Thus terminated in complete success, — for a day or two 
afterwards Riel sun-endered, — the military movement against 
the rebel stronghold, and with it the suppression of the half- 
breed insurrection. A melancholy interruption to the rejoicing 
of the force ensued, on learning of the death and wounding of 
so many brave comrades. But they had gained the summit of 
a soldier's ambition — to meet death, or the scars of battle, on 

the field of honour. 

« « » » 

" The great heart of the nation heaves 

With pride in work her sons have done so well, 

And with a smile and sigh she weaves 
A wreath of bays and one of immortelle I 

Baptized with fire, they stood the test ; 
And earth, in turn, baptized with blood they shed ; 

Canada triumphs, but her best 
Are not all here — she mourns her gallant dead. 


A glorious death was theiis, a bright 
UnstUlied ending to a cloudless day ; 

They sank, as sinks the sun in sea of light ; 
And in their country's memory live for aye ! 

But flush of victory pales in pain ; 
Tears fall for darkened homes where glad tones cease, 

Whose loved, that left, come not again — 
Heaven give the mourners and the nation — Peace 1 " • 

Where the gallant bearing of all the troops engaged was so 
conspicuous, it would seem invidious to single out any for special 
mention. We may, however, be permitted to place on record 
in these pages an act of individual heroism which has come 
under our notice, and like that of Capt. French's, which 
occurred on the previous day, may be taken as an example of 
the general gallantry of the force. The incident we find re- 
corded in the columns of the Toronto Mail. Here is the brief 
but noble story : 

"There was one case of heroism which deserves mention. 
One of the Grenadiers was seriously wounded at Batoche, and 
would have bled to death had he been left any length of time. 
Col.- Sergt. Curzon, under a shower of rebel bullets, at once 
knelt down and stopped the hemoixhage and carried his 
wounded comrade to a place of safety, marching coolly away to 
tlie music provided by the guns of the enemy." 

This act of chivalry and humanity, we trust, will not go un- 
rewarded of the Government. Its action merits some signal 
token of the nation's honour. Referring to the incident, we 
are glad to observe that Dr. Ryerson, one of the regimental 
surgeons of the 10th, thus speaks of it : " Sergeant Curzon, of 
the 10th. Batt. Toronto, attended my Ambulance Class last 
winter, and learned how to stop bleeding. His knowledge en- 
abled him to save the life of a man who was shot through the 

* From a poem, entitled " Victory at Batoche," by Charlotte (Mrs. Edgar) 


main artery of the arm and was fast bleeding to death. He 
did it under fire." 

Very noticeable was the gallantry displayed during the day 
by Cols. Montizambert and Houghton, and by the General's 
Aide-de-camp, Lieut. Frere (38th Regt.). Capt. Young, of the 
Winnipeg Field Battery, and Capt. Peters and Lieut. Rivers, 
of "A" Battery, also bore themselves with conspicuous daring. 
The Chaplains, Revds. D. M. Gordon and C. C. Whitcombe, 
were also assiduous in their attentions in the field. 

The rebel loss, in the four days' fighting at Batoche, is esti- 
mated at 51 killed and 173 wounded. Their total strength in 
the engagement, including Half-breeds and Indians, was nearly 
GOO. Against this number, with every disadvantage of posi- 
tion. General Middleton had at his command a fighting strength 
of only 500. 



HE issue of the insurrection in the North-West 
had now greatly narrowed itself. The struggle 
was for a time doubtful, with a small, inex- 
perienced, and necessarily scattered force to cope 
with the insurrection, and with an enemy strongly 
entrenched in rifle-pits, whose number and con- 
struction elicited the wonder and admiration of 
military critics. But at close quarters, the rebels, 
however courageously they fought, and with whatever skill 
they were generaled, were no match for the loyal troops. 
When the charge was made, and the bayonet came into play, 
neither half-breed nor Indian could withstand the assault. The 
valour and endurance of the troops, throughout the campaign, 
had been put to a severe test ; but the Canadian Militia did 
not swerve from its duty, nor discredit its old-time honours. 

The immediate task of General Middleton was now to relieve, 
as far as possible, the distress at Batoche, and to ensure the 
general pacification of the region. Measures were at once 
taken to reassure the well-disposed, and to remove for trial the 
ringleaders, and those who were still disaffected. In the for- 



mer beneficent work, the troops did good and humane sei'vice. 
A correspondent of the Toronto Globe bears testimony to this 
fact. Says the writer : 

" One of the most pleasant incidents in connection with the 
Batoche fight was the respect, courtesy, and kindness with 
which the men, flush with victory, treated the women who 
were found in the corral after the fight. Had they been their 
own mothers, sisters, or wives, they could not have shown them 
greater consideration." 

All seemed thankful that the trouble was over, and with com- 
mon consent, disavowed responsibility for the insurrection. 
The fighting, they affirmed, was forced upon them by the 
designing leaders, who, seeing the cause lost, had now left 
them to their fate. For Kiel, no one seemed to have a good 
word, the women being particularly severe on his religious 
imposition, and on his effeminate bearing throughout the 
struggle. The old Latin maxim, Mulier imperator et mulier 
miles* in the present instance, did not hold good ; for the 
fighting force of rebeldom was neither womanish nor soft- 

But in the wicked, and, in the main, causeless outbreak, it 
was Dumont, and not Riel, who was the General. In the 
whole period of the rebellion, it is doubtful whether Riel ever 
fired a shot. Even now, the religious monomaniac, instead of 
making good his escape, in company with Dumont, his plucky 
Adjutant-General, was moodily haunting the neighbouring 
woods. Here, four days after the taking of Batoche, he was 
seen by some scouts and surrendered. The Jove of insurrec- 
tion was found weak in the knees, and afraid of his miserable 
life. The taking of Riel happened in this wise. While the 
country was being scoured to see that no number of armed 

* " A womaa for a general and the suldiers will be wouaeo.' 


insurgents were still lurking in the woods, a rumour reached 
headquarters that the rebel chief was not far off. Three 
couriers, named Howrie, Armstrong, and Deale, who had 
diverged from the trail in an advance party of Boul ton's Scouts, 
came upon four men at the edge of a wood. One of the four, 
Howrie recognised as Kiel, though he was " coatless, hatless, 
and unarmed. His companions were young men, and they 
carried shotguns. The couriers rode up, and they called Kiel 
by name, and he answered the salutation. They expressed 
surprise at his being there, and in reply Kiel handed Armstrong 
a slip of paper — the note which General Middleton had sent 
him — informing him that if he would give himself up he would 
be protected, and given a fair trial. At the same time he 
said : ' I want to give myself up ; but I fear the troops may 
hurt me.' " 

The couriers relieved Kiel's mind on this point, and under- 
took to smuggle him into camp without molestation. This 
was ultimately done, and the rebel chieftain soon stood, a 
prisoner, in the tent of the General. The " Exovide " was now 
a broken man, and his rebel flock was subjugated or scattered. 
The rest is soon told. Placed under a guard, the arch-traitor 
w !s sent off, with the other leading conspirators, for trial to 
ll(>giiia ; and the General and the troops prepared to proceed to 
Prince Albert, thence westward, to join in the pursuit of Big 

This part of our story need not long detain us ; for, in the 
chapter on " The Frog Lake Massacre," we have already dealt 
with the chief events on the North Saskatchewan. The dis- 
affected St. Laurent region once more assumed its normal quiet. 
Bach day brought its quota of surrendering Mdtis, whose hearts 
must have smote them at sight of the want and wretchedness 
which their criminal folly had occasioned. Seeing their folly, 


most of them, it is to be said to their credit, set heartily to 
work to repair the evil they had done. 

" And men, taught wisdom from the past, 
In friendship joined their hands ; 
Hung the gun in the hall, the spear on the wall. 
And ploughed the willing lands." 

Meanwhile the distress had to be met by the humanity of 
the Government and the kindness of its agents and the troops. 
This was done with no niggard hand, and the latter set off for 
Prince Albert. To protect the region there was now within 
hail an increased force at Humboldt, for, in addition to the 
Body Guard, the united 12th and 35th Battalions had been 
called up from Qu'Appelle ; while the Seventh Fusiliers* had 
been moved from Swift Current to Clarke's Crossing. 

The 91st Winnipeg Battalion,-f- commanded by Lt.-Col. Thomas 
Scott, M. P., was guarding Qu'Appelle, while Capt. White's 
Auxiliary Scouts were to the south of it. The 92nd Winnipeg 
Light Infantry, I under Lt.-Col. W. Osborne Smith, C.M.G., 

•The following are the staff and Company officers of 7th Battalion, " Fusiliers," 
London, Ont. Lt.-Col. W. De Ray Williams ; Majors, A. M. Smith and W. M. 
Gartshore ; Adjut., Cap*^^. Geo. M. Reid ; Quartermaster, Capt. Jno. B. Smyth ; 
Paymaster, Major D. MacMillan ; Surgeons, Dr. J. M. Fraser, and Dr. J. S. 
Niven. Capts., Thos. Beattie, E. Mackenzie, F, H. Butler, T. H. Tracey, R. 
Dillon, and S. F. Peters ; Lieuts. H. Bapty,C. B. Bazan, A. G. Chisholm, W. 
Greig, C. F. Cox, H. Payne, Jas. Hesketh, C. S. Jones, J. H. Pope. 

+ The following are the staff and Company officers of the 91st Batt. Winnipeg, 
Lt.-Col. Thomas Scott, M.P., in command. Majors, D. H. McMillan and Stuart 
Mulvey ; Adjnt. , Capt. W. 0. Copeland ; Quartermaster, Capt. W. H. Bruce 5 
Surgeon, Dr. Maurice M. Seymour, Assist. -Surgeon, Dr. Frank Keele; Inspector 
of Musketry, Capt. A. W. Lawe ; Capts., J. A. Mc D, Rowe, Thos. Wastie, Wm. 
Sheppard, S. J. Jackson, J. H. Kennedy, J. C. Waugh, R. W. A. Rolph, John 
Crawford; Lieuts., F. I. Bamford, E. C. Smith, R. C. Brown, J. B. Rutherford, 
Major A. Gates, Geo. A. Glinn, A. Monkman, A. P. Cameron; 2nd Lieuts., W. 
H. Saunders, R. Hunter, G. R. Reid, T. Lusted, H. W. Chambre, H. McKay, 
F. R. Glover. T. B. Brondgeest., Ed. Ellis, and F. V. Young. 

X The following are the staff and Company officers of the 92nd Batt., the Winni- 
peg Light Infantry, Lt.-Col. W. Osborne Smith, C.M.G., iu command. Majors, 


had gone to Calgary, to join the 3rd Division of the North- 
West Field Force, under Major-General Strange. The latter, 
a veteran of the British service, had organised some local corps 
in the neighbourhood of the Rocky Mountains, with the design 
of keeping the Blackfeet Indians of the region from the dis- 
turbing influences of trouble on both branches of the Saskat- 
chewan. When Big Bear took to the war-path. General 
Strange was instructed to place himself at the head of a Field 
Column, which would instantly be despatched to Calgary and 
Edmonton. This column was mainly composed of the Winni- 
peg Light Infantry, 300 strong, under Lt.-Col. Smith, C.M.G,, 
and the 65th " Mount Royal Rifles," 317 strong, under Lt.- 
Cols. Ouimet and Hughes. It was subsequently strengthened 
by Major Stewart's Rocky Mountain Rangers ; by 75 Mounted 
Police, under Major Steele and Inspector Gagnon, with the 
Police nine-pounder, under Major Perry, R.E. ; and by 100 men 
of the Edmonton Volunteers, and 50 of the Alberta Rifles, 
under Major Hutton. The Calgary force was further supple- 
mented by the 9th " Voltigeurs," of Quebec, under Lt.-Col. 
Amyot ; and by the Quebec Cavalry School Corps, Lt.-Col. 
J. F. Turnbull, Commandant. The Montreal Garrison Artillery, 
under Lt.-Col. W. R. Oswald, was stationed at Regina, the 
capital of the North- West Territories ; and the Halifax Pro- 
visional Battalion, commanded by Lt.-Col. Bremner, garrisoned 
Swift Current, Moose Jaw, and Medicine Hat.* 

John Lewis, and W. B. Thibadeau ; Adjut., Cap. Chas. Constantino ; Paymaster, 
E. P. Leacock ; Quartermaster, R. La Touche Tupper ; Surgeon, Dr. J. P. Penne- 
father. Assist. -Surgeon, Dr. S. T. Macadam. Capts., W. R. Pilsworth, W. B. 
Canavan, F. J. Clarke, Dudley Smith, T. A. Wade, T. P. Valiancy, D. F^ 
Mcintosh ; Lieuts. , D. C Sutherland, G. B. Brooks, T. G. Alexander, J. W. N. 
Carruthers, Augustus Mills, — Canwell, T. Gray; 2ad Lieuts., R. G. Macbeth, J 
A. Thirkell, W. R. Currie, F. T. Currie, Thos. Norquay, Thos. D. Deegan. 

* In addition to calling out this force, and putting it in the field, the Militia 
Department placed the following corps under arms, in their several localities, as a 


General Strange's Field Division consisted of 1,200 men of 
all arms. With this force he had to garrison Calgary, Edmon- 
ton, and Victoria, and to operate along the upper waters of 
the North Saskatchewan. On learning of the horror at Frog 
Lake, General Strange made his way, with a flying column, 
to Edmonton and Victoria, thence, to Fort Pitt. At the latter 
post he arrived on the 25th of May, and three days afterwards 
part of his force had a brush with Big Bear's band as narrated 
in our chapter on " The Frog Lake Massacre." During the 
whole of June the " hunt " for Big Bear was prosecuted with 
great energy, in the hope of releasing the white captives in his 
possession, and of bringing the Bear himself and his band to 
justice. The story of the hunt is too tedious, as well as barren 
of incident, to detain the reader with in the closing chapters 
of this narrative. We shall simply outline the operations of 
the combined military force directed against the barbarian 
fugitives in their native fastnesses. The escape of the white 
prisoners we have already dealt with. 

General Middleton's force left Guardepuy's Crossing, on the 
South Saskatchewan, a few days after the taking of Batoche 
Riel, we have seen, had been sent with his chief accomplices 
for trial to Regina. Dumont and Dumais had escaped into 
United States territory, and there gained their liberty. The 
half-breed trouble was at an end : now came the settling of 
scores with the Indians. At Prince Albert, whither the General 
had gone, Chief Beardy was the first to surrender. White 
Cap, the Sioux Chief, who had given material aid to Riel in 
the rebellion, was captured, with twenty of his band, at Dead 

reserve, to be held in readiness in case of need : Toronto Battery of Garrison 
Artillery, under Capt. W. B. McMurrich ; Toronto Field Battery of Artillery, 
under M ijor John Gray ; and tlie 32nd Bruce Infantry (formerly CoL Sproai i 
Battalion), now commanded by Lt-GoL J. G. Cooper, of Walkerton, 


Moose Lake, by Lieuts. Merritt and Fleming and a few troopers 
of the Body Guard. At Battleford, after the raiding of some 
thirty supply waggons by the Battle River Indians, Pound- 
maker thought it discreet to feign penitence and give himself 
up a prisoner. Now came the disposition of the forces in the 
endeavour to capture Big Bear. 

On the last day of May three steamers were loaded at 
Battleford for Fort Pitt.* There General Middleton wished 
to effect a junction with the 3rd Division, North-West Field 
Force, and together to move upon the marauding Indians who, 
under Big Bear, Wandering Spirit, and other types of the noble 
savage, had betaken themselves to their native wilds and de- 
fied the majesty of the law. The undertaking was full of 
difficulty, for the country was of the roughest, and almost im- 
penetrable to an armed force. The hot season added to the 
difficulty of pursuit, in a realm of dense scrub and muskeg, 
made further repellent by myriads of mosquitoes and black 
flies. The pursuit occupied most of the month of June, the 
Bear leading the troops a fine dance through his all but im- 
passable country. The whole district north of Fort Pitt, be- 
yond the Moose Hills, beyond the Beaver River, and stretching 
as far as Cold Lake and Lac des lies, south of the Athabasca 
River, was covered in the operations. But the chase was fruit- 
less, save to intimidate the Indians, and lead them to release 
their prisoners, and finally to surrender themselves. As a 
fighting force, it was of course possible to beat them, even 
without the convincing rhetoric of the Gatling ; but as a host 
of cunning fugitives, it was all but impossible to secure their 

*The following are the corps that took part in this Expedition : The Midland 
Batt, (250 men) ; the 90th (275), the Grenadiers (250), with part of "A" and " B" 
Batteries, and two Gatling?. The following went by the south trail from Battle- 
ford to Fort Pitt : Dennis's Scouts (60), Boulton's Scouts (60), Mounted Police (50)^ 
Brittiebauk's (late French's) Scouts (50). 


defeat. The only hope was to hunt them down or to starve 
them out. For weeks the pursuit was kept up with hot ardour 
by forces under Generals Strange and Middleton. The aid of 
Colonels Irvine from Prince Albert, and Otter from Battleford, 
was also called into requisition. The former, with the Mounted 
Police, moved to the neighbourhood of Green Lake ; while the 
latter, with the Queen's Own, the Ottawa Sharpshooters, and 
C. Company School of Infantry, pushed on to Jack Fish Lake, 
thence to Turtle Lake and the region about. Twice General 
Strange's command came upon the fugitives, and at French- 
man's Butte and at Loon Lake made it hot for the enemy. 
General Middleton, with his column of horse and the Gatlings, 
pressed the enemy hard along the Beaver River, and as far 
north as Cold Lake. But the Bear eluded all efforts to entrap 
him ; so, spent with the toil of march, the bulk of the troops 
returned to Fort Pitt. 

But hunger did what the troops were unable to do. At 
last it brought submission and a reasonable degree of penitence. 
First the Chippewyans surrendered, then some lodges of Little 
Poplar's band, and, finally, Wandering Spirit became a pris- 
oner, followed, a few days afterwards, by Big Bear. The lat- 
ter was taken near Carlton, whither, it is said, the outlawed 
Chief was proceeding to surrender himself. His following 
vanished into thin air; or, more prosaically, broke up into 
fragments, and took advantage of wild nature's concealment. 
The scouting parties were now all called in, and the campaign 
came to a close. After the trying marches were over, and 
the dangers and difficulties of the Indian pursuit were passed, 
the troops congregated at Fort Pitt, and were only too glad to 
have done with the campaign and get back to their homes. 
Well might the country now release them from their arduou-s 
and honourable service I 


THE nation's heroes — COUNTING THE COST. 

" There is sobbing of the strong. 
And a pall upon the land." 

'tick Lake, Cut Knife Hill, Fish Creek, and 
Batoche, — these are the engagements memorable 
in the history of the military operations against 
the now defeated insurgents in the North- West. 
But for the fact that these battles were fought 
in the course of a civil war, the names of at 
least three of them might fitly be blazoned on 
the country's banners. This is the one drop of 
bitterness in the cup we would quaff over the success of our 
arms. Only for the circumstance we mention, the engagements 
might take their place in the nation's history alongside 
Chateauguay, Chrysler's Farm, and Lundy's Lane. In no 
other particular are they less worthy of being held in per- 
petual honour, for the achievements of those who took part in 
them were characterised by an old-time valour. 

But do we say there is only one drop of bitterness in the 
cup of joy ? Ah, that that might be ! Alas ! there are those 
whose hearts have been torn by the conflict, and who, in the 


THE nation's heroes— counting THE COST. 373 

now joyous tumult of the returning troops, look with strained 
eyes and yearning souls for those who come not back. 

" O mothers, sisters, daughters, spare the tears ye fain would shed ; 
Who seem to die in such a cause, ye cannot call them dead." 

The total casualties in the four engagements amounted to 40 
killed and 110 wounded. Besides these, over twenty lives fell 
a sacrifice to Indian bloodthirstiness, and almost as many more 
received injuries at various periods of the campaign. This 
calamitous loss of life and limb is the price the people have 
paid to suppress sedition and to secure returning peace to the 
country. The immediate and entailed cost, in treasure, though 
far from inconsiderable, is as nothing to this loss of life, for 
which Riel and his unprincipled confederates are primarily re- 
sponsible. The pecuniary burdens of the campaign, however, 
are no light ones ; and the sum of them will long remain an 
oppressive memory — to the country's rulers we hope an ad- 
monitory memory — of the conflict. Could those be coerced 
into settling the bill who use loose language in regard to 
the freedom of sections of the community, at will, to resort 
to rebellion, or who have in any way incited the wicked move- 
ment, it would be some satisfaction in contemplating the finan- 
cial legacy of the strife. 

But the cost in blood there is nothing to repay. No treasure 
can replace a single life ; though the individual and the national 
loss may bring its compensations and be fraught with good. 
The insurrection has its lesson for the nation ; and what it ha^ 
cost the country may do more than any remonstrance, rational 
or irrational, could possibly efiect. Not only will the ear of 
Government, henceforth, be more acute, and the ofiicial mind, 
we trust, be more alert, but, for a time at least, the public con- 
science will be quickened and the national heart become less 


apathetic. In the cause of humanity everyone must desire to 
see greater regard paid to the claims and the interests of the 
settlers in the North- West. In another direction we may also 
look for national gains as the result of the conflict. All sections 
of the country have participated in the common duty of sup- 
pressing the rebellion, or in limiting the area over which it has 
spread. In this national service the volunteers have been 
thrown together with beneficent results,for they have nobly emu- 
lated each other in acts of stirring heroism and self-sacrificing 
devotion to duty. Together they have shared the common 
danger, and, together, it is theirs to reap the common glory 
and the common reward. In a journal in one of the Maritime 
Provinces, the Halifax Herald, we find the following patriotic 
observations on the progress of Canada since the era of Con- 
federation, and the welding influences which have come of 
closer intercourse in the nation's commercial and military life. 

" Eighteen years," says the writer, *' is but a brief period in 
the life of any nation ; but looking over the history of Canada 
since the first day of July, 1867, we seem to have achieved more 
in that time than many nations with whose history we are 
familiar. From being four disconnected Provinces, bounded 
westwardly by Lake Superior, we have assumed continental 
proportions, and now stretch one-fourth of the way around the 
globe, having three oceans for our boundaries. And we have 
not only grown big, but we have grown together. Eighteen 
years ago, few Nova Scotians had ever seen the St. Lawrence, 
and fewer yet had ever heard the name of the Red River of the 
North, of the Assiniboine, or of the Saskatchewan. To attend 
Parliament it was necessary for Nova Scotia and New Bruns- 
wick members to travel through a foreign country, and to take 
about a week in the journey. While for any Haligonian on 
the 1st of July, 18G7, to have proposed to have crossed the 
continent of North America on Canadian (or rather British) 
soil, would have seemed about equal to a journey across Africa. 
But on the 1st July, 1885, what do we find ? Continuous rail- 
way connection on Canadian soil from Halifax to the Selkirk 

THE nation's heroes — COUNTING THE COST. S75 

Mountains in British Columbia, and —with the exception of a 
comparatively short and rapidly disappearing gap — to the Pacific 
Ocean. Thousands of Nova Scotians now visit the Upper Prov- 
inces every year, and thousands of Upper Province men visit 
Nova Scotia. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of Nova 
Scotian capital are invested in the North- West ; thousands of 
Nova Scotians have gone there to live ; and within the last few 
months, we have seen a Halifax battalion of militia holding the 
passes of the South Saskatchewan — 500 miles west of Winni- 
peg — in a triumphant struggle to maintain peace and security 
in that country. These things are but some of the results of 
eighteen years of our united life." 

Despite the political pessimists, there is hope for Confedera- 
tion in the ring of such words. There is hope, too, when the 
youth of the land give their lives so ready a sacrifice on the 
altar of their country. Ill indeed we could spare them ; but 
they have fallen in no unworthy cause ; and the brain and 
heart of the nation will be enriched by their blood. At no 
epoch of its history has the country played so noble a part; 
and never has material so rapidly accumulated on which to 
found in honour the edifice of Canadian nationality. Referring 
to this period of strife in the North- West, and its irreparable 
losses, the following kind and considerate words of His Excel- 
lency, the Governor-General, may well find a place in this 
voluine. The passage occurs in a speech made by Lord Lans- 
downe to the students of the College of Ottawa : 

" You express your hope that during my term of office this 
country may enjoy the blessings of prosperity and of peace. 
That solemn prayer is one which I believe was never ofiered with 
greater sincerity than it is at this moment by every man and 
woman in the Dominion. The struggle in which we have been 
engaged in the North- West is an insignificant one compared 
to those great conquests with which your studies of the history 
of the old and the new world have made you familiar ; but it 
has cost us already many vahiable lives, and has brought sorrow 
and suffering to many a happy family, and desolation to many 


b quiet homestead. Public order and confidence will soon be 
restored — perhaps on a sounder foundation than before ; but 
there are many to whom victory will bring no consolation in 
the bitterness of their soitow. We cannot forget them in the 
hour of success. By all of us the spring of 1885 will be re- 
membered with mingled feelings — feelings of pain and regret 
that the peaceful career of this country should have been thus 
interrupted — feelings, too, I am glad to say, of pride at the 
thought that from every part of Canada, from Nova Scotia to 
the foot of the Rocky Mountains, without distinction of locality 
or of race, our soldiers have shown themselves ready to endure 
danger and hardship in a spirit of the truest patriotism when 
the service of their country required their presence in the field." 

" We cannot forget them in the hour of success." — No, and 
since these words were uttered, we have greater reason not to 
forget them. Since then the mission of the troops has been 
fully accomplished, and the country greets their return with 
the trumpet note of honour. But with the peal of acclaim 
mingles the sad notes of the funeral dirge. Him of whom we 
were so proud, the Bayard of the North- West Expeditionary 
Force, has fallen by the way, and there is a " pall upon the 
land." In the lamentable death of Lt.-Col. A. T. H. Williams, 
the hero- commander of the Midland Battalion, the country 
mourns one of the best of her sons. In his person, our modern 
age seemed to " restore the ancient majesty of noble and true 

" Praise of him must walk the land 

Forever, and to noble deeds give birth. 

This is the happy warrior: this is he 

That every man in arms would wish to be. 

Complaining of illness at Church parade, at Fort Pitt, on 
Sunday, the 28th of June, Colonel Williams retired to his tent 
On the Tuesday following he was removed to the steamer on 
the river for treatment by the Brigade Surgeons on board the 
North West. The next day inflammation of the brain set in, 

Boultoo's Sooata 


and typhoid fever showed itself. On Thursday the patient 
became unconscious ; and on the morning of Saturday he passed 
peacefully to his rest. Colonel Williams was an accomplished 
soldier, an earnest Christian gentleman, and a true patriot. 
The hardships and anxieties of the campaign, in which he bore 
himself with conspicuous gallantry, had told on a frame never 
robust. His death was a sad ending to the triumphs of the 
North-West Military Expedition. Universal is the regret 
which his death has occasioned. We extract the following 
tribute from the Toronto Globe, which must be the more ac- 
ceptable to Colonel William's friends, as it comes from the 
organ of the opponents of the political party to which the de- 
ceased officer gave his allegiance : 

" The eulogies of Col. Williams, M.P., in the House of Com- 
mons last night were by no means overstrained. In him 
Canada loses a gallant son. Against a far more formidable 
foe than Half-breeds and Indians he would have demonstrated 
that the Dominion can give birth to a race of soldiers, in dash, 
in courage, in impetuosity, and in staying power, in no whit 
inferior to the best specimens of the iron races from which 
Canadians have sprung. It was not given him to die a soldier's 
death in battle. He fell a victim to a raging fever. Yet was 
his life as truly a sacrifice to his country as though he had 
fallen, shot through the heart, while in the van of the daring 
charge upon the rille-pits of Batoche. Other lives than his 
also will wither away as the result of the terrific strain of 
these last exciting three months. Many a wife and mother 
will be anguished to see dear ones fading away day by day be- 
fore their eyes, from illness contracted during exposure and 
over-exertion in this campaign now ended. War and tears go 
hand in hand. Many a home must yet be thrown into such 
heartrending grief as that which hangs like a pall over the 
now desolated household at Port Hope." 

Our rapidly contracting space, we regret, prevents us from 
dwelling upon incidents in connection with the death of other 
gaJlant heroes of the campaign. Their names have been already 


noted among the casualties of the engagements with which we 
have dealt in the preceding portions of our narrative. Their 
fame, however, holds by a surer title than any poor words of 
ours. May their memories long live in the heart of the nation, 
and the influence of their deeds never abate ! Each section of 
the country has had its loss; and throughout the land the 
memory of those who have fallen must remain a perpetual and 
an inspiring possession. Toronto mourns her Fitch and Moor, 
of the gallant 10th, and her Foulkes and Watson, of the School 
of Infantry. In Lieut. Fitch the Grenadiers had an ofBcer 
endeared to every man in the regiment ; and his name will be 
proudly inscribed on its roll of honour, for his chivalrous bear- 
ing on the battlefield and for resolute valour. 

" The good die first, 
Then those whose hearts are dry a3 summer dust 
Bum to the socket." 

To Port Hope, Kingston, St. Catharines, and St. Thomas, death 
brought its victims of the fight. Quebec lost three of her 
gunners ; Ottawa, Rogers and Osgoode, of her Foot Guards ; 
London misses her Elliott; and Peterboro' her young but 
gallant son, Capt. Edward Brown, of Boulton's Horse. Prince 
Albert had her holocaust of dead from Duck Lake ; and Winni- 
peg has been sorely bereft. Swinford, Hutchinson, Hardisty, 
Eraser, Ennis, Fergus, and Wheeler are among her fallen, to 
keep green the memory of the deeds of the brave 90th. Nor 
do we forget French and Kippin, and Smart, Burke, Sleigh, 
and Lowry, of the local Scouts and Mounted Police ; nor the 
victims of Frog Lake ; nor the true sons of the Church, the 
intrepid missionaries of the Cross, whose lives fell a noble 
sacrifice to Christian duty. 

But fertile in heroes as the campaign has been who have 
died for their country, it has also been fertile in those who 

THE nation's heroes— counting THE COST. 879 

have bled for her. To the suffering wounded, though their 
lives have been spared, the nation's gratitude is no less due. 
The sight of Mars on crutches, or of young heroes with their 
arms in a sling, will no doubt be a familiar sight for many a 
day, to speak with eloquent tongue of the service rendered 
with touching enthusiasm by our patriot soldiers. If the 
memory of their deeds shall evoke a more active patriotism 
and a higher development of public spirit, the country will 
have little to regret in the perils her sons have braved or in 
the sad losses of the conflict. To the hospital and field corps, 
organised by the medical staff of the various divisions of the 
army of the North- West, the country's thanks are richly due. 
To this important branch of the service the wounded owe 
much for skilful treatment and kind tendance. But the poet 
here comes to our aid ; and, with the touching lines of a lady 
who took the following despatches for a text, in her apostrophe 
to Saskatoon, we may fittingly close this chapter. " Saskatoon 
requested to be allowed the charge of the wounded." — April 
despatch. "The hospital at Saskatoon is now closed." — 
June despatch. 

" 'Neath thy splendid Northern starlight, by the rushing of thy waves, 
In thy warmth of summer gladness, there remain thee but thy graves. 
All fulfilled thy tender mission, all bestowed thy generous boon — 
And thy foster sons have left thee, lonely Saskatoon. 

Weary, bleeding, faint, thou sought'st them ; from the very grasp of death 
Thou hast snatched them, soothed and tended, and sustained their falling 

breath ; 
From thy bosom, healed and strengthened, they are scattered far and wide — 
He to mother's fond embraces, he to children, he to bride. 
Owes to thee his restoration. Shall they ever, late or soon, 
Cease to count thee as their mother, kindly Saskatoon ? 

Cease to blend with dreams of mercy recollection of their pain ? 

Sigh to know that they may never see thee— breathe thine air— again?' 


Bless the hands that bound the burning wound, and bathed the fevered brow ? 
And the voice that whispered comfort when the tide of life was low ? 
Ah, to souls for kindred yearning, what the touch of stranger hand I 
What the woid of hope and cheering spoken in an alien land ? 
What the glories of thy starlight or the sunlight of thy June 
To home-haunted hearts within thee, foreign Saskatoon ? 

Grateful now for loving tendance, thou hast given them one by one 
Eack to life, and love, and labour, aud thy holy work is done. 
They shall take thy memory with them as a dear and fond regret ; 
Chide them not, if glai to leave thee, though they never may forget. 
Fathers on their children smiling, lovers 'neath the summer moon, 
Can but joy to think, ' Farewell forever, remember'd Saskatoon !'♦ 

* (Mrs.) Anna Roth well, of Kingston, in the Toronto Mail, 



*HERE can be little question that the first of 
remedial measures is to give Riel and his accom- 
plices a fair but speedy trial. The mistake of 
1870 must not be repeated. We then sought to 
conciliate before we conquered. Had political 
exigencies at the time not interfered, we might 
not have had the trouble we have to-day. The 
sympathies of race and religion, right and pro- 
per in their place, are worse than wasted on such a mis- 
creant as Riel. The duty of the Government is plain : the 
guilty must be punished. The public sentiment, no less than 
its righteous indignation, will insist upon this. It is confess- 
edly difficult to deal with those who have been inveigled into 
rebellion, and whose sense of social duty does not rise above 
the level of tribal morality. But the case is different with the 
leaders and instigators of the revolt. With them there is no 
question as to responsibility for their acts ; and for those acta 
they must be punished. Justice means no less than this, and 

the demands of justice are imperial. 



We have no wish unduly to heighten the indictment against 
Kiel and his seditious half-breeds ; but there is little danger 
here of exaggeration. The enormity of their crime, and the 
utter recklessness and inhumanity of their conduct, can hardly 
be over-stated. To them we owe all the horrors of the period 
—the desolate homes, the stricken hearts, the foul murder at 
Duck Lake, the cowardly shooting of unarmed and trustful 
victims, and the long rows of new-made graves on the banks 
of the Battle River and the Saskatchewan. To them we owe, 
too, the atrocities of Frog Lake, the heaps of charred and un- 
buried dead round the chapel of the mission station, the kill- 
ing and mutilating of Farm Instructors and Mounted Police- 
men, the long and weary bondage of captive men, women and 
children, and all the murder and rapine which their cruelty 
has incited. For these things the leaders of the revolt must 
be brought to an account, and punishment will be salutary if 
it be sharp and decisive. 

But the bringing of the culprits to justice is a matter the 
country must leave in the hands of justice. In view of the 
approaching trials, it would be unseemly in us to hand over to 
the law those whom the law has not dealt with. Fortunately, 
the Government has appointed a gentleman to conduct the 
trials in whose competence and fair dealing the country reposes 
every confidence, and whose private character sheds a lustre on 
the profession he adorns. Into the hands of Mr. Christopher 
Robinson, Q.C., we may leave Riel and his confederates, with 
those whom he has cajoled into rebellion, in the full assurance 
that they will be righteously dealt with. * 

* The gentlemen associated with Mr. Robinson as Crown Counsel in the trial of 
the half-breeds and Indians implicated in the rebellion, are : Messrs. B. B. Osier, 
Q.C , of Toionto ; Biirbidge, of Ottawa; Casgrain, of (Quebec ; and Scott, of Re- 
gina. The gentlemen retained as Counsel for the defence of Riel are : Messrs. C. 
Fitzpatrick and F. X. Lemieux, of Quebec. The presiding Judge is Col. Richard- 
Bon, Stipendiary Magistrate for the N.W.T. 


"We have said that it will be difficult to deal with the rebel- 
lious Indians. That we have been spared a general Indian 
uprising, and that the half-breed insurrection has not entailed 
upon us a war of races, we have not to thank Louis Riel. In 
this matter there has been a signal deliverance. The greatness 
of the danger which Providence has averted from the country 
calls for profound thankfulness. Considering the natural rest- 
lessness of the tribes, the native propensity to steal and to 
murder, and the alluring prospect held out to them of plunder, 
it is a marvel that the demon of sedition has not wrought 
greater havoc. These and similar reflections will be present to 
every mind that gives a thought to the subject. Their pre- 
valence, it is not too much to say, must have weight in 
extenuation of the crimes the Indians have committed. 

But although favouring circumstances have limited and 
modified the disturbance, the direct and indirect consequences 
of the insurrection have been calamitous. What their effect 
will be upon the country will depend much upon the remedial 
measures now to be adopted for its pacification. The first, 
though a tardy step, was a wise one — the appointment by 
Government of a Half-breed Commission.* This act of jus- 
tice, long delayed, has already, we believe, produced good 
results. Why it was delayed, party and the henchmen of party, 
according to the shibboleth of their camp, will find an answer. 
The correspondence between the party and the answer — need 
we say it ? — is sure to be uniform and intimate. 

In this matter of delay lies the question of responsibility for 
the half-breed insurrection. To the heedless, to the criminal, 
inaction of Government we owe the recent troubles in the 
North- West. " The fault of the Administration," writes a well- 

* The gentlemen who are acting on the Commission are : Messrs. W. P. R, 
Btreet, Forget, and Goulet. 


known publicist, in a late issue of The Week, " lay in pro- 
tracted inaction." The thoughtful writer goes on to say : 

" The administration of the North-West, it is now certain, 
has been feeble, limping, and laggard. An army of officials has 
been sent from the East who were not always in sympathy 
with the people of the North-West ; but the capital fault has 
been in a want of promptitude and vigour at the seat of the 
central authority. The North- West was not represented in 
Parliament ; and the want of this safety-valve helped to make 
it possible for complaint to take the most objectionable of all 
forms, armed insurrection." 

This is the language of truth, as well as of sobriety and 
moderation. But much of what is here said is practically ad- 
mitted by the chief organ of the Government. The Toronto 
Mail, in a recent article remarkable for its judicial view of af- 
fairs, blames " a rusty Departmental system," for withholding 
justice from those to whom it ought to have issued. This 
frank admission settles the question of responsibility for the 
troubles of the North -West, though upon a previous Adminis- 
tration, of the Opposition party, the journal lays a portion of 
the blame which, speaking for its own side, it accepts. We cull 
the following sentences from the article referred to : 

" It has never been denied by The Mail that the M^tis had 
good grounds for complaint. * * * Iq spite of the mani- 
fest and unanswerable logic of the half-breed case, the Depart- 
ment for years and years steadily refused to move in the mat- 
ter. It was a tangled question ; it would involve the appoint- 
ment of a commission and no end of trouble ; St. Albert and 
St. Laurent were far distant dependencies without political 
influence ; it was a claim that would be none the worse for 
blue-moulding in the pigeon-holes. This was the way in which 
the officials treated the just demands of the Mdtis, and we 
agree with Mr. Blake that their negligence was gross and in- 
excusable, and contributed to bring about the insurrection. 
But, and this puts him and his case out of court, Mr. Mackenzie 
was just as much to blame as Sir John Macdonald. The M^tis 


say that they began pressing for the fulfilment of the agree- 
ment implied, if not expressed, in the Manitoba Act as far back 
as 1872; that they renewed their efforts in 1874-5. * * * 
But it was all to no purpose. Neither Grit nor Tory officials 
would attend to them. The vis inertia of the Department was 
immovable. * * * We repeat again that the Departmental 
system under which such callous and cruel neglect of the rights 
of a portion of the community was possible, was wrong and 
should be censured ; but as Reformers were responsible for it 
equally with Conservatives, how can one condemn the other ? 
The Mdtis were disgusted with both." 

Need there be further wrangle over the question of responsi- 
bility for the insurrection in the North-West ? We think not. 
Both parties are implicated ; and to both parties should come 
the lesson of honest and faithful governing. But the disaster 
is not a matter for parties now to fight over ; it is a matter for 
the country's profit and instruction. We have seen where we 
have come short of our duty ; and the enlightenment should be 
a guide to the future. There are problems in connection with 
the North- West still hard of solution, and difficulties likely to 
arise which the most assiduous efforts of Government will not 
avail to remedy. But luck may help when tact and good judg- 
ment fail. 

For a time at least the North- West must be governed by 
force ; and here is a source of peril. But it is a peril that can be 
overcome by putting the military administration, as well as the 
civil, in good and competent hands. Let us look with a care- 
ful scrutiny at the local officials we appoint, and with a still 
more careful scrutiny atthose we send up from the East. This, 
in part, is the lesson of the insurrection. If good is to come 
out of evil it is a lesson it will be well to heed. 

" Then the gazers of the nations, and the watchers of the skies, 
Looking through the coming ages, shall behold, with joyful eyes, 
On the fiery track of Freedom fall the mild baptismal rain. 
And the ashes of old evil feed the Future's golden grain." 


To the evil of " making politics pay," not only in the North- 
West but nearer home, do we owe much of our humiliation and 
trouble. In one quarter of the country let us have done with 
the professional politician. To those who have not lost faith 
in our political systems, and who, above all things, desire the 
moral elevation of the community, the result will be welcome. 
If under our party system we must reward men for political 
services, let us agree to pension them rather than place them 
in positions for which they are unfitted, or where they are 
likely to abuse their trust. The suggestion will doubtless 
bring a smile to the faces of some of the liverymen of party, 
but it would be well for the nation did it bring a blush. 

At the seat of the insurrection the situation for a time must 
be one of extreme delicacy. To meet the disorganisation, and 
heal the scars of the conflict, we must draw upon patience and 
conciliation, as well as upon the country's purse. To the 
ministration of kindness we must above all things look. To 
the white settler let us be kind, as well as helpful of his inter- 
ests, and ready, with discretion, to ameliorate his lot. To the 
half-breed we can afford to be generous ; and it becomes us to 
be patient with his weaknesses and tender towards his sus- 
ceptibilities. To none should we do injustice, and from none 
withhold a ready and patient hearing. The Indian should be 
our especial care. In his management are wanted a union of 
firmness and compassionateness, with the accompaniment of a 
high Christian example and unwavering good faith. The 
present condition and future of the fast vanishing race de- 
mand our warm and active sympathies. Let us not forget 
that to the intrusion of the white man their whole destiny has 
been changed. Above all let us keep from them the diseases 
of our modern civilisation, and undeviatingly maintain our 
embargo upon intoxicating liquora Despite their material 


and moral squalor, the Indians have a tribal life which it is 
fitting we should respect. They have also claims to the 
sovereignty of the land which, as colonists rather than con- 
querors, we cannot with justice wholly set aside. Pursuing our 
traditional policy of kind treatment, we may win many of 
them to civilisation, and lead all of them, we trust, to renew 
their attachment to Queen and Country. 

" We must, however, be reasonable in our expectations. We 
must remember that the Indian has never been habituated to 
steady labour, and it should not be a matter of bewilderment 
if he is vacillating and irregular in accepting that condition. 
For countless generations his life has been nomadic. He has 
been lord of the soil, bred a warrior, and the white man who 
has been the cause of the change in his condition should bear 
with him and be patient, and extend him help and aid. He 
has much of his former life to unlearn; he has to struggle 
against the instincts of his blood ; he has to accept the great 
truth that labour is honourable. * * No doctrine is more 
recognised than that every right is coexistent with a duty. 
The Indian has to reach the condition of understanding that 
he can only hold his place by the side of the white man by 
fulfilling the obligations attendant on the position he claims."* 

While not impatient of results, and pursuing the policy 
which has long been our proud boast, we may hope that the 
animosities of the conflict will soon pass away, and that the 
great domain of the Canadian people will take a fresh start in 
a bright career of progress. Its prosperity, we believe, will 
receive a new impulse from the events of the past few months, 
and the nation at large will benefit in an accession of patriot- 
ism and national spirit from the efi'usion of blood. But as we 
pen these closing lines, we hear the bugles of the returning 
heroes — conquering heroes ! — from the fields of their glory, and 
we take leave of our task to join in the plaudits, and add a 
voice to the chorus of acclaim. 

• " Eagland and Oanada," by Sanford Fleming, O.B., O.M.a. 


Conquering heroes ! Yes ; what is it they have not conquered ? 
Wearisome miles on miles up to the far North- West ; 
Limitless breadths of prairie, like to the limitless ocean ; 
Endless stretches of distance, like to eternity. 
Farther still, — to their seeming far as the starless spaces 
That loom in the measureless void above some desolate heart. 
How the unnumbered miles threatened them like an army,— 
Then perished in silence beneath the tread of resolute feet. 

Not alone did they march, our brave Canadian soldiers, 
Grim Privation and Peril followed them hand in hand ; 
Sodden Fatigue lay down with them in the evening, 
And Weariness rose with them and went with them all the day 
Inexpressible Sadness at thought of the homes they were leaving 
Hung like a cloud above them, and shadowed the path before. 
These, all these, were slain by our brave, our conquering heroes. 
Ah ! but the battle was long, — long and bitterly hard. 

Crueller enemies still ; — treacherous, scarcely human, 

Hard and fierce in look, but harder and fiercer in heart ; 

Verced in animal cunning, warily waiting in ambush ; 

Merciless in the purely animal power to smite. 

Swift in their veins runs the hot, vindictive blood of their fathers ; 

Deep in their hearts lies a hatred, strong and cruel as death. 

The heart of our country is beating against the knife of the savage ; 

Bat the knife has dropped to the ground, the heart is conqueror still. 

Ah ! but the brave boys wounded and dead on the field of battle. 
Giving their brave young lives for a cause that was dea er than life. 
Say ycu they who have yielded their all have conquered nothing, — 
Nothing remains to them but the sad deep silence of death ? 
No, a thousand times, no ! For them are the tears of a nation — 
Tears that would fain wash out the pitiful stain of Mood. 
These are their victories ; The love that knows no forgetting, 
Measureless gratitude, and the fame that forever endures.* 

* Agnes E. Wetherald, in 2%€ Week. 


[Note.- -I wish here to express my thanks to Colonel Walker PoweU.Adjut. • 
General of Militia at Headquarters, for courtesy in furnishing the following 
information, which I was unable to procure in time for insertion in the body ol 
the book. My thanks are further due to the Hon. the Speaker, and to tha 
Clerk of the House of Commons, Ottawa, for personal and official courtesies. 

I am also under obligations for like courtesies, and other kindnesses, to my 
valued friend and old commanding officer, Lt.-Col. C. T. Gillmor, late of the 
Queen's Own Rifles. Thou . h unable to take part in the duties and honours ol 
the campaign, no one, I venture to think, has followed the doings of the 
troops on active service in the North- West with greater pride or with a keener 
interest than has this true soldier and veteran in the service, Colonel Gill- 
mor. — The Author.] 

Halifax Pro visional Battalioii. — Lt.-Col. J. J. Bremner, Major C. J. 
Macdonald, l.c., Major T. J. Walsh, Paymaster W. H. Garrison, Adjt. E. 
G. Kenny, capt., Qr.-mr. J. G. Corbin, Asst. Surg. D. Harrington. 

No. 1 Co. : Capt. J. E. Curren, Lt. J. P. Fairbanks, 2nd Lt. A. Anderson. 

No. 2 Co. : Capt. J. McCiow, Lt. W. L. Kane, 2nd Lt. R. H. Skimmings. 

'So. 3 Co. : Capt. B. A. Weston, Lt. A. Whitman, 2ndLt. H. A. Hensley. 

No. 4 Co. : Capt R. H, Humphrey, Lt. B. Boggs, 2nd Lt. C. E. Cartwright. 

No. 5 Co. : Capt. C. H. Mackinlay.Lt. J. A. Bremner, 2nd Lt. J. McCarthy. 

No. 6 Co. : Capt. H. Hechler, Lt. H. St. C. Silver, 2nd Lt. T. C. James. 

No. 7 Co. : Capt. A. G. Cunningham, Lts. J. T. Twining, C. R. Fletcher. 

No. 8 Co. : Capt. J. Fortune, Lt. C. J. McKie, 2nd Lt. C. K. Fiske. 

Staff and Co. Officers 65th Batt. — Lt.-Col. J. A. Onimet, Major G. A. 
Hughes, I.C., Major C. A. Dugas, Paymaster C. L. Bossd, Ajt. J. C. Robert, 
Qr.-mr. A. LaRccque, Surgeon L. A. Pard, Asst. Surg. F. Simard. 

No. 1 Co. : Capt. J. B. Ostell, Lt. A. C. Plinquet. 

No. 2 Co. : Capt. J. P. A. des Trois-MaiEons, Lt. G. Des Georges. 

No. 3 Go. : Capt. E. Bauset, Lieut. C. Starnes. 

No. 4 Co. : Capt. A. Roy, Lieut. A. Villencuve. 

Na 5 Co. : Capt. G. Villeneuve, Lieut. B. Lafontaine. 


390 THE north-west: its history and its troubles. 

No. 6 Co. : Capt. J. Giroux, Lieut. P. F. Robert. 

No. 7 Co. : Capt. H. Prevost, Lieut. C. J. Doherty. 

No. 8 Co. : Capt. L. J. Ethier, Lieut. J. E. B. Normandin, 

Montreal Brigade of Gabbison Artillery. — Lt. Col. W. E. Oswald, 
Major W. H. Laurie, Major E. A. Baynes, Paymaster W. Macrae, Adjt. T. 
W. Atkinson, Qr.-mr. J. A. Finlayson, Surgeon C. K Cameron, Asst. SurgeoQ 

. M. Elder, Chaplain Rev. J. Barclay. 

No. 1 Battery : Capt. W. C. Trotter, Lieut. W. H. Lulham. 

No. 2 Batt. : Capt. F. Brush, Lieut. J. D. Roche, 

No. 3 Batt. : Lieut. C. Lane, Lieut. G. C. Patton. 

No. 4 Batt. : Capt. F. Cole, Lieut. F. W. Chalmers. 

No. 5 Batt. : Capt. D. Stevenson, Lieut. H. T. Wilgress. 

No. 6 Batt. : Capt. C. H. Levin, Lieut. J. K. Bruce, B. Billings (acting). 

Winnipeg Field Artillery.— Major E. W. Jaivis, Capt. L. W. Coutl^e, 
Lieut. G. H. Young, 2nd Lieut. G. H. Ogilvie. 

Winnipeg Troop Cavalry. — Capt.C. Knight, 2nd Lieut. H. J. Shelton. 

Cavalry School Corps, Quebec— Co7?!?nanrfa7i< : Lt.-Col. James F. Turn- 
bull. Lieutenants : Lieut. E. H. T. Heward, Lieut. F. L. Lessard. 

9th Battalion Rifles, "VoLTioEtrRS de Qttebec."— Lt.-Col. Amyot ; 
Majors Roy and Evanturel ; Paymaster, Major Dugal j Quartermaster, A. Tal- 
bot ; Adjutant, Casgrain Pelletier ; Supply OflScer, M. Wolsley ; Surgeon 
Dr. A. Deblois ; Asst. Surgeon, M. Waters ; Capts. L. E. Frenette, M. Choui- 
nard, J. C. G. Drolet, E. Garneau, F. Pennee, A. O. Fages, L. F. Perrault, N. 
Lavasseur, — Fiset ; Lieuts. G. F. Hamel, W. D. Baillairg^, — Fiset, G. A. 
Labranche, J. V. Dupuis, — Casgrain, F. de St, Maurice, — Dion, ~ Shehy, 
P. Pelletier, — J. C. Eouthier, 0. C. Larue, and H. Beique. [It is doubtful 
whether the I'st of this regiment is either full or accurate. The Adjut.> 
General was unable to furnish it.] 



HE drama of rebellion has been fully played, and we now come to the 
fitting epilogue, the trial, verdict, and sentence of its chief insti- 
gator and rash participator. With the close of the drama we have 
the usual war of words over the merits of the case, with an abundant 
crop of nicely-drawn distinctions between patriots fighting for their 
rights and rebels guilty of the blackest crimes. We shall anticipate 
much of what remains to be told, if we at once relate that, in passing 
sentence upon the rank and file of rebeldom, ju.«tice has been tempered 
with mercy ; while, upon the leader of the insurrection, the death pen- 
alty has been passed, though the law has not, as yet been executed. At 
the present time of writing the trials have not all ended ; a number of 
Indians who are accused of individual acts of murder, have yet to be arraigned, 
and the penalty exacted for wanton and unprovoked bloodshed. With Kiel, the 
arch-conspirator, the law was first to deal ; and though the defence took skilful advan- 
tage of every point in his favour, justice has doomed him to what must be deemed a 
merited fate. He is under sentence to be hanged on the 18th of September, 1885. 
As was expected, the verdict and sentence have provoked much newspaper contro- 
versy, and called forth heated arguments between the two chief racial sections of 
the Dominion. Both sections admit the culprit's guilt, though one side justifies, 
and the other condemns, him. One affirms that he has been awarded a righteous fate 
and must pay the wages of treason, while the other bemoans his unsuccess, and 
excuses the resort to arms. The East applies to him the honoured term of patriot ; 
the West affixes on him the stigina of murderer and traitor. 

A deliberate inquiry into the degree of Kiel's guilt, would take us anew into the 
consideration of matters in the North -West — a consideration we have no intention 
here of entering upon. Nor is there need that we should again open up the matter, 
for those who are familiar with the foregoing narrative, will have seen what imme- 
diate and remote causes existed which produced disaffection and finally rebellion. 
These causes, we have previously said, did not warrant the half-breeds in throwing 
over constitutional means in seeking redress of their grievances, still less did they 
justify an appeal to arms. The grievances, in truth, were more imaginary than 
real ; though the acts of the Government Half-Breed Commission, and the largess 
they have distributed, seem to be an admission of claims which were not senti- 
mental but legal. But sentimental, in great measure, the claims nevertheless were. 


The half-breed assumptions of proprietorship in the land were wild and extrava- 
gant ; compared with the juster rights of the Indians, they were foolish and wicked. 
But their claims to possession of the soil were not really those of the modest and 
reasonable half-breeds. They were those of their ambitious and madcap represen- 
tative. In Kiel's ill-balanced mind they first found lodgment in 1869, when his 
brain was turned by his elevation to the rebel presidency. That the preposterous 
claims have not lost in magnitude or gained in lucidity since that period, is clear 
from Kiel's proposed partition of the territories among the various tribes and sects 
with which he wished to people his kingdom. Here, if anywhere, is the proof of 
the man's insanity, though it is curiously mixed up with religious and patriotic 
fervour, and with not a little of this world's cunning. 

Apart from the question of insanity, which we think the jury had little oppor- 
tunity of fully weighing, there is no doubt that Kiel was given a fair and impartial 
trial. Had the constitution of the North-West permitted it, the miscreant merited 
the sharp and salutary discipline of a drum-head court-martial. In some respects 
it is a pity that the expeditious machinery of military law was not instantly in- 
voked. It would have consigned its victim, without circumlocution, to a well- 
deserved fate, and relieved the country of a disturbing political and sectional dis- 
cussion. But perhaps it is well that the course which has been taken has been 
followed. With all the provocation that has been given, and all the loss that has 
been entailed, it is seemly that the nation should restrain its righteous passion, and 
punish crime with due deliberation, and without the suspicion of being vindictive. 

Receiving a fair trial, and being condemned to pay the penalty of his crimes by 
forfeiting his life, why should the sentence be interfered with ? Let the law take 
its course. In a previous rebellion Riel received the clemency of the country when 
that clemency was ill-deserved. For his further crime he should now most assuredly 
suffer, unless political offences of the gravest character are to be robbed of their 
heinousness and condoned at the promptings of a mistaken sentiment. The leniency 
of the nation has once, in his case, been foully abused : to extend leniency again is 
to make a travesty of justice, and to court further disaster. As a writer in The 
Week puts it : " The word ' treason ' should be blotted out of the Statute Book if 
Riel does not pay the penalty of his offence." 

The verdict of the jury carried a recommendation to mercy, but upon what 
grounds was not stated. It would, we imagine, be difficult to state any grounds, 
save those of compassion for a fanatical enthusiast, and of sympathy for a people 
whose simple, superstitious minds led them to see a temporal and Divine leader in 
a hare-brained man with a misconceived mission. But religious eccentricities are 
not such evidence of an unsound mind as to save a criminal from the consequences 
of his own acts. In Kiel's case, though there is a diseased vanity, there is no 
proof that he is not an accountable being. That the jury found him giiilty of 
murder shows that they considered him to be in possession of his faculties, or, as it 
has been observed, " of sufficient faculties to know that he was incurring a terrible 
responsibility when he led his dupes to take up arms against their country." 

The question of the jurisdiction of the Court at Regina, and its competence to try 
a man for a capital offence with a jury of six instead of twelve men, are the main 
problems which have yet to be determined. But these objections, with the demur- 
rer to the trial and sentence to death of the prisoner by a stipendiary magistrate, 
and without the preliminary investigation by a grand jury or by a coroner, will no 
doubt be satisfactorily met by the Manitoba Court, to which the case has been ap- 
pealed, and every jot and tittle of justice will be scrupulously meted out to Riel. 
These matters settled , we may look for the final disposal of the Rebel Chief's case, 
and see the curtain fall upon the last act in the drama of North-West insurrection. 

Let us now give some epitome of the legal proceedings against Riel and his fellow 
conspirators, with a brief chronicle of incidents connected with the trial and sen- 
tence of the incriminated Indians. The former were arraigned at Regina on a 
charge of treason, under the Statute of Edward III. ; the latter on a charge of com- 
plicity in rebellion, under what is known to the law as treason-felony. The trial- 
were heard before His Honour, Hugh Richardson, one of the Stipendiary Magiss 
trates of the North-West Territories, exercising criminal jurisdiction under the pro- 


vifdons of the North-West Territories Act of 1880, Associated with Col. Richard- 
son on the Bench was Mr. Henry Lejeune. For the names of the Counsel for the 
Crown, and those engaged for the defence, see page 382. Associated with the latter 
was Mr. J. N. Greenshields, of Montreal. 

The first step in the trial of Riel was taken at Regina on the 6th of July, when 
the i>risoner was produced in Court, and the indictment read to and served on him. 
The proceedings were taken before Col. Richardson, J. P., in the presence of the 
lawyers for the Crown and those for the defence. The counts in the indictment 
were three-fold, respectively charging Riel as a British subject, or as a resident 
enjoying Her Majesty's protection in the North-West Territories, with having 
levied war against Her Majesty, first, at Duck Lake, secondly, at Fish Creek, and 
thirdly, at Batoche. After the reading of the indictment, the prisoner was notified 
that he would be tried in open court at Regina, on the 20th of July, on the specified 
charges, the said Court to be constituted under sub-section 62, section 76 of the 
North-West Territories Act. 

On the 20th of July the Court met, when Riel was formally arraigned, the clerk 
reading the long indictment. In reply to the interrogation whether the prisoner 
pled guilty to the charge of treason, his counsel rose and took exception to the juris- 
diction of' the Court. The plea entered by the defence was to the effect that the 
presiding stipendiary magistrate was incompetent to try a case involving the death 
penalty, and urged that Riel should be tried by one of the duly constituted courts 
in Ontario or in British Columbia. Mr. Christopher Robinson, Q.C., for the Crown, 
asked for an adjournment for eight days, to prepare a reply to the plea, which was 
granted. The Court then adjourned to the 28th instant. 

On the re-opening of the Court, counsel expressed themselves ready to proceed. 
Only a few minutes were taken up in selecting a jury. Twelve persons were called, 
five of whom were peremptorily challenged by the defence, and one by the Crown. 
The remaining six were sworn in to try the prisoner at the bar. Their names are 
as follows : — H. J. Painter, E. Everett, E. J. Brooks, J. W. Merryfield, H. Dean, 
and F. Crosgrove. During the selection of the jury, it is observed by a correspon- 
dent of The Mail, to whom we shall be indebted for the reports of the trial, in 
making the present abstract, " that Riel anxiously watched the face of every man 
as he was selected and sworn, as though he could read their inmost thoughts as they 
took the oath." 

After reading the indictment to the jury, Mr, B. B. Osier, Q.C., opened the case 
for the Crown, in which he explained the nature of the charge against the prisoner, 
whose career he traced through the successive steps of the rebellion, and indicated 
the weight and character of the evidence to be brought against its wicked Instigator 
and chief leader. The plea of the defence of the incompetence of the Court to try 
the case, was first answered by the learned counsel, who remarked, that the cha- 
racter, and composition of the Court, as well as the provision for the trial of capital 
offences by a jury of six men instead of twelve, were in harmonj' with the Domi- 
nion Law enacted for the Government of the Territories, and that the Dominion 
Parliament had the right, under the British North America Act, to make that law, 
"The absence of the Grand Jury was explained, on the ground that such juries 
were essentially county organizations, and were impossible in large districts with 
small and scattered populations." The same reason explained the limiting of the 
jury to half the usual number. It was also stated that the Crown deemed it un- 
wise, if indeed it were not impossible, to issue a Special Commission for the trial of 
the prisoner. 

Mr. Osier proceeding said, that Riel not only aided and abetted the illegal acts of 
the rebels, but directed these acts. 

"The testimony he claimed," says a writer in The Illustrated War News, "was 
abundantly sufficient to bring home to the prisoner his guilt in the charges against 
him. He (Mr. Osier) read the document in Riel's handwriting to Crozier, in which 
Riel threatened a war of extermination against the whites, and traced the prisoner's 
conduct afterwards to show that he had tried to carry out that threat. It was no 
constructive treason that was sought to be proved, but treason involving the shed- 
ding of brave men's blood. The accused had been led on, not by the desire to aid 


his friends in a lawful agitation for redress of a grievance, but by his inordinate 
vanity and desire for power and wealth." 

" The first overt act of treason was committed," continued Mr. Osier, " when the 
French half-breeds were requested by Riel to bring their arms with them to a meet- 
ing to be held at Batoche on March 3rd. This indicated that the prisoner intended 
to resort to violence. On the 18th instant they find him (Riel) sending out armed 
men and taking prisoners, including Mr. Lash, the Indian agent of the St. Laurent 
region, and others, also looting the stores at and near Batoche, stopping freighters 
and appropriating their freight. A few daj's later the French half-breeds were 
under arms, and were joined by the Indians of the neighbourhood, who were in- 
cited to rise by the prisoner. On the 21st inst. Major Crozier did all he could to 
get the armed men to disperse, but directed by Riel, they refused to do so, and tak- 
ing their orders from him, they continued in rebellion." " He held a document in his 
hands, in the prisoner's handwriting," added Mr. Osier, "which contained the 
terms on which Fort Carlton would be spared attack by the surrender and march out 
of Major Crozier and the mounted police. This document was never delivered, but 
was found with other papers in the rebel council chamber after the taking of Batoche. 
It was said in this notification to Crozier that the rebels would attack the police if 
they did not vacate Carlton, and would commence a war of extermination of the 
white race. This document was direct evidence of the treasonable intentions of the 
prisoner. Ten days previously Riel declared himself determined to rule or perish, 
and the declaration was followed by this demand. It would be said that, at last, 
when a clash of arms was imminent, Riel objected to forcible measures ; but this 
document was a refutation of that assertion. At Duck Lake the prisoner had taken 
upon himself the responsibility of ordering his men to fire on the police. At Fish 
Creek, if Riel was not there, he directed the movement, and was therefore respon- 
sible. On the day of the fight he went back to Batoche to finish the rifle-pits. In 
the contest at Batoche the prisoner was seen bearing arms, and giving such direc- 
tions as would show that he was the main mover. His treatment of the prisoners, 
his letters to Middleton, and other documents would show Kiel's leadership. A let- 
ter found in Poundmaker's camp would show his deliberate intention of bringing on 
this country the calamity of an Indian war. All this would be proven, and it 
would be shown that the prisoner had not come here to aid his friends in the redress 
of grievances, but in order to use the half-breeds for his own selfish ends." Mr. 
Osier closed with a reference to the death and suffering which had been caused by 
the ambition of one man, and impressed upon the jury the grave responsibility they 
were charged with in bringing his crime home to the prisoner. 

The first witness called by the Crown was Dr. Willoughby, of Saskatoon. 
After having been sworn, witness said that the prisoner had stated to him that the 
Fort Garry trouble, when Scott had been shot, was nothing to what was going to 
take place. He said that the Indians only waited for him to strike the first blow 
to join him, and that he had the United States at his back. He seemed greatly ex- 
cited, and said :— " It is time, doctor, that the breeds should assert their rights, and 
it will be well for those who have lived good lives." A party of armed men then 
drove up, and Riel said, pointing to them, " My people intend striking a blow for 
their rights. They have petitioned the Government over and over again, the only 
reply being an increase of the police force each time." The Indians, he said, had 
arranged their plans, and when the first blow was struck they would be joined by 
the American Indians. They would issue a proclamation, and assert that the time 
had arrived for him to rule the country or perish in the attempt. He promised to 
divide the country into seven equal portions, one of which was to be the new Ire- 
land of the new North-West. He said the rebellion of fifteen years ago was not a 
patch on what this would be. 

Thos. McKay, a loyal half-breed, was next called, who testified that he joined 
the Volunteer contingent from Prince Albert which formed part of Major Crozier 's 
command at Duck Lake. Previous to that engagement he accompanied Mr. Hill- 
yard Mitchell in his mission to Batoche, where the rebels had their headquarters. 
His object in going to Batoche was to point out to the French half-breeds the dan- 


ger they were getting into in taking up arms. On arriving at the village he was 
met by an armed guard who conducted him, with Mr. Mitchell, to the rebel council 
room, where he was introduced to Riel " as one of Her Majesty's soldiers." 
We here quote part of the examination, by Mr. Christopher Robinson, of this 

Q. — Who introduced you to the prisoner ? 

A.— Mr. Mitchell introduced me to Mr. Kiel as one of Her Majesty's soldiers. 

Q.— That is Mr. Hillyard Mitchell ? 

A.— Yes. I shook hands with Mr. Riel and had a talk with him. I said, " There 
appears be great excitement here, Mr. Riel." He said, " No, there is no excite- 
ment at all ; it was simply that the people were trying to redress theii- grievances, 
as they had asked repeatedly for their rights ; that they had decided to make a de- 
monstration." I told him it was a very dangerous thing to resort to arms. He said 
he had been waiting fifteen long years and that they had been imposed upon, and 
it was time now, after they had waited patiently that their rights should be given, 
as the poor half-breeds had been imposed upon . I disputed his wisdom and ad- 
vised him to adopt different measures. 

Q. — Did he speak of himself at all in the matter ? 

A.— He accused me of having neglected my people. He said if it was not for 
men like me their grievances would have been redressed long ago, that as no one 
took an interest in these people he had decided to take the lead in the matter. 


A. — He accused me of neglecting them. I told him it was simply a matter of 
opinion, that 1 had certainly taken an interest in them, and my interest in the 
country was the same as theirs, and that I had advised them time and again, and 
that I had not neglected them. I aluo said that he had neglected them a long time 
if he took as deep an interest as he professed to. He became very excited, and got 
up and said, " You don't know what we are after — it is blood, blood ; we want 
blood ; it is a war of extermination. Everybody that is against us is to be driven 
out of the country. There were two curses in the country— the Government and 
the Hudson Bay Co . He further said the first blood they wanted was mine. There 
were some little dishes on the table, and he got hold of a spoon and said, " You 
have no blood, you are a traitor to your people, your blood is frozen, and all the 
little blood you have will be there in five minutes" — putting the spoon up to my 
face, and pointing to it. I said, " If you think you are benefiting your cause by 
taking my blood, you are quite welcome to it." He called his people and the com- 
mittee, and wanted to put me on trial for my life, and Garnot got up and went to 
the table with a sheet of paper, and Gabriel Dumont took a chair on a syrup 
keg, and Riel called up the witnesses against me. 

At this juncture Kiel was called away to attend a committee meeting of the 
rebel government. Subsequently, by the mediation of Hillyard Mitchell, Riels 
wrath at McKay was placated, and he was allowed to return to Fort Carlton with 
his intercessor. Before leaving, Riel ap>ologized to McKay for what he had said to 
him, and asked him to join the insur^'ents, which witness, of course, would not do, 
being a loyal half-breed and a volunteer in the ranks of the Prince Albeit contin- 
gent with Crozier at Fort Carlton. 

McKay then detailed the incidents of the disastrous engagement with the rebels 
at Duck Lake, and gave strong testimony to criminate Riel, which the counsel for 
the defence utterly failed to shake. 

The nest witness was John Asti.ey, surveyor of Prince Albert, who was long a 
prisoner of Riel's at Batoche, and the rebel chief's messenger on the day of the 
taking of the village by the loyal forces under Mid<lleton. The \vitness gave a vivid 
description of his capture and imprisonment by Kiel, and his subsequent release 
by the volunteers at Batoche. Riel acknowledged to him that he ordered his men 
in the name of the Almighty to fire at Duck Lake. He did not do so, however, 
until, as he thought, the police had fired. Riel told him he must have another fight 
with the soldiers to secure better terms of surrender from Gen. Middleton. 



The second day of the Riel trial brought out sufficient evidence to incriminate the 
prisoner, and to lead the Crown prosecutors to waive the calling of other witnesses. 
During the proceedings the prisoner, it is reported, manifested more interest than 
he did on the first day of the trial, and his dark penetrating eye restlessly wandered 
from witness to counsel, and from bench to jury. " All day long a couple of medi- 
cal men sat watching his actions, to discover, if possible, whether his mind was affected 
or not." His disagreement with his counsel towards the close of the day, caused an 
exciting break in the proceedings. 

George Kerb, of Kerr Brothers, Batoche, was the first witness sworn. He tes- 
tified that on the 18th of March, Riel, with some fifty armed half-breeds, came to 
his store, and demanded, and obtained, all his guns and ammunition. His store was 
sacked, and later on he was himself taken prisoner, but was subsequently released. 
Riel, he testified, directed the rebel movements in concert with Gabriel Dumont, 

Harry Walters, another storekeeper at Batoche, was then examined, and gave 
similar testimony as to the sacking of his store, and of Riel's demand for arms and 
ammunition. On his refusing to accede to the demand of the prisoner and the breeds 
with him, Riel said, " You had better do it quietly. If we succeed, I will pay 
you ; if not, the Dominion Government will." I refused, said Walters, and they 
forced themselves in and took the arms. I was arrested shortly after. Riel said the 
movement was for the freedom of the people. The country, if they succeeded, was 
to bo divided, giving a seventh to the half-breeds, a seventh to the Indians, a 
seventh to church and schools, the remainder to be Crown Lands. I was kept pri- 
soner three days, being liberated by Riel. Reil said, God was with their people, 
and that if the whites ever struck a blow, a thunderbolt would destroy them . They 
took everything out of my store before morning, the prisoner superintending the 
removal of the goods. 

HiLLYARD Mitchell sworn, was examined by Mr. Osier. He said — I am an Indian 
trader, have a store at Duck Lake ; heard there was an intention by rebels to 
take my store. I went to Fort Carlton and saw Major Crozier on the Thursday 
prior to the Duck Lake fight ; saw prisoner on that Thursday at Batoche. Saw 
some people at the river armed. At the village I .saw some English half-breed 
freighters who had been taken prisoners by Riel, and their freight also taken. 
Philip Garnot took me to the priest's house. I saw the prisoner there with Charles 
Nolin, Guardupuy and others. I think this was on the 19th of March. I told Riel 
that I had come to give some advice to the half-breeds. Riel said the Government 
had always answered their demands by sending more police. They were willing to 
fight -500 police. He said he had been trampled on and kept out of the country, and 
he would bring the Government and Sir John Macdonald to their knees. 

Thomas E. Jackson was next examined by Mr. Osier, and deposed that he 
was a druggist, ct Prince Albert, and a brother of Wm. Henry Jackson, an in- 
sane ]>ii8ouer of Riel's. Riel, witness testified, asked him to write to the eastern 
papers, placing a favourable construction on his (Riel's) actions. Riel had made an 
application to Government for $35,000 as indemnity for loss of property ; he showed 
the greatest hatred to the English, and his motives were those of revenge for ill- 
treatment at the time of the Red River rebellion. Having questioned Riel's pre- 
sent motives and plans, witness was taken prisoner and placed in close confinement. 
Riel afterwards accused me of having advised an English half-breed to desert. 
When Middleton was attaking Batoche, Riel came to witness and told him if Mid- 
dleton killed any of their Women and children he would massacre the prisoners. 
He wrote a message to Middleton to that effect, and I carried it to the General. 
(The message was produced and identified by witness). I did not return to the 
rebel camp. Saw the prisoner armed once after the Fish Creek fight. Riel was in 
command at Batoche, Dumont being in immediate command of the men. I know 
prisoner's handwriting. (The original summons to Major Crozier to surrender, 
the letter to Crozier asking him to come and take away the dead after Duck Lake 
fight, a letter to " dear relatives " at Fort Qu'Appelle, a letter to the half-breeds 


and Indians about Battleford, a letter to Poundmaker, and other documents were 
put in and identified by witness as beint? in Kiel's handwriting). 

Cross-examined by Mr. Fitzpatrick— The agitation was for provincial rights and 
their claims under the Manitoba treaty, and I was in sympathy with it. lliel was 
brought into the country by the French half-breeds. I attended a meeting at 
Prince Albert immediately after Kiel's arrival in June, 1884. Kiel said what they 
wanted was a constitutional agitation, and if they could not accomplish their ends 
in five years they would take ten to do it. Kiel was their adviser ; was not a mem- 
ber of the Executive Committee. Up to March last, from all I heard prisoner say 
or discovered otherwise, I believed Kiel meant simply a constitutional agitation, as 
was being carried on bj' the other settlers. Kiel had told him the priests were op- 
posed to him, and that they were all wrong. Heard Kiel talk of dividing up the 
country to be bestowed on the half-breeds, Poles, Hungarians, Bavarians, etc. 
When I was Kiel's prisoner I heard him talk of this division, which I thought 
meant a division of the proceeds of sale of lands in a scheme of immigration. This 
was altogether different from what he had all along proposed at the meetings. All 
the documents Kiel signed that I know of were signed " Exovide " (one of the 
flock). Kiel explained that his new religion was a liberal form of Koman Catholi- 
cism, and that the Pope had no power in Canada, Think Kiel wanted to exercise 
the power of the Pope himself. These expressions were made by Kiel after the re- 
bellious movement was begun. 

General Middleton was now called, and was examined by Mr. C. Robinson, 
Q.C. He testified that he was sent by the Minister of Militia to quell the out- 
break on the Saskatchewan, and gave the well-known details of his encounter with 
the rebels at Fish Creek, and of his subsequent movement on Batoche. He testi- 
fied to receiving two letters from Kiel on the day of the capture of l^atoche, in one 
of which Kiel threatened to massacre the prisoners in his possession if he (Middle- 
ton) fired upon the half-breed women and children. The letter was i^roduced in 
Court, and identified by the General. 

Capt. Geo. H. Young, of the Winnipeg Field Battery, deposed that he was 
present at Batoche as Brigade Major under the last witness, and was in the charge 
at the close. Witness was first in the rebel council chamber after the capture of 
the village, and found and took possession of the rebel archives. A number of 
documents were produced, which witness recognised as those he had secured. 
After Kiel's surrender he was given into witness's custody and taken to Kegina. 

Major Jarvis, in command of the Winnipeg Field Battery during the cam- 
paign, and to whom the charge of the papers found at Batoche was confided, iden- 
tified the papers produced in Court. 

MAJt)R Crozier, of the N.-W. Mounted Police, was next sworn, and detailed 
the fact that he was met by an armed force of rebels at Duck Lake and fired upon, 
losing many of his command in killed and wounded. He testified that, subsequent 
to this engagement, a man named Sanderson brought him a letter from lliel asking 
him to come and remove his dead from the field. 

Charles Nolin was next called, and was examined by Mr. Casgrain in French. 
The deposition of this witness we take from the Toronto Globe. Nolin deposed 
that he lived in St. Laurent and formerly in Manitoba. He knew when Kiel 
came to this country in July, 1884. And met him many times. Kiel showed him 
a book he had written in which he said he would destroy England, and also Rome 
and the Pope. Kiel spoke to him of his plans in December, expressing his wish for 
money, a sum between ten and fifteen thousand dollars. Kiel had no plan to get 
it, but he wanted to claim an indemnity from the Dominion Government ; that 
they owed him §100,000. Kiel told him he had had an interview with Father 
Andre, and at that time he was at open war with the clergy, but had made jjeace 
with Father Andre in order to gain his ends. Riel went into the church with 
Father Andre and other priests, and promised to do nothing against them, and 
Father Andre had promised to use his influence with the Government to secure an 
indemnity of $.S.%000. This was in the beginning of December, 1884, the agree- 
ment being made at St. Laurent. Between December and February 14th, witness 
had taken part in seven meetings. Riel said if he could get the money from the 


Government he would go wherever the Government would send him — to the Pro- 
vince of Quebec or elsewhere. Otheiwise, he said, before the grass was very long, 
they would see foreign armies in Canada. He would begin with subduing Manitoba, 
and afterwards turn against the North-West. Prisoner afterwards prepared to go 
to the United States, and told the people it would look well if they attempted to 
prevent him from going. Kiel never had the intention of leaving the country, but 
wanted witness to get the people to tell him not to go. Witness was chairman of 
a meeting which was held, and brought the matter up. On the 2nd March a meet- 
ing was held at the settlement between Kiel and Father Andre. There were seven 
or eight half -breeds there. Prisoner appeared to be very excited, and told Father 
Andre he must give him permission to proclaim a Provisional Government before 
12 o'clock. On the 3rd March a meeting was held for the English half-breeds. 
About forty armed French half-breeds came there. Riel spoke and said the police 
wanted to arrest him, but he had the real police. Witness spoke also at the meet- 
ing on the 5th of March. Riel afterwards told witness he had decided to take up 
arms and induce the people to take up arms for the glory of God, the good of the 
Church, and the saving of their souls. About twenty days before the prisoner 
took up arms witness broke entirely from him. On the 19th witness was made 
T)risoner by four of Kiel's men and taken to the church, where he found some half- 
breeds and Indians armed. That night he was taken before the council and was 
acquitted. Kiel protested against the decision. Witness was condemned to death, 
and he was thus forced to join the rebels to save his life. The conditions of surren- 
to Crozier were put in his hands to be delivered to Crozier, but he did not deliver 
der the letter. Riel was present at the Duck Lake fight, on the 26th March, and 
was one of the first to go out to meet the police, carrying a cross in his hands. 

Cross examined by Mr. Lemieux. — I have taken an active part in political affairs 
of the country. In 1869 I was in Manitoba. In 1884 Kiel was living in Montana 
with his wife and children. I participated in the movement to bring Kiel here ; 
believed Kiel would be of advantage in obtaining redress of the grievances. The 
clergy had not taken part in the political movement, but had assisted them in ob- 
taining their rights. They thought it was necessary to have Kiel as a point to rally 
round. Delegates were sent to invite Kiel to come, and he came with his wife and 
family. A constitutional political movement was made, in which the half-breeds of 
all creeds took part, and the whites, thout^h they were not active promoters, were 
sympathizers. Did not believe Kiel ever wanted to return to Montana, al- 
though he spoke of it. After the Government refused to grant the indemnity to 
Riel witness did not believe he would be useful as a constitutional leader. It was 
after the indemnity was refused that Kiel yjoke of going away. Witness denied 
that in 1869 he started an agitation with Kiel, and then, as in the present case, 
abandoned him. He only went as far as was constitutional. He had heard prisoner 
say he considered himself a prophet, and said he had inspiration in his liver and in 
every other part of his body. He wrote upon a piece of paper that he was inspired. 
He showed witness a book written with buffalo blood, which was a plan that after 
Kiel had taken England and Canada, Quebec was to be given to the Priissians, On- 
tario to the Irish, and the North-West to be divided among the various nationalities 
of Europe, the Jews, Hungarians, and Bavarians included. The rebel council had 
first condemned witness to death, and afterwards liberated him, and he accepted a 
position in the council in order to save his life. Witness said that whenever the 
word police was mentioned Kiel became very excited, having heard that the Govern- 
ment nad answered their petitions for redress by sendin.2: 500 extra police. 

At this part of the cross-examination of Nolin, the proceedings were interrupted 
by an excited clamour of Riel, to be allowed to interrogate the prisoner, and to assist 
personally in the conduct of his case. This the Court could only allow with the 
consent of prisoner's counsel. His counsel objected, and urged that such a pro- 
ceeding would prejudice their client's case ; but Riel persisted, and the rest of the 
day was wasted in fruitless altercation, which neither the Court nor the counsel for 
the Crown could allay. The chief cause of Riel's excitement seemed to be the 
determination of his counsel to press the pleaof insanity, a plea which, throughout 
the trial. Riel strongly objected to be urged on his behalf. The Court in the midst 
of the altercation, adjourned. 



The Riel trial was resumed at Regina, on the morning of July 30th, by Mr. 
Greknshields' addressing the jury for the defence. The Court-room was again 
filled to its utmost capacity. After referring to the difficulty counsel had met, in 
the prisoner's endeavour to obstruct their conduct of the case, Mr. Greenshields 
dwelt upon the history of the Indians and half-breeds in the North-West Territo- 
ries, pointing out their rights to the soil. In this Court they had a different pro- 
cedure from that in other parts of the Dominion, and while not desiring to be 
understood that the prisoner would not receive as fair a trial as the machinery pro- 
vided made possible, he questioned whether a jury of six men, nominated by the 
presiding magistrate, was sufficient to satisfy the demands of Magna Charta, — the 
great bulwark of the rights and liberties of all British subjects. He believed any of 
the older Provinces would rebel against such an encroachment on their rights, and 
he did not see why such a condition of things should obtain here. For years the 
half-breeds had been making futile efforts to obtain their rights. All these efforts 
had been met by rebuffs, or had received no attention whatever from the Federal 
Government, and those very rights for which the half-breeds were supplicating and 
petitioning were being handed over to railway corporations, colonization companies, 
and like concerns. He would not say that the action of the Government justified 
armed rebellion — the shedding of blood-but it left in these poor people those 
smouldering fires of discontent that were so easily fanned into rebellion by a mad- 
man such as Riel. The prisoner had been invited by the half-breeds to come among 
them from a foreign country to assist them in making a proper representation of 
their grievances to the Government. They were unlettered and required an active 
sympathizer, with education sufficient to properly conduct the agitation. Kiel was 
the man they chose, and there was no evidence to show that when Riel came to this 
country he came with any intention of inciting the people to armed rebellion. His 
work was begun and carried on up till January in a perfectly constitutional man- 
ner. After that time, as the jury had seen in the cross-examination of the wit- 
nesses for the prosecution, no effort was made by the defence to deny that overt 
acts of treason had been committed in the presence of the prisoner ; but evidence 
would be brought to show that at the time these acts were countenanced by the 
prisoner, he was of unsound mind and not responsible for what he did. The pecu- 
liar disease of the prisoner was called by men learned in diseases of the mind, "me- 
galomania." This species of mental disease developed two delusions— one the desire 
for and belief that the patient could obtain great power in political matters to rule 
or govern, another his desire to found a great church. That the prisoner was pos- 
sessed of these delusions, the evidence abundantly proved. The jury might consider, 
with some grounds for the belief, that the evidence of Charles Nolin, who swore 
that the prisoner was willing to leave the country if he obtained from the Govern- 
ment a gratuity of $3."),000, was inconsistent with the real existence of such a 
monomania as the prisoner was afflicted with. But not one isolated portion, but the 
whole, of Nolin's evidence should be considered. Other portions of his testimony, 
for instance, prisoner's opinions on religious matters, and his intention to divide up 
the country between various foreign nationalities, were conclusive proof of the pri- 
soner's insanity. This was a great State trial, the speaker said, and he warned the 
jury to throw aside the influence of heated public opinion, as it was expressed at 
present. There were many people executed for having taken part in the rebellion of 
1837, and it was (luestionable if there could be found anyone now who would justify 
those executions. The heat of private feeling had died away, and the jury should 
be careful that no hasty conclusion in this case should leave posterity a chance to 
say that their verdict had been a wrong one- They should, if possible, look at the 
case with the calmness of the historian, throwing aside all preconceived notions of 
the case that interfered with the evidence given in the Court, and build up their 

* In preparins: this abstract of the day's proceedings, the writer acknowledges to have drawn 
from the reports published in the Toronto Olobe and Mail, and the Montreal Gazette and Star. 


verdict on the testin ony brought out here. In the course of his remarks, Mr. 
Greeiishields said, that he accused no Government in particular for neglecting the 
claims of the breeds ; but if the authorities had paid attention to the petitions which 
had been addressed to them, the rebellion would never have occurred. He paid a 
glowing tribute to the volunteei'S, who left their private occupations and came from 
all parts of the Dominion to suppress the outbreak. 

At the conclusion of Mr. Greenshield's address. 

Father Andre, Superior of the Oblat Fathers in the district of Carlton, was 
called for the defence. He said he had been intimately associated with the breeds 
for a quarter of a century. Riel had been induced to come to this country by the 
settlers to assist them. The witness bad a thorough knowledge of what was going 
on amongst the settlers. He had no knowledge of petitions having been sent to 
the Government during the agitation ; but he had himself indirectly communicated 
with the Government last December, with the object of getting the prisoner out of 
the country. The pretensions or claims of the breeds changed f re(]uently. After 
Kiel's arrival the Government had been notified three or four times of what was 
transpiring. The Government had promised to take the matter into consideration. 
The Government had replied to one petition by telegram, conceding the old survey. 
This was an important concession. At Batoche three scrips had been issued, and 
at Duck Lake forty were given. The witness never liked talking with the i)risoner 
on religion or politics. On these subjects Kiel's language frightened the witness, 
who considered him undoubtedly crazy on these subjects, while on all other points 
he was sane enough. Once, at a meeting of priests, the advisability of allowing 
such a man to perform religious duties was discussed, and it was unanimously 
agreed that the man was insane. The discussion of religious or jjolitical subjects 
with him was like dangling a red flag in front of a bull. 

Philip Gahneau, of Batoche, but at present a prisoner in Regina gaol, was now 
sworn and deposed as follows ; — I saw Riel at Batoche last fall ; had seen him 
several times before January. During the trouble I talked with him at my house 
on religious matters. He said the spirit of Elias, the prophet, was in him. He wanted 
the people to believe that. He often said the Spirit of God told him to do this or 
that. During his stay at my hovise Riel prayed aloud all nitrht ; never heard such 
prayers before ; prisoner must have made them up. He could not stand to be con- 
tradicted, and was very irritable. Heard him declare he was representing St. Peter. 
Heard him talking of the country being divided into seven Provinces, and he was 
going to bring in seven different nationalities to occupy them. 1 did not believe he 
would succeed in that. He expected the assistance of the Jews, and other national- 
itits. to whom he was going to award a Province each for their aid. Riel said he 
was sure to succeed, it was a divine mission, and God was the chief of the move- 
ment ; only met him once before the trouble. I thought the man was crazy. 

Cross-examined by Mr. Robinson— I followed Riel solely because he forced me 
with armed men. He had great influence over the half-breeds, who listened to 
and followed his advice. 

Father Fourmand sworn, examined by Mr. Lemieux in French— I am a priest of 
St. Laurent ; went there in 1875. Have had conversations with Riel since the time 
of the rebellion. Often conversed with him on political and religious subjects. I 
was present at the meeting of priests at which Riel's sanity was questioned. I 
knew the facts upon which the question arose. Before the rebellion Riel was a 
polite and pleasant man to me. When he was not contradicted about political 
affairs he was quiet, but when opposed he was violent. As soon as the rebellion 
commenced he lost all control of himself, and threatened to burn all the churches. 
He believed there was only one God ; that Christ the Son was not God, neither 
was the Holy Ghost, and in consequence the Virgin Mary was not the mother of 
God, but of the Son of God. He changed the song beginning " Hail Mary, mother 
of God," to " Hail Mary, mother of the Son of God." He denied the real ijresence of 
God in the Host, it was a man of six feet. Riel said he was going to Quebec, France 
and Italy, and would overthrow the Pope and choose a Pope or appoint himself. We 
finally concluded there was no other way of explaining his conduct than that he was 
insane. Noticed a great change in prisoner as the agitation progressed. When 


the fathers opposed him he attacked them. Witness was brought before the rebel 
council by the prisoner, to give an account of his conduct. He called me a little 
tiger, being very excited . Never showed me a book of his prophecies written in 
buffalo blood, although I heard of it. 

Cross-examined by Mr. Casgrain— Most of the half-breeds followed Riel in his 
religious views ; some opposed them. The prisoner was relatively sane before the 
rebellion. The prisoner proclaimed the rebellion on March 18th. I promised to 
occupy a position of neutrality towards the provisional Government. He could 
better explain prisoner's conduct on the ground of insanity than that of great 
criminality. Witness naturally had a strong friendship towards the prisoner. 

The afternoon was devoted to expert testimony respecting the prisoner's sanity. 


Db. Roy, of the Beauport Asylum, Quebec, said the prisoner was an inmate of 
that institution for nineteen months. He was discharged in January, 1878. He 
suffered from ambitious mania. One of the distinguishing characteristics of that 
form of insanity is that, so long as the particular hobby is not touched, the patient 
appears perfectly sane. From what he heard the witnesses say, and from the pri- 
soner's actions j'esterday, he had no hesitation in jironouncing the man insane, and 
he believed him not to be respon.-iible for his acts. 

Dr. Clarke, of Toronto, was the next, witness. He said he was the Superinten- 
dent of the Toronto Lunatic Asylum. He has had nine or ten years' experience in 
treating lunatics. He examined the prisoner twice yesterday and once this morning. 
From what evidence he had heard and from his own examination, provided the 
witnesses told the truth and the prisoner was not malingering, there was no doubt of 
his being insane. 

Cross-examined by Mr. Osier— It is impossible for any man to say that a person 
like Riel, who is sharp and well-educated, is either insane or sane . He (the wit- 
ness) would require to have him under his notice for months to form an opinion. 
The man's actions are consistent with fraud. Thinks he knows the difference be- 
tween right and wrong, subject to his delusion. 

Dk. Wallace was next called. He said he was Superintendent of the Insane 
As}-lum at Hamilton. He had listened to the evidence in this case. He saw the 
prisoner alone for half an hour. He has formed the opinion that there is no indi- 
cation of insanity about him. He thinks the prisoner knows the difference between 
right and wrong. The person suffering from maglomania often imagines he is a king, 
divinely inspired, has the world at his feet — supreme egotism in fact. It is one of 
the complications of paralytic insanity. 

Dr. J LKES, of the Mounted Police, would not say the prisoner was not insane. 
He had seen him daily since May, and noticed no traces of insanity. 

The Court adjourned at five o'clock. 


At the outset, writes W. A. H. , correspondent of the Montreal Star, Riel spoke 
in a ijuiet and low tone, many of his statements carrying home conviction ti> his 
hearers. " At any rate," was the subsequent comment, " Riel speaks with the helief 
that he is rij;ht." Gradually as he proceeded and got fairly launcheJ into his subject, 
his eyes sparkled, his body swayed to and fro as if strongly agittited, and his hands 
accomplished a series of wonderful gestures as he warmed up and spoke with im- 
passioned eloquence. His hearers were spell-bound, and well they might, as each 
concluding assertion with terrible earnestness was uttered with the effect and force 
of a trumpet blast. That every soul in (Jourt was impressed is not untrue, and 
many ladies were moved to tears. The following is an epitome of what he said : — 

" Your Honour, and gentlemen of the jury — It would be an easy matter for me 
to-daj', to play the i-ole of a lunatic, because the circumstances are such as to excite 
any ordinary man subject to natural excitement after what h&s transpired to-day. 
The natural excitement, or may I add anxiety, which my trial causes me is enough 


to justify me in acting in the manner of a demented man; but I hope, with the help 
of God, that I will maintain a calm exterior and act with the decorum that suits 
this honourable Court. You have, no doubt, seen by the papers produced by the 
Crown, that I was not a man disposed to think of God at the beginning. Gentlemen, 
I don't want to play the part of a lunatic. 

" Oh, my God, help me through the grace and divine influence of Jesus. Oh, my 
God bless me, bless this Court, bless this jury, and bless my good lawyers, who at 
great sacrifice have came nearly 700 leagues to defend me. Bless the lawyers for 
the Crown, for they have done what they considered their duty. God grant that 
fairness be shown. Oh, Jesus, change the curiosity of the ladies and others here 
to sanctity. The day of my birth I was helpless, and my mother wus helpless. 
Somebody helped her. I lived, and although a man I am as helpless to-day as I 
was a babe on my mother's breast. But the North-West is also my mother : although 
the North-West is sick and confined, there is some one to take care of her. I am 
sure that my mother will not kill me after forty-years life. My mother cannot take 
my life. She will be indulgent and will forget. 

" When I came here from Montana, in -luly, 1884, I found the Indians starving. 
The state of affairs was terrible. The half-breeds were subsisting on the rotten 
pork of the Hudson Bay Company. This was the condition, this was the pride, of 
responsible Government ! What did Louis Kiel do ? I did not equally forget the 
whites. I directed my attention to assist all classes, irrespective of creed, colour or 
nationality. We have made petitions to the Canadian Government, asking them 
to relieve the state of affairs. We took time. Those who know me, know we took 
time with the object of uniting all classes, even if I may speak it, all parties. Those 
who know me know I have suffered. I tried to come to an understanding with the 
authorities on different points, I believe I have done my duty. It was said that 
I was egotistical. A man cannot generalize himself unless he is imputed with the 
taint. After the Canadian Government, through the honourable under-secretary of 
state, replied to my letter regarding the half-breeds, then, and not till then, did I 
look after my private affairs. A good dealcan be said of the distribution of land. 
I don't know if my dignity w^ould permit me to mention what you term my foreign 
policy, but if I was allowed to explain or question certain witnesses, those things 
would have looked different. My lawyers are good, but they don't understand the 
circumstances. Be it understood that I appreciate their services. Were I to go into 
details, I could safely say what Captain Young has told you regarding my mission, 
to bring about practical results. I have writings; my career, is perhaps nearly run, 
but after dissolution my spirit will still bring about practical results." 

Striking his breast he added : 

' ' No one need say that the North-West is not suffering. The Saskatchewan was 
especially afflicted, but what have I done to bring about practical results ? For 
ten years I have been aware that I had a mission to perform ; now what encourages 
me is the fact that I still have a mission to perform. God is with me. He is in this 
dock, and (^od is with my lawyers, the same as he was with me in the battles of 
the Saskatchewan. I have not assumed my mission. In Manitoba, to-day, I have 
a mission to perform. To-day I am forgotten by the Manitobans as dead. Did I 
not obtain for that province a constitutional government notwithstanding the oppo- 
sition of the Ottawa authorities ? That was the cause of my banishment." 

I thank the glorious General Middleton for his testimony that I possess my 
mental faculties. I felt that God was blessing me when those words were pro- 
nounced. I was in Beauport Asylum ; Dr. Roy over there knows it, but I thank 
the Crown for destroying his testimony. I was in the Lunatic Asylum at Longue 
Pointe, near Montreal, also ; and would like to see my old friends. Dr. Lachapelle 
and Dr. Howard, who treated me so charitably. Even if I am to die, I will have 
the satisfaction of knowing that I will not be regarded by all men as an insane 

To THE Court. — " Your honour and gentlemen of the jury, my reputation, my 
life, my liberty, are in your hands, and are at your discretion. I am so confident 
in your high sense of duty that I have no anxiety as to the verdict. My calmness 
does not arise from the presumption that you will acquit me. Although you are 


only half a jury, only a shred of that proud old British constitution, I respect you. 
I can only trust, Judge and gentlemen, that good and practical results will arise 
from your judgment conscientiously rendered. I would call your attention to one 
or two points. The first is that the House of Commons, Senate and Ministry, which 
make the laws, do not respect the interests of the North-West. My second point 
is that the North- West Council has the defect of its parent. There are practically 
no elections, and it is a sham legislature." 

Then, as if wandering from his subject, Kiel broke forth and said : 

" I was ready at Batoche ; I fired and wounded your soldiers. Bear in mind, is 
my crime, committed in self-defence, so enormous ? Oh, Jesus Christ ! help me, for 
they are trying to tear me into pieces . Jurors, if you support the plea of insanity, 
otherwise acquit me all the same. Console yourselves with the reflection that you will 
be doing justice to one who has suffered for fifteen years, to my family, and to 
the North- West." 

Kiel concluded as follows, his language containing a strange admixture of the 
words applied to him by the medical experts, which he ingeniously turned against 
the Government : 

" Your honours and gentlemen of the jury :— I am taking the circumstances of 
my trial as they are. The only thing to which I would respectfully call your atten- 
tion before you retire to deliberate is the irresponsibility of the Government. It is 
a fact that the Government possesses an absolute lack of responsibility, an insanity 
complicated with analysis. A monster of irresponsible, insane government, and its 
little North- West council, had made up their minds to answer my petitions by sur- 
rounding me, and by suddenly attempting to jump at me and ray people in the fer- 
tile valley of the Saskatchewan. You are perfectly justified in declaring that hav- 
ing my reason and sound mind, I acted reasonably and in self-defence, while the 
Government, my aggressor, being irresponsible, and consequently insane, cannot 
but have acted madly and wrong ; and if high treason there is, it must be on its 
side, not on my part." 

At the conclusion of Kiel's lengthy address, 

Mr. Christopheb Robinson, Q.C., closed the case for the Crown in a powerful 
speech, which went far to counteract the sympathetic effect produced by Kiel's dis- 
connected but eloquent oration. Mr. Kobinsou pointed out that no evidence was 
produced to show that the prisoner had not committed the acts he was charged 
with. From the evidence it was quite clear the prisoner was neither a patriot nor a 
lunatic. If prisoner was not responsible for the rebellion, who was ? The speaker 
went over the evidence and showed that Kiel's acts were not those of a lunatic, but 
well considered in all their bearings, and the deliberate acts of a particularly sound 
mind. The evidence as to Kiel's confinement in an asylum nine years ago was not 
satisfactory. Why was he sent there under an assumed name ? Why was the re- 
cord of his case not produced along with the other papers, and a statement of his 
condition when leaving the asylum ? Medical men were not always the best judges 
ofinsanity. Taking up the evidence against the prisoner, Mr. Kobinson went over 
it in detail, and said no mercy should be shown one who had committed such acts. 
He pictured the terrible results if Kiel had succeeded in his effort to rouse the 
Indians. The reason the prisoners Poundmaker and Big Bear had not been put in 
the witness box, was that they could not be asked to give evidence that would in- 
criminate themselves. 

Mb. Justice Kichardson then read over the evidence to the jury, after which 
the court adjourned. 


The court resumed its sittings on the morning of the 1st of August, at the usual 
hour, and Col. Richardson continued his charge to the jury He read all the princi- 
pal evidence, commenting thereon, and finally charged the jury to do their duty 
without fear or favour. 

* This abstract of the final day's proceedings we take from the Toronto Mail. 



When the jury returned with the verdict at 3.15 p.m., after exactly one hour's 
deliberation, the prisoner, who had been on his knees in the dock praying incess- 
antly, rose and stood facing the six men who came in bearing for him the message 
of life or death. 

The Clerk of the Court, amid a silence so intense that, like the darkness of 
Egypt, it could be felt, asked if the gentlemen of the jury had agreed upon their 
verdict ? 

Mr. Cosgrove, the foreman, answered in a low tone, but heard distinctly in the 
general hush, " VVe have ! " 

The Clerk then asked : " Is the prisoner guilty or not guilty ? " 

Everyone but the prisoner seemed anxious. He alone of all those present, eager 
to hear the message of fate, was calm. 

The Foreman replied : " Guilty, with a recommendation to mercy ! " 

Eiel smiled as if the sentence in no way affected him, and bowed gracefully to 
the jury. 


Col. Richardson asked the prisoner if he had anything to say why the sentence 
of the Court should not be passed upon him ? 

RiEL replied : Yes, your honour. Then he began, in a low, calm voice to detail 
the story of the half-breeds in Manitoba, and spoke at length of the rebellion of '69. 
He said that if he had to die for what had taken place, it would be a consolation to 
his wife and to his friends to know that he had not died in vain. In years to come 
people will look at Manitoba and say that Riel helped the dwellers of those fertile 
plains to obtain the benefits they now enjoy. He said it would be an easy thing 
for him to make an incendiary speech, but he would refrain. He said that (^od had 
given him a mission to perform, and if suffering was part of that mission, he bowed 
respectfully to the Divine will, and he was ready to accept the task, even if the end 
should be death. Like David, he had suffered, but he lacked two years of the time 
that David suffered. The prisoner then went into the history of the Red River 
rebellion at great leu'^th. He claimed that he had ruled the country for two 
months for the Government, and his only reward was a sentence of exile. The 
troubles in the Saskatchewan, he said, were but a continuation of the troubles of 
the Red River, and the breeds feel that they are being robbed by the Government, 
which has failed to carry out the treaty promises that had been made to them. 
The breeds sustained their rights in '69 by arms, and the people of Manitoba are 
enjoying the results to-day. The people of Saskatchewan only followed the same 
precedent, and he trusted that the same results would follow. He then spoke at 
great leng1;h of the part played by Sir John Macdonald, Sir George Cartier, and 
Bishop Tach^ in the Red River rebellion. The money that had been given to him 
and to Ldpine on leaving the country had been accepted, he said, as part of 
what was justly their due. The whites were gradually crowding out the Indians 
and the Metis, and what was more natural and just than for them to take 
up arms in defence of their rights? He justified his claims to $35,000 by 
saying that it was offered to him to keep out of the country for three years. 
The English constitution, he said, had been perfected for the hapi^iness of the 
world, and his wish to have the representatives of the different nations here was 
to give people from the countries of the Old World an opportunity of enjoying the 
blessings God had given England. God had given England great glory, but she 
must work for that glory or it would surely pass away. The Roman Empire was 
four hundred years in declining from its proud pre-eminence, and England would 
be in the same position ; but before England faded away a grander England would 
be built up in this immense country. His heart, while it beat, would not abandon 
the idea of having a new Ireland, a new Germany, a new France here ; and the 
people of those countries would enjoy liberties under the British constitution which 
they did not obtain at home. If he must die for his principles, if the brave men 


who were with him must die, he hoped the French-Canadians would come and 
help the people to get back what was being unjustly wrenched from them. Peace 
had always been uppermost in his thoughts, and it was to save the country from 
being deluged with blood later on that they strove for their rights now. He con- 
cluded by objecting to the jury and the decision of the Court, and asked that he be 
not tried" for the alleged offences of this season, but that his whole career be put on 
trial, antl the jury asked to give a decision as to whether his life and acts have in 
any way benefited the country or not. 


Mr. Christopher Robinson moved for the sentence of the Court. 

Judge Richardson then said : " Louis Rie), you are charged with treason. You 
let loose the flood gates of rapine and bloodshed, and brought ruin and death to 
many families, who, if let alone, were in comfort and a fair way of affluence. For 
what you did you have been given a fair and impartial trial. Your remarks are no 
excuse for your acts. You committed acts that the law demands an account for 
at your hands. The jury coupled with their verdict a recommendation to mercy. I 
can hold out no prospect for yoa, and I would recommend you to make your peace 
with (jrod. For me, only one duty and a painful one to perform remains. It is 
to pass sentence upon you. If your life is spared, no one will feel more gratified 
than myself, but I can hold out no hope. The sentence of this Court upon you, 
Louis Riel, is that you be taken to the guard-room of the Mounted Police of 
Regina, whence you came, and kept there until September the eighteenth, and 
from thence to the place of execution, there to be hanged by the neck until dead, 
and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul !" 

Riel never moved a muscle, but, bowing to the Court, said : — " Is that on Friday, 
your Honour ? " 

He was then taken from the Court-room, and a few minutes after was driven 
back, under strong escort, to the guard-room. 


After sentence had been passed upon Riel, Mr. Fitzgerald, one of prisoner's 
counsel, gave notice of appeal for a new trial to the Court of Queen's Bench, 
Manitoba. The ajipeal case was heard at Winnipeg on the 3rd and 4th days of 
September before Chief Justice Wallbridge and Mr. Justice T. W. Taylor. 

M. Lemieux, chief counsel for Riel, raised the old issue as to informality of the 
trial before the Stipendiary Magistrate at Regina, and contended that the magis- 
trate was incompetent to try the case. 

Mr. FiTZPATRicK followed. He held that the Treason-Felony Act was one of 
Imperial jurisdiction, and he questioned if it had delegated any power to the 
colonial authorities to legislate away any rights enjoyed by the subjects of the 
British Empire. He dwelt strongly upon the insanity question, and said the jury 
were convinced of the prisoner's lunacy, hence their recommendation to mercy. 

Mr. EwART also strongly questioned the jurisdiction of the Court at Regina and 
cited several authorities in support of his argument. 

Mr. Robinson, on behalf of the Crown, in an able address, strongly combatted 
the idea that the Court at Regina was not legally constituted, and cited cases in 
supjjort of his contention. He also dwelt at length on the insanity plea, showing 
the absurdity of the contention that Riel was insane. 

Mr. Osier and Mr. Aikens followed on the same side, supplementing the argu- 
ments of the ijrevious speaker as to the constitutionality of the Court, and cited 
a number of authorities adverse to the insanity plea. 



At Winnipeg, on the 9th September, at a sitting of the full Court of the Queen's 
Bench of the Province of Manitoba, judgment was delivered in the appeal for a 
new trial for the prisoner Eiel. 

His Lordship Chief Justice Wallbridge first delivered judgment. He referred 
briefly to the facts brought before the Court and the statutes by which the stipen- 
diary magistrates are appointed in the North- West and to the powers given them 
for the trial of the cases before them alone, and to the cases, including treason, 
which have to be tried before a magistrate with a justice of the peace and a jury of 
six. His Lordship held that the constitutionality of the Court is established by the 
statutes passed, which he cited. If the Act passed by the Dominion Parliament 
was, as claimed by the defence, ultra vires, it was clearly confirmed by the Imperial 
Act subsequently passed, which made the Dominion Act equal to an Imperial Act. 
The objections were to his mind purely technical and therefore not valid. His 
opinion therefore was that a new trial should be refused, and the conviction of the 
Superior Court was therefore confirmed. 

Mr. Justice Taylor followed, dealing fully with the arguments brought forward 
by the prisoner's counsel. On the question of the delegation of the power to legis- 
late given to the Dominion Parliament, he held that the Dominion Parliament has 
plenary powers on all subjects committed to it. He reviewed fully all the facts 
relating to the admission of Rupert's Land to the Dominion, and to the statutes 
passed for the government of Rupert's Land and Manitoba when formed as a pro- 
vince. After a critical examination of the evidence in the case, he was unable to 
come to any other conclusion than that to which the jury had come. The evidence 
entirely fails to relieve the prisoner from responsibility for his acts. A new trial 
must be refused and the conviction must be confirmed. 

Mr. Justice Killam next followed at some length, concurring in the views of his 
brother judges. 

With these proceedings the trial of the rebel chief was concluded, though counsel 
for Riel has notified the Executive that they will appeal the case to the Privy 
Council in England. Riel will, meantime, be respited. 


During the month of August the participators in the rebellion among the half- 
breeds and Indians were brought up for trial before the Stipendiary Magistrate at 


Court was held on the afternoon of the 13th of August for the trial of One Arrow, 
Judge Richardson presiding. 

Mr. Casgrain opened the case on behalf of the Crown. 

Only three witnesses were examined, viz., Ashley, Ross, and the Indian agent, 
Lash. Their svidence was similar to that given in the Riel trial. They proved 
that the prisoner was present at Batoche, although it could not be proved he actually 
was engaged. 

Mr. Robertson addressed the jury for the defence, and was followed by Mr. Osier 
for the Crown. 

Judge Richardson's charge only lasted a few minutes. 

The jury was out only ten minutes, and returned with a verdict of " Guilty." 

The prisoner was remanded for sentence. 



On the afternoon of the 14th inst. , Judge Richardson held Court for the purpose 
of sentencing the half-breed prisoners who recently pleaded guilty and were 
arraigned. Mr. H. J. Clarke, of Winnipeg, addressed the Court on behalf of the 
poor deluded wretches who awaited sentence. It spoke volumes, he said, for the 
manhood of the men awaiting sentence that not a single woman was molested during 
the whole of the outbreak. The breeds believed they had wrongs, and like men 
undertook in their way to redress them by force of arms. The Court addressed the 
prisoners through an interpreter, expatiating on the enormity of the offence, the 
leniency of the Court, etc., and sentenced them as follows : — 

Seven Years Each. — Alexander Cayen, Maxime Dubois, Pierre Henry, Maxime 
Lepine, Albert Monkman, Pierre Paranteau, Pierre Vandelle, Philip Guardupuy, 
Philip Garnot, James Short, Bapti Vandalle, to seven years in the penitentiary. 

Three Years.— Alexander Fisher, Pierre Guardupuy, Moise Ouellette, to three 

One Year. — Joseph Arcand, Igaace Poitras, junior, Ignace Poitras, senior, 
Moise Paranteau, to one year in Regina jail. 

DiscH \^rged. —Joseph Delorme, Alexander Labombarde, Joseph Pilon, Bapti 
Rocheleau, Potrie Tourani, Francis Tourand, dismissed from custody, to sppear 
for sentence when called upon. 

Three Years. — The Court then adjourned formally, but re-assembled immedi- 
ately to pass sentence on " One Arrow," who was convicted of treason-felony. The 
old Indian made an eloquent attempt to prove himself a good Indian, but was 
sentenced to three years in the penitentiary. 


At Regina, on the 15th inst., there was a flutter of excitement round the Court 
when it was learned that Pe-to-cah-hau-a-we-win (Poundmaker) would be arraigned 
at three o'clock in the afternoon. By half-past two, a correspondent of the Toronto 
Mail tells us, a crowd had collected outside the Court-house to catch a glimpse of 
the noted warrior and councillor. He is a noble looking Indian, and reminds one 
more of Fenimore Cooper's heroes than do the great majority of North- West 
Indians. His eyes are black and piercing. One moment they twinkle merrily at 
some humorous remark, and the next they flash with fire as something is said that 
is not agreeable to him. His nose is long and aquiline, while his lips are thin and 
his mouth devoid of that sensual character so peculiar to many Indians. The scalp 
lock was decorated with a mink skin, while from each temple there hung one long 
lock of hair twisted round and round with brass wire. He wore no coat, but his 
vest was richly decorated with brass-headed nails in true barbaric fashion. 

Mr. Scott, of Regina, opened the case for the Crown in a short speech, in which 
he said they would not only prove that the prisoner was associated with the rebels, 
but actually commanded them at Cut Knife Creek. 

The proceedings were brief, the Crown relying on the evidence of Robert Jeffer- 
son, Poundmaker's son-in-law. Colonel Herchmer, of the Mounted Police, Charles 
and H. D. Ross, half-breed scouts, Wm. McKay, Peter Ballantine, and other 
residents of pillaged Battleford. 

For the defence Joseph McKay, of Prince Albert ; John Craig, farm instructor 
on Little Pine's reserve, and Grey Eyes, an Indian, were called. These testified 
to Poundmaker's pacific acts and intents, and his efforts to restrain his band from 
bloodshed and Indian excesses. 

Mr. B. B. Osier, Q.C., acted for the Crown, and Mr. Beverley Robinson, of 
Winnipeg, represented the prisoner. 

On the 18th inst. the jury returned a verdict of guilty, when Judge Richardson 
asked Poundmaker if he had anything to say why sentence should not be passed 
upon him. 

408 APPENDIX. ' 


Poundmaker drew himself up to his full height, cast a hurried glance round the 
room, then placing his left hand on his breast, and extending his right in a declama- 
tory attitude, began. He spoke slowly at first, and waited for the interpreter to 
put his words into English. By-and-by he seemed to forget that he was not 
understood. His words fell without any hesitation from his lips :- " I am not 
guilty. Much that has been said against me is not true. I am glad of my work in 
the Queen's country this spring. What I have done was for the good of my people 
and for peace. When my brothers and the pale faces met in fight at Cut Knife I 
saved the Queen's soldiers, who ran away. I took the arms from my brothers and 
gave them up at Battleford. Everything I could do was done to stop bloodshed. 
Had I wanted war I should not be here now ; I should be on the prairie. You did 
not catch me ; I gave myself up. You have got me because I wanted peace." 

'I'he chief then sat down and awaited the sentence of the Court. The judge 
addressed him in nearly the same terms as those he used when sentencing One 
Arrow, and therefore it is unnecessary to repeat his words. He concluded by sen- 
tencing the prisoner to three years in Stoney Mountain penitentiary. 

When Poundmaker heard the sentence he said : — " Hang me now. I can die. I 
would rather you kill me than lock me up for three years. But my people, the 
Indians, will not forget me ; remember this." 

The End. 


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