Chapter X. Red River Rebellion--continued (1870)
ONE aspect of the position of affairs in Red River Settlement at the opening of 1870 was shown in a letter, dated New Year's Day, which the Bishop addressed to the C.M.S. in London, stating that, in consequence of the insurgents having seized the funds in the possession of the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Garry, he had been compelled to draw on the Society for a hundred pounds by a bill at sight, and that a local gentleman had been kind enough to cash it. The missionaries were in the greatest straits for want of money, and this sum was required for their most urgent necessities.
Another and more important phase of the situation was indicated in a communication which Mr. Donald Smith, the Special Commissioner, sent on January 4 to Sir John A. Macdonald, the Premier of the Dominion. He wrote: "Bishop Machray called on me to-day, and he evidently has not the slightest hope that anything short of the introduction of a considerable body of troops can result in restoring order." Mr. Smith added that a similar opinion prevailed amongst the leading loyalists in the Settlement. He deprecated any action which would lead to a conflict between the loyalists and the rebels, for that would mean setting the French section of the community against the English, or, in other words, civil war between the settlers. Besides the bloodshed and the embittered animosities such a course would inevitably cause, there was also to be considered the great probability that another result of such a struggle would be an appeal for the intervention of the United States--a thing in every way undesirable. He concluded his letter by asking that troops should be despatched as soon as possible from Canada to Red River. Doubtless the Bishop, in these letters of his in cipher to Mr. Williams-Ellis, had made much the same representations to Earl Granville, the Colonial Secretary.
For the moment, however, all was fairly quiet in Red River, with Riel in possession of Fort Garry, and apparently complete master of the situation. Arrangements having previously been made, the Bishop, in January, held a Visitation, with Confirmations, in the Indian missions of the C.M.S. lying to the north of the Settlement, including the mission at Fort Alexander, a post of the Hudson's Bay Company on the Winnipeg River, near its entrance into Lake Winnipeg. The mission at this Fort, which was about 100 miles from Fort Garry, was then in the capable hands of the Rev. R. Phair, now Archdeacon. The Bishop, while discharging his episcopal duties with his habitual thoroughness, took advantage of the opportunity this Visitation presented of seeing how the Indians regarded the rebellion in Red River, and of strengthening them in their loyalty to their "Great White Mother," Queen Victoria. Returning to Bishop's Court about the end of the second week in January, he observed that a change had come about in the situation generally, which held out the hope of some improvement. As has been mentioned, Mr. Donald Smith, though a prisoner in Fort Garry, had been allowed certain privileges, such as seeing and conversing with those who called on him, amongst whom were the principal people of the French as well as of the English parishes. Admitting to them that mistakes had been made which should be rectified, and that the settlers had grievances which must be re dressed, he told them that he appeared in the Settlement as a mediator, and assured them in the most solemn and convincing manner, as representing the Dominion, of the goodwill of Canada towards the settlers, whose just rights and demands it would respect and satisfy.
The effect of the Commissioner's words was so great that many of Riel's followers began to have serious doubts of the wisdom of what he had done, and there was a marked diminution in his influence. Becoming aware that his power was waning owing to Mr. Smith, Riel asked him to produce his Commission from the Dominion Government. Mr. Smith, it will be remembered, had left the Commission and some other valuable documents for safety at Pembina on the American side of the frontier. After some discussion, it was agreed that Mr. Hardisty, the Commissioner's brother-in-law, should be sent to fetch the papers--which eventually reached Mr. Smith, but not till after a plot for their seizure by Riel had been foiled. Suspecting treachery, a party of the well-affected French settlers protected Mr. Hardisty on his return journey, and guarded the papers from Riel's emissaries, who otherwise would have given them to Riel, and then, judging from some of his actions, there would have been an end of them. These well-affected French settlers were so disgusted with the conduct of Riel, and at the same time so impressed with the desirability of acquainting the whole Settlement with what Mr. Smith had to say as the representative of the Dominion, that, with the co-operation of some of the English, they summoned a general meeting of the people of Red River, to be held on January 19, notwithstanding the opposition of Riel.
While matters had thus taken a turn for the better from the loyalist point of view, sinister but powerful influences were at work, bringing all the French, or the great majority of them, once more into line with Riel. From the beginning of the rebellion his chief lieutenants and advisers had been a priest, who was not a Canadian, but a native of France, named Lestanc, and a person called O'Donoghue, a teacher in St. Boniface School and a candidate for the Roman Catholic priesthood. The support of Riel by these two prominent Roman Catholics and another priest, Père Richot, produced an impression in Red River that the Rebellion was fostered and upheld by the Roman Catholic Church. On January 18, the day before that fixed for the general meeting, Père Lestanc had so prevailed upon those who had threatened to fall away from Riel, that when the meeting was held the French presented a united front. Perhaps Lestanc appealed to them as Roman Catholics to support their co-religionists, or to their French jealousy of their British countrymen; at all events, he accomplished his object, and once more the star of Riel was in the ascendant.
The meeting on January 19 did not lack elements of an unusual and even dramatic character. A thousand people, drawn from all parts of the Settlement, assembled--in itself a tribute to Mr. Smith; never before had so great a gathering been seen in the North-West, nor was there any hail in the place large enough to accommodate so many.
The meeting was held in the open air on the snow-covered, frozen ground, with the thermometer standing at twenty degrees below zero, Fahrenheit, the sky a pale blue, and the wind, keen and cold, sweeping in from across the prairie. On one side were Bishop Machray, supported by the local clergy, and Judge Black, with the leading loyalists; on the other, a number of Roman Catholic priests, with the Vicar-General Thibault and Père Lestanc at their head, and the chief members of their flock. In the crowd were mingled English, Scottish, and French settlers, employees of the Company, traders, trappers, and Americans, most of them well known to each other and well disposed enough only a few months before, all dressed in fur caps and fur coats, or thick blue or black "capotes," belted round the waist by bright, many-coloured woollen scarves; on the outskirts were groups of Indians in their blankets, come to hear the pale-faces talk. Around this mass of people was a great multitude of sleighs of every kind, the horses and ponies standing patient and motionless, with buffalo "robes" thrown over them as a protection from the blast. Beyond the few houses of nascent Winnipeg stretched the wilderness--white, silent, and solitary. There was a great hum of talk at times; then again a dead quiet, while the English and French eyed each other narrowly and suspiciously; most of those present were armed, and blood might have flowed freely that day. All was hushed as Riel, O'Donoghue, De Salaberry, one of the French Canadian Commissioners, and Smith, the Special Commissioner, emerged from the gate of the Fort, and took up a position on a small platform flanked by tumbrils.
It was Riel who first spoke. Apparently accepting the situation, he moved that an English settler, named Thomas Bunn, be chairman, and this was agreed to; Judge Black consented to act as secretary, and Riel himself figured in the rôle of interpreter. On the Chairman's invitation, Mr. Smith read a letter from the Dominion Secretary of State addressed to him regarding his mission to Red River, and a letter also addressed to himself from Sir John Young, the Governor-General of Canada. In this letter Sir John Young stated that he had sent letters to Governor Mactavish, to Bishop Machray, and to the Roman Catholic Vicar-General, respecting the situation, and that at the same time he had sent copies of a message received by telegraph from Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies (Lord Granville) with reference to the disturbances.
The burden of Sir John's communication was contained in the sentence, "Right shall be done in all cases." Riel translated both letters into French, and they were well received. Then occurred a startling incident which very nearly led to an outbreak. The Governor-General had mentioned that he had sent a letter and a copy of a message from Lord Granville to Governor Mactavish, and a similar letter and copy to Bishop Machray; these, it appeared, had been en trusted to Vicar-General Thibault for delivery on his arrival in the Settlement, but had not been delivered, as they had been seized by Riel. Turning to the Vicar-General, Mr. Smith asked him, by request of Governor Mactavish, he said, for the Governor-General's letter to that official, whereupon Thibault admitted that he had given it to the rebel leaders; it appeared that it was in the hands of O'Donoghue, Riel's "Secretary of the Treasury." Mr. Smith then asked that this letter should be produced, and Bishop Machray made the same request with respect to the letter that had been addressed to him. Riel objected strongly, but after some heated words a motion for the production of the letters was passed by a large majority. Riel protested that he did not know where the letters were, but another French half-breed, in some sort a rival to Riel, went into the Fort, accompanied by O'Donoghue who had tried to stop him, searched a safe, and found the missing documents.
While this was going on Smith read the telegraphic message from Lord Granville, of which, unknown to Riel, he had had a copy in his possession. In this message the Colonial Secretary said that the Queen had heard with great regret that certain misguided persons in the Settlement had banded together to oppose the union with the Dominion, the authorities of which were enjoined to make every effort to "conciliate the goodwill of the people of Red River." The day's proceedings had now occupied five hours, and a motion was passed that the meeting should adjourn till the following day. Before the gathering dispersed, however, there was a demand by the English that the prisoners in the Fort should be released. "Not to day," said Riel. There were angry cries of protest; at a sign from Riel the French sprang to arms, and for a moment it looked as if blood would be shed, but the English did not take up the challenge.
Next day a still larger number of people attended the meeting, which was held in the same place and in much the same circumstances. Mr. Smith began by reading the letter from Sir John Young, which had been seized from Thibault and subsequently rescued by Riel's rival, a person named Laveiller. In this letter were repeated the assurances that Red River would be liberally treated by both the Imperial and Dominion Governments.
Then followed the reading of letters from the Dominion Secretary to Mr. M'Dougall, written in the preceding year before the latter had gone to Pembina, which showed that the intentions of the Canadian Government were friendly to the settlers. All these communications produced an excellent impression, and after an interval for luncheon and private deliberation, Riel himself moved that a Convention of the settlers should be convoked for the next week, consisting of twenty representatives from the English parishes, and twenty from the French, for the purpose of bringing about a settlement. The proposal was accepted, and a committee, consisting of the Bishop and four others, was appointed to allot representatives for the English section of the community. The greatest good feeling was manifested; men tossed their caps into the air for joy; Englishmen and Frenchmen shook hands, and all promised well. Conciliatory speeches were made by Père Richot and by the Bishop, who said, in response to a friendly allusion to himself by the priest, that he heartily acknowledged the kind feeling expressed, and was sure that every one would do what was possible to promote union and concord. Reminding them that the rights of all present were the same, he thought that on all reasonable propositions there could not be much difference of opinion. "For his part he had the greatest hope that their coming together on this occasion, and their gathering next week as proposed, would lead to a happy settlement of public aft and that thereafter they would be as united in the future as they had been in the past." Before the assembly dispersed cheers were given for the Bishop, Père Lestanc, and one or two other prominent people in the Settlement. On the following day the committee of the English section met at Bishop's Court, and allotted the numbers of representatives to the Convention for each of the English parishes, which shortly afterwards elected them.
It seemed as if everything was about to be settled, and that Mr. Smith's mission had met with the complete success it deserved; Riel, however, was of quite another mind. He had promised to disband a part of his armed followers, but a rumour, with the author ship of which he was generally and probably correctly credited, was spread abroad that the English and Scottish settlers were about to march on Fort Garry with the object of setting free Dr. Schultz and the other Canadians who were imprisoned within it, and though there was no foundation for the report, it afforded him a pretext for not carrying out his promise.
On January 23 Dr. Schultz managed to escape from the Fort--to Riel's rage and mortification; the President sent out men in every direction to try to recapture him, but Schultz contrived to elude them. Of all his opponents Riel regarded him as the most formidable, and his escape both angered and alarmed him. Schultz's escape and the rumour above alluded to had the effect of drawing the French once more round Riel, and he had no difficulty in most cases in securing the return of his own nominees to the Convention. At first the English representatives were in doubt whether to attend the Convention, and only a small number were present on the opening day, January 26. Their doubts were increased when one of themselves was arrested by Riel without a reason being assigned, but he was almost at once released, and on January 27 there was a full attendance at the Court House, in which the Convention was held. Mr. Smith was present by request, and again affirmed that the Dominion meant well by the people of Red River. A committee was appointed to frame a List of Rights which was to be submitted to Mr. Smith; the list was drawn up, and he approved of them in the main. [It was probably at this time that Riel made a proposal to the Bishop with respect to the £300 a year which the Hudson's Bay Company had covenanted to pay the Bishops of Rupert's Land as part of the income of the Bishopric. Writing on March 24, 1870, to Sir Stafford Northcote (afterwards Earl of Iddesleigh), one of the trustees of the Leith Bequest, from which was derived the major portion of the income of the Bishops of Rupert's Land, the Bishop said "Riel, the President of the Provisional Government, wished the securing of £300 now made by the Company to me by a clause in the arrangements with Canada, but I succeeded in getting him to desist from that."] On February the Convention agreed that the country would enter the Canadian Confederation as a Territory.
Again all promised well, and it appeared that a speedy and amicable settlement was assured; again Riel blocked the way. He brought forward a motion that all bargains with the Hudson's Bay Company for the transfer of the country to the Dominion should be declared null and void; the motion was lost by twenty-two votes to seventeen. Riel was highly incensed, and declared that the motion must be carried. To overawe resistance he threatened Governor Mactavish with violence, and made some further arrests in the Settlement, but he eventually dropped the matter. On February 8 Mr. Smith invited the Convention to send two delegates to Ottawa to represent the Settlement when the final arrangements were being made. To this Riel agreed, but he insisted that meanwhile his Provisional Government and his own position as its President must be recognised by the Convention. A demand was made by the English representatives for the release by Riel of the Canadian prisoners, and he did release them, although he had heard rumours of the formation of armed bands of English settlers in Portage la Prairie with a view to his overturn. But he was still easily master of the situation.
The Bishop had counselled his people to send representatives to the Convention, and he followed its proceedings with alternating hopes and fears. He wondered why it was that the Imperial Government did not take prompt action, but the Liberals of that day who were in power had not a strong Colonial policy--they were disposed, in fact, to let the vast and magnificent Colonial Empire drift away from England without putting forth much effort to restrain it from doing so. Writing to the S.P.G. on February 12, the Bishop referred to the "hard and uncomfortable times in the land, where we never know what may be the calamity of to-morrow." In this "cruel state of things the British Government and people seem to be deaf to the sound of our grievous troubles. Sometimes there is hope of a quiet settlement, and then the hope departs and the condition of things is only worse than before. Yet if only a settlement could be brought about, I believe you would see a wonderful development in this country--a change so rapid as not to have a parallel in any British colony." When the middle of February arrived there was less chance of a quiet and peaceful settlement than ever before, and the situation had become so aggravated that it seemed almost impossible to avoid civil war; that it was avoided was largely owing to the action taken by the Bishop with the support of his two principal clergymen, Archdeacon M'Lean and Archdeacon Cowley.
Portage la Prairie, now a flourishing Manitoba town, was an English parish on the Assiniboine, some sixty miles from Fort Garry; forty years ago it had so considerable a population that it was thought by some that the small village growing up in it at that time would be the chief city of the North-West instead of Winnipeg. In the beginning of February several of the Portage settlers met, and determined to organise armed opposition to Riel. A body of fifty or sixty of them marched down the Assiniboine as far as Heading Icy, raising their compatriots as they went. On the nights of February 1 and 15 about a hundred of the settlers on the Assiniboine met some three hundred settlers on the Red River at Kildonan, the old Selkirk Settlement. These men were without proper arms or ammunition, and had no provisions; yet they sought to overthrow Riel and 700 Frenchmen, for he had got together that number in Fort Garry at his back, all well armed, with plenty of ammunition and stores of all kinds, and the advantage of position in their possession of the Fort, which also was defended by cannon.
No more rash or foolhardy enterprise could well be imagined; its only chance of success was to bring off a sudden and unexpected attack, but Riel had his spies out, and knew perfectly what was taking place; he was quite ready to meet any attack of the kind with an absolute certainty of defeating it easily. The Bishop visited the camp of the English, and once again had to tell his people something very far from "palatable"--that in the circumstances they were no match for Riel and his rebels, and that any operations against the insurgents on their part could result in nothing but disaster. Archdeacon M'Lean and Archdeacon Cowley spoke in the same strain, and they were supported by some of the principal laymen. The Bishop advised the men to keep the peace, disperse, and return to their homes. The advice, though unpalatable, was seen to be sound, and it was taken. So far all was well, and all would have been well had not the party of Portage settlers acted with astonishing want of judgment.
Returning from Kildonan en route for the Portage, these men had the imprudence to pass within a short distance of Fort Garry, whence they were seen by the rebels, who quickly surrounded them, and far out numbering them, so that resistance was useless, took them prisoners and led them inside the Fort; had the Portage men made a detour this misfortune would never have taken place. Riel had just liberated his Canadian prisoners, and these men were thrust into the rooms the former had vacated. Four of them, including a Major Boulton (afterwards Lieutenant-Colonel and a Senator), an army officer who had been but a short time in the Settlement, were sentenced to death by Riel. On the intercession of the Bishop, Archdeacon M'Lean, Mr. Smith, and others, all save Boulton were pardoned. Riel said Boulton must be shot; the pleadings of the Bishop and of the Archdeacon were of no avail; the Archdeacon administered the last Sacrament, and Boulton had made up his mind that he was doomed, when Mr. Smith succeeded in inducing Riel to pardon him, on the understanding that the English would agree to send delegates to a Council or Legislative Assembly Riel proposed calling as head of the Provisional Government.
When Riel spared Boulton's life he said to Mr. Smith, "We want only our just rights as British subjects, and we want the English to join us, simply to obtain them." Smith replied that he would at once see about getting the English to go on with the election of delegates to the Council. Thereupon Riel said, "If you can do this war will be avoided, and the prisoners set free." The plain meaning was that if the English refused, Riel intended to fight. Mr. Smith saw the Bishop and Archdeacon M'Lean, told them what had passed between him and Riel, and advised them to counsel their people to elect delegates. The Bishop thought the advice in this extremity was good, and he and his clergy accordingly counselled the English to proceed with the election of delegates without loss of time. ["The moment was a fearful one for the Settlement, for every man's life was in the hands of Riel." Commissioner Smith's Report to the Canadian Government, quoted from Begg's History of the North-West.] Archdeacon M'Lean accompanied Mr. Smith, now released from Fort Garry, through the Settlement, telling the people what was their best course in the position they now occupied. The elections took place on February 26.
With reference to this time the Bishop wrote to the S.P.G., in June of that year, some person having spoken warmly about the English-speaking people not fighting the question out with the French: "There was no want of will, but the fact is that there was nothing but indiscriminate ruin to be expected from a contest in this small Settlement between the English and French half-breeds. The English had the advantage of intelligence, but the disadvantage in army and position. It was well there was no contest--however galling the state of subjection, for so it may to a certain extent be called." Writing to the C.C.C.S. the Bishop said: "You are aware, doubtless, from the newspapers of the terrible winter we are passing through. Sometimes there has been imminent risk of a contest between the English and French in the Settlement, the consequences of which would have been dreadful. As it is, the English have been induced to remain quiet, though what has been done is very distasteful to them. We have some hope now of a settlement that may allow Canada to enter quietly on the government of the country, and yet remove from the French what grounds they may have for apprehension. . . . If we had a few troops here, all would soon be quiet enough."
Referring to the advice he gave to the English settlers to elect delegates to the Legislative Assembly, he stated to Sir John Young, in a long letter, dated March 18, reviewing the whole situation, and from which much of the information in this, and the preceding chapter has been derived: "It is nothing but necessity that has led the English in any way to meet in council with the French; the necessity has been partly to aid the liberation of the prisoners, and partly to avoid the often-threatened carrying of war through the little Settlement, and to see whether anything could be done to assist an amicable arrangement." The English, he continued, had "done what they could in cruelly trying circumstances to moderate the demands of the French." Had there been fighting, "victory to the English would only have been a little less disastrous than defeat. From the time the French mustered 600 against Colonel Dennis, the only wise policy was to try to avoid a collision."
On March 4 an event occurred which, when news of it reached Canada, caused the wildest excitement. This was the shooting of one of the prisoners, a Canadian named Thomas Scott, after a "trial" by court-martial. The charges brought against this un fortunate man were hardly, even in Riel's eyes, it may be supposed, such as to appear to justify his condemnation to the extreme penalty; the truth seems to be that Riel's megalomania, which had been much increased by his continued success, drove him on to think that the execution of Scott would strike terror into the English, and firmly establish his power. He was deaf to all entreaties that Scott's life should be spared; he said he had pardoned others, but this man must be made an example. Yet the settlers long refused to believe that Riel would shoot him, and thought he would pardon him at the last moment as in Boulton's case. The sentence, however, was carried out, and, as the firing-party bungled their work, in circumstances of shocking brutality. Scott had been attended up to within a short time of his death by a Wesleyan minister, the Rev. Mr. Young, an active loyalist. Next day Mr. Young begged Riel for Scott's body for burial, and his request was reinforced by the Bishop, but Riel refused it. It was generally supposed that the body was thrust under the ice of the Assiniboine. After the tragedy Commissioner Smith would have nothing more to do with Riel, except to get a pass from him to leave the country, which he did on March 18.
Meanwhile three delegates had been chosen to represent the settlers at Ottawa--Judge Black, Father Richot, and a Winnipeg man called Alfred Scott. Judge Black at first declined, but being pressed by Mr. Smith, finally consented to go.
Affairs suddenly took on a better appearance when Bishop Taché arrived in the Settlement on March 8; had he come in time it is probable that Scott would not have been shot; it is also likely that if he had not been absent from Red River during that winter the Rebellion would never have taken place. The Bishop, who had been present at the great Ecumenical Council at Rome, had had an interview with the Dominion Government at Ottawa as he came through Canada, and he had promised them to use his influence in the direction of pacification and conciliation. Certainly from the day he made his appearance at Fort Garry there was a marked change, a decided improvement in the Settlement. Preaching on Sunday, March i3, to a congregation that crowded St. Boniface Cathedral, Bishop Taché made an eloquent appeal for unity amongst the settlers of Red River, and urged that religious differences should be put aside while all worked for the common good. He stated that it was his sincere conviction that the intentions of the Dominion Government were entirely friendly. As Bishop Taché was held in high esteem not only by the French, but also by the English, his words were widely quoted, and there was much less excitement afterwards in the Settlement. The Council or Legislative Assembly met, and on March 1, Bishop Taché, having been invited to attend its session on that day, made a speech, the nature of which was summed up in one of his observations, "I am a Canadian, and proud of that title." His influence was also seen in an arrangement by which the Hudson's Bay Company agreed to resume business at Fort Garry, though the Company did not actually do so till towards the end of April. On March 23 two of the Red River delegates, Richot and Scott, left for Ottawa, Judge Black following next day. Com missioner Smith had departed for Ottawa on March 18. On the same day Bishop Machray sent the long despatch to Sir John Young which has been previously referred to. In this the Bishop wrote
May I be permitted to say that the Dominion Government has had in Mr. Smith a most conscientious and devoted representative; his position was one of great difficulty and delicacy, as well as of unpleasantness. I am in great hopes that Mgr. Taché will be able to calm his flock; he has ever been held in the greatest respect by the English as well as the French. Should things yet take a wrong turn, the position of the English section will be awkward and dangerous in the extreme, and we can see nothing but utter ruin staring the country in the face. But I hope for better things. I think there is at last a sign of light breaking on us. Your Excellency may, at any rate, depend on my doing my best in the way I judge to be wisest for securing the entrance of this country into the Confederation of the Dominion of Canada--that has always been my most anxious desire.
In this letter the Bishop pointed out that one cause of the Rebellion had been the absence of British troops in the Settlement, and he reminded Sir John Young that Governor Mactavish, and his predecessor Governor Dallas, had repeatedly asked the Imperial Government to send a small force to Red River for its protection and for the maintenance of law and order, but no soldiers had been sent. The presence of troops, the Bishop intimated, was necessary in the Settlement now. When Mr. Smith arrived at Ottawa he expressed the same opinion to the Dominion authorities. But before this time the latter had begun to make preparations for sending troops into the country; the Imperial Government were approached, and on March Lord Granville telegraphed to Ottawa that they would give military assistance to the proposed expedition. Before allowing the troops to start the Imperial Government required Canada to agree that the rights and privileges of the Red River settlers should be respected, and that on disputed points the Imperial Government should act as referee; the troops were not to be employed in forcing the sovereignty of Canada on the settlers should they refuse it.
Early in April Colonel (now Lord) Wolseley, then Deputy Quartermaster-General of the Queen's forces in Canada, commenced to superintend the assembling and despatch of the expeditionary force from Collingwood in Ontario to Red River, but it did not arrive at Fort William, on the west side of Lake Superior, until towards the end of May, and then had hundreds of miles of wilderness to traverse before gaining its destination. News of the preparations, however, did not reach the Settlement very soon, for as late as the middle of April the Bishop wrote to the S.P.G.: "Things here remain in a very sad condition. I doubt whether England ever in her history has allowed matters to go as they have done here for the past six months. If she does n act in some way to ensure protection and order for her loyal subjects, what is the meaning of her claim to Empire? At present, how ever, all is quiet, but there is no security, and consequently there, cannot be confidence." Then he expressed his satisfaction that Churchmen had taken no part in the insurrection against Canada or England, whichever way the affair was regarded, and spoke of his desire to visit England both for Church purposes and to assist in removing any unfavourable ideas of Rupert's Land which the Rebellion might have occasioned. Before long, however, he heard of the organisation of the "River Expedition," and at once took such steps as were possible in his situation to forward and help it on.
Dr. Schultz, as the leader of the Canada party in Red River, his imprisonment in Fort Garry by Riel, and his escape, have already been mentioned in this narrative. He remained in the Settlement for some weeks after his escape from the Fort, and was a volunteer in the loyalist movement of mid-February which ended in the Boulton fiasco and the shooting of Thomas Scott. Not long after the last event he started from Lower Fort Garry for Canada, with a view to rousing his countrymen to take stern measures. Riel had declared him an outlaw, and had condemned him to be shot "on sight," and as it was therefore difficult, if not impossible, for him to leave the country by the ordinary route through Pembina, he walked on snow-shoes, accompanied by an English half-breed guide, to Duluth, on Lake Superior, a distance of some five hundred miles, and a journey the arduousness of which it is not easy to exaggerate. From Duluth he went to Ottawa and other Canadian centres, to find, however, that his mission had been anticipated, for the tidings of the shooting of Scott by Riel had caused tremendous excitement throughout Ontario, and there was a great cry for vengeance. When Richot and Alfred Scott, two of the delegates from Red River, arrived in Canada they were at once arrested and thrown into prison on a charge of being concerned in the death of Scott, but as there was no evidence to sustain the accusation, they were soon released.
Richot was known to have been one of Riel's lieutenants, and Alfred Scott was a nominee of the French section, and their arrest, though quite unjustifiable, at any rate showed the bitterness of Canadian feeling. After their release they, with Judge Black, the third Red River delegate, had several interviews with the Dominion Government, and helped to frame an Act which passed the Canadian Houses of Parliament in May, providing for the formation of a province, known as Manitoba, out of the old District of Assiniboia and Red River Settlement, with some adjacent areas, while the rest of Rupert's Land was swallowed up under the designation of the "North-West Territories." Hence forth the name Rupert's Land vanished from the ordinary maps of America.
Meanwhile the Council or Legislative Assembly of Riel's Provisional Government had held several sessions, and had promulgated certain laws for the government of the Settlement. Now and again Riel came out with some bombastic proclamation. On April 20 he caused the Union Jack to be hoisted in place of the rebel flag, which had on it the fleur-de-lis and the shamrock as ensigns; the British flag was cut down by O'Donoghue, who favoured annexation to the United States, but was re-hoisted by Riel on April 28; no doubt Bishop Taché's influence was at work, and he may have heard by that time of the Red River Expedition Canada was preparing, and perhaps have been desirous of making a way of escape for Riel and the other rebels. During May quiet reigned in the Settlement; Richot returned in the beginning of June from Ottawa with a copy of the Manitoba Act, and on June 17 the Act wasform ally accepted by the Provisional Government, thereby ratifying the transfer of the country to Canada--what ever their ratification was worth. Riel was now aware of the coming of troops, and was uneasy. His American friends told him that if he yielded the soldiers would make short work of him and his rebels, and urged him to meet force with force. Bishop Taché had a good deal of trouble to keep Riel quiet, but he succeeded by pledging his word of honour that the troops were on a mission of peace, and of peace alone.
At the end of June Bishop Taché went to Ottawa, with the object, it was believed, of procuring a general amnesty from the Dominion Government. Riel had no longer the following he had had during the winter; with the opening of spring many of his supporters had returned to their farms, and the shooting of Scott had alienated not a few. The English, knowing that the Expedition was on the way, had nothing more to do with him. The first indication of the nearness of relief to them came in July when Lieutenant (now General Sir William) Butler arrived in Winnipeg, bringing a proclamation by Colonel Wolseley, the printing and distribution of which were superintended by Riel himself!
The Red River Expedition under Colonel Wolseley had advanced from Fort William, and after a hard and laborious journey mainly by water, had reached Fort Francis, a post of the Hudson's Bay Company on Rainy River, now in the west of the Province of Ontario, on August 4. Here Wolseley was met by an English half-breed from Red River, named Joseph Monkman, who brought letters from Bishop Machray and others in Red River giving valuable information as to sup plies for the troops and the proceedings of the rebels. [The Story of a Soldier's Life, by Viscount Wolseley, vol. ii. p. 203.] The Bishop said that affairs in the Settlement were still in a bad state, that the French and the English mutually distrusted each other, and that both feared the Indians, whose loyalty had been shaken by Riel's conduct. On the other hand, Henry Prince, chief of the Swampy Cree Indians, who lived in and about St. Peter's parish, of which Archdeacon Cowley then had charge, wrote in a loyal strain, and expressed his dislike of Riel and the rebels. But the one refrain of all these letters was: "Come on as quickly as you can, for the aspect of affairs is serious and threatening," a statement which indicates that after Bishop Taché had left the Settlement Riel was once more causing trouble.
From Fort Francis the Expedition made its way to Rat Portage on Lake of the Woods, where on August 12 Colonel Wolseley received another letter from Bishop Machray, in which he pressed that officer to send on at once a hundred men and a couple of guns. [Parliament (British), Paper c, 298, 1871.] But the Bishop had done more than merely write. He and some of the other English people of the Settlement had sent six boats, the expense of which was met by a subscription amongst them, to help the Expedition down the Winnipeg River from Rat Portage to Lake Winnipeg, whence it was an easy water journey to Fort Garry, the boats being in charge of one of the Bishop's clergy, the Rev. J. P. Gardiner of St. Andrew's. Wolseley, in his Story of a Soldier's Life, says this action of the Bishop and the other English loyalists gave him "what I stood most in need of I mean really good and reliable guides." Fort Alexander, at the mouth of the Winnipeg, was reached on August i 8, and Mr. Donald Smith, who had returned to the country on business connected with the Hudson's Bay Company, joined Colonel Wolseley there, and accompanied him to Red River. Then the Expedition went on to Fort Garry, without check or hindrance, and occupied it without a shot being fired, Riel and his friends making a hasty exit, and leaving their breakfasts smoking on the table. The Rebellion was at an end. "As we neared the Cathedral of the English Bishop," says Wolseley, "the Union Jack was loosed from its steeple, as an evidence to all people that the rebel rule had ceased, and that our Queen's authority was once more paramount there."
Even after his ignominious flight from Fort Garry Riel was for some time a menace to the peaceful development of Manitoba, and the "Riel Question" long vexed Canada, but he will not appear again in these pages until the narrative passes on to the year i 885, in which he instigated another insurrection among the Métis, not in Red River, but in the somewhat analogous Saskatchewan country. This chapter may appropriately be concluded with an extract from the story of the North-West rebellions as told by Major Boulton, the gentleman who so narrowly escaped death at the hands of the rebel chief:
Had hostilities been provoked, or the first shot in anger fired (between the English and the French settlers), the country in its isolated position would probably have been handed over to a scene of rapine, murder, and pillage fearful to contemplate, through the excitement of the Indian population, whose savage nature cannot be controlled when the opportunity for warfare presents itself. But, fortunately for Canada and the Hudson's Bay Company, the critical period passed. . . . To the Bishop of Rupert's Land, Judge Black, Mr. Donald A. Smith, Arch deacon M'Lean, and the Rev. Mr. Young, is chiefly due the salvation of the Settlement through the winter by the prudence of their policy and the influence of their counsels. [Reminiscences of the North-West Rebellions, by Major Boulton, Toronto, 1886.]
It will be seen from the foregoing statement of Major Boulton, as well as from the testimony of Colonel Dennis in the preceding chapter, that the Bishop's "unpalatable" policy met in the end with their warm approval--a policy which not only kept the Settlement at peace, and so held in check the Indians, but also pre vented any pretext for intervention by the United States, and thus in all probability preserved Manitoba and the rest of the magnificent North-West, by long odds the finest heritage of England, to Canada and the Empire.