Biographies

Biography of Riel, Louis, 1844-1885

Louis Riel (1844 - 1885) was born in 1844 in the Red River settlement, the eldest of 11 children and the son of Louis Riel Sr., an influential member of the Métis community. In 1858 Bishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché arranged for Riel and three other boys, including Louis Schmidt, to go to school in Montreal to study for the priesthood. Riel did not complete his training but left the college in 1864. He worked for a few years as a clerk in a law office before leaving for Chicago, from where he went to St. Paul, Minnesota. He returned to Red River in 1868 and became involved in the conflict that was brewing in the settlement, eventually became the leader of the Métis community. In December of 1869 he took over the presidency of the provisional government. In August of 1870, Riel left the settlement for the Dakota Territory, since he feared, with good reason, that the soldiers being sent from Ontario wanted to kill him. He returned in 1871, but went into exile voluntarily again from March to June 1872, when he returned once more to Red River. He entered federal politics and was elected to the House both in 1873 and 1874. However, he was expelled and, even after being re-elected, did not take his seat. In 1875 the government granted him amnesty but it required him to leave Canada for five years. Soon after, Riel suffered a nervous breakdown and until January 1878 he was in an asylum. During this period he became convinced that he had a mission to be the guardian of the Métis and the prophet of a new Christianity. After his release he remained in the United States, moving to the Upper Missouri region, where he engaged in trade and became an American citizen. He also married a Métis woman, Marguerite Monte. In 1883 he became a school teacher at St. Peter’s mission on the Sun River. Then in 1884 he was asked to help the Métis in the northwest to defend their rights against the Canadian government and he agreed. In 1885, he led the Métis into rebellion, which was crushed at Batoche in May. Riel surrendered, was taken to Regina to be tried for high treason, and found guilty. He was hanged on November 16.

Mentioned in:

records

  1. Déclaration de 1908 d'André Nault, Elzéar Lagimodière et Duncan McDougall concernant les événements de 1869-70, extrait, fo. 353-54
  2. Déclaration de 1908 d'André Nault, Elzéar Lagimodière et Duncan McDougall concernant les événements de 1869-70, extraits, fo. 357-358 et 367
  3. Déclaration de 1908 d'André Nault, Elzéar Lagimodière et Duncan McDougall concernant les événements de 1869-70, extrait, fo. 369
  4. Déclaration de 1908 d'André Nault, Elzéar Lagimodière et Duncan McDougall concernant les événements de 1869-70, extraits, fo. 383-384 et 389-390
  5. An open letter to Conservaties everywhere 1896
  6. Louis Schmidt, Mémoires, 1911-1912, extrait, p. 76-77
  7. Louis Schmidt, Mémoires, 1911-12, extrait, p. 81-82
  8. Louis Schmidt, Mémoires, 1911-1912, extrait, p. 71
  9. Public notice to the inhabitants of Rupertsland
  10. List of rights
  11. Declaration of the People of Rupert's Land and the North West
  12. Resolutions passed at a public meeting of the parish of St. Clements 22 February 1870

diaries

  1. Andrew Wilson Graham diary entry dated 7 December 1869
  2. Andrew Wilson Graham diary entry dated 1 January 1870
  3. Andrew Wilson Graham diary entry dated 6 January 1870
  4. Andrew Wilson Graham diary entry dated 19 January 1870
  5. Andrew Wilson Graham diary entry dated 12 February 1870
  6. Jean-Baptiste Ladéroute, "Mémoires des troubles du Manitoba 1869-70", extrait, p. 25-30
  7. Jean-Baptiste Ladéroute, "Mémoires des troubles du Manitoba 1869-70", extrait, p. 39-41
  8. Jean-Baptiste Ladéroute, "Mémoires des troubles du Manitoba 1869-70", extrait, p. 49-50
  9. Jean-Baptiste Ladéroute, "Mémoires des troubles du Manitoba 1869-70", extrait, p. 61-63

photos

  1. Riel and his Council 1869-1870 Reproduced from a photograph in the possession of Mr. William Morris.
  2. Louis Riel

correspondence

  1. Lettre du 6 septembre 1870 de Alexandre Antonin Taché à Louis Riel
Digital Resources on Manitoba History