3. The reasons for the resistance4. The resistance at Red River
The reasons for the resistanceThroughout the Red River Resistance, Louis Riel and the Métis maintained that they were loyal to the Queen of England. They said that they were not rebelling against the Queen or British rule of Red River. Their conflict, Riel said, was with the company that sold them and the country that bought them without consulting with them.
The Métis and the country-born English speakers had good reason to be concerned about this lack of consultation. The Canadian government did not see them as the potential basis of the Canadian west. On the eve of the transfer Canadian Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald wrote, “the present residents will be altogether swamped by the influx of strangers who will go in with the idea of becoming industrious and peaceable settlers.” Not only were the residents of Red River not informed of the negotiations between Canada and the Hudson's Bay Company, they were to have no hand in picking the new government of Rupert's Land. The Canadian parliament had appointed the entire government and council of its new colony of Rupert's Land. Neither the governor, William McDougall, nor his councillors, had any long-term connection with Red River. For the people of Red River this represented a step backward, since the Hudson's Bay Company had been careful to make sure that each group in the community was represented on the company-appointed Council of Assiniboia that governed Red River prior to 1869. Amongst McDougall's governing party was Charles Mair, whose comments about inter-racial marriages had created so much ill feeling at Red River just a few years earlier.
The Canadian government had done little to earn the loyalty of the people Red River. In 1869 the Canadian government began work on a road connecting the community to Lake of the Woods. The settlers who worked on the road were annoyed to discover that they were being paid in coupons that could only be redeemed at Canadian John Schultz's store, where they felt they were over charged. Despite warnings from William Mactavish, the Hudson Bay governor at Upper Fort Garry, that Red River residents were worried that their land claims would not be recognized, the Canadian government sent a surveying team into the country in the summer of 1869. The surveyors began mapping the land out into squares, completely ignoring the residents' traditional river lot land holding system. This led many of them to worry that they would lose their land if Red River were made a part of Canada. The Métis turned to Louis Riel, a 25-year-old native of the community who had just returned from Quebec, where he had been studying for much of the previous ten years. Riel's strategy was simple: Canada should be forced to negotiate with the residents of Red River and the best way to force such a negotiation was to prevent McDougall from entering Rupert's Land in the first place. Many of the English-speaking residents of Red River shared the Métis concerns, but they were not prepared to take such drastic measures. Instead, they argued that the people of Red River should put their case for a guarantee of their rights before McDougall once he had assumed office. While they were not willing to join with Riel, the English-speaking country-born were equally unwilling to take up arms to oppose him.