Scott’s cries: The night wind?
Winnipeg Tribune, 29 February 1964
Thomas Scott died when he was shot in front of the CNR depot site and did not live in agony for hours, says the last man who has any direct connection with the 1870 event.
“He had two bullet holes through his chest,” says Alexandre Nault, 7 St. Elmo Apts. He will be 90 on Sunday, celebrating with a gathering of the French Canadians.
“Many, many times my father told me. He fell in the snow, in his blood.”
Andre Nault, his father, was cousin to Louis Riel and a member of the court martial March 3 that ordered the shooting of the agitator Scott next day.
“My father was the man with the key, He was responsible all that night for the body,” related the tall, gently spoken man.
In that long cold night when the temperature dropped to -54, men came to Andre Nault saying they could hear moans from the shed where Scott’s body had been placed.
“Only a strong wind,” explained his son. “That was what made the cry—wind.”
Rev. George Young, Methodist minister who tended Scott, quoted a Major Robinson 27 years later, that he (Robinson) saw and heard Scott five hours after the shooting, cry from his coffin: ‘Let me out of this. My God, how I suffer.’ Riel himself opened the shed door to see. Then a shot rang out that ended the agony.
Young begged for the body. But when the grave inside the Fort was opened in Lt. Gov. Adams G. Archibald’s regime, nothing was found but rope in the box.
The gentle man of fourscore years and 10 shakes his head, his pale blue eyes wide in denial: “I know nothing. My father refused me, refused to tell me,” he corrected his English.
Those who knew what happened swore never to tell. They went to their own graves keeping their secret—all buried like Riel in St. Boniface Basilica grounds.
Ambrose D. Lepine, who presided at the court martial March 3, was allegedly once made drunk enough to loosen his tongue. The body, he said, was weighted with stones and dropped through a hole in the river ice.
Again Mr. Nault shook his head slowly:
He can look back through his years and remember Riel’s widow, Margaret: “Very shy ... they said she was Indian, because old photographs make everybody’s face look black. Look at Riel’s. He was a handsome man, educated, not wild and angry like the picture always used of him.”
The widow, their son Jean Louis, 21, and daughter Margaret, 8, are all buried in the Riel-Lagimodiere plot but their names were not added to the carved list on the shaft.
Will Metro put the name Louis Riel on the new bridge ? Alexandre Nault smiles broadly but shakes his head.
“Not yet. We have Riel St. in St. Vital and Louis Riel St. in St. Boniface, Riel P.O. in the old house on the River Road, and Nault P.O. at 2005 Pembina Highway.
Page revised: 6 October 2012Back to top of page