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Riel Finally Departs

Manitoba Pageant, April 1963, Volume 8, Number 3

This article was published originally in Manitoba Pageant by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make it available here as a free, public service.

Please direct inquiries to webmaster@mhs.mb.ca.

The following excerpt from Gunn and Tuttle's book History of Manitoba tells of events subsequent to Manitoba's entry into Confederation. It gives Charles R. Tuttle's account of how Riel was induced to leave the province.

... It will be recollected that both in the House of Commons and in the Ontario Legislature the Opposition had endeavored to pass a vote of censure on the Dominion Government for not endeavoring to bring the murderers of Scott to justice; and, also, that the Government of the Hon. John Sandfield Macdonald had been defeated in Ontario and a new Ministry formed by the Reform party under Mr. Blake. The cry for vengeance on the murderers of Scott had been made to do good party duty during the elections, and to the bitter sectarian feeling thus engendered was partly due the defeat of the Government. On his accession to office, on the 17th of December, 1871, Mr. Blake did not lose much time in bringing the subject of Scott's murder again before the House, and on the 18th of February, in Supply, an appropriation of $5,000 was voted to be offered as a reward for the arrest of the murderers of Scott. The County of Middlesex also offered a reward, and it was expected that these rewards would lead to an attempt to cause the arrest of the parties principally concerned in the murder of Scott. The fact that Riel and Lepine were allowed to reside quietly at their homes, without any effort being made to punish them, was made the occasion of violent attacks on Governor Archibald and the Dominion Government by the Opposition press of Ontario, which, for party purposes, and to secure the Orange vote, clamored for the punishment of these men, well knowing at the same time that an attempt to arrest them would lead to civil war in the Province, where the great bulk of the people regarded them as heroes and patriots, and deeply resented the endeavors of Ontario to regulate the affairs of Manitoba, while that Province enjoyed Responsible Government, and nineteen out of twenty-four of the members of its Legislative Assembly were in favor of letting bygones be by-gones ...

... As the case stood, however, when the Ontario Government offered its reward, there was no other course to pursue than to induce Riel to run away again, as he had done once before, and so save further trouble. Negotiations had already been entered into between Archbishop Tache and Sir John A. Macdonald, before the Proclamation of the Ontario Government, for the withdrawal of Riel from the Province on account of his being spoken of as a candidate for the House of Commons from Provencher at the General Elections, and it was thought that his presence would cause trouble; but the offer of the reward hastened his departure. Archbishop Tache left Manitoba on the 23rd of September, 1871, and consequently, was not in the Province at the time of the Fenian Raid. He proceeded to Canada, and while there had several interviews with Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George E. Cartier, who urged him to use his influence with Riel to induce him to leave, which he finally consented to do, on condition that something was given Riel to support him, as he was a poor man and had a mother and three sisters dependent on him. This was agreed to, and Sir John sent him a draft for $1,000. The Archbishop returned to St. Boniface on the 16th of January, 1872, and shortly after opened negotiations with Riel for his departure. Riel pretended reluctance to leave, and wanted better terms than the Archbishop could offer him. Before the question of his leaving had been decided, information was received that a reward had been offered by the Ontario Government, and Lieutenant-Governor Archibald at once opened negotiations with Archbishop Tache to get Riel and Lepine out of the way. After some little haggling it was decided that they should have $1,600 each to go, and provision should be made for their families during their absence, which was not to be less than a year. The money (£600 stg.) was advanced by Mr. Donald A. Smith, of the Hudson's Bay Company, and the men went to the United States, thus removing any cause of immediate anxiety on the ground of arrest. The Province then lapsed into a state of quietude ...

Page revised: 1 July 2009

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