Memorable Manitobans: Ambroise Didyme Lépine (1840-1923)
Born at St. Vital on 18 March 1840, he was the son of a French-Canadian father and a Métisse, brother of Jean-Baptiste Lépine and Maxime Lépine. From the beginning of the Red River Rebellion, he was Louis Riel’s military lieutenant and chief enforcer. He led the armed party that ordered Governor McDougall out of the settlement in October 1869. He was prominent in the surrenders of the Schultz party in December 1869 and of the Boulton party in February 1870. He represented St. Boniface in the 1870 Convention of Forty.
His appearance in 1870 was described by Roderick MacBeth as “a man of magnificent physique, standing fully six feet three and built in splendid proportion, straight as an arrow, with hair of raven blackness, large aquiline nose and eyes of piercing brilliance; a man of prodigious strength, a skilled roughrider. ...” Lépine was subsequently arrested and tried for the murder of Thomas Scott in 1874. Found guilty by a jury, he was granted an amnesty by the Governor-General of Canada with the provision that he lose his civil rights.
He later lived at Forget, Saskatchewan until a few months before his death, which occurred at the St. Boniface General Hospital on 8 June 1923. He was buried in the St. Boniface Cathedral Cemetery and his pallbearers were Rodmond Roblin, Aime Benard, L. A. Prudhomme, Joseph Bernier, Albert Prefontaine, Horace Chevrier, A. J. H. Dubuc, and Roger Goulet. He is commemorated by Lepine Avenue in Winnipeg and a plaque near the Upper Fort Garry Gate.
“Ambrose Lepine, leader in Riel Rebellion, dies,” Manitoba Free Press Bulletin, 9 June 1923. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B7]
“Riel’s general buried Tuesday,” Winnipeg Tribune, 11 June 1923, page 2.
“Riel’s chief of staff buried in St. Boniface,” Manitoba Free Press, 13 June 1923, page 5.
“The late Ambroise Lepine,” Manitoba Free Press, 16 June 1923, page 16.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 25 April 2023