Manitoba Historical Society
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Prairie History: Louis Frasse de Plainval: Manitoba’s Dramatic Police Chief

by John Burchill
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Number 02, Spring 2020

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This story was done as part of Manitoba’s 150th Anniversary celebrations, recognizing the formation of the Manitoba Provincial Police in 1870. The MPP ceased to exist in 1932 when they were absorbed into the RCMP. The Winnipeg Police Museum has created a display in recognition of the MPP and I am completing two books on its members and events from 1870 to 1932. Both volumes will be published this year.

1. Maryse Goubier, de Plainval’s great-great grand nice, personal communication, 20 July 2018.

2. Ibid. According to William Veale, de Plainval’s great-great grandson, the family lore was the duel resulted from a dishonourable innuendo made by a fellow soldier about de Plainval and Princess Eugenie, 31 March 2020.

3. Library and Archives Canada (LAC), 1870, RG-9, Series II-A-I, Vol 19, File 3080-3095.

4. Executive Council Minutes, No. 3, 27 September 1870, Archives of Manitoba (AM). Nineteen constables or troopers were appointed two weeks later. See Executive Council Minutes, No. 9, 10 October 1870, AM. A building was purchased from John Sutherland for £350 for use as a police barracks, jail and courthouse. This building remained in use from October 1870 until February 1883.

5. Constance Kerr Sissons, John Kerr (1946), Oxford University Press, p. 72. Biography written from the notes and memoirs of John Kerr, including a four-piece series written by John Kerr that ran in the Winnipeg Tribune from 7–22 July 1904.

6. Manitoban and Northwest Herald, 30 December 1871. Also see The Manitoba Liberal, 3 November 1871, regarding the formation of the Variety Club a week earlier. Also see Louis Frasse de Plainval in Chapeau Bas, Reminiscences de la vie théatrale et musicale du Manitoba français (1980), Société historique de Saint-Boniface.

7. Le Nouveau Monde, 23 January 1871 (translated from original French).

8. The Manitoba News-Letter, 18 February 1871.

9. Le Métis, 23 September 1872, p. 5 (translated from original French). Also see Alexander Begg, History of the North-West, Vol. 2 (1894), Toronto: Hunter, Rose & Co., p. 101.

10. Alexander Begg and Walter R. Nursey, Ten Years in Winnipeg, (1879) Times Printing, Winnipeg, p. 25. The Sergeant-at-Arms is responsible to the Speaker in carrying out all routine ceremonial and security functions within the Chamber.

11. Commemorative Scroll by Louis de Plainval in Honour of the First Provincial Assembly, 15 March 1871, AM, P5565/10. Also see LAC, Political Summary of the History of Canada etching, 1870, RG-9, Series 11-A1, Vol 17, Title 2677, and related photograph C-004146.

12. Manitoba Legislative Building (1939), Manitoba Public Works Dept., p. 51. Also see Winnipeg Free Press, 13 July 1970, p. 32-C; and Manitoba Day remarks by the Hon. Myrna Driedger, Speaker of the Manitoba Legislature, 14 May 2018 on reintroducing the original Mace.

13. S.M. 1871, c. 11, in force on 1 June 1871. Also see Executive Council Minutes, No. 31, 29 May 1870, AM. The maximum size of the force was 26 officers, including the Chief and Deputy Chief. The salary for the Deputy Chief was set at $750 per annum. In addition to pay, officers would continue to receive room and board on the understanding this could at any time be substituted for money, and they would become responsible for their own rations.

14. LAC, 1872, RG-15, Vol 1611, File Warrant 0283.

15. Statement shewing strength of Companies which enrolled in accordance with Proclamation of Lieut.-Governor, 3rd October 1871, Government of Canada, Sessional Papers (No. 8), 1872, pp. 39-45. Also see The Manitoban & Northwest Herald, 14 October 1871, p. 3.

16. The Manitoba Historical and Scientific Society published McMicken’s account of “The Abortive Fenian Raid” in MHS Transactions No. 32, 1887–1888.

17. The Manitoban, 14 October 1871.

18. See General Quarterly Court of Assiniboia, Cases 483, 484 and 485, as reported in Dale Gibson, Law, Life and Government at Red River Vol. 2 (2015), McGill-Queens University Press, pp. 599-605. Also see LAC, Letters from the Commanding Officers (1871–1874 & 1878–1879), MG-9, Series E-4, Vol 1, File MG-9-E4.

19. Ibid.

20. The Manitoba Liberal, 20 April 1872.

21. LAC, Letters from the Commanding Officers (1871–1874 & 1878–1879), MG-9, Series E-4, Vol 1, File MG-9-E4.

22. Grand Jury Presentment, Andrew Strang (Foreman), as reprinted in the Manitoba Free Press, 14 June 1873.

23. LAC, Letters from the Commanding Officers (1871–1874 & 1878–1879), MG-9, Series E-4, Vol 1, File MG-9-E4.

24. The Manitoban, 8 April 1872.

25. L’Opinion Publique, 21 November 1872, p. 561. Also see Alexander Begg, History of the North-West, Vol. 2 (1894), Toronto: Hunter, Rose & Co., p. 160.

26. LAC, 1873, RG-18, Vol. 3316, File 6-13.

27. Ibid.

28. Executive Council Minutes, No. 104, p. 12 March 1873, AM.

29. Manitoba Free Press, 5 April 1873.

30. See General Quarterly Court of Assiniboia, Cases 523 and 595, as reported in Dale Gibson, Law, Life and Government at Red River Vol. 2 (2015), McGill-Queens University Press, p. 627 & 655. Also see Adams G. Archibald Correspondence (1871), AM P7921/1, Item 300, regarding a warrant for de Plainval’s arrest sought by Andrew Bannatyne for an unpaid debt in May 1871. Considering de Plainval was re-appointed Deputy Chief of Police a few weeks later suggests the debt was not that significant against him personally.

31. LAC, 1873, RG-18, Vol. 3316, File 71-73.

32. LAC, 1873, RG-18, Vol. 3316, File 6-13.

33. New York Herald, 25 February 1874, p. 7; New York Herald, 26 February 1874, p. 1; and the New York Daily Eagle, 25 February 1874, p. 2.

34. Manitoba Free Press, 19 & 23 October 1880. Also see Le Canada Musical, Revue Artistique et Litteraire, 1er Novembre 1880, p. 118.

35. The Sporting Life, 4 December 1889, p. 8. According to the United States Copyright Office Louis Nathal (de Plainval) copyrighted 63 other theatrical works, many of which were English adaptions of French plays. See Dramatic Compositions Copyrighted in the United States 1870-1916, Washington: Library of Congress, 1918.

36. New York Sun, 4 January 1890. Also see the New York Clipper, 11 January 1890, p. 11 and Le Manitoba, 8 January 1890, p. 3. Louise Natali was also a stage name. Her real name was Bella Barnes, born 3 August 1856 in Bloomington, Illinois. She met de Plainval while performing with the American Opera Company in St. Louis about 1875. She married Edward Lusby Graham after de Plainval’s death in 1890. She died in Baltimore in 1943.

Page revised: 5 February 2022

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