Riel, Louis

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Riel, Louis

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        Louis Riel, leader of the North West rebellions of 1870 and 1885, was born at St. Boniface, Manitoba, on October 22, 1844, the son of Louis Riel and Julie Lagimoniere, and the grandson of Jean Baptiste Riel, a native of Berthier, Lower Canada. Louis Riel was educated at the seminary in Montreal, and then returned to the West. In 1869 he became secretary of the Comite national des Metis, an organization formed to resist the establishment of Canadian authority in the North West. Later in the same year he was elected president of the provisional government set up by the rebels. He escaped from the country in August, 1870, on the arrival of the expeditionary force under Colonel Wolseley; but in 1873, and again in 1874, Riel was elected to represent Provencher in the Canadian House of Commons. In 1874, on taking the oath, he was expelled from the House; and in 1875 a warrant of outlawry was issued against him. He took refuge in Montana, and there he remained until, in the summer of 1884, he was invited to return to Canada to organize the half-breeds of the North West Territories so as to obtain redress of their grievances. The outcome of his visit to Canada was the second North West rebellion. On the defeat of the rebels at Batoche, on May 12, 1885, by General Middleton, Riel was captured. He was tried at Regina, in July, on the charge of high treason, was found guilty, and on November 16, 1885, was hanged at the Mounted Police barracks at Regina. (Taken from: The Macmillan Dictionary of Canadian Biography, fourth edition. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1974.)


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