Louis Riel

Riel was a thorn in the side of the Canadian Government in two major rebellions during a 15 year period. He was the leading figure of the Metis who were wild backwoodsmen living in the north-west. The Metis chose him to represent them because he was educated and articulate. He came from a devoutly Catholic family and chose to study law instead of entering the priesthood. He remained a very religious man and claimed to be guided by God. He led the Red River Rebellion and in November 1869 siezed Fort Garry, executing a government supporter called Thomas Scott. The rebellion petered out when Garnet Wolseley arrived at the Colony. Riel escaped to the USA and lived peacefully there for many years but was persuaded to return in 1884 when the Metis way of life was threatened by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Riel's intentions were initially peaceful but he felt that force was the only answer. The battle at Batoche was his last stand. He was captured and executed in November 1885.

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by Stephen Luscombe