Essays On The Northwest Rebellion Of 1885

Essays On The Northwest Rebellion Of 1885-76
The North West Mounted Police were forced to abandon first Fort Carlton and later Fort Pitt ; and the whites in the Saskatchewan valley were forced to take refuge within the stockades at Battleford.The news of the Duck Lake disaster roused the Canadian government to action.But Sir John Macdonald was determined that he should pay the price for the mad folly of his second armed outbreak."He shall die," Macdonald exclaimed, with unwonted fierceness, "though every dog in Quebec bark in his favour." [The hanging of Louis Riel had deep repercussions on Canada.

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Riel [gave himself up] a few days after Batoche, and later in that summer, on July 2, Big Bear surrendered. In the autumn of 1885, Riel and some of the other leaders of the rebellion were tried at Regina on charges of high treason, and were found guilty.

Riel was hanged in the Police Barracks at Regina in November, 1885, though there were many who believed that he should properly have been confined instead to a lunatic asylum.

The government surveyors, who had come out with the railway, had proceeded to run their lines with a mathematical precision which ignored the rights of the half-breed owners of oblong farms; and the [Métis] became fearful that they would be again dispossessed.

Their cousins, the Indians, had recently been granted reserves on which they could settle; but no provision had been made for them.

Essentially, for the next hundred years, consciously or unconsciously, the people of Quebec continued to punish the Conservative Party for the hanging of Riel.

In the process, with little, if any, support from Quebec, the Conservative Party became "le parti des Anglais" (the party of the English), forever unattractive to the people of Quebec.] [While it is clear that not all these consequences were fully grasped at the time, the contemporaries of Riel did appreciate the magnitude of the wound that had been inflicted on the national fabric of Canada.Middleton was held up by the half-breeds at Fish creek, on the South Saskatchewan, but after a delay he resumed his march, and on May 12 he defeated the main body of Riel's [Métis] at Batoche.Meanwhile, General Strange had reached Edmonton, and was closing in on Big Bear and his Crees.He accepted their invitation; and for a time devoted himself to attempting to obtain the redress of the Métis' grievances by constitutional means.But gradually he became [more erratic and extreme]; and in the spring he set up a provisional government at Batoche, on the South Saskatchewan.In truth, the Riel hanging was only the first in a series of events (school issues, imperialism, conscription, etc.) that eventually led Henri Bourassa to write that French Canadians were bound to come to think that Quebec was their only country since they had no rights anywhere else in Canada.] [Both federally and provincially, the people of Quebec began to turn away from the Conservative Party, the party of Macdonald, the party of the "pendards" (the hangers).Increasingly they turned to the Liberal Party that chose Wilfrid Laurier, a French Canadian from Quebec, as its leader (1887).A detachment of North West Mounted Police, sent to nip the rebellion in the bud, were defeated by the Métis under Gabriel Dumont; and the fat was in the fire.For a time there was danger of an Indian rising; and the Indians under Big Bear actually massacred most of the whites at the Hudson's Bay Company post of Frog Lake.For decades afterwards, the hanging of Riel was interpreted in the province as the deep wounding of an entire people, as a supreme act of cruelty against one whose only sin was to have stood up for the rights of his people (i.e.the rights of French Catholics), as a symbol that Canada was not a land of equality between French and English Canadians but one where the French Canadians were a minority whose views and feelings could be disregarded.


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