Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

File photo of Louis Riel, circa 1876. (CP/CP)
File photo of Louis Riel, circa 1876. (CP/CP)

Timeline

The life and times of Louis Riel Add to ...

Oct. 22, 1844: Louis Riel is born in the Red River settlement.

1858: Archbishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché sends the 14-year-old Louis and three others to Lower Canada to be educated for the priesthood. Louis withdraws from college to work as a law clerk to support his family upon his father's death in 1864.

July 19, 1869: Riel, who returned to the Red River settlement a year earlier, speaks at a meeting of Métis residents about rights in the event that Canada annexes Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) lands. The following month, he declares the Dominion government's plans to conduct a land survey a menace.

Oct. 11: Métis horsemen led by Riel stop the Dominion government's land survey.

Oct. 25: Riel appears before the Council of Assiniboia and declares that the newly formed Métis National Committee will block entry of any governor unless union with Canada is based on negotiation with the Métis and the population in general.

Nov. 6: Riel asks English-speaking residents to elect 12 representatives from their parishes to attend a convention with Métis representatives.

Dec. 1: HBC lands are transferred to Canada. Riel presents his "List of Rights" to the convention.

Dec. 7: A group of Canadians led by John Christian Schultz, who had organized an armed resistance, are temporarily imprisoned.

Dec. 8: A provisional government is formed, with John Bruce named president.

Dec. 27: Riel replaces Bruce as president.

Feb. 17, 1870: Riel's provisional guardsmen arrest 48 armed men, so-called Canadians, at Upper Fort Garry. Their leader, Dr. Schultz, escapes capture and leaves for Ontario.

March 4: Thomas Scott is executed by a firing squad. The surveyor, who was arrested the previous month, was charged with insubordination, tried and sentenced to death by a jury. Riel rejects all appeals and requests to intervene, apparently believing it is time to demonstrate his provisional government should be taken seriously.

July 15: The Manitoba Act takes affect, making Manitoba Canada's fifth province. Riel is just 25 years old.

Aug. 24: To reassure Ontario and support the administration of the new lieutenant-governor, the federal government sends a military force to Red River under Colonel Garnet Wolseley. Fearing he will be lynched, Riel moves south of the U.S. border.

February, 1871: Riel falls ill, perhaps enduring a nervous breakdown, and worries about his personal safety and his inability to support his family.

May: Riel quietly returns home to St. Vital.

March 2, 1872: At the request of prime minister John A. Macdonald, Riel goes into voluntary exile in St. Paul, Minnesota. Macdonald apparently wants to reduce tension and help avoid conflict between Quebec, where Riel is seen as a hero, and Ontario, where he is denounced as a murderer.

October, 1873: Riel is elected to Parliament in a by-election, but, fearing he would be arrested for murder, never enters to take his seat.

February, 1874: Mr. Riel is re-elected after Mr. Macdonald's government resigns, but is expelled from Parliament before taking his seat.

September: Riel is re-elected a third time, but delays taking his seat and is once again expelled.

February, 1875: Prime minister Alexander Mackenzie's Liberal government grants amnesty for Riel and Ambroise Lépine, who was convicted of Mr. Scott's murder the year before, on the condition that both remain in exile for five years.

1875 - 1884: Riel moves to New York and marries Marguerite Monet in 1881. They have three children. He takes U.S. citizenship in 1883 and teaches in Montana in 1884.

July, 1884: Riel arrives in Batoche, now part of Saskatchewan, where he is asked to help a group of Métis obtain their legal rights in the Saskatchewan valley.

May 9-12, 1885: Métis forces are roundly defeated by the much larger and better armed Canadian militia, commanded by Major-General Frederick Middleton. The Northwest Rebellion over, Riel turns himself into Maj.-Gen. Middleton.

Nov. 16: Riel, age 41, is found guilty of high treason and hanged in Regina.

Sources: Government of Manitoba and The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Follow on Twitter: @jillsmahoney

 

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories