John George Bourinot.

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of an uprising which, in all probability, would never have
occurred had it not been for the fact that Kiel had been
brought back irom Montana by his countrymen to assist them
in obtaining a redress of certain grievances. This little insur-
rection originated in the Roman Catholic mission of St
Laurent, situated between the north and south branches of the

250 Canada under British Rule. [CHAP.

Saskatchewan River, and contiguous to the British settlement of
Prince Albert. Within the limits of this mission there was a
considerable number of half-breeds, who had for the most part
migrated from Manitoba after selling the "scrip 1 " for lands
generously granted to them after the restoration of order in
1870 to the Red River settlements. Government surveyors
had been busily engaged for some time in laying out the
Saskatchewan country in order to keep pace with the rapidly
increasing settlement. When they came to the mission of
St Laurent they were met with the same distrust that had done
so much harm in 1870. The half-breeds feared that the
system of square blocks followed by the surveyors would
seriously interfere with the location of the farms on which
they had "squatted" in accordance with the old French system
of deep lots with a narrow frontage on the banks of the rivers.
The difficulties arising out of these diverse systems of surveys
caused a considerable delay in the issue of patents for lands, and
dissatisfied the settlers who were anxious to know what land
their titles covered. The half-breeds not only contended that
their surveys should be respected, but that they should be also
allowed scrip for two hundred and forty acres of land, as had
been done in the case of their compatriots in Manitoba. Many
of the Saskatchewan settlers had actually received this scrip
before they left the province, but nevertheless they hoped to
obtain it once more from the government, and to sell it with
their usual improvidence to the first speculators who offered
them some ready money.

The delay of the government in issuing patents and scrip
and the system of surveys were no doubt the chief grievances
which enabled Riel and Dumont the latter a resident of
Batoche to excite the half-breeds against the Dominion autho-
rities at Ottawa. When a commission was actually appointed

1 A certificate from the government that a certain person is entitled
to receive a patent from the crown for a number of acres of the public lands
a certificate legally transferable to another person by the original holder.

IX.] Confederation. 1867 1909. 251

by the government in January, 1885, to allot scrip to those
who were entitled to receive it, the half-breeds were actually
ready for a revolt under the malign influence of Riel and his
associates. Riel believed for some time after his return in
1884 that he could use the agitation among his easily deluded
countrymen for his own selfish purposes. It is an indisputable
fact that he made an offer to the Dominion government to
leave the North-west if they would pay him a considerable sum
of money. When he found that there was no likelihood of
Sir John Macdonald repeating the mistake which he had made
at the end of the first rebellion, Riel steadily fomented the
agitation among the half-breeds, who were easily persuaded to
believe that a repetition of the disturbances of 1870 would
obtain them a redress of any grievances they might have. It
is understood that one of the causes that aggravated the agi-
tation at its inception was the belief entertained by some white
settlers of Prince Albert that they could use the disaffection
among the half-breeds for the purpose of repeating the early
history of Manitoba, and forcing the Dominion government to
establish a new province in the Saskatchewan country, though
its entire population at that time would not have exceeded ten
thousand persons, of whom a large proportion were half-breeds.
Riel for a time skilfully made these people believe that he would
be a ductile instrument in their hands, but when his own plans
were ripe for execution he assumed despotic control of the
whole movement and formed a provisional government in which
he and his half-breed associates were dominant, and the white
conspirators of Prince Albert were entirely ignored. The loyal
people of Prince Albert, who had always disapproved of the
agitation, as well as the priests of the mission, who had invari-
ably advised their flock to use only peaceful and constitutional
methods of redress, were at last openly set at defiance and
insulted by Riel and his associates. The revolt broke out
on the 25th March, 1885, when the half-breeds took forcible
possession of the government stores, and made prisoners of

252 Canada under British Rule. [CHAP.

some traders at Duck Lake. A small force of Mounted Police
under the command of Superintendent Crozier was defeated
near the same place by Dumont, and the former only saved
his men from destruction by a skilful retreat to Fort Carleton.
The half-breed leaders circulated the news of this victory over
the dreaded troops of the government among the Indian bands
of the Saskatchewan, a number of whom immediately went
on the war-path. Fort Carleton had to be given up by the
mounted police, who retired to Prince Albert, the key of the
district. The town of Battleford was besieged by the Indians,
but they were successfully kept in check for weeks until the
place was relieved. Fort Pitt was evacuated by Inspector
Dickens, a son of the great novelist, who succeeded in taking
his little force of police into Battleford. Two French mission-
aries and several white men were ruthlessly murdered at Frog
Lake by a band of Crees, and two women were dragged
from the bodies of their husbands and carried away to the
camp of Big Bear. Happily for them some tender-hearted
half-breeds purchased them from the Indians and kept them
in 'safety until they were released at the close of the disturb-

The heart of Canada was now deeply stirred and responded
with great heartiness to the call of the government for troops to
restore order to the distracted settlements. The minister of
militia, Mr Adolphe Caron afterwards knighted for his ser-
vices on this trying occasion showed great energy in the
management of his department. Between four and five thou-
sand men were soon on the march for the territories under
Major-General Middleton, the English officer then in command
of the Canadian militia. Happily for the rapid transport of
the troops the Canadian Pacific Railway was so far advanced
that, with the exception of 72 miles, it afforded a continuous
line of communication from Montreal to Qu'Appelle. The
railway formed the base from which three military expeditions
could be despatched to the most important points of the

IX.] Confederation. 18671909. 253

Saskatchewan country one direct to Batoche, a second to
Battleford, and a third for a flank movement to Fort Edmonton,
where a descent could be made down the North Saskatchewan
for the purpose of recapturing Fort Pitt and attacking the
rebellious Indians under Big Bear. On the 24th of April
General Middleton fought his first engagement with the half-
breeds, who were skilfully concealed in rifle pits in the vicinity
of Fish Creek, a small erratic tributary of the South Saskatch-
ewan. Dumont for the moment succeeded in checking the
advance of the Canadian forces, who fought with much bravery
but were placed at a great disadvantage on account of Middle-
ton not having taken sufficient precautions against a foe
thoroughly acquainted with the country and cunningly hidden.
The Canadian troops were soon able to continue their forward
movement and won a decisive victory at Batoche, in which
Colonels Williams, Straubenzie, and Grasett notably distin-
guished themselves. Riel was soon afterwards captured on
the prairie, but Dumont succeeded in crossing the frontier of
the United States. While Middleton was on his way to
Batoche, Lieutenant-Colonel Otter of Toronto, an able soldier
who was, fifteen years later, detached for active service in South
Africa, was on the march for the relief of Battleford, and had
on the first of May an encounter with a large band of Indians
under Poundmaker on the banks of Cut Knife Creek, a small
tributary of the Battle River. Though Otter did not win a
victory, he showed Poundmaker the serious nature of the contest
in which he was engaged against the Canadian government,
and soon afterwards, when the Cree chief heard of the defeat
of the half-breeds at Batoche, he surrendered unconditionally.
Another expedition under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel
Strange also relieved Fort Pitt ; and Big Bear was forced to fly
into the swampy fastnesses of the prairie wilderness, but was
eventually captured near Fort Carleton by a force of Mounted

This second rebellion of the half-breeds lasted about three

254 Canada under British Rule. [CHAP.

months, and cost the country upwards of five million dollars.
Including the persons murdered at Frog Lake, the loyal popu-
lation of Canada lost thirty-six valuable lives, among whom was
Lieutenant-Colonel Williams, a gallant officer, and a member of
the house of commons, who succumbed to a serious illness
brought on by his exposure on the prairie. The casualties among
the half-breeds were at least as large, if not greater. Five Indian
chiefs suffered the extreme penalty of the law, while Pound-
maker, Big Bear, and a number of others were imprisoned in
the territories for life or for a term of years, according to the
gravity of their complicity in the rebellion. Any hopes that
Kiel might have placed in the active sympathy of the French
Canadian people of Quebec were soon dispelled. He was tried
at Regina in July and sentenced to death, although the able
counsel allotted to him by the government exhausted every
available argument in his defence, even to the extent of setting
up a plea of insanity, which the prisoner himself deeply
resented. The most strenuous efforts were made by the
French Canadians to force the government to reprieve him,
but Sir John Macdonald was satisfied that the loyal sentiment
of the great majority of the people of Canada demanded impera-
tively that the law should be vindicated. The French Canadian
representatives in the cabinet, Langevin, Chapleau, and Caron,
resisted courageously the storm of obloquy which their deter-
mination to support the prime minister raised against them,
and Kiel was duly executed on the i6th November. For some
time after his death attempts were made to keep up the excite-
ment which had so long existed in the province of Quebec on
the question. The Dominion government was certainly weak-
ened for a time in Quebec by its action in this matter, while
Mr Honore Mercier skilfully used the Riel agitation to obtain
control of the provincial government at the general election of
1886, but only to fall five years later, under circumstances
which must always throw a shadow over the fame of a brilliant,
but unsafe, political leader (see p. 247). The attempt to make

IX.] Confederation. 1867 1909. 255

political capital out of the matter in the Dominion parliament
had no other result than to weaken the influence in Ontario
of Mr Edward Blake, the leader of the opposition since the
resignation of Mr Mackenzie in 1880. He was left without the
support of the majority of the Liberal representatives of the
province in the house of commons when he condemned the
execution of Kiel, principally on the ground that he was insane
a conclusion not at all justified by the report of the medical
experts who had been chosen by the government to examine
the condemned man previous to the execution. The energy
with which this rebellion was repressed showed both the half-
breeds and the Indians of the west the power of the Ottawa
government. From that day to this order has prevailed in
the western country, and grievances have been redressed as far
as possible. The readiness with which the militia force of
Canada rallied to the support of the government was conclusive
evidence of the deep national sentiment that existed through-
out the Dominion. In Ottawa, Port Hope, and Toronto monu-
ments have been raised in memory of the brave men who gave
up their lives for the Dominion, but probably the most touching
memorial of this unfortunate episode in Canadian history is
the rude cairn of stone which still stands among the wild
flowers of the prairie in memory of the gallant fellows who
were mown down by the unerring rifle shots of the half-breeds
hidden in the ravines of Fish Creek.

In 1885 parliament passed a general franchise law for the
Dominion in place of the system which had prevailed since
1867 of taking the electoral lists of the several provinces as
the lists for elections to the house of commons. The opposi-
tion contested this measure with great persistency, but Sir John
Macdonald pressed it to a successful conclusion, mainly on the
ground that it was necessary in a country like Canada, com-
posed of such diverse elements, to have for the Dominion
uniformity of suffrage, based on a small property qualifica-
tion, instead of having diverse systems of franchise in some

256 Canada under British Rule. [CHAP.

provinces, universal franchise, to which he and other Con-
servatives generally were strongly opposed.

Between 1880 and 1894 Canada was called upon to mourn
the loss of a number of her ablest and brightest statesmen
one of them the most notable in her political history.
It was on a lovely May day of 1880 that the eminent
journalist and politician, George Brown, died from the effects
of a bullet wound which he received at the hand of one
Bennett, a printer, who had been discharged by the Globe
for drunkenness and incapacity. The Conservative party in
1888 suffered a great loss by the sudden decease of Mr Thomas
White, minister of the interior in the Macdonald ministry, who
had been for the greater part of his life a prominent journalist,
and had succeeded in winning a conspicuous and useful posi-
tion in public affairs as a writer, speaker, and administrator.
Three years later, the Dominion was startled by the sad an-
nouncement, on the 6th June, 1891, that the voice of the great
prime minister, Sir John Macdonald, who had so long controlled
the affairs of Canada, would never more be heard in that federal
parliament of which he had been one of the fathers. All
classes of Canadians vied with one another in paying a tribute
of affection and respect to one who had been in every sense a
true Canadian. Men forgot for the moment his mistakes and
weaknesses, the mistakes of the politician and the weaknesses
of humanity, " only to remember " to quote the eloquent tri-
bute paid to him by Mr Laurier, then leader of the opposition
"that his actions always displayed great originality of view,
unbounded fertility of resources, a high level of intellectual
conception, and above all, a far-reaching vision beyond the
event of the day, and still higher, permeating the whole, a
broad patriotism, a devotion to Canada's welfare, Canada's ad-
vancement, and Canada's glory." His obsequies were the most
stately and solemn that were ever witnessed in the Dominion ;
his bust was subsequently unveiled in the crypt of St Paul's
Cathedral by the Earl of Rosebery, when prime minister of

IX.] Confederation. 1867 1909. 257

England ; noble monuments were raised to his memory in the
cities of Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal ; and the
Queen addressed a letter full of gracious sympathy to his widow
and conferred on her the dignity of a peeress of the United
Kingdom as Baroness Macdonald of Earnscliffe, as a mark of
her Majesty's gratitude "for the devoted and faithful services
which he rendered for so many years to his sovereign and his

Mr Alexander Mackenzie, stonemason, journalist, and prime
minister, died in April, 1892, a victim to the paralysis which
had been steadily creeping for years over his enfeebled frame,
and made him a pitiable spectacle as he sat like a Stoic in the
front seats of the opposition, unable to speak or even to rise
without the helping arm of some attentive friend. On the 3<Dth
October, 1893, Sir John Abbott, probably the ablest commercial
lawyer in Canada, who had been premier of Canada since the
death of Sir John Macdonald, followed his eminent predecessors
to the grave, and was succeeded by Sir John Thompson, minis-
ter of justice in the Conservative government since September,
1885. A great misfortune again overtook the Conservative
party on the i2th December, 1894, when Sir John Thompson
died in Windsor Castle, whither he had gone at her Majesty's
request to take the oath of a privy councillor of England
a high distinction conferred upon him in recognition of his
services on the Bering Sea arbitration. Sir John Thompson was
gifted with a rare judicial mind, and a remarkable capacity for
the lucid expression of his thoughts, which captivated his hearers
even when they were not convinced by arguments clothed in
the choicest diction. His remains were brought across the
Atlantic by a British frigate, and interred in his native city of
Halifax with all the stately ceremony of a national funeral.
The governor-general, Lord Stanley of Preston, now the Earl
of Derby, called upon the senior privy councillor in the cabinet,
Sir Mackenzie Bowell, to form a new ministry. He con-
tinued in office until April, 1896, when he retired in favour of
B. c. 17

258 Canada under British Rule. [CHAP.

Sir Charles Tupper, who resigned the position of high commis-
sioner for Canada in England to enter public life as the recog-
nised leader of the Liberal-Conservative party. This eminent
Canadian had already reached the middle of the eighth decade
of his life, but age had in no sense impaired the vigour or
astuteness of his mental powers. He continued for some years,
as leader of the Liberal-Conservative party, to display remark-
able activity in the discussion of political questions, not only
as a leader of parliament, but on the public platform in every
province of the Dominion.

During the session of 1891 the political career of Sir Hector
Langevin, the leader of the Liberal-Conservative party in
French Canada, was seriously affected by certain facts dis-
closed before the committee of privileges and elections. This
committee had been ordered by the house of commons to
inquire into charges made by Mr Israel Tarte against another
member of the house, Mr Thomas McGreevy, who was accused
of having used his influence as a commissioner of the Quebec
harbour, a government appointment, to obtain fraudulently
from the department of public works, presided over by Sir
Hector for many years, large government contracts in connec-
tion with the Quebec harbour and other works. The report
of the majority of the committee found Mr McGreevy guilty of
fraudulent acts, and he was not only expelled from the house
but was subsequently imprisoned in the Ottawa common gaol
after his conviction on an indictment laid against him in the
criminal court of Ontario. With respect to the complicity of
the minister of public works in these frauds the committee
reported that it was clear that, while the conspiracy had been
rendered effective by reason of the confidence which Sir Hector
Langevin placed in Mr McGreevy and in the officers of the
department, yet the evidence did not justify them in concluding
that Sir Hector knew of the conspiracy or willingly lent himself
to its objects. A minority of the committee, on the other hand,
took the opposite view of the transactions, and claimed that

IX.] Confederation. 1867 1909. 259

the evidence showed the minister to be cognisant of the facts
of the letting of the contracts, and that in certain specified
cases he had been guilty of the violation of a public trust by
allowing frauds to be perpetrated. The report of the majority
was carried by a party vote, with the exception of two Con-
servative members who voted with the minority. Sir Hector
Langevin had resigned his office in the government previous
to the inquiry, and though he continued in the house for
the remainder of its constitutional existence, he did not present
himself for re-election in 1896 when parliament was dissolved.

Unhappily it was not only in the department of public
works that irregularities were discovered. A number of
officials in several departments were proved before the com-
mittee of public accounts to have been guilty of carelessness
or positive misconduct in the discharge of their duties ; and the
government was obliged, in the face of such disclosures, to
dismiss or otherwise punish several persons in whom they had
for years reposed too much confidence.

On the 2oth and 2ist of June, 1893, a convention of the
most prominent representative Liberals of the Dominion was
held in the city of Ottawa ; and Sir Oliver Mowat, the veteran
premier of Ontario, was unanimously called upon to preside
over this important assemblage. Resolutions were passed with
great enthusiasm in support of tariff reform, a fair measure of
reciprocal trade with the United States, a sale of public lands
only to actual settlers upon reasonable terms of settlement, an
honest and economical administration of government, the right
of the house of commons to inquire into all matters of public
expenditure and charges of misconduct against ministers, the
reform of the senate, the submission of the question of pro-
hibition to a vote of the people, and the repeal of the Dominion
franchise act passed in 1885, as well as of the measure of 1892,
altering the boundaries of the electoral districts and readjusting
the representation in the house of commons. This convention
may be considered the commencement of that vigorous political


260 Canada under British Rule. [CHAP.

campaign, which ended so successfully for the Liberal party in
the general election of 1896.

In the summer of 1894 there was held in the city of Ottawa
a conference of delegates from eight self-governing colonies in
Australasia, South Africa, and America, who assembled for the
express purpose of discussing questions which affected not
merely their own peculiar interests, but touched most nearly
the unity and development of the empire at large. The
imperial government was represented by the Earl of Jersey,
who had been a governor of one of the Australian colonies.
After very full discussion the conference passed resolutions in
favour of the following measures :

(i) Imperial legislation enabling the dependencies of the
empire to enter into agreements of commercial reciprocity,
including the power to make differential tariffs with Great
Britain or with one another. (2) The removal of any restric-
tions in existing treaties between Great Britain and any foreign
power, which prevent such agreements of commercial reci-
procity. (3) A customs arrangement between Great Britain
and her colonies by which trade within the empire might be
placed on a more favourable footing than that which is carried
on with foreign countries. (4) Improved steamship com-
munication between Canada, Australasia, and Great Britain.
(5) Telegraph communication by cable, free from foreign
control, between Canada and Australia. These various resolu-
tions were brought formally by the Earl of Jersey to the notice of
the imperial government, which expressed the opinion, through
the Marquess of Ripon, then secretary of state for the colonies,
that the "general economic results" of the preferential trade
recommended by the conference "would not be beneficial to
the empire." Lord Ripon even questioned the desirability of
denouncing at that time the treaties with Belgium and Germany
a subject which had engaged the attention of the Canadian
parliament in 1892, when the government, of which Sir John
Abbott was premier, passed an address to the Queen, requesting

IX.] Confederation. 1867 1909. 261

that immediate steps be taken to free Canada from treaty
restrictions "incompatible with the rights and powers conferred
by the British North America act of 1867 for the regulation
of the trade and commerce of the Dominion." Any advan-
tages which might be granted by Great Britain to either
Belgium or the German Zollverein under these particular
treaties, would also have to be extended to a number of other
countries which had what is called the "favoured nations
clause" in treaties with England. While these treaty stipula-
tions with regard to import duties did not prevent differential
treatment by the United Kingdom in favour of British colonies,

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