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Louis Riel

By Olga Bednarek

 He has been called every name in the book; prophet, martyr, statesman, scoundrel, saint, mad man, the list goes on and on. But in order to state your opinion, you first must know the reasons why he is known by such a wide variety of pseudonyms.


Louis Riel was born in today’s Winnipeg, at that time known as Red River, in 1844. He was a good student, and was sent to Montreal to study for Priesthood. He never graduated. An attempt to become a lawyer ended similarly.

When, What and Where

In 1869-1870 he was the head of a provisional government which eventually led to the negotiation of the Manitoba Act. In 1875, his role in the decision to execute Thomas Scott resulted in his exile from Canada. The next few years he spent in two Quebec asylums.

Louis Riel was the Political and Spiritual head of the 1885 Rebellion. On May 15th, shortly after the fall of Batoche, he surrendered and was taken to Regina for a trial. He was found guilty on August 1, 1885. He was hanged in Regina on November 16, 1885.


Riel believed that he was on a religious mission to lead the Canadian Northwestern Métis.

Interesting Facts:

Louis Riel’s execution was widely opposed in Quebec, and to this day he is one of the most controversial figures in political history.





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  Copyright Olga Bednarek 2005. All rights reserved.