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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


Northwest Resistance

q Province commemorates 125th anniversary

Louis Riel

A StarPhoenix Special Section

Maj-Gen. Middleton

Chief Poundmaker

Chief Big Bear


Glenbow Museum Archives -- Dumont: PA-2218-1 Saskatchewan Archives Board -- Dumont: PA-2218-1 Riel: S-B8573 Poundmaker: R-A2872-1 Militia: R-A446

Camp life for militia in 1885 during the Northwest Resistance

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


It was history in the making

q Many events in 1885 led to this momentous event

By Jason Warick

Senior Reporter The StarPhoenix

ATOCHE -- Jackie Gaudet walks across the field once farmed by her great-great grandparents, Marguerite and Jean Caron, as she discusses their central role in the Northwest Resistance 125 years ago. Gaudet, a 42-year-old Metis mother of three who lives in the Batoche area 70 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, is hopeful the events taking place across Saskatchewan this year will serve as a "turning point" for relations among First Nations, Metis and the province's more recent arrivals. "What does the 125th anniversary mean to me?" she said. "It means freedom -- freedom from the negative feelings I've had for years." In May of 1885, Canadian government forces, led by Maj.-Gen. Frederick Middleton, arrived in the Batoche area to confront Louis Riel and his supporters. Middleton sought an open, elevated section of land to establish a base. The Caron homestead, located just outside the village of Batoche on river lot No. 52, was commandeered. The Caron house was leveled and their livestock butchered to feed the 900 government soldiers. Caron, Dumas and their children fled behind Metis lines. "Our family lost everything," said Gaudet. Caron and his three eldest sons fought in the Battle of Batoche, a bloody, desperate and eventually losing attempt to assert Metis rights in the area. "It is our region's Plains of Abraham," said Darren Prefontaine of the Saskatoon-based Gabriel Dumont Institute, referring to the famous 1759 British victory over the French near Quebec City. While the Battle of Batoche remains a key event of 1885, there's much more to the story. It was a year of child starvation, guerilla warfare and the largest mass execution in Canadian history -- all on the soil of present-day Saskatchewan. From Duck Lake to Battleford to Cut Knife Hill, 1885 shaped the Canadian prairies. "It is a painful story to tell," said Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall. "But it must be told." qqq Until recent years, the 1885 narrative seemed straightforward. A rebellion led by Louis Riel and abetted by chiefs such as Poundmaker was defeated by the government forces of Maj.-Gen. Middleton. The story was written by the victors. Metis and First Nations voices were largely absent. Today, for many reasons, a more nuanced view is possible. New perspectives have been revealed as aboriginal leaders, academics and the descendants of the combatants, assert their versions. For example, the events of 1885 were traditionally described as a rebellion. That term has rapidly been overtaken by the word "resistance." "The change has come from a re-evaluation of history," said Prefontaine, the curriculum development officer for the Gabiel Dumont Institute. "Canadian history is maturing." The Canadian government webpage of the Batoche national historic site now includes both terms -- rebellion and resistance. Premier Brad Wall said last month the Saskatchewan government uses the words interchangably, but he prefers "resistance." A plaque on the Gabriel Dumont statue in downtown Saskatoon describes the "resistance." "We were not rebels," said Jackie Gaudet. Also, the events of 1885 -- while momentous -- were erroneously depicted as a unified, mass uprising of Metis and First Nations people. In reality, the issues raised and battles fought by First Nations at Cut Knife Hill and other locations were largely seperate from those of the Metis. And the decision to fight was far from unanimous. Even at Batoche, only 200 Metis and a few dozen First Nations people with family ties agreed to fight with Riel. The majority of First Nations, as well as Metis in other parts of the region, declined.

--SP Photo by Peter Wilson


The largest mass hanging in Canadian history took place in November, 1885 when eight First Nations men were tried for murder during the Northwest Resistance. They were executed within the wall of the stockade at Battleford. The bodies were buried in a common grave site (above) close to the fort.

with dozens of North West Mounted Police and volunteers. An apparent misunderstanding led to the first shot fired by "Gentelman" Joe McKay, a railroad engineer working as an interpreter for the North West Mounted Police, said amateur historian and area native Dennis Fisher. The dead included 12 police and volunteers, five Metis and one First Nations man. In the Battlefords region, First Nations people faced rampant starvation and disease. On March 30, Chief Poundmaker led a delegation to Battleford to ask for assistance. To his surprise, the town was deserted. Hundreds of residents had heard about the Duck Lake battle, as well as the murder of another white man, and feared a general uprising. They sought refuge in nearby Fort Battleford. Poundmaker requested a meeting with federal officials, but none came out for several days. In the interim, some in the party raided Battleford homes, stealing food and other items. Negotiators eventually emerged and after discussions Poundmaker and his men returned to their reserve several kilometres to the west. Although no one was injured and no fighting occurred, it earned the historic designation of the "Siege of Battleford." Poundmaker's intentions and actions have been widely misrepresented, said his greatgreat grand-nephew, Tyrone Tootoosis. There was no "siege" of the town of Battleford, he said. "If there was a `seige mentality' amongst the 500 frightened occupants of Fort Battleford, it was due to an irrational distrust and fear of the Cree," said Tootoosis, who served as researcher and played the lead role in the National FIlm Board documentary, The Trial of Poundmaker. "Poundmaker had absolutely no interest in joining the Metis Rebellion. He went to Battleford to reaffirm his loyalty to the Queen and in so doing hoped that his people would be rewarded with extra rations. Upon arriving the Cree did not surround Fort Battleford nor did they cut off supplies." Not all First Nations people were content to negotiate. On April 2, just across the present day border of Saskatchewan and Alberta, nine people, including an Indian agent and two priests, were murdered in the Frog Lake massacre. Chief Big Bear apparently tried in vain to stop his starving and embittered band members, but was later jailed for treason. Tensions rose across Canada as word of the killings spread. But even before the incidents at Frog Lake and even Duck Lake, Middleton and his troops had begun the trek from Ontario out west.

qqq On April 6, Middleton and his 900-strong force got off the train at Qu'Appelle and began the 300-kilometre march north to confront Riel. There were hundreds of other soldiers as well, but Middleton was forced to send them further down the rail line to Swift Current and Calgary, where they walked north to quell what they feared to be a full-scale war with Big Bear, Poundmaker and others. From Qu'Appelle, Middleton and his men covered more than 30 kilometres a day, arriving at Clark's Crossing 50 kilometres south of Batoche. After several days of rest and planning, Middleton began what he likely believed would be an uneventful advance on Batoche, positioning half of his forces on each side of the river. One of the scouts for Middleton was Jerome Henry, recalled Henry's great-grandson Bob McLeod. But Henry, who McLeod described as a light-skinned Metis, was work--SP Photo by Gord Waldner ing as a double agent. Henry secretly spied FSIN Vice-Chief Morley Watson signs an elk skin at the Trails 1885 historical for Dumont. He drew maps of Middleton's camp at Clark's Crossing and Middleton's proclamation occasion signing last month expected marching route and had it smuggled back behind Metis lines, said McLeod, a Nations and many Metis. to the English-Canadian square township Saskatoon man who serves as a director for First Nations chiefs entered into treaties system. The Metis feared loss of their land. the Metis Nation-Saskatchewan. with the Crown. But by the early 1880s, the White farmers in the area were angry at the On the morning of April 24, Middleton and chiefs saw the federal government had no lack of assistance from the federal governhis troops marched along a trail 20 kilometres intention of honouring the terms. ment and the decision to build the trans-con- south of Batoche at Tourond's Coulee, also Federal Indian agents acting under govern- tinental railroad several hundred kilometres known as Fish Creek. ment orders decreased the promised food south of them. As government troops approached, they rations to reserves, resulting in mass hunger When peaceful protests and petitions were ambushed by Dumont's men, who and starvation. Discontent threatened to erupt accomplished nothing, a council of Metis qqq opened fire from the cover of brush and deep The armed conflicts of 1885 were years in in violence across the region. and disgruntled European farmers decided it ravines. In 1884, in present-day southeast Saskatch- needed Riel's help. the making. Henry "led Middleton right into Fish ewan near the town of Grenfell, 30 armed In 1870, Riel successfully pressured the In 1884, Gabriel Dumont and three other Creek," McLeod said. federal government to recognize Metis claims warriors from the Sakimay band, led by chief men travelled to Montana. They convinced The Metis inflicted heavy damage before Yellow Calf, occupied a federal warehouse in the Red River region, leading to the creRiel, now a father of two and a U.S. citizen, both sides retreated later that day. in an attempt to secure food. Violence was ation of the province of Manitoba. to come to Batoche. The other half of Middleton's force averted after extensive negotiation by Chief However, with the arrival of hundreds of At first, Riel enjoyed broad support as he remained helpless on the river's west bank, Louis O'Soup. Canadian government troops and European petitioned the federal government on behalf getting across on a makeshift ferry only after In the Battleford region, chiefs petitioned settlers, aspirations for a true Metis homeland of area residents. The federal government fighting ceased. federal officials at the decrease in food rations of John A. Macdonald appointed a commiswould not be realized. At least six government soldiers were killed and the failure of the government to provide Many of these "Red River" Metis moved sion to study the issue, but declined to make and dozens wounded, while four Metis died. west and in 1872 established a settlement on the promised medicine, agricultural tools and immediate decisions. Henry fled Middleton's camp around this the bank of the South Saskatchewan River. It other items. On March 19, the Batoche Metis estabtime. He took refuge behind Metis lines, was named Batoche, after prominent resident lished a provisional government, with Riel as joining his faher, Joseph Vermette. Both qqq Xavier Letendre dit Batoche. the political leader and Dumont its military father and son were wounded in the Fish The Batoche Metis were angry. Riel was forced into exile in the U.S. head. Riel lost most of his European allies as Creek battle. While Henry survived, his father Upon arriving from Manitoba, they estabDuring Riel's time in Red River, he'd overhe took several hostages and began preparing died of his injuries several days later, said lished farms along the South Saskatchewan seen the execution of a prominent opponent for war. McLeod. using the Quebec-style river-lot system. in Manitoba, Irish-Canadian Thomas Scott. The Metis dug rifle pits and trenches Long, narrow plots ensured riverbank access. Riel also had two stays in asylums. qqq around the town of Batoche, preparing for However, Metis attempts to obtain land Around this time, tens of millions of buffalo The first confrontation occurred one week Middleton's inevitable assault. titles proved unsuccessful. Federal workers had been wiped from the prairie landscape, later -- on March 26 -- in a field near Duck eliminating the main source of food for First soon arrived and began surveying according Lake. A Dumont and Riel-led party clashed n CONT'D: Please see History/Page D3

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


History: All sides of story told

n Continued from Page D2 qqq Middleton waited more than two weeks before moving on Batoche. In the interim, on May 2 just west of Battleford, Lieut.Col. William Otter attacked members of Poundmaker's band at Cut Knife Hill. The band's leader in time of war, Chief Fine Day, routed Otter, who retreated. According to various accounts, Poundmaker stopped the warriors from pursuing the fleeing troops. Six band members were killed, compared with eight of Otter's men. "Poundmaker did everything in his power as a Peace Chief to prevent bloodshed and in so doing, saved many lives," Tootoosis said. qqq On May 9, Middleton's forces arrived at the homestead of skilled carpenter and farmer Jean Caron Sr. and his wife, Marguerite, the local midwife. Fearing the Metis would use the now-abandoned Caron home for cover, federal troops burned it down. Middleton established his camp on their land, constructing a "zareba." The 12-acre enclosure, a combination of trenches and fortification of North African origin, sheltered the soldiers, 600 horses, 50 cattle and all the supplies. "It must have been one crowded little camp," Batoche-area resident Ron Jobin said recently as he stood on a viewing platform. Jobin's great-great grandfather, Joseph, and brother Ambroise fought for the Metis side. Middleton planned to attack on two fronts during the first day of fighting. One group would make a direct attack. Another would attempt to travel on the fortified steamship Northcote and attack the Metis from the side and rear. However, when the Metis saw the Northcote coming, they raced down to the river and lowered a ferry cable, decapitating the ship's smoke stacks. The boat floated helplessly downshore and out of the battle zone. Middleton's ground force was slow to co-ordinate its assault. The Metis had time to regroup before engaging Middleton. The day ended in a stalemate, but Metis fighters harassed the government forces inside the Zareba, firing guns every 10 minutes until the following morning. The next two days also saw heavy fighting, with neither side gaining significant advantage. According to accounts, some of the Metis fighters were in their 70s and older, while a number of Middleton's troops were as young as 15. qqq Many of Dumont's fighters were skilled marksmen with extensive hunting backgrounds. Many of Middleton's men were volunteers or part-time militia members with limited training. However, Middleton had an overwhelming advantage of numbers. His force outnumbered the Metis by a ratio of more than three to one. He also had superior firepower and loads of ammunition. Middleton also had A.L. (Gat) Howard on his side. Howard was an American soldierof-fortune and arms dealer. Howard's ancestry in North America can be traced to 1620, when his relatives arrived with other English separatists by sea on the Mayflower, according to Howard's greatgreat grandaughter Gina Sammis. Sammis, who lives in California, said Howard got his first taste of battle as an underage recruit in the U.S. Civil War. He then spent five years in the U.S. Cavalry's "Indian wars." A machinist by trade, Howard manufactured shells and other munitions, owning several businesses. In 1885, he offered his services to the Canadian government in the hopes of marketing the now-famous Gatling gun. Howard was part-owner of the company manufacturing the guns -- the world's first automatic weapon capable of firing many bullets a second. He travelled with Middleton to Batoche and fired on the Metis forces throughout the Battle of Batoche. "He was a pretty tough guy," Sammis said. "He was fighting wars all over the world, marketing the Gatling gun. drawn out into another area, and the second group easily charged them. By this time, Abroise Jobin and the other remaining Metis fighters were shooting nails, stones, forks -- anything they could desperately find. "You've got to be proud of them," said Ron Jobin. "They had something to do and they did it." Joseph Jobin, Riel, Dumont and others and others escaped. Ambroise Jobin was wounded on the battlefield and could not flee. Ron Jobin said some of the Metis were bayonetted by government troops in the final moments of battle. for trial. He was found guilty of treason. Macdonald rejected appeals for mercy and Riel was executed Nov. 16, just days after Prime Minister John A. Macdonald's national dream -- the transcontinental railroad -- was completed. On Nov. 27, the six Cree convicted in the Frog Lake Massacre, as well as two First Nations men convicted of an earlier murder, were hanged at Fort Battleford. It is the largest mass execution in Canadian history. Poundmaker and Big Bear also turned themselves in and were jailed. For 90 per cent of the Metis who had property destroyed or confiscated during the battle, such as the Caron family, no compensation was awarded, said Gaudet. Many left the Batoche area, attempting to make yet a fresh start in Alberta and other locations. For other Metis who did not participate, such as those in other regions, the merchant class, or those with ties to the federal Conservative party -- life went on as before, Prefontaine said. As for First Nations people, they faced continued deprivations and harsh rule, such as the pass system which forced them to obtain permission from the Indian agent to leave the reserve. "If you were aboriginal, you had to be put in your place -- that's what 1885 was all about," said Darren Prefontaine of the Gabriel Dumont Institute. With the west pacified and the railroad complete, European settlers streamed into the region which became the province of Saskatchewan in 1905. qqq For years, the Batoche battlefield and surrounding areas were treated as any other farmland. Dennis Fisher, who lives in Saskatoon, has spent hours combing through the dirt and dust and brush. He has amassed more than 1,000 artifacts from the area, including Gatling gun shells, a nine-pound cannon projectile, jacket buttons, wrappers from some of the government's 267 pounds of tobacco and even pieces of doorknobs from both Gabriel Dumont's and Xavier Letendre dit Batoche. Fisher's basement is a museum, an homage to the last war fought on Canadian soil. The retired draftsman has documented the date and precise location of every find. "The kids don't like it so much," Fisher said with a laugh. Today, the battlefield is part of a national historic site. The house which was rebuilt by the Caron family in 1890 and occupied by descendants until 1970, has been restored through a partnership between the Gabiel Dumont Institute and the federal government. The bodies of Ambroise Jobin and another fighter, Joseph Ouelette, were recently discovered to have been in the Batoche cemetery. Following a successful fundraising campaign, a formal ceremony takes place this weekend to mark the installation of new headstones for the men. This summer, events are planned for Batoche, the Poundmaker Cree Nation and other location to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the resistance. Most agree it's time to tell the story from all sides and to use the knowledge to form bonds among groups once pitted against each other. "It was a tragic period. All sides lost somebody or something," said Metis Nation-Saskatchewan president Robert Doucette. "We can't undo the past, but we can chart a better future where we all benefit."

He probably enjoyed being a soldier." Howard survived Batoche unharmed. He was killed after enlisting to fight for Canada in South Africa's Boer War in 1901. "He was fearless," she said. qqq By the fourth day of fighting, the Metis had nearly exhausted their ammunition. Howard was to play a key role. Middleton and some of his men were supposed to flush the Metis from their rifle pits and into an open area where the Gatling gun was positioned to open fire. When the rest of the federal government forces heard the shots, they were supposed to attack from another side. However, the wind was strong and the second group couldn't hear the shots. Their attack did not come at the time Middleton had ordered. Middleton, apparently furious, went back to the Zareba for lunch. However, the Metis had indeed been


He thinks his great-great uncle may have been spared because he spoke English. Ambroise Jobin was taken to the Marr residence in Saskatoon, where he was one of only two Metis patients in the a makeshift field hospital filled with government troops. He died of an infection before the end of the month. He was one of eight resistance fighters killed. About 22 were injured. More than double that number of government fighters died or were wounded. The Metis resistance had been crushed. Minor incidents took place in the following weeks involving First Nations people at places such as Frenchman's Butte and Loon Lake, but were of little consequence. Dumont fled to the United States, working in a travelling carnival before returning to Batoche under a general amnesty. Riel surrendered three days after the Battle of Batoche and was taken to Regina

--SP File Photo by Greg Pender

The exhumed remains of Chief One Arrow were re-buried (above) on the reserve named after him in August, 2007. One Arrow fought with Louis Riel and died at age 76 after being convicted of treason and serving a three-year sentence. He was originally buried next to Riel in St. Boniface, Man.

--SP Photo by Jason Warick

Jean Caron and Marguerite (Dumais) Caron, whose land and animals were commandeered during the Battle of Batoche in 1885, are buried in the Batoche cemetery (right). It's unclear why the headstone spells their surname as "Carron," said great-great granddaughter Jackie Gaudet


Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


Big Bear takes over Fort Pitt

­ April 13, 1885 - Big Bear and 250 mounted First Nations surround Fort Pitt; - Demand surrender of fort and inhabitants and ask for tea, tobacco, blankets; - Civilians go to First Nations camp as hostages, later released unharmed; - Francis Dickens (son of novelist Charles Dickens) in command of Fort Pitt, had reputation of incompetence, did not play a major role during the attack; - That night, NWMP abandon Fort Pitt and make their way to Fort Battleford on the North Saskatchewan River; - Fort Pitt later looted, burned to ground, rebuilt 1886.


Battle of Frenchman's Butte


­ May 28, 1885 - Major-General Strange brings NWMP detachment from Calgary; - Decides to pursue Big Bear's band after finding bodies left at Frog Lake; - Skirmish at Frenchman's Butte led by Wandering Spirit; - First Nations withdraw; - Strange broke off pursuit until reinforcements, supplies arrived.

­ June 3, 1885 - Last battle on Canadian soil; - Small detachment of NWMP led by Major Sam Steele caught up to Big Bear's band and open fire in a surprise attack; - Cree almost out of ammunition and forced to flee; - Big Bear escapes; - Steele out of ammunition and withdraws; - Otter, Strange and Irvine spend month of June chasing Big Bear; - Big Bear and his followers successfully elude capture.

Battle of Loon Lake


­ May 2, 1885 - Located on Poundmaker reserve; - Site of surprise dawn attack by Lieutenant Colonel Otter's forces; - Cree war-chief, Fine-Day, leads First Nations; - 300 Canadian militia and army regulars had greater firearm power than Cree and used Gatling guns (early form of rapid-fire gun and forerunner of modern machine gun); - After seven hours of fighting, First Nations forced Otter to withdraw; - Poundmaker then stepped in and stopped the First Nations from attacking the retreating troops.

Battle of Cut Knife Hill


Battle of Duck Lake

­ March 26, 1885 - Site of the first confrontation of 1885 Resistance; - Dumont defeated 90 Prince Albert volunteers and Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) led by Inspector Crozier; - Federal government sends Major General Middleton and 3,000 troops; - Middleton adds 2,000 EnglishCanadian volunteers and NWMP into his forces.


Battle of Batoche

­ May 9-15, 1885 - May 9, Middleton attacks Batoche; - Riel's forces greatly outnumbered and run out of ammunition after three days; - Métis resort to firing small rocks from their guns until forced to retreat by Middleton's soldiers; - May 13, Riel and his forces are defeated; - May 15, Riel surrenders and is later transported to Regina for trial; - Dumont and others escape across border to Montana region.


Battle of Fish Creek

­ April 24, 1885 - Major Métis victory over government forces attempting to stop rebellion; - 5,000 volunteers, militia and 1,000 police fought against Louis Riel's forces of 500 irregulars; - 177 dead, wounded or captured on government side; - 80 dead or wounded on Riel's side; - Reversal not enough to alter outcome of war; - Halts Major General Middleton's advance on Batoche.


Siege of Battleford


Frog Lake Massacre


­ April 2, 1885 - Cree uprising led by Wandering Spirit (warrior chief of Big Bear's band) attacks small town; - Big Bear (main leader of Plains Cree in the North Saskatchewan River area) and his Cree, angry with unfair treaties by Canadian government and dwindling buffalo population; - Decide to rebel after successful Métis victory at Duck Lake; - Gathered white settlers into a local church; - Argument leads to murder of Thomas Quinn, town's stubborn and unpopular Indian Agent; - Wandering Spirit fires first shot; - Cree kill nine settlers and take three captives; - William Cameron only white, male survivor writes book, Blood Red Sun, describing his experience.

­ March 30, 1885 - Band of Cree people are starving because of declining bison populations; - Approach town of Battleford; - 500 white inhabitants flee to nearby Fort Battleford NWMP post, remain there for one month; - Chief Poundmaker (influential, young Cree chief) attempts negotiations for food with Indian Agent Rae but fails; - Cree take food and supplies from abandoned stores and houses despite Poundmaker's attempts to stop them; - Most of town had already been looted by Canadian soldiers.

- 1884: Métis Louis REBELLION askthe Riel to return to area that would laer become Saskaatchewan from the U.S. where he had fled after the Red River Rebellion) and appeal to federal government on their behalf; - Métis alarmed by new process for land allotment by Ontario settlers and overhunting of their chief food source, the bison; - Riel, Gabriel Dumont and Honoré Jackson (Riel's press secretary) form Provisional Government of Saskatchewan; - Hope to influence federal government and preserve rights and culture of Métis.


­ July 2 to Aug. 17, 1885 - Poundmaker and Métis surrender in May, Poundmaker imprisoned; - July 2, Big Bear runs out of food and surrenders after a chase by the NWMP; - July 18, Big Bear taken to jail in Battleford; - July 24, Jackson found not guilty by reason of insanity, sent to asylum in MB. escapes in November. flees to U.S.; - Aug. 1, Riel tried in Regina, found guilty of treason, sentenced to hang; - Aug. 5, Sir John A. Macdonald requests murder charges be laid against First Nations involved at Frog Lake massacre; - Aug. 14, Métis Riel followers tried, get prison sentences ranging from one to seven years; - Aug. 17, Poundmaker found guilty, sentenced to three years in jail, states he would rather hang than be imprisoned.



Mass Execution at Fort Battleford


­ Nov. 27, 1885 - In largest mass execution in Canadian history, Wandering Spirit and seven other First Nations men hanged for Frog Lake massacre; - Buried in common grave outside fort gates.

­ Nov. 16, 1885 - Executed at police barracks; - Nov. 17, rumour started that NWMP police kicked Riel's body before placing him in coffin; - Catholic Church outraged and coffin is opened; - Dr. Augustus Jukes examines body, finds no evidence of abuse; - Nov. 20, body laid to rest in cemetery of the Cathedral of St. Boniface in Winnipeg.

Riel hanged at Regina


­ Compiled by Jenn Sharp

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan



June 5 The Gathering Festival -- Prince Albert ( Prince Albert has been historically known as "the gathering place" and Prince Albert Tourism has planned a day for families to tell their stories in a place of neutrality and peace. Organizers say it will be a chance for "resolution and reconciliation," and the site will be dedicated to all nations who now share this place. A site on Warriors Hill will also be dedicated to all who fought in the Resistance of 1885. June 18 Commemoration of original Humboldt land and the 1885 Northwest Resistance (Humboldt-www. The free commemorative event will explore the stories of the original Humboldt land and the events of 1885 through an exciting multi-media presentation. Following the program, everyone is invited to the new tourist area at the original Humboldt townsite, where visitors can discover fascinating stories of courage, heartache and adversity. The Humboldt telegraph station, built in 1878 on the Carlton Trail, was instrumental in the development of Western Canada. The station also played a pivotal military role during the Northwest Resistance of 1885. Canadian Red Cross re-dedication of Red Cross flag -- Bathoche National Historic Site of Canada ( The event will be held in conjunction with Saskatoon's Marr Residence (the house served as a field hospital during the 1885 Resistance) and will include both the Saskatoon Red Cross and Canadian Red Cross. June 21, 22 Aboriginal Day Celebrations (Batoche -- www.parkscanada. The two-day celebration is hosted by the Gabriel Dumont Institute, Friends of Batoche, Parks Canada and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada in honour of National Aboriginal Day. The festival will feature book launches from aboriginal artists, Métis jiggers, and First Nations drummers and fiddle players. June 25 Commemorative days Battle of Duck Lake ( A commemoration ceremony will be held for the Battle of Duck Lake, which took place on March 26, 1885. The ceremony is open to the public and will include Willow Cree drummers and dancers and prayers and speeches. The ceremony will be at the Duck Lake Regional Interpretive Centre and will be followed by a fiddling and dance cabaret at the sports grounds. Cabaret tickets are $10. June 26 Commemoration music festival -- Duck Lake ( A pancake breakfast kicks off the day at 9 a.m., followed by an educational workshop from Métis fiddler John Arcand about the history of the Red River Jig. Enjoy the best of Saskatchewan's aboriginal musical talent with performances by Andrea Menard, Ovide Pilon, Liverpool, Terri-Anne Strongarm and Donny Parenteau. Children's activities will be provided throughout the day by Fort Carlton. The cost is $25 per person, $10 for students, children five and under free. June 27 Trial of Louis Riel play -- Duck Lake ( The second-longest running play in Canada is based on the transcripts from Riel's trial. John Coulter wrote the play in 1967. June 28 - July 2 125th Commemoration of the 1885 Battle of Poundmaker Hill -- Poundmaker Cree Nation (info at 306- 398-4971 Ext. 239). The commemoration event will kick off with a Treaty Annuities Day and a grand re-opening of the Poundmaker historical centre. The week will include treaty forums and a medicine chest task force group meeting. There will also be a reconciliation gathering for Indian residential school survivors. On July 2, a re-enactment of the Battle of Poundmaker Hill will be held. July 1 Fort Carlton 200th birthday and Canada Day celebrations -- Fort Carlton Provincial Park (www. A day full of activities, including tea at the teepee, beading, setting up a mini teepee, retro-toy making, a children's archaeological dig, `tracking' animals, scavenger hunt, guessing games and Gabriel the Ox & His Red River Cart. Don't miss the Canada Day and Fort Carlton's birthday cake. n Continued on Page D7

Frog Lake Massacre a day of infamy

for The StarPhoenix

By Jenn Sharp

--SP Photo by Peter Wilson

Jamie Benson, manager of Prince Albert's museum, stands outside the historical log building used as a blockade during the 1885 Resistance

Prince Albert's connection to the Northwest Resistance

for The StarPhoenix

By Jenn Sharp

rince Albert has a long and rich history and has been known as "the gathering place" for thousands of years by First Nations. It was also home to a group of citizens who asked Louis Riel to return from Montana in 1884 and plead their case to the federal government, an act that would eventually lead to the Northwest Resistance in 1885. Many of the First Nations and Métis people, along with white settlers in the area were united in 1884 by their grievances against the government. The Métis people's discontent spread, and included those in settlements from St. Louis to Batoche and St. Catherine. They were worried about an assault on their traditional lifestyle, brought upon by the Hudson's Bay Company and new settlers from eastern Canada, who were hunting the buffalo to near-extinction. A detailed account was written by Gary Abrams in 1966, titled Prince Albert: The First Century, 18661966, and provides considerable background into these events. White settlers had a long history of discontent with the government, regarding things like imposed tariffs on crown lumber used by settlers or the privatization of the flour industry, which prevented many farmers from selling to the First Nations people or to the Northwest Mounted Police. On April 11, 1884, The Prince Albert Times reported a quote from a disgruntled resident, who said, "Some of the government officials here are fast becoming obnoxious to the people. . . . (The) wonder is that they have been tolerated so long." The agitation shared by both sides made the town of Prince Albert (which then numbered about 700 people) the centre of a protest movement which would soon embrace the entire northwest region. Shortly after, on May 10, The Times published a scathing editorial, labelling the Dominion government, "a greedy, grasping, overbearing bully" and concluded by saying, "Where they get the information which induces them to believe the people are likely to submit much longer, we do not know; but we can answer them that they need not look for their friends among the Canadians, half breeds or Indians, as they are likely soon to be made aware of in a manner at once startling and unpleasant." The editorial was translated into French and circulated to the Métis people. A settlers `union meeting' was held in May and attended by many in Prince Albert, including the town's founder, James Isbister. It was decided to ask Riel for help in presenting their grievances to the Canadian government. Four delegates from that meeting brought Riel to Prince Albert later that summer. On July 19, the now-famous meeting with Louis Riel was held in Preston Hall on River Street. Abrams writes, "Riel assured all that `their object would be gained faster if they acted orderly and peaceably.'" The first stage of a movement that would unite the northwest was beginning in Prince Albert. However, by September the movement to unite the white settlers and Métis had lost momentum largely because of aggressive Tory assaults, led by The Times and directed at landowners and merchants. One such


assault on Riel was printed July 25: "To talk of rebellion now, is simply bosh. The government could bring us to our knees simply by removing the machinery of civilized government." Riel had been careful, thus far, not to incite violence or any type of revolt, but that did not stop the citizens of Prince Albert from becoming very fearful of a First Nations and Métis uprising. Later that summer, settlers even planned to move east to escape the danger and alarm quickly spread to the townsmen who had supported Riel in the spring. By the spring of 1885, Prince Albert settlers abandoned the Métis cause. While the battles of the Northwest Resistance never reached the town of Prince Albert, settlers there were prepared. A log building still stands today in Kinsmen Park and, according to Jamie Benson, the manager of Prince Albert's Historical Museum,it was used as a blockhouse in 1885. The building was located at the corner of the town and the rifle slots are still visible today. "They stored weapons and ammunition there as well as using it for an outpost and a look-out tower. There were a lot of fears at the time the battles would reach the town," he says. Besides Prince Albert's involvement in the Northwest Resistance, a hill and area by the river has been known for centuries by First Nations as a place for vision quests and healing. Known as Wounded Warriors Hill and The Gathering Place, these areas are sacred, indigenous places for the Dakota Oyate people. Leo Omani, a Dakota elder, says his ancestors were historically known as the buffalo people. They inhabited an area known as the Great Bison Belt, which encompassed Western Canada and the Prince Albert region. Cree and Dené people came to join the Dakotas and all nations expanded, along with the Métis, after the establishment of fur trading posts near Prince Albert in 1751. Major small pox epidemics would later eradicate much of the population. Prince Albert Tourism, along with the Dakota and Cree people, is dedicating Warriors Hill and The Gathering Place as `new' cultural and historical sites for Prince Albert. A Cree story tells of a warrior wounded during the battle of Batoche in 1885, who came to the hill because he knew it to be a place of healing. A site will be dedicated there to honour all of those who during the 1885 Resistance. Below Wounded Warriors Hill, at the mouth of the Shell River, is an area known as The Gathering Place. This special place was a protected site where stories and news could be shared, ceremonies held, and hunting parties coordinated. It will be dedicated to honour the ancient memory of the bison hunters of the Prince Albert Region who gathered here to share stories, have ceremonies, trade medicines, make peace and inter-marry. Omani says these places are now for all nations, "past, present and future," especially those who are going through times of conflict. "(The Dakota) have always shared their healing ceremonies with others," he explains and invites all to come and share their story as "part of the healing process."

n 1885, many Cree (and other) tribes were starving, a situation that led to an uprising and eventual massacre of Frog Lake settlers on April 2. That day would become known as the Frog Lake Massacre and would lead to the largest mass execution in Canadian history. Wandering Spirit was the warrior chief of Big Bear's band of Plains Cree people in 1885. In traditional First Nations culture, the leadership of the band was assumed in times of conflict by the warrior chief and Wandering Spirit's decisions superseded those of Big Bear, who pleaded the Cree to negotiate with words, rather than war. An editorial published on March 13, 1885, in the Saskatchewan Herald newspaper stated that Big Bear had not complied with the Canadian government's request for all First Nations people to stay on the reserves. According to the editorial, the government told him that if he and his followers had not settled down by the beginning of 1885, their food rations would be cut off. The threat was apparently carried out because Big Bear's band did not comply with this order. Wandering Spirit was angered at what he felt were unfair treaties and mistreatment by the Canadian government and also by the ever dwindling buffalo population, his band's main source of food.


Metis victory

The Métis victory over 90 Prince Albert volunteers and Northwest Mounted Police at Duck Lake on March 26 encouraged Wandering Spirit to rebel. He and his followers attacked a small town near Frog Lake (now in Alberta.) They gathered all of the white settlers from the area into a local church and, after arguing with Thomas Quinn, the settlement's often stubborn and unpopular Indian Agent, Wandering Spirit fired the first shot, leaving Quinn dead. The Cree then attacked the settlers, killing nine men and taking three captive. Theresa Gowanlock and Theresa Delaney were the only women to survive. William Cameron (a Hudson's Bay Company employee) was the only male survivor and would go on to write a book about his experiences, titled Blood Red Sun. The massacre prompted the Canadian government to realize the severity of the growing unrest in the Northwest Territories and, on Nov. 27, 1885, hanged Wandering Spirit and seven other Crees at Fort Battleford for their role in the massacre. The bodies were buried in a common grave outside the fort gates. The day before he died, Wandering Spirit received a visit from Cameron, and tells him his reasons for killing the settlers: "Four years ago we were camped on the Missouri River in the Long Knives Land (U.S.A.). Riel was there, trading whiskey to the Indians. He gave us liquor and said he would make war on this country. He asked us to join him in wiping out all Canadians. . . . Last fall, Riel sent word to us that when the leaves came out the half-breeds would rise and kill all whites. The Long Knives would come. They would buy the land, pay the Indians plenty of money for it, and afterwards, trade with them. All the tribes who wished to benefit must rise too, and help rid the country of Canadians." --Frog Lake is now a small, Cree community and has been declared a National Historic Site of Canada.

Louis Riel's councillors were held as prisoners in 1885

--Saskatchewan Archives Board R-B714-1

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


A catch basin of memories

By Peter Wilson

of The StarPhoenix

q Fort Pitt rich in history as many explorers passed through its walls


July 2-4 International Competition Pow Wow -- Poundmaker Cree Nation (306-398-4971 Ext. 239). Everyone is welcome to attend the drug and alcohol-free powwow, which is part of the North American circuit. Dancers, drummers and singers from across Canada and U.S. will compete. July 2-4 Fransaskois festival -- Back to Batoche grounds (www.parkscanada. Saskatchewan's French cultural festival will be held in a weekend full of music, theatre and celebration of the province's French heritage. July 3 The story of the Saskatoon field hospital -- Marr Residence, Saskatoon ( The Marr Residence is the oldest building in Saskatoon and stands on its original site. The house was built in 1884 by Sandy Marr and in 1885, the house served as a field hospital during the Northwest Resistance. July 4 Field hospital re-enactment -- Marr Residence, Saskatoon (www.

to be erie about, he says, strolling through the old fort graveyard recently rejuvinated by Saskatchewan Parks. The tranquil cemetery isn't the only legacy that shows the tenuous nature of life during that era. "Somewhere, not far from the fort, there's a mass grave of probably hundreds of First Nations people who died in the small pox epidemics and who knows who else.'' Today, the Fort Pitt site contains the archaeological remains of the two different posts. Interpretive panels explain the post's history and a National Historic Sites and Monuments plaque commemorates Big Bear and the signing of Treaty Six. Brown began exploring the history of the uprising back around 1972 when his family took NWMP headquarters a camping holiday that included an itinerary of Nevertheless, it was headquarters for a detach- most of the sites of the Rebellion. That was long ment of NWMP under the command Insp. before there was much serious development of Francis Dickens, son of Charles Dickens. the sites. "Dickens had less than a sterling reputation When he took an early retirement from his as a leader, and it wasn't long after he escaped career as a conservation officer in Alberta, he set with his men to Battleford that he would quit the to increasing his research of the 1885 Resisforce he'd served in for a dozen years. But the tance. fort was totally non-defendable, and you can't Four years later, his extensive efforts led to the blame Dickens for abandoning it during the publishing of "Steele's Scouts," a book that tied Rebellion," Brown says. his work together. While there is little evidence of the actual The Scouts were formed by Inspector Samuel fort's presence, it's still a fascinating place to B. Steele and were a cavalry unit of the Alberta visit, Brown adds. Field Force under the command of Maj.-Gen.l "Go there on a calm autumn evening and the Thomas Bland Strange. whole place is alive with ghosts. I'm not kidBrown has praise for the late Edgar Mapletoft, ding, you can feel the presence of them in the another local history buff who was an immense dusty fall air.'' help to him in proofing the book. He was also a It is a truly eerie feeling, but then there's lots knowledgeable companion on Brown's tours of

terrain. We are touring the area where Fort Pitt once stood. An early Hudson's Bay Post and base for a NWMP detachment, Fort Pitt is now a catch basin of memories from the momentous events that fired up the country 125 years ago. "This portion of the province, adjacent to the North Saskatchewan River, is so rich in history it absolutely reeks,'' says Brown. In his mind's eye, the amateur historian and writer is back in 1885, musing on the part the region played in the Northwest Resistance. Not far from here, nine people, including two Roman Catholic priests, were murdered at Frog Lake in April of that year, and all hell broke loose in this part of west-central Saskatchewan. Soon afterwards, Cree warriors laid siege to Fort Pitt, forcing the defending North West Mounted Police to escape down the ice-filled river to Fort Battleford. "They only had a short time to make their escape, which they did towards dark. They pulled a scow down to the river, got it afloat and piled in and made the harrowing journey all the way to Battleford,'' Brown says. Rising from the river valley, the flat land where the fort stood blends in with the broad expanse of Prairie that climbs away to the horizon. While there's interpretive panels are original buildings once stood, you'll also need some imagination to help stir the visions of the past if you visit here. Fort Pitt is rich in heritage. The first fort was built in 1829, and hosted many of the early explorers who happened to be passing through, says Brown. A second fort was built after the original one burned down. Even before the Northwest Resistance, the remote enclave had witnessed violence. "There was even a real `Wild West' gunfight between two American gold seekers in March 1859. One guy died of his wounds, the other was slightly wounded," Brown says. The second fort was really a conglomeration of buildings. The fact it was a fort in name only, possessing no palisades and a zero inventory of big guns, says Brown.


hen Wayne Brown scans the landscape ahead, he's adding a generous overlay of history to a famliar

--SP Photo by Peter Wilson

Wayne Brown looks around the historical site of Fort Pitt the historical sites of the area. They journeyed not only to not designated historic sites, but included militia camps, Cree camps, long forgotten trails and sites of small "fire-fights" such as Pipestone Creek between Steele and Memmnook, a Saddle Lake Alberta Cree warrior. In a year marking a long list of 1885 celebrations, Brown is particularly looking forward to reconnecting with Steele's Scouts, a Calgary group of riders and historic re-enactors who will be visiting the area this fall. From Sept. 1-8, Steele's Scouts will make a re-enactment trail ride on horseback from Frog Lake southeast to Fort Pitt. By Sept. 4, they will be in Frenchman Butte and afterwards will travel cross-country to termination ceremonies at Steele Narrows on Loon Lake Sept. 7. They'll be 50 Scouts and numerous other riders says Brown, who adds that there should be a large public presence as the riders are very colourful individuals and are real characters. The whole scene will offer a glimpse of the drama of 125 years ago, he says, an added dimension of excitement sparkling in his eyes. The anniversary opens the door to opportunities for more research, he says. Much of our local history is still lying in wait of discovery, only recently has either federal or provincial governments developed any interest in the historic sites of Frenchman Butte, Fort Pitt and Steele Narrows, Brown says. "It's a bad business to develop an interest in our heritage as it festers inside of you. As one question is answered, that produces 10 more to search out.''

July 10 Re-dedication of Fort Pitt- Fort Pitt Provincial Park ( FortPitt). A ceremony will be held to recognize the importance of Fort Pitt, established in 1829, and its role in the fur trade, the signing of Treaty Six and in the Northwest Resistance of 1885. July 14-16; 21-23; 28-30 The Trial of Louis Riel -- MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina ( The second-longest running play in Canada is based on the transcripts from Riel's trial, in November of 1885. John Coulter wrote the play in 1967 and the issues surrounding the trial, such as justice, land, language, race and religion are still valid discussion points today. July 17-25 `Back to Batoche Days' -- Back to Batoche Grounds ( To celebrate and remember the 125th anniversary of the Northwest Resistance, this eight-day family festival will feature square dancing, jigging and fiddling competitions, rodeo, chariot and chuckwagon races, Metis musical performances and programs for children and youth. Day passes are $10 to $20, and festival passes are $35 or $50. Children 12 and under free. July 17 Parks Day -- Batoche National Historic Site of Canada (www. A day of bird watching and nature walking will be held at Batoche for Canada Parks Day. Parks Day began 20 years ago as a nationwide partnership to celebrate the importance of our parks and the contribution they make to healthy and diverse ecosystems. July 18 Celebrating Fur Trading Days -- Fort Carlton Provincial Park ( Fort Carlton is the original site of a Hudson's Bay Company fur trading post that operated between 1810 and 1885. The site houses a reconstructed palisade, fur and provisions store, trade store, clerk's quarters, and teepee encampment. Artifacts such as buffalo hides and beaver pelts on display. Aug. 8 Fiddles, Pipes and Drums -- Fort Carlton Provincial Park (www.tpcs. To further celebrate the 200th anniversary of Fort Carlton and the heritage of the area's earliest settlers, a music festival featuring bagpipes and Scottish drummers will be held at the historical site. Aug. 14 The Siege of Battleford -- Fort Battleford National Historic Site of Canada Organizers for the event aim to give visitors a glimpse into what life was like for the 500 civilians who took shelter at the fort in the spring of 1885. Interpretive vignettes depict the atmosphere of tension and uncertainty, while allowing visitors to `meet' the people involved. Sept. 1-7 Sam Steele Scout's re-enactment ride -- Frog Lake, Alta., to Steele Narrows, Sask. During the Northwest Resistance, Gen. Strange formed his militia and relied on NWMP Superintendent Sam Steele for a scouting force. Steele's Scouts were to act as the leading position for Strange's militia, and served with aggressive distinction throughout the campaign. Members of today's Sam Steele Scout's stage an annual re-enactment ride of the path taken by the Scouts in 1885.

Telegraph station played a pivotal role

telegraph station on their way to crush the hile military action of the rebellion. 1885 Northwest Resistance Middleton even left a detachment behind was unfolding across the to guard the station from the possibility of region, a lonely prairie communications sabotage. Lt. Col. George T. Denison was post was playing a crucial background role in command at Humboldt and his column in the turmoil. Close to present-day city, the Humboldt consisted of about 450 men and an extenTelegraph Station, received and transsive amount of supplies. mitted information in support of Gen. "During those days, my time was princiMiddleton's advances on Louis Riel's pally spent in the telegraph station," Deniforces throughout the conflict. son said in his book, Soldiering in Canada. Fortified with trenches and defended by "Dispatches came pouring in from all a strong force of militia, the remote station points, from General Strange, from Winkept its solitary telegraph line open despite nipeg, from Battleford, from Qu'Appelle, other lines being severed by Riel's forces. Swift Current, etc., all demanding attention "The station here was the end of the line from the General. It took about two days to because the line was cut to limit commuget dispatches to the General at Batoche, nications," says Jennifer Hoesgen, curator and a reply back. On May 9th, the first of the Humboldt and District Museum and day of the fighting at Batoche, I had sent Gallery. Trooper Scholfield with dispatches to the On March 23, 1885, the Winnipeg Daily General. He got into General Middleton's News reported that "the reported uprising entrenchment safely, and some hours after of Riel at Carlton, announced by dishe was sent back with a parcel of telegrams patches from Humboldt, N.W.T., beyond to bring to me, and on his return he reported which the lines have been cut, is causing that he had been fired at four times in getgreat excitement . . . the telegraph wires ting away. A bullet was afterwards found have been cut northwest of Humboldt, imbedded in his horse's neck." thereby cutting off communication and Archeologists still find the occasional necessitating the carrying of messages on bully beef tin, pottery pieces and numerhorseback." ous cartridge casings from the time of the Inside the museum, Hoesgen is reconResistance. necting with those events that shaped Last year, the 80 acres of land where the Saskatchewan's history. --SP Photo by Peter Wilson telegraph station stood were purchased We're up on the top floor of the popular using private donations and has been Jennifer Hoesgen taps out Morse code facility, and Hoesgen is providing a human handed over to the City of Humboldt. at the telegraph station display in Humboldt touch to the historical exhibition that The stewardship of this project will be surrounds her in a recreated version of the overseen by the original Humboldt commitIt was just eight kilometres southwest of the original telegraph station's interior. museum where the original Humboldt Telegraph tee for the Humboldt and District Museum and Here, visitors can step inside a log cabin and Gallery board of directors, says Hoesgen. travel back more than 130 years to discover what Station was located, a tiny communications post "In the ongoing archeological investigations at communications were like before telephones and that played an important role in the drama that the site, we're making some exciting discoveries, played out across the prairies in May 1885. long before the birth of the Internet. Strategically placed alongside the busy Carlton such as where the earth works constructed by the She says young visitors are particularly awed by soldiers are located," she says. Trail, the Dominion Telegraph Station and stage the display. After checking out the early telegraOn June 18, an official commemoration of the depot was the centre point between Fort Edmonphy equipment on display, young students can ton in the west and Fort Garry to the east. land and the unveiling of information signage at tap out the dots and dashes of Morse code on a Since the station's construction in 1878, it had the site will take place. interactive telegraph computer station. That same day, the community will present From a chronological perspective, the 19th cen- provided a welcome break for travellers mak"Trail of Louis Riel" at Humboldt's historic tury technology that Hoesgen's demonstrating is a ing the difficult 60-day journey between the two Court House. long way from the museum's touch screen interac- settlements. When Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont gathered --WILSON tive monitors. But the rapid tapping of her finger their forces at Batoche in the spring of 1885, --You can view the museum's website at www. on the small key provide echoes of Humboldt's Gen. Middleton and his army camped near the for more information. connections with the tumultuous events of 1885.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


Codd Flag's storied history

hile the Red Cross flag had flown during European conflicts since the mid-1860s, its use to identify refuges for wounded first began in Canada in the 1885 Northwest Resistance. Such a banner, now known as the "Codd Flag," belonged to Surgeon Lieut.-Col. Alfred Codd of the Winnipeg Field Battery who tended wounded soldiers in the battles of Fish Creek and Batoche. A designated Heritage property, it now hangs in the offices of the Red Cross in Regina. Another surviving flag is located in the national office of the Canadian Red Cross in Ottawa. The Codd Flag, is was one of possibly three Red Cross flags flown during the 1885 Northwest Resistance, a campaign that marked the first time the Red Cross flag ever flew in Canada. Parks Canada says a variety of reports of the Northwest Resistance mention the three Red Cross flags, each handmade and each associated with a different group or individuals.


--SP Photo by Peter Wilson

Amanda Ulrich of the Canadian Red Cross looks at the Codd Flag on display at the Regina branch

Parks Canada says that one such flag story is from the memoirs of Colour Sgt. C.F. Winters who fought with Lieut.-Col. W.D. Otter at Cut Knife Hill. Winters provided medical care to wounded soldiers at the end of this engagement and talks of gathering cotton sheets and red flannel to make up a Red Cross flag. The flying of another flag is recorded in the memoir of George S. Ryerson, a physician and member of the Royal Grenadiers of Toronto who also travelled west with his regiment in March of 1885. Parks Canada says Ryerson explained in his memoirs that he tended the wounded of both sides at Batoche and constructed his flag . . . "of factory cotton and sewed on it a Geneva Red Cross made from pieces of Turkey red which I got from the ammunition column." As for the Codd Flag, memories told through Codd's daughter "recalls her father going out with the Winnipeg Field Battery to the Rebellion and his returning with the flag which flew over his medical cart."

Gatling gun arrives in Sask.

By Peter Wilson

of The StarPhoenix

hen Scott Whiting, site manager of Fort Battleford National Historic Site tours the facility's Interpretive Centre, he's particularly enamoured with the vintage Gatling gun that is on display. The Gatling gun was one of the first effective machine guns used in battle and two of them were part of the militia's ordinance as they advanced on the First Nation and Metis forces. In 1885 two Gatling guns were loaned on a trial basis by the Colt Firearms Company to the Canadian Militia. One of the Gatlings, manned by Captain A.L. Howard of the Connecticut National Guard, was part of Middleton's forces at Batoche. The second Gatling came to Fort Battleford with Colonel Otter's column. While it was a "state of the art'' weapon, it wasn't destined to play a major role in the 1885 conflict. Manned by men from `B' Battery, the Gatling achieved relatively little at Cut Knife Hill, although it did provide effective covering fire while the troops retired from the battlefield, says Whiting. "While its firepower wasn't fully utilized during the campaign, the gun not surprisingly had a tremendous psychological effect on the battlefield,'' Whiting says. The Gatling gun is not the actual gun that came to Battleford in 1885, but it is an original piece from that period. The gun's firepower consists of a number of rifle-calibre, breech-loading barrels fitted


--SP Photo by Peter Wilson

Scott Whiting, site manager at Fort Battleford National Historic Site, with the vintage Gatling gun around a central shaft. Mounted directly behind the barrels is the crank-operated loading, ejecting and firing mechanism. Ammunition was fed into the gun by gravity from a magazine mounted above the weapon. The Gatling gun was operated by turning a side-mounted crank which revolved the barrels around the central shaft, each barrel being loaded, fired and re-loaded during every revolution. The gunner could control the rate of fire by turning the crank handle. The Gatling gun at Fort Battleford is a 1876 model and used .45/70 `Government' calibre. The standard U.S. military rifle cartridge from 1873-92, ammunition, it became famous for its use in the "trapdoor" Springfield carbines carried by Custer's 7th Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

A photo of the plaque which provides a direct link to 1885

Grandpa and Riel

q Long-time journalist's personal connection to a major player in this province's history

for The StarPhoenix

By Ned Powers

ordyce Allan Powers was an 18year-old from Port Hope, Ont., when he volunteered to join the Midland Battalion and head west to suppress what is commonly known as the Riel Rebellion. He was a member of Company E, which was led by Lieut-Col. A.T.H Williams, a distinguished soldier from Ontario and witness to the surrender of Louis Riel on May 15, 1885. The success against Riel was somewhat tempered by the death of Williams, who suffered from inflammation of the brain and died aboard the steamer, North West, on July 5. Fordyce Powers was my grandfather. I only remember meeting him once. When I was 11 years old and living on a homestead in the Peace River country, he came to visit. I remember him as a kind, gentle, funny man, who came with all the tricks of being a practical joker. Less than a year later, on April 22, 1942, he died in Saskatoon at the age of 77. My fond souvenir of grandpa's life is the last letter he wrote. Significant among its contents was the joy he received from hearing the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup final, important because it was the first time a team had ever bounced back from a three-game deficit to win four straight and the cup. Given the career choice I eventually made, there's regret that grandpa might have one day become a newspaperman's dream interview. He was part of perhaps Saskatchewan's most historical event. My cousin, Gerry, possesses the Northwest 1885 Canada medal, with Queen Victoria's portrait adorning the front and a wreath of maple leaves surrounding the inscription on the back. There is also a copy of the E Division photo. There are some newspaper clippings. The most valuable resource in charting grandpa's trip west came from Saskatoon historian Dennis Fisher, who found invaluable information from a book, Telegrams of


the North-West Campaign 1885. The battalion came west by train. There were gaps in the new railway system and the young soldiers walked at times in snow, several feet deep, and in temperatures of 20 below. On May 4, the battalion arrived by steamer at Clark's Crossing. On May 5, they travelled on the Northcote to Fish Creek, practising on the Gatling gun while en route. On May 7, the Northcote steamed towards Batoche. During the period from May 9-12, the Battle of Batoche took place, with heavy fighting, and with Williams leading the Midlanders in a break-through against the Metis lines. A telegram recounts the events of May 15: "Riel has just been brought in at half-past three this afternoon. "There was no demonstration. He walked quietly into the general's tent, appearing to take the event in a nonchalant manner. The result was generally expected as it had been rumoured that he wanted to surrender." In grandpa's obituary, which appeared in The StarPhoenix, there was mention that he saw action in the chase for Big Bear, took part in the capture of Chief Poundmaker and was in contact with Riel after the Metis leader had been arrested. Grandpa's division turned up at Battleford, Fort Pitt and Frog Lake, mostly on missions to insure peace. The Midland Battalion returned July 19 to Toronto's Union Station, where they were overwhelmed by the magnitude of the reception. Grandpa wanted to enlist in South Africa's Boer War but his parents strongly objected and wouldn't let him go. Two of his sons fought in the First World War, my uncle Clarence, who died from injuries sustained in battle, and my father, Allan, who in spite of being gassed at Vimy Ridge, lived until he was 94. Another of his sons, Walter, served in the Second World War. Although true easterners in their early lives, my grandfather and grandmother settled in the west at Tugaske, near Moose Jaw, in 1917, and lived there for seven years. Then they lived in both Regina, where he was employed by the CNR, and Saskatoon.


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