The Nort West Rebellion 1885
Antique Prints

Since 1763 the name 'Russborough' has been synonymous with collecting and dealing in fine art. In the closing decades of the last century the historic town of Port Hope has become home to Lord Russborough's Annex, which specialises in an individual mix of antique maps, paintings and prints.

While Lord Russborough's Annex features a great many works of museum calibre, we also offer a wonderful selection of prints priced at under $100.

An extract of our prints currently available:

The North West Rebellion 1885 -The military option.

The Red River Settlement- the iconography of the founding of Manitoba.

The growth of Winnipeg - hub of western expansion.

Fine Art
British Paintings in oil
Antique Maps
Omnium Gatherum
Specialty Services


The North West Rebellion 1885 - the military option

 For three months following his arrival at Batoche, Riel assisted the Métis and white settlers alike in trying to obtain title or scrip to the un-surveyed lands that they had settled. He also petitioned Ottawa to address the grievances over the prices paid by the H.B.C. to trappers. As they had the many others, Ottawa chose to ignore this petition. Instead, “Old Tomorrow” Sir John A. McDonald, completely misjudged the mood of the people and chose to send N.W.M.P. reinforcements to contain the situation. 

Riel meanwhile, had been gathering support in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church. Some settlers and treaty Indians, found his intention of declaring a provisional government too extreme, and therefore did not heed the call to arms issued by Riel on March 18, 1885, upon hearing the dispatch of police reinforcements under Col. Irvine toward Fort Carlton. Nevertheless, the rebellion had begun with Riel and Dumont at the head of the Métis cavalry.

The first skirmish took place on 26th March at Duck Lake (see items 2 & 3) near Fort Carleton when Dumont attacked Major L.N.F. Crozier, the superintendent of the N.W.M.P. at Battleford, and his force of 53 police officers and 41 Prince Albert volunteers. Riel rode, crucifix in hand to inspire the Métis with religious fervor, like a latter-day Joan of Arc. Crozier withdrew defeated, with 12 of his force killed. Having been joined by Col. Irvine’s 108-man force and deciding that Fort Carlton was untenable, they decided to retreat to Prince Albert which they then stockaded.

The recalcitrant Big Bear and his band of Wood and Plains Cree Indians had refused to be party to Treaty# 6, in large measure because it was the H.B.C. that received the profit from the sale of what the Indians considered correctly to be their ancestral land. Hearing of the Métis victory at Duck Lake, a blood thirsty group of Plains Cree instigated by Imasees, massacred the inhabitants of the hamlet of Frog Lake on April 2. (see items 4, 5, 9) They then went on to pillage the N.W.M.P. post at Fort Pitt which was commanded by the son of the novelist Charles Dickens, Inspector F.J. Dickens, who retreated with 20 of his men to Battleford. Chief Poundmaker’s rebellious Cree, when informed of the Métis victory at Duck Lake, took to looting the countryside around the Battleford reserve. (see item 6) The West was aflame, with the N.W.M.P. in a hopeless situation. The NWMP. were facing an imminent Indian uprising being a last desperate attempt to regain their freedom and the independence of their land from the white man.  Despite cutting the Telegraph lines, the news was out and reached Ottawa via Winnipeg. (March 22th.) A near-hysterical Ottawa ordered mobilization of all troops in Canada. (see item 11)

Although only about 1,000 rebels actually took up arms, (see item 7)  the potential threat was of some 20,000 on the war path. Therefore, food relief and supplies where quickly dispatched to placate wavering bands of Indians lest they too should rebel. Scrip was also finally issued to the Métis and half breeds. Had this been done in 1883/4 the rising might never have occurred.

Riel, obsessed with religious matters, lost the military initiative and failed to fully appreciate the changes that have been brought about in communications by the development of the telegraph and railway. In all a total of 7,982 troops, 500 N.W.M.P., nine field canons and two Gatling machine guns were assembled against the rebels, (including 396 men raised from Port Hope's Midland Battalion.) In spite of the long and particularly hard winter of ’85, and four gaps in the Canadian Pacific Railway totalling nearly 100 miles, Van Horne (the C.P.R. CEO.) managed to transport, via the railway and sleighs, both troops and supplies to Winnipeg within 4 to 9 days -  a remarkable feat of logistics.

From three bases of operations the columns advanced. The intransigent Maj. Gen. F. Middleton, Commander-in-chief of the Canadian militia (see item 10), advanced with 800 men from Qu’Appelle toward Batoche, splitting his men into two columns, one each side of the river at Clark’s Crossing, thus reducing their effectiveness. From Swift Current Lt. Col. W. D. Otter set out for the relief of Battleford and from Calgary, Maj. Gen. T.B. Strange advanced via Fort Edmonton and the North Saskatchewan toward Fort Pitt against Big Bear’s Indians. Middleton proved to be an inept commander, out of touch with the principles of warfare concerning the maneuverability of troops to combat guerrilla tactics. The first engagement was at Fish Creek 24 April, (see items 12-14) where the Métis succeeded in checking Middleton’s advance. 

Lt. Col. Otter and his 543-man column with three field guns covered the distance to Battleford in 10 days, having met with difficulty crossing the South Saskatchewan River. He relieved Battleford on April 24th. Maj. Gen. Strange’s column too had trouble with river crossings, but made the 210-mile trip to Fort Edmonton in 10 days, leaving garrisons en route; they then advanced down North Saskatchewan Valley.

Fractional disputes prevented Riel (see item 17) from combining forces with Big Bear’s and Poundmaker’s Indians. On May 2 Otter made a badly reconnoitred attack on Poundmaker at Cut Knife Creek with 325 men, two field guns and a Gatling machine gun. (see items 15-16) After a seven-hour battle, Otter was forced into a humiliating retreat, but this did prevent Poundmaker from joining up with Riel.

On May 7 Middleton began his push to take Batoche. After a four day battle the village was overrun and Riel surrendered himself on the 15th. (see items 18-21) He was subsequently send to Regina for trial. Dumont escaped to Montana. Middleton then proceeded to Battleford where he demanded Poundmaker’s surrender (26 May).

Strange’s column, meanwhile had advanced to Fort Pitt (see items 22 & 23) where he engaged Big Bear’s Indians on May 28, but did not press home his attack. Fearful of ‘committing Custer’, he withdrew to await the reinforcements he had been repeatedly requesting of Middleton. Middleton, finally appreciating the need for speed, arrived in force on June 3. The combined force then went in pursuit of Big Bear, but the nature of the terrain forced them to return to Battleford on July 9. 

With news of the surrenders, Big Bear’s support began to fall away and 27 prisoners were released after being held for 62 days. After a month of outlaw life, Big Bear himself surrendered at Fort Carleton. (see item 23) The rebellion was over. The troops could go home. Alas, Port Hope’s hero Lt. Colonel Williams, who led the charge at Batoche, was not among them, as he died from fever on the way home.

01 North West rebellion map

1. WESTMACOTT - MANITOBA & NORTH WEST TERRITORY
PROVINCE OF MANITOBA AND PART OF THE DISTRICT OF KEEWATIN AND NORTH WEST TERRITORY SHEWING THE TOWNSHIPS & SETTLEMENTS TO 1876  

 Colour Lithograph Map. published by H. Beldon, Toronto 1876 [1878]  
 16 1/4 x 251/8" (41.2 x 63.8 cm.) 
Ref. LRA  Atlas 4 1229/AN/g.door>RLL   PRICE CODE B

A splendid and decorative map depicting the Province of Manitoba and North West Territory, shewing the townships and settlements, mounted police posts, Dawson Route to Winnipeg.    The cart trail to the North West Territory, CPR. only as far as Livingstone, post offices, forts, churches and mills, topographical features, Indian  reserves and tribal areas ceded and surveyed areas.   The map is adorned with images of steam boats, bison, a railway engine, Indian settlements making it an attractive acquisition for any western collection. On the verso are depictions of houses in Northumberland County, Ont. including that of Dr. Herriman and  Col. A.H.T. Williams  (who led the charge at Batoche)  in Port Hope. 

THE SKIRMISH THAT SET A NATION ALIGHT

NWR2 Duck lake

2. THE FIGHT AT DUCK LAKE 
 Stone Lithograph. Souvenir number Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News  4 July 1885 
9 5/8 x 12" (24.4 x 30.7 cm.)  Ref. LRA.#78 WC23/-/s.dosl>ADN  PRICE CODE B

A somewhat over simplified view of the spot L.N.F. Crozier found himself in, as it looks as if the N.W.M.P. are winning. Nevertheless, a significant contemporary Toronto published depiction, showing the police sleighs barricading the road and the log cabin to the right (in reality it was virtually concealed). The location of the event was 13 1/2 miles southeast of Fort Carlton at the Stobart and Eden trading and post office. Text on the verso relates to the rebellion. 

NWR3 Mackay Family

3. A. ESCAPE OF THE MCKAY FAMILY THROUGH THE ICE TO PRINCE ALBERT 
B. A WOUNDED PRINCE ALBERT VOLUNTEER'S LIFE SAVED BY A HALF BREED. 

 Stone Lithograph.  Souvenir number Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News  4 July 1885. Two conjoined views plus report of the events leading to the first skirmish on reverse.
9 5/8 x 13 1/8" (24.4 x 33.3 cm.)  Ref. LRA.#79 WC23/-/s.dosl>DAN PRICE CODE A

The house of J. Mckay, a farm instructor near Battleford, had been plundered by the disaffected Indians. Escaping with his wife and two young daughters, McKay made a 12-day trip through river ice in an open boat to safety at Prince Albert.

Following the 40-minute Saturday skirmish at the Stobert & Eden trading post (Stobert P.O.) at  Duck Lake, Newith, a wounded Prince Albert Volunteer, was left behind. A Métis intervened to save him from being clubbed to death by a Plains Cree Indian. He was treated by the Métis and released the following Monday. 
The text on the verso gives details of the assembly and composition of the volunteer militia regiments including that under the command of A.T.H. Williams at Port Hope. 

NWR4 Insurrection in NW

4. L' INSURRECTION DU NORD-OUEST 
 Hand tinted wood engraving  double matted glazed, natural wood frame.
 12 x 8 1/4" ( 30.5 x 21 cm.) Frame 18 x 14 1/2" 
Ref AH15(144) /GN/g.andg> AEN    PRICE CODE B

 A composite of 14 contemporary vignettes & views on one page published at the time of the North West insurrection. Depicted are: Indians on the trail using Travoy methods of transporting their belongings; Fort Pitt; Morleyville Bow River Mission; aspects of Indian and Metis way of life; Native Indians; settler; HBC. employee; N.W.M.P. halt in the foothills.  

NWR 5 Priests & Fort Pitt

5. A. MURDER OF THE PRIESTS AT FROG LAKE
B. HISTORIC DEFENCE OF FORT PITT BY INSPECTOR DICKENS

Two conjoined views plus text on the verso relates to the rebellion.
  Stone Lithographs.  Souvenir number Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News  4 July 1885
14 3/8 x 9" (36.5 x 22.9 cm.)  Ref. LRA.#80 WC23/-/s.dosl>DLN  PRICE CODE A

Depicts the Plains Cree Indian war chief Wandering Spirit (Kapapamahchakwew) in the act of shooting the Oblate Fathers Marchand and Farfard with Mrs.Theresa Delaney comforting her dying husband John. Two other victims of the April 2nd. massacre at Frog Lake lie nearby, in all nine were murdered by the Plains Cree. Wandering Spirit and Papamakeesik were later hung for their murders. (see also item 9)

Far from it being a heroic defence, Inspector) Francis ‘Frank’ Jeffery Dickens outnumbered 200 to 20, and the defenders were ultimately forced to vacate the indefensible, un-stockaded, combined H.B.C./N.W.M.P. post - Fort Pitt by ultimatum of Big Bear (Mistahimaskwa). A humiliating end to his career (Dickens resigned and died the following year), but a wise decision under the circumstances and one that saved many lives. Following the surrender, the 44 civilians, including the Frog Lake survivers were left to the mercy of the First Nations warriors. None were killed during their stressful 62 day confinement at Indian encampments in the vacinity of the fort, but the fort was ransacked and burnt. An interesting contemporary depiction of the six buildings from the rear showing the court yard palisade. Compare with the views 4 & 22. 

The Clash of Cultures

NWR 6 Battleford looting

6. THE LOOTING OF THE OLD TOWN OF BATTLEFORD 
 Stone Lithograph.   Souvenir number Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News  4 July 1885          9 1/2 x 10 3/4 " (24.1. x 27.3 cm.) 
Ref. LRA.#86 WC23/-/s.dosl>AEN   PRICE CODE B

An important if somewhat fanciful view of the looting and pillaging of Battleford (pop. 512) by Poundmaker's Cree Indians. Nevertheless. it does represent two differing views: Firstly, the dispossessed first nations Indians whooping it up following their pyrrhic victory, drunk on stolen liquor and delighting in their spoils of war from an alien culture. Secondly, the image that was confirmed in the minds of the Ontarians of a half savage native culture that their brave boys were in the process of putting down or at least contained in their place.  
The burning village may be seen some distance from the stockaded and very defensible fort. Every house, including the H.B.C. store was destroyed and many personal belongings stolen. Damage to the village and nearby farms was estimated at nearly half a million dollars. The villagers were besieged for nearly a month in the fort before being relieved by Otter. Text on the reverse details the Frog Lake massacre and describes the company strength of Middleton's column.

NWR7 Cpt French Whitecap

7. THE LATE CAPT. FRENCH PREVAILING ON THREE OF WHITECAP'S WARRIORS TO SURRENDER. 
 Stone Lithograph. Souvenir number Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News  4 July 1885.
9 1/2 x 13 1/2 " (24.1 x 34.3 cm.) 

Ref. LRA.#88 WC23/-/s.dosl>DGN   PRICE CODE B

On 18 April 1885 snow still covered the rough terrain of the area. A detachment of Boulton's Mounted Infantry under their chief of staff Lord Melgund, had been for some time tracking the footprints visible in the snow of three of Whitecap's rebellious Indians. They were finally surrounded in a coulée, where the Indians stood back to back brandishing their Winchester rifles.  After half an hour's parley with them, Capt. John French descended into the ravine assuring them they would be well treated if they surrendered. [French was later killed by a Métis sniper at Batoche.]  With contemporary text on verso detailing the Northcote's contribution to the campaign as it steamed down the South Saskatchewan River  during May.

NWR8 mail whitecap

8. A. HOW HER MAJESTY'S MAILS WERE CONVEYED FROM TOUCHWOOD TO CLARKE'S CROSSING
B. CAPTURE OF WHITE CAP AND HIS BAND BY THE GOVENOR- GENERAL'S BODY GUARD. 
Two views. Stone Lithographs.  Souvenir number Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News 4 July 1885
 13 1/2 x 9 " (34.3 x 22.9 cm.)  Ref. LRA.#89 WC23/-/s.dosl>DAN PRICE CODE A

A. Despite the appearance of summer prairie travel, the area was still snow covered and bitterly cold on April 21. The telegraph lines having been cut by the rebels and with long lines of communication and supply, it was essential that dispatches and mail be delivered to Middleton's temporary HQ. at Clark's crossing en route to Prince Albert via Batoche. An armed escort to the light mail buggies was the adopted solution.
 B. Lieut. Merritt and a scouting party of The Governor General's Bodyguard sighted a cavalcade of White Cap's Sioux Indians heading south, from their reserve at Saskatoon to join the insurgency. After a chase Merritt captured the entire band. This was much more the type of action in the minds of many of the troops that they had signed on for - swift action and a decisive result.  The band were deemed by their action to have violated the hospitality of Canada wherein they had sought asylum after participating in the 1862 Minnesota massacre. 

The compassionate Mr. Pritchard

NWR 9 Mr.Prichard

9. JOHN PRITCHARD GUARDING THE CAPTIVE LADIES MRS. GOWANLOCK AND MRS. DELANY 
 Stone Lithograph. Souvenir number Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News 29 August 1885
6 x 9 " (15.3 x 23 cm.)  Ref. LRA.#90 WC24/-/s.dosl>DAN PRICE CODE A

The two Theresa’s having previously been reported as murdered in the April 2 massacre as they were leaving church with their husbands, (see item 5) were, according to the dispatch received on April 21, actually under the protective care of the Métis. 
"Pritchard's first thought was for the ladies, and in Indian fashion purchased the safety of Mrs. Gowanlock from the Indian who had her in his charge, giving one of his horses for her as the ransom, and so brought her to his own tent to camp with his family. He then went to the Indian who had Mrs. Delaney and offered to purchase her. The Indian replied "I will take two good horses." Pritchard had only one good horse and one poor one left, and begged him to take them, but the man refused. So Pritchard told Nolin of his difficulty, and he gave up his horse, and thus Pritchard was able to take two good horses to the Indian, and took Mrs. Delaney away to stay with Mrs. Gowanlock through the term of their imprisonment, who were both carefully looked after by this humane half breed and his family".* "It is not to the credit of the Canadian government  that his splendid service at that difficult time was never recognized. He might at least have been given a small pension, like the women whose lives he had saved."**

*   Boulton, Charles A, Reminiscences of the British North West Rebellions. Toronto 1886 p.332.
** Cameron, W.B. The War Trail of Big Bear. Toronto n.d. [1937]  p.252.

NWR10 Middleton

10. LE MAJOR-GÉNÉRAL MIDDLETON 
Commandant-en-chief du Corps Expéditionnaire du Nord-Ouest
Hand tinted wood engraved lithograph,  double matted glazed, natural wood frame.
 10 1/4 x 8" (26 x 20.3 cm.) Frame 16 1/2  x 14 1/2" 
Ref AH19 (144) /LN/g.andg>ADN    PRICE CODE B

The 60 year old General  (later Sir) Frederick Dobson Middleton KCMG. CB.  (4 November 1825 – 25 January 1898)  arrived in Winnipeg 27 March, following a swift departure from Toronto, with instructions to quell the insurgency. Throughout  the campaign his tactics were called into question. Though courageous, he was stubborn with the all too common air of a regular British officer who did not trust Militia officers. As a result of his ineptitude, over-caution and attitude he failed to mould his units into a unified, loyal force. He misunderstood the circumstances of his enemy and the effective role that the N.W.M.P. could have played.

NWR11 RielOuimet

11. LOUIS RIEL
Le chef de l'Insurrection du Nord-Ouest
 LE LIEUT.,COLONEL A. OUIMET
 commandant du 65 ème Bataillon

Hand tinted wood engraved lithographs,  double matted, glazed, natural wood frame.
 5 x  81/4" (12.7 x 21cm.) Frame 11  x 14 3/4" 
Ref AH21 (144) /LN/g.andg>ADN    PRICE CODE B

Two conjoined portrait images of A. Louis 'David' Riel (1844-1885). Although tarnished as being largely responsible for two insurrections in Canadian history (see Red river settlement)  and the North West Rebellion, he was also responsible for the creation of Manitoba and a twice elected Federal MP. for Provencher. Certainly a controversial figure, he had a price on his head forcing him to live in exile in Montana, from 1878 until 1884.
During these years, he was frustrated by having to remain in exile despite his growing belief that he was a divinely chosen leader and prophet, a belief which would later resurface and influence his actions. Because of this new religious conviction, Catholic leaders who had supported him before increasingly repudiated him. He married in 1881 while in exile in Montana in the United States; he fathered three children. Riel sought to preserve Métis rights and culture as their homelands in the Northwest came progressively under the Canadian sphere of influence. The man deserves to be remembered, not as a criminal, but for a man who stood up for his less fortunate people and for what he believed was their civil rights. He were their ‘David’ versus the government's ‘Goliath’. But I write with the hindsight of over 130 years - that was definitely not the sentiment of his time outside of Quebec.

  
 B. The 65 Batallion Mount Royal Rifles were comprised of some 250 hand-picked men under the command of Lt.- Col. J. Alderie Ouimet MP. They departed Montreal for the conflict in the North West on Wed March 31 as part of the general mobilization of troops across Canada in response to Riel's call for an armed insurgency. When his battalion reached Calgary, Ouimet however returned to Montreal causing considerable dissatisfaction among the chain of command. As a French Canadian, Ouimet had sympathy for Riel and his cause, so much so, that he split from the Conservative Party in opposition to Riel’s execution.

NWR12 Anse-au-poisson

12. L'INSURRECTION DU NORD-OUEST - LA BATAILLE DE L'ANSE-AU-POISSON

Hand tinted wood engraved lithograph,  double matted, glazed, natural wood frame.
 8 x12 1/4" (20.3 x 31.1 cm.) Frame 14 1/4  x 18 1/2" 
Ref AH18 (144) /GN/g.andg> AEN    PRICE CODE B

From a strongly defensible position in Tourond's coulee,  or ravine, of Fish Creek, on the 24 April 1885, Gabriel Dumont and his 130-man force were able to effectively check Middleton's advance. Métis marksmen picked off the troops silhouetted on the hilltop. Middleton's heavy artillery fire did however encourage Métis desertions. The casualty figures for the battle were telling: The Rebels 4 dead, 2 wounded; Canadian North West field force 10 dead, 40 wounded.

NWR12a insurrection in NW 4 views

12a. L'INSURRECTION DU NORD-OUEST - LA BATAILLE DE L'ANSE-AU-POISSON
Les Sauvages dans le Ravine, Medicine Hat, Le Fort de Battleford; Le Major Crozier (de la police mountée)

Hand tinted wood engraved lithographs,  double matted, glazed, natural wood frame.
11 ¾ x 8 " (29.8 x 20.3cm.) Frame 18 x14 ¼ " 
Ref AH17 (144) /GN/g.andg> AEN    PRICE CODE B

Four conjoined views depicting a lively action of the Métis and Indians in their defensive ravine during the Battle of the Tourond's Coulée, or The Battle of Fish Creek on April 24 1885.This gives a good image of the action from the native side. Also depicted is a view of one of the houses within the fort of Battleford and a panoramic view of Medicine Hat with its fine 1883 C.P.R. Box girder rail bridge over the South Saskatchewan River. The site of Medicine Hat has been occupied since about 1500 AD. and the area has long been known for its richness of natural resources. The fourth image is that of Major Lief Newry Fitzroy Crozier 1846-1901, known as ‘Paddy’. He had a distinguished career in the NWMP. Lobbying federal politicians for its creation. Rising to the rank of Assistant Commissioner, he played a significant role in the signing of Treaties #6 and #7 with the Indians, by whom he was initially much respected as a peacemaker among them although diplomacy and tact were not his strongest attributes. see item 2

NWR13 fish Creek  Lge

13. BATTLE OF FISH CREEK
Below title [The image was] 'Founded on the Dominion lands map of Township 41, Page 2 of the Third Meridian, Sketches by Mr. F.W. Curzon, special artist of the Illustrated War News with General Middleton's expedition and personal information furnished by members of the corps who participated in the engagement.
With Numbered Key.
|Colour Lithograph Published by Grip Printing Publishing Company. Toronto. Printed by Toronto Lithographic Co. 1885
18 5/8 x24 3/8" (47.3 x 61.9cm.) including letters glazed, handsome gilt wood frame 23 x30"
Ref 138 RG1/ANN/ e.andg> LLN     SOLD

Also known as the Battle of Tourond's Coulée, The Battle of Fish Creek, [after the painting by W. D. Blatchly] depicts the first real engagement of the Middleton's Expeditionary force against the Métis. There had previously been a skirmish at Duck Lake.(see item 2) On the 24 April 130 Métis, under the guerrilla tactician Dumont, succeeded in checking the advance of the inept Middleton. From a strongly defensible position in the coulée or ravine of Fish Creek, (a tributary of the South Saskatchewan river, Gabriel Dumont was co-insurrectionist with Riel and had established a successful form of self-government at St. Laurent, renamed Grandin in 1873. This led to the North-West Rebellion of 1885, as a stand against the expansion of white settlement into the region. At Fish Creek, from their defensive rifle pits, Métis marksmen picked off the troops silhouetted on the hill top. Middleton's heavy artillery fire however encouraged Métis desertions. Casualty figures of the rebels were 4 dead 2 wounded and Middleton's N.W. Field Force 10 dead 40 wounded. Middleton's command had forgotten to send a medical service to the field. As surgeons rushed to catch up with the column, makeshift ambulance services had to be created in the field.

NWR14 Middletons Church Parade

14. PRAIRIE CHURCH PARADE OF GENERAL MIDDLETON'S COMMAND
 Stone Lithograph. Souvenir number Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News  4 July 1885
9 1/2 x  x 13 " (24.1 x 33 cm.)  Ref. LRA.#87 WC 23/-/s.dosl>DAN PRICE CODE  A

 Bored and angry about the slow progress of the column due to Middleton's extreme caution, but in proper W.A.S.P. tradition, the troops were punctilious about church attendance. Even whilst on a prairie march, Canada's North West field force formed square for divine drumhead service on Sundays. It being important for the readers of the Illustrated War News to know that God was indeed on their side. What is not apparent though, is that the service was taking place on the thickly snow covered ground.  From a sketch by Lieut. Irving, Royal Grenadiers. With contemporary report of the campaign to April 26 1885 on verso including casualty lists at Fish Creek, details of Applegarth's escape and advance of Otter's column from the Saskatchewan river to Battleford, with a good description of the topography of the country.

NWR15 Grip Cut Knife Creek

15. BATTLE OF CUT KNIFE CREEK
After W. D. Blatchly. Below title 'From Topographical sketches by Capt. Rutherford, of 'B' battery, and Lieut. R. Lyndhurst Wadmore,'C' company, Infantry school corps: supplemented by personal information furnished by Sergt. Major Spackman and members of the Queen's Own who participated in the engagement.
With Numbered Key. This colour lithograph is in good condition aside from small water staining upper centre.

Colour Lithograph. Published by Grip Printing Publishing Company. Toronto. Printed by Toronto Lithographic Co. 1885
18 5/8 x24 3/8" (47.3 x 61.9cm.) including letters glazed, handsome gilt wood frame 23 x30"
Ref 138 RG2/ANN/ e.andg> LLN       SOLD

Fearing a general native uprising under Plains Cree Chief Poundmaker (Pîhtokahanapiwiyin) , and more looting of the town, Gen. Middleton dispatched a column under Col. William Otter to relieve Battleford, Saskatchewan. Otter's column consisted of some 763 men from the 2nd Battalion, ‘Queens Own Rifles’, 'B' Battery, Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 'C' Company of the Infantry School Corps, a party of sharpshooters from the Ist. Battalion Governor General’s Foot Guards, a small party of North-West Mounted Police under the command of Percy Neale, and assorted teamsters.

The town was successfully garrisoned, but then under pressure by the townspeople, Otter disobeyed orders and decided to take a flying column of 392 men drawn from the above, plus two 7-pounder field guns and Richard Gatling’s machine gun (then undergoing experimental Canadian Field tests), to punish Poundmaker, the Cree and Assiniboine warriors. The latter were encamped on their reserve west of Battleford at Cut Knife Creek. Behind the camp was Cut Knife Hill surrounded by coulées /ravines filled with good cover bushes and trees.
Otter arrived on the plateau (to the right) May 2nd. 1885 and in unfamiliar territory. Anticipating a quick rout, he deployed skirmish order and opened fire with his artillery and Gatling gun. The warriors, directed from the Hill (left), moved through the ravine cover and counter attacked in small guerrilla groups on both sides of the plateau, trapping Otter's troops.

After six hours of fighting, Otter decided to withdraw. As the soldiers were crossing the marsh, some warriors started mounting their horses to attack. Poundmaker asked them to let Otter's men leave. They respected Poundmaker and allowed Otter to return to Battleford. Some historians believe that only this prevented an outright massacre of Otter's troops.
Thus, the Battle of Cut Knife was the natives' most successful battle during the North-West Rebellion. Fourteen of Otter's soldiers were wounded, and eight killed, including one abandoned to be mutilated by native women; three natives were wounded and five killed. Unlike the American Battle of Little Big Horn, Otter survived with a new respect for native warriors.

NWR16 Rev Lloyd

16. THE QUEEN'S OWN AT CUT KNIFE CREEK, WITH INSET OF REV. G.E. LLOYD.
Stone Lithograph. Souvenir number Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News 29 August 1885
6 3/4 x 9 1/8 " (17.2 x 23.2 cm.) 
Ref. LRA.#92 WC 24/-/s.dosl>DAN  PRICE CODE C

Depicted is the act of gallantry on May 2nd. during the battle of Cut Knife Creek, of privates E.C. Acheson and G.E. Lloyd in trying to save a teamster named Winters and Private Arthur Dobbs of the Battleford Volunteer Rifles. Both Private George E. Lloyd and Acheson of the Queens' Own Rifles, were divinity students from Wycliffe College Toronto. During the incident Lloyd was shot in the back but survived, he was subsequently appointed chaplain whilst the corps was on service. He survived the campaign and married upon his return to Toronto.

NWR17Louis Riel

17. LOUIS RIEL 

Hand tinted wood engraved lithograph,  double matted, glazed, natural wood frame.
 10 1/4 x 7 3/4" (26 x 19.7 cm.) Frame 16 1/2  x 14" 
Ref AH20 (144) /GN/g.andg> AEN    PRICE CODE B

A full length portrait of Louis Riel in appropriate Métis warrior dress of fur cap with feather, white shirt, tie with tie-pin, heavy buffalo robe jacket, trousers, Métis embroidered sash, gaiters and moccasins. His left hand rests on a rifle.  In the snow covered background are Métis tents and a warmly clad compatriot carrying firewood.  Titled below image which is within a decorative border. (see also items 11 & 21

Riel was seen as a heroic victim by French-Canadians. His execution had a lasting negative impact on Canada, polarizing the new nation along ethno-religious lines. Although only a few hundred people were directly affected by the Rebellion in Saskatchewan, the long-term result was that the Prairie provinces would be controlled by the Anglophones, not the Francophones. Over the decades, he has been made a folk hero by Francophones, Catholic nationalists, native rights activists and the New Left student movement. Arguably, Riel has received more scholarly attention than any other figure in Canadian history.

Wikipedia 

NWR18 Northcote

18. THE STEAMER 'NORTHCOTE' RUNNING THE GAUNTLET AT BATOCHE MAY 8 TH 1885
Stone Lithograph. Souvenir number Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News 29 August 1885
6 x 9 1/4" (15.2 x 23.5 cm.)  Ref. LRA.#93 WC 24/-/s.dosl>DGN PRICE CODE B

The somewhat foolhardy attempt to use the HBC. stern-wheel paddle steamer 'Northcote' as a gunboat in the battle of Batoche, proved a highly ineffective diversionary tactic by Middleton. Had it not drifted down the river past the village on May 8th. at about 4 pm., the Métis would probably have had little trouble in destroying it. The vessel was fortified by the sacks of supplies for the troops which gave some protection from the rebel fire, however the Métis raised the ferry wire strung across the river which cut through the masts and funnels, essentially decapitating the vessel. Out of the action, it drifted down the South Saskatchewan River

NWR19Capture of batoche

19. THE CAPTURE OF BATOCHE

Colour Lithograph.  Published by Grip Printing Publishing Company. Toronto. Printed by Toronto Lithographic Co. 1885
18 5/8 x 24 3/8" (47.3 x 61.9cm.) including letters glazed, handsome gilt wood frame 23 x30"
Ref 138 RG3/ANN/ e.andg> LLN   SOLD     

Below title 'From sketches by the special artist of the "Canadian Pictorial and Illustrated War News" Sergt. Grundy and others." With Numbered Key.

Surrounded by entrenched lines of defensive Indian held rifle pits is the village of Batoche, Saskatchewan. Louis Riel's Métis capital of the ad hoc Provisional Government is depicted after the painting by W.D. Blatchly, as Middleton's Forces converge to take the town. In the event the inept Middleton dithered for 3 days, 9-12 May 1885. In the face of fierce resistance, despite the shelling of the village by a nine pounder Field Gun and Gatling machine gun, he attempted to deploy his 800-man strong force in an encircling maneuver. Its 300 odd defenders however were well hidden within their rifle pits, as depicted in this illustration. Middleton’s troops were forced to retire to a hastily constructed Zareba approximately a mile away. It fell to the Midland Regiment under Col. A.T.H. Williams, of Port Hope, who took it upon himself to lead the final flanking charge and storm the village. Casualties were 8 Canadians dead and 46 wounded to a loss of 16 Métis killed, 20-30 wounded. Riel surrendered on May 15, and was later hanged, Dumont fled to the United States, Poundmaker also surrendered, to die of ill health a year later. Following a few later skirmishes Big Bear was arrested, tried and served two years of his three-year sentence, also dying of ill health within a year. Thus ended the Riel Rebellion. 

Three iconic images (see also items 13 & 15) were commissioned by Grip from William D. Blatchly to fulfill a strong desire by the public for depictions of the heroic actions of the Canadian forces against the rebellious Métis and Indians, who under Louis Riel, had declared a defiant Provisional Government in the then far Canadian North West territories (Today’s Saskatchewan). Blatchley drew upon battlefield sketches by men that had taken part in General Middleton’s Expeditionary force. The resulting panoramic images, with explanatory key identifying the participating forces, became very popular but have now become relatively scarce and highly collectable, to find the complete set of three available, even more so. 

NWR20 Capturew of batoche repro

20. THE CAPTURE OF BATOCHE
Off Set lithograph matted, glazed natural wood frame 
11 x 14 5/8" (28 x37.2 cm.) Frame 16 7/8 x 18 7/8"
Ref.RY22 (179)/AN/r.and>DDL     PRICE CODE A

This is a reproduction of image 19 

The battle raged on and off for four days. At first Middleton's 800 strong forces were repulsed, resulting in much dissatisfaction as to the plan of attack by the overcautious Middleton. When Middleton was finally moved to engage the enemy with a somewhat haphazard charge, believed to have been instigated by Port Hope's own A.T.H. Williams. The troops advanced with much yelling over the whizz of bullets, staccato of the Gatling machine gun and discharge of the field canon, all of which was meant to confuse and frighten the enemy and get the men to their objective.

 The 300 rebels held five lines of defensive rifle pits, the first below the plateau, two others covered by the undulating slope and woods and two more either side of a ploughed field. Despite the superior fire power the rebels held firm until overwhelmed by the troops who bayoneted many of the still shooting rebels, as they were dug into their defensive mile long line of rifle pits. They then retired to the next line covering Batoche from the east. The troops in a somewhat disarray of skirmish order had to cross the exposed ploughed field during which they took most of their casualties as the rebel marksmen could target them from the lines and windows of the village houses.  Finally gaining the village, more casualties were taken in the house to house fighting, but the settlement was finally taken and Riel's prisoners freed. The rebel's families were unharmed as promised.  [The first use of the Red Cross in Canada was at the Battle of Batoche, 11 years before the Canadian Red Cross Society was formally established.]


NWR21 capture of Riel

21 CAPTURE OF LOUIS RIEL BY THE SCOUTS ARMSTRONG AND HOWIE 15 MAY 1885 
Stone Lithograph. Souvenir number Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News 29 August 1885
7 5/8 x 9 1/8" (19.4 x 23.2 cm.)  Ref. LRA.#96 WC 24/-/s.dosl>DGN PRICE CODE B

Following the battle for Batoche, Riel decided to surrender to Middleton, but fearing for his life if caught by the troops, he hid out. En route to Middleton he was surprised by three scouts Howie, Armstrong and Deale, who took him into protective custody. Middleton humanely lending the shivering Riel his greatcoat. 

 

NWR22 Fort Pitt Church Parade

22.   CHURCH PARADE AT FORT PITT, SUNDAY MORNING JUNE 2ND 1885
Stone Lithograph. Souvenir number Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News 29 August 1885
6 7/8 x 9 1/8" (17.5 x 23.2 cm.)  Ref. LRA.#104 WC 24/-/s.dosl>DRN see below

A general view of Fort Pitt From a sketch by Corp. E.C. Currie. A detailed numbered key and explanation of the exact positions of individuals, buildings, company tents, steamers etc. is given on the reverse of the following item, together with a contemporary report on Riel's trial. This pair are significant views and accounts for Canadian military historians.  
 Together with:-

NWR22b Life at Fort Pitt

CAMP LIFE AT FORT PITT
 
A. Mounted police horses responding to the 'Feed & Water' call
B. Horse Racing 'Go as you please'
Stone Lithographs. Souvenir number Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News 29 August 1885.  Two conjoined views. Text on verso.
13 3/4 x 9 5/8" (34.8 x 24.4 cm.) 
Ref. LRA.#105 WC 24/-/s.dosl> Three views  AOL PRICE CODE B

Two views from sketches by F. W. Curson depicting life at Fort Pitt following the suppression of the North West Rebellion. 
A. The N.W.M.P. horses responding to the feeding time call. 
B. After the grueling weeks of the campaign, often in bitter weather, there had to be some down time before the long journey back to their home bases across this vast country. A 'go as you please' horse race was a good way to reduce tension and let off some steam.    

NWR23 Big Bear Surrendering

23.  BIG BEAR SURRENDERING TO THE MOUNTED POLICE ON AN ISLAND IN THE SASKATCHEWAN JULY 2
Stone Lithograph. Souvenir number Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News 29 August 1885
6 5/8 x 9 1/8" (16.8 x 23.2 cm.) 
Ref. LRA.#102 WC 24/-/s.dosl>DAN PRICE CODE A

The rebellion suppressed, all that remained now was some mopping up. Middleton directed Gen. Strange to track down Big Bear (Mistahimaskwa). From his base amid the ruins at Fort Pitt, Strange made good use of the N.W.M.P.  under Maj. Sam Steele who discovered Big Bear and his followers well dug in about 15 miles away. Following a skirmish at Frenchman's Butte (May 28th.) Big Bear made a tactical withdrawal with Steel and about 70 men in pursuit, who eventually located him some 50 miles N.E. of Fort Pitt.   According to some contemporary reports we have read, a very weary, haggard and frightened Chief Big Bear, his eight year old son and band council member - Ka-Ken-Pa-Tow, were captured on an island near Fort Carlton ferry by Sergeant Smart and 11 N.W.M.P. officers. Other reports say that the 60 year old Chief and his two companions, after eluding his captors since the skirmish at Loon Lake (June 6th) and travelling through rough bush country, surrendered himself to the astonished Sergeant Smart on July 2nd. at Fort Carleton, (about 200 miles east of Fort Pitt).
He was released after two years of his three-year sentence on grounds of ill health.   Mistahimaskwa had stood firm against what he considered to be the unjust and inadequate terms of Treaty# 6. He also tried to unite the Cree people, so that they could successfully fight against socio-economic injustices as a community. 

NWR24 Honour Roll

24. HONOUR ROLL OF THE OFFICERS, NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICERS AND MEN COMPRISING THE NORTH WEST FIELD FORCE WHICH SUPPRESSED THE REBELLION OF 1885

SCARCE. Supplement to the Souvenir number Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News 29 August 1885     Ref. LRA.#107 WC 24/-/s.dosl>RNN PRICE CODE B

 A comprehensive scarce four-page supplement to the Illustrated War News. Each page contains nine columns of names of those who took part in the campaign listed by company or corps giving headquarters, rank, killed or wounded. The names were obtained from the actual pay lists of the various corps. Also included are the members of the N.W.M.P. and medical staff who served.
                              An invaluable document for Rebellion historians.

Conclusion  - the legacy.

It was over. The rebellion was suppressed. Riel was hung, also eight other Indians convicted of insurgency murders. 'Our Boys'  (see item 24) would return home during July, via steamboat and stinking barge down the rivers and across the lakes, first to Winnipeg where a jubilant city gave them a tumultuous welcome. Thence via rail, to their home towns across the country. Through the eyes of most they were heroes and the feelings of the time were expressed in the gratitude of the citizens - particularly in Ontario. Campaign medals were stuck. Those who served with the Militia and Police during the rebellion received the North West Canada Medal, established in September 1885. Middleton earned the thanks of the parliament of Canada, a gift of $20,000 from the Canadian government and a life pension of £100 pounds. The  good citizens of Port Hope,Ont. erected a statue honouring their late 'Hero of Batoche'.The Rebellion was Canada's first independent military action. The campaign had cost about $5 million dollars.
  
The outcome of the North West Rebellion was inevitable, but the results were far more important than the events themselves. The factors that influenced the outbreak of the rebellion were a strong indictment of the MacDonald government.

Riel's trial and Macdonald's refusal to commute his sentence caused lasting upset in Quebec, and led to a fundamental francophone distrust of Anglophone politicians. French Canada felt it had been unfairly targeted. The political storm that was unleashed and the resulting sectarian dissent between Orange Ontario and Catholic Québec as to the punishment of the ‘rebels’ or pardon for the ‘patriots’ (and particularly the question of clemency for Riel) caused enough passion to rock the foundations of the Dominion, and seriously threatened to topple the federal government. The wound it created was long in the healing, for MacDonald had seriously underestimated the feeling of resentment in Québec. Huge public demonstrations lead to the formation of ‘Le Parti National’ and in the ensuing election of 1887 the Conservative party in the province was crushed. Its legacy still lingers.

In the end, the federal government was determined to dispose of the man who had led two uprisings in the young country's history. Riel's trial for high treason was a national spectacle, manipulated by Ottawa. Despite continuing questions about his sanity, Riel was found guilty and hanged.

The government saw it as guaranteeing Anglophone control of the Prairies, and demonstrated the national government was capable of decisive action. MacDonald got his National railway, British Colombia  entered the Dominion.   The era of large-scale immigration into the North West and creation of the Prairie Provinces began, Alberta and Saskatchewan becoming part of the Dominion in 1905.


See fine examples of Immigration Posters here


It is somewhat ironic, given the incredibly primitive living conditions that then existed in an Ottawa that was itself only emerging from the backwoods as a capital, that the MacDonald government, bolstered by the façade of Rideau Hall society, not only was able to remove itself from the realities of living amid nature themselves, but also chose to ignore and virtually despise the aspirations of a western people who lived at one with the environment. Unfortunately, in his ambition to remain in office, MacDonald would rather engage in political subterfuge and scheming at the expense of improving the social and material well-being of those in the west. However, given Ottawa’s appreciation of western problems in the 100 years since, maybe it wasn’t so strange.

The Saskatchewan Métis' requested land grants; they were all provided by the government by the end of 1887, and the government resurveyed the Métis river lots in accordance with their wishes. The Métis did not understand the long term value of their new land, however, and sold much of it to speculators who later resold it to farmers. The French language and Catholic religion faced increasing marginalization in both Saskatchewan and Manitoba.  The Métis themselves were increasingly forced to live on undesirable land or in the shadow of (as they did not themselves have treaty status as Indians with a right to land). Their legacy: The Métis as a separate entity with a voice in the development of the West were destroyed. The power of the Roman Catholic Church, by its denial of the sacraments and political connivance (some say treachery,) at Batoche, lost its appeal to the minds of many in the North West. The marginalization of the native people of the west continues to this day.

In late June 2019, the Federal Government signed an agreement, under rulings from the Supreme Court of Canada, that the Métis should finally have  self-governing 'status' and rights to their land, abolishing the old complicated form of scrip, - another long overdue step on the long road to equality.

The N.W.M.P., largely as a result of events beyond its control, lost respect as a peacekeeping force. Its’ reputation would take years to rebuild.

See also
Part I The Red River Settlement
Part II The growth of Winnipeg - hub of 19th cent. western expansion

Works consulted in the writing of these three  1.  2.  3. sections:-

Boulton, Charles A, Reminiscences of the British North West Rebellions.    
                                                                                                                     Toronto 1886 
Cameron.W. B.        The War Trail of Big Bear.                                          Toronto N.D.
Grip.                         Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News Souvenir numbers 
                                                                                    Parts I & II.              Toronto 1885
Gwyn, S.                  The Private Capital.                                                    Toronto 1984                                                     
Howard, J.                Strange Empire- Louis Riel and the Métis People.     Toronto 1974
Jackson, J.A.            The Centennial History of Manitoba.                         Toronto 1970
Leeson. D.G.            A Great Lone Land  Russborough Catalogue 11.      Toronto 1985
Lower, J.A.              Western Canada, an outline history,                      Vancouver 1983
MacLaren, Sherrill.   Breahead Three Founding Families in Nineteenth
                                  Century Canada.
                                                        Toronto 1986
Morton, A.S.             A history of the Canadian West to 1870.71                Toronto 1973
N.M.C.                     Catalogue of the National Map Collection Public Archives of Canada.                                                                                                         Boston 1976
Needler, G.H.           Louis Riel the Rebellion of  1885.                               Toronto 1957
Ross, A.                   The Red River Settlement.                                        Edmonton 1972
Sabine, J.                  Bibliotheca Americana.                                           New York 1936
Senior, M.                 The Fenians in Canada.                                             Toronto 1978
Spendlove, F.S.G.    The Face of early Canada.                                         Toronto 1958
Spry, I. M.                The Palliser Expedition.                                              Toronto 1984
Stanley, G.F.G.        The Birth of Western Canada-a history of the Riel Rebellion.                                                                                                                                 Toronto 1978
Wagner H.B. & Camp C. The Plains and the Rockies                       San Francisco 1937
The Canadian Encyclopedia     Hurtig Publishers                                    Edmonton 1988

© Darrell G. Leeson MMXIX

Home
Location
Home | Contact | Location | Links | Antique Prints | Fine Art | Antique Maps | Omnium Gatherum | Specialty Services