Historic Resources Branch
Manitoba Heritage Council Commemorative Plaques
(Courtesy of the Archives of Manitoba)
South Legislative Grounds
"I know that through the grace of God I am the founder of Manitoba." Louis Riel, July, 1885. A Métis leader, Louis Riel was born in the Red River Settlement and educated at St. Boniface and Montreal. Riel, a passionate defender of the Métis, advocated guarantees for their land, language and political rights. His leadership inspired the creation of Manitoba as Canada's fifth province on July 15, 1870.
Riel was elected three times to the House of Commons, which twice expelled him for his role in the Red River Resistance of 1869–70. Forced into exile in 1875, Riel lived in hiding in Manitoba and Quebec before moving to the United States. In 1884, he was invited by people in the North-West Territories to return and lead them in petitioning Canada to recognize their land and rights as indigenous people of the North-West Territories. This has become known as the North-West Rebellion.
In 1885, Riel was charged with high treason by the Canadian Government and was subsequently convicted and hanged in Regina on November 16, 1885. His body was returned to Manitoba by the Métis and buried at the St. Boniface Basilica.
In 1992, the Parliament of Canada and the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba formally recognized Riel's contribution to the development of the Canadian Confederation and his role, and that of the Métis, as founder of Manitoba.