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Government of Manitoba
Louis Riel Day

Life Events

A Chronology of Events in the Life of Louis Riel 1844 - 1885

1844 – October 22 Louis Riel is born in the Red River settlement.
1858 Archbishop Taché sends Riel and three others to Lower Canada to be educated for the priesthood. Riel is 14 years old.
1864 – 1866 Upon death of his father in 1864, Riel withdraws from college to work and support his family. He finds work in Montreal as a law clerk.
1866 – 1868 Riel works in Chicago and St. Paul.
1868 Riel returns to Red River settlement.
1869 Canada starts to survey Dawson Road from Lake of the Woods.
1869 – July William McDougall, Canada’s minister of public works, orders a survey of Red River settlement.
1869 – July 19 Riel speaks at a meeting of Métis residents about rights in event of annexation of Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) lands by Canada.
1869 – August Riel speaks on the steps of St. Boniface Cathedral; declares Dominion Government plans to conduct a land survey a menace.
1869 – September William McDougall is appointed Lieutenant-Governor of NWT.
1869 – October 11 Métis horsemen led by Riel stop the Dominion Government land survey.
1869 – Mid-October Led by John Bruce, Métis National Committee is formed.
1869 – October 25 Riel appears before the Council of Assiniboia and declares the National Committee will block entry of any governor unless union with Canada is based on negotiation with the Métis and the population in general.
1869 – November 2 Lieutenant-Governor is met at HBC Pembina post by Métis patrol and ordered to return to USA. Upper Fort Garry is taken over by
1869 – November 6 Riel asks English speaking residents to elect 12 representatives from their parishes to attend a convention with Métis representatives.
1869 – November 16 HBC Governor Mactavish orders Métis to lay down their arms.
1869 – November 23 Provisional government is proposed by Riel.
1869 – December 1 Transfer of British North America lands of HBC to Canada takes place. Riel presents his List of Rights to the convention.
1869 – December 7 John Christian Schultz and followers of Canadian Party temporarily imprisoned.
1869 – December 8 Provisional Government formed. John Bruce named president.
1869 – December 18 William McDougall leaves for Ontario after hearing the union is postponed until peaceful transition can be guaranteed.
1869 – December 27 Riel replaces John Bruce as president.
1870 – February 10 List of Rights approved to negotiate provincial status with federal government.
1870 – February 17 Riel’s provisional guardsmen arrest 48 armed men, so-called Canadians, at Upper Fort Garry. Their leader, Dr. John Schultz escapes capture and leaves for Ontario.
1870 – Mid-February Charles Boulton, commander of the 46th militia regiment and survey crew member is condemned to death to set an example to Canadians who had twice attempted to overthrow Riel. Riel later pardons him in exchange for a promise that the English parishes will elect representatives.
1870 – March 4 Thomas Scott is executed. Arrested February 17 as one of the 48 Canadians, history describes him as a foul mouthed, ignorant bigot who had previously escaped imprisonment, had attempted to incite civil war, and continued to show contempt for guards. He was charged with insubordination, tried and sentenced to death by a jury. Riel, apparently believing it was time to demonstrate his provisional government should be taken seriously, refused to intervene, rejecting all appeals.
1870 – March 23 – 24 Three delegates leave for Ottawa.
1870 – May 12 Manitoba Act is passed (name favoured by Riel) and receives Royal assent.
1870 – June 24 Provisional government accepts terms of Manitoba Act.
1870 – July 15 Manitoba Act takes effect. Louis Riel is just 25 years of age.
1870 – August 24 Wolseley expedition arrives; Riel vacates Upper Fort Garry. Fearing he will be lynched, he moves south of the U.S. border.
1870 – September 2 Lieutenant-Governor A.G. Archibald arrives in Red River. He finds a community torn by violence and terrorized by the Ontario militia. He begins to set up a civil administration and forms a provincial cabinet.
1870 – December Manitoba holds its first provincial election.
1871 – February Riel falls ill, perhaps enduring a nervous breakdown, worrying about his personal safety and his inability to support his family.
1871 – May Riel returns home to St. Vital.
1871 – October During the Fenian incident, a poorly organized attempt by a group of Americans to march northward, Riel recruits armed Métis horsemen to defend Manitoba.
 1872 - March 2 Riel goes into voluntary exile in St. Paul, Minnesota at the request of John A. Macdonald, who supposedly wanted to reduce tension and help avoid conflict between Quebec and Ontario.
1872 – September 14 Georges-Etienne Cartier wins Manitoba seat in federal election when Riel withdraws candidacy as a favour to Macdonald.
1873 – May Cartier passes away.
1873 – October Riel elected to Parliament, but never enters to take his seat, fearing he would be arrested for murder.
1874 – February After Macdonald’s government resigns, Riel is re-elected in February 1874, but is expelled from Parliament before taking his seat.
1874 – September Re-elected a third time in a Provencher constituency by-election, Riel delays taking his seat and is once again expelled.
1874 – October Riel is convicted along with Ambroise Lépine for murder of Thomas Scott.
1875 – January Death penalty is commuted by Governor General to two years imprisonment.
1875 – February Alexander Mackenzie’s Liberal government grants amnesty for Riel and Lepine, on the condition that both remain in exile for five years.
1875 – 1884 Riel lives in New York; marries Marguerite Monet, 1881 (three children); takes U.S. citizenship in 1883; teaches in Montana in 1884.
1884 – July Responding to an invitation by Métis residents, Riel arrives in Batoche, North West Territories (now Saskatchewan).
1885 – May 9 – 12 The Battle of Batoche is a decisive defeat for Métis forces against the much larger and better armed Canadian militia commanded by Major-General Middleton. The Northwest Rebellion is over. Riel turns himself in to Middleton and is taken to Regina.
1885 – November 16 Louis Riel, at 41 years of age, is found guilty of high treason and hanged in Regina.
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