1 December 1869

The Courthouse, Upper Fort Garry, Convention of Wednesday, December 1, 1869

The French wait for the English who are in Winnipeg and do not wish to come.

Finally, [A.G.B.] Bannatyne comes saying that he brings the Queen’s Proclamation.[1]

Mr. Riel examines the document and says laughing that it indeed looks like one. Handing back the poster to Mr. Bannatyne, he says to him, Take that big sheet (pronouncing the double ‘e’ very short) [italics: W.L. Morton]. My friends, if it is the Queen’s Proclamation, pay attention. Let us weigh our acts before acting. It is more than ever necessary for us to be prudent in the vindication of our rights, so dear and so certain.

Some time after that the English deputies [sic: delegates] come looking wan and yet a little more cheerful than usual.

Mr. Riel — If Mr. McDougall is really our governor to-day, our chances are better than ever. He has no more to do than prove to us his desire to treat us well. If he guarantees our rights, I am one of those who will go to meet him in order to escort him as far as the seat of his government.

Finally,

Mr. Ross says, what will we ask of him?

A period of disorderly discussion follows, and the French ask for two hours in which to formulate what they have in mind.

Adjournment until six o’clock p.m.

At 6 o’clock p.m. the members of the convention reassemble.

Our bill of rights is discussed.

1. The right to elect our Legislature.

2. The Legislature to have power to pass all laws, local to the Territory, over the veto of the Executive, by a two-third vote.

3. No act of the Dominion Parliament (local to this Territory) to be binding on the people until sanctioned by their representatives.

4. All sheriffs, magistrates, constables, etc., etc., to be elected by the people — a free homestead pre-emption law.

5. A portion of the public lands to be appropriated to the benefit of schools, the building of roads, bridges and parish buildings.

6. A guarantee to connect Winnipeg by rail with the nearest line of railroad — the land grant for such road or roads to be subject to the Legislature of the Territory.

7. For 4 years the public expenses of the Territory, civil, military and municipal, to be paid out of the Dominion treasury.

8. The military to be composed of the people now existing in the Territory.

9. The French and English language to be common in the Legislature and Council, and all public documents and acts of Legislature to be published in both languages.

10. That the Judge of the Superior Court speak French and English.

11. Treaties to be concluded and ratified between the Government and several tribes of Indians of this Territory, calculated to insure peace in the future.

12. That all privileges, customs and usages existing at the time of the transfer to be respected.

13. That these rights be guaranteed by Mr. McDougall before he be admitted into this Territory. If he have not the power himself to grant them, he must get an act of Parliament passed expressly securing us these rights; and until such act be obtained, he must stay outside of the Territory.

14. That we have a full and fair representation in the Dominion Parliament.[2]

All the propositions are accepted by the English on the ground that since they are things so little contrary to their views, it costs nothing to present them to Mr. McDougall with whom a settlement might be obtained, perhaps on the strength of his commission, perhaps by an act of Canadian Parliament.

The proposition of sending delegates to Mr. McDougall is advanced, but in this the English all refuse to participate.

Mr. Riel rises and speaks hotly. Go, he says, return peacefully to your farms. Rest in the arms of your wives. Give that example to your children. But watch us act. We are going to work and obtain the guarantee of our rights and yours. You will come to share them in the end.

________________________________________________

[1] According to Alexander Begg, Creation of Manitoba, 65, 109-112. It was Council member William Tait’s younger brother, Robert, who first obtained and submitted to the English delegates a copy the proclamation issued by the Canadian appointed Lieutenant-Governor in waiting, William MacDougall. While it declared his accession to office and the annexation of the North-West by Canada to be a fait accompli on authority of the Queen, the document was soon revealed to have been fraudulently devised by MacDougall himself.

See LAC, scrip affidavit, ‘Tait, Robert’; and Thomas Flanagan, ‘Metis Land Grants in Manitoba,’ 77-78, who describes Robert Tait as a member of the ‘Metis merchant-farmer class in Red River.’

[2] Morton, Alexander Begg’s Red River Journal, 69 n. 1, see also 428, notes “As early as November 1, ‘Spectator’ had written the Daily Press of St. Paul [MN],” with the text of the list … the métis [sic] would demand. J.W. Taylor reported these prospective demands to Hamilton Fish on November 16.” See Hartwell Bowsfield, The James Wickes Taylor Correspondence 1859-1870 (Winnipeg: Manitoba Record Society, 1968), 122 n. 314. All the terms were repeated in subsequent versions of the Red River List/ Bill of Rights.

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