22 November 1869

The Courthouse, Upper Fort Garry, Convention of Monday, November 22, 1869.

A memorial was handed in at the commencement of … [the] sitting, reviewing the circumstances, the signers pledging to use their utmost endeavors in a constitutional manner, for the redress of any grievance which the French people might happen to labor under, if they, the French would espouse the cause of peace and retire to their homes. This memorial was signed by a large majority of the people of this place.” [Town of Winnipeg?]

“A Petition written by Dr, Schultz headed by Jas. Stewart [Schultz’s ‘pharmaceutical apprentice’] and a number of strangers in the settlement was handed round by Dr. Bown this morning for signature — the petition was addressed to the council delegates and some of its contents were right enough but the fact of the document being got up and handed round by the men was enough to condemn it. The petition had as well as other things for its object the upsetting of Mr. McKenney and Mr. H.F. O’Lone in their responsibility as delegates. Mr. Bannatyne refused to sign it and afterwards addressed the following letter to the council explaining his reasons–

A Petition written apparently by Schultz signed principally by a number of Strangers and others in the settlement and headed by Jas. Stewart has just been brought me by Dr. Bown with a request I should sign it. I have refused to sign this document because those engaged in getting it up have been to a very great extent the cause of all our present troubles. The course they have adopted in their relations with the Canadian Government and its officials is well known to all here — and their connection with the latter has not been fruitful of good to the country.

The Petition has been written by one who has broken our laws headed by one who has broken our laws and handed me by one who has broken our laws. I could not consent to mix myself with such people and have on these grounds refused to sign it.

Reports have of late been industriously circulated reflecting both on my private & public character as Postmaster. It has been said I have assisted to raise the French Half Breeds to resist Mr. McDougall and assisted by providing provisions & otherwise to maintain the prevailing excitement among them.

The truth of these slanderous rumours I totally deny.

I coincide with the party of action so far as they endeavor to obtain their & our rights. That I ever advised or encouraged them in any way to take up arms or to perform any illegal act is false & the man who utters such statements is false too.

With regard to my character as Postmaster the statements made against me are groundless and any man who professes to have proof to the contrary should now come forward and produce it. I can solemnly swear that no letters have been tampered with, so far as my Post office is concerned & altho’ the Mail  Bags were detained a couple of times for an hour or two no man’s letters were tampered with.

My earnest wish is that the Canadian Government should be established as early as possible, only let us have our elective and other acknowledged rights. I have tried for this from the first and will continue to do so.

My own desire is that the French portion of the settlement should now speak out their minds on what they deem justly due them in the new order of Government. This once obtained by the Settlement generally and found to be what every free people has a right to expect. My belief is that those who have as it were fought our battles (although perhaps in a different way than we would have done) will have the thanks hereafter of the people in the settlement & their posterity and that their wishes will be the wishes of the rest of the settlement and that all will combine in demanding our rights — the unassailable rights of a free people worthy of having a through & complete voice in the management of of their own affairs.

[Signed] A.G.B. Bannatyne”[1]

The Convention meets.

“The petition from Jas. Stewart … was not allowed to be read in the council from the fact that it ignored there being two delegates present to represent the residents in the Town of Winnipeg — and therefore not in order. Mr. Bannatyne’s letter through Mr. McKenney delegate is to be read to-morrow.”

“Mr. James Ross and Louis Riel were the principal speakers.”

Mr. Ross raises the question of the gains which would flow from our entry into the confederation, gains which would be considerable for us and important for the accomplishment of the design of confederation. The union of this vast country to Canada is necessary to the dearest interests of British North America. The Queen approves the Canadian Confederation as it has been constituted. We are, as it were, the key stone of the arch of that grand undertaking [italics: W.L. Morton as source].

Mr. Riel replies that all that Mr. Ross has just said is accurate and has our full agreement. But if this country is beyond question of high importance for the completion of the Canadian confederation, why not put it at once on such a footing that the settlers here may go on living prosperously in this country and that outsiders coming here to live may find institutions all ready to make them happy by bestowing on them those liberties which all America likes to see its children enjoy without distinction. There [above] is the substance of two long speeches which Ross and Riel make.

Mr. [Donald] Gunn rises, complains of the loss of time that we incur in not coming to an understanding. He asks the French to lay down their arms, in order that the two sections of the colony may speak on an even footing. He urges vigorously that Mr. McDougall be allowed to come in in order that we may lay our complaints before him and receive satisfaction.

Mr. Thos. Bunn rose and spoke to the point that nothing had been done during the three days they had spent together — recommended laying down their arms and asking them (French) to state what the French wanted in substance, and spoke about letting Mr. McDougall in.”

Mr. Riel replies that by laying down our arms, we open our doors altogether too wide to those whom we ought not allow to invade us; and that McDougall shall not enter “either in the capacity of a private individual or as Governor.

The council then adjourned to meet again to-morrow.”

____________________________________________________

[1] Alexander Begg, Red River Journal, 178.

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