During 1870 (March continued)


In Assiniboia:

5 March: Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: Thomas Scott has been buried in Upper Fort Garry; the Anglican Bishop, John McLean, was refused Scott’s body for burial; R. Patterson arrived from Canada with Col. Arthur Rankin (a railway enthusiast and speculator); Col. Rankin is a friend of Sheriff Henry McKenney, and met with American Consul in Winnipeg, Oscar Malmros and Henry Martin Robinson; 2 Commissioners from England are on the way to the Settlement; Onis Monchamp has been arrested; Murdoch McLeod is in irons and is likely to be shot as a conspirator against the Provisional Government – he had been pitting ‘the English’ against ‘the French’ with John C. Schultz and Charles Mair; John Taylor has disclosed all of Schultz’s plan to the Provisional Government.

[Alexander Begg, Red River Journal, 328, 329, 330. See also “Prisoners,” this site.]

6 March: Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: ‘the French’ at Upper Fort Garry are divided (although this is not widely believed); French Canadian Commissioner, Colonel Charles de Salaberry, is taking supplies out of Upper Fort Garry; a Crown Commissioner is travelling with Bishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché to the Settlement.

7 March: Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: copies of the New Nation that are slated for export will not contain an account of Thomas Scott‘s execution until next week; ‘the Americans’ are divided — the “better class” object to Alfred H. Scott and Hugh Francis Olone being involved in community government affairs; [President] Louis Riel is at White Horse Plain; Charles Nolin is a prisoner; Murdoch McLeod has been condemned to be shot; Capt. J.E. Norbert Gay and Louis Schmidt are “away together on some mission.”

[Alexander Begg, Red River Journal, 331.]

8 March: the weather is “sharp” with blowing and drifting snow.

Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: priests and nuns are taking goods out of Upper Fort Garry; people have gone off to meet Bishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché, who has still not arrived, but is anxiously waited for; Taché has arrived but no one is allowed near him; there was no message, about reserving pemmican for the Provisional Government, sent to the winterers on the plains after all; Charles Nolin was not accepted as a councillor in the Assembly; there are “shocking” accounts of Thomas Scott’s death; Ambroise-Dydime Lépine fired the final shot at the execution; [President] Louis Riel revised the account of Scott’s execution printed in the New Nation; ‘the French’ are divided over whether or not to kill Murdoch McLeod.

[Alexander Begg, Red River Journal, 331.]

9 March: The first session of the Legislative Assembly of the Provisional Government opens. President Louis Riel gives a speech, urging, “Let Us Act.”

Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: Bishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché arrived in company with Father Jean-Marie-Joseph Lestanc, James McKay, and Rev. N.-J. Ritchot, and was met by 200 people at the church in St. Boniface, then afterwards went to Bishop’s palace; a guard of 20 has been put on the Bishop’s palace and Taché is being kept away from visitors; Canadians are preparing to leave next Friday; Micizine Nolin was arrested and put in chains; Joseph Hamblin [sic: Hamelin/ Hamel/ Amelin] was arrested; Canadian prisoners have been put on excrement detail; the Legislative Assembly met.

[Alexander Begg, Red River Journal, 332, 333. Note: the time for Taché’s journey from Rome to Red River Settlement was 38 days – 4 in London; 2 in Ottawa = 33 days travel.]

10 March: Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: the Legislative Assembly met again this day; “Mr. Ellwood” has claimed pay as a Canadian Volunteer enrolled under John Stoughton Dennis (£10 on a Canadian Government account), which was paid out by Dr. John Harrison O’Donnell, attorney for Dr. James Spencer Lynch (who has left for Canada); Angus McKay and John Francis Grant were arrested; John McLean and his son Alexander McLean were released on account of Mrs. McLean’s illness; William Sutherland has been released.

[Alexander Begg, Red River Journal, 333. See also “Prisoners,” this site.]

11 March: the New Nation (11 March 1870), reports on: the first day of the debates of the Legislative Assembly: ”The Delegates”; ”Political Arrests”; Revolution in Mexico; “Savages” in Australia; “War” as a Canadian threat against Red River.

Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: 2 of the 3 Taylor men have been released; Canadian Party departures have been delayed to tomorrow; Bishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché visited Upper Fort Garry; Taché is resigning as a Canadian Commissioner (though this is not believed); Rev. Fletcher is to be the ‘English’ delegate to Ottawa; James McKay is to be arrested; notices have gone out to the elected representatives that there will be a council meeting on the 15th; the New Nation “is the government organ and controlled completely by Riel”; there is to be a ‘Mass Meeting of the People’ (though this is not believed).

[Alexander Begg, Red River Journal, 334.]

12 March: Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: 15 people are preparing to leave Red River, including Mrs. Rev. George Young, Victoria ‘Vicky’ McVicar, Rev. Fletcher, and Peter McArthur, who “takes with him over £500 Sterling of orders on the Canadian Government for supplies furnished to men enrolled by Col. John Stoughton Dennis and captured by the French in Schultz’s house” [on 7 December 1869]; McArthur has been given 4 hrs. notice to leave the Settlement or be arrested.

13 March: Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: a crowd gathered to hear Bishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché preach a sermon in which he counselled harmony and cooperation.

14 March: a “hurricane” of blowing, drifting snow breaks out.

Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: Sabine and McLean have been released at the request of Andrew G.B. Bannatyne; one prisoner was denied release when that was requested by [Chief Justice] James Ross; [President] Louis Riel and Ross are divided; people have been hoarding gold and silver; “parties in town” are issuing checques instead of change; there has been a “stoppage of the HBC money box”; “A great many people are speaking of leaving the country in or before the spring – even natives of the country – things look gloomy for the future.”

[Alexander Begg, Red River Journal, 335, 336.]

15 March: 1st Session, Day 2 of the Legislative Assembly of the Provisional Government [soon to be known as the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia], meets on the “stormiest day of the whole winter — perfect hurricane, drifts enormous.” Hon. Thomas Bunn asserts that the Governments of England, Canada, and the HBC have “ignored our rights as British subjects.” Hon. Alfred H. Scott, affirms, “That despite insults and sufferings” the people of the North-West still endure, their loyalty to the Crown remains and will continue, if rights, properties, and customs are respected. Bishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché speaks to the Assembly. President Louis Riel announces he will see to the release of ½ of the remaining prisoners.

Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: nothing was done at the Council meeting before noon, because [President] Louis Riel and ‘the French’ were absent; Taché spoke in the afternoon, condemning the doings of William McDougall and John Stoughton Dennis and avowing the Canadian and Imperial Governments judged them the same way; [Hon.] William Bernard O’Donoghue, [Hon.] Alfred H. Scott, and [Hon.] Hugh Francis Olone are unhappy at the “prospect of speedy union with Canada”; Riel has agreed to release ½ of the prisoners to-night, the balance in a day or 2 after ‘certain news’ is received; Riel is reinstating HBC business; the Provisional Government is to run like the old HBC Governor and Council; Riel will resign happily as soon as a proper governor arrives.

[Alexander Begg, Red River Journal, 336.]

16 March: 1st Session, Day 3 of the Legislative Assembly of the Provisional Government [soon to be known as the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia], meets. President Louis Riel and Hon. Thomas Bunn debate the terms “nation” and “British subjects”; a Constitution Committee is formed; the question of the Hay Privilege is broached.

Charles Arkoll Boulton is released from jail.

Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: the constitution committee formed at the council meeting will present its work on the 17th; 17 prisoners were released yesterday, and more today, including Boulton; all prisoners will be free tomorrow; Donald A. Smith, Andrew McDermott, and Colonel Charles de Salaberry are pressing Judge John Black to be a delegate to Ottawa; ‘the Americans’ are planning to rob Begg & Bannatyne’s store and Upper Fort Garry and then run across the border; the American Consul in Winnipeg, Oscar Malmros, has been called away on business (some shady dealings in Chicago); Malmros has been recalled to Washington DC.

 Alexander Begg observes, “everything is working harmoniously and there is every prospect of peace and return of confidence”

  [Begg, Red River Journal, 338, 337, 338.]

17 March: the Constitution Committee of the Legislative Assembly meets. A St. Patrick’s Day salute is fired at Upper Fort Garry; the bells are rung at St. Boniface.

Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: the Constitution Committee held a meeting; Bishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché gave a St. Patrick’s service in English at St. Boniface Cathedral; there was a dinner held at Upper Fort Garry in Government House, with a musical band and speeches; mail has not arrived because of the storm; prisoners have been brought in from Portage la Prairie – Spence, McKay, and Tate – accused of taking goods from HBC Lane’s Fort; American Consul in Winnipeg, Oscar Malmros, has designated Henry Martin Robinson as Vice-Consul; the brother of H.M. Robinson (“Col.” John Robinson) is building a hotel for U.S. troops expected to arrive at Pembina in the spring; the U.S. troops are to be stationed at St. Joseph.

18 March: 1st Session, Day 4 of the Legislative Assembly of the Provisional Government [soon to be known as the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia]: hears the Report of Constitution Committee. The country is now named Assiniboia.

The New Nation (18 March 1870), is not distributed.

Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: the Provisional Government’s Council adjourned and will conduct no business until the Constitution Committee finishes its work; Donald A. Smith left by dog train for Canada; Oscar Malmros left by horse sleigh for the U.S.; Col. Arthur Rankin and Henry McKenney are sending round a petition asking for a railway land grant; Charles Arkoll Boulton met with Bishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché; there was a concert at St. Boniface; the St. Boniface College boys performed a military drill learned from Colonel Charles de Salaberry, and were reviewed by Boulton, De Salaberry, [Hon.] Andrew G.B. Bannatyne, John Henry McTavish and wife Maria Rowand, Alexander Begg and wife Katherine Jane Glen Macaulay Rae Hamilton, [Chief Justice] James Ross, [Clerk of the Assembly] William Coldwell , [Hon.] Hugh Francis Olone , [Hon.] Alfred H. Scott, [Hon.] William Bernard O’Donoghue, Mrs. Miles McDermott and others; Tachè has met with HBC Gov. William Mactavish twice and is pro-Provisional Government; the New Nation press was stopped by [President] Louis Riel over dissatisfaction with Taché’s speech.

[Begg, Red River Journal, 338.]

19 March: the weather is “spring-like.”

Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: the Constitution Committee is not done its work; if Canada had listened to Bishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché at the outset, things would have gone better; New Nation editor Henry Martin Robinson resigned “disgusted,” and [Chief Justice] James Ross will take over; no export of the New Nation newspaper is allowed; ‘French sources’ say Canadian people at Portage la Prairie have moved out or are in hiding; Judge John Black has accepted the position of delegate to Ottawa, and will take his sister with him; Col. Arthur Rankin has been given 6 hours notice to leave the Settlement — by [President] Louis Riel — because Rankin is shady, and Canada is not recognized as an authority that can grant land in Assiniboia, and because he is a U.S. annexationist.

[Begg, Red River Journal, 339. See also “Red River Newspaper Chronology and the men who ‘made’ the news,” this site.]

20 March: Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: all prisoners have been freed  from Upper Fort Garry except Malcolm [sic: Murdoch] McLeod (who will be freed tomorrow).

21 March: 1st Session, Day 5 of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia: the legislative council is named the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia; all Legislative authority is vested in the President and elected Assembly; a Senate is to be established when deemed necessary by the President and Legislature.

The weather is again “spring-like.”

Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: the Legislative Assembly conducted no business, as the Constitution Committee is still busy; to qualify for election as a member of the legislative council, one must have £200 in property free and clear, and be a British subject – ‘the Americans’ are disgusted; Provisional Government messengers sent out to the winterers on the plains have been recalled; [Hon.] Alfred H. Scott and Rev. N.-J. Ritchot are leaving for Canada tomorrow; President Louis Riel is preparing papers for the delegates to take to Ottawa; Henry McKenney is moving his family to the U.S. – trying to escape debts owing in Canada; Colonel Charles de Salaberry went to Rivière Salle, to meet up with Ritchot, then will be off to Canada tomorrow; no U.S. mail has arrived; the New Nation newspaper has stopped — outgoing editor, Henry Martin Robinson has the keys and is waiting for a new proprietor (he refuses to hand them over to Riel).

 Alexander Begg observes, “Things are gradually settling down to the usual routine and more confidence is felt by people.”

 [Begg, Red River Journal, 340 , 341 .]

22 March: 1st Session, Day 6 of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia:  member qualifications are set.

Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: the Legislative Council adopted some of the Constitution Committee’s clauses, then adjourned; Judge John Black is to leave with Charles Arkoll Boulton tomorrow; William Coldwell has been appointed Secretary to Legislative Assembly; [Hon.] Thomas Bunn and [Hon.] Louis Schmidt have received appointments; escapee William Kitson (a Canadian) has been recaptured; William B. Hall has come out of hiding, and went to Upper Fort Garry seeking a pardon; McLeod is a prisoner; [President] Louis Riel is to make John C. Schultz‘s house into Government House; the British flag is to fly at Upper Fort Garry.

   [Begg, Red River Journal, 341.]

23 March: a storm breaks out.

1st Session, Day 7 of the Legislative Assembly of AssiniboiaWilliam Coldwell has officially been named Clerk of the Assembly; the Constitution Committee is to report in the next session of the Assembly.

Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: a ‘French Half-breed’ was arrested for being drunk and 5 others were arrested for siding with him; there was a Constitution Committee meeting; ‘French’ sources say Thomas Scott is not dead; people are placing bets of cattle on the matter; Thomas Sinclair died on the 22nd March; Rev. N.-J. Ritchot and Alfred H. Scott left for Ottawa with the Bill of Rights.

23 – 24 March: delegates proceed to Ottawa carrying fourth Bill of Rights drafted by Executive of the Provisional Government.

24 March: 1st Session, Day 8 of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia: Oaths of Office are administered. Presented for 1st reading are: Bill #1 An Act Respecting the Hay Privilege; Bill #2 An Act Providing for the Due Administration of Public Justice; Bill #3 An Act Providing for a Military Force (for the Executive Council of the Provisional Government).

Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: Charles Arkoll Boulton and Judge John Black left for Canada; the Legislative Assembly met but adjourned for 1 month;  McLeod is free; the absence of the New Nation is felt; the winter roads (on the rivers) will likely break up soon; ‘Indians’ of Lower Red River are anxious that ‘the French’ will attack them; Bishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché has been sent by the HBC to tell the ‘Indians’ there is no danger.

[Begg, Red River Journal, 342343.]

In Canada:

25 March: William McDougall receives a telegram from James Monkman regarding 1st Nations recruitment — as per McDougall’s instructions of 16 December 1869 — of “all Chiefs westward to Lake of the Woods & on Shores of Winnipeg all against insurgents.”

[LAC, John A. Macdonald Correspondence March 25, 1870, MIKAN no. 528975.]

In Assiniboia:

25 March: 1st Session, Day 9 of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia: Oaths of Office are given; the 2d reading Bill #1 on the Hay Privilege; the 1st reading of Bill #4  An Act Respecting Indemnity to Members; the 1st reading of Bill #5 An Act Respecting the Hay Privilege; the 2d reading of Bill #2 on Justice; the Law Committee is appointed.

Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: the Provisional Government flag was cut down; the ‘French’ guard is in conflict with Ambroise-Dydime Lépine; some of his soldiers have deserted; then Lépine left too; then Lépine was brought back; the Legislative Assembly met, but there was no report, it was not productive and people will lose confidence in it; John C. Schultz is in company with George Duncan McVicar and [James] Monkman near Islington House on the road to Fort Frances; Schultz plans return to Red River; the body of Thomas Ard Smith was found frozen; also found were the clothes of another person, who was presumed to have been frozen while travelling between Upper Fort Garry and Portage la Prairie.

[Begg, Red River Journal, 343.]

In Canada:

26 March: William McDougall receives a telegram from James Monkman at Duluth MN — he is awaiting instructions.

[LAC, John A. Macdonald Correspondence March 29, 1870, MIKAN no. 557634.]

William McDougall writes to John A. Macdonald regarding the secret commission of James Monkman — to “visit the Indian tribes between Lake Winnipeg & Fort Frances east of Lake of the Woods” — and forwards the telegram from Monkman dated 25 March 1870.

[LAC, John A. Macdonald Correspondence March 26, MIKAN no. 557632.]

In Assiniboia:

26 March: 1st Session, Day 10 of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia: the 3d and final reading of Bill #2 on Justice; Chief Justice James Ross takes his Oath of Office; Ambroise-Dydime Lépine is officially named commander of the Military Force established for the Executive of the Provisional Government; the first session of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia closes.

Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: the river ice is decaying; the Legislative Assembly is not adjourning; Bishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché returned from his meeting with the ‘Indians’ of the Lower Settlement, and “thinks there was some underhand influence bearing upon them.” He showed them a Canadian document denouncing William McDougall and refuting John Stoughton Dennis’ authority. ‘The English’ settlers are finally regarding the situation at the Settlement in a different light; McDougall wrote to HBC Gov. William Mactavish admitting he issued his proclamation of 1 December 1869 without knowing if his claims in the Queen’s name were true; McDougall transported a throne amongst his furniture sent to Red River.

[Begg, Red River Journal, 344.]

27 March: the snow is melting fast.

Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: Delegate Rev. N.-J. Ritchot is carrying instructions to Ottawa that are not publicly known about at Red River, including that Canada is to pay the HBC for Provisional Government expenses; the delegates at Ottawa will not agree amongst themselves on terms for confederating; Thomas Scott is not buried at Upper Fort Garry, his corpse was taken out of the fort by Elzear Laprairie [sic: Lagimodiere] and Elzear Goulet, who had it sitting up in their sleigh as if alive, and then it was sunk in the river; Thomas Scott is still alive; Bishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché gave a sermon sermon that included a complaint that he has been portrayed as an instigator of the troubles, and scolded ‘the French’ for not being more charitable to ‘the English.’

[Begg, Red River Journal, 345.]

28 March: Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: the Legislative Assembly appointed commitees – for a Constitution, for a review of Local Laws, to report on the  Hay Privilege — all of which are to meet 1 week from today, then the Assembly closed its session; Bishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché visited Upper Fort Garry, maybe to get the HBC back to business; no US mail has arrived; Thomas Spence was asked by the Provisional Government to be editor of the New Nation; the government will pay Spence a salary of £40 ea. quarter (he will pay rent out of it); Henry Martin Robinson wants all outstanding bills settled first.

[Begg, Red River Journal,.]

In Canada:

29 March: William McDougall forwards James Monkman‘s telegram of 26 March to John A. Macdonald.

[LAC, John A. Macdonald Correspondence March 29, 1870, MIKAN no. 557634.]

James Monkman is instructed to go to Ottawa.

[LAC, John A. Macdonald Correspondence March 29, 1870. MIKAN no. 528977.]

In Assiniboia:

29 March: Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: John C. Schultz has written to the Settlement, informing that he was near Ottawa and expected to arrive there on the 28th; H.S. Donaldson and Burdick have been arrested; Donaldson and Burdick are free; the arrest of Henry Martin Robinson is likely, because he has been caught writing to Washington DC; Robinson is at odds with [Hon.] William Bernard O’Donoghue; settlers are unhappy, because they want HBC stores open and civil law operational; a force of 50 men is to keep order for the HBC; people at St. Peter’s Parish are set to attack Upper Fort Garry; Chief Henry Prince says ‘the French’ are stealing from Lower Fort Garry.

[Begg, Red River Journal, 346.]

30 March: Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: the Sioux at Portage la Prairie are on the way to Red River; a priest is the source of information on the Sioux; [President] Louis Riel has put the Town of Winnipeg on guard; Albert Sargent woke people at 3 am. to get guns gathered together; there are no Sioux; the Sioux are hostile to ‘the Americans’; the Sioux are starving; the Sioux are prisoners; the Provisional Government flag has been raised at Upper Fort Garry.

[Begg, Red River Journal, 347.]

31 March: Canadian rumours circulate, alleging: 13 bags of U.S. mail arrived; Henry Martin Robinson was taken to Upper Fort Garry, where he gave up the keys to the New Nation office; Thomas Spence was installed as editor of the newspaper; the name of the country will be Manitoba, not Assiniboia; [President] Louis Riel and HBC Gov. William Mactavish are arguing about the HBC opening for business; Joseph Rolette arrived from Pembina; U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant addressed the Canadian Government regarding the impropriety of William McDougall enlisting men for his cause on U.S. soil; Dr. Pillard is not competent to practice medicine.

[Begg, Red River Journal, 348.]



  1. I am trying to find myself in this history.

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