Session 1, Day 1: 9 March

NB: text taken from Archives of Manitoba, MG3 A1-15, Red River Disturbance collection, “Seasonal [sic: Sessional] Journal of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia, March 1870,” appears in black; text taken from other sources appears in grey.



Assembly Chamber, Upper Fort Garry

                                                                                    Wednesday, 9 March 1870[1]

            The first meeting of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia was held in the Court-house Upper Fort Garry today. There were present the Councillors elected under the Provisional Government:—

French Councillors


            Hon. Messrs. W.B. O’Donoghue, John Bruce, Ambroise Lepine, Louis Schmidt, A. Beauchemin, Baptiste Touron, Baptiste Beauchemin, Pierre Parenteau, Louis Lascerte.

English Councillors

            Hon. Messrs. A.G.B. Bannatyne, W. Fraser, Thomas Bunn, W. Garrioch, George Gunn, John Norquay, E. Hay, A.H. Scott, H.F. Olone, W. Tait.

The President having taken his seat at three o’clock P.M. addressed the House as follows, in French and English:

Gentlemen we have assembled in this Chamber on several occasions, having been sent here by the people to deliberate on the political state of the country and to adapt such measures as would secure the prosperity of the present and future generations. But that all has been done so far has resulted only in what we have to-day. Yet that “only” is a very comprehensive word.[2] It includes your work during that period — the work of the people in fact (cheers). We have worked here in the past in anxiety and fear. But we have worked conscientiously. That the majority, at least, have done so, I fully believe. One result of our labors is that the people generally now have, for the first time in the history of this land, a voice in the direction of public affairs. They have here a full representation. Herein, we may congratulate ourselves that our work has been a good one; and, indeed, it may almost be said to be the only result we have arrived at as yet. At present, we are not, perhaps, in a position to proceed to business. But at the same time we have arrived at that stage, when there is some public security (cheers). Let us, then, see to it that the public are no more allowed to rush together, on one side or the other, in such a manner as they have gathered of late. Let us be friends — and let our friendship be hearty and sincere (cheers). On many occasions, since last fall, I have heard professions of friendship in this Chamber; and I must say I was sorry to hear those professions, for I knew they were — as they afterwards proved to be, insincere. There was too much of fear and estrangement to allow of that friendship being hearty. But now that we have come together once more, I believe we are actuated by such feelings as will lead to a thorough union (cheers). We have come here to decide on that which we believe to be our duty, and will do it, honestly. We are here as the public authority. We are here to act in that capacity. Some of you were in the old Government of the country, and are familiar with the conduct of public proceedings. You have your ideas of what is best for the public. The Councillors as a body have their ideas on the same subject. Well, then, let us act, — that is our motto (cheers). Let us not confine ourselves to thinking or speaking. We must act. Let us act inside this Chamber as well as outside. The work is urgent, — is one of the utmost consequence to ourselves and our people. In this Council and outside that work awaits us, and we will not be faithful to ourselves or our country if we shirk it (cheers). As to the business before us, I may say that in the first place the Government must be completed as soon as possible. This must be done in order to promote union in the Settlement, and give that feeling of security which will encourage our business men to start afresh, and infuse new vigor into the community in general. We must help the country at this crisis; and if we do so in the way I have pointed out, I feel that we will secure general sympathy and support. The people will support us if we support them. There are, I know, some differences between the residents of different localities — and perhaps the easiest way to dispose of them would be that each side should concede something. A spirit of concession, I think, ought to be manifested on both sides; and if it is, we will be cordial and united. If we were so united, — as was said long ago,— the people of Red River could make their own terms with Canada. We have had here already three Commissioners from the Dominion; and now, perhaps, we have another come among us, in the person of His Lordship the Bishop of St. Boniface,— one who is generally beloved and esteemed in the land, and to whose mission, I doubt not, the highest attention will be paid. For my part I would certainly like to see in the person of His Lordship a Commissioner, invested with full power to give us what we want (cheers). But we have to be careful: for we do not know what that power is; and we must not rush blindly into the hands of any Commissioners. Let us act prudently — that is all I urge,— if we do so, we will be safe enough (cheers). This, gentlemen, is all I have to say. You cannot, of course, expect to do anything to-day, in any way, even if all the members were present (hear, hear). Before we separate let me say one word. Let us try to be more friendly. Why not? We are not going to fight any more (hear, hear, and cheers) — not at all. And I cannot, in this connection, but express regret at hearing unpleasant rumors from the Portage. These rumors cause fear all the time at White Horse Plains. The people there are led to believe that they are going to be crushed some day or other. There is a want of assurance among our people which has led to a guard being stationed in that quarter. I hope the Portage people will be able to disavow any such intentions, and give such assurances as will lead to a better state of things. If it is not fully according to the mind of the people, let not any one from that section deny the rumors. But if, on the contrary, the Portage people do not harbor the designs attributed to them, I hope it will be stated, so that a feeling of tranquility and security may be diffused (cheers).[3]

Mr. Hay urged an adjournment of Council, as the notice convening it had not been published in time and all the members were not in attendance.

Mr. W. Garrioch — As the representative from Portage, I would say a word or two respecting what the President had said concerning the rumors current among the White Horse Plain people. I am very happy to say,— and I make the statement in all truth and sincerity — that the rumors alluded to are utterly without foundation (cheers). Except in one instance, we have done our utmost to keep the peace. We feel that we are in duty bound to come under the Provisional Government, and are now on perfect good terms with all the people of Red River. As to the rumors concerning the Sioux, I would also state that we are doing our utmost to keep them quiet; and, as far as I know, they are listening to us (cheers).[4]

Hon. Mr. Bunn, seconded by Hon. Mr. Bruce, moved an adjournment till Tuesday next at ten o’clock A.M. — Carried.

The President — Now that we are going home, our policies will be, — good government for the people, as soon as we can establish it; and public prosperity by every means which we can devise (cheers).[5]

The House then adjourned till Tuesday following.


Next page: Session 1, Day 2: 15 March

[1] Bunn, Sessional Journal, 11, 12; Bruce Peel, ed., reprint of Assiniboia, Provisional Government, 1869–1870, Legislative Assembly, “Minutes of the Proceedings of the Legislature of Rupert’s Land, Wednesday March 9th, 1870” (Winnipeg: Printed by H.M. Robinson and Co., 1870), in Early printing in the Red River Settlement 1859-1870: and its effect on the Riel Rebellion (Winnipeg: Peguis Publishers, 1974), 53–55. The note about the weather was printed in New Nation (11 March 1870), page 2 column 4.

[2] Quotation marks added by present editor to signal Riel’s reference to the word ‘only’ in his preceding sentence.

[3] Bunn, Sessional Journal, 11, newspaper clipping; “Provisional Government, First Council Meeting, Speech of the President,” New Nation (11 March 1870), 2; see also Raymond Huel, ed., “1–039. Address before the Legislature of Rupert’s Land. Fort Garry. 70/03/09,” by Louis Riel [trans.], in The Collected Writings of Louis Riel/Les Ecrits Complets de Louis Riel, vol. 1, ed. George F.G. Stanley, Raymond Huel, Giles Martel, Thomas Flanagan, and Glen Campbell (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1985), 60–62.

[4]  “Provisional Government, First Council Meeting,” New Nation (11 March 1870), 2.

[5] Ibid.


Published 6 July 2011



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: