2d Day: 26 January

Previous page: 1st Day: 25 January

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George Seton, watercolour, “ Fort Garry, Rupert’s Land,” dated 19 March 1858. Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1950-63-1.19R, Copyright: Expired.

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Court House, Upper Fort Garry
Wednesday, 26 January 1870[1]

One o’clock, P.M.— Again the English and French Representatives assembled and business was proceeded with.

Mr. Louis Riel, seconded by John Sutherland, P.D.,[2] moved that Judge Black be appointed Chairman.

Judge Black said that as Chairman he would, to a great extent, be unable to perform his duty as one of the representatives from St. Andrew’s Parish.

[Mr. T. Bunn urged?] that the Chairman, whoever he be, be allowed all the privileges of a representative.

Mr. John Frazer claimed that this ought to be allowed.

Mr. Riel said that the French delegates understood the request distinctly and had no objection to it.

Judge Black was then unanimously voted to the Chair on the understanding that he had full liberty to exercise all his privileges as a representative.

Chairman thanked the assembly and said that as the business on which they were met together was very important and very serious, he hoped it would be dealt with in the spirit of unanimity which had marked their first vote; and that no personalities would be indulged in.

Mr. Bunn proposed as Secretary to the Convention, Mr. W. Coldwell; Mr. McKenzie seconded it.

Mr. Riel had no objection to the appointment but suggested that two Secretaries, one for the English and another for the French, be appointed; or else one with a thorough knowledge of both languages.

Mr. O’Donoghue moved in amendment that two Secretaries be appointed and that Louis Schmidt be the second.

It was ultimately agreed that Mr. Bunn should amend his motion so as to incorporate Mr. O’Donoghue’s. And he did so, and seconded by R. Tait, the motion was put and carried.

Mr. Bunn, seconded by Mr. Boyd, moved that two interpreters be appointed, Mr. Riel on the part of the French to translate the French into English; and Mr. Jas. Ross on the part of the English to translate the English into French.

Mr. O’Donoghue moved in amendment that Mr. Riel translate the English into French, and Mr. Ross the French into English.

Mr. Bunn having adopted Mr. O’Donoghue’s amendment, it was put and carried.

On motion of Mr. Bunn, muster rolls for the French and English delegates were made out and handed to the Secretaries and it was resolved that these rolls be called over at every meeting.

The following delegates were then found to be present:

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French Representatives

St. Paul’s — Mr. W. Thibert, Alexandre Pagee, Magnus Birston.

St. Francois Xavier — Xavier Pagee, Pierre Poitras.

St. Charles (contested) — A. McKay, J.F. Grant.

St. Boniface — W.B. O’Donoghue, Ambroise Lepine, Joseph Genton, Louis Schmidt.

St. Vital — Louis Riel, Andre Beauchemin.

St. Norbert — Pierre Parrenteau, Norbert Laronce, B. Touron.

Point Coupee — Louis Lascerte, P. Delorme.

Oak Point — François Nolin, C. Nolin.

Point A Grouette [sic] — George Klyne.

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English Representatives

St. Peter’s — Rev. Henry Cochrane, Thomas Spence.

St. Clement’s — Thomas Bunn, Alexander McKenzie.

St. Andrews — Judge Black, Donald Gunn, Sen., Alfred Boyd.

St. Paul’s — Dr. Bird.

Kildonan — John Fraser, John Sutherland.

St. John’s — James Ross.

St. James’ — George Flett, Robert Tait.

Headingly — John Taylor, W. Lonsdale.

St. Mary’s — Kenneth McKenzie.

St. Margaret’s — William Cummings.

St. Anne’s — George Gunn, D. Spence.

Winnipeg — Alfred H. Scott.

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It was then stated that there were some of the elections contested — that for the town of Winnipeg and for one of the French districts, and it was resolved that each side settle its own contested election cases.

Mr. Bunn proposed an adjournment for an hour and a half and that in the meantime each side settle its own contested elections.

Mr. Riel seconded the motion,— Carried.

Chairman urged punctuality on the Convention at its meetings.

Convention adjourned at half past two.

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Four o’clock — Francois Nolin, Mr. A.H. Scott and Mr. A.G.B. Bannatyne (in the contested election for Winnipeg) were found absent on calling the rolls.

It was arranged that the contested elections should be taken up afterwards, and that in the meantime other business be proceeded with.

The Chairman said that this arrangement having been come to, they must proceed to the business before them as defined in the resolution passed at the recent public meeting, viz: to consider the subject of Mr. Smith’s Commission, and to decide as to what would be best for the welfare of the country.

Mr. Riel translated the Chairman’s remarks into French.

Mr. Bunn thought that a prior point had to be settled. He thought there were good reasons why the meeting should not be an open one; and he begged to move that the meeting sit with closed doors.

Mr. R. Tait seconded the motion.

The Chairman said that the accommodation was too limited to allow of a public gathering, and the proceedings would be fully made known by the Secretaries.

Mr. Riel translated into French the motion, and remarked that for his part he could not vote for closing the doors because he was aware that some reverend gentlemen from below wished to attend.

Mr. Bunn said he would like to admit the whole public if possible. But if one were admitted they did not know how many would demand admittance. The motion was simply made to avoid confusion and over-crowding.

Mr. Ross would like the meeting to be private for similar reasons, and for this in addition that if some were allowed in and others excluded there would be an air of unfairness. The proceedings would become sufficiently public through the Secretaries and the local paper.

Mr. O’Donoghue wished to have the doors open because on the last occasion, when they were shut, considerable dissatisfaction was expressed. Arrangements might be made to prevent over-crowding.

Mr. Boyd wished to ask whether in the last meeting any reporters were present? If one were not present, then, there was good reason for opening the doors. Now one was present and two Secretaries.

After further discussion Mr. O’Donoghue moved in amendment that as many of the public as can find room within ten feet of one side of the room — to be marked off,— be admitted.

Mr. John Frazer moved in amendment that only the Clergy of the Settlement, be admitted.

Mr. McKenzie seconded Mr. Frazer’s amendment.

Mr. Lépine would go for closing the doors, with the understanding that if the clergy came they should be admitted.

Mr. Bunn withdrew his motion and Mr. O’Donoghue his amendment.

Mr. Fraser then proposed that the proceedings of the Convention be carried on with closed doors, except as regarded the clergy of all denominations, who are to be admitted if they wish.

Mr. McKenzie seconded the motion, which was put and carried.

The Chairman said that, as regarded the main business of the meeting, the question now came up, how was “the subject of Mr. Smith’s commission” to be considered?

Mr. Riel moved that Mr. Smith’s papers be first called for, placed in the hands of the President and read,— leaving it to the meeting to send for Mr. Smith when they thought proper. Also that Mr. Bunn and Mr. Lepine be deputed to ask the papers from Mr. Smith in the name of the Convention.

Mr. Taylor seconded the motion which was put and carried.

Mr. Bunn and Mr. Lepine left the meeting to ask Mr. Smith for his commission papers. Soon after the delegates returned, with a number of documents enveloped and addressed to the Chairman of the Convention.

The Secretaries broke the seal and handed the Chairman the documents.

A letter, accompanying same, from Mr. D.A. Smith to the Chairman was read in English and French. He stated that six documents, marked, were enclosed with the letter to the Chairman.

Mr. Riel requested leave to make a few observations. He would ask the Convention to examine Mr. Smith as Commissioner. In this chamber they had no enraged public to face. They were all friends, wanting what was fair. For that reason he suggested they should not examine into the papers outside Mr. Smith’s commission. The papers might be read, but no action, he thought, ought to be taken on them.

Mr. Ross moved that the papers before the chair be now read.

Mr. Riel seconded the motion,— Carried.

Mr. Bunn moved that the papers be read separately in English and French.

Mr. Nolin seconded the motion,— Carried.

Document No. 1, from Hon. Joseph Howe to Donald A. Smith Esq., was then read in English and French.

Mr. Riel said that hitherto these documents had appeared only in English and he desired the papers to-night so that they might be translated into French.

The Chairman said that he was in the hands of the meeting. But, obviously, considering the manner in which possession of the documents had been obtained, Mr. Smith ought to be consulted. It was important that these papers should be translated as soon as possible into French.

By consent the matter was left over till the proceedings had been further advanced.

Document No. 2 from Sir John Young to Mr. Smith, dated Ottawa December 12, was next read.

Document No. 3 dated Ottawa December 6, from Sir John Young to Governor Mactavish was read.

Also documents No. 4 from Sir John Young dated 26 November, containing a telegraphic message from the Queen; No. 5 from Hon. J. Howe to Hon. W. McDougall dated December 7; No. 6 from the Under Secretary of State for the Provinces to Hon. W. McDougall, dated 28 September.

Mr. Ross said he would like they could see their way to place these papers in the hands of their French friends. It was hardly fair to ask them to resort to secondary means to get a translation of these important documents. Mr. Smith, it was believed, would not refuse that the papers should be given their French friends for translation. Placing the papers in the charge of the Chairman, as had been done by Mr. Smith was, no doubt, a mere matter of form. He (Ross) would suggest that two delegates should be deputed to ask Mr. Smith’s consent to parting with these papers temporarily, for the purpose of translation.

Mr. Riel thought that the Chairman had full power to give up the papers as requested.

Mr. Ross proposed that these papers be entrusted immediately to Mr. Riel for the purpose of translation, the papers to be forthcoming to-morrow on the assemblage of the Convention.

Mr. Lonsdale seconded the motion.

The Chairman said it was in his mind to address, officially, a letter to Mr. Smith, saying to him that the French representatives desired to have these papers. Before putting the motion he asked a consideration of this course.

Mr. Riel suggested that the motion ought to go before the meeting.

Motion carried unanimously.

The Chairmen then handed the documents to the French Secretary.

Mr. Bunn moved an adjournment till to-morrow at half past ten o’clock.

Mr. O’Donoghue seconded the motion

Convention adjourned at twenty minutes to eight o’clock.

Immediately after, the English delegates met to consider the contested election for the Town of Winnipeg, and, after some debate, carried the following resolution unanimously:—

Moved by Mr. James Ross, seconded by Mr. Thos. Bunn — “that inasmuch as it appears that the only candidate chosen at a public meeting of the Town of Winnipeg was Mr. Scott; and inasmuch as the objections urged by Mr. Bannatyne, are such, as, if established, would necessitate a new election,— and Mr. Bannatyne himself asserts that he will not be a party to any new election,— therefore we the delegates decide that Mr. Scott be accepted as the representative from the Town of Winnipeg.”[3]

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Next page: 3d Day: 27 January


[1] “Convention at Fort Garry, English and French Delegates in Council. Mr. Smith’s Commission, Bill of Rights,” New Nation (28 January 1870), page 2, columns 2, 3, 4, 5; Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, E.9/1, 5.

[2] W.J. Healy, Women of Red River, Being a Book Written from the Recollections of Women Surviving from the Red River Era (Winnipeg: Women’s Canadian Club, 1923), 74, notes that “P.D.” after the name of John Sutherland “stands for Point Douglas. The other John Sutherland lived near the Inksters at Seven Oaks House. Even after the flood of 1852, when John Sutherland, who was later Senator Sutherland, built a new house on land he bought across the river, his family were known as the Point Douglas Sutherlands.”

[3] W.L. Morton, editor, and Alexander Begg, author, of Alexander Begg’s Red River Journal: And other Papers Relative to the Red River Resistance of 1869-70 (Toronto: Champlain Society, 1956), 94, 278-282, make a great deal more of Bannatyne’s objection to the election of Scott than the debate transcript implies occurred — not surprisingly, as Begg was a supporter of the losing candidate. See the description of Begg’s record of the election, “Election of the Convention of Forty Delegate from the Town of Winnipeg,” this site.

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