CPR Telegraph Ledger - The North-West Resistance

The North-West Resistance  

The origins of the Resistance of 1885 began with Riel conducting a peaceful agitation in the Batoche district. He drafted a petition which he urged all dissatisfied persons, including Métis and non Métis to sign. While the government acknowledged the petition, the Métis were wary that nothing would be done. Batoche Métis proposed taking up arms on March 5, followed by Riel proposing the creation of a provisional government on March 8. The Métis also drafted a 10-point Revolutionary Bill of Rights. When they learned that the government was sending soldiers, the Métis named Louis Riel as the president of a provisional government, Gabriel Dumont the military commander, and seized Batoche’s parish church. Different First Nations groups, including Cree from the Batoche area and Dakota from a reserve near present-day Saskatoon also fought alongside the Métis. A separate event known as the Cree uprisings (though it also included Assiniboine peoples) occurred alongside the Métis Resistance of 1885 and is also represented in the telegraph ledger. Both events have come to be referred to as the “North-West Resistance”.

The ledger book donated to the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan does not span the entire North-West Resistance. The telegrams begin on April 18, 1885, in the days leading up to the Battle of Fish Creek (April 24). They begin after the initial Battle of Duck Lake (March 26), fought between the North-West Mounted Police alongside armed citizen volunteers against a group of Métis and First Nations peoples. The telegrams also begin after the Frog Lake Massacre (April 1-2), part of a Cree uprising in protest of the government cutting off provisions. During this incident, warriors from the band of Cree Chief Big Bear killed federal Indian agent Thomas Quinn and eight others. The telegrams do contain references to some of these earlier events, for example see the image below.

Battles of the North-West Resistance that are documented in the ledger book include: the Battle of Fish Creek (April 24), the Cree uprising at Cut knife Hill (May 2), the Battle of Batoche (May 9 -12), and the Cree uprisings at Frenchman’s Butte (May 28) and Steele Narrows (June 3). 

Click on Telegraph image to read transcription.



Prev | Next