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Red River Rebellion

The Red River Rebellion was an 1869-1870 rebellion in the Red River Settlement in what is now the Canadian province of Manitoba. It was the first crisis the new government faced after Canadian Confederation in 1867.

The Red River settlement was centred on Fort Garry, modern Winnipeg, which was then owned by the Hudson's Bay Company. The Canadian government bought the area from the Company in 1869 and appointed an English-speaking governor, William McDougall, who was opposed by the French-speaking Métis inhabitants of the settlement. McDougall sent out surveyors before the land was officially transferred to Canada, and had them arrange the land according to the square township system used in Ontario. The Métis, however, arranged their land according to the seigneurial system of their French ancestors that was also used in Quebec.

The Métis, led by Louis Riel, created a provisional government and renamed the territory Assiniboia[?]. Riel attempted to negotiate directly with the Canadian government to establish Assiniboia as a province, and prevented McDougall from entering the territory. Riel's government held Fort Garry, but Prime Minister John A. Macdonald sent a militia led by Colonel Garnet Wolseley to retake the Fort. Meanwhile, Riel arrested a prominent Orangeman named Thomas Scott, one of the English Canadians who had been held prisoner in the Fort but had escaped. Scott was put on trial and executed by firing squad.

English-speaking Canada was outraged. Macdonald had the militia retake Fort Garry, but due to pressure from Quebec, allowed Riel to remain free. In 1870, the Manitoba Act was passed, allowing the Red River settlement to enter Confederation as the province of Manitoba. The Act also incorporated some of Riel's demands, such as separate French schools for Metis children and protection of Catholicism.



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