Although his role was almost equal to that of Riel, Abbé (Father) Noël-Joseph Ritchot, despite being Riel’s éminence grise, rarely merits more than a brief historical footnote.
Baptized as Joseph-Noël, he also signed as Noël or N.J. He was deeply involved with the Red River Settlement’s activist Métis before Riel became their leader and the voice of the resistance to Canadian rule.
From the summer of 1869, when he first helped to legitimize and to support Riel’s emergence as a leader, and continuing until the latter’s departure for Montana, Ritchot acted as Riel’s trusted confidant, mentor, chief diplomat, advocate, and lobbyist.
In 1965, the Manitoba Record Society published Volume I of their publications, entitled Manitoba: The Birth of a Province, edited by W.L. Morton. It included an excerpt of the translated transcription of Ritchot’s journal detailing the period of March 24 to May 28, 1870 when Ritchot was one of three delegates from Red River sent to Ottawa for negotiations with the Canadian government.
Morton describes Ritchot as “bearded, burly, bland with a touch of cunning, (he) was in fact the outstanding delegate of the three... On Ritchot, then, fell the burden of the negotiations.”
Read the excerpt