In the spring of 1869, the Dominion of Canada looked to the west to further the goal of expanding the new country from coast to coast. This goal could only be achieved by acquiring the vast territory known as Rupert’s Land that was granted by the Crown to the HBC.
The residents of the Red River Settlement were not made aware of this land transfer and only found out through local press reporting.
By late June 1869, tension had become particularly high among the French Métis, who felt especially vulnerable and maligned by Canada. They found sympathy, support, and guidance in the curé of St. Norbert, Abbé Noël-Joseph Ritchot.
Born in L’Assomption, Lower Canada, in 1825, Ritchot had been appointed to St. Norbert shortly after his arrival at Red River in 1862. A burly man with an impressive beard, he remains a legendary figure among the Métis.
Canada’s History spoke with Philippe Mailhot about the article he wrote about Abbé Noël-Joseph Ritchot. Mailhot explains the role of Ritchot and delves into the legacy of the Red River Resistance and Louis Riel.
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The original diary was thought to have been destroyed by fire, and thankfully it wasn’t. Without it, Father Ritchot’s central role in the negotiations of Métis rights to land and language would have been lost forever.
Abbé Noël-Joseph Ritchot gave legitimacy to the cause of Louis Riel and the militant Red River Métis, and he was central to Manitoba joining Confederation.
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