Perceptions of the Red River Resistance

In this podcast, Philippe Mailhot explains how understandings of the Red River Resistance are changing.

Interview by Joel Trono-Doerksen

Posted October 4, 2019

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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In the Words of Father Ritchot

The original diary was destroyed by fire, but luckily it had been photographed prior to its destruction. Without it, Father Ritchot’s central role in the negotiations of Métis rights to land and language would have been lost forever.

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Philippe Mailhot wrote “The Priest who Shaped a Province” in the October-November 2019 issue of Canada’s History magazine. Mailhot was the director of Le Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum in Winnipeg for twenty-five years until his retirement in 2014. A storytelling historian, Mailhot is recognized as an authority on the early days of the Red River Resistance and the subsequent negotiations.

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