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Scratchin' my head here

So the Star travel editor wrote a list of "10 Things About Canada I Didn't Know", and the first item is that there was a war on Canadian soil in 1885 which is taught in every school, is recognized as a major turning point in Canadian political history, and is the subject of a large and enormously popular literature? Anybody else think this is sort of weird? Like, maybe we should be asking if there are 10 things about Canada he does know?


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Comments (17)


"Resistance"?! Is that what they're telling kids now? I'm less than three decades old and I still remember it called a REBELLION in high school. Damn "politically correct" BS.

As I recall, while Riel was still an ass and murderer back in Red River, at least there were actual issues with the vague guarantees given to the Metis by the HBC and/or the British Crown that were not being taken seriously by the Canadian government when acquiring Rupert's Land. The NWR, though, was IIRC just Riel being high as a kite and on a Messiah complex.

The second rebellion was hardly Riel's idea (and the underlying issues behind the Métis part of the revolt were much the same as in 1870). They wouldn't have invited Riel back into the country if they weren't determined on a path that potentially included rebellion in the first place.


Thank you for the clarification (helping to jog some ancient memories there). I still stand by my assessment of RIel's 1885 mental condtion though. ;-)

Which brings me to the point that I'm not terribly surprised that the NWR is not very well remembered. Indeed it did (along with the RRR) make a big impact on Native relations but really only between the Rockies and Ontario. Central Canada, the Matitimes, and BC had all dealt with the matter in different ways by then so it didn't have as big an impact.

The only Canadian war in North America that most of English Canda would actually remembers is 1812, and only because the White House got burned down, though that wasn't even the objective of that campaign. It's the only war where it's fashionable to acknowledge its existence in polite circles.

Do you find a lot of takers for this theory about Riel's influence that contains no mention whatsoever of Quebec?


Sorry: I meant solely in terms of Native relations. Most of English Canada probably don't have half a clue about the things that have peeved Quebec over the years.


It's not surprising that the NWR is not well known to Canadians. After all, it happened in Canada, not in the USA.

Pssh..., next you're going to be telling me Prince Edward Island is REALLY an island...


Guys, Calgary is finding its "urban groove!" Obviously this is in reference to the city's Norman Foster designed Bow office tower, the $100 million National Music Centre and the Calatrava bridge a new tea shop. It has the word Naked in it!


He look! The "strike" tag doesn't work. Thanks for making me look dumb, Internet.

Sean E:

"Resistance" vs "rebellion" raised my eyebrows too. Almost as much as the NWT Communications Coordinator referring to residents as "mercenaries, missionaries and misfits". I wonder if that's part of the government's official communications strategy, or something that just slipped out after a few beers.

Normally I hate liberal onomastic games, but just on a logical level I have no trouble with "resistance". The issue of the war was precisely whether the Dominion possessed legitimate authority; calling it a "rebellion" implies that the military victor had the superior argument.


Er, that comment is certainly correct about the events in Manitoba in 1869-70, which is why it is not correct to refer to Riel "Rebellions" in the plural. But surely, by 1885, the authority of the Dominion over the west had been conclusively settled for some time. It was unsatisfactory and had to be rebelled against, but it was beyond denial.

John Thacker:

I'd like to point out that I'm a citizen of the USA, and I'd certainly heard of Louis Riel. Probably not many of my fellow Americans have, though.

It was beyond denying that the Dominion had good legal title to the unoccupied part of the land. Whether they had any right to overturn the arrangements for self-government made by Dumont's "Republic of St.-Laurent", or impose non-seigneurial land titles on it, is a whole nother matter. What means of any sort did the Dominion have of asserting "authority" in the NWT before the March West?


The March West was 1873. By 1885 the Dominion had been exercising full and effective control of the entire territory for more than a decade.

John Thacker:

Maybe we're all reading it wrong. Maybe he knew about Louis Riel and the resistance/rebellions, he just didn't realize until now that 2010 would be the 125th anniversary of something that happened in 1885. It's a mathematics thing.


'Memoirs of a Bungle; by one of the Bunglers' is one of the better war memoirs ever.


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