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Manitoba History: “Unequal justice:” The Metis in O’Donoghue’s Raid of 1871

by Ruth Swan, Department of History, University of Manitoba
and Edward A. Jerome, Hallock, Minnesota

Number 39, Spring / Summer 2000

This article was published originally in Manitoba History by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make this online version available as a free, public service. As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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We have passed through a frightful crisis and have escaped by the skin of our teeth ... The danger was not from without, but within ... But if 200 French Halfbreeds had joined them on the frontier, we should have had a rough time of it. [1]

With these words, the Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba Adams Archibald informed the Prime Minister of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald, about the attack by a combined force of Irish Americans and Pembina Métis on the Hudson’s Bay Company Post at the international border in October of 1871. Most recent historians have dismissed this event as marginal to the mainstream of Canadian history and even Irish and American writers of Fenian history have rarely considered it a true “Fenian” raid; some have even neglected to mention it. [2] Although the Fenians provided money to buy rifles and some prominent members of their organization, General John O’Neill, General Thomas Curley of St. Louis, Mo., and Colonel J. J. Donnelly of Utica, New York, answered W. B. O’Donoghue’s call for military support, the Fenian Brotherhood did not officially sanction the action. [3]

W. B. O’Donoghue, 1871.

W. B. O’Donoghue, 1871.
Source: Western Canada Pictorial Index

Although of different ethnic backgrounds, the Pembina Métis and American Irish had something in common. They shared a Roman Catholic religion and an independent outlook, sharing a minority experience in the British empire. O’Donoghue hoped that by mobilizing the Métis to join the United States he could hurt Great Britain and help the cause of Irish independence. Although he was closely associated with Riel’s Provisional Government in the resistance of 1869-70, Riel did not endorse O’Donoghue’s attempts to annex the North West to the republic to the south. As Hereward Senior observed: “Riel understood that O’Donoghue was less interested in the welfare of the Métis than in striking a blow against the British Empire.” For the sake of simplicity, however, we will call this paper “O’Donoghue’s Raid”. [4]

The question of whether or not this incident should be called a “Fenian Raid” arose because most contemporaries of the raid who reported on it believed that the Fenian organization supported it and because the prominent leaders were Irish-American cavalry officers who were American Civil War veterans. [5] The Fenian Brotherhood originated in Ireland in the Irish independence movement as a secret society not sanctioned by the Catholic Church and led by revolutionary James Stephens. It received financial and moral support from the large contingent of Irish immigrants living in the USA. During the American Civil War, many Irish immigrant men joined the army on both sides, acquiring military experience. After the war finished in 1864, many of these experienced veterans were unemployed. [6]

Since an invasion of Great Britain to liberate Ireland was logistically challenging, the American Fenian Brotherhood decided to invade British territories to the north to strike a symbolic blow against British imperialism. The purpose of these “Fenian Raids” as they were called was not to overthrow the Canadian colonial governments, weak as they were, but to throw Canadian defenders off-balance and to engender some propaganda and Irish glory for the independence movement across the Atlantic. Although American politicians did not sanction the invasion of Canada, the strength of the Irish American immigrant vote in the USA meant that it was difficult for Washington diplomats to intervene to prevent the raids before they happened. Thus, despite the fact that the Fenian raids generally amounted to border skirmishes, they caused considerable diplomatic tension between Great Britain and Canada on one side and the USA on the other. [7]

Between 1866 and 1870, the Fenians launched attacks in New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. Most of these were successfully repulsed by combinations of British regular troops and Canadian militia, except for the Battle of Ridgeway in 1866 on the Niagara frontier where General John O’Neill, civil war veteran, staged a successful two-day operation. He then withdrew to Buffalo, having served his goal of undermining Canadian military defences and self-confidence. This same O’Neill turned up in 1871 in Pembina as a supporter of W. B. O’Donoghue. [8]

Although Fenian raids did not always materialize as threatened, the biggest problem for Canadian officials was that the massing of men and arms along the 49th parallel kept the military planners north of the border in a constant state of anxiety and readiness. [9] They had to be prepared for attacks and often baseless rumours kept the public and politicians on edge as well. [10] As a result, the diplomatic and propaganda effect of these raids was out of all proportion to their military significance.

The positive and probably unintended result of the Fenians Raids of 1866 was that the fear of Irish-American attacks on Canada encouraged New Brunswick to join Confederation in 1867 and strengthened Canadian patriotism and political support for the new country. Canadian voters saw a strong central government as an asset in defending the “undefended” border. [11] Ottawa politicians used the threat of American invasion to promote Canadian patriotism.

Although the raid on Manitoba in 1871 led by W. B. O’Donoghue was not officially sanctioned by the American Fenian Brotherhood, who were disillusioned by the cost and challenge of these border skirmishes, there is no doubt that Canadian officials feared a Fenian attack following the Riel Resistance and blamed the Irish-Americans for providing officers and money for guns and ammunition. Their great fear was that, if the dissatisfied Manitoba Métis supported American annexationists, Manitoba would withdraw from Confederation and join the United States. The combination of Irish-American soldiers who hated the British Empire aided by Minnesota and Pembina promoters who coveted new territory along with the bitterness of the Métis was a genuine threat. They knew that it would not take much to set off a dangerous border war. [12] The fear of Canadian officials was realistic, making O’Donoghue’s Raid an important threat to Canadian unity, whether it was officially backed by the Fenian Brotherhood or not.

The Red River Valley in 1871

The Red River Valley in 1871

Let us reexamine the details of the Manitoba raid. In the early morning of Thursday, October 5, 1871, Irish-American and Métis attackers crossed into Canadian territory and occupied the Hudson’s Bay post on the border. Accounts vary, but Captain Lloyd Wheaton of the U.S. army at Fort Pembina (on the American side) suggested about forty to eighty invaders:

They came from the direction of Pembina and were led by O’Donoghue, on horseback; O’Neill, Curley and Donnelly were acting as officers or leaders, O’Neill wearing a sword. Upon arrival at the Dominion Customs House, they demanded its surrender in the name of the Provisional Government of Rupert’s Land, entered it and placed a sentinel on the road in front of the house. From thence, they marched to the HBC Trading Post, demanded its surrender in the name of the Provisional Government, etc., and occupied it, and began handling the stores of the Company with a view to their removal.” [13]

George Webster, a courier for Lieutenant-Governor Adams Archibald, observed:

About nine o’clock, the Fenians had at least twenty prisoners as they stopped all those who were not connected with them. One of the prisoners was an American citizen and as he demanded his liberation on that ground, O’Donoghue was afraid to detain him ... Mr. Douglas and I had previously instructed him what to do and as soon as he got out of rifle shot of the Fenians, he ran all the way to the U.S. military post and informed Captain Wheaton of the circumstances. [14]

James J. Hill explained how the American army stopped the invasion:

Either the plunder had too much attraction for them or they thought they could rest on their freshly gained laurels for they remained in the post till 11 o’clock when they were surprised by Col. Wheaton and 23 men from Fort Pembina coming down the road in an army ambulance and a four-mule wagon ...” [15]

Wheaton captured O’Neill, Curley and Donnelly along with ten men, 94 muskets, 11 sabres and 12000 musket-cartridges; and returned to Fort Pembina, D. T. O’Donoghue was picked up by a Métis, bound and turned over to American authorities. The Captain observed:

a number of residents of the town of Pembina and vicinity were in the organization ... The greater number were persons apparently of Irish descent and strangers to this vicinity. I am of the opinion that no further raids will take place unless O’Neill, O’Donoghue, Donnelly and Curley are released by the civil authorities. [16]

After a hearing in Pembina under a government official (with Col. Wheaton as prosecutor), the Fenian leaders were released from custody and left the community. The magistrate had decided that it did not contravene American law to invade Canada. [17] A week later, Captain Wheaton reported confidentially to the American consul in Winnipeg, James Wickes Taylor, that:

The whole affair is effectually demolished and the good people of Manitoba can now be free from fear of invasion, rebellion and treason. I am satisfied that, if it had not been for my prompt action and assumption of responsibility, civil war with all its attending crime would now be raging in Manitoba. The Commissioner discharged the prisoners on the ground of “want of jurisdiction”... The evidence of the Canadians who saw O’Donoghue at the head of the defunct organization on horseback with the others acting as leaders or officers would not be heard by the “court” ... I did everything in my favour to get the case continued until further evidence could be introduced, but discharge seemed determined upon and discharged they were ... There is a lawless and turbulent element in the town of Pembina and they act as if under the influence of bad men who ought to know better than to injure American interests by their foolish course ...” [18]

As a result, the Fenians returned home free; O’Neill was temporarily detained in Saint Paul, but again released. O’Neill observed to an American reporter:

As I understand it, there is a good deal of dissatisfaction up there with the British government. The dissatisfaction exists principally among the French half-breeds and I believe they are in the majority. The British government has but a very small force in the British territory ... There was no invasion at all. There was no Fenian raid. We were not acting as Fenians and had no connection whatever with that organization.

This report was reprinted from the St. Paul Press by The Manitoban of October 23 which observed sarcastically that crimes had been committed: “Good for the Press, but what of the corduroys, and the capots, and the pemican at Pembina Post?” [19] The Canadian reporter referred to the theft of goods from the HBC post at Fort Pembina, and was undoubtedly annoyed that these Irish-Americans were not held responsible for any criminal activity whatsoever.

In the meantime, the threatened invasion had caused extreme agitation in Manitoba. Rumours had been circulating for months that the Fenians were coming. In the summer and fall of 1870, local priests reported to Bishop Taché that Riel and O’Donoghue were at odds:

Do not worry about the men of St. Joseph, they do not want any part in the trouble. Riel, I find is very reasonable and not wishing any war, which he realizes [would be] bad and filled with consequences not to act, but Pembina people are more to be inclined to troubles. O’Donoghue tried all he can to irritate Riel, who he is trying in his pride to dominate, but Riel also has his pride and will not listen to O’Donoghue. [20]

The Canadian Government took the issue so seriously, however, that it appointed Gilbert McMicken, head of Canada’s “secret police” and an anti-Fenian spy, as Commissioner of Lands. [21] Prime Minister Macdonald sent McMicken at the end of September 1871 to Manitoba to assess the Fenian threat. [22] He took the train to Morris, Minnesota, the railway terminal at that time, and then continued by wagon. He gathered intelligence as he went and one of his sources was Bishop A. A. Taché who was travelling east. The Bishop told McMicken that:

The Métis were intensely agitated over the unfulfilled promises of the Government and the harsh and insulting conduct of the more recently arrived Canadians from Ontario. Alluding to the Ontario volunteers who remained behind of [sic] the first expedition as intending settlers, he said they were so hostile and abusive as to invoke severe retaliation, and he feared ere many days [sic] scenes of a deplorable character.”

Taché also told McMicken that he had met O’Donoghue the previous evening as he and O’Neill were only slightly ahead of McMicken on the trail to the Red River. O’Donoghue told the Bishop that he was going in with friends to take up homesteads, but he had a “considerable” number of men with him which gave Tache “great anxiety and uneasiness.” [23] The Bishop distrusted the Irishman, being aware of the rumours of a Fenian attack. McMicken also heard reports that Fenians were being enrolled along the route “wearing badges of green ribbons on their breasts.” [24] At Macaulayville, Minnesota, across the Red River from the American military post at Fort Abercrombie, McMicken hired an express wagon to carry him day and night so that he could overtake the Fenian contingent and reach Fort Garry ahead of them. Athough there were rumours of 1500 men camped along the boundary between Pembina and St. Joseph, a sergeant at Fort Abercrombie reported only about forty with O’Donoghue. [25] McMicken’s wagon passed the Fenians about midnight, and noted “three were ahead of the wagons as an advance guard, and five were behind them.” [26] A new driver being a Fenian, he observed that the organizers had made a mistake by not waiting until November as originally planned when the rivers and lakes could not be passed over; now the “Canucks” could send in their soldiers, a prophetic observation. [27] “Still” he said, “You’ll see fun anyhow.” [28]

When McMicken arrived in the Red River Settlement, he made a report to Lieutenant-Governor Archibald and advised him to issue an proclamation, calling on volunteers to repel the Fenians “before the Métis could take to the field”. Archibald was reluctant as he feared the French were afraid of retaliation for 1869-70 and the English would not be loyal because they suspected Archibald of being pro-French. [29] The proclamation was printed on October 3 and immediately various companies of men came forward to protect the settlement, including Métis in the French parishes and all classes in the English parishes. The raid on the HBC Fort Pembina occurred Thursday, October 5, but word did not reach Winnipeg until Saturday, October 7, when The Manitoban, a pro-Government paper, observed: “A company of Frenchmen, numbering upwards of forty, formed in the town, left this afternoon (headed by Captain Plainval) for the front ... Riel, it is said, on good authority, is out against O’Donoghue.” A week later, it reported the participation of other loyal French: “Mr. Pascal Breland and Mr. Royal are out with companies of mounted scouts towards St. Joe ... Good. Narcisse Marion had five stalwart sons at the front.” [30] The paper expected war on the American border.

Meanwhile, Canadian government officials were on tenterhooks, wondering if they could depend on the Métis and their supporters. Although The Manitoban reported the details of the raid on Saturday, October 7, preparations to meet the Fenians continued. There were fears of another attack at St. Joseph. McMicken observed:

Many perplexing difficulties cropped up to annoy the Governor. Fathers Ritchot and Dugas had daily interviews with him but they invariably ended by their refusing to urge Riel to enroll with his people unless the amnesty was assured to them.

Archibald finally agreed to recommend their loyalty to the government “for the present circumstance.” He reviewed the troops on Sunday, October 8, in St. Boniface, and subsequently lost his position after being observed shaking hands with Riel. [31] Ontario Canadians disapproved: “This was nothing more nor less than a collusive coup d’etat by Bishop Taché and Governor Archibald who had a very good chance to know by this time the result of Col. Wheaton’s gallant act at Pembina—now three days old” according to Rev. A. C. Garrioch, representing the opinion in the English parishes. [32]

In his own defence, Archibald argued before the Select Committee of the House of Commons of 1874 that he believed that O’Donoghue was certain the Métis would join him because of the “continual persecution endured by his ex-colleagues of the provisional government.” [33] He understood the seriousness of the Fenian threat which depended on the Métis withdrawing their support for Canada because of the persecution and the “Reign of Terror.”

The volunteers, led by Major Irvine at Fort Garry, started out with 200 men on Monday, October 9, not knowing that the American Captain Wheaton had already stopped the “invasion”. McMicken noted Irvine “in the evening dull, dark and drizzling, started out with all the panoply and pomp of glorious war.” The soldiers only went as far as St. Norbert, before they heard that it was no longer necessary to go to Pembina; Canadian troops at Pembina arrived in November. Drawings of the events served as Canadian propaganda as they exaggerated the glorious conflict between the Canadian troops and the Fenians which never happened.

Back in Winnipeg, fear abounded. Rumours circulated in the English-speaking parishes that the French could not be trusted. [34] Hostilities from the year before reemerged and paranoia resulted. McMicken reported:

The villagers were to be attacked by a large force of Métis from St. Boniface. The home guard were active; several were incarcerated on suspicion. In Mr. Cunningham’s eyes, an Irish name, especially if the person who bore it was a Roman Catholic, was a strong ground for suspicion and a justifiable cause of arrest. [35]

But even McMicken realized that people could not be arrested on suspicion or because of their ethnic identity without evidence. At the Lieutenant-Governor’s request, he went to the police station where the prisoners were being held in order to investigate. One of the prisoners was Bannatyne’s nephew. McMicken rejected what he called “despotic authority” and ordered “under my authority as an officer of the Dominion specially charged with matters of criminal jurisdiction of the General Government, and the sanction of His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor of the province, to set the prisoners at liberty.” [36]

Regarding the “invaders,” Canadian officials were distressed that the American justice system did not try the Irish-American leaders. In his proclamation of thanks to the volunteers who had rallied to protect the new province from the American invaders, Lieutenant-Governor Archibald regretted that “the United States civil authorities at Pembina ... discharged these marauders, for reasons which I am unable to comprehend.” He also made a special mention of the “200 able-bodied French Métis” who had rallied to the support of the Crown and “were prepared to do their duty as loyal subjects in repelling any raid that might now, or hereafter, be made on the country.” He promised to recommend their loyal action to the Governor-General (which they hoped for to get the desired amnesty). He further noted:

If among these people there were—and I believe there were—some persons whose exceptional position might have led O’Donghue to look for their support, it only adds to the value of the demonstration, and removes the last hope of the miscreants who have invaded your soil, that they would receive sympathy or aid from any class of the population. [37]

Archibald was right; there were some Métis who supported O’Donoghue. Captain Wheaton reported that a Métis named Joseph Poitras of St. Joseph had been paid by a man named Doyle in the same community to cut large quantities of hay. He was responding to a report by the American Consul in Winnipeg, James Wickes Taylor, that “half-breeds at St. Joseph, D.T., are ... supplied with money by Fenians.” He also reported that “O’Neill, Curley and Donnelly ... were at the house of a Mr. Grant; that O’Donoghue was with them, and that they were, so far as he was able to learn, intending to go to Doyle’s house ... The indications from the movements of these men seemed to be that a raid was intended from the vicinity of St. Joseph.” [38]

Apparently, some supporters of Riel’s Provisional Government of 1869-70 were sufficiently disillusioned with their experience of the previous year that they were prepared to support O’Donoghue’s desperate attempt at invasion. O’Donoghue himself claimed in 1875 in a letter to the Speaker of the House of Commons in Ottawa that “it was simply a continuation of the insurrection inaugurated in ‘69, and with the same intention, and by the same parties.” He also claimed that his “part in it was simply that of an agent of the people, holding a commission authorized by a resolution of the Council held at La Riviere Salle in September ‘70, over which Council L. Riel presided.” [39] Although historian J. P. Pritchett was correct to suggest that there was no evidence that Riel was involved, new evidence has come to light that Pembina Métis participated in O’Donoghue’s Raid. [40]

Three weeks after the Fenians were released by a Pembina magistrate, three Pembina Métis were arrested at the border (the location of the actual line was in dispute) and taken by Canadian officials to Winnipeg for trial for “feloniously and unlawfully levying war against Her Majesty.” [41] Summarizing the results of the proceeding in late November 1871, Archibald reported to the Prime Minister:

One has been convicted, one acquitted, and, as to the third, the Jury could not agree, and the prisoner has been remanded. The one convicted has been sentenced to be hanged on the 23rd February.” [42]

The Lieutenant-Governor who had suffered from the stress of the threatened invasion was anxious for a conviction. [43] However, the three arrested were not Irish-American Fenians as might be expected, but Red River Valley Métis: Isadore Villeneuve (acquitted), Andre Jerome St. Matte (remanded) and Louison “Oiseau” Letendre (convicted). Jerome and Letendre were buffalo hunters and cart drivers on the trains that transported goods between Fort Garry and Saint Paul. [44] Villeneuve had just returned from Athabasca with the HBC brigades when he was arrested. [45] While Letendre apparently lived south of the boundary line at St. Vincent, Minnesota, and was an American citizen, Andre Jerome St. Matte lived north of what is now Emerson, Manitoba, but it was still part of the Pembina Catholic community of Ste. Agathe Parish in the Red River Settlement; his father and at least some of his brothers were south of the border. [46] In a deposition of January 29, 1872, Martin Jerome, Andre’s father, swore as follows:

My son, Andrew Jerome now in confinement at Fort Garry, Province of Manitoba, was born near St. Boniface in said Province then known as the Red River Settlement of Rupert’s Land and settled at Pembina, now in Pembina County, Dakota Territory, U.S. Then he resided in the United States about 25 years, and for about 3 years last past he has resided on the east side of the “Red River of the North” about one mile below [north] of the Old “Oak Post” known as Lieutenant Long’s Post. [47]

The prisoners had wives and children and lived on river lots on the Red River according to the custom of the country. Letendre was married to Julie Delorme and they had eight children by 1871. Andre Jerome was married to Marguerite Gosselin and by 1871, they had eight children as well. [48] Marguerite was pregnant with the ninth child at the time of her husband’s arrest and this daughter, Angelique, was born on New Year’s Eve while her father was a prisoner in the Stone Fort. At the time of their arrests, Villeneuve was about 23 years old, Andre Jerome St. Matte was 42 and Letendre was 45. [49] Andre Jerome St. Matte and Louis “Oiseau” Letendre were first cousins and Andre was the uncle of Helene Jerome St. Matte whose husband was Elzear Goulet, killed September 13, 1870, the first victim of the “Reign of Terror.” [50] The Letendre family was intermarried with both the Jeromes and the family of Villeneuve’s wife, Matilda Henry. Both her parents were related to Louis Letendre; her paternal grandmother Agathe Letendre was a sister of Louis’ father; and her maternal grandfather, Francois Daunais dit Lionais, was a brother of Louis’ mother. [51] Both her parents were first cousins of Louis Letendre. Louis’ uncle Louis and family moved to the Saskatchewan and were prominent there; Francoix-Xavier Letendre (1841-1901) helped found the community of Batoche along the South Saskatchewan River in 1873. [52]

Most historians have not reported on these arrests because most of the records of the first two men have been destroyed. However, the Department of Justice kept an extensive file on Louison Letendre which provides eyewitness accounts, correspondence and petitions for his release. [53] Although court records and newspaper accounts exist to verify that the trials took place, much of the story would have been hidden except for a valuable biographical piece about Andre Jerome St. Matte, written by a local newspaper editor, which gives the Métis side of the story. Coupled with family oral history, it s possible to reinterpret these events from a new perspective. [54]

Andre Jerome told his story to Joseph Bouvette (the local newspaper editor) who wrote an article entitled “Andre Jerome: First Settler in Kittson County” in 1906:

He took an active part against the British government in the Riel Rebellion and O’Donoghue Fenian Raid of 1869-70 and was imprisoned at Stony Mountain Penitentiary in Manitoba and was put through a sweat process by being bridled like a horse and obliged to break stone day and night to cause him to disclose the secret operations of his leaders, but his word was his bond, never to be broken and he took his hardships and cruelties until finally liberated. [55]

This passage contains some important information which requires some explanation and context. The first point is that Bouvette should have said that Jerome was kept at the Stone Fort (Lower Fort Garry) north of St. Andrews Parish (to distinguish it from Upper Fort Garry located at the Forks of the Red and Assiniboine). The Department of Justice File on Louison Letendre notes that he was held in the Stone Fort and his name is included in the Manitoba Penitentiary (Stony Mountain) Register of Prisoners. [56] The Sheriff’s Letter book noted that the three prisoners were being held at the Stone Fort. [57] While the Stony Mountain Register of Prisoners only lists Letendre, the Sheriff’s Letter confirms the arrest of Villeuve and Andre Jerome was as well. [58] While Bouvette’s story provided the clue, we were pleased to find that Jerome’s claims of arrest and imprisonment could be verified through official documents.

Archibald shakes hands with Riel on October 8. This incident resulted in the recall of the Lieutenant-Governor.

Archibald shakes hands with Riel on October 8. This incident resulted in the recall of the Lieutenant-Governor.
Source: Archives of Manitoba

The second point on Bouvette’s story is the reference to the “sweat process by being bridled like a horse and obliged to break stone day and night” The punishment for hard labour in those days involved being bridled and forced to haul large loads of heavy stone which would make one sweat from the exertion. Such a punishment should have been illegal in the case of Andre Jerome as the court remanded his case to the spring; he was not convicted at his first trial in November because the jury could not agree. [59] Therefore, the prison officials had no right to punish him. There was also no suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act which the British had done in Ireland to allow them to round up large numbers of prisoners without trial as part of their policy of repression against Irish resistance to British rule. [60] Therefore, prison officials at the Stone Fort had no right to punish him. Did the sweat process involve a more insidious goal?

The quotation “to cause him to disclose the secret operation of his leaders, but his word was his bond, never to be broken and he took his hardships and cruelties until finally liberated” indicated that coercion occurred. Torture is defined as “the act or fact of inflicting extreme pain, especially to make people give evidence about the crimes or to make them confess.” [61] Since Jerome claimed that he was put through the sweat process day and night in order to extract information from him when he had not been convicted, one must conclude that he was tortured. The fact that the people in charge were trying to get evidence to convict the leaders of the raid was also in line with British policies during the 1860s. While the use of torture was not documented in Fenian trials in Canada and Great Britain, there had been a large number of accused confessing and informing on their friends, suggesting coercion by government officials. [62]

Professor H. Senior observed about the imposition of capital punishment: “It was a practice to pass a capital sentence on raiders who possessed no legal status as military belligerents in order to satisfy public opinion, then delay the execution and ultimately release the prisoners.” [63] While such a cynical tactic may explain Macdonald’s strategy, the prisoners, their extended families and communities would have suffered fear and anxiety until the prisoners were released. Even if the effect was only psychological and there was no use of coercive torture, the threat to kill Letendre was still a powerful demonstration of the power of the new Canadian regime, especially when Riel and Lepine were being persecuted for the execution of Scott and were as yet unsuccessful in obtaining the promised general amnesty for those involved in the 1968-70 Resistance.

Pressuring witnesses to provide false evidence also happened after the North West Rebellion of 1885, according to the testimony of Louis Goulet. Although he claimed to have been a neutral by-stander and prisoner in the conflict, Goulet was arrested and held for some time before being released. He described how prosecutors offered to drop three charges against him if he would testify that Andre Nault Jr. and Abraham Montour had a meeting with Big Bear the night before the “massacre”. Goulet refused and had to go to trial, but the charges were dropped for lack of evidence. [64]

Canadian officials were well aware of O’Donoghue’s involvement in the Manitoba attack as they had eye-witness testimony from people within the Hudson’s Bay Company post at the border (Emerson) when it was captured. [65] Therefore, surely it was not necessary to torture a prisoner, especially one that had not been convicted, in order to get evidence against O’Donoghue and his Irish-American friends. Given the climate of hatred against the Métis by the Ontario British, we suggest that the Canadian government officials were trying to get evidence to implicate Louis Riel in the Fenian Raid in order to arrest him. The fact that Riel was forced into exile and his life was in danger in Red River makes this type of persecution against his supporters not an unlikely scenario.

The historiography relating to the raid shows that the interpretation of events surrounding O’Donoghue’s raid depended on the writer’s ethnic background. Francophone writers, working with Métis oral history and documents collected by the Riel family and others, believed that the raid was linked to the “Reign of Terror” and the persecution of the Métis. [66] Anglophone Canadian historians tended todoubt the loyalty of the Métis and assumed that the Métis were waiting to see if O’Donoghue was successful in recruiting large numbers of supporters. [67] They also wanted revenge for the death of Organgeman Thomas Scott. While modem English-speaking historians have become more sympathetic to the French view and concluded that Riel did not support O’Donoghue’s efforts in 1871, most did not notice that Métis had been arrested or question why the Pembina Métis did participate. [68] Only two authors commented on the arrest of the three Pembina Métis. One was Robert B. Hill, a Manitoba historian whose history was published in 1890. Although he reported that three “half-breeds” appeared at the Quarterly Court on November 17, 1871, he did not know that they were Americans or that Andre Jerome St. Matte was held over the winter. He concluded that the raid made Canadian officials aware that more military protection was required. Rev. A. C. Garrioch, also partial to the Ontario viewpoint, noted in 1933 that the arrests and trials of the Métis occurred “so as to teach the French what was to be expected under the new order of things”. [69]

If Andre Jerome was being tortured in the Stone Fort, who were the Canadian officials who would have authorized such tactics by his jailers? Archibald’s reference of 25 November 1871 showed at least that he was aware that one Métis had been remanded and he was obviously keeping close tabs on the situation as the Lieutenant-Governor was anxious to punish those involved in the raid. A month earlier, he had lobbied the Prime Minister to pursue Fenian convictions in Saint Paul, Minnesota: “Would it not be well for you to telegraph to someone at Saint Paul to ask Davis, the district attorney, to spare no efforts to convince parties? [70] He was very disappointed that no Fenians were convicted and wanted as many convictions as he could get, whether Métis or Fenian, to deter future armed resistance. However, considering Archibald’s even-handed approach to political unrest in Red River from 1870-72, it is doubtful he would have agreed to torturing prisoners for confessions if he had known about it. [71]

Two Canadians who had a better knowledge of the Fenian threat were the Prime Minister and his chief spy, Gilbert McMicken, whom he had sent to Manitoba as head of the Dominion Land Office after serving as head of a frontier police force to protect the United Canadas before Confederation. [72] McMicken’s job required him to develop a spy network against the Fenians, which historian D. N. Sprague has pointed out did not give him an experience in administering a land office. [73] Spying on political resistance movements such as the Fenians was common in both Britain and Canada. [74]

Some Ontario federal government members in Ottawa felt that “Riel was playing a double game.” [75] They did not trust the Métis leaders. In November 1871, Macdonald wrote to McMicken and asked him to “quietly collect all the information you can as to Riel’s connection with the [Fenian] rising & his sudden change [to aid Canada] on finding that the raid had ended in a fiasco.” He further noted that Archibald did not need to know about the investigation: “It is no affair of his.” [76] This statement suggests that Macdonald did not want his Lieutenant-Governor involved in the spying activities and puts the responsibility for repressive anti-Fenian and anti-Métis measures on McDonald and McMicken. However, since obviously government officials at the Stone Fort would not have documented any cases of torture for the convenience of future historians, there is no official proof to substantiate Jerome’s allegations.

Canadian propaganda drawing showing troops at Fort Pembina. The troops arrived on November 18, six weeks after the raid.

Canadian propaganda drawing showing troops at Fort Pembina. The troops arrived on November 18, six weeks after the raid.
Source: Archives of Manitoba

It is perhaps more important to understand the motivation of the Pembina Métis to become involved in O’Donoghue’s Raid, even if it did fizzle in its execution, because the threat of armed invasion was one that the Canadian and Manitoba governments took seriously. From the perspective of the Métis, the raid needs to be put into the context of the “Reign of Terror.” [77] This term refers to the period from the arrival of the Canadian troops in August 1870 to the declaration of the amnesty in 1875. The most famous violent incident was the drowning of Elzear Goulet in September 1870. Identified in a Winnipeg saloon as a member of Scott’s court martial, Goulet tried to escape to Saint Boniface by swimming the Red River, but drowned in the crossing. Although two Red River magistrates who investigated the suspicious death fixed responsibility, no arrests were made because of the tense situation in the community. [78] The newspapers blamed some of the Protestant volunteers who had a vendetta against the provisional government supporters of Riel, but the agitators were not dealt with by the Canadian justice system. [79]

French and English sources agreed on the interpretation of the death of Goulet. The Catholic priests knew that Goulet’s death would have repercussions; as Father S. Simonet, a Riel sympathizer at Pembina, wrote to Bishop Tache on September 20, 1870: “The death of Elzear would be expensive for the Government.” Father LaFloch at St. Joseph (Walhalla) was equally worried:

I was in Pembina when the news of the poor Elzear Goulet ... came; the information of this murder [at Pembina] has caused much disturbance, but here [St. Joseph] all is still quiet. If the amnesty comes, I believe that all will be well; but, if it is late, I fear repercussions. [80]

Protestant Rev. Garrioch believed that death of Goulet was retribution for the death of Scott. [81]

Elzear Goulet in fact lived at Pembina south of the American border which was the home of the “free traders” who challenged the monopoly of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Pembina may have attracted families who were not sympathetic to British imperialistic policies. However, Métis extended families lived on river lots both north and south of the line without much regard to its national significance and they moved back and forth across the line depending on economic opportunities. Goulet was the mail carrier between Fort Garry and Pembina and, as already noted, married to Helene Jerome St. Matte, who was the granddaughter of Martin Jerome, a niece of Andre Jerome and cousin of Louison Letendre. [82] Oral history suggests that Helen was raised by her aunt, Mrs. Angelique Jerome Rolette, Andre Jerome’s sister. [83] Helene’s father was dead and, in Métis society where kin groups valued extended family connections, such as in the close-knit community at Pembina, Andre Jerome and Louison Letendre would have felt a responsibility to avenge her husband’s death. Helene was left as a widow at a young age with six young children. [84] The location of the Goulet home can be seen on a map found in the Letendre papers.

Jerome family history provides yet another insight into Andre Jerome’s role in the raid. The trial records in the Letendre file do not specifically identify Andre Jerome at the scene of the looting of the HBC post at the border. Although “Jeromes” or “St. Matthes” are sometimes mentioned, the Christian name is not included so that it could have been any of his six brothers or other male relatives. For example, Antoine Collin [85] testified that he “saw some of the St. Matthe’s in the fort” and Antoine Paul Laronte (as spelled in the Department of Justice file) swore that he saw a St. Matthe and Letendre while the Fenians occupied the HBC post. [86] We assume that the witnesses identified Andre Jerome as the major participant in the raid rather than his brothers simply because he was the Jerome charged.

The family suggests that Andre Jerome’s two oldest boys, Jean Baptiste, age 15, and Alexandre, age 12, drove the Red River cart in which the Fenians had hidden their load of rifles and ammunition. The family says that Andre Jerome gave himself up three weeks later when the arrests were made. Although in modern terms, these sons were somewhat young to be involved in a dangerous enterprise, in nineteenth-century Métis society, young men of this age would have been expected to work with their relatives on the bison hunt and around the farm. [87] Confirmation of this story can be found in some details provided by Anglophone historian Robert Hill about the Fenian muskets and ammunition:

O’Donoghue’s plan was to cross the frontier with a body of armed men, compelling every man he met in his path to accompany him, either as a prisoner or confederate, and thus swell his ranks till he reached [St. Boniface] ... With a view to the successful issue of this plan, arms had been deposited under a hay-stack within a few yards of the frontier during the summer. On the night previous to the raid, these were moved across to the west side of the river and put in the cellar of a house standing within a few feet of the road leading down to the same and occupied by the widow of Elzear Goulet, who had been drowned the previous fall near Fort Garry. As the men marched towards the frontier, they armed themselves on passing the house. [88]

This information suggests that, since Goulet’s widow was a Jerome, the Jerome and Letendre families were intimately involved with O’Donoghue in transporting Fenian arms to the invaders. Andre’s younger brother Joseph owned the river lot directly across the Red River on the Minnesota side, south of the border, so that the arms were possibly hidden in Joseph Jerome’s haystack. It is not surprising that Uncle Andre and cousin Louis would use their relative’s property to stash the arms and their niece’s house in Pembina to distribute them. [89]

Perhaps the most important reason for Andre Jerome’s arrest was because of his role in the Resistance of 1869-70. The deposition of Andre Nault, one of Riel’s lieutenants, suggests that Jerome St. Matte and Damase Harrison were guards of Thomas Scott in Upper Fort Garry and that they insisted on a Council of War (court martial) because otherwise they would shoot him themselves. “They did not want to risk their lives in guarding this man.” [90] Given the persecution of the Métis after the troops arrived in August 1870, if Andre Jerome had been a guard in Upper Fort Garry during the Provisional Government, he would have been a likely target for reprisals. Andre Nault himself was beaten up at Pembina and left for dead in 1871; these violent incidents were punishment for executing Scott. [91] Since Andre Jerome had a large number of half-brothers that looked similar, it is possible that he was mistaken for one of them; in any case, which brother was arrested may not have mattered to the authorities.

Andre Jerome was acquitted at his second trial which had the same result as the first: there was not enough evidence to convince the jury to convict him. [92] Villeneuve had been acquitted at his first trial and Letendre sentenced to hang. After diplomatic interventions by the American government based on the claim that Letendre was an American citizen and on a large petition signed by prominent citizens in Winnipeg, including most of the leading politicians, both English and French, Letendre’s sentence was commuted to twenty years in prison and then he was released in January 1873 and ordered to leave the country until the twenty year sentence was up. [93] One of the arguments used in his defence was that he had to support a large family and that he was “weak-minded.” His friend, Paul Laronte [sic], Sr., observed:

Have known prisoner a long time—have been at most brought up with him; he is a quiet man, as far as I know; is not rich, but is a day-laborer with a large family. He passes for a good fellow, but they say his mind is rather weak since he got a kick from a horse. By his conversation, I shd. [sic] judge him to be weak-minded ... Never heard that he was opposed to the Canadian Government. [94]

In 1872, Martin Jerome, Andre’s father, sold river lot #54 north of Emerson, and Andre Jerome and his family moved south to become “the first settlers of Kittson County, Minnesota” at the mouth of the Red and Two Rivers. In retrospect, it seems that these prisoners were arrested and Letendre was convicted as political scapegoats for the resistance of 1869-70 and the death of Thomas Scott.

The Jerome St. Matte brothers, 1905. Top: Elise, David and Daniel; bottom: Louis, Andre, Jerome and Joseph. Roger was absent. Martin and Baptiste were dead in 1905.

The Jerome St. Matte brothers, 1905. Top: Elise, David and Daniel; bottom: Louis, Andre, Jerome and Joseph. Roger was absent. Martin and Baptiste were dead in 1905.
Source: Jerome Family Collection

In terms of justice issues, it is difficult to compare the treatment of Fenian captured in earlier raids in the Maritimes, Quebec and Ontario with the Manitoba skirmish. The Manitoba raid was not officially approved by the Fenian Brotherhood who were disillusioned with past failures. [95] It was not technically an “invasion” at all since it was not sanctioned by the American government. There was no engagement of Canadian or British troops since the escapade was terminated by the intervention of American cavalry from Fort Pembina who had been ordered to prevent any embarrassing incidents. And as a number of authors have already noted, the Manitoba Métis did not in general support it so that it was not a threatened uprising in the same sense as happened in Ireland under the leadership of Col. Thomas J. Kelly in 1867. [96] The Métis were concerned with local, not international, issues and O’Donoghue helpfully provided some inspirational rhetoric and a practical supply of muskets and ammunition.

In the United States, the Irish Fenians were perceived as heroes pursuing a republican dream for their homeland. While they were at times an embarrassment to American politicians, they were treated lightly in the USA for their armed skirmishes on the Canadian border. [97] The British Government (when dealing with Fenian activities in Ireland and England), and consequently the Canadian Government, considered them traitors, even though they were naturalized Americans and no longer British, and many were charged with treason. [98] Although the Métis in the Red River Valley had their own personal reasons for assisting O’Donoghue and his Irish American friends, they were caught up in an international game of conspiracy and intrigue. Since the invading American Irish had threatened to take up arms against the Canadian government, the Canadian politicians used the situation to punish and repress Métis resistance in Manitoba. The difference between the Irish Americans and the Métis was obvious: the former were ex-patriots threatening attacks on Canada and Britain from the republican USA. The Métis on the other hand were defending their own homeland and their families from dispossession. While the majority under the leadership of Riel apparently decided to give the new Canadian regime a chance, some of Riel’s supporters were sufficiently disillusioned with their experience of the previous year that they were prepared to support O’Donoghue’s desperate attempt at invasion. They failed and, being on the losing side, suffered the consequences for taking up arms against the “new” Canadian regime.

Elzéar Goulet, the first victim of the “Reign of Terror.”

Elzéar Goulet, the first victim of the “Reign of Terror.”
Source: Societe historique de Saint-Boniface

Unlike their Fenian comrades who escaped to Minnesota and beyond, the Pembina Métis were arrested and brought to Winnipeg for trial. Like the Fenians in Ireland, they might have been called the “Pembina Martyrs” if they had become symbolic scapegoats for Canadian repression of the resistance, but this martyrdom happened to Riel after 1885, not to the veterans of the Pembina skirmish. On the contrary, having been exiled, they moved south of the border and did not become the heroes of the resistance to the Manitoba Métis. They were not the subject of balladeers and poets and their role was forgotten except in a local Minnesota weekly newspaper, a Department of Justice file, and a Sheriff’s Letter book.

For historians, however, and those interested in the current legal and judicial wrangling over the question of Métis dispossession, we would argue that the Canadian Government, which had only been in possession of the new western territory for one year, made an example of the Pembina “traitors” as part of its repression of Aboriginal resistance. [99] This persecution helped create a political climate in which many Manitoba Métis realized that their rights would not be respected. As one of the components of the “Reign of Terror,” the O’Donoghue Raid and its aftermath convinced these local settlers that they should move farther west where they could temporarily escape the persecution which had been directed at them in the Red River Valley. [100] Such an atmosphere of repression helped drive the Métis out. Descendants of Met-is families which suffered from the trials and legal persecution of Canadian officials have talked about the shame that such persecution engendered for their relatives. [101]

In conclusion, the issue of Métis participation in O’Donoghue’s raid of 1871 was linked to family and local issues in the aftermath of the resistance of 1869-70. The Métis of Pembina were closely allied to the residents of the French parishes of the Red River Settlement through kinship ties and were obliged to defend their territory against hostile outsiders. The Canadian government feared Métis retaliation for the “Reign of Terror” and sought to curtail any military activity. Although Riel and his cavalry remained loyal to Canada and did not support the republican aspirations of O’Donoghue, the Red River Métis remained under suspicion in the aftermath of the threatened invasion. As with Fenian prisoners in eastern Canada and in Britain, repressive measures were sought to prevent further outbreaks of violence. The fact that the invasion was interrupted by the American cavalry and that the Métis were for the most part loyal to the Crown did not prevent three Pembina Métis from being charged with treason.

Andre Jerome’s sons in 1880. Top: Roger and Napolean. Centre: Martin, Andrew and Baptiste. Front: Sam and Alexandre. It was Baptiste and Alexandre who drove the cart with the Fenian muskets.

Andre Jerome’s sons in 1880. Top: Roger and Napolean. Centre: Martin, Andrew and Baptiste. Front: Sam and Alexandre. It was Baptiste and Alexandre who drove the cart with the Fenian muskets.
Source: Jerome Family Collection

The persecution of the Pembina prisoners, Louison “Ouiseau” Letendre, Isadore Villeneuve and Andre Jerome, probably exerted the desired effect on their friends and relatives. The not-so-covert message was that, if they took up arms again against the Canadian government, they would be severely punished. However, Canadian officials may have been prepared to go farther, that is, to torture a prisoner in custody who had not been convicted in order to extract a confession. Was the Canadian Government prepared to overstep the bounds of “British Justice” in order to collect the information it needed?

In terms of Aboriginal justice issues, this case is a good example of the repression that the Métis of the Red River Settlement faced in the wake of their resistance. On the one hand, they could not get any retribution for the murder of Elzear Goulet, a prominent member of the community, or to protect their people from violent assaults by the Ontario Canadians. On the other, they were severely and illegally dealt with for participation in the O’Donoghue raid. The treatment of Andre Jerome and Louison “Oiseau” Letendre would have had repercussions throughout the parishes, resulting in increased malaise and despair. It is not surprising that many Métis left Manitoba, and, if their exile was “voluntary,” it was to escape the persecution of the “Reign of Terror.” The new Canadian regime was prepared to use strong measures to repress any hint of political armed resistance even though the actual “invasion” was aborted before it began. The extreme measures which were used against the Fenians in previous invasions were an overreaction in Manitoba, yet the Métis suffered the same consequences. Given the lack of strong deterrents exercised against the Ontario Protestant agitators, the Métis observed a justice system which did not treat its indigenous residents as equals and which worked to their disadvantage. “Unequal Justice” was their experience and diaspora was the result.


1. Provincial Archives of Manitoba, Macdonald Papers on microfilm from National Archives of Canada, C1509, Vol. 6, Fenian Raids, 25021-037, Archibald to Macdonald, October 13, 1871. Earlier drafts of this paper were delivered at the Manitoba History Conference, Winnipeg, May 1993, and the Association of Canadian Studies in the US (ACSUS), New Orleans, November, 1993. Ruth Swan is in the doctoral program, History Department, University of Manitoba. Edward A. Jerome of Hallock, Minnesota, is a great-grandson of Andre Jerome dit St. Matte. We would like to thank Prof. Hereward Senior (McGill), Prof. Wesley Pue (UBC), Prof. D. N. Sprague (Manitoba), Dr. Jennifer Brown (Winnipeg) and Diane Payment (Parks Canada) for their comments on earlier versions of the paper.

2. In Fenian & Anglo-American Relations during Reconstruction, (Ithaca & London: 1969), Brian Jenkins focused on the diplomatic repercussions of the raid and dismissed the Manitoba episode with a brief reference to one of the prisoners (p. 316). In Fenianism in North America, W. S. Neidhardt (Pennsylvania State University Press: 1975) devoted 8 paragraphs to the Manitoba Raid with special attention to the role of General O’Neill. He relied on the interpretation of J. P. Pritchett, “The Origins of the So-called Fenian Raid on Manitoba”, Canadian Historical Review 10, 1929: 2342. Hereward Senior’s first book on the subject, The Fenians & Canada, Toronto: McMillan: 1978, made no mention of the Manitoba raid. In The Last Invasion of Canada, Senior included a chapter on O’Donoghue’s raid; although he mentioned the participation of “15 halfbreeds” and a “Minnesota resident” as a prisoner, he did not elaborate or question Métis participation, pp. 183 and 186. W. L. Morton did not mention the raid in Manitoba: A History (Toronto: 1957, 1979). Neither did G. A. Friesen in The Canadian Prairies (Toronto: 1984). In For Better or For Worse (Toronto: Copp Clark Pitman Ltd., 1991), J. L. Granatstein dismissed the Fenians as a serious threat in 1871: “An 1871 border scare turned out not to have been caused by them” (p. 13). In The Red River Rebellion (Winnipeg: Watson & Dwyer, 1996:226), J. M. Bumsted noted “a handful of Métis” participated in the invasion.

3. See Joseph Kinsey Howard, Strange Empire: A Narrative of the Northwest, Saint Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Borealis Edition, 1952, 1994: 102. George F. G. Stanley, “William Bernard O’Donoghue”, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 10, Toronto & Quebec: Universities of Toronto and Laval, 1972: 556-557; identifies O’Donoghue as an American Irishman who was treasurer of Riel’s Provisional Government. Stanley, Military Expeditions to Red River Toronto & Oxford: Dundurn Press, 1989: 202. A long article in The Manitoban, October 7, 1871, identified the Fenian officers who accompanied O’Donoghue to Pembina. An eye-witness account came from Capt. Lloyd Wheaton who arrested the leaders in the process of looting the HBC post, Fort Pembina, US National Archives, RG94, Records of the Adjutant’s General’s Office, #3248, Report to the Assistant Adjutant General, St. Paul, by Wheaton, Fort Pembina, Dakota Territory, October 5, 1871. We would like to thank Alan Woolworth, Research Fellow for the Minnesota Historical Society, for this reference.

4. This term comes from Allen Ronaghan, “The Archibald Administration in Manitoba”, Ph.D. thesis, University of Manitoba, 1986, Ch. 33, p. 698. In “The So-Called Fenian Raid on Manitoba in 1871”, Canadian Historical Review vol. 10, 1929, p. 41, J. P. Pritchett argued that “the O’Donoghue and O’Neill project was not Fenian in any shape or form.” This point will be contested since they did provide 94 muskets, 11 sabres and 12,00 musket-cartridges according to Captain Wheaton in his report of October 5. In Toil and Trouble, Stanley uses both terms, acknowledging that “the irrepressibly optimistic O’Neill was prepared to support the equally hopeful O’Donoghue. Other Fenian leaders, however, more realistic, were less enthusiastic. Angrily, O’Neill resigned his presidency of the Brotherhood, declaring that he would act on his own. He was going to support O’Donoghue and would invite other Fenian officers to join him. Colonel Curley alone responded to O’Neill’s histrionics”, page 204. Actually, another Fenian officer named Donnelly also joined them. Hereward Senior included the Manitoba invasion in his book, The Last Invasion of Canada, The Fenian Raids, 1966-70, chapter 10: 173.

5. See for example the description by Robert Hill, in Manitoba, History of its Early Settlement, Development and Resources, Toronto: 1890: 335-349. Alexander Begg, History of the North-West, volume II, Toronto: Hunter, Rose & Company, 1894, chapter V: “Half-breed Complications and the Fenian Raid”: 65-76. George Bryce, A History of Manitoba: its Resources & People, Toronto & Montreal, The Canada History Company, 1906: 176-177. In 1963, George F. G. Stanley edited the journal of Abbe J. B. Proulx as follows: “L’Invasion Fenienne au Manitoba”, R.H.A.F., vol xvii, September 1963: 258-68. Undoubtedly, in 1871, most Manitobans thought of the raid as a Fenian affair. The article by J. B. Pritchett published in 1929 in the Canadian Historical Review changed the view of academics but, by that time, most Manitobans had probably forgotten about it.

6. For American views of the Fenian movement, see William D’Arcy, The Fenian Movement in the United States, 1858-1886, New York, Russell & Russell, 1947 and Mabel G. Walker, The Fenian Movement, Colorado Springs: Ralph Myles Publishers, 1969. For information on the movement in Ireland, see Desmond Ryan, The Fenian Chief A Biography of James Stephens, Dublin & Sydney: Gill & Son, 1967, and Leon O’Broin, Fenian Fever: An Anglo-American Dilemma, London: Cornell University Press, 1969.

7. For reviews of diplomacy between the USA and Great Britain and Canada, see Brian Jenkins, Fenians and Anglo-American Relations during Reconstruction, Ithaca, N.Y. and London, 1969 and W. S. Neidhardt, Fenianism in North America, University Park, 1975.

8. For information on the Fenian attacks on Canada, see Hereward Senior, The Fenians & Canada, Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1978 and also The Last Invasion of Canada: The Fenian Raids, 1866-1870, Toronto & Oxford: Dundurn Press, 1991.

9. Senior, The Last Invasion of Canada, p. 191: “The greatest deficiency of the Canadian command was that they could not respond to repeated false alarms without losing face.”

10. For example, Prime Minister John Macdonald reported to Lord Carnarvon on April 14, 1870, that he expected a raid by John O’Neill against Manitoba and complained about the withdrawal of British troops. The Old Chieftain, Toronto: Macmillan Company, 1955, p. 61.

11. An important view of the political ramifications of the Fenian Raids came from Canada’s military historian, C. P. Stacey, “Fenianism & the Rise of National Feeling in Canada at the Time of Confederation”, Canadian Historical Review, September 1931: 238:261.

12. Begg, History of the North-West, vol. 11: 71: “It was well-known to [Governor Archibald] that a mere spark at that time was only needed to send the whole French population into open revolt—a fact which was not so well understood by his critics”.

13. Captain Lloyd Wheaton, Report to Assistant Adjutant General, #3248, October 5, 1871.

14. Hereward Senior, The Last Invasion of Canada, Toronto: 1991, p. 183.

15. J. J. Hill quoted in Vera Kelsey, Red River Runs North, New York: Harper & Bros, 1951, p. 181.

16. Wheaton, Report #3248, October 5, 1871.

17. Alexander Begg noted in his History of the North-West, vol. II, Toronto: Hunter, Rose, 1894, p. 71, that the Fenians had been released because “the evidence against them, being, it was said, insufficient to convict them of a breach of the neutrality laws. They were, in fact, liberated as the quickest way to get over the whole difficulty.” Roy P. Johnson noted that the border line was in dispute and it was not clear if the HBC post at Emerson was actually north or south of the 49th Parallel. George Foster, a clerk in the Pembina court, reported that the Fenians were released on the assumption that they had actually not crossed the border. In “The Fenian Invasion of 1871”, Transactions of the Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba, Ser. III: 7 (1952): pp. 30-39. For a more comprehensive view, see Johnson, Red River Valley, ed. Clarence A. Glasrud, Red River Valley Historical Society, 1982, pp. 345-353. See also report in The Manitoban, October 14, 1871. American annexationist, real estate promoter and legless lawyer Enos Stutsman was the Fenian’s defence attorney; see Dale Gibson, Attorney for the Frontier: Enos Stutsman, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1983: 157-158. He later helped to get depositions to secure the release of the Pembina Métis. See James Wickes Taylor Papers in the Provincial Archives of Manitoba, MG5, B2 (M233).

18. Provincial Archives of Manitoba, James Wickes Taylor papers, Wheaton to Taylor: October 12, 1871.

19. Stories of the arrests of Curley and O’Neill in Saint Paul were reprinted in The Manitoban, October 23, 1871.

20. Provincial Archives of Manitoba, Belleau Papers (copy from Richardton Abbey, ND.), Father S. Simonet, Pembina, to Archbishop Tache, St. Boniface, September 29, 1870. See also Father LeFloch, St. Joseph, to Tache, October 9, 1870: “Riel and Lepine came to see me and both are not at all anxious to start a war ... Riel is worried for fear that O’Donoghue is gone to get a party of Fenians and ... cause more trouble at Pembina.”

21. Jeff Keshen, “Cloak and Dagger: Canada West’s Secret Police, 1864-1867”, Ontario History, v. 79, #4, December 1987: 353-381 and Cheryl MacDonald, “Gilbert McMicken, Spymaster: Canada’s Secret Police”, The Beaver June/July 1991: 44-49.

22. Gilbert McMicken, “The Abortive Fenian Raid on Manitoba”, Transactions of the Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba #32, 1887-8, 1-11. McMicken stated he received a telegram from Macdonald “urging my departure, owing to information he had received relative to the threatened Fenian movement on Manitoba, in connection with the apprehended uprising of the half-breeds, subsequent to my departure from the capital”, p. 1.

23. McMicken memoir, p. 2.

24. McMicken memoir, p. 3.

25. McMicken memoir, p. 4.

26. McMicken memoir, p. 6.

27. C. P. Stacey, “The Second Red River Expedition, 1871”, Canadian Defence Quarterly, vol. 8, #2, January 1931:1-10. G. F. G. Stanley, Toil and Trouble: Military Expeditions to Red River, Toronto & Oxford: Dundurn Press, 1989, Chapter 10: “The Fenian Raid in Manitoba 1871”.

28. McMicken memoir, p. 6.

29. McMicken memoir, p. 8. Also, Rev. A. C. Garrioch, The Correction Line, Winnipeg: Stovel Co. Ltd., 1933, p. 335: “To the last, Governor Archibald was not able to cast aside the policy of expediency”, meaning that he had been disloyal for compromising with the French Party.

30. The Manitoban, October 14, 1871.

31. “This act on the part of Governor Archibald brought down upon his head the denunciation of a large number of people in the Province and caused him ever afterwards to be unpopular with a certain class. But Governor Archibald acted for the best interests of the country, and it was well-known to him that a mere spark at that time was only needed to send the whole French population into open revolt—a fact which was not so well understood by his critics”. Alexander Begg, History of the North West, p. 71. Garrioch, 1933, p. 336 and D. N. Sprague, Canada and the Métis, 1869-1885, Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier Press, 1988: p. 76: “The handshaking incident only brought Orangemen to new heights of vituperation in Ontario.”

32. Garrioch, 1933, p. 336.

33. Archibald’ testimony is cited by A. H. de Tremauden, “Louis Riel and the Fenian Raid of 1871”, Canadian Historical Review, vol. 4, #2, June: 144.

34. Garrioch, p. 336.

35. McMicken memoir, p. 9.

36. McMicken memoir, p. 9. The only mention of these prisoners in The Manitoban was on October 7: “A man named Cameron was arrested last night (Friday [October 6]), on suspicion of being connected with the Fenian movement. He remains in limbo.”

37. The Manitoban, October 14, 1871.

38. Taylor’s report was included in Wheaton’s report #3248.

39. Cited by J. P Pritchett, “The Origins of the So-Called Fenian Raid on Manitoba”, Canadian Historical Review, v.10, March, 1929, p. 41. The original is in the Provincial Archives of Manitoba, Schultz Papers, MG12, El, #7457, February 26, 1875. Garrioch, p. 336.

40. Pritchett partly based his conclusion on the research of A. H. de Tremaudan who wrote “Louis Riel and the Fenian Raid of 1871”, Canadian Historical Review, v. 4: 2, 1923: 132-144 based on the minutes of meetings organized in the French Métis parishes in 1871 to decide on their strategy. De Tremaudan obtained access to these minutes from Joseph Riel, the brother of Métis leader, who had collected some of his papers and (according to Diane Payment) from the Union Nationale Métisse de St. Joseph, “They are mostly in the handwriting of Louis Riel himself.” He wanted to challenge the bias in English-language sources: “We have seen it so often stated that the Métis only came forward after all was over that we think it necessary to insist that trustworthy sources prove quite the opposite” (footnote 25).

41. Provincial Archives of Manitoba, General Quarterly Court, 1863-72, MG2 B4-1, p. 195-201.The definition of treason is “the act or fact or betraying one’s country or ruler. Helping the enemies of one’s county is treason”. Gage Canadian Dictionary. The death penalty was the punishment for conviction. In previous Fenian trials in Canada, treason was charged if the government could prove that those indicted were British subjects; see W. S. Neidhardt, Fenianism in North America, p. 100. In the 1867 attack at Tallaght Hill, 207 prisoners were charged with High Treason; see O’Broin, Fenian Fever, p. 155.

42. Provincial Archives of Manitoba, copy of Macdonald Papers, pp. 25070-71, 25 November 1871. This is proof that Archibald knew about the arrests of three Métis and that he knew that one had been remanded until the spring. Whether he knew about Jerome’s treatment in custody is open to speculation. See Provincial Archives of Manitoba, Court of Queen’s Bench, Winnipeg: Criminal Registers: GR2607 which lists those charged with “Feloniously and unlawfully levying war against Her Majesty” and the results of their trials: #8, Isadore Villeneuve - “not guilty” - #10, Oiseau L’Etendre - “guilty” - and 11), Andre Jerome St. Matte - “discharged”. A. C. Garrioch also noted the three Métis arrests: p. 337.

43. For a description of the preparations to repel the invaders, see Stanley, Louis Riel, p. 111. For a copy of Archibald’s proclamation calling for volunteers, see Provincial Archives of Manitoba, Archibald Papers, #574. See also Ronaghan’s Ph.D. thesis for details and The Manitoban, October 7, 1871.

44. J. E. Bouvette, editor of the Kittson County Enterprise, published a long story about “Andrew Jerome” in the silver anniversary edition in 1906. This article was republished in the Centennial Edition, June 19, 1983. The headline reads: “Andre Jerome First Settler in the County”. Underneath a photo of Mr. and Mrs. Jerome, the bold text reads: “Was picturesque figure of Mixed Blood and Hardy Stock; Suffered at Hands of British For Activity As Aid of Louis Riel”. The article notes that Andre Jerome was still living in 1906, so we have assumed that Bouvette interviewed Jerome himself and much of the information is “oral history”. J. E. Bouvette was raised in Pembina and had family ties to the Red River Settlement. Some facts in the article are not correct based on our research. For example, “he [Jerome] traced his ancestry back to the French Huguenots, his paternal grandfather having migrated from France early in the nineteenth century.” According to Tanquay’s Genealogical Dictionary, 1887, the first Jerome in New France was a soldier, Francois Jerome dit Latour dit Beaune, from Brittany in 1698 and he married Marie-Angelique Dardenne; their eldest son, Francois Jerome dit Latour, was born in 1706 and first came to the west as a voyageur for La Verendrye. There were several generations of Jeromes who worked in the fur trade up the North Saskatchewan River before Andre’s father, Martin, and his good friend, Jean-Baptiste Letendre (Louis’ father) moved to Red River in the 1820s. See HBCA, B.235 / d /18 for accounts of Jerome and Letendre, Winnipeg Account Book. See our article, “Saskatchewan Voyageurs and Bison Hunters: The Jerome Family in the Northwest (1727-1821), Winnipeg: Rupert’s Land Colloquium, 1998. The close personal ties between the Jerome and Letendre families existed over several generations. Louis Letendre’s father and uncle had lots 765 and 763, HBCA, E.6/7, Red River Settlement, Grants of Land. Isadore Villeneuve is not listed as living at Pembina, but he married Matilda Henry, the daughter of Alexis Henry and Marie Daunais dit Lyonnaise, age 9 in 1850 Pembina Census. She is not listed in the 1860 Pembina Census. His brother Hyacinthe settled in North Dakota.

45. The Manitoban, December 2, 1871.

46. In the correspondence of American consul, James Wickes Taylor, are depositions collected by the American State Department to lobby for the release of the Pembina Métis who were considered Americans. These are in the Minnesota Historical Society, and we also consulted them in Provincial Archives of Manitoba, MG5 B2 on microfilm. Information in his father’s deposition is confirmed by the Pembina U.S. [Minnesota] Census of 1850 which lists “Andrew Jerome, 22, male, hunter”. In the 1860 Census, “Andre Jerome” is listed as age 30 and a “farmer”, the description used for most of the Métis heads of families. In 1870 Red River Census (Manitoba), Andre St. Matte and family are living in Ste. Agathe Parish which extended to Pembina. In 1872, there is a record that Martin Jerome sold lot 54 on the east side of the Red River north of Emerson, Manitoba, to Andrew Hepburn. In the 1850 Pembina census, there are two Louis Batoches: age 49 (uncle married Marie Jane Hallett) and Louis 17; this is probably Louis 1 & 3, uncle and cousin of the Louis who was a prisoner. There is a Baptiste Batoch, age 25, with wife Julie; we believe this was a mistake and it was Louis 2, the prisoner. The 1850 federal U.S. Census [Pembina, Minnesota Territory] is published in the Collections of the State Historical Society, 385-405 and we also consulted it on microfilm as the Chester Fritz Library, Special Collections, University of North Dakota. The 1860 Pembina Census lists two Louis Letendres: age 60 (born in Michigan) and age 30 (born in British America). He is listed with Julie, age 28, and 4 children. The Stony Mountain Register put his age as 44 in 1872. We believe that the most reliable evidence that Louis 2 was born in 1826 was the depositions of Martin Jerome, his uncle, and Baptiste LaRocque, on January 16, 1872 in the James Wickes Taylor Papers, Provincial Archives of Manitoba (MG5, B2; microfilm M233). In the Red River Census of 1849, Louis Batosh is listed at age 23, married with no children, suggesting he married about that time. It also lists his uncle Louis Batosh, 48, with 12 in family, and his father Baptiste Batosh, age 58, with 7 in family (Provincial Archives of Manitoba, MG2,B3; microfilm M160). This suggests Louis 2 (the prisoner) moved to Pembina between 1849 and 1850 unless the Red River Census included Pembina.

47. National Archives of Canada, Letendre file, Deposition of Martin Jerome, January 29, 1872. This information is confirmed by Andre Jerome appearing in the 1850 and 1860 census in Pembina and the 1870 Red River Census in Manitoba. In 1872, Martin Jerome sold this lot 54 to Andrew Hepburn when Andre Jerome was released and moved south of the border to Minnesota.

48. Pembina Assomption Catholic Church Register.

49. Villeneuve was born in 1848 in St. Charles according to the list of “Half-breed Heads of Families”, National Archives of Canada, RG15, vol. 1507, the son of Francois Villeneuve and Helene Vallee. Andre Jerome was born in 1829 in St. Boniface (St. Boniface Baptisms); Sprague and Frye’s Genealogy (Winnipeg: Pemmican, 1983) lists his birth as 1827 which is incorrect. His parents were Martin Jerome II and Angelique Letendre; he died in 1916 in Hallock, MN. Louis “Oiseau” Letendre dit Batoche’s birth date is not recorded in church records. In depositions by Martin Jerome and Baptiste LaRocque in the James W. Taylor Papers (January 16, 1872), they both testified that Louis L’Etendre (sic) was born in 1826, the son of Baptiste L’Etendre (sic). Since Louis had an uncle, cousin and son by the same name, the best way to distinguish him is by his father, birth date, and his wife, Julie Delorme. According to the Pembina Church Register and affidavits, St. Boniface Historical Society, they had 7 children by 1866 [Pembina Assomption Church baptisms; Gail Moris includes Roger born in 1849], but we have found no church record of Louis’ birth, marriage or death. In Kittson County Historical Society, see Tax List of Real Property for the town [ship] of St. Vincent, Mn.,: in 1880, Julia Batosh is located on a ten acre lot in Sec. 2, Twp. 163N, Range 51 west; this suggests she was a widow and her husband [Louis Letendre dit Batoche] was dead by 1880. St. Vincent was across the Red River from Pembina and part of the Catholic parish of Pembina. Note that dates on these historical records often conflict by a few years.

50. The death of Elzear Goulet is one of the best documented incidents in Métis historiography and is often cited as a cause of continuing Métis resentment towards the new Canadian regime. See short biography on Goulet in The Collected Writings of Louis Riel, ed. by G. Stanley, Thomas Flanagan, & Claude Rocan, Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, vol. 5: pp. 263-4: “Drowned in the Red River while fleeing from Canadian militia men.” See N. E. A. Ronaghan, “The Archibald Administration in Manitoba, 1870-72”, Ph.D. thesis, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba, Chapter 19: “The Death of Elzear Goulet”. He also gives the best documentation of the “Reign of Terror”. See for example Chapter 18: “Schultz and the Beginning of the Reign of Terror”. Goulet was “Lieutenant-General of the troops at Fort Garry under Ambroise Lepine ... [and] took part in the court-martial which sentenced Thomas Scott to death”, Ronaghan, p. 424, footnote 2.

51. Grandparents of Villeneuve’s wife, Matilda Henry: Agathe Letendre married William Henry, a son of Alexander Henry the Elder; their son Alexis Henry married Marie Daunais dit Lyonnaise, daughter of Francois Daunais dit Lionais and Francoise Saulteaux; Francois was related to Louis Letendre’s mother, Marguerite Lionais dit Delaunay (Morin Genealogy).

52. Diane P. Payment, Les gens libres - O tipemisiwak”: Batoche, Saskatchewan 1870-1930, Parks Service, Environment Canada, 1990: 34.

53. National Archives of Canada, Department of Justice, RG13-C 1, v. 6-7, v. 1409, L. Letendre file. The writers assume that there were files on Jerome St. Matte and Villeneuve, but they were destroyed when they were acquitted.

54. Centennial Edition of The Kittson County Enterprise, June 29, 1983, page 10 included the article by former editor Joseph Bouvette, on Andre Jerome [dit St. Matte] reprinted from the earlier souvenir edition of 1906. The Jerome family used “St. Matte” (also: St. Matte or Sammatte) as a “dit” name. This included Andre’s six brothers and other relatives. These names caused considerable confusion the records. The brothers and half-brothers were: Louis, Elie, Andre, David, Jerome, Daniel, Joseph and Roger. Martin and Baptiste had died before 1871.

55. Bouvette’s ancestors came from the Pembina area and he knew the Jerome family well.

56. National Archives of Canada, Dept. Of Justice, Vol. 1409, L. Letendre file, Girard to Macdonald, June 22, 1872. Girard notes in this letter that the “poor fellow who is actually detained at the STONE FORT in the Province of Manitoba and known as Louison Letendre, a French halfbreed of Pembina, convicted as one of the Fenian leaders, at the Fenian Raid of last fall”. This reference linked the STONE FORT with the incarceration of the prisoners. See also Provincial Archives of Manitoba, MG4 D6-1, Canada Dept. Of Justice, Canadian Penitentiary Service, Manitoba Penitentiary (Stony Mountain) Register of Prisoners, 1871, 1913. The penitentiary at Stoney Mountain was not constructed until several years later. See also Philip Gouldring, The Manitoba Penitentiary and asylum, 1871-86, Manuscript Report #28, Parks branch, DIAND, 1970: 23.

57. Provincial Archives of Manitoba, RG3, Cl (Box 4), 45: Records of the Attorney General, Manitoba Provincial Police, the Sheriff’s Letter book; reference to St. Matte”, i.e. Andre Jerome, are on page 4, 17, 18 and 20.

58. On the Register of Prisoners page 1, Oiseau Letendre is listed as the fifth entry. Jerome and Villeneuve do not appear. Villeneuve was acquitted in November 1871 and Jerome’s name was omitted because he was acquitted in the spring of 1872. It appears that a new register was begun after Jerome’s acquittal; otherwise, he would have been registered along with Letendre. This is an example of how evidence of Jerome & Villeneuve’s arrest disappeared from official records. Nevertheless, the three prisoners were recorded in the Sheriff’s Record Book, Manitoba Provincial Police, corroborating Jerome’s story in Provincial Archives of Manitoba, R3G Cl, 45, #17-20. The names are spelled incorrectly: “St. Malle” and “Letudie”.

59. The Manitoban reported the trials of Louison Letendre (November 25 and December 2) and Andre Jerome dit St. Matte on December 2,1871.

60. Re: Treatment of Irish prisoners by the British: “The permanent officials assured [Lord Nass] that the recent danger was quite as bad, if not worse, than that encountered by Lord Kimberley in February, in temporarily overcoming which he imprisoned without trial 700 men and for doing so was made an Earl. Their arrests would, he hoped, be under 100, and they would be almost all principal men in the conspiracy”, page 111 in Leon O’Broin, Fenian Fever: An Anglo-American Dilemma, London: Chatto & Windus, 1971; this book gives a detailed discussion of Fenian activities in Ireland from 1863-68.

61. Gage Canadian Dictionary.

62. O’Broin, Fenian Fever, p. 111 described Fenian trials in Great Britain where some prisoners were encouraged to give evidence against their comrades. “Several of the prisoners had shown a disposition to ‘split’ which would make it easier to secure convictions at the ordinary Commission in February if they thought it advisable to try three or four of the worst of them.”

63. Personal communication, December 13, 1993.

64. Guillaume Charette, Vanishing Spaces: Memoirs of Louis Goulet, translated by Ray Ellenwood, Winnipeg: Editions Bois-Brules, 1976: 151-154.

65. Letendre file, evidence of HBC post manager W. H. Watt, trial notes, p. 36.

66. Dom Benoit, Vie de Mgr. Tache, vol. 2, Montreal: Librairie Beauchemin, p. 175. Bishop Tache intervened with the Governor General, Lord Lisgar, to commute Letendre’s death sentence and deplored the fanaticism of the Orangemen in Red River. A. G. Morice, in his Histoire de l’Eglise Catholique dans l’Ouest Canadien du Lac Superieure au Pacifique (1659-1905), (vol. 2, Montreal: Granger Freres, 1915) argued that because of the deaths of Elzear Goulet, James Tanner, the attack on Andre Nault and the conflict at Riviere des Islets du Bois [the Reign of Terror], the Métis wanted revenge (p. 195-196). A. H. De Tremaudan, “Louis Riel and the Fenian Raid of 1871”, Canadian Historical Review, vol. 4, #2, June 1923: footnote 25: “We have seen it so often stated that the Métis only came forward after all was over that we think it necessary to insist that trustworthy sources prove quite the opposite”. This was his intention in publishing his article.

67. George Young, Manitoba Memories, 1868-1884, pp. 212-229. Robert Hill, Manitoba: History of Its Early Settlement, Development & Resources, Toronto: William Briggs, p. 346. A fairer report was given by Alexander Begg, History of the North West, vol. 2, Toronto: Hunter, Rose & Company, p. 69: “It must be remembered, however, that O’Donoghue was at the time a disappointed man, on unfriendly terms with Riel and notwithstanding a strong feeling in the minds of many that the French were ready at a moment’s warning to join the small party of invaders, the testimony of Bishop Taché and Governor Archibald exonerated Riel altogether from the charge of being implicated in the Fenian Raid”.

68. J. P. Pritchett, “The Origin of the So-Called Fenian Raid on Manitoba”, Canadian Historical Review, vol. 10, #1, March: 23-42. Pritchett concluded that O’Donoghue acted on his own without the support of the Fenians or Riel, but the fact remains that he did have the support of three prominent Fenian officers: O’Neill, Donnelly and Curley (or Kelly) and the organization supplied the muskets and ammunition. Hereward Senior argues that O’Donoghue acted on his own, personal communication, December 16, 1993.

69. Hill, 1890, p. 348. Garrioch, p. 337. In his important article by J. P. Pritchett in 1929, he noted that the murder of Elzear Goulet on September 13, 1870 “was one of the most critical events in the early history of the province of Manitoba”, page 25, which showed Pritchett’s sensitivity to the French Canadian and Métis perspective which most English-speaking Canadian historians did not share; but he ended his story with the freeing of the Fenian raiders and did not discuss the arrest of the Pembina Métis.

70. National Archives of Canada in Provincial Archives of Manitoba, Macdonald papers, Archibald to Macdonald, October 25, 1871: 25061.

71. See Ronaghan’s thesis on Archibald for a complete review of his administration. See Stanley, Louis Riel, for examples of Archibald’s harassment by Canadian anti-Métis agitators, especially in the Election Riot of September 1872: “The Governor and his faction are still and have been badly scared” (pp. 186-87).

72. Donald Creighton, The Old Chieftain, p. 60: McMicken reported to Macdonald to expect a raid on Manitoba by General John O’Neill in April 1870.

73. See D. N. Sprague, Canada & the Métis, 1869-1885, Waterloo: 1988, pp. 95-96. Also Jeff Keshen, “Cloak and Dagger: Canada West’s Secret Police, 1864-67”, Ontario History 79:4: pp. 353-381. Dale & Lee Gibson, Railroading the Train Robbers” in Glimpses of Canadian Legal History, Legal Research Institute of the University of Manitoba, 1991, pp. 71-94 for more information on McMicken and his police activities. For McMicken’s own view, see “The Abortive Fenian Raid on Manitoba”, Transactions of the Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba, Winnipeg: 1888.

74. Niedhardt documents the role of Henri LeCaron, a British spy who reported Fenian plans in the USA against Canada (p. 143, chapter 8, footnote 1). O’Broin gives many examples of the British use of spies and informers against the Fenians, for example, J. J. Corydon, an Irish American, “was a loose-living character and had been giving information for some time to the police in Liverpool, usually through Head Constable McHale of the Irish constabulary, who was stationed in that city for the express purpose of reporting on Fenian activities”, p. 127.

75. Major C. A. Boulton, I Fought Riel: A Military Memoir, ed. Heather Robertson, Toronto: James Lorimer and Company, 1985, p. 64.

76. Macdonald Papers, vol. 16, pp. 522-23, Macdonald to McMicken, 29 November 1871, as cited in Sprague, Canada & the Métis, p. 96, footnote 23.

77. The source of this term was in an American newspaper story; see Allen Ronaghan, Ph.D. thesis, on the Archibald administration.

78. Stanley, Louis Riel pp. 160-161. Garrioch who gives the Ontario Canadian point of view noted: “There was a thorough investigation over the manner of Goulet’s death and the responsibility for it was traced home to three of the volunteers, but owing to the excitement connected with the occurrence, it was deemed wise to let the matter rest for a time, and it is resting still”, p. 333-334.

79. Ronaghan gives the most detailed description of the coverage of this incident in the newspapers. For the French view, see Guillaume Charette, Vanishing Spaces: Memoirs of Louis Goulet, Winnipeg: 1976, p. 74: “In the autumn of 1870, Elzear Goulet was stoned by Wolseley’s soldiers when they were garrisoned at the Fort”. De Tremaudan castigated the justice system which did not pursue Goulet’s murderers: “For the sake of appearances, an inquest was held; but even though the guilty men, a civilian and two soldiers, were known, the magistrates in the case decided that, due to the state of unrest among the people, it was better not to issue arrest warrants” in Hold High Your Heads, Winnipeg: Pemmican, 1982, p. 104. Both de Tremaudan and Goulet can be seen expressing the Métis voice on Goulet’s death and the resentment felt by the community at the lack of justice. Pritchett noted that the result of Goulet’s murder was the return to the settlement of Riel, O’Donoghue and Lepine to organize the September 17 meeting of French Métis at St. Norbert at which they composed the Memorial & Petition to the U.S. President; (Canadian Historical Review, vol. 10:1, 1929: 25-26). It prompted their direct intervention. O’Donoghue argued in a letter to the House of Commons, Feb. 26, 1875, that this meeting at St. Norbert gave him his commission to organize the 1871 raid (Pritchett: 41). Dr. J. C. Schultz, opponent of Riel and the Métis, later included this letter in his own files and wrote on the top “Bourgeois Leader”; Provincial Archives of Manitoba, MG12, El (7455-7460). O’Donoghue signed it: “Sec. & Ty, Late Prov. Govmnt. Of Rupert’s Land, N.W.”.

80. Provincial Archives of Manitoba, Belleau Papers, LeFloch to Tache, September 20, 1870; Simonet to Tache, same date.

81. Garrioch, p. 334.

82. Andre Jerome’s mother was Angelique Letendre who was a sister of Jean-Baptiste Letendre, Louison’s father. The brother and sister were married to their spouses on the same day in St. Boniface, 6 June, 1825, Diane P. Payment, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. VI,1821-1835. Helene Goulet’s father was Jean-Baptiste Jerome, Andre’s brother, but he was dead in 1871 and her mother was Josephte Courchene, listed in the Goulet-Jerome marriage record from Pembina Assumption Church, March 8, 1859 “a la Fourches”; they signed their names: “Elziard Goulet” and “Ellen Jerome”; Joe Rolette signed as a witness.

83. In fact, Joseph Rolette signed the register as a witness to her wedding in March 8, 1859, Pembina Register, M-5.

84. In The Genealogy of the First Métis Nation, Sprague noted that Helene St. Mathe, wife of Elzear Goulet, was born in 1844; so in 1871, she was 27 and her husband was 31.

85. National Archives of Canada, Letendre file, notes of witness testimony.

86. Letendre file, testimony of Antoine Collin (p. 28) and Antoine Paul Laronte (sic; p.5). Paul Laronte Sr. testified he saw Letendre, Jerome St. Matte, his father [Martin], Joseph St. Matte, Louis St. Matte and Jimmy from Cork. He also saw “Joseph St. Matthe brought the wagon which contained the arms”; Letendre file, p. 17 of notes on witness testimony.

87. Ed Jerome suggests that this story was passed down in his family; for example, his aunt, Mary Shepherd, who lived to be 101, told it to relatives at the occasion of her 100th birthday. The Pembina Census of 1860 often lists teenage Métis boys as “voyageurs” or “laborers”. Their teenage sisters are often listed as “seamstresses”.

88. Robert B. Hill, Manitoba: History of its Early Settlement, Development and Resources, Toronto: William Briggs, 1890, 337-338.

89. It should be noted that Helene Jerome Goulet, the widow of Elzear, and her six children were living in Saint Boniface with her mother-in-law and brother-in-law, 1870 Red River Census, so she was not living in Pembina at the time of the raid in October 1871.

90. Provincial Archives of Manitoba, MG3 B18, Andre Nault depositions, p. 383: re: death of Thomas Scott. Allen Ronaghan argued convincingly that Elzear Goulet was targetted by Schultz’s father-in-law, James Farquarson, because of his role in Scott’s court martial.

91. G. F. G. Stanley, Louis Riel, Toronto: McGraw-Hill-Ryerson, 1963, 1985, p. 161. He cites the deaths of Francois Guillemette, Bob O’Lone, James Tanner, and the assaults on Nault, Father Kavanaugh, and Thomas Spence, the editor of The New Nation.

92. The Manitoban, March 18, 1872.

93. National Archives of Canada, Letendre file, letter to Edward Armstrong, Sheriff of Manitoba, Fort Garry, from E. Parent, M.O.P., [Member of Parliament], December 27, 1872. Edward Armstrong, Winnipeg, to E Parent, Under Secretary, [Department of Justice, Ottawa], January 30, 1873: “I am able to inform you that he has left the Dominion.”

94. National Archives of Canada, Letendre file, testimony of Paul Laronte Sr., p. 24. The article in Le Métis reporting on Letendre’s trial referred to him as “mentally unstable” and “an idiot”. His lawyers used his alleged mental weakness as part of their defence strategy to prove he was not a leader of the raid.

95. W. S. Neidhardt, Fenianism in North America, p. 127.

96. See Leon O’Broin, Fenian Fever: An Anglo-American Dilemma, (London: Chatto & Windus, 1971) for a detailed discussion of Fenian activities in Ireland from 1863-68.

97. W. S. Neidhardt, Fenianism in North America, (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1975); Chapter 11: “The Fenian Prisoners & the Irish Vote”. In The Fenians and Canada (1978), Senior described for example in 1866 “Fenian pressure on the Johnson Administration” such as lobbying for the extension of belligerent rights to the Fenians and changing the neutrality laws. The American government returned weapons that had been seized and hired a lawyer for captured Irish Americans in Toronto (pp. 111-112).

98. See O’Broin, Fenian Fever: For example, three men later known as the “Manchester Martyrs” were hanged in 1867 for complicity in the rescue of Col. T. J. Kelly in that English city (p. 202). This was in keeping with British government policy as expressed by the Conservative Prime Minister, the Earl of Derby, at the time of the Irish Uprising in 1867: “He recommended a special Commission to try the ringleaders, and especially the American Irish. It would be quite necessary to make a prompt and severe example of them; and much as he shrank from capital punishment, it would have, in this instance, to be resorted to without scruple and was indeed real mercy” (p. 154).

99. For the debate on the Métis diaspora, see D. N. Sprague, Canada & the Métis, Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 1988; Gerhard Ens, “Kinship, Ethnicity, Class & the Red River Métis: The Parishes of St. Francois Sevier & St. Andrews”, Ph.D. thesis, University of Alberta: 1989; Thomas Flanagan, Métis Lands in Manitoba, Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1991; and Paul L. A. H. Chartrand, Manitoba Métis Settlement Scheme of 1870, Saskatoon: Native Law Centre, University of Saskatchewan, 1991.

100. For details about the “Reign of Terror”, see George F. G. Stanley, Louis Riel, Toronto: McGraw-Hill-Ryerson, 1963, 1985, pp. 159-164; A. H. de Tremaudan, Hold High Your Heads, Winnipeg: Pemmican Publication 1982; Allen Ronaghan, “The Archibald Administration in Manitoba”, Ph.D., University of Manitoba, 1987, several chapters.

101. Thanks to Yvette Villeneuve, St. Cloud, Minnesota, and Gerri Weigle, great-great-granddaughter of Ambroise Lepine, personal communication.

Page revised: 5 February 2022

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