Rescuing the Schultzes - 1870

From the memoirs of Peter MacArthur

Manitoba Pageant, Autumn 1973, Volume 19, Number 1

This article was published originally in Manitoba Pageant 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 As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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Mrs. Schultz was in no danger until Riel’s Provisional Government became aware of her part in the escape of Dr. Schultz. The success of this effort was largely due to the aid she received from Louis Bouvet who was under deep obligation to her. In the early winter of 1868, Louis became seriously frostbitten and Dr. Schultz, who treated him, was obliged to amputate one arm at the elbow and practically all the fingers of the other hand. There was no hospital in the settlement and the doctor’s wife, a newly arrived bride, very kindly nursed this unfortunate halfbreed in her own home, waiting on him as if he were a baby.

In the Fall of 1869, trouble broke loose and forty-five Loyalists were imprisoned by the rebels. Of these forty-five, Dr. Schultz was considered by both sides as the principal prisoner; he was most closely guarded and special attempts were made to release him. I passed to him a prized pocket-knife, surreptitiously given me by a neutral well-wisher and for sixty-three years I thought it was this knife which he used to cut his way out. It was another knife. Christmas season was approaching when Mrs. Schultz sent Louis to Mrs. Alex. Logan to borrow a gimlet for household repairs. Mrs. Logan gave the thing to the cripple at the same time suspecting some prisoner was being helped. Mrs. Schultz then prepared a Christmas cake with the gimlet and a pocket knife baked within and sent it by Louis to the doctor. This passed the guards and not long afterwards the oak sill was cut, a bar removed and by means of a long thong cut from a buffalo robe, he lowered himself to the ground and got away by the Lake of the Woods’ route, becoming afterwards “Sir John” and Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba.

The escape of their chief hostage greatly disturbed the rebel leaders who suspected Mrs. Schultz; therefore they placed a guard in her home. The details of her escape have never been published until now. Alex. Logan, the merchant, and afterward Mayor of Winnipeg, planned and executed the escape of Mrs. Schultz. He owned a stable of ponies, selected for their speed, and one was known as the fastest horse in the Red River Country. Hitched to a light cutter, this racing pony was brought around to her house and deceiving the guards with a ruse, he succeeded in placing Mrs. Schultz in the bottom of the cutter, covering her with robes. Being a small person, there was no trouble about covering her. The objective was the Lower Fort and the road followed the ice on Red River.

The flight was discovered a few minutes afterward and five mounted men were sent in pursuit; they were able to travel faster than the cutter but the pursuers lost time in holding up and examining Mr. Logan’s second cutter in which were his wife and three very small children. Business of stopping this sleigh, pulling out all the robes and asking questions, delayed the chase long enough to allow the principals to reach the Lower Fort and safety. The mounted guards met Mr. Logan driving back and he insisted on accompanying them to Fort Garry.

Page revised: 20 July 2009