Bishop Taché and the Confederation of Manitoba, 1969 - 1970
by Lionel Dorge
MHS Transactions, Series 3, Number 26, 1969-70 season
Had my advice or suggestions been taken into consideration, the transfer of the Northwest to Canada would have taken place without either trouble or resistance, and it would not have been necessary to call for my intervention. 
These comments, which served as an introduction to a series of articles published in the London Times, give succinctly the views of Archbishop Taché, the author, in 1874, less than five years after the events about which he was writing. How valid are they in explaining the role he had played in the events of 1869-70? His opinions on annexation and on the Northwest could help to explain Taché's role and his comments on it.
Alexandre-Antonin Tache arrived at Saint-Boniface in late August, 1845, two months after leaving Montreal on Saint-Jean-Baptiste day. He had followed the route of his forebear La Verendrye, the explorer Taché was at the time twenty-two years old and had not yet been ordained into the priesthood for he did not have the canonical age. He had received a good education and a broader one than was common among most students of his day. As a student of the College de Saint-Hyacinthe, an institution  very much awake to the intellectual currents in Europe, he had come in contact with the ideologies prevalent there at the time. Neither a slave of authority nor a rebel was he, but a young man of good family, conscious and proud of his background. Not pompous either, his sense of humour protected him from that failing, nor was he in the least ashamed that his brother and his uncle had been active patriots in 1837. He did believe strongly that one's word of honour was binding, else, an acquaintance of the family commented, he would not be a Taché. 
The Northwest where the young missionary arrived was wilderness. It had barely been touched by the voyageurs, the missionaries and the few settlers. Whatever change had been brought about was really the work of the Half-breeds and Métis whose Northwest was not quite what it had been formerly in the Indian past and not quite what it would be in the white future. Taché had come in the hope of Christianizing and civilizing the Indians, who, on their annual visits to the fur trading posts, spent some time in the vicinity before moving on to hunt and to survive. At one of these posts, the young priest established a missionary station. Here he remained, learning first hand what the influence of an alien civilization was and could be on the Indians and the Métis, until 1855, when he returned to the Red River colony as Bishop of Saint-Boniface.
The Colony he returned to had in his absence attracted outside attention and newspapers in the East, such as the Toronto Globe, were beginning to awaken their readers to the possibilities, real or imagined, of the Northwest. The Montreal Herald and the Montreal Gazette were making their contribution in this direction by means of a series of letters signed 'Assiniboia' which they published in the fall of 1855. When Taché visited Canada East (Lower Canada) in 1857, the awareness of the Northwest had grown to the point of becoming a political issue for the Grit party.  Rumours of eastern interest and of an intent to annex the Northwest territories to Canada had reached the Red River colony a few months earlier. There was a certain enthusiasm at the prospect, or so it was reported, at least among the Canadiens, whose country, the report added, was always dear to their heart. It was difficult in the colony to be enlightened on the project and it raised many questions. Were there really serious discussions afoot? What would be the advantages to the people of Red River? Was such a scheme to be detrimental to their interests? On the other hand union appeared inevitable; it seemed more natural that it should be concluded with Canada rather than the United States, this much was obvious.  Bishop Taché's opinions were substantially the same. Many years later he looked back on this period and remembered how pleased he had been upon hearing the rumours: "I am Canadian to the very core ... and how enthusiastically I welcomed the news that some day maybe my adopted country would be joined to the country of my birth."  He remembered also the trip east in 1857 and the way in which his illusions had vanished upon renewing acquaintance with the climate of opinion in the Canadas. The Grits, who advocated such a union, and the Rouges, their French-speaking counterparts, could not possibly inspire confidence in a man like Taché. The views of these parties on education and church-state relations, for instance, were not reassuring, on the contrary, suddenly Taché foresaw for the population of the colony should union be accomplished dangers that never before occurred to him. He returned to Saint-Boniface disillusioned and downcast. 
Two years later he had recovered his spirits somewhat and he made light of the subject of union. In a letter to an aunt in whose house he had spent many a pleasant hour while he was a student away from home, he jested on how union would civilize the people of Red River, that is, would initiate them into discord and chicanery. Would it not be possible for his aunt to rush her son with his studies in order that he graduate soon as a doctor in quarrelling and hasten west to teach the inhabitants there the art of never being wrong according to law.  A Canadian enquiry being conducted into the possibilities of the North-west afforded Taché an opportunity to point out to his mother how the corrupted and corrupting government sponsoring it wished to corrupt the people of Red River into civilization by building a road straight on to Canada. 
The Bishop submitted a report to the above-mentioned commission of enquiry. He often referred to it in later years when people in Quebec accused him of having discouraged the colonization of the Northwest prior to 1870.  The accusations were not altogether without foundation. His views although they did not discourage the coming of settlers did not encourage it either. Taché felt that strong arms were needed in the territories much more than settlers and more mouths to feed. But if the country had to be settled, he expressed a preference that it should be by Canadiens. Not that he was advocating the depopulation of his native province; on the other hand should his compatriots feel the urge or the necessity for some reason or other to leave their homeland, he advocated that they should direct their exile to Red River rather than to the United States where, he commented, their faith would be threatened.  (This, according to a student of the question some years later, was a plot to make the Northwest a French Catholic preserve. Was there not complete freedom of religion in the United States? What Taché meant to convey was that Catholics would enjoy privileges in the Northwest that they enjoyed nowhere else.  It would probably be more accurate to say that Taché's concern was for his compatriots whose needs in his opinion which he made no effort to hide, were best met in Quebec. A second best could be the Northwest.)
Throughout his career, Taché also showed concern for the Métis. In reproachful terms he would often remind the people of Quebec that the Métis were their offsprings and merited more attention from them. He did not consider them ready to receive an outside, alien civilization and he feared the coming of settlers who would want to alter their lives, particularly the system of government. In the 1860s he was very much for the maintenance of the status quo, that is, the paternal form of government supplied by the Hudson's Bay Company under the guise of the nominated council of Assiniboia. The enlightened persons of the colony, lay and clerical, sat on the council where the interests of a missionary church were fairly well served, but where above all effective protection was given against the granting too rapidly of changes sought by a more advanced group of people. Taché was convinced that the Métis needed to adapt slowly to a new way of life. The form of government at Red River guaranteed this slow process. 
He expressed this most clearly in 1862 when there was a movement at Red River in favour of bringing about changes in the system of government. "We rushed into political matters," he wrote a colleague, "so as to prevent a genuine revolution which the insignificant editors of our insignificant newspaper were fomenting. I was compelled to meddle in politics. Fortunately the common sense of our people saw through the plans of those trying to mislead and our Catholics behaved perfectly-well."  In a letter to another missionary he was yet more explicit. "The Editors of our little paper, finding the country too peaceful, wanted some action, change at all costs. Existing conditions did not satisfy their ambition and their vicious attacks against the Company and the existing Government pressed for a change which they demanded no matter what. Fortunately our Catholics supported the party of order to maintain the existing conditions which suit our needs better than any other form of government." 
It was during this period of crisis at Red River when it was said of the Governors that they did nothing without consulting Bishop Taché. This was so noticeable that it was rumoured of the employees of the Company that they wanted to become members of the Oblate order to which the Bishop belonged.  That a patriot and a missionary such as Taché should wish this state of things to continue would not be surprising were it realised what others at Red River were writing on its future. Archdeacon Cockran, for example, a man who had for many years been a missionary in the Northwest, wrote: "I have advocated the necessity of giving the Indian an English education ... The English are destined to spread over all North America ... The white man is destined to exercise dominion, but the Red man will make an excellent servant. Every man has his proper gift from God. To exercise this boon legitimately is to answer the noble end of our existence." 
The events of the 1860s had by 1869 cooled considerably the exuberance of the Bishop of Saint Boniface, expressed in the 1850s at the possibility of the Red River colony's annexation to Canada. Much more cautious was he now of the prospects this offered. Unfortunately for his point of view, the existing authority and form of government were that of a commercial company whose authority was moribund and whose government was no longer able to defend itself against attacks from critics let alone the population against outside threats. What future could there be for local institutions in such circumstances? Because there was no hope locally and because he feared the coming of Canadian settlers, Taché saw a solution in a territorial government, not that favoured by Prime Minister Macdonald of Canada with Ottawa controlling everything; rather a crown colony with a nominated council under the authority of a Queen benevolent and far-away: 
Taché was not alone in expressing his fears for the future. Among others, his Anglican colleague, Bishop Machray, expressed them as well: "That early tide of Emigration has never been found favourable for the Church. There are ordinarily few Churchman among them and there is a wild independence of feeling that rebels against the (decorum) and order of the Church ..."  As for the Governor of Assiniboia, William Mactavish, he exclaimed "... what is to become of a country, the Premier of which makes statements to the assembled Commons which rest on not other authority than that of such men as Dr. Schultz and James Ross." 
Bishop Taché's hesitancy about Confederation is all the more remarkable because his family had so largely contributed to the original plan. His brother, Joseph-Charles, at a time when few people in Canada East considered it possible or desirable, had written a series of articles which had appeared in Le Courrier du Canada, a conservative paper of which he was the co-founder and editor with Hector Langevin, later to be a member of all Macdonald's federal cabinets. The articles came out in book form in 1858 under the title Des Provinces de l'Amerique du Nord et d'une union federale.  It was one of the few statements in French on the project. In 1864, it was the Bishop's uncle, Sir Etienne-Pascal, who chaired the Quebec conference where the resolutions adopted would become the basis of the B.N.A. Act. Surrounded so to speak by unionists, Taché's caution was a subject to be chided about. "You don't seem to be taken with the idea of becoming our confederate. You'll be none the worse, I hope, after union, but we would not want of a marriage concluded against your inclination."  He was told that he would be re-Canadianised soon as rumours circulated to the effect that the territories had been bought - "really your price is not very high" - and that solemn celebrations were being prepared for the master or buyer Sir Cartier. "You are now a Roman citizen." 
At the same time as he received the above jibes, Taché was advised that the manuscript of his Sketch of the North-West of America was still in the hands of the Department of Agriculture, of which his brother, the above-mentioned Joseph-Charles, was deputy minister. Had Taché heard of the Department's reservations about the opinions he had been circulating and which he had even published in Quebec papers and had he sought official sanction before giving them a wider circulation in book form? According to one of his biographers,  it would seem so, for it was rumoured at the time that the Bishop had written his Sketch to hinder annexation by among other things showing in his volume how groundless was the high opinion people had been led to hold of the Northwest. Was it to deny this rumour that he submitted his manuscript to the governmental authorities before publishing it. In any case he knew by December 1868 that Ottawa was not looking forward to that publication.  By April of the next year, the text had still not been returned to him. 
Fear on the part of Ottawa proved without foundation for the book when it appeared both in its French edition and in its English translation by Dr. R. Cameron, Sir Charles Tupper's son-in-law, failed to dampen the overly confident opinion of the agricultural possibilities of the Northwest as expounded in the report of the Canadian Exploring Expedition led by Dawson and Hind. But Taché's views were corroborated by the no less prestigious, if overly doubtful in opinion, report of the British expedition led by Palliser.  There was plenty of room for a difference of opinion between the two extremes and perhaps the tone of Taché's contribution more than specific points left readers with the impression that the writer was advocating separation from Canada.
There was no stopping the tide and whatever Taché hoped to accomplish with his study, it did not deter the coming of Ontarians whose province had no longer room in which to expand. These settlers had to believe in the possibilities of the Northwest as expressed among others by the nationalists of the aggressively expansionist Canada First movement. For these men it was Ontario's destiny to annex the North-west and settle it. As one member wrote to another already established at Red River "... you ought to have some friends white folks with you - it is not right you should be entirely alone among those wretched half starved half breeds ... We must send up Canadians to take possession of the country." 
Prime Minister Macdonald could not have been more in agreement with such views and with a similar disregard or indifference insofar as the inhabitants of the Northwest were concerned. In his letters of this period, he shows an amazing ignorance of the population of the territories. When that population made itself known, he failed to enquire into their grievances, which would have been so simple. Instead he became involved in schemes to pacify, to save face,  to buy off opposition,  to send a 'peaceful' military force,  to take advantage of the difficulties under which the opposition laboured.  Once, he was almost human in his concern: "We are in a complete state of ignorance as to the wants & requirements" of the people of Red River, he wrote in late November, 1869, and went on to say that the Government would have to "exercise great caution & not offend the prejudices of the residents."  But orders-in-council, quick and efficient, was the general procedure followed by Ottawa with regard to the Northwest. In a sense it mattered little for it was expected that "In another year the present residents will be altogether swamped by the influx of strangers who will go in with the idea of becoming industrious & peaceable settlers." 
Bishop Taché had referred to such strangers prior to his departure from Red River for Ottawa in the summer of 1869. He commented on their sinister countenances which he thought augured ill for the colony. "May God help us!" he had exclaimed upon hearing that an understanding had been arrived at between Ottawa and London over the annexation of the territories of the Hudson's Bay Company. This had not his wholehearted support; on the contrary the future looked dark and foreboding to him. He was leaving shortly to attend the Vatican Council unless political changes at Red River were to be implemented before he sailed, in which case he would return instead to the colony where he felt his presence could be useful to his people. It was the people who had everything to lose in the proposed changes, for they were neither educated nor dynamic enough, nor sufficiently mean or cruel, to hold their own against the newcomers "who for the most part will be Upper Canadian bigots."  In a statement before a parliamentary committee in 1874, he added another reason for his visit to Canada in the summer of 1869: he wished to inform the authorities of the discontent among the Red River people. 
On his departure, he left no instructions (at least no document has been found to that effect), for his clergy to follow should the discontent erupt into action. He did not even name officially, an administrator for the diocese in his absence.  Was he negligent or was he giving his clergy freedom of action should difficulties arise? Or was he protecting himself and making it possible for episcopal authority to be above the suspicion of undue interference should events turn out badly and his clergy make the wrong decisions.  A simpler explanation was given at the time to Sir George Cartier who was complaining of the clergy's behaviour at Red River. The minister expressed regret with what he called the meddling of priests in political affairs, whereupon he was told that since the Métis had undeniable grievances against the strangers who had neither rights nor authority to impose themselves upon the colony, the priests could not in conscience condemn the Métis. If Bishop Taché gave orders or left instructions, Sir George was told, they could have been only to the effect that the priests were not to deny the sacraments to Catholics engaged in the affairs of the day. 
The priests themselves requested directives. One wrote to Taché and, commenting on the outspokenness of the Métis against annexation, said "Father Ritchot lets them have their say and thinks they are right; for my part, I do not think they are in the wrong. When they consult us, it is not easy to answer without compromising ourselves. We would be very pleased if you were to write at length on the matter." Even Father Ritchot (usually seen as one of the most active formenters of trouble), according to the writer, would have welcomed advice on the best way to act for the welfare of the country without placing the clergy's reputation in jeopardy.  Taché's answer, if he replied, has not been found. Perhaps the last word on the subject of the role of the clergy in the fall of 1869, a role for which as their superior Taché must accept part of the responsibility, should be left to Bishop Machray:
But to return to Bishop Taché who visited Ottawa in mid-July 1869 and was received somewhat coolly by members of the Government. He had been forewarned by Governor Mactavish who, all in wishing him success, had expressed the conviction that the Bishop was wasting his time.  Taché had chosen to disregard the Governor's advice. First, he saw Cartier and "communicated to him the general apprehensions which I felt, and he said he knew it all a great deal better that I did and did not want any information."  Taché then sought the ear of other honorable members, for instance Langevin and Chapais, who listened, asked a few polite questions but said little.
He also wrote often to the priests at Red River reiterating the urgency to secure the positions of their people by having them stake claims to as much land as possible. Without lands, he commented to one, "our goose is cooked." 
Land was of the utmost importance to the Bishop. (To Governor Mactavish as well, for he saw it as fruitful of future troubles which would take much time and effort to settle.)  It was a question of land which helped Taché to clear up one point at issue - the jurisdiction of Canada at Red River in the fall of 1869.
Taché on coming east was the bearer of a petition to the Governor-General, signed by some one hundred names praying the Government to grant a piece of land just outside the village of Winnipeg as the site of a new church. He forwarded the document on 16th August. About a month later, the Privy Council, in a report to the Secretary of State desired "the Revd Prelate to be informed that the Government of Canada have as yet no power or jurisdiction in the Territories held by the Hudson's Bay Company." In acknowledging receipt of the Council's decision on 18 September, Taché informed the Honorable members that he had forwarded their answer to the petitioners. He went on: "It would probably be assisting the Government to say that surveyors and other so-called employees of the Canadian Government are at the Red River Colony. Their purpose questionable at the outset will be shown to be fraudulent when the Council's answer reaches the petitioners and I would not be surprised should serious difficulties result." A note on the reverse side of this letter in the hand of Hector Langevin suggested that Cartier be asked to give the cautious answer it needed. He, Langevin, thought the reply should merely say that the work was being done with the consent and authority of the Company. The answer to Taché, dated 24 September advised him: "When the government of the Northwest is organised the petition will be given full consideration. As for the surveys in the territory they are but a preliminary and will not be prejudicial to the request of the petitioners." 
While the above proceedings were going on, Taché received a plea from Governor Mactavish to return to Red River before it was too late to prevent the agitation from getting out of control. He was very worried. But the Bishop obviously downcast by the whole business and his reception at Ottawa, replied: "What is the use when even the Government at Ottawa takes so little notice of us." 
Nevertheless, before embarking for Rome, he contacted Langevin through the abbe Tanguay, the author of the multi-volume genealogical studies of the French Canadians. Taché received the answer from the abbe, who told him that Langevin would welcome further information confidentially. As to the number of strangers on the proposed council that would govern the new acquisition they would represent Canada's interests - Canada being the buyer, she should keep the right to supervise the purchase. There would also be a few local nominations made to the council, Langevin had asserted. As to the other point raised, Langevin said: "The Government cannot control emigration of settlers according to their religion because the territories are placed at the disposition of those who wish to settle therein. However Catholics would be favoured by circumstances since their priests and churches were already established." In conclusion Tanguay wrote: "Mr. L. sincerely regrets that your Grace is compelled to be absent from his diocese at a time when his presence would be most needed to advise the administration at the beginning of a new system of government." 
Having been partially successful in getting a reply from Langevin, Taché on 1st October decided to try again to warn Cartier of the danger brewing at Red River. To do so he wrote through an intermediary, the Bishop of Ottawa. First he expressed the hope that he would not in the future be credited with all that was said, done or written at Red River particularly if he were absent from the colony. "On the other hand," he continued, "please assure Mr. Cartier that any just government will meet with my hearty support. But it should be surprising to no one that I have my doubts on this. So far if I can judge from newspaper reports, we are about to be sold down the river to the Protestants since we have only the support of M. Provencher [in the council to administrate the territories], a young man of twenty-five who is placed among men well versed in affairs and over whom he will be unable to exert any influence. Maybe my apprehensions render me unfair, but I cannot help but see in all this, the betrayal of the interest of French Canadian Catholics. Because of this, I feel a great sorrow. So little was needed to avoid any misfortunes." 
Before sailing from New York he made one last attempt to enlighten Cartier and to caution him in his actions with regard to the Northwest. On 7th October he asked the minister why it was that every influence in the future government should threaten to become prejudicial "to our compatriots." He had always dreaded the entry of the Northwest into Confederation for he had always believed that the French Catholic element would be sacrificed. The system outlined seemed to confirm his worst fears. What was imperative in the new administration was the presence of more than one French Canadian Catholic, and men of experience were also a necessity.  Cartier did not reply. The day before sailing Tackle wrote again to one of his priests at Red River asking him to see to it that the people made claims for land for "it is the only way to save them." 
The Bishop sailed on 16th October and ten days later he landed at Brest where on arrival he wrote to his coadjutor, Bishop Grandin, about rumours he had heard concerning a railway scheme along the Saskatchewan River. "... take possession of as much land as possible in different localities. Encourage the people to do so: the unfortunate Métis must take possession of the country, else they will have to leave it, and to go where? Our dear Canada wants to rush things; I fear it is miscalculating." 
Once arrived at Rome he awaited daily the arrival of the post. He communicated his feelings and his fears to a colleague, Bishop Jean Langevin of Rimouski, brother of Hector the politician. Six days after the opening of the council, on 14th December, Tache was ready to return to Canada should his return be requested by the Government to pacify or at least help to pacify the people of Red River. He was ready, although it had to be understood that he was not trying to meddle; a patriotic sentiment and a sense of pastoral duty dictated this offer." No doubt Taché felt he should be on the spot to protect the interests of his Church. But this was cloaked in a desire to serve the people and his opinions always did take the Métis of the Northwest into account. When he advised, insisted upon and reiterated the urgency for the Métis to take possession of the country, which they had trod since their beginnings, it was for a large part their interests which he had at heart, not only his own. As he had lived among the Métis for over twenty years their needs and their weaknesses must have been well known to him and it would seem natural that he should want to assist them insofar as he could.
Macdonald's attitude in contrast is not so easy to assess. There did not seem to be any people in the territories as far as he was concerned. Of course the few who were there represented very few votes, and if the Government had had its way in establishing a territorial council even those few votes would not have come into play. Representative government in Ottawa's plan was to have been granted only after a sizeable population had colonized the area.
In the case of Taché, however interested his policies may be interpreted to have been, they were seldom if ever, detrimental, really, to the Métis of the Northwest. Were they on the other hand detrimental to the Canadian Government? So it would seem from the Ontario newspapers which placed the responsibility for the opposition at Red River squarely on the shoulders of the Bishop of Saint-Boniface. As for Macdonald, his words of praise were not for Taché: "I have always felt that the Dominion owes a debt of gratitude to those loyal Canadians who stood by Canada. All the actions of Dr. Schultz, though well-intended, were not the most prudent in the world and brought upon him the enmity of some of the people at Red River. He has, however, been very loyal & true; and as for Dr. Bown's brother, I have never heard but one sentiment expressed towards him, and that is, that he was working in the Canadian cause with all heart and sincerity ..." 
The Government, whatever its collective opinion on the question and despite the bungling of Cartier who "rather snubbed Bishop Taché when he was here on his way to Rome,"  sent a telegram to Rome: "Tell Bishop Taché Government of Canada gladly accept his patriotic offer to go to Fort Garry and request his immediate return. His expenses will of course be paid." Three days later, on 11th January, the reply reached Ottawa: "Taché leaves this week if possible."  This prompt affirmative answer left, among others, the Archbishop of Quebec bewildered. How, considering the affront to him by the ministers (who ridiculed him and said he had been bought by the Hudson's Bay Company ), could Taché even think of replying let alone affirmatively. He left Rome on 12th January the very day that Sir John gave orders "for from 60 to 100 boats to be built & ready by the 1st April next."  (They were to be at the head of the lakes for the use of an army if needed in the spring.)
Bishop Taché landed at Portland where a message from Cartier bade him welcome.  In a letter dated a week earlier Sir John had written: "All accounts agree that his influence if fully used (of which we can have no doubt, because he must be seriously alarmed at the turn of events have taken) will be quite sufficient to put an end to the trouble."  Joseph Howe, the Secretary of State, went about ensuring that Taché's influence would be used to the full: "The people of Canada," he wrote to the Bishop, "have no interest in the creation of institutions in Rupert's Land which public opinion condemns, nor would they wish to see a fine race of people turn to discontent and insubordination by the pressure of an unwise system of Government, to which British subjects are unaccustomed or averse."  Sir John for his part wrote on the same day: "... the intention of Canada to grante to the people of the North-West the same free Institutions which they themselves enjoy ... you are authorized to inform the leaders that if the Company's Government is restored ... there (will) be a general amnesty granted ..." 
On the eve of Taché's departure from Ottawa to Saint-Boniface everyone was on his best behaviour. A week later precisely, on 23rd February, Sir John was playing another tune: "These impulsive halfbreeds have got spoilt by this emeute and must be kept down by a strong hand until they are swamped by the influx of settlers."  The irony is that the next day Taché, writing from St. Paul, Minnesota, was exuberantly holding forth on the change of the gentlemen's attitude at Ottawa.  But Sir John was preparing a case in favour of a military expedition and making arrangements to send it to Red River, not to impress the American giant as it would be rationalized later, but to intimidate the Métis. For example on March 11th he wrote to John Rose, the Canadian agent in London: "It will never do to leave the future Government of the Country at the mercy of these impulsive half-breeds and our object should be to get a Force into the Country as peaceably as possible."  On that day Bishop Taché was meeting the leaders of the Métis to explain to them his mission and the good intentions of Ottawa. Not that he was unaware of what might be going on. He wrote to Cartier: "... hold back any one who would sound the trumpets of war & let madmen alone send troops."  The expedition of troops continued to be the main topic of discussion in the numerous letters between Sir John and John Rose in London.
To go on would be to begin another chapter to deal with the amnesty promised by Taché to the Métis leaders, with his role in the drawing up of the Bill of Rights, etc. To end here, after the foregoing lengthy rehearsal of events, is to conclude that had Taché's advice been accepted Sir John's erroneous evaluation of the events of 1869-70, as a tempest in a teapot, would have been the correct one. But then Taché's advice would not have favoured the influx of Ontarians who needed more room in which to expand ...
Research for this paper was made possible through a Canada Council grant.
1. A.-A. Taché, Archbishop Taché on the Amnesty Question with regard to the North West Difficulty communicated to "The Times" on the 6th, 7th and 8th April, 1874. St-Boniface: The Canadian Publishing Co., 1893, p. 3.
3. The comment is that of Bishop Baillargeon of Quebec in a letter to E.-P. Tache, 20th May 1856: "... car vous etes un homme de sens, de coeur et d'honneur, autrement vous ne seriez pas un Tache ..." A.A.Q. Registre des Lettres, Vol. XXVI, p. 694. See also A.-A. Tache, Esquisse sur le Nord-Quest de 1'Amerique, 2e edition. Montreal: Beauchemin, 1901, p. 84: "J'aime ce mot de nos anciens voyageurs ... :'Je suis pauvre, mais, Dieu merci, j'ai de dhonneur.' "
5. A.S.G.M. Maison Pv. St B. doc 97. Soeur Valada, Saint-Boniface, 3rd April 1857 to the general superior. "... vu que le pays natal tient toujours au coeur du Canadien . d'ailleurs it parait, que s'ils ne s'unissent pas au Canada it faudra qu'ils le fassent avec les Etats-Unis, et ils preferent le premier au second, c'est tout naturel, pour nous aussi."
6. A.-A. Taché, Une page de 1'Histoire des Ecole de Manitoba. Saint-Boniface: "Le Manitoba," 1893. p. 21: "Je suis Canadien jusque clans les fibres les plus intimes de mon etre. v. aussi avec quel enthousiasme j'accueillis la nouvelle que, peut-etre un jour, mon pays adoptif serait reuni a celui qui m'a donne maissance."
7. Ibid., p. 22: "Les douces illusions, eprouvees en pensant a notre union avec le Canada, se dissiperent en partie, parce que j'entrevis, pour notre population du Nord-Ouest, des dangers auxquels je n'avais jamais songe. Je retournai a Saint-Boniface le malaise au coeur."
8. A.S.T.R. D1-T125-03. Mgr Taché, Saint-Boniface, 27th March 1859 to Madame Pierre Boucher de LaBruere. "Comme nous sommes a la veille de nous civiliser et par contrecoup de nous chicaner; dites a votre fils qu'il se hate de se faire graduer Docteur en dispute et de venir ici nous enseigner, de par le droit, fart de ne pas avoir tort."
9. A.S.T.R. D1-T125-04. Mgr Tache, Riviere-Rouge, 11th July 1859, to Ma-dame Tache. "... envoyes par le gouvernement corronzpu et corrupteur, pour nous corrompe (sic) nous aussi a la civilisation, en ouvrant un chemin qui ira dret dret au Canada."
14. Archives generales oblates, Rome. Mgr Taché, Saint-Boniface, 29th November 1862, to Mgr Faraud. I am grateful for this reference to Father Carriere, Ottawa. See also Archives oblates, Manitoba, Mgr Taché, Saint-Boniface, 24th November 1869, to father Maisonneuve. "Nous sommes lances ici dans les affaires politiques pour empecher une veritable revolution que les petits redacteurs de notre petit journal voulaient exciter. J'ai ete oblige de me meler de politique. Heureusement le bon esprit de notre peuple a saisi les menaces de ceux qui voulaient les tromper et nos Catholiques se sont parfaitement bien conduits."
15. Archives generales oblates, Rome. Mgr Taché, Riviere-Rouge, 3rd December 1862, to father Clut. I am grateful for this reference to Father Gaston Carriere, Ottawa. "Les Editeurs de notre petite gazette trouvant le pays trop tranquille, ils veulent de 1'agitation, du changement a tout prix. Leur ambition n'est point satisfaite de 1'etat actuel des choses et leurs furieuses attaques contre la Compagnie et le Gouvernement actuel du pays pousse a un changement qu'ils demandent per fas et ne fas. Heureusement, nos catholiques ... au parti de 1'ordre pour le maintien de 1'etat actuel des choses qui certainement convient mieux a notre position que toute autre forme de gouvernement."
16. A.S.G.M. Maison Rv St B Doc 211. Soeur Curran, Saint-Boniface, 9th December 1862, to the mother house. "... les Gouverneurs ne font rien sans le consulter, nous les voyons passer si souvent qu'une de nos Soeurs disait a Mon-seigneur, qu'on dirait qu'ils veulent se faire Freres Oblats."
18. A.A.St.B. Mgr Tache, Saint-Boniface, (1862), to Governor Dallas, copy. Also see A.P.Q. CCPL AP-L-12-22. Mgr Tache, Saint-Boniface, le 15 mars 1870, a G.-E. Cartier: "Le peuple veut une Province et quoique la demande semble forte, je crois, reflexion faite, que c'est probablement le parti le plus sage, en sorte que je le recommande avec instance.
22. J.-C. Taché. Des Provinces de 1'Amerique de Nord et d'une union federale. Quebec: j.-T. Brousseau, 1858. See also, Joseph Tasse, "L'Acte d'Union", La Minerve, 12th March 1885. Also, J.-C. Bonenfant, La Naissance de la Confederation, Montreal: les editions Lemeac, 1969, pp. 34-40.s'allient
23. A.A.St.B. L'abbe Cazeau, Quebec, le 20 octobre 1868, to Mgr Taché. "... vous n'avez pas fair d'etre entiche de vous confederer avec nous autres. Vous n'en serez pas plus mal, je 1'espere, lorsque vous nous serez unis, mais nous ne voudrions pas d'un mariage qui serait fait contre votre inclination."
24. A.A.St.B. Pere Vandenberghe, Plattsburgh, 15 April 1869, to Mgr Tache "Il parait que definitivement vous redevenez Canadien. Le telegraphe vien t d'annoncer que vous avez ete achetes, vraiement vous ne coutez pas bien cher. L'on prepare ici a votre maitre Sir Cartier une ovation solennelle - Vous voila citoyen romain."
25. L.-O. David. Monseigneur Alexandre-Antonin Tache, archeveque de Saint-Boniface. 2e edition. Montreal: Cadieux & Derome, 1883, p. 30. "... on a voulu faire croire que Mgr Tache 1'avait ecrit avec une arriere, pensee, dans le but d'empecher 1'annexion de ce territoire a la Confederation, en diminuant la haute idee qu'on s'en fesait. Il n'a eu d'autre tort que de dire la verite, de faire une peinture vraie et fidele de ce qu'il avait vu de ses yeux."
26. A.A.St.B. Pere Vandenberghe, Montreal, 23rd December 1868, to Mgr Tache. "Ensuite je suis alle a Ottawa et votre frere venait de partir pour Quebec. Je crois done que non seulement le gouvernement ne favorisait pas cette publication, mais la verrait avec peine; je ne sais pourquoi. Les gouvernement ont peut-titre interets a faire un () de votre pays."
30. P.A.C. Macdonald Letterbooks. C28, Vol. 1. 13, 646. Macdonald, Ottawa, 5th December 1869 to John Rose. "My own impression is that by keeping quiet the Insurgents will dwindle away by degrees ... I fear there is some personal feeling against him (McDougall). It would be a great sign of weakness to withdraw him, however, just now, and he will stay there."
31. P.A.C. Macdonald Letterbooks. C27 Vol. 13, 479. 20th November 1869 to McDougall. "This man Riel who appears to be the moving spirit, is a clever fellow and you should endeavor to retain him as an officer in your future police ..."
32. P.A.C. Macdonald Letterbooks. C28 Vol. 13, 529. 23rd November 1869 to Captain Cameron. "Looking at the matter in a military point of view ... We cannot send troops through the United States ... Some few picked men who intend to become settlers in the North West might be sent on to join you and use the arms that you have got with you; but that is all that could be done through the United States. If the complication is going to last we must look forward to the necessity of sending a Force via Lake Superior & the Lake of the Woods."
33. P.A.C. Macdonald Letterbooks. C28 Vol. 13, 512. Macdonald, 23rd November 1869 to C. J. Brydges. "Luckily the winter will prevent any Fenian help being extended to these half breeds. After a while when they have eaten up all their provisions they will begin to listen to reason."
36. Archives generales oblates, Rome. Mgr Taché, St-Boniface, le 8 juin 1869 a Mgr Faraud. I am grateful to Father Carriere, Ottawa, for this reference. "Done nous sommes sous la puissance du Canada. Que Dieu nous garde! (On) vous expliquera tout ce qu'on sait de cette fameuse question qui est loin de rencontrer toutes mes sympathies. L'avenir au contraire me parait bien sombre et je le redoute. Deja nous viola assieges d'une foule d'etrangers, dont les figures sinistres ne semblnet pas presager grand chose de bon. Je pars pour le Canada la semaine, (sic, prochaine) je me rendrai a 1'appel du Souverain Pontife, a moins que les changements politiques ne s'effectuent a 1'automne, car je pense qu'alors ma presence pourrait titre utile a notre peuple, qui lui a tout a perdre a ces changements, it n'est ni assez instruit, ni assez energique, ni assez mechant pour soutenir la lutte avec les nouveaux venus, qui probablement seront a peu pres tous des fanatiques du Haut Canada."
37. "Temoignages rendus par Mgr Tache sous la foi du serment devant le Comite du Nord-Ouest, 1874" Journaux de la chambreddes Communes, 1874 appendice 6, p. 3. "Le mecontentement eclata avec une telle intensite sur differents points a cette epoque, que jecrus bon de quitter le territoire et de me rendre au Canada pour informer les autorites de 1'etat des affaires et du mecontentement qui regnait." Mr. L.-O. David, Op. cit., p. 26, subscribes to this: "Il voulait conjurer set orage et vint au Canada pour exposer aux autorites les griefs de Metis, et engager notre gouvernement a ne pas les exasperer en changeant sans les consulter leur etat politique . "
38. A.A.St.B. Father McCarthy, Saint-Boniface, 16th August 1869 to Father Lestanc. Also Mgr Langevin, 11th December 1895, Calgary. And see "Joseph LeStanc, 1830-1912" in Missions de la Congregation des Oblats de Marie Immaculee, LVII (1923), p. 535.
40. Archives provinciales oblates, Montreal. Correspondence Vol II, p. 219-222. Vandenberghe, Montreal, le 7 decembre 1869 a G.-E. Cartier. "Ils (les Metis) ont des griefs inconstestables contre ces strangers et ces strangers n'ont ni droit ni autorite. Le pretre ne peut les condamner en conscience. Si Mgr Tache a donne des ordres ou des instructions. ce que j'ignore complete-merit, it n'a pu dire autre chose sinon qu'il ne fallait pas refuser les secours religieux aux Catholiques engages clans ces affaires ..."
41. A.A.St.B. L'abbe Dugast, St-Boniface, le 4 aout 1869 a Mgr Tache. "Monsieur Ritchote les laisse dire et trouve qu'ils ont raison; moi je ne trouve pas qu'ils ont tout a fait tort. Quand ils viennent nous consulter, ce n'est pas aise de leur repondre sans se compromettre. Nous serions bien contents si vous nous ecriviez un peu longuement a ce sujet."
47. P.A.C. Ministere du Secretaire d'Etat. RG 6, C1, Vol. 10, No. 1034. "Ce serait peut-titre rendre service au Gouvernement que de 1'informer que des arpenteurs et autres soi-disant employes du Gouvernement du Canada sont rendus dans la Colonie de la Riviere-Rouge. Leur mission, deja douteuse, va titre prouvee fausse par la reception de la reponse que vous me faites 1'honneur de me communiques et je ne serais pas surpirs de voir surgir des difficultes serieuses."
"Lorsque le gouvernement du Nord-Ouest sera organise, cette requete sera prise en consideration. Pour ce qui est des arpentages qui se font clans ce territoire, ils ne sont que preparatoires et ne prejudicient en rien a la demande des Petitionnaires."
49. A.A.St.B. L'abbe Tanguay, Quebec, le 22 septembre 1869 a Mgr Tache "Le Gouvernement ne peut controler 1'emigration de quelques religion que soit les colons, puisque le territoire est mis a la disposition de ceux qui veulent s'y etablir. Cependant les catholiques ont une occasion plus favorable de s'y fixer, puisqu'ils y trouvent des pretres et des eglises deja toutes fondees ... M. L. regrette infiniment que V.G. soit oblige de s'eloigner de son diocese au moment ou sa presence serait si necessaire pour aviser 1'administration au commencement d'un nouveau systeme de Gouvernement ..."
See also. P.A.C., C 28 Vol. 13, 614, Macdonald 27th November 1869 to McDougall: "The illness of Governor McTavish [sic] and the absence of Bishop Tache are both to be deplored as their influence is paralyzed." Also P.A.C. C28 Vol. 13, 610. 27th November 1869 to Rose:"... the Bishop is absent at Rome and there is no check upon them (the clergy)."
50. Archives provinciales oblates, Montreal. Mgr Tache, Quebec, le ler octobre 1869 a Mgr Guigues. "... qu'on voudra bien ne pas me rendre responsable de tout ce qui se dit, fait ou ecrit a la Riviere-Rouge surtout quand j'en suis eloigne ... D'un autre cote, je vous prie d'assurer M. Cartier qu'une administration juste rencontrera mon plus cordial appui. Qu'on ne s'etonne pourtant pas trop sur mes craintes. Jusqu'a present a en juger par les papiers, je nous vois livres aux Protestants et n'ayant d'appui que M. Provencher, jeune homme de 25 ans, que l'on associe a des gens (verses) dans les affaires et sur lesquels it ne pourra exercer aucune espece d'influence. Peut-etre mes apprehensions me rendent injustes, mais je ne puis me dispenser de voir en toute cette affaire, la trahison des interets des Canadiens francais catholiques. J'en eprouve une peine immense. I1 n'aurait pas fallu beaucoup pour eviter ce malheur."
51. Quoted in Benoit, Vie de Mgr Tache, Vol. II, p. 17. This letter was not found in the A.A.St.B., here Benoit claims to have read it. "Pourquoi faire en sorte que toutes les influences puissent devenir prejudiciables a nos compatriotes et coreligionnaires ... J'ai toujours redoute 1'entree du Nord-Ouest dans la Confederation, parce que j'ai toujours cru que 1'element francais catholique serait sacrifie; ... Le nouveau systeme me semble de nature A. amener la ruine de ce qui nous a coute si cher ... il faut dans 1'administration du Nord-Ouest plus d'un Canadien francais catholique, et it faudrait des hommes d'experience."
53. Quoted in Benoit, Vie de Mgr Tache Vol. II, pp. 25-26. "... prenez possession d'autant de terre que vous pourrez dans les differentes localites. Poussez votre peuple a cette mesure: que les pauvres metis se saississent du pays, autrement it leur faudra le laisser, et on iraient-ils. Notre cher Canada veur aller au pas de charge; je crois qu'il se prepare bien des mecomptes."
54. A.P.Q. CCPL AP-L-12-5. Mgr Langevin, Rome, le 14 decembre 1869 a Hector Langevin. "... au cas oil vous croiriez sa presence necessaire ou simplement puissante pour pacifier les esprits. it est pret a demander ici son conge, et a se rendre a 1'appel du Gouvernement ... Il faut qu'il soit bien entendu que Mgr Tache ne cherche pas a s'entremettre clans cette affaire, c'est simplement un sentiment de patriotisme et de devoir pastoral qui le pousse a se placer a votre disposition, si vous avez besoin de lui."
Public Archives of Canada: Commission from William and Mary to Captain James Knight as Governor in Hudson Bay, 15 June, 1694. Transcript from Public Land Office, C.O. 324, volume 24.
Public Archives of Canada: Hudson's Bay Company Records. MG 19, Series G. Volume 16, 17, & 19. Journal at York Fort, 1714-1715, 1715-1716, 1716-1717, 1717-1722.
Lawe, R. A., Manuscript history of Port Nelson and York Factory on Hudson Bay, from the earliest to the most recent times, together with a map of the area. Public Archives of Canada, MG 30, H. 13, c. 1910.
Davies, K. G. (editor), Letters from Hudson Bay 1703-40, London: The Hudson's Record Society, 1965 (Volume XXV).
Douglas, R., and J. N. Wallace, (editors), Twenty Years of York Factory, 1694-1714; Jeremie's Account of Hudson Strait and Bay. Ottawa: Thorburn and Abbott, 1926.
Kenney, James F. (editor), The Founding of Churchill. Being the Journal of Captain James Knight. Governor-in-Chief in Hudson Bay, from the 14th of July to the 13th of September, 1717. London: J. M. Dent and Sons Ltd., 1932.
Rich, E. E., The Fur Trade and the Northwest to 1857. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1961.
Robson, Joseph, An Account of Six Years Residence in Hudson's-Bay. From 1733 to 1736, and 1744 to 1747. London: J. Payne and J. Bouquet, 1752. Tyrrell, J. B. (editor), Documents Relating to the Early History of Hudson Bay. Toronto: The Champlain Society, 1931.
Williams, Glyndwr., The British Search for the Northwest Passage in the Eighteenth Century. Imperial Studies No. XXIV. London: For the Royal Commonwealth Society by Longmans, 1962.
Johnson, Alice M., "Ambassadress of Peace," The Beaver. Outfit 283 (December 1952), pp. 42-45.
Johnson, Alice M., "Life on the Hayes," The Beaver. Outfit 288 (Winter, 1957), pp. 38-43.
Kidd, Kenneth., "Trading into Hudson's Bay," The Beaver. Outfit 288 (Winter, 1957), pp. 12-17.
Nute, Grace Lee., "The French in the Bay," The Beaver. Outfit 288 (Winter, 1957), pp. 32-37.
Rich, E. E., "The Hudson's Bay Company and the Treaty of Utrecht." The Cambridge Historical Journal, Volume XI, No. 2 (1954), pp. 183-203.
Tyler, T. E., "York Factory 1714-1716," The Beaver, Outfit 286 (Summer, 1955), pp. 48-50.
Wilson, Clifford., "Forts on the Twin Rivers," The Beaver, Outfit 288 (Winter, 1957), pp. 4-11.
(All citations of documents from the Hudson's Bay Company Records, Public Archives of Canada, are made with the kind permission of the Governor and Committee of the Hudson's Bay Company).
Page revised: 22 May 2010