Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 20, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta
Sotlmlay, June 70, 1970 THE UTHBRIDGC HERAID 5 Lenlcr A. Halpin Louis Riel: Long Focus on the University By J. W. FISHBOURNE "FIT'S like Americans sticking stamps on letters to honor Benedict Such was the comment of one local resident following issuance of a postage stamp on June I'Jtb honoring Louis Riel, brilliant and perhaps mad figure who flashed across Canada's history to lead two rebellions, the first one coming less than three years after the birth of Con- federation. When modern Canada was born July 1, 1867, Rupert's Land and the Northwest Terri- tories from Lake of tho Woods to the British Columbia crown colony and from the 49th paral- lel to the Arctic, were the do- main of the Hudson's Bay Com- pany, but the following year the British Parliament empow- ered the government of Canada lo acquire these lands. For 000 pounds sterling and certain land grants to the company, Canada bought sovereignty over a region considerably larger than the original four provinces. This was fur trappers' land in- habited almost entirely by In- dians and by the people known as Metis, offspring of Indian mothers and white fathers among whom the majority was French, but some Metis claimed English or Scottish paternity. Their way of life was doomed, but under the leadership of Riel they resisted twice before the buffalo gave way to the wheat fields of the present Prairie Provinces. Although some history text books refer to Riel as a "half he actually was only one-eighth Indian. Born in St. Boniface in the Red River Set- tlement that was to become Manitoba, Riel was descended on his mother's side from a Canclienne daughter of the first white woman in the settle- ment. Highly intelligent but moody and subject to fits of vio- lent temper, sometimes de- pressed, at otlwr limes exul- tant, young Riel was sent to study for the priesthood in Que- bec, a province where he later was to spend two interludes in mental hospitals. The death of his father, a man who himself had defied the Hudson's Bay Company, and an appeal from his mother to come home, ended yoimg Kiel's religious training. He first stepped into the pages Canada's history on October 11, 1859, when as a curly-haired, hypnotic-eyed young man of 25 at the head of a band of 15 Metis on horseback, he dis- mounted, and ordered a Cana- dian government survey party to proceed no farther. Three weeks later Riel and followers numbering about 50 stormed into the Bay Company's Fort Garry in the region that was to become the site of Winnipeg, and took pos- session. Emboldened by easy success, a special "committee" went to the U.S. border to bar entry "without committee pel-mission" the lieutenent-governor-desig- nate, William MeDougall, who was travelling with his official party through American terri- tory to establish Canadian au- thority in the Red River Set- tlement, Kiel's professed objective was to secure better terms for his people's entry into Confeder- ation, but he soon installed him- self as "president" of a "new nation" with a "provisional government." Riel, the para- doxical frontiersman who could neither ride nor shoot well and who preferred poetry to vio- lence, imprisoned those who re- sisted, but with one tragic ex- ception during this period he ordered harm done to no one, A philosophy at this lime that manifest destiny called for the U.S. to occupy the entire con- tinent was unofficial doctrine in Washington and perhaps only the disruption caused by the Civil War blocked fulfillment of that destiny. Union of the British colonies in North America was considered by many in Waslt- ington to be an affront; to others it merely was preposter- ous. Congress saw a flood of bills treating on British North Amer- ica. One all provinces and territories of the upstart Canadian confederation individ- ually and provided for admis- sion of each as a state of the American Union. Agents provocateurs, includ- ing persons in tho U.S. govern- ment, were active on British soil as far west as Vancouver Island. In 1878, prairie fires broke out simultaneously just north of the border from Wood Mountain to the Rockies. Rem- nants of the migrating buffalo herds, because they could find no fcdder in the burned-over sMp, remained south of the herder. The respected Canadian William George Hardy of the University of Alberta, has written it generally is believed in Canada that Americans set these firei. t'.S. Cavalry units under General Nelson Miles were buffalo and Indian hunting near the border at the time. In any case, if Hicl believed lhat his "republic" would be viable in a North America where the Texas and California republics had failed lo survive, his "visions" must indeed have been chimerical, but while flirt- ing with the United States. Riel also appeared to fear Ihe Amer- ican colossus and at one point in liis enigmatic career he an- nounced thai his Metis were ready to repel Fenians. As Riel continued Ins dicta- torship tturing the spring of J870, a military force of Cana- dian volunteers and British regulars, barred from the United States, fought 600 miles of rocks and muskeg north of the Great Lakes. The force ar- rived as summer was ending, weeks after Ottawa had heeded Kiel's demands for self-govern- ment by granting provincehoad to a much smaller Manitoba than exists today. This first Riel rebellion, perhaps more properly called a ended without major bloodshed. Riel claimed to be merely a constitutional spokesman for his people in a struggle for land rights and local self-govern- ment. Such was his spellbind- ing appeal that he won over the English and Scottish Metis who flocked to hear him, as did some English-speaking while settlers. On March 19, 1835, Riel established another "provision- al government" with himself as "president." Flames of insur- rection may have spread fast- er than he had anticipated. Metis seized supplies at the Northwest Mounted Police post at Fort Carlton after a battle. at Duck Lake where outnum- bered Mounties and volunteers were forced to retreat after suf- fering casualties of 12 dead and 11 wounded. Although only a minority of all Indian tribes in the Cana- dian West joined in the upris- ing, Indians on the warpath massacred nine men, including two priests, at the Hudson's Bay post at Frog Lake, and took two white women as pris- oners. At Battleford, six whites Were' killed by Indians, but more than 500 others, including many women and children, es- caped to a stockade containing a three-months' supply of food. if This time when Ottawa order- ed a military force to the Northwest, there was a railway. Although it still had unfinished gaps north of the Great Lakes over which troops had to be taken in sleighs, the Canadian Pacific railway was able to move soldiers to Winnipeg with- in ten days. An unofficial "U.S. military observer" accompan- ied the expedition. He was an army lieutenant who had vol- unteered to instruct in the firing of two Gatlin guns, a weapon of recent invention. Despite the superior fire pow- er of their Galling guns the Canadian forces sent against Riel did not add great lustre to their country's military an- nals. Their battle tactics were inept, but they did manage to achieve total victory after blood letting at Fish Creek, Cut Knife Hill and Batoche. Riel surren- dered as did the Indian ring leaders. Canadian casualties of the campaign were 26 dead and 100 wounded. In the trial which followed, Riel was found guilty of trea- son and was sentenced to death by hanging. Appeals to spare his life poured in from Quebec, the United Stales and even from France. His defenders re- called lhat at Duck Lake, Riel astride a horse, unarmed and holding an 18-inch crucifix, had saved fleeing Mounties and vol- unteers from probably annihila- tion by ordering the victorious Metis to halt their pursuit. All appeals in vain. Despite a jury recommenda- tion for "mercy of the crown" Riel died on a gallows at Rc- gina on November 16, JSS5. Eight Indians also were execu- ted. Many historians believe lhat Kiel's execution was one of the most costly mistakes in terms of national unity ever made by a Canadian government. Quebec's French language press saw m him a hero who had suffered a martyr's death. His conviction by an all-Pro- testant jury of six members, all unfamiliar with the prison- er's mother tongue, inflamed Canadiens who charged that Riel was a victim of racism. Psychiatry was not an estab- lished branch of medicine at the time, but a doctor at Riel's trial testified that the accused "showed symptoms of insani- ty." Another doctor called the prisoner "a victim of megalo- mania." Such testimony may only have stiffened a judicial rc- spivc by the English-born pre- siding judge. Northwest Terri- tories Stipendiary Magistrate Hugh Richardson, to remove what, he considered a menace to Crrsfla. In Ottawa. CiRserva- tivc Prime Minister John A. Macdonald refused to intervene, thereby retaining political favor in Ontario, but subjecting his party's political fortunes in Quebec lo a blow from which it still suffers. Ill retrospect, historians con- cede thai. Hie] did not create the unrest among I he Metis but served as eloquent spokesman for it. Many of his pleas for Metis and Indians alike were based on simple justice for peo- ples whose hunting lands had been seized, the game slaugh- tered and for whom in many cases actual starvation was im- minent. Disappearance of tho buffalo had reduced some un- fortunate Indians to eating their horses, hungrily gobbling gophers and even eating grass, Riel's demands for self-gov- ernment indisputably hastened the granting of provincehood for Manitoba. (Even the name of the province seems to have been part of his legacy for it is known that he preferred "Manitoba" to In one of his petitions to Ot- tawa he asked for the building of a railway to Hudson Bay, a vision now reality. ITI a nega- tive way he stimulated nation- al consciousness, for the send- ing of troops lo put down in- surrection undoubtedly sparked among lingiish-speaking Cana- dians a feeling of patriotism for their infant confederation. Sonic historians incline to- ward the belief that Kiel's basic loyalty involving final choice vis-a-vis Ottawa and Washing- ton would have remained Canada, for otherwise lie would have invited U.S. annexation- ists across the border in force. A grandson of Kiel's young- est brother, a present day Win- nipeg resident who himself bears the name Louis Riel and is ail active member of L'L'nicn Nationale Metis de St. Joseph, an organization founded by his- tory's Louis Rie! to help main- tain Metis customs, religion and language, told the writer that the Manitoba government's approval cf a statue of Riel on the legislative building grounds, marks long overdue recognition of Riel as the Father of Mani- toba. (Kiel's son, Jean, died at the age of 21 in a carriage accident. His daughter died at about the ago of six End a third child, born two days after Riel's exe- cution, did not survive infancy.) Another Winnipeg resident, this one a prominent, citizen with an Anglo-Saxon name, said "Kiel's buried over there in St. Boniface ant! before this stamp came out we didn't think much about him. Perhaps lie wasn't as bad r.-s our school books said he was. Maybe he just wanted to tell Ottawa that Prairie people should have their rights. Lots of others have said tile same thing since then." In Edmonton, a member of the city council. David Ward, would like to see Riel attain Canada-wide recognition as a national hero, which the Post Office apparently hopes lo en- courage by issuing the Riel stamp. Would Riel be loyal lo the Maple Leaf flag today" The answer lies buried in that grave in the cemetery of St. Boniface Cathedral a grave not designated as an historic site but visi'.ed by increasing numbers of tourists each year and well tended by La Societe Historiquu to Saint-Boniface. Sympathizers in Quebec contri- buted funds for the five-foot granite shaft, inscribed simply: "RIEL Hi novembre 1635." touis Riel, hanged for treason against Canada has been honored on a commemor- ative stamp. Photo from Saskatchew Archives. Book Revieivs Stephen Leacock, Family Man The Man In The Panama Hat: Reminiscences of My Uncle, Stephen Leacock: by Elizabeth Kimball: McClel- land and Stewart: 17-1 nps. S0.50 CANADA'S most famous mi- morist, Stephen Leacock, was born Dec. 30, 1869, but his centenary is being celebrated this year, with a spate of rem- iniscent bocks by relatives and others who knew him well. The Ontario town of Orillia where he had a summer home [cr many years is turning it- self inside out with celebra- tions honoring the man who was McGill University's first professor of political science. Needless to say, McGill Gradu- ates are planning lo converge, on Orillia in great numbers to exchange reminiscences about Ihe sloppy man in the famous old coonskin coat, whose aca- demic gown was usually held together with safety pins. He enlivened the lecture halls with his personality and his extra- ordinary appearance, but he did not. tolerate fools gladly. Those cairc to lectures unprepared, those who might be inclined to inattentiveness, found the great man's jolly humor could become acidly- sarcastic when the occasion warranted. Leacock came from a very lanro family, and though he h-a child of his own, his SIcphcn. he had a great number of nephews and nieces who used to visit him during the summer at any ore of the several places he owned from time to time. One of these, is the author cf this beck. She has attempted and in some mea- sure succeeded, to tell what Uncle Stephen, the family man was like, and to give an inti- mate view of him, not as a humorist but as an affection- ate, generous uncle. Naturally her account is filled with nos- talgic, cliildhood memories and since the clan was pro- lific, there are uncles, aunts, relatives from near and far who are all part 'of the. bright mosaic. Mrs. Kimball has given the. Leacock legend a new perspec- tive and lias undoubtedly added a few unknown anecdotes to the growing collection of me- morabilia. Her account oould, I think, have done with more expert editing. It seems to me that she has been unable to make up her mind whether her bock slwuld be an autobiography, a docu- mentary of the Leacock fam- ily in Canada, or a series of recollections of UK Ontario countryside in summer. Per- haps it's a churlish comment, but I couldn't help but feel that all those aunts, uncles, neph- ews, nieces and close friends kept, coming between me and lira family man. ,1. E. II. Nationalism Examined. Nationalism antl its Alter- natives by Karl W. Doutsch (Knopf, Sli.95, distrib (Knopf. SO-.W. distrib- uted liy Random House of A T I 0 NA.LIS-.M IS perhaps the most powerful moti- vating force in the world provided allowance is made, for situations where the imposition of boundaries has been of re- cer.f dnfe. What it is and why it lias such potency is obviously a matter of importance. In this book Karl W. Deutsch, Professor of Government at. Harvard, engages in an oxam- in.il.ion of Ihe subject. He has chapters on nationalism ill Western Europe, Eastern Eu- rope and Ihe developing coun- tries as well as a chapter on federations. The only alterna- tive 1 discerned was interna- tionalism discussed in the fi- nal cli-ipler. This hook may he important in political science circles but, I must confess lhat, I got, very lillle nut, of it and the chapter on "The Develop ment of Theory and Analysis" was a total joss. A statement on page 123 is a litlle puzzling "the United States and Britain have, made no preparations or even plans lo fight each ether since about IGSn." A typographical er- ror no doubt. DOUG WALKER. A Thought Ij'VKRY long established institution nns J its characters, its special people who lodge in the memories of all who meet them. Educational institutions and espe- cially universities seem unusually apt at the development of memorable individuals. Almost anyone, I am sure, can think back on school cr college days and fondly re- member one of the kind of people I am talking about, usually a teacher, but with a special measure of whatever it is that nostalgia is made of. Oddly enough, it does not seem to mat- ter whether these individuals were saints' or tyrants, or whether our particular exper- ience with them was exluiarating or tenify- irg. There just seems to be some magic about sonic people that makes them un- forgelable, that tends to mist Ilia eye when someone at a class reunion says "Remem- ber old It lakes time to develop these unforget- table ones, or perhaps it takes a while for our memories to translate lliem. Whatever the explanation, it is a lillle early for Ihis particular institution to have identified its real "characters." which may account for the fact that the particular person who keeps coming to my mind, and who more than anyone I know merits the "living leg- end" label, is someone 1 met years ago, and at another institution. This man was a professor, whose teach- ing career spanned several decades. As it Jiappens, I never took a course from him, although almost all my class mates seem- ed to have done so, at one time or another. My direct acquaintance with liim came about as a result of my work, one phase of which required that I look over examina- tion returns, and the first I received from this individual rather startled me. In the column set aside for grading laboratory work, 28 of the 30 students marked received 100 per cent, the other two received zero. Accustomed as I was to seeing the usual wide range of marks, I was intrigued. So, just to satisfy my curiosity, I asked if he'd mind telling me how his grades were ar- For Teachers rived at. ilis explanation was as rcfrehhini; us it was simple. What he faid, in effect, that hi laboratory work he had cer- tain objectives; students cither met them or they didn'l. .Just as easy as (hal. On much the same basis, he graded students throughout the course; they understood what he was trying to teach, they partially understood, or they didn't understand at all, and he assigned marks accordingly. I'm sure this man was not the first lo realize that ro precise measure for indivi- dual accomplishment exists, but he was the first I met who had whatever it takes to resolutely refuse lo let any "system" deter- mine how he would grade his students. Of course, bureaucrats clamored, and kept it up for years; but he ignored them, and finally they learned to accept him as one of the crosses they had to bear. Administrators and many of his col- leagues thought him strange, hut his stu- dents loved hint. At first, I thought it might be an intuitive recognition of the honesty of the man. and his willingness to apply his principles. But later, 1 found out lhat there was something else. Toward the end of his career, he was awarded what is prohabfj the highest accolade for teaching ability his particular discipline. Ilis acceptanca speech was modest and brief, but it includ- ed one thought that explained the award, and the veneration of literally thousands of students. 1 read it several years ago, but think I remember it well enough to say that it went like "If indeed I am a good teacher, as my betters have judged me, it is because of a discovery I made in a classroom, many years ago. I suddenly realized Uial, at least two students in that class had better brains than mine. Yes, I had greater knowledge and experience, because I had been study- ing and learning longer. But their intelli- gence outmatched mine, so they would go further than I could, towards a goal I thought to be important. It was then that I began to understand my role as the teacher." The Voice Of One -By DR. FRANK S. MORtEY Meaning In Broken Things COME friends of mine in Calgary gave me a splendid red candy jar which ats on my living room table in Bermuda, but never holds candies. When the sun strikes its scores of carved, triangular prisms the jar takes fire as the light is broken up into a myriad of blazing colors. Dante Gabriel Rossetli gave his mother a clear white chandelier which hung from the ceiling of her drawing-room at No. 30 Torrington Square hi London. She lived with her aged sister and daughter, the miter Christina Rossetli, in poverty and much sadness. At evening time, however, Hie bare room was glorified by tire setting sun striking the chandelier and Hie prisms broke Ihe light into wondrous colors, re- flecting fantastic lights on ceiling and walls. Then it would pass and all would be white. So in the breaking up of light its compo- sition, meaning, and quality are revealed. It is a parable of lite. Who understands eternity or infinity? For mortals every- thing must have beginning and end. Time must be broken up into hours and min- utes. Life is only precious because it passes so quickly. One must keep alert, seize it quickly, for friendships and fam- ily, experience and vision, arc as short as the shilling sun. The glory is only for a moment and then is gone. If it lasted long- er, would one treasure it? To live is to live in the present, to enjoy it and savor it to the full, for the glory will pass loo Is this not healthy? The psalmist writes of people who, "because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God." He sees wicked people prospering, believAig that they have immunity from trouble and misfortune. They think their material pros- perity is secure and Iheir hearts are swol- len with pride. They boast, "Tomorrow shall be as today, only more abundant." Tliey enjoy peace and prelection from storm and struggle. Life doesn't seem fair and Ihe psalmist wishes he had the wings of a dove to fly away from every- thing. No one, however. Is secure from the sud- den storm, the falling rocks, and, at Ihe last, inevitable death. Men hate change. They want time to stand still. They hate to see loved ones growing older and" their world taking on different shapes. "Change and decay in all around I they sing sadly. Yet how often it bos been true that: the revolution which seemed the end of everything was a new beginning. The old order has to change, giving place to new. It is through adventure and vicissitude that we realize our destiny. Not even faith can remain feed, but must change as God gives new truth. Changelessness would have no stimulus, but would make the soul fat and sluggish like a swamp. The stag- nant pool breeds malaria and the stagnant man or race falls prey to a moral degen- eracy which is a political and social can- cer. To a man whose "heart is stayed on God" the changes in life are full of glory and meaning. Even amid the crash of civ- ilizations and the ruins of ancient institu- tions, a man can find an unshakeable security. If a man's heart is fixed on the faith that there is an ultimate reason in life, then the unreason of human affairs will not make him despair. If a man has faith in eternal values like truth, justice, goodness, and character, then he is nol prey to quixclic fortune. If he keeps faith in the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, fatih in God's redeeming purpose, and keeps a private, personal communion with God, then he can stand when all is shaking. He can do more than stand. John Wes- ley was converted by the quietness of the Moravians on board ship during a storm at sea. So in the storms, in tile broken lights and broken life, a man can find glory. When the Irish scientist, Michael Faraday, went to Strasbourg, he visited the cathedral to watch the windows in the setting sun. Then the lights were rich- est, the glow in the church most myster- ious. So it is in life. Audit On Bringing Children "PARENTS find Ihcir co-ordinator of schedules, chauffeur, baby sitter or chaporone. A 'good mother' nowadays is one who picks tire right camp for her children." Thus Uric lironfcnbrcnntT sums up what he finds lacking in America's attitude to- ward childrcaring. The patlcrn of Ameri- can life has driven a ucdpc par- enl and youngster. LOUR hours at tlxs of- fice, social obligations, a tendency to leave to schools or other professionals fe daily upbringing talks, even housing de- signs which keep youngsters out of sight and earshot of adults all too conspire togetlier to reduce the lime and attention American parents give their offspring. The Cornell child fii-vclopment. specialist points out in his new beck "Two Worlds of Childhood U.S. and U.S.S.R." that many Krnni The Christian Science Monitor role reduced lo of the traditional Russian ways o! ciiild- rearirg may be instructive for the modern parent. The open affection the Soviet par- ent shows his child, the fact that adults, even strangers, seem to act in league to protect and correct and greet youngsters these seem to result in a more emo- tionally secure young ard in stronger bonds between the generations. As American children slip from adult liew. they often reappear again only when in trouble, with drugs or rebellion, or they wander into lire sorry oblivion of street, life. The Bronfenbrcimcr study should prompt parents to audit at. once their own rhildrcaring practices? and judge whether the efficiencies of their modern life may not merely be a species of parental neg- lect.