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THE SASKATCHEWAN REBELLION, 1885 265

 

not only great skill but also great courage in navigating their boats through difficult and dangerous water." He added that it was a source of much satisfaction to the officers and men of the Expeditionary Force to find Canadians represented on the expedition, and sharing with them their privations and risks. "At a time when English, Scottish and Irish soldiers were employed, the presence with them of the Canadians shows in a marked manner the bonds which unite all points of our great Empire."

While the Voyageurs were still in Egypt a serious situation had developed in the Canadian North-West. Politic-ally, there was a marked similarity between the Red River Rebellion of 1869–70 and the Saskatchewan Rebellion of 1885. The grievances, real or assumed, of the Metis were much the same in both cases. The Canadian Government's policy of masterly and very expensive inactivity remained unchanged. The ultimate political consequences were practically identical—the belated con-cession of substantially all that the half-breeds had demanded. The leader of the 1\Ietis in 1885 was the same Louis Riel who had planned the uprising of 1870; that "vain, rash and passionate adventurer, about whose figure centres more of sorrow, of tragedy, and of conflict than around any other in the annals of confederated Canada.s'

But there the similarity ends. From a military point of view the conditions were decidedly different. Riel was a political schemer. He could incite other men to fight, but was no fighter himself. Still less had he any talent for the art of war, or any knowledge of its principles. His military lieutenant in 1870 was Ambroise Lepine, a sturdy bully, but less qualified, if possible, than Riel to lead a successful insurrection. In 1885, on the other hand, Riel's lieutenant was Gabriel Dumont, a brave and resourceful leader, skilled in all the arts of Indian warfare, and with a good deal of natural talent for generalship. The result was that while the rebels of 1870 fled ignominiously at the first appearance of Wolseley and his men,

1 Willison, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Vol. 1, p. 154.


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