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Metis National Committee Provisional Government (1869)

Metis National Committee Provisional Government (1869)

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Louis Riel's first Provisional Government and Council of Twelve.
Louis Riel's first Provisional Government and Council of Twelve.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Lawrence J. Barkwell on May 27, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Metis National Committee Provisional Government(formed October 15-19, 1869):
The first provisional government at Red River consisted of a Council of Twelve with anexecutive consisting of John Bruce, President and, Louis Riel, Secretary and alsocommander of the insurgent forces. The first act of this council on November 6, 1869was to call for a popular convention in which they would be joined by twelverepresentatives from the Scottish and English parishes. This became known as theConvention of Twenty-Four which met on November 16, 1869 in the Court House at FortGarry.The Council of Twelve members were:
Pierre Poitras Sr.
(1810-1889)Pierre Poitras was born in 1810, at Fort Esperance, Qu’Appelle Valley, NorthwestTerritories. His mother was Marguerite Grant, sister to Cuthbert Grant and his father wasAndre Henri Poitras from St. Foye, Quebec. Andre Poitras was one of the founders of St.Francois Xavier. This was a buffalo hunting family always active on the plains. Thefamily was quite large with relations on both sides of the border. Andre, sometimesknown as Henri died circa 1831 at St. Joseph, Dakota Territory. Pierre Poitras marriedMarie Bruyere, the daughter of Jean Baptiste Bruyere and Francoise (Serpente) onNovember 27, 1832 at St. Boniface. They had eleven children together.Pierre Poitras was a representative to the Convention of Forty representing his homedistrict of St. Francois Xavier. He was also a delegate to the previous Convention of 24,November 16, 1869. Pierre became one of the 24 members of the Legislative Assemblyof Assiniboia led by Louis Riel. On June 24, 1870, Hon. Mr Pierre Poitras seconded Hon.Mr Louis Schmidt’s motion “That the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia accepts, in thename of the people, the Manitoba Act”, thus entering the Dominion of Canada on theterms proposed in the Confederation Act. He would also witness the signing of TreatyNumber 4 in the Qu’Appelle Valley, in 1874.For his participation in the 1870 movement in Manitoba his life was endangered, andhe would have to leave along with many others. During the Reign of Terror of Wolseley’stroops Pierre was arrested on August 24, 1870 while scouting with Francois XavierDauphinais and Francois Xavier Page. He was abused and severely beaten and woundedby the Red River Expeditionary Force. At the age of sixty, he left Manitoba because of the hostilities and returned to the Qu’Appelle Valley for a while and then moved toDuhamel, Alberta where he died at the age of 79.His brother François was a captain and served under Ambroise Lepine, Riel’sadjutant general in Manitoba. His other brother Ignace would also become involved atBatoche during the 1885 Resistance and be tried for felony treason. His older half brotherAndre Henri Jr. Poitras lived and hunted on both sides of the border but would eventuallysettle in the US. The descendents of his family would become involved with the LittleShell Tribe in its struggle for recognition in Montana.
Reference: Joseph-Isidore Poitras at http://www.mendel.ca/quappelle/edwardpoitras/resident.html
Pierre Léveillé
(St. François Xavier) (1829-1884)Pierre Léveillé was born on January 14, 1829 at St. Francois Xavier. He was the sonof Pierre Léveillé, born June 1783 at La Bois-St.Paul, Comte Charlevois, Quebec andJulie McKenzie, the Metis daughter of Alexander McKenzie and Marie. He marriedGenevieve Fagnant (Faillant) the daughter of Jean Baptiste Fagnant and Josephte Monetdit Belhumeur on September 15, 1856 at St. Francois Xavier.Pierre II, became a fur trader in the west. He had his own train of Red River carts. Hethus became familiar with the routes across the prairies prior to 1873. By all accountsPierre was an influential Metis of Red River. He temporarily opposed Riel in 1869-70and kept Riel from obtaining the credentials of Donald A. Smith. He helped negotiate thetreaty with the Metis and Saulteaux Indians at the Lake of the Woods in 1873. Pierre wasapparently renowned for his size and strength. He was an “influential colonist” of the RedRiver, according to historian Alexander Begg. At the provisional government’sNovember 16, 1869 Convention of 24, Pierre Léveillé was a delegate, chosen to representSt. Francois Xavier.After Lieutenant Governor designate William McDougall was stopped at Pembinaby the Metis, led by Ambroise Lepine and Toussaint Lucier, McDougall sent his 350rifles and 10,000 rounds of ammunition to Georgetown (now Grand Forks, N.D.). On the25
of November 1869, McDougall wrote to Joseph Howe, the Secretary of State notingthat he had received information from his spies that the Metis intended to send horsemento burn the HBC warehouse at Georgetown and destroy these arms. He then tookimmediate action to send the rifles and ammunition to Major Hunt (U.S. Army) at FortAbercrombie, about 40 miles from Georgetown.McDougall’s next move was to have Col. Dennis and Major Wallace enlist theIndians in a military move against the Metis. Pierre Léveillé was instrumental inthwarting these plans as reported by the local newspapers.During a memorable episode in the troubles of 1870, Léveillé played a role as leaderof the opposition to the authority of President Louis Riel. Mr. Donald A. Smith hadarrived as the senior officer of the Hudson’s Bay Company, when in reality he was therepresentative of the Canadian government. Riel would have liked to see Smith’s letter of credentials and other official papers before their contents were divulged, in order to beable to know what course to take, based on the instructions contained in them. However,Smith had deliberately left these papers at Pembina, outside the territory of Assiniboia.In an effort to discover if Smith indeed had the power to negotiate, Riel sent one of hismen to accompany Smith’s messenger to get the papers. But William MacTavish,governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, feared that Riel’s man would seize the papersfor his leader, so he sent Léveillé and an Englishman to prevent such a thing fromhappening.Returning from Pembina, MacTavish and Riel’s representatives arrived atSaint-Norbert with the precious papers, accompanied by fifty or so Metis whom Léveilléand his companion had enlisted en route. Riel, who had just joined up with them, wantedto take the lead, in order to arrive first at Fort Garry and intercept the dispatches. ButLéveillé threatened him with a pistol and the president had to keep to the second rank of the procession formed by the sleds. He succeeded, however, in being the first one to enterthe fort and had the doors immediately closed behind him. After some negotiation, Riel
3ended up allowing the messengers to enter with Smith’s documents, and Léveillé wantedto remain there with his friends to assure their security until they were read before thepopulation that had assembled to hear them on 19 and 20 January 1870.Léveillé later became one of Riel’s most ardent partisans, and to erase the memory of the above-mentioned episode, he even gave Riel a rifle that cost $300. When W. B.O’Donoghue, General John O’Neill, General Thomas Curley and Colonel J.J. Donnellylaunched the so-called Fenian Raid into Manitoba in October of 1871 Léveillé waspresent at October 5
and 6
meetings at Riel’s house in St. Vital to decide whether theMetis were going to support the government against O’Donoghue. Ambroise Lépine,Pierre Léveillé, Elzéar de la Gimodière, l’honorable Dauphinais and Angus McKay sidedwith Louis Riel in deciding to convince the Metis people to support the government.
 When it was time to conclude the treaties with the Indian tribes of Manitoba and theNorthwest, he assisted Joseph-Alfred-Norbert Provencher in his negotiations with thesetribes in 1873, and according to Alexander Begg, “He rendered great services and helpedassure [the treaties] final success.”
Magnus Bernard Birston
(b. 1828)Birston was a Scottish Half-Breed from St. François Xavier, the son of WilliamBirston and Angélique Bercier dit Marchand. He has been described as one of the leadersof the “English Plains Buffalo Hunt” along with William Hallett. He was married toMadeleine Paul (b. 1828). Birston had been appointed to the Council of Assiniboia onAugust 6, 1868. The Council existed for 35 years, 1835-1870. He was the St. Pauldelegate to the Convention of Forty.On October 10 1885, he was tried for treason-felony at Regina for his Resistanceactivities at Duck Lake on 26
March and 3
April 1885. He appeared before JudgeRichardson on Monday October 26, 1885 and the judge stated that although someevidence weighed against the prisoner there were some favourable points for him, andsitting as a juror he could not convict. He warned the prisoner to be more careful of himself in the future. He was the only Metis other than Riel to go to trial.Hillyard Mitchell had left Birston in charge of his store at Duck Lake before thebattle there. Birston may have looted the store and burnt down Mitchell’s house but therewas little evidence.
François Xavier Genthon
(1815)François was born on January 1, 1815, the son of Michel Genthon dit Dauphinaisand Victoire Ouelette. He first married Françoise Paul the daughter of Paul Paul andMarguerite Lavallée. They had eleven children. He was then married to MargueriteMorin, the daughter of Louis Morin and Marguerite Malaterre (1882). He was a FrenchHalf-Breed who served as the St. François Xavier delegate to the 1869 Convention andthen became vice-president of the Provisional Government, 8 January 1870. He was laterappointed to Manitoba’s Legislative Council (Upper House) in 1871. During the post1870 “reign of terror” he, Peter Poitras and Pierre Pagée were arrested and jailed byWolseley’s troops.
Ambroise-Didyme Lépine
A.G. Morice,
 Aux Sources de L’Histoire Manitobaine
. Québec: L’Êvénement, 1907 : 107-109.

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