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 an
executive consisting of John Bruce, President and, Louis Riel, Secretary and also
commander of the insurgent forces. The first act of this council on November 6, 1869
was to call for a popular convention in which they would be joined by twelve
representatives from the Scottish and English parishes. This became known as the
Convention of Twenty-Four which met on November 16, 1869 in the Court House at Fort
The Council of Twelve members were:
Pierre Poitras Sr. (1810-1889)
Pierre Poitras was born in 1810, at Fort Esperance, Qu’Appelle Valley, Northwest
Territories. His mother was Marguerite Grant, sister to Cuthbert Grant and his father was
Andre 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. The
family was quite large with relations on both sides of the border. Andre, sometimes
known as Henri died circa 1831 at St. Joseph, Dakota Territory. Pierre Poitras married
Marie Bruyere, the daughter of Jean Baptiste Bruyere and Francoise (Serpente) on
November 27, 1832 at St. Boniface. They had eleven children together.
Pierre Poitras was a representative to the Convention of Forty representing his home
district 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 Assembly
of 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 the
name of the people, the Manitoba Act”, thus entering the Dominion of Canada on the
terms proposed in the Confederation Act. He would also witness the signing of Treaty
Number 4 in the Qu’Appelle Valley, in 1874.
For his participation in the 1870 movement in Manitoba his life was endangered, and
he would have to leave along with many others. During the Reign of Terror of Wolseley’s
troops Pierre was arrested on August 24, 1870 while scouting with Francois Xavier
Dauphinais and Francois Xavier Page. He was abused and severely beaten and wounded
by 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 to
Duhamel, Alberta where he died at the age of 79.
His brother François was a captain and served under Ambroise Lepine, Riel’s
adjutant general in Manitoba. His other brother Ignace would also become involved at
Batoche during the 1885 Resistance and be tried for felony treason. His older half brother
Andre Henri Jr. Poitras lived and hunted on both sides of the border but would eventually
settle in the US. The descendents of his family would become involved with the Little
Shell Tribe in its struggle for recognition in Montana.1

Reference: Joseph-Isidore Poitras at


Pierre Léveillé (St. François Xavier) (1829-1884)
Pierre Léveillé was born on January 14, 1829 at St. Francois Xavier. He was the son
of Pierre Léveillé, born June 1783 at La Bois-St.Paul, Comte Charlevois, Quebec and
Julie McKenzie, the Metis daughter of Alexander McKenzie and Marie. He married
Genevieve Fagnant (Faillant) the daughter of Jean Baptiste Fagnant and Josephte Monet
dit 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. He
thus became familiar with the routes across the prairies prior to 1873. By all accounts
Pierre was an influential Metis of Red River. He temporarily opposed Riel in 1869-70
and kept Riel from obtaining the credentials of Donald A. Smith. He helped negotiate the
treaty with the Metis and Saulteaux Indians at the Lake of the Woods in 1873. Pierre was
apparently renowned for his size and strength. He was an “influential colonist” of the Red
River, according to historian Alexander Begg. At the provisional government’s
November 16, 1869 Convention of 24, Pierre Léveillé was a delegate, chosen to represent
St. Francois Xavier.
After Lieutenant Governor designate William McDougall was stopped at Pembina
by the Metis, led by Ambroise Lepine and Toussaint Lucier, McDougall sent his 350
rifles and 10,000 rounds of ammunition to Georgetown (now Grand Forks, N.D.). On the
25th of November 1869, McDougall wrote to Joseph Howe, the Secretary of State noting
that he had received information from his spies that the Metis intended to send horsemen
to burn the HBC warehouse at Georgetown and destroy these arms. He then took
immediate action to send the rifles and ammunition to Major Hunt (U.S. Army) at Fort
Abercrombie, about 40 miles from Georgetown.
McDougall’s next move was to have Col. Dennis and Major Wallace enlist the
Indians in a military move against the Metis. Pierre Léveillé was instrumental in
thwarting these plans as reported by the local newspapers.
During a memorable episode in the troubles of 1870, Léveillé played a role as leader
of the opposition to the authority of President Louis Riel. Mr. Donald A. Smith had
arrived as the senior officer of the Hudson’s Bay Company, when in reality he was the
representative 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 be
able 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 his
men 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 papers
for his leader, so he sent Léveillé and an Englishman to prevent such a thing from
Returning from Pembina, MacTavish and Riel’s representatives arrived at
Saint-Norbert with the precious papers, accompanied by fifty or so Metis whom Léveillé
and his companion had enlisted en route. Riel, who had just joined up with them, wanted
to take the lead, in order to arrive first at Fort Garry and intercept the dispatches. But
Léveillé 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 enter
the fort and had the doors immediately closed behind him. After some negotiation, Riel


ended up allowing the messengers to enter with Smith’s documents, and Léveillé wanted
to remain there with his friends to assure their security until they were read before the
population 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. Donnelly
launched the so-called Fenian Raid into Manitoba in October of 1871 Léveillé was
present at October 5th and 6th meetings at Riel’s house in St. Vital to decide whether the
Metis were going to support the government against O’Donoghue. Ambroise Lépine,
Pierre Léveillé, Elzéar de la Gimodière, l’honorable Dauphinais and Angus McKay sided
with Louis Riel in deciding to convince the Metis people to support the government.2
When it was time to conclude the treaties with the Indian tribes of Manitoba and the
Northwest, he assisted Joseph-Alfred-Norbert Provencher in his negotiations with these
tribes in 1873, and according to Alexander Begg, “He rendered great services and helped
assure [the treaties] final success.”
Magnus Bernard Birston (b. 1828)
Birston was a Scottish Half-Breed from St. François Xavier, the son of William
Birston and Angélique Bercier dit Marchand. He has been described as one of the leaders
of the “English Plains Buffalo Hunt” along with William Hallett. He was married to
Madeleine Paul (b. 1828). Birston had been appointed to the Council of Assiniboia on
August 6, 1868. The Council existed for 35 years, 1835-1870. He was the St. Paul
delegate to the Convention of Forty.
On October 10 1885, he was tried for treason-felony at Regina for his Resistance
activities at Duck Lake on 26th March and 3rd April 1885. He appeared before Judge
Richardson on Monday October 26, 1885 and the judge stated that although some
evidence weighed against the prisoner there were some favourable points for him, and
sitting 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 the
battle there. Birston may have looted the store and burnt down Mitchell’s house but there
was little evidence.
François Xavier Genthon dit Dauphinais (1815)
François was born on January 1, 1815, the son of Michel Genthon dit Dauphinais
and Victoire Ouelette. He first married Françoise Paul the daughter of Paul Paul and
Marguerite Lavallée. They had eleven children. He was then married to Marguerite
Morin, the daughter of Louis Morin and Marguerite Malaterre (1882). He was a French
Half-Breed who served as the St. François Xavier delegate to the 1869 Convention and
then became vice-president of the Provisional Government, 8 January 1870. He was later
appointed to Manitoba’s Legislative Council (Upper House) in 1871. During the post
1870 “reign of terror” he, Peter Poitras and Pierre Pagée were arrested and jailed by
Wolseley’s troops.
Ambroise-Didyme Lépine (1840-1923)

A.G. Morice, Aux Sources de L’Histoire Manitobaine. Québec: L’Êvénement, 1907 : 107-109.


This Metis leader was the son of Jean-Baptiste Bérard dit Lépine and Julia Henry, a
Saskatchewan Metis who was the daughter of the famous Alexander Henry and his
Saulteaux wife. He was the brother of Jean-Baptiste Jr. and Maxime Lépine. Ambroise
was born in St. Boniface in 1840. He was married to Cecile Marion, the daughter of
Metis leader Narcisse Marion. He took his education at St. Boniface College. Lépine
represented St. Boniface at the 1870 Convention of Forty.
Lépine was Louis Riel’s Adjutant General during the Red River Resistance of 186970. His military leadership amongst the Metis was attributed to his cool demeanor and
prodigious physical strength. He served in the provisional government as military
commander and presided at the war council, which condemned Thomas Scott, though he
was opposed to the execution.
In St. Vital, he was arrested for the murder of Scott. During October of 1875, he was
tried and found guilty. He was sentenced to be hung but Lord Dufferin, Governor General
of Canada, commuted his sentence to two years in jail and his civil rights were revoked
A long awaited amnesty was offered to both Riel and Lépine on condition that they
both leave the country for five years. Lépine decided to serve out his sentence, contrary
to Riel. On February 11, 1875, the Prime Minister moved that:
…full amnesty should be granted to all persons concerned in the North-West
troubles for all acts committed by them during the said troubles, saving only L.
Riel, A. D. Lépine, and W.B. O’ Donoghue, that in the opinion of this house it
would be proper...that a like amnesty should be granted to L. Riel and A.D.
Lépine conditional on five years banishment from Her Majesty's Dominions.
Ambroise Lépine was permitted to settle near Batoche, Saskatchewan and then near
Forget. It was only a few years before his death in 1923 that his civil rights were restored.
Jean Baptiste Tourond (St. Norbert) (b. 1838)
Baptiste was born June 1, 1838 at St. Boniface, the son of Joseph Tourond and
Rosalie Laderoute (b. 1816). He married Angélique Delorme, the daughter of Joseph
Delorme and Brigitte Plouf dit Villebrun in 1861. They lived at St. Norbert and had 12
children. Jean Baptiste Tourond was one of Riel’s councilor’s and had been appointed
along with Jean Baptiste Lépine to patrol the settlement and warn of anyone trying to
stake claims. He and his three brothers, Jacques, Isidore and Joseph participated in
helping Riel to stop the surveyors on October 11, 1869.
Baptiste represented St. Norbert at the Convention of November 1869, and the
Convention of Forty January 26, 1870; he then served on Riel’s Red River Council in
1870. Baptiste voted in favor of an armed force to repulse the Fenian invasion and was
elected second captain of troops from La Pointe Coupée on October 7, 1871. On October
21, 1889 he married for a second time to Regina Allard, the daughter of Joseph Allard
and Julie Langevin.
Louis Lacerte (St. Norbert) (b. 1821)
Louis was a Red River Metis, the son of Louis Lacerte Sr. and Marie Martin. He
married to Josephte Vandal (b. 1825) and they had 18 children. He then married Charlotte


Lesperance at St. Francois Xavier in 1879. He was a St. Vital delegate to the council of
1869 and represented Pointe Coupée at the 1870 Convention of Forty.
Pierre Parenteau Sr. (St. Vital) (1817-1894)
Pierre Parenteau was the son of Joseph Parenteau Sr. and his Cree wife Susanne.
Pierre was well known among his contemporaries as a skillful hunter in the great Metis
buffalo hunts. He first married Josephte Delorme (b. 1823) and they had two children. He
then married Marie McMillan in 1845 and in 1850 married Marie Anne Caron. One of his
daughters was married to François Xavier Letendré dit Batoche. Pierre once owned part
of the land upon which the Riel family finally settled in St. Vital.
Pierre was a member, and the Chairman of Riel’s 16 man Council (Exovedate) at
Batoche during the 1885 Resistance. A trusted friend and political ally of Louis Riel,
Parenteau had been active in the struggle for Metis self-determination since the days of
the 1869 Resistance in Manitoba. At that time he was an influential man, he was a Justice
of the Peace at St. Norbert and was elected as a delegate to the Convention of 1869 and
the Convention of Forty in 1870, which discussed the formation of a provisional
government at Red River. He was elected a Captain of the Metis troops in 1871 and
worked to repel the Fenian invasion. When Lieutenant-governor Archibald visited Red
River in October of 1871, Parenteau, along with Ambroise Lépine and Louis Riel, were
chosen to be presented to Archibald as representatives of the Metis people.
Jean Baptiste Perreault (St. Anne des Chênes)
Jean Baptiste was the son of Jean-Baptiste Perreault Sr. and Catherine Grouette. On
February 17, 1874 at St. Anne des Chênes he married Veronique Vandal the daughter of
Joseph Vandal and Adélaïde Charbonneau.
Charles Nolin (St. Anne des Chênes) (1823-1907)
Charles Nolin, a Metis, was born May 2, 1838 at St. Boniface. He was the son of
Augustin Nolin and Helen Ann Cameron (Metis). Charles married Marie-Anne Harrison,
a cousin of Louis Riel. She died and he remarried to Rosalie Lépine the niece of
Ambroise and Maxime Lépine. Charles Nolin was the leader of the anti-Riel Metis. This
group included the Léveillé, Charette, Dease and Hamelin families. In the Convention of
Forty Georges Klyne and Thomas Harrison were aligned with Nolin.
Charles was educated by Bishop Provencher and worked as a fur trader and
merchant. He was a member of the Convention of Forty under Riel and elected to the
Provincial Legislature as member from Ste. Anne des Chênes in 1874 and 1878. In 1874,
he took part in the agitation that preceded the 1885 Resistance, and acted as a member of
Riel’s 16-man Council (Exovedate) at Batoche during the 1885 Resistance. However, he
parted from Riel and Dumont when it came to the use of arms. The council of the
Provisional government set up on March 19, 1885 tried Charles Nolin and William Boyer
for acting against the cause but after defending themselves and pledging allegiance they
were acquitted. Nolin then deserted at Duck Lake and fled to Prince Albert where he was
locked up after surrendering.
Although Nolin was Louis Riel’s cousin, he testified against Riel. The Metis at
Batoche viewed him as a “vendus” or sell-out. He was elected to the North West
Territories Legislative Council in 1891 but was disqualified because of vote fraud. He


died at Battleford on January 28, 1907.
Jean Baptiste Millet dit Beauchemin. (b. 1838)
Jean Baptiste was the son of Benjamin Beauchemin and Marie Parenteau. Thus
Pierre Parenteau Sr. noted above was his uncle as was André Beauchemin noted below.
Jean Baptiste married Marguerite McMillan sometime before 1860.
André Millet dit Beauchemin (St. Vital) (1824-1902)
A Metis politician, he served as the St. Vital delegate on Riel’s Red River Council of
November 1869. Later he was a delegate to the Convention of Forty and a councillor in
the provisional government. He was elected to the first Manitoba legislature in 1870 by
acclamation to represent the riding of St. Vital. André was born on November 6, 1824 at
Red River, the son of André Millet dit Beauchemin and Madeleine Ducharme. He
married Geneviève Delorme, the daughter of Joseph Esnault dit Delorme and Brigitte
Bowfield, Hartwell. The James Wickes Taylor Correspondence 1859-1870. Vol. III,
Manitoba Record Society Publications, Altona: D. W. Friesen & Sons Ltd., 1968.

Compiled by Lawrence Barkwell
Coordinator of Metis Heritage and History Research
Louis Riel Institute


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