Riel was not a métis!
Originally published: Montreal 1937 [LE PETIT JOURNAL]
(NOTE: I am translating and re-publishing this 1937 story as a reminder of the long history of French journalists using flawed genealogy to call Métis frauds.)
The leader of the North West Rebellion was actually the son of an Irishman, Louis Riel, and the grandson of Jean-Baptiste Lagimodière, the famous coureur des bois. An interview with Mr. Rodrigue Lagimodière, a descendant of the hero established in Montreal. — Marie-Anne Gaboury.
The birth of Laprairie Lagimodière
The leader of the North West Métis rebellion, Louis Riel, himself has always been considered a Métis. It does not appear that the numerous historical works published on his account in the past have ever cast doubt on this point. But now a descendant of Jean-Baptiste Lagimodière, this coureur des bois we were talking about last week and who distinguished himself in 1815 by walking a distance of 1,800 miles, from the Red River to Montreal, here is a descendant of this hero, Mr. Rodrigue Lagimodière, tells us that he has family papers proving that Riel did not have a single drop of wild blood in his veins. Let us hope that a more informed historian than ourselves will one day take it upon himself to correct this page of our history.
We wrote last week that Lagimodière, after having delivered to Lord Selkirk a message asking for help for the colony of Red River, had resumed, still on foot, the road to Fort Douglas (he was taken prisoner on his return and delivered several months later), where he had left his wife and children.
She is a heroine even less known than her husband, Jean-Baptiste Lagimodière, than Marle-Anne Gaboury, and who, however, deserves to take her place alongside the Madeleine de Verchères and Jeanne Mance. A young wife of twenty-five, only two weeks after her marriage, she left her native place, Maskinongé (Lagimodière was born near there) to follow her husband in his adventurous life. She shared his harsh existence, running through the woods with him, hunting buffalo, thwarting the wiles of the savages who saw for the first time a white woman establish her residence in a solitary region so far away. She escaped death countless times and had incredible adventures.
THE BIRTH OF LAPRAIRIE
About to give birth to a child, her second, baptized Laprairie a few years later by Father Provencher, she had one day followed her husband hunting in the plains with a few savage friends and members of the colony.
Evening falls: a camp is set up. Suddenly Indians attack. The group of hunters, outnumbered, flees on horseback. The pursuers somewhat distanced, we stop. Madame Lagimodière gives birth to her child, then remounts her horse. But the Redskins rejoin the group and manage to steal the newborn, after which they flee. They go down. attempt several times later to steal or buy any of the remarkably beautiful young Lagimodière. But the hunters turn back and manage to take the baby back from the kidnappers. Even today, Ms. Lagimodière is called the godmother of Manitoba. When Abbé Provencher was sent west with Abbé Dumoulin, he baptized, on his arrival, the four children she had then, and seventy-two little savages and half-breeds whose godmother was the wife of the woodsman.
A LAGIMODIERE IN MONTREAL
Descendants of him recently spoke in Winnipeg. to erect a monument to him on the concession given him by Lord Selkirk, on the point situated between the Seine and the Red rivers. We were quite happy to trace in Montreal the only direct descendant of Jean-Baptiste Lagimodière who settled in the east of the country: Mr. Rodrigue Lagimodière. Born in Lorette, near Manitoba, he still has two sisters and five brothers in this province. His father. Mr. William Lagimodière, former MP for La Vérendrye (Manitoba), was the son of Elzéar Lagimodière, son of Laprairie Lagimodière, second son of Jean-Baptiste.
Mr. Lagimodière, who married Mile Helen Hickson in Ottawa, has two children, Lucille and Lorne.
LOUIS RIEL WAS NOT A METIS!
He told us about his ancestor almost all the details we have reported in this article, many of which cannot be found elsewhere than in the family archives. But the most extraordinary statement he has made to us is certainly the one relating to Louis Riel, the leader of the North-West Métis Rebellion, and likely to shed new light on the history of this strange and tormented whose fate had such a great impact on the political life of our province itself. Mr. Lagimodière tells us categorically, in fact, that Louis Riel’s father was an Irishman from Maskinongé (where Lagimodière and his wife come from) whose real name was Rhiel. Around 1840, the latter entered the Oblate Seminary in Lévis. Not feeling a vocation for the priesthood, he left the Seminary.
Since these things were frowned upon at the time, he emigrated west and changed his name to Riel. He married Julie Lagimodière, daughter of Jean-Baptiste, with whom he had a son also named Louis, leader of the rebellion. Which seems to prove beyond any doubt that Riel never had a drop of wild blood in his veins, as we always believed. Unless I am mistaken, this is the first time that this assertion has been made publicly.
The living descendants of Jean Baptiste Lagimodière today number several hundred. They are right to be proud of their ancestor and to want to perpetuate his heroic memory in stone.
Unearthed by Jo Brissette. French to English transcription / translation by Daniel Voshart with assistance from Google.