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Louis Riel Sr.

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Louis Riel Sr père July 7, 1817 – January 21, 1864 was a farmer, miller, Métis leader, and the father of Louis Riel

Born in Île-à-la-Crosse, Saskatchewan, Riel was the eldest son of Jean-Baptiste Riel, dit L’Irlande, a voyageur, and Marguerite Boucher, a Franco-Chipewyan Métis The Riel family moved back to Lower Canada while Louis was a child He was educated in Quebec, learning the trade of carding wool He joined the fur trade with the Hudson's Bay Company in 1838 and was stationed at Rainy River, Ontario for several years, where he fathered a daughter named Marguerite in 1840 He left the HBC in 1842 and returned to Quebec with the intention of joining the priesthood at the Oblates of Mary Immaculate at Saint-Hilaire, but withdrew a year later He returned to the Canadian West, settling in the Red River Colony on a river lot in Saint-Boniface now a district of modern Winnipeg, Manitoba He married Julie Lagimodière, daughter of voyageur Jean-Baptiste Lagimodière and his wife, Marie-Anne Gaboury in January, 1844 Together they had eleven children, and by all accounts formed a devout and close-knit family

Louis Riel Sr was an active participant in the Red River Métis community Riel emerged as a Métis leader in the defence of Guillaume Sayer in his trial in May 1849 This trial was a defining moment in the fall of the Hudson's Bay Company's monopoly of the fur trade Riel continued to fight for the rights of the Métis and was instrumental in them gaining representation on the Council of Assiniboia and for French to be used in the Assiniboia courts as well as English

Riel also established businesses in the Red River Colony In 1847, he opened a small mill on his farm with the support of chief factor John Ballenden with the hope of establishing a fulling mill operation in the settlement But Riel had little success with his fulling mill He also attempted to open and operate a carding and grist mill, hence his title of "miller of the Seine", but to little success Finally, in 1857, Riel attempted to establish a textile industry in the settlement, but the venture failed

Although he was not a successful businessman, he showed great leadership within the Métis community His son Louis was likely influenced greatly by his father's actions Louis Jr continued in his father's steps to become the most famous Métis leader and the "Father of Manitoba" When Louis Riel Sr died January 21, 1864, his death was mourned by the entire settlement

See also

  • Sara Riel

External links

  • Biography at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online

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