Louis Riel - The Exile

He was often depressed and claimed that he had visions of a mission to fulfill. His cries and lamentations so frightened Father Barnabé that he sent for Riel's uncle, John Lee. The latter took him back to Montréal and he was confined to an asylum in the Province of Quebec, under the name of Louis R. David. Shortly thereafter, he was transferred to the asylum at Beauport where he gradually recovered his health. He was discharged from the asylum in January 1878, with the recommendation that he avoid excitement.

From Beauport, Riel returned to Keeseville where he remained for a while. During this time, he fell in love with Evelina Barnabé, Father Barnabé's sister. Less interested in politics now, Riel tried to find work so that he might have something to offer Evelina. Finally he decided to return to the West. Evelina did not think she would be able to adapt to prairie life and after several months, Riel stopped writing to her and the relationship came to an end.

In the fall of 1878, Riel returned once again to St. Joseph, near Pembina where in April 1879, he was visited by his mother and his friends.

Life in Manitoba had changed a great deal. The influx of immigrants was driving the Métis away. Stripped of their land and their way of life, they were moving farther and farther west to settle along the Saskatchewan River at places such as Lac la Biche, Qu'Appelle, Edmonton, Prince Albert, Duck Lake and Batoche.

While these changes were taking place, Riel was living in the United States, for he was still banished from Manitoba. Since 1879, he had followed the buffalo hunt and worked as an agent, trader and woodcutter near Carroll, in Montana Territory. Here he met Marguerite Monet dite Bellehumeur, a Métisse whom he married ‘à la façon du pays’ on April 28, 1881, and solemnly on March 9, 1882.

Riel began to take an interest in American politics and became an American citizen. When his term of exile ended, he paid a brief visit to his mother, then returned to live in the United States where he became a schoolmaster in order to provide for his family which now included two children. Although he was a good teacher, Louis was not happy. He had hoped to instruct the Métis but found that they made little progress, coming to class only sporadically and preferring to follow the hunt.


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