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Rupert’s Land and the North-West Territories

Sir George-Étienne CARTIER, the minister of militia and defence in the government of the new dominion, and Minister of Public Works William McDOUGALL went to London in 1868 to negotiate with the British government and the Hudson’s Bay Company for the purchase of Rupert’s Land, the enormous territory to the west of Canada [see Territorial Expansion: The March Westward; and From the Red River Settlement to Manitoba (1812–70)]. The resulting agreement added more than a quarter of North America to the new dominion [see The Acquisition of Rupert’s Land].

The Métis population around the Red River settlement in Rupert’s Land feared that their rights would not be respected and objected that they had not been properly consulted [see The Red River Rebellion and the Creation of Manitoba, 1869–70]. Their leader was Louis RIEL:

“As tensions mounted among the Métis it was clear that strong leadership was needed. Riel’s experiences during the past ten years had produced a life-style very different from that of the buffalo-hunting Métis, but it was these people he now aspired to lead. The older, more established leaders had had little success and had shown little initiative. Riel – ambitious, well-educated, bilingual, young and energetic, eloquent, deeply religious, and the bearer of a famous name – was more than willing to provide what the times required.”

For more information on the acquisition of Rupert’s Land and the North-West Territories, consult the biographies in the following lists.

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