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Pour voir davantage du Mus´┐Że virtuel du Canada / See more of the Virtual Museum of Canada
1. Introduction2. Birth of a Police Force3. The March West4. Establishment of the Force5. The Railroad and the Rebellion6. The Growth of the Force7. Establishment of a National Police Force8. Biographies
 
The North-West Rebellion
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Looking for Big Bear

Only one loose end remained - that of Big Bear. This is where my experience with the North West Rebellion began.

Major-General Thomas Bland Strange left his ranch to command the Alberta Field Force. He asked that I join him to take charge of the mounted part of the Field Force. He very flatteringly called it Steele's Scouts. I brought 25 men with me from our mountain posts and recruited another 40 or so from the cowboys and horsemen near Calgary.

We were ready to leave for Fort Edmonton on April 19 along with the right wing of the 65th Mount Royal Rifles from Montreal. The start in the morning was like a circus. The horses, with few exceptions, had seldom been ridden, and bucked whenever mounted, until two or three days had gentled them. This little performance interested the men from Montreal as they gazed at the gyrations of the cow–puncher soldiers and Mounted Police. After a few obstacles - rivers in flood, cold weather, and bogs that would hold our wagons fast - we reached Edmonton. After a few days rest, we moved east on the trail to Fort Pitt and Fort Carlton. Our scouts checked for rebels and hostiles, but our journey was safe. Our mission was to find the hostages taken at Frog Lake and Fort Pitt, and bring Big Bear to justice.

We arrived at Frog Lake to find a strange odour in the air. The bodies of the slaughtered men lay where they had dropped or where they were placed by the murderers. We collected the 13 bodies and gave them a proper burial. At Fort Pitt we found the remains of Constable Cowan - scalped and his heart cut out of his body and hanging on a stick. We gave the young lad a proper military funeral. Our grisly findings only made everyone more eager to find Big Bear and his band!

At Fort Pitt, we quickly found the trail used by the band. As night fell, we ran into a party of Cree intent on stealing horses from our army. There was much shooting and yelling from both sides, and the Cree ran away. In the morning, we followed their trail and came upon them at place called Frenchman's Butte. We fought with them there, joined by the 65th. The forest gave the rebels better cover than us and after another day of fighting, we were not much further ahead. The Natives retreated, and we followed, finally tracking them to Loon Lake. By this time we had heard about the battle at Batoche and but for this last resistance, the Rebellion was over.

We were forced to fight once more, as the Natives did not give us a chance to tell them the news. Short on ammunition, I left some of the men to keep an eye on the enemy's movements and sent a courier to General Middleton. The General and his army took many days to travel from Fort Pitt to Loon Lake. By the time they arrived, the Natives had split into three groups, the Woodland Cree heading north, the Chippewyans westward, and Big Bear and the Plains Cree to the east.

The General ordered four columns to march in four different directions in order to capture Big Bear. While they were scouring fields and forests, Big Bear walked to Fort Carlton where he gave himself up to the NWMP.

Our job was over. As we traveled back to Calgary, we recovered stolen property abandoned by the rebels and returned it to its owners. The citizens of Calgary welcomed us warmly and held a banquet in our honour. It was time to get back to our regular police duties.
Major General Thomas Bland Strange
Major General Thomas Bland Strange

Steele's Scouts
Steele's Scouts

A sketch of the battle layout at Frenchman's Butte.
A sketch of the battle layout at Frenchman's Butte.

Crossing Loon Lake on the trail of Big Bear.
Crossing Loon Lake on the trail of Big Bear.

Big Bear meets Thomas Bland Strange.

Big Bear meets Thomas Bland Strange.

 
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5. The Railroad and the Rebellion



Duck Lake
Battleford