Duck Lake Regional Interpretive Center
Frontier of First Nations, Métis and Pioneer Society

interpretive_centre
On Site Services Include:
  • Free Parking
  • Wheel Chair Accessible
  • Washroom Facilities
  • Picnic Area with Tables
  • Bilingual Tours
  • Guided Tours of the Duck Lake Murals
  • Louis Riel Trail info
  • Lunch for your group (must be pre-arranged)
  • Theater rental for meetings or conferences
  • Video soon to be available
Sorry! Tower regretfully inaccessible for wheel chairs

Métis - The Duck Lake Encounter

(from "The Ending of an Era" with a quote from Gabriel Dumont)

On March 26, 1885 Crozier sent a small detachment of police to Duck Lake to obtain supplies and ammunition. After being halted and turned back by a party of Métis led by Gabriel Dumont, they returned to Fort Carlton and reported to Crozier. A force of ninety-five police and volunteers under Crozier then set out to confront the Métis. They were met by the Métis and a small party of First Nations men near Duck Lake. Gabriel Dumont sent his brother, Isidore and a Cree named Assiyiwin to talk with Major Crozier. Carrying a white flag, they rode into the clearing. Crozier and Joe McKay, an interpreter for the police, rode out to parley with them. A scuffle ensued, in which Assiyiwin and Isidore Dumont were both killed. The Métis had the advantage of cover therefore, after a brief battle, the police were forced to retreat, leaving behind ten dead men. Four years later, Gabriel Dumont gave the following account of the encounter at Duck Lake:

We went back to Duck Lake, and we had scarcely let our horses out to eat, when we heard someone shout again: "Here come the police!" We immediately jumped on horseback, and without delay I had my men occupy a hillock which commanded the plain, and from where the enemy would have been able to level their guns on us.

We were only a few men on horseback and a few men on foot, waiting for the police who had been reinforced by eighty men commanded by Crozier, who had rejoined McKay's forty runaways. They had a cannon with them.

I sent, in pursuit of their scouts, several men to whom I gave orders not to shoot because Riel had asked us not to be the first to fire.

I gave orders to my horsemen, who numbered 25, to go down into a hollow, where we were under shelter from the cannon.

Crozier, accompanied by an English half-breed, approached one of our Indians who was unarmed and, it seems, gave him his hand. The Indian then tried to grab the gun out of the hands of the English Métis who was, I believe John Dougal Mackay. This English Métis fired, and I think it was this rifle shot which killed my brother Isidore and made him fall from his horse, stone dead...

As soon as the shot was fired, the police and the volunteers commanded by Crozier, fired a round, and the Indian who was with my brother, was killed...

As soon as the shooting started, we fired as much as we could. I myself fired a dozen shots with my Winchester carbine, and I was reloading it to begin again, when the English alarmed by the number of dead, began to withdraw. It was time they did, for their cannon which until then had kept my infantry men from descending the slope, was silenced because the gunner, in loading it, put in the shot before the powder. My infantry men then began to surround them.

This first encounter had lasted half an hour.

In their flight they had to go through a clearing, so I lay in wait for them saying to my men, courage, I'm going to make the red coats jump in their carts with some rifle shots. And then I laughed not because I took any pleasure in killing, but to give courage to my men.

Since I was eager to knock off some of the red coats, I never thought to keep under cover, and a shot came and gashed the top of my head, where a deep scar can still be seen; I fell down on the ground, and my horse, which was also wounded, went right over me as it tried to get away. We were then 60 yards from the enemy. I wanted to get up, but the blow had been so violent, I couldn't. When Joseph Delorme saw me fall again, he cried out that I was killed. I said to him, "Courage, as long as you haven't lost your head you're not dead."

While we were fighting, Riel was on horseback, exposed to the gunfire, and with no weapon but the crucifix which he held in his hand...

The enemy was then beginning to retire, and my brother, who had taken command after my fall, shouted to our men to follow and destroy them. Riel then asked, in the name of God, not to kill any more, saying that there had already been too much bloodshed...

After the enemy had fled, my companions tied me on my horse, and we went to Duck Lake, where my wound, which was a deep one, was dressed...

gabriel dumont
Gabriel Dumont

1885 Resistance - The Duck Lake Battle

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7 Days a Week!

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