Wednesday 17 February 2016

My Grandfather Shared Almost Twenty Years on This Planet with Louis Riel

His birth beat Confederation by a year. I don't know why I tell you this except that I like to.
I don't know much about the man, but I'm guessing he had principles which didn't always serve him well. He brought the family west from Quebec in about the second or third wave of Euro immigration in these parts, building a flat-roofed house on his farm just outside Eyebrow, Sask. I'm guessing he was sociable enough, not that warm with his kids. When he and his wife died, around 1930, their eldest daughter came back home from her teaching job to take care of the younger kids. My dad left home for his own teaching job around that time. 
I know that he died of appendicitis in his early 60s and that dad had appendicitis at the same age but lived another twenty years, and that my appendix is long gone.
I'm guessing he knew about Louis Riel. Mr. Hill (Edward) was protestant, if anything, but may have been sympathetic, even as an Anglo in Quebec, to the Metis cause. 
I never heard my own dad speak of Louis Riel. When I was a kid in Regina I, like hundreds of other schoolkids, viewed a fragment of the rope (that's what they told us) that hung him.
I believe the man was one of the heroes of the western world. Riel, I'm speaking of now.