Red River Spy Mission
By Anthony Caruso, 2008 Governor-General’s Award Recipient
INTENDED GRADE LEVEL/SUBJECT AREA
Grade 8 Canadian History, Immigration
Understanding the importance of the Red River Rebellion, Louis Riel, and Sir John. A MacDonald.
- Describe the causes, results and personalities of the Red River Rebellion of 1869
- Describe the everyday life of various groups (Aboriginal Peoples, Europeans, Métis) in Western Canada at the time of settlement by Europeans
- Locate relevant information using a variety of sources
- Analyze, synthesize, and evaluate historical information
- Analyze and describe conflicting points of view about an historical event
- Use appropriate vocabulary
- Communicate the results of inquiries for specific purposes and audiences using a creative written report
This activity is simple in that the resources for the teacher are readily available. The activity takes a common resource, the textbook, and uses it in a creative way. The activity will examine the1869 Red River Rebellion in what is now Manitoba. One of the resolutions passed in the Confederation debates was the purchase of Rupert’s Land. This land covered most of Western Canada and was owned by the Hudson Bay Company. Rupert’s Land was to provide a young nation,the Dominion of Canada, with a chance to expand. Canada purchased the land for 300 000 pounds and the authority of this land was to be transferred to the Canadian federal government on December 1, 1869.
However, nobody thought to seek the approval of the inhabitants of this land. The Hudson Bay Company withdrew its rule in January 1869, technically leaving the area with no legal government for close to a year. The Métis people, under the leadership of Louis Riel, were upset at not being consulted about joining the new nation and were fearful that their land rights and way of life would be compromised. They stopped Canadian surveyors from surveying their land, they prevented the future lieutenant-governor, William McDougall (a Father of Confederation) from entering the Red River area, and they established a provisional government of their own. They made demands that they wanted the Canadian government to meet.
Students are to pretend that they have traveled back in time to 1869. The class will receive a package containing all the necessary worksheets and a computer slide presentation (yes I know this is an anachronism!) The computer presentation has John A. Macdonald writing directly to your class seeking their help. He does not know how to respond to this ‘problem’ at Red River. He ponders: “Do I seek a peaceful solution through negotiation, or do I use force?” Macdonald then asks the students to act as spies. He wants them to infiltrate the Red River settlement to gather vital information so that he can make the best decision.
In this activity, Macdonald wants to know more about the details of the events that happened, more about the people who live in Rupert’s Land, more about the Métis and Louis Riel. He then asks that each student advise him on the course of action he should take. The students will do this in the form of a written report. Students will ‘travel back in time’ through the use of their textbooks, video, primarysources, and the internet.
Please note: this link contains the Powerpoint presentation referred to in the downloadable PDF listed below.
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