News in the East
Montreal - Nov. 16
The city council this afternoon adopted a resolution to adjourn “ as a protest against the odious violation of the laws of justice and humanity in the execution of Riel.” Portraits of Riel, Hon. Mr. Chapleau, and Col. Ouimet were exposed in windows on St. James street and an excited crowd kept the sidewalk blocked all day. Riel’s picture was framed with Crape, and had a French flag for a background. The other two portraits were prostrate, and each had a drop of red sealing wax on the forehead to represent drops of Riel’s blood. Underneath these pictures were French inscriptions signifying “traitor,” “hangman,” etc. There is a movement on foot to have requiem masses celebrated in all the Catholic churches throughout the Province next Monday for the repose of Riel’s soul.
About 400 students started from Victoria University tonight to parade through the city. When they had reached the Camp de Mars their numbers had been augmented by a following variously estimated at from 5,000 to 10,000 persons. The paraders carried French flags, transparencies and effigies of Sir John Macdonald, Sir Hector Langevin, Hon L. A. Chaleau, Hon, Mr. Caron. Hon. Mr. Chapleau’s and Sir Hector’s effigies were burned in the Champ de Mars, where a number of shots were exchanged between the paraders and the police. No one, however, was hurt.
An effigy of Sir A. P. Caron was burning at Dominion Square tonight, and after proceeding to the Champ de Mars the mob went to Col. Ouimet’s house, were the Colonel;s effigy was burned. Mayor Beaugrand appeared at the doorway and asked the crowd to go home. the crowd then placed a smallpox placard on the Colonel’s front door and departed for their homes.
Ferment in Quebec, Nov. 16.
The excitement here is almost beyond all restraint. A flag was hoisted at half mast upon the “Canadian” office, and some English speaking citizens, who felt aggrieved at this, came near being roughly handled. Flags decked with mourning emblems are also displayed, and many men have crape on their hats and around their sleeves. It would be hard to tell what the result will be. Tonight 200 or 300 students with their friends have been marching through the streets shouting “Glory to Riel,” and cursing the Orangemen. Crowds are gathered near Sir Hector Langevin’s house in St. Louis Street, and it is feared that they intend mischief in that quarter. the police, however, are patrolling in large numbers. Handbills have been distributed to all passers-by calling on them to meet tonight. these bills are headed in large letter, and read as follows: “Riel Hanged. (Infamie Consomme) The triumph of Orangemen over Catholics and French Canadians. There will be this evening at Jacques Cartier marketplace, a meeting of the French Canadians, of the city of Quebec, to protest against the terrible murder committed this morning by Sir John Macdonald, Sir Hector Langevin, Sir A.P. Caron, and Hon. Mr. Chapleau. Let everyone be at his post tonight.”
The bill, appearing, as it did when the people were almost beside themselves, nothing but roaring and imprecatious against the Orangemen have been “spatted” and are likely to feel the result of tonight’s demonstration. The uneasiness felt has been intensified by the news that Major Langelier left the city this morning on professional business and that it will be impossible for him to return tonight except by special train. It is believed he has left someone to act in his place in case of a riot. “B” battery and other soldiers on garrison duty in the citadel have not been allowed out all day, and are held in readiness for any emergency. Three scaffolds have been erected in St. Rochs, and effigies are to be hoisted and burned and each mock execution accompanied by a stirring national speech which will undoubtedly stir the already kindled enthusiasm of the populace and cause a riot. A meeting of the St. Jean Baptiste Society was held this afternoon an a resolution passed ordering the president to have their national flag draped in mourning and hoisted at half-mast for eight days. It is stated that Mr. Morrisette, who was to have been married this morning, postponed his marriage on account of the execution of Riel. For this he is loudly applauded by some of the French evening papers. L’Electeur, the Liberal organ, appears tonight draped in mourning and all its articles are most stirring. all its columns are devoted to the Riel matter, and it calls upon French Canadians not to forget the martyr who was murdered for the French cause. The story that the 8th Battalion had been ordered under arms is contradicted. It is believed that if that battalion was called out great disturbance would be caused, as it is almost entirely composed of English-speaking residents.
By 9 o’clock this morning crowds began to gather about the various newspaper offices, eagerly waiting for news of Riel’s execution. Even then doubts were freely expressed that the execution would take place, and bets were made. One man wagered $200 even that the prisoner would not be hanged. When the news was received that Riel had expatiated his crimes on the scaffold the crowds after perusing the bulletin boards quietly dispersed.
The excitement here over Riel quickly subsided after it became known that he had been executed. The courage displayed by Riel on the scaffold was admired, but no expression of pity could be heard at his fate.
The news of Riel’s death was at first received quietly here. The Protestant Conservatives were considerably elated, however, over what they term their triumph. A large number of them waited on the Premier and Hon. Mackenzie Bowell, Minister of Customs, congratulating them on the carrying out of the sentence of the court. Among the French Canadians, who are in a large minority here, there is a deep feeling of displeasure.
There is no excitement over the hanging of Riel. Small knots of people gathered around the bulletin board, but the only opinion expressed was that of satisfaction that the sentence has been carried out.
The execution of Riel caused little excitement here, although Halifax sent a battalion to the front during the rebellion.
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Copyright Michael J. Durocher, 1997