About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Batoche and The Third Riel Conspiracy

I think it is fitting that my 500th post on this blog is about Saskatchewan. Batoche is my favourite historic place in Saskatchewan.

The Third Riel Conspiracy by Stephen Legault, which I reviewed in my last post, is focused on the major battle of the Riel Rebellion at Batoche in 1885. Batoche was at the heart of the Metis community in the Northwest Territories of that time. (In 1905 the province of Saskatchewan was created out of territory that included Batoche.)

The Metis settlement around Batoche had grown up in the 1860’s and 1870’s. The settlers created long narrow farms moving away from the Saskatchewan River in the style of early Quebec farms. The Metis of that era were great hunters and annually went south for buffalo until the buffalo were almost exterminated.

The Metis people were the descendants of intermarriage between French fur traders and the Indian inhabitants of the prairies.

A variety of grievances, including the fear their farms would not be recognized by the Government of Canada because they did not conform with the grid being surveyed, caused the Metis, led by Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont to rise in revolt.

The Rebellion did not last long mainly because the Metis political leader, Riel, would not allow their military leader, Dumont, to fight when and how Dumont wanted to take on Canada.

The founder of Melfort, Reginald Beatty, had just homesteaded in 1884 in the area that would become Melfort. During the Rebellion he was a scout for the Canadian forces and a negotiator persuading Indian communities not to join in the Rebellion.

The Third Riel Conspiracy is excellent at describing Batoche and the surrounding area. It is a beautiful spot on a bend in the South Saskatchewan River.

The site is almost unchanged in the past 128 years. There is no development around the site. To travel there is to go back in time.

The church and rectory have remained intact with some bullet holes in the rectory to mark its role in the battle.

The photograph above shows the view from the cemetery on the riverbank looking towards the church and rectory.

I first visited the site 45 years ago. My father had a keen interest in 
An aerial view showing the Saskatchewan River in the background
Western Canadian history and knew men who had participated in the Rebellion.

Over the years I have made many visits to Batoche with my family and visitors to our area. Each visitor has said going to Batoche made history come alive for them.

In 1985 my Dad and I attended the centennial celebration of the battle. At the official event the Red Cross donated the flag flown by that organization during the battle. It was the first time the Red Cross had raised their iconic flag on a battleground.

I am glad that Legault set his second book in the Durrant Wallace series at Batoche. Every NWMP of that time had some participation in the Rebellion.

For any reader crossing central Saskatchewan in the summer a trip to the National Historic Site of Batoche will be a worthwhile stop.

While a place of battle and death it is now a serene site. I feel a sense of peace whenever I visit Batoche.


  1. Very interesting, Bill. Thanks for the education.

  2. Bill - This is absolutely fascinating! I'd read before about the Riel Rebellion, but your posts on this book have taught me even more about it. And congratulations on 500 terrific posts.

  3. Jose Ignacio: Thanks for the comment. I love to talk about Batoche.

  4. Margot: Thanks for the comment and congratulations. As you undoubtedly have guessed I could have written a lot more about Batoche.