First Archbishop of St. Boniface, Manitoba, missionary, prelate, statesman, and writer of Western Canada, b. at Fraserville, Province of Quebec, 23 July, 1823; d. at St. Boniface, 22 June, 1894. By his father, Charles Taché, he belonged to one of the principal French Canadian families, and through his mother, Louise Henriette de La Broquerie, he was a descendant of Lavérendrye, the discoverer of the country in which he was to pass forty-nine years of his life. --Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Alexandre-Antonin Taché [Wikisource]
Louis Riel the elder was in due time blessed with a son,
the same about whom it is our painful duty to write this
little book. Estimating at its fullest the value of
education, the father was keenly anxious for an opportunity
to send _Louis fils_ to a school; but fortune had not
been liberal with him in later years, though the sweat
was constantly upon his brow, and his good wife's fingers
were never still. This son had unusual precocity, and
strangers who looked upon him used to say that a great
fire slumbered in his eye. He was bright, quick and
piquant; and it is said that it was impossible to know
the lad and not be pleased with his person and manners.
One important eye had observed him many a time; and this
was the great ecclesiastical dignitary of Red River,
Monseigneur Tache. He conceived a strong affection for
the lad and resolved to secure for him a sound education.
His own purse was limited, but there was a lady whom he
knew upon whose bounty he could count. I give the following
extract, which I translate from M. Tasse's book, and I
write it in italics that it may be the more clearly
impressed upon the reader's mind when he comes to peruse
the first story of blood which shall be related: _The
father's resources did not permit him to undertake the
expense of this education, but His Grace Archbishop Tache
having been struck with the intellectual precocity of
Louis, found a generous protector of proverbial munificence
for him in the person of Madame Masson, of Terrebonne. -The Story of Louis Riel: the Rebel Chief
This division enabled Mgr. Taché to give more attention to the home, or southern, missions and the embryonic parishes of what is to-day Manitoba. This territory, then called Assiniboia, was peopled by a mixed population under the paternal rule of the Hudson Bay Company, assisted by a legislative body of which the Bishop of St. Boniface was a member. A restless alien element, hailing mostly from Ontario, was at that time striving to change a political regime which was satisfactory to all classes of the local society, French and English, Catholic and Protestant. When the provinces of the east had been united into a confederation, one of the first cares of the new power resulting from the 1867 Act was to obtain from the Imperial Government the transfer, in consideration of £300,000, of Assiniboia and surrounding regions which had previously belonged to the Hudson Bay Company. Not only were the inhabitants of those territories not consulted as to the advisability of this transportation, but the emissaries of Ottawa in the valley of the Red River acted so rashly and in such a domineering way towards the French and Catholic part of the population, at a time when the Federal authorities whom they represented had not as yet any jurisdiction over the country, that the discontent they caused culminated (11 October, 1869) in open revolt under Louis Riel.
The Federal authorities begged Taché, who was then attending the Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, to come and intervene in the interest of peace. On his way home the prelate had interviews with the governor-general and his ministers, and was assured by them of a full amnesty for the métis in arms if the latter would only send delegates to Ottawa to treat of the matters in dispute and would not oppose the coming of the military expedition that was dispatched to Red River under Wolseley. In the meantime the Provisional Government, regularly formed there by the properly elected representatives of both portions of the population, had found it necessary to execute a troublesome character named Thomas Scott. The bishop's arrival (9 March, 1870), five days after the execution, was timely, inasmuch as Riel had manifested his intention of resisting the progress of the Anglo-Canadian troops. After Taché's intervention, which was based on the promise of an amnesty received at Ottawa, the métis could no longer be relied on to pursue an aggressive policy. Delegates were sent to the Federal capital, their efforts resulting in the Manitoba Act.
Unfortunately, the authorities took the execution of Scott, a rabid Orangeman, as an excuse for refusing the amnesty to which they had solemnly pledged themselves. This was a great blow to Mgr. Taché's prestige among his people. For years he laboured to secure for the leaders in the movement of resistance against the unwarranted aggression of the representatives of Ottawa that meed of justice to which he thought they had a right. He would probably have been more successful had he shown himself less confident in their honesty in his dealings with politicians, and required written assurances when it was scarcely possible to refuse them. It was not till the end of October, 1874, that a partial amnesty was proclaimed, but not before one of Riel's lieutenants, A.D. Lépine, had been condemned to death, a sentence which Mgr. Taché had had commuted into eighteen months' imprisonment. Taché had been appointed Archbishop of St. Boniface on 22 September, 1871. Thenceforth his efforts were mostly directed towards bringing in Catholic immigrants to the new ecclesiastical province and founding new parishes within his own archdiocese. In the midst of these labours the Saskatchewan Rebellion of 1885, under the same L. Riel who had directed the legitimate rising of 1869 (see SASKATCHEWAN AND ALBERTA), took place. Taché wrote (7 Dec., 1885) a little pamphlet, "La Situation", a masterpiece of its kind, in which he deplored the rebellion, yet remained to the end sympathetic to his former protege. The latter had paid with his life (16 Nov., 1885) for excesses that were due to good intentions rendered ineffective by the failure of an overworked brain.
--Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Alexandre-Antonin Taché [Wikisource]
...With regard to the rebellion he says: "As a people we have experienced a very profound humiliation; as men a cry of horror has excaped from our hearts at the aspect of the cruel massacres; as citizens we had to deplore the civil war, which has brough mourning and desolation to numerous families. Generous blood was shed and with it abundant tears flowed. Then the scaffold was raised to receive its victims. The prison cells are closed on honorable men; men whose lives were blameless until this day." He repudiates that Riel was the sole cause of the rebellion, and says that this explanation is so unreasonable that if accepted we might expect new disturbances in the near future. The ignorance, incapacity and indifference of Government officials is forcibly condemned as largely instrumental in bringing about the uprising. ...Considering the facts of the case, Archbishop Tache finds it impossible to free the authorities of responsibility for the uprising. He quotes the words of Lord Lansdowne at Winnipeg to show the rights to which the Indians are entitled and the treatment which they should receive. He says of them: "In other cases Indians were deprived of the pittance assigned to them, or it was given them as if they were dogs. The were too often deceived. The Indian, who is fare more intelligent than most people seem to think, was not the dupe of what was going on and felt the contempt increasing....It is not fair to throw on the Metis all the blame of the Indian uprising. The fact that the dath of the Crees in rebellion was heard of with grief among their hereditary enemies, the Blackfeet, shows that under Governmnet management the Indians have come to regard the whites as a common enemy." ...With regards to Riel, Archbishop Tache says: "Louis Riel was chosen by the Metis for their leader. They went for him to a strange land, and brought him to a strange land, brought him to their midst on the banks of the Saskatchewan. This step was owing to the uselessness of the efforts made by the Metis and their friends to have their rights acknowledged. The Metis could not understand shy they were so obstinately overlooked. They came to the conclusion that they were played upon even by those in whom they had so far placed their confidence. They believed that Riel, being one of themselves, who had suffered with and for them, would embrace their cause with greater zeal and be successful. The assurance that a Commission would soon be appointed was not believed, whilst credit was given to the rumour that instead of granting them their rights, the authorities were sending irons for their leader and shot for those who would protect him." The inconsiderate attack made upon the Metis at Duck Lake was a declaration of war.
Archbishop Tache, His opinion on the Northwest Rebellion and Riel
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