Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 10 to 13
- Grade: 5 to 8
The struggle of the Métis of the Saskatchewan River against the government of Canada culminated in the Riel Rebellion of 1885—an event of central importance in shaping almost all of the key polarities of Canadian history. If Riel provided the intellectual inspiration for the Rebellion, it was Gabriel Dumont who provided its strategy, and arguably its soul. Dumont, a leading figure in the Métis society of hunters along the South Saskatchewan, had been president of the short-lived local government, and became "Adjutant General of the Métis people" when a Provisional Government was declared in 1885. After the defeat of the Rebellion by the Canadian militia Dumont lived for several years in the United States, and was for some time a performer in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. In his last years he returned to his old home near Batoche (site of the final defeat of the Métis forces in 1885), where he died in 1906.
George Woodcock's biography of Dumont displays the author's remarkable gift for evocative narration and description. In the wake of its 1975 publication Canadians had a new reference point in the way they thought of the Riel Rebellion; alongside the spirituality and impulsiveness of Riel was the calm commitment of Dumont, whose intuitive feel for the land and for the moods of his people have now become part of the Canadian historical imagination.
For this re-issue of Woodcock's classic biography noted historian J.R. Miller has written a substantial introduction setting Gabriel Dumont in the context of Canadian history as we now understand it, in the context of Canadian historiography, and in the context of Woodcock's other work. As Miller convincingly argues, the biography is richly deserving of a lasting place in Canada's historical literature.
About the authors
George Woodcock (1912-1995) is one of Canada's best-known and most prolific authors. He was born in Winnipeg and educated in England, where he socialized with some of the century's most prominent writers and intellectuals including Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Herbert Read and T.S. Eliot. He returned to Canada in 1949 and taught at the University of British Columbia for many years. In 1959, he founded the journal Canadian Literature. His contribtution to Canadian culture is immeasurable; he either wrote or edited over one-hundred books including The Crystal Spirit, his Governor-Genral's award-winning biography of Orwell; Gabriel Dumont, another bestselling biography; and Anarchism a guide to the political philosophy which continues to be read around the world. His wide range of writing includes literary criticism, poetry, travel writing, plays, social history, biography, politics and essays.
J.R. Miller is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Saskatchewan. He is the author of numerous works on issues related to Indigenous peoples including Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens and Shingwauk’s Vision, both published by University of Toronto Press.
Other titles by George Woodcock
The Orwell Tapes
Colony and Confederation
Early Canadian Poets and Their Background
This Side Jordan
Walking Through the Valley
Morley Callaghan's More Joy in Heaven
George Woodcock's Introduction to Canadian Fiction
George Woodcock's Introduction to Canadian Poetry
Power to Us All
Consititution or Social Contract?
Other titles by J.R. Miller
Canada’s Founding Debates, 1864-1999
Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens
A History of Native-Newcomer Relations in Canada, Fourth Edition
Residential Schools and Reconciliation
Canada Confronts Its History
A History of Native Residential Schools
A Reader on Indian-White Relations in Canada