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Don McLean.
Winnipeg, ON: Pemmican Publications, 1985.
37pp., paper, $12.95.
ISBN 0-919143-17-2. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Riel Rebellion, 1885.
Canada-Politics and government-1867-1896.
Métis-Government relations.

Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up

Reviewed by J.D. Ingram.

Volume 14 Number 1
1986 January

This book is described as a "specific outcome of a unified movement of the Métis and Non-Status Indians of Saskatchewan." The author has worked at the Gabriel Dumont Institute for the past five years as a researcher. In his attempt to provide proof that the Canadian government of 1885 deliberately set out to foment a rebellion in the Northwest the author has consulted sources that range from Funk and Wagnall's, to historians W.L. Morton and G.F.G. Stanley, and to archival records.

In a general sense, this book is a story that has been told before. Granted one may learn more about Lawrence Clarke and his activities, but ultimately I think McLean's efforts to prove a conspiracy fall short. There are too many equivocations. As examples: "Prime Minister Macdonald must not have been displeased with the prospect of a small carefully controlled rebellion in the Northwest," and, "... it is difficult to find direct evidence linking the federal government to this plot. We must therefore rely upon inference and a priori constructions to build the case against the government." The author adds that Macdonald's government's guilt or innocence, "will never be resolved in a court of law ." Clear evidence and definitive proof are not to be had. In addition there are some dubious claims. With reference to a coded telegram from Clarke to Dewdney, McLean says, "The message made little sense." In the very next sentence however, he says, "But the message did seem to advise ...".

I think John A. deserves the epithet "Old Tomorrow," and as Pierre Berton suggests, Macdonald "appeared to exhibit a strange blindness towards the Northwest." Lack of action, and / or blindness perhaps, but no conspiracy is proven yet. An interesting book with pictures and maps, but no index.

J.D. Ingram, Gordon Bell H.S., Winnipeg, MB.
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