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Boulton, Charles A.

Edited by Heather Robertson. Toronto, James Lorimer, c1985. 225pp. cloth, $24.95, ISBN 0-88862-935-4. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by J.D. Ingram

Volume 14 Number 5
1986 September

Charles Arkoll Boulton was born in 1841 in Upper Canada. After joining the 100th Prince of Wales Royal Canadian Regiment and serving overseas, Boulton was involved in the rebellions of 1869-70 and 1885 in the Canadian North-west. His Reminiscences were first published by the Grip Printing and "Publishing Company in 1886. Until this edited version by Heather Robertson, it was very difficult to obtain a copy of Boulton's book.

Robertson has deleted parts of the original book that included chapters on the social and political life of Canada, and Boulton's early military career. It is an advantage to have the essence of the original accessible.

Boulton's accounts are detailed and informative. In 1869 he was imprisoned by Riel and threatened with execution. Others managed to change Riel's mind. Such was not the case with Thomas Scott. Boulton was never favourably impressed with Riel. "I venture to affirm that his motives were more those of personal ambition and aggrandizement than consideration for the good of his people. . , ." Although he does sympathize with the lot of the Indians and Metis, his attitude reflects nineteenth-century WASP opinion.

As a participant with a keen eye, Boulton's writing rings with authenticity. At Fish Creek, Boulton's Scouts encountered some mounted men.

. . . the enemy, who were in the ravine and out of sight opened a murderous fire upon us. I said, "Fire away, boys, and lie close; never mind if you don't see anything, fire;" my object being to keep the enemy down in the gully and hold them in check till the supports came up ... Captain Gardiner, who was beside me, was the first to say, "Major! I am hit."

Boulton is an admirer of General Middleton, unlike others who have written about the battles in 1885. In a similar vein, Colonel Otter is given credit for a withdrawal at Cut Knife Hill, when more recent accounts praise Poundmaker for allowing it to happen and thus reduce the bloodshed.

This book is worth reading for a variety of good reasons. There are two other items available about Charles Boulton. One is Keith Wilson's book, Charles Arkoll Boulton,* published in the Canadian Biographical series, and the other, a Manitoba Historical Sites pamphlet published in 1981 and available from the department of culture, heritage and recreation, Manitoba.

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

*Reviewed vol. XIII/1 January 1985 p. 25.

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