24 May

A proud chief surrenders, 1885

Poundmaker Surrenders

Louis Rid surrendered to General Middleton on May 15, 1885, and the Northwest Rebellion was over, although the Indian Chiefs Poundmaker and Big Bear were still at large. Poundmaker was in the bag first, but Big Bear (lid not give up until July 2. He scattered his braves, eluded dozens of military scouts, and reached Fort Carlton, where he surrendered personally to Sergeant Smart of the Northwest Mounted Police.

Poundmaker had captured a supply train and twenty-two prisoners on May 14, but realized the game was up when he heard the news of Riel's capture. He released Indian agent Jefferson, who had been one of his prisoners, and sent him with a message to Middleton on May 24. He asked for surrender terms in writing so there would be no misunderstandings.

Middleton adopted a stern attitude. He sent a message back to Poundmaker saying that he had completely defeated the half-breeds and Indians at Batoche. No terms had been made with them, and he would make no terms with Poundmaker. He must surrender unconditionally. The date was set for May 26.

When Poundmaker arrived, General Middleton was sitting on a chair, with his officers in a semi-circle behind him. The proud chief came forward all prepared to shake hands. The general brushed him off. Some observers said later that Poundmaker impressed them as the greater man. He had risked his own position more than once to prevent his braves from massacring white people. He was fighting for the right to get food for his hungry people, and to assure them of their share of the lands they had lost.

Middleton told Poundmaker that he was charged with high treason, but Poundmaker did not understand the expression. The interpreter finally got the message across by saying, "You are accused of throwing sticks at the Queen and trying to knock her bonnet off." Poundmaker was arrested with four of his braves, taken to Regina and charged with treason and murder.

Big Bear was also put in prison after he surrendered. Public opinion caused the sentences of both chiefs to be shortened. The confinement was too much for both men and they died soon after being released.


24 May

-1833    The first university degree in medicine was given to W. Logic of Montreal.

-1856    The Taché-Macdonald government was formed. It remained in office until November 1857.

-1881    The steamer Victoria sank in the Thames River, near London, Ontario, on Victoria Day, with the loss of 200 lives.

-1932    Parliament passed a bill establishing a nationally-owned broadcasting system.

-1955    The C.N.R. and the C.P.R. reduced the running time between Montreal and Vancouver by sixteen hours.

-1965    A separatist demonstration began in Montreal.