Been awhile since you’ve been to Batoche? Discover outdoor adventures at Batoche National Historic Site and immerse yourself in recreational family fun. Hop on and off or “Journey Through Time” on a guided shuttle tour, where you can interact with interesting characters who share multiple perspectives from the late 1800s. Uncover secret stories of Batoche and earn a souvenir geocoin on a geocaching challenge – how many can you reveal? Enjoy a family hike through nature, following the footsteps of the legendary Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont who led the resistance to the Government’s policies for the West. This is sure to surprise with dramatic history and views along the South Saskatchewan River. Look down to the river, where Métis forces fired upon Middleton’s troops aboard the Northcote paddle wheeler during the events of 1885 – or better yet, bring your canoe and paddle through the past. As you explore Batoche, see if you can find the depressions of rifle pits and young gunner Phillips’ grave. Hike the scenic river trails and recharge with a campfire picnic at the new day-use area and dock by river. Do your kids like to Xplore? Parks Canada Xplorers is for them! They will have fun doing activities and collecting cool souvenirs. Care to experience a rifle pit in action, help build a Red River frame, discover bullet holes, feed the chickens, work the garden or discover the new Batoche? Your surprise awaits!
Don’t miss the Louis Riel Relay & Kidfest on Saturday, July 6, brought to you by the Friends of Batoche. See their website for other great special events.
Batoche National Historic Site is located 88 kilometers northeast of the city of Saskatoon on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River. It is the site of the largest battle between the Métis and the North West Field Force of the Canadian Militia in 1885.
In 1885, Gabriel Dumont and Louis Riel led the Métis in the resistance against the federal government in a battle that changed the development of Western Canada. Trenches, rifle pits and the troop’s camp partially tell the story of that battle. Bullet holes in the rectory and the graves of Dumont and others testify to the struggle for land and identity.
Louis Riel selected Batoche as the headquarters of his “Provisional Government of Saskatchewan” from where he could negotiate with the Dominion of Canada for the rights of the Métis, settlers and First Nations of the territories.
Problems began in the area in 1878, when the Canadian government began surveying the traditional river lots and dividing them in the ways of the English. The Métis had long survived on the river access that each farm had, but the English way cut off many farmers from access to the river.
Métis leaders such as Gabriel Dumont, Maxime Lepuine, Moise Ouellette, Pierre Parenteau Sr. and Charles Nolin held meetings and drafted petitions to draw the government’s attention to the situation. When the Canadian government failed to respond, another meeting was held in the spring of 1884 and Louis Riel was asked to speak on behalf of the people of the Northwest Territories.
The Battle of Batoche was fought over four days from May 9 to May 12, 1885. Less than 300 Métis and a few First Nations people led by Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont defended Batoche from a series of rifle pits which they had dug along the edge of the bush surrounding the village.
The North West Field Force commanded by Major General Frederick Middleton and numbering 800, attacked the defenses directly as well as embarking on maneuvers intended to distract the Métis and First Nations away from the North-West Field Force’s numerical source of strength.