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The explosion of growth in Winnipeg and Manitoba in general brought many settlers in from Ontario, Britain and some from the United States. They quickly began buying up land, laying out farms in the countryside and businesses in the cities and establishing law and order throughout the Province.

The Métis, who lived by trapping, some farming, and mainly by hunting buffalo were slowly leaving Manitoba and migrating west to Saskatchewan where Canada had not asserted its authority and they could live the free lifestyle they were accustomed to. The native people along the Saskatchewan River also lived off of the buffalo and readily accepted the Métis as people of their own type.

As the railway pushed west it had to feed the vast army of workers that were building the railway, the support system, the new towns, and all of the other industries that were spring up along the route. The easiest way to feed these workers was to hire buffalo hunters to track and hunt the mighty buffalo herds of the northwest and kill quarter and deliver the buffalo meat to designated CPR locations for processing and distribution. This began to impact the balance of nature to aboriginal hunter as the herds were devastated by the buffalo hunters. The same process was taking place south of the boarder in the United States.

By 1883 the once great buffalo herds had been reduced to such small numbers that many of the natives and Métis  were having problems getting enough food to last through the winter. The Canadian government through the Northwest Mounted Police had been encouraging the native bands to sign treaties which handed over the lands they inhabited in exchange for government support and recognized reservation lands. The support from the government, however, did not supply the natives with enough to survive the harsh winters in a decent manner. Unrest spread among the natives and the Métis and their thoughts turned to the legendary Louis Riel.

Riel had stood up against the Canadian government and the British Empire once before and won concessions and rights. He had even been elected to Parliament but dared not take his seat for fear of his life. He was now living in Montana and had spent a few years in an asylum in the interlude. The Métis and natives of the northwest cared little about his life after the Red River and sent a delegation to persuade him to return to Canada and lead them in the Northwest to a better deal with Canada. He reacted quickly and positively to their request and by July of 1884 was in Batoche Saskatchewan.

Riel repeated his successful actins of 1870 and sent a list of grievances to Ottawa for redress. Ottawa failed to answer these ultimatums and in March 1885 Riel established a provisional Government for the Métis and natives but in the process lost the support of many of the white settlers. He chose the famed buffalo hunter Gabriel Dumont as his military commander and began to organize for military action. This time the results were different. Dumont and some of his men ran into a NWMP detachment at Duck Lake who were retrieving supplies and ammunition and the clash resulted in 10 dead NWMP officers. This action ignited many more by the natives and Chief Poundmaker attacked Battleford and some of Chief Big Bear's men attacked Frog Lake killing and burning down Fort Pitt.

Macdonald now reacted quickly and dispatched General Middleton with over 5,000 troops to put down the Northwest Rebellion, and he launched a three pronged attacked at Batoche, Battleford, and Frog Lake. All succeeded and the Rebellion was crushed. The main feature of the action was that they had been rushed to Saskatchewan over the newly completed  parts of the railway.

Riel and others was captured and put on trial. Eight natives were found guilty of rebellion and hung. Riel was found guilty also but his execution was delayed while the Federal Government pondered what action they might take. Macdoanld and his colleagues decided against over ruling the conviction and on November 16th, 1885 Riel was hung in Regina and thus began one of the bad splits between French and English in many parts of the country.

The Rebellion had been defeated, the railway had proved it's worth, the west lay open for farmers to immigrate and fulfil the promises of the National Policy