Shirley Herbert Dye
Dye was born in Ontario in 1868. In 1869, the Métis, French-speaking Roman Catholics of mixed European and Indian blood, objected to the transfer of control from the Hudson’s Bay Company to the new Canadian Confederation of the Red River Colony without consideration being given to their property and cultural rights. Louis Riel, educated as a priest and trained as a lawyer, was chosen to be their spokesman. Opposition led to rebellion; Riel and his people seized Fort Garry from the Hudson’s Bay Company and successfully defended it against an armed Canadian force. While negotiations were being planned, a second Canadian force was captured by the Métis and imprisoned in Fort Garry. Thomas Scott, one of the military leaders, was court martialled by the Métis and executed. Agreement was finally reached between Riel and the government, and terms were embodied in the Manitoba Act, 1870, the statute by which Manitoba entered Confederation. Riel, while revered in Quebec for his defence of Roman Catholicism and the French Language, was very unpopular in Ontario, where he was condemned for the murder of Scott. In 1884, Riel was approached by Métis seeking his help in protecting their rights in Saskatchewan. When peaceful negotiations with the federal government failed to produce results, Riel took drastic measures and formed a provisional government in Batôche on the South Saskatchewan River, on March 19, 1885. The federal government, of course, retaliated and, on May 9, 1885 almost six thousand government troops under General Frederick Middleton attacked Batôche. The siege lasted three days. In total, seven government soldiers were killed during the Battle of Batôche. Riel surrendered to Middleton two days later. On November 16 Riel, tried and convicted of treason, was hanged in Regina, Saskatchewan. One of the survivors of Batôche, the major conflict of the Northwest Rebellion, was Private Shirley Herbert Dye, No. 1 Company, 10th Royal Grenadiers, North West Rebellion. He was at the battle and capture of Batôche on May 12, 1885; he was also at Battle of Fish Creek in April 1885, and saw Riel brought in as a prisoner. He died on January 9, 1957 at the age of 89.