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the trails of 1885
Relive the dramatic days of 1885 when Métis led by Louis Riel clashed with the Canadian Militia. This day trip takes you north from Saskatoon to the areas around the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers, the centre of Métis settlement, and site of the main battles between the Métis and government forces.
Batoche National Historic Site portrays the larger story of Métis culture and heritage, as well as the events of 1885. The fighting started here on May 9, and on May 12 with Métis forces weakening and running out of ammunition, the militia mounted its final assault and captured the village. Riel was captured, tried, and hung for treason on November 16, 1885 after a controversial and widely debated trial held in Regina.
The site offers guided experiences through original buildings, including the Church of St. Antoine de Padoue and the rectory. Visitors can wander the historic trails, weaving throughout the site and along the banks of the South Saskatchewan River, past the remains of Metis rifle pits and the militia encampment, or go on a geocaching treasure hunt.
Duck Lake is a short drive from Batoche. It is famous for its many large murals painted on town buildings that depict various his¬toric themes such as the Carlton Trail, the signing of Treaty 6, and women of 1885-era Batoche. The 1885 conflict is represented with murals of Riel and Dumont and a fallen Métis fighter, a piece you will find on the front of the Duck Lake Regional In¬terpretive Centre. In recounting the events of 1885, the centre interprets the conflict from the perspectives of the settlers, First Nations, and the Métis. Among the many exhibits are North West Mounted Police items, Gabriel Dumont's gold watch, and a letter written by Louis Riel. Be sure to climb the centre's 24-metre tower for sweeping views of the countryside.
Established in 1810, Fort Carlton's strategic location at the junction of the river and the overland Carlton Trail made it one of the most important Hudson's Bay Company posts on the prairies. Today, the fort recreates the golden era of the fur trade, although one area deals with the tragic events of 1885. By the early 1880s, Fort Carlton's glory days were all but over. It briefly gained a new life when North West Mounted Police were stationed here as the government grew concerned about unrest in the North West. Following the di¬sastrous battle at Duck Lake, the Mounties realized the post could not be defended and re¬treated to Prince Albert. In the hurried evacuation, the fort caught fire and was destroyed.