Louis Riel noose strands given to Winnipeg museum

Winnipeg's St. Boniface Museum has been given strands of the rope believed to have been used to hang Louis Riel.

Museum director Phillipe Mailhot said an envelope containing five or six curled pieces were donated by the daughter of Duff Roblin, a former Manitoba premier.

Written on the envelope is the name of Captain Young, who escorted Louis Riel from Batoche, Sask., to Regina, where he was hanged for treason in 1885.

Riel had led an uprising against Canadian troops to defend and maintain aboriginal rights, believing Canada had failed to address the protection of their rights, their land and their survival as a distinct people.

Mailhot said he compared the rope to a piece at the RCMP museum in Regina, and believes it is authentic.

"The rope was burned the day of the execution to prevent trafficking in you know, macabre souvenirs. A number of these insiders may well have gotten a length," he said.

Duff Roblin, who served as Manitoba premier from 1958 to 1967, was given the envelope in 1969. It was kept in his home and his daughter took it to the museum after he died in 2010.

Jennifer Roblin remembers seeing the envelope when she was a child. It was housed in a glass case with some family mementos.

When her dad was dying, she asked him what he wanted done with the rope and he asked that it be donated to a place that would make sure Manitobans could have access to it.

She thinks he hung on to it because the needs and struggles of aboriginal and Metis people were not a huge focus during his time in office and he recognized more could and should have been done.

In later years, he helped set up a scholarship for aboriginal students to pursue post-secondary education.

The museum has a piece of rope that was found in Riel's casket, but it has never been authenticated as coming from the noose.

Riel was charged with high treason for leading the North West Rebellion and after a trial that summer, he was sentenced to death.

Despite several appeals, Riel was hanged on Nov. 16, 1885 in Regina.

Until well into the 20th century, Riel was regarded as a traitor but in the 1960s his image began to turn around.

Today, most Canadians, particularly the Métis, have reclaimed him as a heroic patriot, founder of Manitoba and a Father of Confederation.

Louis Riel Day is now a celebrated holiday in Manitoba on the third Monday in February.

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