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Nov 9, 2023
The Gabriel Dumont Institute has just acquired a long-lost artifact from the 1885 Resistance. The item in question was a Hollis & Son’s Hudson’s Bay Company Indian Trade Fusil, c. late 1870s.
Last June, Matthew Weickert, Collections Coordinator for the Fanshawe Pioneer Village in Ontario, contacted the Institute about the possibility of repatriating this fusil, which was taken from the Métis or a First Nations ally during the 1885 Resistance by an Ontario-based soldier. After some discussion between GDI and Fanshawe, it was agreed that the fusil should be donated to GDI to hold in trust on behalf of the Métis.
For several years, the fusil was on display in the Royal Canadian Regiment in London, Ontario. It was taken from Batoche by Sergeant W.D. Hill of the Seventh Fusilier, North West Field Force, who was initially stationed at Clarks Crossing, north of present-day Saskatoon, during the resistance. We do not know for sure whether this fusil was owned and used by a Métis or a First Nations ally during the Battle of Batoche. However, chances are very likely that it was used by the Métis since these types of trade fusils were the main weapon used by the Métis during the 1885 Resistance.
As an example of reconciliation, both the Fanshawe Pioneer Village and the Royal Canadian Regiment agreed to repatriate the fusil back to the Métis through GDI. Fanshawe Pioneer Village employees Matthew Weickert and Dawn Miskelly worked with Institute staff to repatriate this precious artifact back to the Métis community.
A heartfelt maarsii should be directed to Matthew and Dawn and to the Fanshawe Pioneer Village, and to the Royal Canadian Regiment Museum for allowing this artifact to come home to Saskatchewan and to the Métis.