The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.
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The murder that doomed Louis Riel
The Sarnia Observer, April 1,
NEWS FROM RED RIVER
The latest news of any importance from Red River, is the particulars of
the shooting, by the usurper Riel, of a Canadian of the name Thomas Scot, for
alleged faithlessness to the Provisional Government. It appears Scott was
one of the imprisoned Canadians, but had been released on condition that he
would not take up arms against the insurgents, a promise to this effect having
been extorted from him as the condition of his liberation.
This was during the
time the Boulton-Schultz movement was in progress, and it seems Scott, in
all probability having his temper excited by the conduct of Riel towards those
who had been his fellow prisoners, and anxious to secure their liberation, and
the downfall of this upstart French half-breed, joined the movement referred to,
on the evening of the same day on which his release took place. He was captured
with others of Major Boulton's party, when the sally took place from the Fort a
few days afterwards.
Being thus found in arms against Riel's usurped authority,
it was determined to try him by Court-martial. The result, as might have been
expected was, that he was found guilty, and sentenced to be shot; and on the
14th of March, he was actually brought out and shot in front of the
---- Since writing the above, we learn by the Globe of yesterday
that four Canadians who left Fort Garry towards the end of February, had arrived
in St. Paul on Tuesday last; and they report that the mass of the people have no
sympathy with Riel or his revolution, and that nothing but the lack of arms and
an authorized leader prevented the loyalists from putting down the insurrection.
They are on their way to Ottawa to urge upon the government the necessity of
taking prompt steps to extend protection to the settlers, the bulk of whom are
staunchly loyal. They state positively that Scott was not paroled, but an
escaped prisoners (sic), who afterwards joined Boulton's party; and that Riel
had him shot because he was an Orangeman and obnoxious to the priesthood, and
that the priests favoured his execution.
(Halifax) Morning Chronicle, April 21, 1870
Further Particulars of the Execution of Scott
The Toronto "Telegraph" which has gone wild over this Red River
business, publishes the following statement of the manner of Scott's death,
received from a gentleman just arrived from Red River: ----
Scott, who was a
fearless, brave, manly fellow, was continually defying Riel. On one occasion he
shook his fist in Riel's face , saying, "If we ever meet on equal terms I will
take the worth of this imprisonment out of your hide."
One who was standing by
at the time tells me that Riel's usual swagger dwindled into tremulous fear
before the defiant words and gestures of young Scott.
His dispatch was shortly
after decided upon, and a so-called military tribunal was convened, the members
of which, with one exception, decided that Scott should be shot. One
Lepine, the adjutant, and, of course, the tool of Riel, was the presiding worthy
of that tribunal. The decision was arrived at six o'clock, p.m., and it was
decided to carry out the sentence at an early hour the next day.
Scott was not
apprised of this until about an hour before the time fixed for his execution,
and when he did hear of it he laughed at it, believing it to be but another
specimen of Riel's previous unexecuted threats.
In the meantime Rev. Mr. Young
had supplicated Riel, and had obtained a reprieve until noon, at which time Riel
swore he must die. At noon he was brought out in front of Fort Garry
blind-folded and placed in a kneeling position, his hands and knees bound
together tightly, the hands being bound behind his back.
Six of Riel's
half-drunken adherents were detailed to execute him. The words were given and
the shots were fired intermittently, so bungling or so drunken were the
murderers. This was further indicated by the fact that but four of the bullets
entered his body, and none of these touched a vital part. Poor Scott fell over
on his side on the snow, writhing terribly. When it was seen that life was not
extinct, one of the fellows pulled out his revolver and placed the muzzle close
to his right ear and discharged it, but the ball glanced through the jaw and
emerged from the mouth without touching the brain; and while it probably
increased the anguish, it did not hasten death. The writhing, contortionizing
body was then picked up and thrown into a rough box, which was about a foot too
short, and which was carried into the Fort and placed behind one of the
bastions. This occupied about three-quarters of an hour.
At half-past six
o'clock, nearly six hours afterwards, a file of men sent to bury him found so
strong was the vital tenacity of the man that life was not yet extinct. and the
intermittent workings and jerkings of the muscles denoted that his horrible
pains had not ceased. One of the burying party ran away affrighted to Riel, who
ordered them to blow his brains out and be d____d to him. This order was obeyed
and poor Scott, who was the essence of bravery, manliness, and fearlessness paid
his last reckoning and died for his country a death---which would have been
considered a crime if rendered to a dog.
The unusual strength of the man was
indicated by the fact the the spasmodic writhings of the nether limbs had broken
the foot board of his coffin away from the nail fastenings. A more horrible
death in these days of civilization is hard to conceive.
Father Richot was privy
to his murder, and approved of it, if, indeed, he did not actually inspire it. I
have had ample evidence of an indirect, but conclusive character that this is
correct. One word from him would have saved poor Scott's life. That word
remained unuttered; and yet the Canadian government, I hear, propose to treat
with Richot, who is quite as much accountable for Scott's murder as is Riel, and
indeed actually and unconvincingly expresses his avowal of its necessity and its
legality. He says that it was absolutely necessary for state reasons.
Ottawa Citizen, Jan. 11,
GRAVE OF SCOTT
After 34 years Silence the Disposition of His Body is Confessed
Winnipeg, Jan. 19---The secret of the disposal of the remains of Thomas
Scott, Riel's victim, has been revealed by a rebel lieutenant after 34 years
This man is today a well-known Manitoban but there are reasons why
his name should not be given.
He met Mr. McFarlane, who was a Hudson's Bay
factor at the time of the Riel rebellion, at the funeral of Pierre D'Eschambault
yesterday. Riel's confederate divulged to Mr. McFarlane that after the murder a
grave had been dug within the fort, and a coffin supposed to contain the body
lowered in the presence of a battalion of Riel's soldiers. But Scott's remains
were not in that coffin, the mock interment being but a ruse on the part of Riel
who did not choose to trust many of his followers with this knowledge.
After the mock interment the body was dragged by a few trusty men to the bank of
the Red River and at a point near where the Broadway bridge now stands was put
through a hole in the ice and sunk by means of a weight tied about the neck.
This weight was a Hudson Bay grindstone.
Mr. McFarlane believes that an
investigation will reveal this grindstone and perhaps of bones of poor Scott.
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