In an attempt to stop reinforcements and supplies coming from the US side of the border to aid the Metis during the 1885 resistance, the government employed a contingent of Metis “scouts” to act as an Indigenous police force who could work with the Metis population better than non-Indigenous Canadian soldiers could. The scout force was drawn from among the men at Wood Mountain, Willow Bunch, and Moosejaw.
They were stationed between the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the United States frontier, principally in the vicinity of Willow Bunch and Wood Mountain, for the purpose of watching the boundary, as it was feared that Metis and Indians from Turtle Mountain in Dakota might attempt to send men to support the rebels.
The scouts were given specific orders as follow:
No. 1. To detain and closely examine all per sons coming from the American frontier. Arms, ammunition and explosives to be special objects of search in all baggage. All conveyances to be thoroughly searched.
No. 2. Any person, other than a known settler on Canadian soil, found carrying or found in possession of arms and ammunition or explosives to be charged under 31 Vic., Chap. 15, the information being sworn on just grounds of suspicion that the same are dangerous to the public peace.
No. 3. Suspicious characters from across the border to be charged with evasion of the customs duties, provided they have any property with them to sustain the charge. All persons who fail to give a satisfactory account of themselves are to be charged under the Vagrant Act.
No. 4. All half-breeds carrying arms and ammunition to be arrested and charged under 31 Vic., Chap. 15.
No. 5. The utmost vigilance must be exercised to prevent any crossing the border within the scouts’ limits without being subjected to inquiry.
No. 6. No such person having come into Canada is to be allowed to re-cross the border if it can be prevented.
The Metis scouts who were employed with upholding this order included:
W. John McGillis
Alexandre Gosselin, Sr.
Jonas Hamelin Sr.
Narcisse Lacerte Jr.
Jonas Hamelin Jr.
Alexandre Gosselin Sr.
Jean Louis Légaré
Official Reports of the Debates of the House of Commons of the Dominion of Canada, Volume 52. Maclean, Roger & Company, 1900 - Canada
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities