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Batoche National Historic Site of Canada

The Move to Batoche

The inability of Riel's Provisional Government to obtain guarantees for the Métis in Manitoba in 1869-70, as well as the dwindling herds of buffalo, convinced many that they must adopt some of the agricultural ways of the whites or be swallowed up by eastern settlement. They looked westward to the Saskatchewan country as a place to make a fresh start. Their fathers and grandfathers had wintered there in the past, and in 1872, it was decided to establish a settlement along the South Saskatchewan River. It would stretch from St-Louis-de-Langevin in the north to La Coulee des Tourond (Fish Creek) in the south spanning the Carlton Trail, the main trade route between Fort Garry and Fort Edmonton. In 1873, Xavier Letendre "dit Batoche" built a ferry where the Carlton Trail crossed the South Saskatchewan River. Soon a little village flourished on the banks of the river. By 1885, the community numbered about 500 people.

The Métis laid their farms out in long river-lot fashion, cultivating a small portion of them, but living principally by freighting, trading and raising cattle. They were a sociable people holding parties and dances in their homes to celebrate weddings, New Year's and other special occasions, or just to make the long winters pass more quickly. The annual "la Fete des Metifs," celebrating St. Joseph, the patron saint of the Métis, was held on July 24. It featured foot, horse and wagon races (naturally with wagering on the side), handicrafts and large amounts of food and drink.