In the Words of Father
The original diary was
destroyed by fire, but luckily it had been photographed prior to its
destruction. Without it, Father Ritchot’s central role in the
negotiations of Métis rights to land and language would have been lost
Although his role was
almost equal to that of Riel, Abbé (Father) Noël-Joseph Ritchot, despite
being Riel’s éminence grise, rarely merits more than a brief historical
Baptized as Joseph-Noël, he also signed as Noël or N.J. He was deeply
involved with the Red River Settlement’s activist Métis before Riel
became their leader and the voice of the resistance to Canadian rule.
From the summer of 1869, when he first helped to legitimize and to
support Riel’s emergence as a leader, and continuing until the latter’s
departure for Montana, Ritchot acted as Riel’s trusted confidant,
mentor, chief diplomat, advocate, and lobbyist.
In 1965, the Manitoba Record Society published Volume I of their
publications, entitled Manitoba: The Birth of a Provincelink opens in
new window, edited by W.L. Morton. It included an excerpt of the
translated transcription of Ritchot’s journal detailing the period of
March 24 to May 28, 1870 when Ritchot was one of three delegates from
Red River sent to Ottawa for negotiations with the Canadian government.
Morton describes Ritchot as “bearded, burly, bland with a touch of
cunning, (he) was in fact the outstanding delegate of the three...
On Ritchot, then, fell
the burden of the negotiations.”
Read the excerpt