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The fact that a new railway brought people, development and industry was not lost on Louis Riel and his followers. They felt the federal government was inattentive to their concerns over land surveys, plans for mass western settlement and railroad building. By the time of the Northwest Rebellion in 1885, Riel and his followers had reached their limit.
Men of the Halifax Provisional Battalion crossing a stream near Swift Current, Saskatchewan, 1885.
Lieutenant-Governor Edgar Dewdney, Chief Piapot and his warriors, and the Montreal Garrison Artillery, Regina, Saskatchewan, 1885
Construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) had been stalled because John A. Macdonald's cabinet had refused to dole out any more funds for it, but when the public outcry arose against Riel, especially over the killings at Frog Lake, Macdonald acted quickly. He took the opportunity to prove that the railway was a necessity. The hastily formed troops made the uncomfortable journey to Saskatchewan on the CPR. The facilities were inadequate and the soldiers had to walk where the line was not complete, on foot again when they reached Qu'Appelle and Swift Current. They quelled the insurrection and thus justified further funding to the railway, enabling its completion. Macdonald later faced criticism over his handling of the rebellion and Riel's subsequent execution.
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