Arlene King and the Portageurs - The Ballad of Louis Riel b/w La Ballade de Louis Riel
Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont have had dozens of songs and stories written and recorded about their lives by Canadian musicians.
Here is a comprehensive listing of recordings, most of which have been obtained by The Museum of Canadian Music in Calgary:
Willie Dunn - Louis Riel, ST, LP; folk, 1971, Summus SUS 50,001; 1972, Kot'ai KOT 3000. "Louis Riel was the leading figure in the fight for independance of the Metis, or half breed nation, in the Canadian West, between the years 1860 to 1885. Riel, a very religious person of the Christian faith, and himself a half breed, was a man who believed in the self determination of the half breed nation. He was executed in Regina in 1885, and with the hanging died the hopes of tens of thousands of his people.
The only government institutions that have any real continuous interest are the various departments of justice - federal and provincial. When someone asks the prison authorities the percentage of native people occupying a jail at any particular time, the answer is always "we don't ask the nationality of the person when he goes to jail - we can't be racist". Yet, when I looked around at my fellow inmates at the Peace River Correctional Institute, I counted seven white men, and two hundred native people.
There are no treaties, no sure claim of land for the half breed people, and, unlike treaty Indians, there is no government department set up to deal with the situation."-Willie Dunn
Willie Dunn - Half Breed Blues, ST, LP; folk, 1971, Summus SUS 50,001; 1972, Kot'ai KOT 3000
Willie Dunn - Louis Riel "Who Were the Ones?: Indian stories and ballads, written and sung by Willie Dunn, and narrated by Ojibway John Yesno", 1965?, CBC Radio Canada Transcription E-797
Jacques Labrecque - Chanson de Louis Riel, "Canadian Folk Songs", 9LP, 1967, CBC Radio Canada / RCA Victor CS 100. "This is one of several songs believed to have been written by Canada's most enigmatic and controversial leader - or patriotic hero, as some regard him - who headed two rebellions in western Canada in the 19th century. Confederation was but two years old , in 1869, when the Metis half-breeds launched the Red River Rebellion against the new Dominion's plan to take over Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay Company and split it up into settlement sections which cut across some of the Metis farms. And their leader, Louis Riel, who was born of mixed french, Indian, and Irish blood, was still in his early twenties.
Capturing the Company's headquarters at Fort Garry (now Winnipeg), Riel set up a provisional government of the "Republic of the North-West", with himself as President, to negotiate new terms over the land. But his execution of a young Orangman named Thomas Scott so enraged Protestant Ontario, that Prime Minister MacDonald sent Colonel Wolseley along with an army of 1,200 soldiers to Fort Garry to put an end to the rebellion. They recaptured the Fort, and Riel fled to the United States.
Though he returned to Canada regularly, and was twice elected to Parliament, due to Eastern hostility, he was expelled and sentenced to banishment in 1875. When he returned again, a decade later, to resume his fight for the Metis, a second rebellion flared up in Saskatchewan. He was captured, tried and convicted of treason, and was finally hanged in Regina on November 16th, 1885.
Fiery, fanatic, deeply religious, and somewhat of a mystic, Riel evidently loved poetry and song, and he presumably penned these farewell verses to his mother while awaiting execution. The song was collected in Sasktchewan by Barbara Cass-Beggs and is interpreted in the Metis dialect."
Joseph Gespard Jeanotte - Chanson de Riel, "Folk Songs of Saskatchewan", LP, folk, 1963, Folkways FE 4312. "This is purported to have been written by Riel when he was in prison. In one sense the history of Riel is a romantic one although to many people he was a trouble maker, to others he was a hero and the Metis of the Qu'Appelle think of him kindly and with veneration. We drank to his memory before this song was sung (which to the writer's knowledge was not recorded before)."
Robert Missen - Riel's Song, LP comp, folk, Springwater ST-57338. "In 1870 Louis Riel led the Metis nation (mixed French and Indian people) against the federal government in the Red River Rebellion. The Metis feared that Ottawa was going to turn over their lands to white settlers. Riel's people were defeated at Fort Garry (Winnipeg) and in exile across the border, he wrote this tender song for his sister, Henriette."
Dick Damron - The Ballad of Louis Riel, LP, "Dick Damron Sings...Canadiana", folk, 1968?, Holiday 1002
Patti Kusturok-Lamoureux - Louis Riel Reel, CD; Y2Kusturok; fiddle, 1999, no label
Arlene King and the Portageurs - The Ballad of Louis Riel b/w La Ballade de Louis Riel, 45; folk, 1966, Casl CH-101
Laura Langstaff - Dumont's Rock
Bill Gallaher - The Last Battle; CD, "The Grand Illusion", 1989; and CD "The Road West", 1993
Laurier LaPierre - On the Execution of Louis Riel, LP, "The Heritage of Canada: The Most Celebrated Speeches of Sir Wilfred Laurier", spoken word, 1968, RCA Victor CC 1025
Wiz Bryant - Louis Riel, LP, "Timberline", folk, TMC Records TMC-8002
"Louis Riel" - Canadian Adventure: 1867-1967, LP, spoken word, 1967, T-55302 Canadian Teacher's Federation
Bob Wiseman - Gabriel Dumont Blues, "City of Wood", 1993, Warner Music Canada
Flutes Canadiennes - La chanson de Louis Riel, ST, LP; folk, 1980, Radio Canada International RCI 507
Dennis Lakusta - The Warrior's Song, "Crow-child", 1999, Alberta Sweetgrass
Amos Garrett, Doug Sahm & Gene Taylor - Louis Riel, "The Return of the Formerly Brothers (re-issue)" CD; folk, 2004, Stony Plain SPCD 1296
Don Freed - Ride, Gabriel, Ride!, "The Valley of Green and Blue", CD, 2005
Ghost is Dancing - Louis Riel, "Battles On" CD, indie pop, 2009, Sonic Unyon SUNCD 121
Russ Gurr - Louis Riel, "Federal Grain Train", LP, country-folk, Rodeo RLP 7119
Indian Jack (John Charles Visser) - Louis Riel, "The World of Indian Jack and His Friends", LP, country-folk, 1984, Cassandra Records CRA 5003LP
William McCauley - Battle at Batoche/ Dumont is Wounded/ Riel's Final Speech and Judge's Verdict/ The Final Walk/ Louis Riel Theme // Vision of the West/ Louis Prays for Guidance/ Lead Titles/ Bishop Richaud/ Battle of Fish Creek/ In the Asylum/ End Titles; LP, "Riel Soundtrack", 1979, GRT 9230-1080
Bill McNeil - Memories of Louis Riel, "Voice of the Pioneer: Conversations with Canadian Pioneers" LP; spoken word, 1982, Tapestry GD7380
John Millard - Louis Riel, "A People's Fame: A Collection of Canadian Folk Songs", CD; folk, 2006, Happy Day Records
Shawna Audet and the Overlanders - Louis Riel
Rick Neufeld - Louis Riel, "Manitobasongs" LP, folk, 1978, Prairie Dog Records PD 1001
Riel Rebels - "Riding High", bar rock, 1982, Sunshine SSLP 4034
Trio Lacroix - Quadrille Louis Riel, 78, traditional folk, 1931, RCA Victor 263836
Harry Somers - Louis Riel Opera, National Arts Orchestra, 1967
Thee Headcoats - Louis Riel, garage rock, 1992, Cleo 6
Diamond Joe White - Ballad Of Louis Riel, country, "Honestly, 1997
Jeff Howard with John Robison and Dennis Fisher - Riel Riel, "Stars From a Gala Night: Saskatchewan Jubilee", 1965, Lumby Productions, LPLP 115
Connie Kaldor - Maria’s Place-Batoche, "Moonlight Grocery", folk, 1984, Coyote CR 002
James Keelaghan - Red River Rising, "Small Rebellions", folk, 1989, Tranquilla TM 2
Stan Sparling - Riel Rebellion, "The Saskatchewan Story", LP, spoken word, 1979, Heritage Productions #1330
MacLeod 9 - Louis Riel, "A Brief Canadian History", folk, 2000, Fi-rinne Productions 634479454776
Singing Fools - The Bum Rap, rap, 1982, private SFM D-7040
Mike Ford - Louis and Gabriel, "Canada Needs You Volume 1", folk, 2005, Maple Music MRCD 6442
Ray St. Germain - The Metis, "The Metis b/w Sweet Innocence", folk, 1975, Gigi Records CA 741012
Drawn Ship - Execution, "Low Domestic", minimal rock, 2011, private
Elliott Brood - Acer Negundo, "Ambassador", folk, 2005, Six Shooter Records SIX 024
**check back often to find more more songs about Louis Riel posted.