More than any other Canadian, Louis Riel (and Gabriel Dumont) have had dozens of songs and stories written and recorded about their lives by Canadian musicians. It all started with the first song, written by Louis Riel himself while he was in prison awaiting death by hanging by John A. MacDonald and the government of Canada.
This collection contains 80 tracks comprising nearly six hours of recorded material related to Louis Riel. There is no other collection quite like this.
Willie Dunn - Riel, ST, LP; 1971, Summus SUS 50,001. "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
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."
Here is the songs collected so far:
Al Henry - Batoche
Allen Swetlikoe - Louis Riel
Andy Dejarlis - Louis Riel Reel
Arlene King and the Portageurs - The Ballad of Louis Riel b/w La Ballade de Louis Riel, 45; folk, 1966, Casl CH-101
Bill Gallaher with Jake Galbraith - The Last Battle; CD, "The Grand Illusion", 1989; and CD "The Road West", 1993
Bill McNeil - Memories of Louis Riel, "Voice of the Pioneer: Conversations with Canadian Pioneers" LP; spoken word, 1982, Tapestry GD7380
Bob Wiseman - Gabriel Dumont Blues, "City of Wood", 1993, Warner Music Canada
Buffy Sainte-Marie - My Country 'Tis of Thy People You're Dying, Little Wheel Spin and Spin, 1966, Vanguard VSD-79211
Canadian Adventure - Louis Riel: 1867-1967, LP, spoken word, 1967, T-55302 Canadian Teacher's Federation
Chris Rawlings - Louis Riel, "Northern Spirits", 2014
Chris Rawlings - La Chanson De Louis Riel, "Northern Spirits", 2014
Claudette et Jerry Carriere - "La ballade de Louis Riel b/w The Ballad of Louis Riel", folk, 197x, Riel Chautauqua
Connie Kaldor - Maria’s Place-Batoche, "Moonlight Grocery", folk, 1984, Coyote CR 002
Darrel delaRonde & Saskia - Louis Riel
Dennis Lakusta - The Warrior's Song, "Crow-child", 1999, Alberta Sweetgrass
Diamond Joe White - Ballad Of Louis Riel, country, "Honestly, 1997
Dick Damron - The Ballad of Louis Riel, LP, "Dick Damron Sings...Canadiana", folk, 1968?, Holiday 1002
Don Freed - Ride, Gabriel, Ride!, "The Valley of Green and Blue", CD, 2005
Double The Trouble - Louis Riel Reel
Doug Hutton - Louis Riel, Louis Rebel, 1970 London Records M 17388
Doug Sahm - Louis Riel
Drawn Ship - Execution, Low Domestic, 2011, Scratch Records SCRATCH #64
Drawn Ship - Gabriel Dumont, Ghost Weight, Scratch Records SCRATCH #66
Elliott Brood - Acer Negundo, "Ambassador", folk, 2005, Six Shooter Records SIX 024
Eric Voice - Louis Riel, 2009
Flutes Canadiennes - La chanson de Louis Riel, ST, LP; folk, 1980, Radio Canada International RCI 507
Ghost is Dancing - Louis Riel, "Battles On" CD, indie pop, 2009, Sonic Unyon SUNCD 121
Harry Somers - Louis Riel Opera, National Arts Orchestra, 1967
Indian Jack (John Charles Visser) - Louis Riel, "The World of Indian Jack and His Friends", LP, country-folk, 1984, Cassandra Records CRA 5003LP
James Keelaghan - Red River Rising, "Small Rebellions", folk, 1989, Tranquilla TM 2
Jeff Howard with John Robison and Dennis Fisher - Riel Riel, "Stars From a Gala Night: Saskatchewan Jubilee", 1965, Lumby Productions, LPLP 115
Jim Munro - Riel
Jim Phil Boyer - Louis Riel
John Arcand - Louis Riel, Traditionally Yours, Arcand JA-007, 2008
John Arcand - Road to Batoche, Traditionally Yours, Arcand JA-007, 2008
John Millard - Louis Riel, "A People's Fame: A Collection of Canadian Folk Songs", CD; folk, 2006, Happy Day Records
John Speam - Riel (The Batoche Campaign)
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)."
Juniper Woods - Louis Riel Reel
Laura Langstaff - Dumont's Rock
Laura Vinson - Badges
Laura Vinson - Half Breed
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
Linda Dempster - Le Lettre de Riel
Little Miss Higgins - Snowin' Today A Lament for Louis Riel
MacLeod 9 - Louis Riel, "A Brief Canadian History", folk, 2000, Fi-rinne Productions 634479454776
Marcel Meilleur - Louis Riel Reel
Marcel Meilleur - Road to Batoche
Marcel Meilleur - War Bonnet
Mike Ford - Louis and Gabriel, "Canada Needs You Volume 1", folk, 2005, Maple Music MRCD 6442
Nicholas Howells - Riel
Patti Kusturok-Lamoureux - Louis Riel Reel, CD; Y2Kusturok; fiddle, 1999, no label
Paul Henry Dallaire - La valse a Louis Riel (Guitar solo)
Phil Boyer - Louis Riel
Portico - Louis Riel Leaves The Collège de Montréal, 2006, Copperspine Records CPS 781
Ray St. Germain - The Metis, "The Metis b/w Sweet Innocence", folk, 1975, Gigi Records CA 741012
Reg Bouvette - Back to Batoche
Reg Bouvette - Gabriel Dumont Reel
Rick Neufeld - Louis Riel, "Manitobasongs" LP, folk, 1978, Prairie Dog Records PD 1001
Riel Rebels - "Riding High", bar rock, 1982, Sunshine SSLP 4034
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."
Russ Gurr - Louis Riel, "Federal Grain Train", LP, private 1970 + Rodeo RLP 7119 1971 (re-issue) LOUIS RIEL
1. When the north-west rebellion by Riel was led,
“She will never kill me, she’s my mother” he said.
Though they hung him in Regina back in eighteen eighty five,
A hundred years later, young Louis’ still alive.
Louis said that by the Grace of God, a province would be born.
He would be its founder, and he raised a mighty storm.
When a fellow named McDougald landed in with men and guns,
Louis had the metis ready and McDougald had to run.
2. Now they tried to run a survey through a meadow so they tell,
Owned by André Nault, who was a cousin of Riel.
But when the survey party laid the chain upon the ground,
Louis stood upon it and the party backed down.
Then at the U.S. border close to Pembina one day,
McDougald tried again and Louis pinned him to the clay.
When the buffalo running metis with their spirits running high,
Took the Bastion of Fort Garry with its cannon and supply.
3. Now Doctor Shultz had an army, and along with Thomas Scott,
Louis took them both, they were arrested on the spot.
He locked them in Fort Garry in a cold cell block,
And the metis stood guard with their guns and tomahawk.
Well Sir John A. MacDonald was a sitting in a chair.
Said this Louis is a terror, he’s a getting in my hair.
So he sent his emissary for to settle with Riel,
And Manitoba had a breather from rebellion for a spell.
4. Said the metis, we’ve been taken, and they called upon their friend.
They said “Louis you will lead us in rebellion once again”.
And soon the blood was flowing, and the rifles lit the sky.
The man who founded Manitoba, he was destined for to die.
Hanging there upon the gallows ‘til they said that he was dead.
“She will never kill me, she’s my mother”, he said.
Now Riel has made it back although the rope is on display.
A hundred years later he’s the hero of the day.
5. When the north-west rebellion by Riel was led,
“She will never kill me, she’s my mother” he said.
Though they hung him in Regina back in eighteen eighty five,
A hundred years later, young Louis’ is alive.
Same Latitude As Rome - Song for Louis Riel
Shawna Audet and the Overlanders - Louis Riel
Singing Fools - The Bum Rap, rap, 1982, private SFM D-7040
Stan Sparling - Riel Rebellion, "The Saskatchewan Story", LP, spoken word, 1979, Heritage Productions #1330
The Children - Louis Riel
The Jubilee Folk Singers - Louis Riel
The Texas Tornado Augie Meyers - Louis Riel
Thee Headcoats - Louis Riel, garage rock, 1992, Cleo 6
Trio Lacroix - Quadrille Louis Riel, 78, traditional folk, 1931, RCA Victor 263836
Victor Dupuis - Gone Ahead
Victor Dupuis - I am Métis
Victor Dupuis - 1885 The Trial of Louis Riel
Victor Dupuis - He's a Métis
Victor Dupuis - Written on the Wind
William Hawkins - Louis Riel
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
Willie Dunn - Louis Riel "Who Were the Ones?: Indian stories and ballads, written and sung by Willie Dunn, and narrated by Ojibway John Yesno", 1967?, CBC Radio Canada Transcription E-797
Willie Dunn - Riel, ST, LP; 1971, Summus SUS 50,001
Willie Dunn - Louis Riel, ST, Kot'ai KOT 3000, 1978 "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.
Willie Dunn - Louis Riel, "Live in Berlin", 2015, Troubadour Records (Germany)
Winston Wuttunee - Chanson De Louis Riel (Louis received a letter from his mother while in prison. Not having a pen, he took his pen knife and dipped it in his blood to answer her.)
Winston Wuttunee - My Son (a song about all Mother's including Louis Riel's mother Mary)
Winston Wuttunee - Ride, Gabriel Ride (We cannot imagine the heartache of Dumont but we have not forgotten. What they fought for, we are still negotiating. The history is our future.)
Winston Wuttunee - They Hung Him (a memorial lament for Louis Riel. We haven't forgotten, Louis!)
Winston Wuttunee - I Love My Saskatchewan (sung for the 80th birthday of Louis Riel)
Winston Wuttunee - Chanson de la Grenouillere (sung during the battle of Batoche by the Metis warriors as a battle song)
Winston Wuttunee - Come Back, Maria (We all come back to Batoche to remember and celebrate)
Wiz Bryant - Louis Riel, LP, "Timberline", folk, TMC Records TMC-8002
**check back often to find more songs about Louis Riel posted.