After the Rebellion

1RWiconweb_14.gifFor the following material we turned to the Prince Albert Daily Herald of August 17, 1965 and a clipping from a newspaper, which we cannot identify. The direct quotes, from the mystery publication, came under a section called "Familiar Faces", and the story was entitled "Vividly Recalls Riel Rebellion." In 1965 Mr. & Mrs. Gilbert Bear celebrated their sixty- fifth anniversary at the ages of eighty-nine and eighty-four years, respectively. At the celebrations were ten of their children. They had, at that time, thirty-two grandchildren and twenty-nine great grandchildren, including fourteen sets of four generations. Gilbert's story shows not only a life of many varied interests and achievements, but also the changes that the Rebellion brought into people's lives.


Painted Indians and gallant Red Coats who fought bravely in the Riel Rebellion of 1885 still remain a vivid picture in the memory of Gilbert Bear of the John Smith Indian Reserve. Mr. Bear, now in retirement, was only 10 years old when the uprising started. He was attending an Indian Training School at Battleford, where he was being taught the rudiments of carpentry.

Rumors of the rebellion had been circulating two or three months before the outbreak, he said, and when it finally came, the parents of children attending the school took their charges h o m e. His parents, however, were not able to reach the school. "I was all alone and very afraid," Mr. Bear recalled, "until an Indian smeared with war paint took me to Little Cutknife Hill where a group of women and children had gathered to be out of the line of fire." From the hill they had a bird's eye view of the battle whose bugle calls, rifle shots and smoke have always been remembered by the aging Indian. The fight continued until General Middleton arrived with reinforcements and the Indians had to retreat.

Although many persons were killed in the battle, Mr. Bear remembers particularly two Indians who were brought lifeless to the hill. They were buried in a teepee built by their friends Who then sealed it so that no wild animals could get in. After the retreat the North West Mounted Police made the Indian school their barracks, A Galling gun was set up in a nearby field, trenches won constructed and holes were punched in the walls of tin building. Rifles were in readiness at all times, but the Indians did not attack. When the police left, their makeshift barracks was converted into a school again.

Indians of the John Smith and La Come reserves did not join the rebels from the Duck Lake reserve in the rebellion. Mr. Bear said half - breeds talked the latter Indians into joining them, but this was a very foolish venture.

Although skilled in carpentry, Mr. Bear's first job was as a printer with the Saskatchewan Herald, the first paper printed in the North West Territories. He attended the Chicago world's fair in 1893 and helped run the Indian exhibit there. Two years later the then Prime Minister MacKenzie Bowen stopped at The Herald, saw Mr. Bear's work and immediately offered him a job as printer for the Ottawa Citizen. The Indian accepted but returned to the reserve three years later to take up the carpentry trade. He assisted in construction of the Lacroix, Fayerman and Holmes blocks in Prince Albert. He was married in 1900 and still lives in the home built by him. Mr. and Mrs. Bear have 12 children, all of whom are still living.

His advice to Indians: Get out into civilization and mingle with the whites. An Indian won't accomplish much by staying on the reserve, because there's not enough land for everybody. The only way they as a people can better themselves is to take many of the advantages offered by the whites, such as education. 11