GEORGE KERR, sworn
Examined by MR.. CASGRAIN:
Q. You live at Batoche, I believe? A. Yes.
Q. How long have you lived there? A. I went in November, 1884.
Q. Do you know the prisoner? A. Yes.
Q. Well, between November, 1884, and the outbreak of the rebellion what happened at Batoche; did anything happen that you know of? A. No; meetings were held.
Q. What was the first intimation you had of the outbreak of the rebellion? A. Meetings were held alternately at different places and called at our store.
Q. Who held the meetings? A. I do not know, the council I guess.
Q. They called at your store? A. Yes, they called there, we were dealing with them.
Q. Who were they? A. Mr. Vandal, and Norbert Delorme. I do not know any more of them I think.
Q. When was this? A. In January and February.
Q. You kept store at Batoche? A. Yes.
Q. In partnership with your brother, John Kerr? A. Yes.
Q. What did they do at your store? A. We traded with them for cattle and furs.
Q. Did they call at your store after this? A. Yes, they always called at the store and traded there as a general thing.
Q. What was the first intimation you had of any outbreak or insurrection? A. The first intimation of any outbreak was on the 18th March.
Q. What happened on the 18th of March? A. On the 17th March there was a rumor circulated around the store that a meeting was to be held at Batoche.
Q. By whom? A. Gabriel Dumont, and Riel, the prisoner.
Q. Well, what happened then? A. That is on the 17th, on the 18th he came down to the store.
Q. Who came down to the store? A. The prisoner himself.
Q. Who with? A. There was a good many followers of his.
Q. Can you give the names of any? A. Yes, I can. I can name some. Jean Baptiste Vandal, Joseph Vandal. That is all I can name.
Q. How many were there, about? A. About fifty.
Q. What did they do at the store? A. Riel came in the store and demanded my guns and ammunition - just asked for them.
Q. What did you say? A. I told him they were up on the shelf, that the store was with cross beams and the guns were on the cross beams. I told him to take them.
Q. Did they take them? A. The half-breeds jumped around to take them, and he says who is boss here? I told him I was, and he said they have no right to go behind your counter.
Q. Were you boss there at that time? A. Yes.
Q. How did you allow them to take your guns? A. I told them to take them.
Q. What happened? A. He went away.
Q. Who went away? A. The prisoner. He told me then, he says give my men what they want and charge it.
Q. To whom? A. He did not say to whom. I told him to take whatever he wanted in the store.
Q. Did he come back to your store? A. No, he did not come back at all. I wrote him a letter the next morning to know if my brother and I could go down about three miles to find out where our cattle were.
Q. Did he give you permission? A. Yes, he sent up word that I could go.
Q. When they went to your store the first time were the men armed? A. Yes, they were all armed.
Q. How much ammunition did they get at your store? A. A keg of powder, and six English double-barrelled shot guns.
Q. Anything else? A. Yes, a box of Ballard rifle cartridges.
Q. He gave you permission to go and get your cattle? A. Yes, to go five miles.
Q. Did you go? A. Yes, we went up, and my brother and I stopped about two hours, I think, at Peller's house, that is about three miles from where the store was. When we were coming back we met a lot of half-breed women and Indians with packs upon their backs.
Q. Did you recognise any of them? A. They had some frying-pans which were ours. I said to my brother: Jack, those are ours. He said: No. I said: I think they are. I went to one of the women and asked her, and she said they had broken into the store and taken everything out. We walked on down to the store, and when we went into the store there were four or five Indians pulling the nails out of the beams. The store was upside down, and the Fairbanks' scales were turned upside down. Nothing was left in the store at all.
Q. What day was that? A. On the 18th.
Q. Did anything happen on the 19th? A. No, that was the 18th.
Q. Is this all that happened upon the 19th? A. Yes, that is all that happened on the 19th.
Q. Do you know of anything else that happened on that day? A. No.
Q. What happened on the subsequent day, on the 20th of March? A. No, I don't know. I was not allowed to go away. I promised Riel I would not leave my place of business, and I kept myself reserved.
Q. Did the prisoner give you any orders? A. No, he asked me if I would promise him not to leave my place of business. I told him I would, and I kept my word.
Q. Did you leave your place of business? A. No.
Q. Did you stop there all the time? A. I went down to Mr. Venn's.
Q. What for? A. I was stopping there.
Q. Did you get back from Mr. Venn's on the 19th? A. Yes.
Q. On the 20th? A. Yes.
Q. Did anything happen to you on the 20th? A. Yes.
Q. Were you always at liberty there? A. Yes.
Q. Do you know anything about the council that was formed there at Garnot's? A. Yes.
Q. Under what circumstances did you become acquainted with the council? A. I do not know as I can give you any information. I know the whole of them pretty well.
Q. Were you at any time arrested? A. Yes.
Q. Who by? A. By Solomon Boucher, Modeste Rocheleau.
Q. Were they armed? A. Yes.
Q. Where were you taken to? A. To Mr. Ludger Gareau's house, a French Canadian's house.
Q. Whom did you see there? A. All the men were there.
Q. Who were there? A. I cannot tell you all the names, Norbert Delorme, Charles Nolin, and Boyer who keeps the store there.
Q. William Boyer? A. No.
Q. Jean Baptiste Boyer? A. No.
Q. Joseph Boyer? A. No.
Q. A man of that name who keeps store? A. Yes.
Q. How many were in that room? A. I suppose fifty or sixty.
Q. Were there any arms around? A. They were standing at the door with those double-barrelled shot guns.
Q. Did you see the prisoner there? A. No, I did not see him, he was up stairs.
Q. How do you know? A. I met him when I went in first.
Q. Did he say anything to you? A. No, not just then.
Q. Any time on that same day did you see him? A. Yes, he came down stairs and told the council that he had always found us very decent fellows. He said, of course, they may have done something that escaped my memory, but he said if they have, excuse them. Q. Who was in command? A. Gabriel Dumont, as far as I was concerned.
Q. In command of what? A. He appeared to be in command of the whole outfit, as they say in this country.
Q. What did the prisoner do there? A. I don't know; he was up stairs.
Q. When he came down? A. He came to the council and he says, perhaps something has escaped my memory; if there has, he says, excuse them; and he says, these prisoners are in your hands do as you like with them, and he said they always acted kindly with me.
Q. How was this council constituted? A. Philip Garnot was at the head of the table.
Q. What was he doing? A. He was there, he had a book setting down; he got up and says: Monsieur Ie council, these men have come here and we want to know what to do with them; he talked like that and they came over.
Q. Who came over? A. Dumont and Delorme.
Q. Did you say the council was sitting there? A. Yes.
Q. They were in session? A. Yes.
Q. Were any charges made against you before the council? A. Yes, three charges.
Q. What were they? A. One charge was that my brother had telegraphed with George Ness to Major Crozier; another charge was that we wanted to get our cattle away from Batoche, and that we wanted to get to the telegraph officials and evade the vigilance of the police.
Q. What action was taken upon those charges? A. They could not prove anything and they let us go.
Q. I understood you to say that the prisoner was in the house all the time? A. Yes, up stairs.
Q. Did he know what was going on? A. Yes - No, I do not know; he was upstairs with the priests.
Q. He came down you said? A. Yes.
Q. Did you answer those charges? A. Yes, of course.
Q. You were acquitted? A. Yes.
Q. What was the state of that part of the country? A. Greatly agitated.
Q. Is not that a mild word, was it only greatly agitated, what do you mean? A. I mean that the whole country was excited, something like that.
Q. What do you mean by excited? A. That every man was taking care of himself as near as possible.
Q. Did you see any people under arms other than those you saw in the council? A. Yes, all around the council chamber they were under arms.
By MR.. FITZPATRICK:
Q. When did you first see Mr. Riel? A. I met him in November.
Q. Of last year? A. Yes.
Q. You were aware he was in the country from November up till March, till the fight at Batoche? A. Yes.
Q. Did you have occasion to attend any of the meetings that were held in the country during that time? A. No, I did not.
Q. Do you know the nature of those meetings of your own knowledge? A. No, I do not.
Q. Do you know for what purpose they were held? A. No.
Q. Did you at any time attend any meeting at which Riel was present? A. Yes.
Q. What time was that? A. I think in January.
Q. Last year? A. Yes.
Q. Can you remember what took place at that meeting, was it a political meeting? A. No.
Q. What kind of a meeting was it? A. A presentation to Riel of some money.
Q. Money gathered by the people of that place? A. Yes.
Q. Did you hear anything there about the Government in reference to the grievances? A. No, not a word.
Q. What took place at the meeting? A. My brother and I were invited to go to the meeting. I gave $1 towards it myself. We were invited to the supper and the prisoner was there. I guess the whole people were there. There were about 150 in Baptiste Boyer's house. There was a pretty good spread. After the thing was started he had me and my brother sit up on the first end of the table.
Q. Were any speeches made at the table? A. Yes, Riel proposed the health of our Sovereign Queen Victoria.
Q. Riel did that? A. Yes.
Q. Did you see the prisoner after that meeting? A. I saw him when I left that night.
Q. Did you see him any other time between the time after that meeting and the 19th March? A. No, I did not.
Q. Didn't have any conversation with him at all? A. No.
Q. Have had no intercourse with him? A. Not since then.
Q. Never attended any meeting held by him or the council? A. No.
Q. Do you remember a meeting about the 24th of February at the church? A. No, I was not there at all.
Q. You are quite certain about that? A. Yes.
Q. You said these people broke into your house the time you went away for your cattle? A. Yes.
Q. Did the prisoner approve of their doing that? Did he counsel it?
A. No, I wrote to him the next morning about it, and I got a letter back saying that he did not advise them in any way at all.
Q. Protesting against it? A. Yes, protesting against it.
Q. Did Riel take your part before the council? A. Yes, he took my part.
Q. Did you notice anything peculiar about Riel at the time you saw him? Did he give you any explanation as to his plans or programme? A. No, he never spoke about that at all.
Q. He never mentioned his political programme? A. No.
Q. Never gave you to understand what he proposed to do? A. No. I did not know him very well, only sometimes to meet him.
Q. At the meeting where he proposed the health of the Queen, do you remember under what circumstances he proposed it? A. No. Philip Garnot came with that paper and I put my name down for $1, and they asked me to go down.
Q. Riel you say proposed the health of the Queen at that meeting? A. Yes.
Q. Was there any treason talked? A. No, not one word.
Q. They were all pleasant together as loyal subjects? A. Yes.
Q. How long have you been in that section of the country? A. About a year.
Q. You knew that there were meetings being held alternately in the vicinity of Batoche? A. Yes.
Q. By all the people? A. Yes.
Q. You knew that Nolin took an active part in these meetings? A. Yes.