Testimony of Dr. John Willoughby
Tuesday, July 28, 1885


Examined by MR.. ROBINSON:

Q. You are a medical man? A. Yes.

Q. Where are you practicing? A. At Saskatoon.

Q. How long there? A. I have been there since two years last May.

Q. How far is Saskatoon from Batoche? A. About fifty miles.

Q. Do you remember going to Batoche about the 16th March last? A. I do.

Q. Did you go alone? A. No; I was accompanied by -

Q. By whom? A. A half-breed named Norbert Welsh.

Q. And at what house did you go to stop when you got to Batoche? A. I stopped with George Kerr.

Q. Is that the Kerr Brothers? A. Yes, at their store.

Q. Did you hear anything of any anticipated difficulty? A. I did.

Q. Where? A. I heard it at Mr. Kerr's store.

Q. How long did you remain at Batoche then? A. Two days.

Q. You went on the 16th; when did you leave it? A. I remained over the 17th and left upon the 18th.

Q. Did you see anyone on the 17th? Did you hear anything then of any disturbance anticipated? Did you hear any more of possible difficulties? A. I did hear rumors.

Q. When you left Batoche whom did you go with? A. I left with Mr. Welsh and Mr. McIntosh.

Q. Had Welsh any object in view? Did he desire to see anyone from Batoche? A. We were leaving Batoche for Saskatoon.

Q. You were with Welsh? A. Yes.

Q. Was he desirous of seeing anyone as far as he explained to you? A. He was desirous of seeing Riel.

Q. Did you go with him for that purpose? A. I did.

Q. Where did he expect to find Riel then? A. I hardly know where he expected to find him; he was informed on the road by Gabriel Dumont as to Riel's whereabouts.

Q. Did you find Riel? A. Yes.

Q. Where? A. At the house of a half-breed named Rocheleau.

Q. What is his Christian name? A. I don't remember.

Q. How far south of Batoche was that? A. Six or seven miles.

Q. Did you know Riel at that time? A. I had met him before.

Q. How long before? A. About four months.

Q. About the December or January before? A. Yes; in November, I believe.

Q. Whereabouts? A. I met him at the house of Moise Ouellette.

Q. Had you been introduced and spoken to him then? A. I had spoken to him then.

Q. You knew him by sight? A. Yes.

Q. When you met him at Rocheleau's did he say anything to you? A. He did.

Q. What did he say? A. Well, he told me the time had come for the half-breeds to assert their rights.

Q. Do you mean that was the first thing or almost the first he said to you? Did he ask you any questions at all? A. When I entered the house I spoke to him. I sat opposite to him, and very little was said for a few moments. Presently he got up and passed in front of me and he suddenly stopped and turned to me and said, the time has come when it would have been well for a man to have been good, or to have led a good life.

Q. Did he say any more then? A. I replied to that.

Q. What did you say; do you remember? A. I cannot remember what I did say - something to the effect it would be better for a man to always lead a good life and be prepared for any emergency.

Q. What took place next? A. Just at that time a large crowd of men
drove up to the door of Rocheleau's house.

Q. How many do you think? A. I would judge about sixty or seventy.

Q. Were they half-breeds? A. Half-breeds.

Q. Were they armed? A. They were.

Q. All armed as far as you observed? A. No; there were some who were not armed.

Q. Were the majority armed? A. The majority were armed. I only remember seeing one who was not armed.

Q. What were the majority armed with? A. The majority, I believe, had shotguns - appeared to me to be shotguns. They were out-side and I was in the house.

Q. This would have been on the 17th March, if I understand it rightly? A. The 18th. It was on a Wednesday, I believe the 18th.

Q. When this crowd came, did the prisoner say anything to you?
A. It was just as they drove up he addressed me. He then said the half-breeds intended (he and his people I believe he put it) to strike a blow to gain their rights.

Q. Did you make any answer? A. Yes; I replied there were different ways to gain their rights, the white settlers took a different way of having their grievances settled. He replied no one knew better than he did as to the grievances of the settlers, and he said I and my people have time and time again petitioned the Government to redress our grievances, and he said the only answer we received each time has been an increase of police.

Q. He said they had time and time again petitioned the Government for redress and the only answer they received each time was an increase of the police? A. Yes.

Q. What next did he say? A. He said, now I have my police, referring to the men at the door.

Q. Those sixty or seventy men? A. Yes; he pointed to them and he said, you see now I have my police; in one week that little Government police will be wiped out of existence.

Q. Well, what next? A. I believe I said if he intended to attack the police or raise a rebellion, they should look after the protection of the settlers; there was no ill-will among the settlers towards the half-breeds.

Q. What next? A. He told me I was from Saskatoon, and as a settler of Saskatoon I had no right to speak for the welfare of the settlers, and charged the settlers at Saskatoon with having offered to aid the Mounted Police at Battleford to put down an Indian rising last autumn.

Q. Repeat that? A. He said that I, as a citizen of Saskatoon, had no right to ask protection, because -

Q. Because the people of Saskatoon had aided the police? A. He said they offered men to kill the Indians and half-breeds.

Q. That is the reason why he said the settlers of Saskatoon had no right to protection? A. He said we will now show Saskatoon, or the people of Saskatoon, who will do the killing.

Q. Go on? A. He made a statement as to my knowledge of his rebel-lion, that is of the former rebellion in 1870, and he said that he was an American citizen living in Montana and that the half-breeds had sent a deputation there to bring him to this country.

Q. What else? A. That in asking him to come they had told their plans, and he had replied to them to the effect that their plans were useless.

Q. Did he say what the plans were? A. No, I believe not, but that he had told them that he had plans, and that if they would assist him to carry out those plans he would go with them.

Q. Did he tell you what those plans were? A. Yes, he did.

Q. What were they? A. He said the time had now come when those plans were mature, that his proclamation was at Pembina, and that as soon as he struck the first blow here, that proclamation would go forth and he was to be joined by half-breeds and Indians and that the United States was at his back.

Q. Did he tell you anything more" A. He said that knowing him and his past history he might know that he meant what he said.

Q. Anything else? A. He said that the time had come now when he was to rule this country or perish in the attempt.

Q. Go on? A. We had a long conversation then as to the rights of the half-breeds, and he laid out his plans as to the Government of the country.

Q. What did he say as to the Government of the country? A. They were to have a new Government in the North-West. It was to be composed of God-fearing men, they would have no such Parliament as the House at Ottawa.

Q. Anything else? A. Then he stated how he intended to divide the country into seven portions.

Q. In what manner? A. It was to be divided into seven portions, but as to who were to have the seven, I cannot say.

Q. You mean to say you cannot say how these seven were to be apportioned? A. Yes, he mentioned Bavarians, Poles, Italians, Germans, Irish. There was to be a new Ireland in the North-West.

Q. Anything more? Did he say anything more about himself or his own plans? A. I recollect nothing further at the present time.

Q. You say he referred to the previous rebellion of 1870. What did he say in regard to that? A. He referred to that and he said that that rebellion - the rebellion of fifteen years ago would not be a patch upon this one.

Q. Did he say anything further with regard to that? A. He did. He spoke of the number that had been killed in that rebellion.

Q. What did he say as to that? A. I cannot state as to what he said but it was to the effect that this rebellion was to be of far greater extent than the former.

Q. Did he speak to the men who were there or they to him when you were there? A. There were several men there when the cutter drove up to the door. The majority of them stayed outside in the sleighs and some of them came in.

Q. Yes? A. They spoke in French, which I did not understand very well; but I understood him to tell them to go down to Champagne's house, and I understood him to be sending them there. Most of the men then drove off and a few staid behind.

Q. You cannot say what they asked him as your knowledge of French does not enable you to repeat the questions they asked him? A. No, I cannot say.

Q. Now what did you do then? Who left first, you or him?

A. We had dinner.

Q. This conversation took place before dinner or during dinner?
A. Partly before, during and after dinner.

Q. You had dinner and what took place next? A. Riel prepared to go then to follow the others.

Q. Well, what next? A. As he was leaving he asked me, he stated personally he had no ill-feeling towards me but that I was a Canadian, but he put it in his way as a Canadian I was a part of the Canadian Government, and in our hearts there could be no friendship towards each other.

Q. Well did you go before or after him? A. He left before me.

Q. Did he say where he was going? A. No, he did not.

Q. What did you do? A. I left immediately after he did and went on towards Clarke's Crossing, at the telegraph office.

Q. For what purpose? A. To make known what I had heard.

Q. To whom? A. My intention was to communicate with Regina, but when I got to Clarke's Crossing, the wire was down between Clarke's Crossing and Qu'Appelle.

Q. How far was it from Clarke's Crossing that you had taken dinner? A. Something over forty miles.

Q. Was that on your way to Saskatoon? A. It was.

Q. Then you intended to communicate with Regina but when you got to Clarke's Crossing the telegraph was down? A. Yes.

Q. What did you do? A. The only communication was with Battleford and I informed Colonel Morris.

Q. Who is Colonel Morris? A. He was in charge of the police at Battieford at that time.

Q. You informed him of what you had heard? A. Yes.

Q. What was Mr. Welsh doing all this time? Was he present at your conversation with Riel? A. He was.

Q. Did he, in Riel's presence, tell you anything or not? A. No, I believe not.

Q. Have you told me your whole conversation with Riel as far as you remember? A. I remember one point in regard to Orangeism.

Q. What was that? A. As Riel was leaving he expressed an opinion, he stated they would have no Orangeism in the North-West. I said I hoped by Orangeism he did not mean Protestantism. He turned excited and said he was glad I had mentioned it, that he certainly understood the difference between Protestantism and Orangeism, and he then spoke of the different religions and beliefs and illustrated it by the example of a tree; he took a tree  the true church was the large branch at the bottom of the tree, and the others as they departed from it got weaker, up to the top of the tree.

Q. He illustrated his ideas of the different religious bodies in that way? Have you told me now all you can remember of your conversation with him? A. Whilst speaking of sending a telegram last fall offering to aid the police

Q. Sending which telegram? A. He stated of the Saskatoon people that he had been furnished with a copy of the telegram sent by the Saskatoon people to Battleford last fall, offering to kill off the half-breeds and Indians, and that in consequence the Saskatoon people had no right to ask for any protection; and that that was not the only telegram they had sent, that about eleven days before, I think he said, that they had again made such an offer. I mean that the people of Saskatoon had again made such an offer.

Q. Now, is there anything else he said to you that you can remember, or have you told me everything? A. I believe I have told you everything.

Q. You went back to Clarke's Crossing and communicated what you had heard to Colonel Morris, and from that time onwards where were you? A. I was at Saskatoon and Clarke's Crossing.

Q. Then do you know anything more of your own knowledge of Riel in connection with this rebellion, I mean not what you have heard? A. No, I know nothing further.

Examined by MR. FITZPATRICK:

Q. If J mistake not, you said you saw Riel for the first time about the month of November, 1884? A. About November.

Q. Did you see him for any length of time then? A. I did not.

Q. Did you - you never saw him again till the 17th of March 1885? A. I believe not.

Q. During that interval of time you are aware there was an agitation going on throughout that section of the country? A. I was perfectly well aware of it.

Q. The first time you ever heard of any reference to an appeal to arms in connection with this agitation was during this interview in March last with Riel? A. That was the first I heard.

Q. Riel was not armed on that occasion? A. He was.

Q. What had he with him? A. As he left the house

Q. I am speaking of the time you had the conversation in the house.
Was he armed then? A. He was not armed at that time.

Q. When you first began talking with Riel, he first mentioned to you

the fact that it now became necessary for all men to reflect that it is a good thing to live well? A. That was the first remark.

Q. Shortly after he made that remark he paced up and down the floor? A. That was before he made the remark.

Q. Then he began telling you about his intention to sub-divide these provinces into seven? A. He did not.

Q. He told you he intended giving the Province of Quebec to the Prussians or Germans? A. He did not.

Q. Did he say anything as to the manner he was going to divide? Did he refer to the Bavarians, Hungarians and other people? A. He did.

Q. What did he say he was going to do with these people? A. They

were going to assist him in the rebellion, before this war was over, and that they would have their portion of the country.

Q. By country, what did he allude to? A. The North-West Territory.

Q. Exclusively? A. As I understood it.

Q. Would you now indicate to us the different people he expected to assist him? A. The Irish o[ the United States, the Germans, the Italians, Bavarians and Poles, and Germany and Ireland.

Q. We have had Germany and Ireland twice? A. Well, he put it twice.
He put the Irish and Germans of the United States - then Germany itself was to come into line.

Q. Bavarians also? A. Yes.

Q. The Hungarians? A. I don't know. I don't believe he said anything as to the Hungarians.

Q. The Poles - did he intend to give them a chance too? A. He did.

Q. He also stated to you he was giving the Jews a portion of the province? A. Not that I remember. He did not mention them while I was there.

Q. Did he explain to you at that time as to what progress he had made towards completing the negotiation he had had with these people for their assistance? A. He did not.

Q. You did not think it necessary to ask him how he intended to carry out this agreement, or if he had made any endeavors to have an understanding about this? A. I did.

Q. What did he say about this? A. I tried to find from him his plans, to get what information I could, and he seemed unwilling. He took good care to unfold none of his plans.

Q. You said he had unfolded his plans as to sub-dividing the province? A. Yes.

Q. Did you ask him if he had entered into any negotiations with these different people mentioned, in order to get their assistance? A. No, I did not ask him that.

Q. You did not ask him how he expected to get these people into the country either, did you? A. No, I did not.

Q. Don't you think that would have been a very necessary question to put in order to get at the bottom of his plans? A. I believe not.

Q. You thought all these plans were very reasonable and acceptable? A. I had my own opinion regarding them.

Q. What is that opinion? Be good enough to let us know it? A. My opinion at that time was, that that was about the last that would we heard of it.

Q. You never heard anything of those plans before? A. From him?

Q. From him or anyone else? A. Nothing of that kind in regard to this country.

Q. In regard to the plan he submitted to you, did you ever hear of such a plan before? A. No, I never did.

Q. Did it strike you as being at all peculiar? A. Rather; a little.

Q. When he spoke to you on religious subjects, did you understand him to tell you that in his religion Christ was the foundation, and represented the trunk of the tree, and the different religions might be considered as representing the branches of the tree?

A. I did.

Q. Did he say what position he occupied with reference to the trunk, or with reference to Christ? A. He stated his church was the strongest branch.

Q. During all this time, during all this conversation, I think you stated Mr. Welsh was present; was he not? A. He was.

Q. Where is Mr. Welsh now? A. I believe he is at Fort Qu'Appelle.

Q. That is about forty miles from here? A. About fifty miles.

Q. When you said Mr. Riel explained his religion was the strongest branch, did he say what his religion was? A. He did. He said the Roman Catholic church.

Q. He did not say anything further than that about his religion? A. No.

Q. Did he speak anything about the Pope? A. No, I believe not. Nothing that I can remember.

Q. You don't remember anything further of this conversation with Riel except what you have stated? A. I remember nothing further.

Q. Of course the plan he unfolded to you about the conquest of the North-West did not strike you as anything extraordinary for a man in his position to assert? A. It did, certainly.

Q. It appeared to you a very rational proposition? A. No, it did not.

Examined by MR. ROBINSON:

Q. You said Riel was not armed in the house - did you see him armed at all? A. I saw him armed as he drove off from the house. He was supplied with a gun as he got into the sleigh.

Q. Do you know by whom he was supplied with the gun? A. No, I don't know. I could not say by whom it was given him.

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