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Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont

(Extraordinary Canadians)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  252 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Louis Riel is regarded by some as a hero and visionary, by others as a madman and misguided religious zealot. The Métis leader who fought for the rights of his people against an encroaching tide of white settlers helped establish the province of Manitoba before escaping to the United States. Gabriel Dumont was a successful hunter and Métis chief, a man tested by warfare, a ...more
Hardcover, A Penguin Lives Biography, 224 pages
Published October 5th 2010 by Penguin Canada
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3.82  · 
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 ·  252 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Carrie Ann
May 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm a history nerd, what can I say? I really enjoyed it. A detailed narrative and interesting perspective on not only Riel, but Dumont, who was crucial to the events that unfolded with the Metis on the prairies in the 1880s (not to mention the forming of Manitoba). Interestingly relevent to read these details in light of the fact that a very recent (2013) Supreme Court decision is still making judgements to settle the wrongs that occurred in this era. Interesting times, great characters to ponde ...more
Colleen Hetherington
Difficult to celebrate Canada Day while reading this book. I needed to focus on the Epilogue to help bring it into focus. Of course, Boyden's writing is compelling, as are the events being related. The Truth and Reconciliation discussions have taken on even more immediacy for me personally. I thought I knew Canadian history pretty well and pride myself on not being naive, but I learned a great deal from this book and have much to reflect upon.
Thomas Sandberg
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
The beginning and end are as fast as the opening sequence in the film verson o Water For Elephants, but the middle which covers those two years that forever changed the lives of Louis Riel, Gabriel Dumont, and all of the Metis Nation is covered well for first timers. A quick read and a good addition to the xtraordinary Canadians series.
Feb 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Joseph Boyden has never disappointed me, another fantastic read.
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Boyden writes in a style that is smooth and makes for an easy read without taking anything away from the importance of the subject matter. Most of the book's focus is in the years around 1885 and Riel's return from exile. I would reccomend being familiar with Canadian history and the plights of the French, First Nations and Metis people before reaching for this title. The story of Riel and Dumont should be recommended reading for all Canadians.
Mar 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Louis Riel is one of the most controversial heroes/villains in Canadian history. He fought for native and French rights while the identity of Canada was beginning to form. In Extraordinary Canadians: Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont, Giller Prize-winning novelist Joseph Boyden writes about the roles of Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont during the Northwest Rebellion. As an acclaimed novelist, Boyden intertwines his ability to craft a suspenseful and elegant narrative with the fascinating historical st ...more
Gord Jones
Dec 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I don't remember how but somehow I stumbled upon a series of books put out by Penguin Publishing called Extraordinary Canadians.

There are a couple of books in the series that looked quite interesting so I thought I would start off with Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont by Joseph Boyden, an author who grew up in the same area that I did, Willowdale, which is now part of Toronto.

Louis Riel is regarded by some as a hero and visionary, by others as a madman and misguided religious zealot. The Métis lead
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canada, biographical
Ok first, I'm really wondering what I learned in Canadian history because this was a great story and I don't remember any of it from school. This could be an action/Braveheart-esque type movie. It would be awesome!

I’m not sure if actual events that occurred 100+ years ago can be considered “spoilers” but if you either don’t remember or didn’t study Canadian history and want to be kept in suspense in case a movie comes out, then read no further.

You've got Louis Riel, a religious zealot, Canadian
Jan 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canada, non-fiction
OK so I have gone about this all backwards. I ought to have read Three Day Road and Through Black Spruce first, and then compared this book to Boyden's style in those novels. But I didn't.

While I did have some general knowledge about the events surrounding the Red River Rebellion and Louis Riel's trial, there was a whole lot of which I was ignorant. In general I am fascinated with 19th century Canada and its struggles - they seem so foreign to the Canada that I know today. The way in which John
Because it is such a short book, I found the read to be done very well for its stature. I like how the book begins, where Gabriel goes in search of Louis in the Montanas and the efforts he goes through to find this man. I like how Mr. Boyden writes this part. In terms of Gabriel Dumont, (I've not read any of his biographies), I learned more than I knew before about this Métis man. In terms of Louis, it is sad that this man suffered as he he naively thought that the government and God w ...more
Daniel Kukwa
Jun 04, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book left me feeling extremely ambivalent. It's not really a potted biography of Riel and Dumont; it's more the story of the 1885 Northwest Rebellion through Dumont's eyes. At least, I think it is, because if it's through Josephy Boyden's leaves me scratching my head. in particular, the demonization of John A. MacDonald, and the depiction of Louis Riel as a pitiable figure, leave a terrible after-taste in my mouth. I'm simply not sure what the main thrust of this work was i ...more
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Hmmmm... wanted to learn more about this chapter in Canadian history, and love Joseph Boyden's books. Just had a feeling about 1/3 of the way through that it was so slanted to "poor Metis" and "evil Canadians".
Probably was the case - I don't doubt the racism and abuse that is endemic in our political system to Native Peoples in Canada, but this just felt like Boyden wasn't really balanced. Other than one sentence to the effect that "John A." [Macdonald] was being pressured to build the railway t

A powerful book, one that gathers nearly all of the strands of Canadian history and weaves them into one whole. Just as the Metis themselves gather so many parts of Canada into themselves. Over the past few decades, since the teachers first started talking about Canadian history, I've layered facts and theories onto my experiences of Canada today. This book somehow connects them all even if only for this one, narrow event.

I wish all Canadians would read this book.

It is powerfully written. Boyd
Jul 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
It was just OK given the fact I was expecting more from the author who was an award winning Canadian novelist. It was written from either Louis's or Gabriel's viewpoint so it sympathized the Métis issues and portrayed the Prime Minister Sir John A. McDonald and the Canadian government as the corrupt and evil empire. Yes, the Canadian government failed miserably with the native and Métis plight, but to be fair the young government was dealing with American expansionism and building a new nation a ...more
Dave Layzell
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
I found this book intriguing in the way Boyden causes us to consider Riel’s larger than life personality, the question of his sanity, the depth of his moral character and how this amazing character and his friend Gabriel Dumont tried to protect their people from the unrelenting westward march of the Canadian government. As Boyden says in his epilogue, the Riel story is about progress trampling rights, and it should serve as a reminder that progress should serve us not have us serve it. A valuabl ...more
Jan 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Boyden wrote this book as part of the Extraordinary Canadian series and is a departure from his two great novels. A lot of Canadian history about the Metis is packed into the book. Both Riel and Dumont fought long and hard for the rights and lands of the Metis. Unfortunately their fight was in vain.
Jocelyn Beatty
Sep 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Through both an important history lesson and a reflection on how the events of 1885 influence modern-day Indigenous-Canada relations, Joseph Boyden well represents a complex dark mark in Canada's history.
Feb 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting history of Louis Riel. I knew very little about this part of Canadian history, so it's good to learn some more. And, as a bonus, it is written by Joseph Boyden, so the writing is superb.
David Lester
Dec 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Read this book while I was visiting Cuba. Seemed appropriate in the land of Che Guevara. A gripping, well done re-counting of the tragedy of the Metis, Gabriel Dumont, Louis Riel and the brutality of the Canadian government at the time.
Mar 06, 2013 rated it liked it
A short review for what I thought was just a rehash of everything I've ever read on Dumont and Riel. I thought it might be longer, and more descriptive, with more imaginative storytelling that I know Joseph Boyden can provide, but I was a bit disappointed.
Stirring narrative of the two men who dared to think there might be justice and equality for the Metis and Indians. A concise evocative telling of those ignoble days.
Dec 10, 2011 marked it as didn-t-finish
need to finish this book
Marc Lapensée
Nov 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
An eye opener for the Métis.
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian, non-fiction
I'm sure there is a lot more info to the story, but this is a great overview of the Metis struggle.
Jeffrey  Sylvester
Nov 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book was excellent particularly from the trial onward. I can see why Boyden is an acclaimed novelist. The epilogue addition in comparison with the rest of the series is great as well.
Joel Sparks
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Boyden never disappoints.
Carolyn Harris
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A vivid dual biography of Gabriel Dumont and Louis Riel that centres around the North-West Rebellion of 1885 from the perspective of Dumont then the trial of Louis Riel. I have visited Duck Lake and Batoche in Saskatchewan and could picture the setting. While Boyden focuses closely on the experiences and worldview of these two Metis leaders, the book also discusses the wider impact of the Red River and North-West Rebellions on the development of Canada and the history of warfare. While Dumont co ...more
Aug 03, 2017 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book.

Firstly, Joseph Boyden is an incredibly problematic author given the recent issue surrounding his indigenity. So there's that. And perhaps that's why it felt like he never quiet captured the Metis voice. Boyden is a fantastic writer, despite everything, but it just didn't feel quite right. There were incredibly beautiful moments, some that truly made me teary. Other times it felt like a drag to get through the content.

It certainly filled some gaps in my kn
Rick Scott
Oct 29, 2017 rated it liked it
A good broad overview of colonialism in Western Canada in the 1800's with the Riel rebellion as a backdrop. I found that the characters could have been developed a little more, with explanations why Riel was hospitalized, the fight with the Orangemen, and the meanness of MacDonald to try in a Northwest court as opposed to a Manitoba court, where capital punishment was allowed.
Riley Haas
Jan 05, 2017 rated it liked it
At first, I found the style fairly jarring. This was not what I was expecting. And I am not sure it's entirely appropriate, certainly if you are looking for a rigourous historical study. But, as I read it, I found it worked well enough. Well enough that it triggered my own creative ambitions, much like the other book I read in this series.
Where you read it here or somewhere else, the story of the Metis in the "North West" is tragic. This version, which emphasizes the plans of Dumont and Riel, is
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Joseph Boyden is a Canadian novelist and short story writer.

He grew up in Willowdale, North York, Ontario and attended the Jesuit-run Brebeuf College School. Boyden's father Raymond Wilfrid Boyden was a medical officer renowned for his bravery, who was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and was the highest-decorated medical officer of World War II.

Boyden, of Irish, Scottish and Métis heritage

Other books in the series

Extraordinary Canadians (1 - 10 of 16 books)
  • Tommy Douglas
  • Extraordinary Canadians: L.M. Montgomery
  • René Lévesque
  • Maurice Richard
  • Mordecai Richler
  • Stephen Leacock
  • Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work!
  • Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine and Robert Baldwin
  • Emily Carr
  • Norman Bethune (Extraordinary Canadians)