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ADD: Ballade de Louis Riel (various songs)

Related threads:
Metis music (16)
Folklore: Louis Riel Poem Surfaces (4)

Mary G 25 Jan 00 - 08:49 PM
raredance 25 Jan 00 - 09:16 PM
Mary G 25 Jan 00 - 09:47 PM
raredance 25 Jan 00 - 10:09 PM
Nancy-Jean 26 Jan 00 - 09:29 AM
GUEST,DRAGON 26 Jan 00 - 11:14 AM
GUEST,Barry T 26 Jan 00 - 04:30 PM
raredance 26 Jan 00 - 06:17 PM
Clinton Hammond2 26 Jan 00 - 06:32 PM
Willie-O 26 Jan 00 - 07:39 PM
raredance 26 Jan 00 - 08:45 PM
Barry T 28 Jan 00 - 01:44 AM
GUEST,tom mciver 15 Nov 02 - 08:49 AM
kendall 15 Nov 02 - 10:38 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 18 Jul 06 - 05:59 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 18 Jul 06 - 10:06 PM
Joe Offer 06 Nov 08 - 06:37 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Nov 08 - 10:13 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Nov 08 - 11:07 PM
GUEST,open mike 07 Nov 08 - 01:22 AM
GUEST 07 Nov 08 - 01:28 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Nov 08 - 01:38 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Nov 09 - 03:54 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Nov 09 - 08:30 PM
Artful Codger 24 Nov 09 - 09:39 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 25 Nov 09 - 02:29 PM
GUEST,Ron Burwash 15 Mar 11 - 01:47 PM
GUEST,Vernita 09 Feb 14 - 06:24 AM
Monique 10 Feb 14 - 04:59 AM
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Subject: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: Mary G
Date: 25 Jan 00 - 08:49 PM

This is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard...does anyone have the lyrics and/or tune...and or history...I guess some say he wrote it and some say he didn't...any opinions? Also I have heard that "un cananadien..oh you can tell I am a Yank...was written about the same uprising....any thoughts on that...and if you haven't heard Bill Gallaher's "the last battle" about have missed a beautiful song...
Thread #42509   Message #618373
Posted By: Mark Cohen
29-Dec-01 - 10:36 PM
Thread Name: Folklore: Wounded Knee Anniversary
Subject: Lyr Add: THE LAST BATTLE (Bill Gallaher)

Bill Gallaher's song "The Last Battle" was recorded by Gordon on In the Kind Land, as well as by Bill and Jake Galbraith on "The Grand Illusion". Here are the words, as transcribed from Bill and Jake's tape; I don't think they're in the DT.


(Bill Gallaher)

An east wind blew in the storms of time
Where the Métis lived by the winding river
For on a steel rail the settlers came
To the south Saskatchewan and the land they claimed

Oh come, Riel, we'll make a stand
Here at Batoche beside the river
Oh never mind their Gatling guns
If we lose this time, we've lost forever

Then three Métis and Gabriel
Rode like the wind to wild Montana
And on the sweet grass in a church of stone
They found their savior and they took him home

[CHORUS] Saying, "Come, Riel..."

Then the bullets flew and the cannons roared
And the Métis blood flowed like a river
Into the coulis where they ran to hide
It washed their dreams away and their spirits died


Then a silence stole across the land
The drums of war were gone forever
But in the starlight on the barren plains
The cry of Gabriel flies on the wind


Thread #86895   Message #1620442
Posted By: Big Mick
05-Dec-05 - 11:09 AM
Thread Name: Tune Req: Baptiste's Lament (Metis music)
Subject: RE: Tune Req: Baptiste's Lament (Metis music)

First off, the Metis were much more than "Scots Indians". The origins of the nation were that they mixed with many of European blood. For a brief primer on these folks, go HERE. Also, a google search using "Metis Nation" will turn up many links to organizations that likely can help you, including the Canadian National organization as well as Provincial organizations. My guess is that by using these sites as a stepping off point for inquiries, you will find your answers very quickly.

As an aside, Jeri turned me on to a singer by the name of Bill Gallaher who did a splendid song about the Metis called "The Last Battle". It has become one that I am often asked to sing.

Good luck and all the best,


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: raredance
Date: 25 Jan 00 - 09:16 PM

The Wandering Canadian (Un Canadien Errant) was written at the time of the 1837-38 uprisings. There was an extensive thread about this and the background a year or more ago so search the Forum. Louis Riel was a major figure in what is sometimes known as Riel's rebellion in 1870 on the prairies. He was driven out of Canada and spent the better part of the next 15 years across the border in North Dakota. In 1885 he was back and involved in an uprising in Saskatchewan. He was captured and hanged in Regina. Which L Riel song are you after? "Singing OUr History" by Edith Fowke and Alan Mills has three songs about Riel.

I. RIEL'S RETREAT with a chorus: O Hey, Riel, are ye waking yet
Or are yer drums a-beating yet
If ye're nae waking we'll nae wait
For we'll take the fort this mornin'

II. RIEL'S LETTER that starts: When I left you dear Henrietta,
NOt yet fifteen years old were you...


Quand je partis ma chere Henriette,
Tu n'avais pas encore quinze ans....

III. RIEL'S FAREWELL that begins

I send this letter to you, To tell my grief and pain...


C'est au champ de bataille, J'aifait ecrir'douleurs...

So is it one of these or another one?

rich r

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: Mary G
Date: 25 Jan 00 - 09:47 PM

I am illiterate in French other than what is on the corn flakes is probably his farewell...he says goodbye to his petit mother...takes out mon knife...and writes the letter in blood...


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Subject: Lyr Add: RIEL'S FAREWELL
From: raredance
Date: 25 Jan 00 - 10:09 PM

Ah, Riel's Farewell. This song was collected from a Metis in Lebret, Saskatchawan, who claimed that it was a letter that Riel wrote to his mother while he was in jail in Regina. Riel actually has a track record as a poet, having written a couple of songs, including Riel's Letter to his sister Henriette, that survived among the prairie Metis, and even published a small volume of poems in his early years. Thomas Flannagan, a scholar of Riel poetry, doesn't think that this one fits Riel's style. He thinks it was more likely written by on of Riel's followers using an old French tune. The English words are by Barbara Cass-Beggs who collected the song in Lebret.


I send this letter to you,
To tell my grief and pain,
And as I lie imprisoned
I long to see again

You, my beloved mother,
And all my comrades dear.
I write these words in my heart's blood:
No ink or pen is here.

My friends in arms and children,
Please weep and pray for me.
I fought to keep our country
So that we might be free.

When you receive this letter
Please weep for me and pray
That I may die with bravery
Upon that fearful day.

C'est au cham de bataille
J'ai fait ecrir' douleurs
On couche sur la paille
Ca fait fremir les coeurs

Or je r'cois t'une lettre
De ma chere maman
J'avais ni plum' ni encre
Pour pouvoir lui z'ecrire

Or je pris mon canif
Je le trempis dans mon sang
Pour ecrir' t'un vieu'lettre
A ma chere maman

Quand ell' r'vevra cett'lettre
Toute ecrit' de sang
Ses yeux baignant de larmes
Son coeur sera mourant

S'y jett' a genoux par terre
En appelant ses enfants:
Priez pour votre frere
Qui est au regiment

Mourir, s'il faut mourir,
Chacun meurt q son tour;
J'aim mieux mourir en brave
Faut tous mourir un jour.

(yes I know the French does not contain the proper accent markings)

rich r

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: Nancy-Jean
Date: 26 Jan 00 - 09:29 AM

Intriguing. Where did you hear the "Ballade de Louis Riel"? Can you provide a first line?

I think the other song may be "Un Canadien Errant" which refers to the time of the rebellion in 1837-1838 during which many Canadians were killed, condemmed to death or escaped by deportation. This song, according to Edith Fowke, written by a young student, M.A. Gerin-Lajoie, is about the homesickness felt by a Canadian could not return to his native land.

Here's the first verse.

"Un Canadien errant, banni de ses foyers 2x Parcourant en pleurant, des pays etrangers 2x"

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
Date: 26 Jan 00 - 11:14 AM

Raised in Montréal and now living in Manitoba, I am quite familiar with both songs. In fact, one of my ancestor DRAGON even fought at the Battle of Saint-Denis with the Patriotes. You can obtain the information you are researching at:Bibliothèque de Saint-Boniface, 131, boulevard Provencher, pièce 100, Saint-Boniface, Manitoba R2H 0G2 Tel.: 204-986-4334 Fax: 204-986-6827 Site: or try SFM 1-800-665-4443

Bonne chance!

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: GUEST,Barry T
Date: 26 Jan 00 - 04:30 PM

I'll crank up a midi with lyrics for you in the next week. (I'm always looking for good reasons to add tunes to my Canadian tunebook).

As for Un Canadien Errant, you'll find that here.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: raredance
Date: 26 Jan 00 - 06:17 PM

It would be nice to merge these duplicate parallel threads
Messages from multiple threads combined.
-Joe Offer, a bit late.
15 Nov 2002-

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: Clinton Hammond2
Date: 26 Jan 00 - 06:32 PM

Nice link Barry!!

Cheers mate!

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: Willie-O
Date: 26 Jan 00 - 07:39 PM

I don't think I'm familiar with the song, I'm hunting a bit now...

There were two rebellions of Metis, (pronounced Mettee, accent on second syllable) led by Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont (and the Cree chiefs Poundmaker and Big Bear who allied themselves with Riel against the government): the Red River Rebellion of 1869-70, and the Second or Northwest Rebellion of 1885.

Here's some links to information about each.

Red River Rebellion

the 1885 rebellion.

After the second rebellion, Riel was convicted of treason against the Crown and hanged. This is still controversial today, and there is a movement afoot to have him officially pardoned. Gabriel Dumont, Riel's lieutenant and military commander, is considered a military genius who may have invented modern guerilla warfare.

Some good songs about these times include James Keelaghan's "Red River Rising", Connie Kaldors song about Dumont--don't know the title, might be "Gabriel"--and native songwriter Willie Dunn has written several fine songs about the rebellions.

There were also two separate but related rebellions in 1837/38: one in Upper Canada (now Toronto area), (see William Lyon Mackenzie) and what is known as the Papineau rebellion in Lower Canada, Quebec. (The brigade of Canadians who volunteered to fight Fascism in the Spanish Civil War was called the Mackenzie-Papineau Brigade after these events.) Canada in the early 19th century was organized in a rigid class structure and was governed as a colony run by a strict oligarchy known as the Family Compact--the farmers and other working class got tired of this but the Mackenzie rebellion was a rather small, brief affair which was brutally suppressed. Nevertheless, it alarmed the British who didn't want to lose their remaining North American colonies, so gradual reforms were introduced which culminated in Canada's confederation as a democratic nation, part of the British Commonwealth but essentially independent, in 1867.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: raredance
Date: 26 Jan 00 - 08:45 PM

It looks like I got the other thread items over here without too much destruction.

Barry, that's a great site you've got there.

rich r

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: Barry T
Date: 28 Jan 00 - 01:44 AM

Here ya go, Mary G! The midi I promised is up on ye olde tunebook website here under the title Riel's Farewell.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: GUEST,tom mciver
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 08:49 AM

HI there. Interesting to find my song in here! I wonder if any of you has ever heard it?

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: kendall
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 10:38 AM

WOW! These lyrics are almost as interesting as RAP.

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From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 18 Jul 06 - 05:59 PM

rlr's transcription is essentially correct except for, as he notes, the accents are missing, and small mistakes in verse four. I have made the corrections, and append some material that already has been posted in part by rlr, but perhaps adding to an understanding of the song.
I will post the other archived version in a following post.

(Sung by J. G. Jeannotte, attrib. Louis Riel)

C'est au champ de bataille,
J'ai fait écrir' douleurs.
On couche sur la paille
Ca fait frémir les coeurs.

Or, je r'çois t'une lettre
De ma chère maman.
J'avais ni plum' ni encre
Pour pouvoir leur z'écrire.

Or, je pris mon canif,
Je le trempis dans mon sang,
Pour écrir' t'un' vieu' lettre
A ma chère maman.

Quand ell' r'cevra cette lettre
Tout c't' ecritur' en sang.
Ses yeux baign'ront de larmes,
Son coeur sera mourant.

S'y jett' à g'noux par terre
Appelant ses enfants:
Priez pour votre frère
Qu'il est au régiment.

Mourir, s'il faut mourir,
Chacun meurt à son tour;
J'aim' mieux mourir en brave
Faut tou(s) mourir un jour.

From "Seven Métis Songs of Saskatchewan," pp. 10-11, 27-28, Coll. and prepared by Barbara Cass-Beggs, 1967, BMI Canada Ltd., Don Mills, Ontario.
Collected from Joseph Gaspard Jeannotte, Lebret, Saskatchewan.
Ms Cass-Beggs writes: "Thinking over the recent battle and defeat, Louis Riel, now in prison, feels discouraged and alone. He has received a letter from his beloved mother but as he has not been provided with pen and ink he uses his penknife and replies to the letter by using his blood as ink. He pictures his mother's tears when she receives it and he asks her to pray for him. Everyone, he says, has to die someday, but he prays that when his day comes he will die bravely.
"In line three verse one, Jeannotte actually sings, "Vous êtes doux et fort-e!" but as this makes very little sense the line three which is sung in the majority of the versions of this song is substituted.
..........."In view of the fact that Riel wrote verses and poems all his life, and particularly during his period of imprisonment, there is a real possibility that these actual verses, or verses of a similar nature from which these were taken, were written by him.' [The date would be not long before his execution in 1885].
This version, and another collected by Richard Johnston, are in the National Museum Archives."
With the name "Riel's Song," Johnston's version is given in "Canada's Story in Song," no date, Fowke, E. F., Mills, Alan, Blume, Helmut, W. J. Gage Ltd. Mills provided an English translation.

Riel, of Indian-French ancestry- Métis (mixed-blood) or Bois brûlés (charcoal faces)- attended Sulpician College in Montreal, but was more interested in politics than the priesthood. He returned to the Red River District, where he became leader of the Métis. Although elected twice to Parliament, eastern hostility made it impossible for him to take his seat.

Click to play

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Subject: Lyr Add: RIEL'S SONG (to HENRIETTE)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 18 Jul 06 - 10:06 PM

Lyr. Add: RIEL'S SONG (to Henriette)
(attrib. Louis Riel)

Quand je partis ma chè Henriette,
Tu n'avais pas encore quinze ans.
Ma soeur, tu n'étais que fillette
Aux premiers jours du doux printemps.
Après mes travaux politiques
Vu malheurs du Canada
Je suis venu vous voir en groupe
Chez mon ami Normand Gingras.

Ma soeur tu viens faire ta visite
Au commencement du mois d'août;
En te voyant, mon coeur palpite,
O ma soeur, je t'aime beaucoup;
Reçois de moi la bienvenue
Mon coeur t'embrasse en soupirant.
Lorsque mes yeux t'ont reconnue
C'était les yeux d'un homme content.

When I left you, dear Henriette,
Not yet fifteen years old were you,
In the springtime of life, dear sister,
When I bade you a fond adieu.
Now that the fighting is all over,
In this unhappy Canada,
I've come to see you and all my dear ones
At the home of my friend, Gingras.

Here we are now, my little sister,
On this lovely August day:
Oh, how happy I am to see you;
I love you more than I can say.
With all my heart I bid you welcome;
Oh, let me hold you close to my breast.
Now that we are once more together,
How contented my heart doth rest.

Edith Fowke, Alan Mills, Helmut Blume. n. d., "Canada's Story in Song," p. 124-126, with music.
Written sometime in the 1870's, this tender little song has little in common with "Chanson de Louis Riel," written in jail as he awaited his hanging. In the book by Fowke et al., the sister's name is anglicized to Henrietta.
Another song by Riel, written on the death of his father in 1863, is quoted in a biography by W. M. Davidson. His "La Métisse" (Métis Maiden) is quoted in thread 92837: La Metisse

Other poems:

Riel, Louis David, 1886, Poesies, Religieuses et Politiques. Reprint- Les Editions Des Plains, 1979.

(Riel, Louis), [Incomplete reference- Editor?] N. D., The Selected Poetry of Louis Riel, 151pp., distrib. in U. S. by General Publishing, 1993. Quarto.

Glen Campbell, "Survey of Louis Riel's Poetry," in Lussier, A. S., 1988, Louis Riel and the Métis, Pemmican Publications, Winnepeg.

I understand a few other songs by Riel are preserved in various archives.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Nov 08 - 06:37 PM

Q sent me a tune to transcribe. Thanks, Q.

Click to play "Chanson de Louis Riel"

Here's what the Traditional Ballad Index has on these songs:

Chanson de Louis Riel (Riel's Song II)

DESCRIPTION: "C'est au champ de bataille, j'ai fait ecrir' douleurs. On couche sur la paille, ca fait fremir les coeurs." Riel's letter from prison describes his grief and pain and asks friends and family pray for him and the country he fought for
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1963 (recording, Joseph Gaspard Jeannotte)
LONG DESCRIPTION: The singer, on the battlefield, cries in pain; he gets a letter from his mother but has no pen or ink to reply. He dips his penknife into his own blood and writes to her; she falls on her knees weeping. He tells her that since everyone has to die someday, he prefers to die as a brave
KEYWORDS: Canada war prison execution foreignlanguage grief army battle fight rebellion violence separation death family mother Indians(Am.)
1870 - Louis Riel's first uprising
1884 - Riel's second uprising/Northwest Rebellion
1885 - Riel hanged
FOUND IN: Canada(West)
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Fowke/MacMillan 8, "Chanson de Louis Riel" (1 French and 1 English text, 1 tune)
Joseph Gaspard Jeannotte, "Chanson de Riel" (on Saskatch01)
cf. "Riel's Song" and references there (subject)
Notes: From Fowke/MacMillan - "Louis Riel, the leader of the Métis in both the Red River Rebellion in 1870 and the Northwest Rebellion in 1885, was taken prisoner when his followers were defeated at Batoche on 12 May 1885. He was tried, sentenced to death, and hanged in Regina jail on 16 November 1885. Since then his career has inspired books, plays, and an opera and the Saskatchewan Métis still talk and sing of him.
Mrs. Cass-Beggs got this song from Joseph Gaspard Jeannotte, an old Métis living at Lebret, Saskatchewan. He said that Riel had composed it while in jail, which may well be true for he is known to have written other poems and songs. It appeared first in Mrs. Cass-Beggs' Eight Songs of Saskatchewan (Toronto, 1963). English words by Barbara Cass-Beggs."
Though attributed to Riel, the song has no reference to him, the Métis, or to the rebellion. It is written in the form of a letter from a prisoner to his mother as he is facing execution. - SL
Although the subject is similar, and both songs are attributed to Riel himself, the plot of this one is utterly different from that of "Riel's Song." You should look at that one too, though -- and see RBW's extensive notes there. - PJS
File: FowM008

Riel's Song

DESCRIPTION: French: "Quand je partis ma chere Henriette, Tu n'avais pas encore quinze ans." The singer (Riel?) left home before Henrietta was fifteen. With the fighting over, he has come home
AUTHOR: unknown
KEYWORDS: family sister home separation return foreignlanguage
1870 - Riel's uprising
FOUND IN: Canada
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Fowke/Mills/Blume, pp. 124-126, "Riel's Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
cf. "Chanson de la Grenouillere ('Song of Frog Plain,'Falcon's Song)" (subject)
cf. "Pork, Beans and Hard Tack" (subject)
cf. "The Toronto Volunteers" (subject)
cf. "Between the Forks and Carleton" (subject)
cf. "Chanson de Louis Riel" (subject)
Notes: Tradition attributes this song to Louis Riel himself. Whether this is true we cannot tell, but the song fits the facts of Riel's life, and Riel is known to have written poetry.
Riel was born in 1844 to a Métis (French-Indian cross-breed) family. In the late 1860s, the new Dominion of Canada began to organize the Red River region. This organization would have broken up the farms and deprived the Métis of their livelihood.
When their protests failed, Riel led a group of Métis to organize a "Republic of the North-West," and set conditions for joining Canada. Unfortunately, Riel made the mistake of executing a man by the name of Thomas Scott. The government sent a force of 1200 men to clear up the situation. In August 1870, Riel fled to the United States and the rebellion ended.
Ironically, the Canadian government granted most of the rights Riel had demanded to the inhabitants of the hastily-reorganized Manitoba district.Riel was back in Canada by 1871, and earned the informal thanks of the government for helping repel a Fenian raid. But when he was elected to parliament in 1873 and 1874, he was not permitted to take his seat; from 1874 to 1879 he was under formal sentence of banishment. Riel spent the time teaching school in Montana, and for a while was confined to a mental hospital.
In July 1883 Riel returned to Manitoba to attend the wedding of his sister. But in 1884, at the request of the Métis of Saskatchewan (now being pushed out of that province as they had been pushed from Manitoba fifteen years earlier), he organized a second rebellion.
Although the Canadian army had trouble catching up with the Métis and their Indian allies, General Middleton fought skirmishes on April 24 and May 2, then defeated Riel at Batoche on May 12, 1885 when the entrenched Métis ran out of ammunition. After a trial which had something of the air of a circus (his attorneys claimed insanity; Riel himself said -- with some truth -- that he had only been responding to political necessity), Riel was hanged late in that year.
John MacDonald (1815-1891), the Canadian Premier, heard many appeals to commute Riel's sentence, but decided that Riel had to hang to keep Ontario happy. Quebec, however, was outraged, and some historians believe that the decline of the Conservative Party in Canada (until then the dominant political force) dates from Riel's hanging.
For songs about the second rebellion, see "Pork, Beans and Hard Tack," "The Toronto Volunteers," and "Between the Forks and Carleton."
Riel's career was poignant enough that it still inspires songs. Rather better than this, to my mind, is Bill Gallaher's "The Last Battle," recorded by Gordon Bok on "In the Kind Land." - RBW
File: FMB124

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Bibiography
Go to the Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2007 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Nov 08 - 10:13 PM

Some of my statements in previous posts are in error. I have, since they were posted two years ago, obtained the comprehensive collection, "The Collected Writings of Louis Riel," in five volumes; George F. G. Stanley, General Editor, 1985, The Univ. Alberta Press.
Volume 4, edited by Glen Campbell (Univ. Alberta), is devoted to the poetry composed by Riel, some 160 of them included in the volume. Some not included are in relatives handwriting, are drafts, etc.

Neither "Chanson de Louis Riel" (Joe has kindly provided a midi of the tune used by M. Jeannotte) nor "Quand je partis ma chè Henriette" are by Riel, they are the work of Metis poet-singers.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Nov 08 - 11:07 PM

Corrections to the note on "Chanson de Louis Riel" in the Traditional Ballad Index. Mr. Jeannotte did not tell Ms Cass-Beggs that the song was written by Riel, only that it was attributed to him. His version was changed in one line by Cass-Beggs; line 3 of verse one was sung "Vous êtes doux et fort-e!", but this made no sense to her so she used one found in other versions.

Louis Riel was provided with pens and paper while awaiting execution. In addition to poems and letters, several fragmentary scraps were preserved, perhaps retrieved by his jailers.
He left no "farewell" poems, but one, addressed to "Monsieur Dominique Lapointe," an officer of the North-west Mounted Police, refered to his impending death:

La voix d'un homme à qui l'on promet l'échafaud
Et dont la main s'apprête
A sonnet la clochette
De la porte du ciel,
Louis "David" Riel
Qui vous respecte, ose vous dire
Quelques mots sur l'éternité.

One of the last poems is only partly preserved, the sheet of paper was torn. It was addressed to Sir John A. Macdonald, in English-

This is
Sunday eighteenth of october
Eighty five
If Sir John does not remember
that it is right to keep me alive,
If he does not let me go free;
If he does not open to me
The Hustings to work and to speak,
He will become so sick and weak
that he will cease to be a member
of the House, and he will have to eat
the bitter fruit of his defeat
Before any cucomber
Next summer can florish
For his dish.

In an earlier poem written in 1879, a long and eloquent attack on MacDonald ran to several pages.

The Riel family papers, including many poems and other writings, are preserved in the Provincial Archives of Manitoba.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: GUEST,open mike
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 01:22 AM

i first heard of Riel thru Connie KALDOR
a Canadian singer songwriter
and I first heard and saw her
on the show i watched with
my children..Fred Penner

she sings a song about
Riel, unknown if it was
written by him or not

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 01:28 AM

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 01:38 PM

Connie Kaldor wrote "Maria's Place/Batoche" (© SOCAN), 1984 album.
The song mentions Gabriel Dumont, who after Batoche went to Montana, where he was allowed to settle as a political refugee. He lectured, was an important member of 'Wild West' shows, and after several years he returned, reclaimed his lands amd farmed. Mostly self-educated, he spoke several languages; his memoirs are interesting reads.

Reasons for the Uprising were several, but the main one was action by the Canadian government to allow settlers from the British Isles to move into Saskatchewan and take lands settled by the Metis, who were supported by others who felt threatened by the immigrants- some Indian bands and a few Scots and mixed Scots-Indian settlers who had been employed by Northwest and Hudsons Bay.

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Subject: Lyr Add: JE VIS AVEC VOUS, MA PROMISE (Louis Riel)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 03:54 PM

Lyr. Add: I Live With You, My Betrothed
Louis Riel, 1881, translation Paul Savoie

I live with you, my betrothed
Though Mother Church's holy blessing
Has not yet been bestowed
On us. Still, you wear my gold ring.
I wedded you. O my lover
In the year of eighty-one,
Close by the cockle-shell river.
Under common law, we were one.
If the circuit priest's intention
Is to honor our petition,
We will fly to Fort Benton
To gain our sin's remission.
Our hearts require ths blessing
To embolden our bond ...

For fifteen years, a lone man
God Almighty I petitioned
To grant me a good woman
Well-born, well intentioned.
*Father Primeau assured me
My prayers would be answered.
My loving Master surely
Would grant me what I desired.
Yes, His promise has held true.
I have found my heart's pride,
A woman who dispells all rue;
The woman biding by my side.
Because no priest was present,
My love, we were forced
To wed this way.
My love, there will be no shame.

(Original French will be posted later)

The formal vows were taken the following year, the ceremony blessed by Father Joseph Damiani.
*Primeau, John Baptiste, was Riel's confessor in Massachusetts.

The poem shows the deep religious feelings of Riel; few of his poems do not.
The poem also shows how Riel wrote his poems; they were dashed off as the thoughts came to him and only rarely corrected or revised. This has led some historians to call his poems doggerel, but they express his feelings and are necessary to the understanding of the man.
"Selected Poetry of Louis Riel," translated by Paul Savoie and edited by Glen Campbell, 1993, Exile Editions.

"The Collected Writings of Louis Riel/Les Ecrits complets de Louis Riel," Ed. in Chief George F. G. Stanley, 1985, University of Alberta Press, occupy five volumes; his poetry, over 500 pages, takes up volume 4 (ed. by Glen Campbell).

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Subject: Lyr Add: JE VIS AVEC VOUS, MA PROMISE (Louis Riel)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 08:30 PM

Original French of "I Live With You, My Betrothed."

Lyr. Add: Je vis avec vous, ma promise
Louis Riel, 1881, Montana.
Je vis avec vous, ma promise
Mais je ne vous ai pas encor
Mariée en face de l'église.
Mais vous avez mon anneau d'or.
Je vous ai mariée, ô ma fille
En dix huit cent quatre vingt un.
Au désert, près de la coquille
Devant Dieu par le droit commun.
Aussitôt que viendra la prêtre
Nous nous rendrons ensemble à lui
Nous irons rencontrer peut-être
Jusqu'à Benton, son saint appui.
Je désire qu'il nous bénisse
J'ai hâte qu'il soit arrivé ...
Que ce soit lui qui nous unisse
J'ai [le coeur?] du prêtre [approuvé?].
J'ai prié durant quinze années
Le Tout Puissant de me choisir
Parmi les filles les mieux nées
Une femme de bon désir.
Jean Baptiste Primeau, le Prêtre
M'a dit jadis que j'obtiendrais
De Dieu, le trés aimable Maître,
Ce que je lui demanderais.
Je me fonde sur sa promesse.
Oui, j'ai trouvé selon mes voeux
Le sujet de mon allégresse
La femme même que je veux.
C'est la longue absence du Prêtre
Ma fille, qui nous a contraints
De nous marier ainsi.
Ma fille, vous n'aurez pas honte.

Written in Benton, Montana.
"Selected Poetry of Louis Riel," see previous post with translation.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: Artful Codger
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 09:39 PM

Which of his poems have been published prior to 1923? (The remainder may be less usable, regardless of when they were first written, due to copyright issues.)

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 02:29 PM

Copyrights- The majority were published from manuscripts in 1985 (Vol. 4 of Collected Writings..., cited above).

Those in "Selected Poetry"- the translations by Paul Savoie in this 1993 volume are marked copyright. The book is copyright 1993, but permission probably available from Exile Editions Ltd., General Publishing Co. Ltd., 30 LesMill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, M3B 2T6.

I have found a few to which musical scores have been composed; I will post these because the scores make them more accessible. I will give full data so that copyright holders of the music/arrangements may be contacted.

Interesting note- Riel occasionally used the word "canock," a jacket or coat. This may be the origin of "canuck," often applied to Canadians.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: GUEST,Ron Burwash
Date: 15 Mar 11 - 01:47 PM

I was taught this song by my grandmother, it is close to the same, and i would gladly share this song music and lyrics the way i was taught by my grandmother and the old people of boggycreek and san clara, man. this song came to my grandma as her grandpa was a cousin to louis riel. feel free to call me at 204 687 4408 in flin flon, man.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: GUEST,Vernita
Date: 09 Feb 14 - 06:24 AM

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballade de Louis Riel
From: Monique
Date: 10 Feb 14 - 04:59 AM

Lyris and score of "C'est au champ de bataille..." in The Collected Writings of Louis Riel/Les Écrits Complets de Louis Riel.

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