In 1885 the Metis of the Northwest Territories, under the leadership of Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont, proclaimed their provincial capital at Batoche. The events that followed in the area and across the North-West etched themselves into Canadian history. The rolling aspen covered hills deeply cut by the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers are the environment that has shaped some of Canada's most significant events. This tour will take you through the heart of the 1885 rebellion, covering 3 of the major 5 battle sites. The tour includes Prince Albert and a beautiful ride along the South Saskatchewan River.
The Battle Tour
Just outside of town is a cairn marking the site of the first battle. In town there is Duck Lake Historical Museum which for a modest fee presents the history of the rebellion and the area. It is located 2 blocks west of Main Street. Three kilometres south of town is the replica of Duck Lake as is was in 1895.
Upon leaving Duck Lake and arriving at the junction of Hwy 11 and Hwy 212, cross the highway onto the gravel road that leads to the St. Laurent ferry (10 km from the junction). Cross the river on the provincial government ferry, which is free of charge. Take the first gravel road on the right, which after 5km meets the paved surface of Hwy 225. Go straight south into Batoche, another 5km further on.
Batoche was the heart of the rebellion, serving as the seat for Riel's government and the site of the final battle between the Metis and the North West Field Force who under General Middleton were sent to reassert the sovereignty of the government in the North West. The site includes the original church and rectory, the cemetery with the grave of Gabriel Dumont, the encampment of the NWFF during the final battle, the bulwarks and foxholes of which are very much in evidence. There is a museum near the church which chronicles the history of the rebellion and the culture of the Metis. There is no charge for the museum and there are guides available to answer questions.
Leave Batoche by taking Hwy 225 south for 10km to the junction with Hwy 312. Those with all terrain bikes or who don't mind extended trips on grave roads should consider heading straight south from the junction of the 30km round trip from Fish Creek. There are 3 sites: The church, now abandoned but striking as it stands alone on the prairies, the encampment of General Middleton after the Battle of Fish Creek, the site of the Battle of Fish Creek which is marked by a cairn and where the Metis surprised t he NWFF and slowed its progress to Batoche by 2 weeks.
Whether one takes the side trip to Fish Creek or not, the tour continues by following Hwy 312 west for 16km, across the South Saskatchewan River and into Rosthern. Rosthern offers camping at Valley Regional Park (3km NE of town on Hwy 11) a well developed retail shopping area and the Rosthern Cultural Museum which features the history of the local Mennonite and other ethnic communities. To journey bad to Fort Carlton travel north on Hwy 11 to Duck Lake and then west on Hwy 212.
Prince Albert - Duck Lake Tour
The tour starts in the city of Prince Albert which has a population of 40,000 and retail stores to fill almost any need. The city has a very active museum community and there are 3 campgrounds within 10km of town plus many other forms of accommodation are available.
Take Hwy 2 south from the city 26km to St. Louis. The highway travels through beautifully hill countryside as it roll to the South Saskatchewan River. At the river is St. Louis, a picturesque community with a couple of near perfect picnic sites and an o ld ornate church. Continue south on Hwy 2 until you reach the junction with Hwy 222, 16km away. Turn west onto Hwy 225 and follow it for 27km into Batoche. Tour the sites here and then ride west to Rosthern to spend the night at the campground or motel . The return trip to Prince Albert simply follows Hwy 11.