I had one of the rare opportunities to visit Riel House National Historic Site with Parks Canada and Travel Manitoba.
We all know how significant the history of Louis Riel's life in Canada is. But this historical site is set up as a house that would be in 1886 with no future adjustments.
I learned that Louis Riel never really lived in this house. After his execution, his remains were sent to his Mother, Julie Lagimodiere Riel, who lived in this house. Louis Riel’s remains stayed here for a while before it was laid to rest in the churchyard of Saint-Boniface Cathedral.
The emotions that the Riel family went through after his death is what this house signifies and portrays.
Around 12 people lived in this small house including Louis Riel’s mother, her youngest two sons, along with their wives and children, as did Louis’ widow, Marguerite, and her two children. It was common for several generations for a family to reside together under one roof.
This devoted Catholic house has a black cross at the top of the house showing that the family is grieving a passing, in this case; Louis Riel. This mourning continued, as Marguerite died soon after of tuberculous at the age of twenty-five. The house also shows that all of Louis Riel’s pictures and mirrors were covered with a black cloth, a cultural representation of grieving a loved one.
The Catholic Religious beliefs dominated the decor in the house with numerous crosses, small figures of Jesus and pictures of mother Mary.
Riel family took pleasure and pride by sewing most of the clothing at home. They used everything that they could as well as finding other uses of previously worn clothing. The women knitted socks, mittens and other winter clothing.
Explore and learn more about Riel House National Historic Site by visiting https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/mb/riel