Canadian history sample research essay outline

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Louis Riel was born October 22, 1844 on a farmstead at the juncture of the Red and Seine rivers, present day Winnipeg. He was hung as a traitor on November 16, 1885. During those 41 years Riel would help found two Canadian provinces, find identity for the Metis people and shake up the status quo of Canada. Thesis: Louis Riel was branded a traitor to Canada –– but he was no traitor. He was a patriot who stood up for his people and his beliefs. He was also a victim of prevailing prejudices of his time.

Argument 1

Topic Sentence: In November of 1869 Riel, as a leader of the Metis people and the territory of Red River, spearheaded the writing of a List of Rights preceding the entry of Manitoba into confederation. These rights were not the musings of a revolutionary –– but rather that of a democrat.

Evidence, Proofs, Supports:

  • Riel was not a traitor, he was merely fighting for the rights of the Metis people and protecting the people of Manitoba against injustice (Cummings, 48)

  • In part, the List of Rights included that the people have the right to elect their own legislature and that all sheriffs, magistrates, constable, school commissioners, be elected by the people (Johnson, 36).

Argument 2

Topic Sentence: In frustration at the lack of action from Canada in adding Manitoba into Confederation, and in response to a transfer of the territory from Hudson’s Bay Company to the government, Riel established a provisional government to fill a perceived governance void.

Evidence, Proofs, Supports:

  • Despite the fact, the Canadian government saw this action as a overthrow. Riel was only establishing order in Manitoba. (Johnson, 23)

  • The United States had been trying to infringe on this territory, pressuring them to join in the Union. Riel was only protecting Manitoba and allowing for future entrance into Confederation (“Louis Riel: Hero Or Traitor”)

Argument 3

Topic Sentence: Riel was seen as a spiritual leader by the Metis which is a clear reason why he should be considered a hero in Canadian history.

Evidence, Proofs, Supports:

  • Riel has influenced Metis culture particularly in Saskatchewan. There are numerous symbols in society which point to his influence. (“Louis Riel: Hero Or Traitor”)

  • Mid-Lakes Community Coalition saw the naming of #11 highway as a fitting way to acknowledge Riel?s contribution to Saskatchewan history. In early 1999 they began working toward that goal by contacting all major town. (Thompson, 34)


Restate Thesis: Was Louis Riel a hero and martyr or a criminal? Even after 100 years the jury is still out, although it leans towards Riel as a bonafide Father of Confederation or, at least, a patriot. In all this Riel was seen by the Metis and the Indians as the "spiritual leader", despite the fact the government of Canada saw Riel as a trouble maker, a zealot and a traitor. His actions were controversial, that is indisputable, but there is no doubt he was passionate about protecting the rights of the Metis and the French. As time passes, perhaps history will see him differently, but for now, Canadian society is still somewhat unsure.

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