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FRIENDS AND ENEMIES: LOUIS RIEL AND JOSEPH DUBUC

This historical drama is based on true events from Canada’s Wild West that led to the formation of the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. It follows the parallel lives of two soulmates: the charismatic, polarizing revolutionary, Louis Riel, and the highly respected statesman and chief judge, Joseph Dubuc. Riel, coming from a bourgeois Metis background, and Dubuc, from a poor farming family in rural Quebec, meet and bond at the College de Montreal.

Riel wrote more letters to Dubuc than to anyone else. These letters not only maintained their friendship but also are the key source for historians of that era. Both men were highly religious.  Both survive several assassination attempts as they set up the Provisional Government of the Red River. Riel executes the would-be assassin Thomas Scott, sealing his fate with Orange Ontario.

Red River Rebellion

Insanity and Rebellion

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Both men were highly religious and suffered difficult courtships as a result of their involvement in the trying events of the time. Riel marries after two failed engagements while Dubuc’s marriage is saved from disaster as his letter cancelling his engagement to the beautiful aristocrat Annie Henault is burned in the great Chicago Fire of 1871. Both suffer from the bigotry and racism of the Orangemen of Ontario while advancing the cause of the Metis and the French-Canadian settlers.

Dubuc wins a seat in Parliament while Riel is forced into exile. During this period, Riel falls victim to insanity and megalomania. Believing that he is a Prophet on a mission from God, Reil leads the North-West Rebellion of 1885. He even makes a futile attempt to recruit Sitting Bull. Dubuc, away from his friend, leaves politics for the judiciary. As Riel’s megalomania increases, Dubuc retreats into conservatism and respectability.

Their friendship turns to enmity as Dubuc, who supported the first resistance, condemns the North-West Rebellion as treasonous. As Riel faces execution, Dubuc refuses to use his influence to save his old friend Reil. Riel is hanged while Dubuc is lionized by the Anglo-Canadian establishment.

This drama deals with the fickleness of fate and friendship as two close friends run parallel lives of involvement before faced with extraordinary events in history which cause them to realize their separate destinies as enemies.

 

Reil Hanged