Battle of Duck Lake National Historic Site of Canada
Duck Lake Battlefield
Champ de bataille de Duck Lake
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Battle of Duck Lake National Historic Site of Canada is located on a spacious, 12-hectare grassed lot near the town of Duck Lake, Saskatchewan. It was the site of the first battle of the North-West Rebellion/Resistance of 1885. Located within the Beardy’s and Okemasis Reserve, the site includes an Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada cairn and plaque, placed there in 1950. Official recognition refers to the rectangular lot of the battlefield.
The Battle of Duck Lake was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1924 because:
- at this place on 26 March 1885, the first in a series of battles known as the North-West Resistance took place;
- this battle was considered an important victory for the Métis, who were grieved by uncertainty over land rights in the wake of Canadian expansion and encroaching settlement.
The Battle of Duck Lake took place on March 26, 1885. While on the way to confiscate guns and ammunition from Hillyard Mitchell’s store near Duck Lake, a group of North West Mounted Police and civilians encountered a larger group of Métis, led by Gabriel Dumont. After a shot was fired, the group of North West Mounted Police and civilians retreated. As news of this encounter spread, Superintendent Leif N.F. Crozier gathered 52 North West Mounted Police, as well as 43 civilians, and they made their way along the Carlton Trail toward Duck Lake into Chief Beardy’s reserve. Chief Beardy made it clear that he wanted no part in the upcoming skirmish, and that he did not support Riel. Meanwhile, the group of Métis had grown to include Isidore Dumont, Louis Riel, and Cree allies. The two groups eventually met, and the battle began when a North West Mounted Police interpreter, fearing an ambush, fired and killed Isidore Dumont. After 30 minutes of fighting with casualties suffered on both sides, Crozier ordered a retreat, and Riel ordered his followers not to shoot at them as they left.
The Battle of Duck Lake was considered a successful battle for the Métis. The area was of strategic importance, since it controlled Hillyard Mitchell’s store and trails from Prince Albert and Fort Carlton National Historic Site of Canada. The Rebellion/Resistance of 1885 was a result of the issues between Métis peoples, Aboriginal peoples, settlers, and the federal government; the Métis in particular felt that their claims had gone unanswered, and that their future in terms of land rights was uncertain. The Battle of Duck Lake marked the beginning of this conflict and other significant battles would occur in the eight months that followed.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, 1923, 2008.
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
- its location close to the town of Duck Lake, Saskatchewan;
- the spacious and grassed lot;
- the landscape, featuring the battle site located within the Beardy’s and Okemasis Reserve, as well as the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada cairn and plaque designating the area;
- the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remains which may be found within the site in their original placement and extent.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
1885/01/01 to 1885/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
Function - Category and Type
- Battle Site
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection