Father Noël-Joseph Ritchot

Father Noël-Joseph Ritchot became a Roman Catholic priest at the Collège de L’Assomption on the 22nd of December, 1855. In June 1862, he was sent to work in the Red River Settlement in Manitoba. When he arrived, he was sent to work in a parish in St. Norbert, he worked there for 40 years.

During the Red River Resistance in 1869, Louis Riel and the Métis people met in the St. Norbert parish. This is where they held their meetings and Father Ritchot acted as an advisor to Louis Riel. In 1870, Father Ritchot, Judge John Black and Alfred H. Scott were chosen to form Louis Riel’s provisional government. Louis Riel sent that group to negotiate with the Canadian government. Before the group arrived to speak with the Canadian government, the news of the death of Thomas Scott arrived.

Thomas Scott was an Irish-Canadian labourer in Winnipeg who worked with John Christian Schultz. Schultz was the leader of the Canadian Party and supported the claiming of the Red River Settlement for Canada. He was once imprisoned by Riel and his provisional government. Schultz was working very hard to make the public dislike Riel. Thomas Scott’s brother then had Ritchot and Alfred Scott arrested for Thomas Scott’s murder. They were released shortly after.

Sir John A. Macdonald negotiated with Ritchot and his companions and eventually passed the Manitoba Act: the act that made Manitoba into a province. Manitoba included the Red River Settlement and the surrounding area. The Manitoba Act was based on a list of rights Riel had drafted and included rights to denominational schools, laws and court in French and English. The Manitoba Act gave the Métis people the right to their previously farmed land as well as 1.4 million acres of farmland.

Ritchot continued to live and work in St. Nobert. He helped to build the parish, convent, rectory, chapel and an orphanage. He also purchased 1000 acres of land for the Trappist monks to build a farm and a monastery. He also helped the Grey Nuns develop their convent, which is where he lived before he died on the 16th of March 1905.