LOUIS RIEL &
FRIENDS & ENEMIES
ACT ONE: CHILDHOOD
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 as students at the College de Montreal. Both resist careers in the priesthood to become lawyers.
ACT TWO: FRIENDS
During his lifetime, 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 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 Hénault 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. Both survive several assassination attempts as they set up the Provisional Government of the Red River. Riel executes the would-be assassin Thomas Scott which seals his fate with Orange Ontario. Dubuc runs the election campaigns of Riel who is thwarted in sitting in Parliament due to the Orange hatred.
ACT THREE: ENEMIES
Eventually, Dubuc wins the seat in Parliament while Riel is forced into exile. During this period, Riel falls victim to insanity and megalomania which manifests into him leading 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. This causes their friendship to become enmity as Dubuc who supported the first resistance condemns the North-West Rebellion as treasonous. As Riel faces execution, Dubuc, his old friend, recuses himself from the Queen’s Bench during Riel’s appeal. Riel is hanged while Dubuc later receives all the honours, including knighthood, from the Anglo-Canadian establishment.