Louis Riel and the Creation of Modern Canada

Mythic Discourse and the Postcolonial State

Jennifer Reid (Author)


Politician, founder of Manitoba, and leader of the Métis, Louis Riel led two resistance movements against the Canadian government: the Red River Uprising of 1869–70, and the North-West Rebellion of 1885, in defense of Métis and other minority rights.

Against the backdrop of these legendary uprisings, Jennifer Reid examines Riel’s religious background, the mythic significance that has consciously been ascribed to him, and how these elements combined to influence Canada’s search for a national identity. Reid’s study provides a framework for rethinking the geopolitical significance of the modern Canadian state, the historic role of Confederation in establishing the country’s collective self-image, and the narrative space through which Riel’s voice speaks to these issues.


“Reid does a bang-up job of describing the intersection of [Riel’s] politics and [his] vision of a New-World Catholic order.”

Winnipeg Free Press

"I applaud and recommend Reid's serious and careful effort to generate a distinct and stable position amid the turbulent and vast sea of Riel scholarship and myths."

Kevin Bruyneel, Great Plains Quarterly

“A lively addition to a large body of literature that seeks to interrogate ideas of nationhood and the role of Métis peoples in the context of postcolonial realities.”

American Indian Culture and Research Journal

“Highly recommended.”

Choice Magazine

"The book provides a framework for readers to rethink the geopolitical significance of the modern Canadian state. We are also given a glimpse into how the historic role of Confederation played out in establishing the country's collective self-image, and the narrative space through which Riel's voice speaks in regards to these issues."

Christine McFarlane, Windspeaker

About the Author

Jennifer Reid received her PhD from the University of Ottawa and is a professor of religion at the University of Maine, Farmington. She is the author of Myth, Symbol and Colonial Encounter and Worse than Beasts: An Anatomy of Melancholy and the Literature of Travel in 17th and 18th Century England.

Table of Contents

Ch 1: Setting the Stage: The North-West to 1885
Ch 2: Canadian Myths and Canadian Identity
Ch 3: Nation-states and National Discourses
Ch 4: Violence and State Creation
Ch 5: Revolution, Identity, and Canada
Ch 6: Riel and the Canadian State
Ch 7: Heterogeneity and the Postcolonial State

University of Manitoba Press is grateful for the support it receives for its publishing program from the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund; the Canada Council for the Arts; the Manitoba Department of Culture, Heritage, and Tourism; the Manitoba Arts Council; and the Aid to Scholarly Publishing Programme.