Gabriel Dumont: Li Chef Michif In Images and In Words

2 March 2012

Gabriel Dumont: La Chef Michif in Images and In Words
by Darren R. Préfontaine
Published by the Gabriel Dumont Institute
Review by Chris Ewing-Weisz
$65.00 ISBN 978-0-920915-87-5

On postage stamps and place mats, bronze plaques and sculpture, Gabriel Dumont, military leader of Riel’s 1885 Rebellion, continues to be remembered. In recent years he has been freshly appreciated as a genuine community leader, and a touchstone of Métis identity. Now he is the subject of a large, colourful, coffee-table anthology from the Gabriel Dumont Institute. Drawing together a wealth of photographs, artwork, archival documents, artifacts from his life, and newspaper accounts past and present, it explores how Dumont has been perceived through time and by different individuals and communities.

Browsing these pages, you will see Dumont through many different eyes: Métis and settler, government and military, French and English Canadian, American and British. You will see Dumont pictured with hostile bitterness, racist suspicion, equally racist romanticism, revolutionary fervor, political pragmatism, and more.

You will also discover a wealth of period detail: the difference between French and English billiard tables; how bison hunters reloaded on the fly (and sometimes lost fingers); war reporting prior to instant communications; and Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show.

This is a treasury of material whose originals are scattered from Calgary to Ottawa and Prince Albert to Montana, presented in an easily browsed format that is accessible to non-specialists. This book is a remarkable achievement. And if it whets your appetite for more, the bibliography includes many dozens of books and websites where you can continue to explore the story of a remarkable man and his pivotal moment in Saskatchewan – and Canadian – history.


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