Fort Garry, October 11th, 1869.
This day about 2 p.m. a messenger arrived, Mr. Farmer, Chairman of Mr. Webb's party, employed in surveying the base line, or parallel of latitude, between townships 6 & 7 east of the meridian, on which service the party left a week ago to-day, bringing the unwelcome information from Mr. Webb that his further progress with the Survey had been stopped by a band of some eighteen French halfbreeds,headed by a man named Louis Riel
Mr. Webb had projected the line to about the Fourth Section in Township 7, Second Range East, and being within, say, two and a half miles of the Red River, when this occurrence took place.
He was ordered by the leader of the party at once to desist from further running the line, and in fact notified that he must leave the country on the south side of the Assiniboine, which country the party claimed as the property of the French half-breeds, and which they would not allow to be surveyed by the Canadian Government.
No arms were seen with the party, but by standing on the chain and using threats of violence if the survey was persisted in, it became evident that to go on with the Survey would probably have led to a collision, and Mr. Webb, in accordance with written instructions which I had previously given him, to provide for any such contingency, discontinued his work, and as the half-breeds would not allow him to remain encamped where he was, moved his camp out to the main road on the Red River, waiting for orders, having sent off in the mean time Mr. Farmer, as above stated.
I at once waited on Dr. Cowan, the Chief Magistrate in the Settlement, and laying the facts of the case before him, requested that he would consult with the Governor, or such other Magistrate as he might think desirable to call in, and take such further steps with regard to this outrage as he and they might think called for under the circumstances.
I remarked to Dr. Cowan, at the same time, that I questioned whether, owing to the unsettled relation of land tenure as regarded the half-breeds and Indians, and the peculiar irritation or sensitivities that existed on the part of the French half-breeds in view of the transfer of the Territory and the assumption of the Government by Canada, it would be politic to take harsh measures towards the offenders in this case; but stated that, as he and his brother Magistrate know the temper and feelings of the people in the Settlement generally, I left the matter in their hands, satisfied that they would do what would seem most advisable under the circumstances.
Before I left Dr. Cowan it was settled that he would call in another Magistrate, Mr. Goulet, and consult with him as to what course to take.