Roblin's Daughter Donates Riel Rope

By Kusch, Larry | Winnipeg Free Press, September 25, 2012 | Go to article overview

Roblin's Daughter Donates Riel Rope


Kusch, Larry, Winnipeg Free Press


Believed to have been used in hanging of Metis leader

In August 2010, a few months after Duff Roblin died, the former premier's daughter, Jennifer, visited the St. Boniface Museum carrying an important historical artifact.

It wasn't a piece of Roblin memorabilia she was donating -- but a relic dating back to the time of Louis Riel, Manitoba's founding father, that her dad had kept for more than four decades.

Inside an aged envelope lay a tiny clump of rope strands, each no longer than 10 to 12 centimetres. On one side of the envelope was written, "Rope that hung Riel." There was more text explaining how it had been passed on by a Capt. Young in 1885 to J.B. Silcox, a protestant minister, in Winnipeg. On the other side of the envelope were the words: "Given to Duff Roblin on May 6, 1969 by the grandson of J.B. Silcox."

Philippe Mailhot, director of the museum, said Monday the artifact is not yet available for viewing at the Tache Avenue institution, which already boasts the largest Louis Riel collection on display anywhere. But he expects it will be by the next Louis Riel Day on Feb. 18, 2013.

The museum already possesses Riel's coffin, the hood that was wrapped around his head before he was hanged, a pair of his moccasins, a shaving kit and other personal items. It even has a 22-cm piece of hangman's rope that, the story has it, arrived in St. Boniface inside the coffin alongside his body. But the authenticity of the rope has not been well-established.

Mailhot said the discovery of the rope strands is significant because of how they were passed down through the years. …

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