In her debut novel
Song of Batoche (Ronsdale Press) Métis author Maia Caron brings Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont to life in a fictional retelling of the North-West Rebellion of 1885 told through the eyes of the Métis women. Giller-nominated author Lauren B. Davis says of the novel: "This is a perspective we've not seen before, and Caron handles it with compassion and depth." Read an excerpt from Song of Batoche and find out more about the author.
Madeleine Dumont came out on her porch, squinting and wiping her hands on a cloth. The armpits of her black dress were ringed with sweat, but despite the heat, she’d pinned a new lace collar at her neck. By God, she thought, when would it rain?
The Saskatchewan wound like a great snake below the bluff, green-blue water dim in the shallows where it eddied in a gentle motion. To the south, slanting banks levelled to a grassy terrace at the crossing where the Humboldt Trail exited a thick stand of cottonwoods. Riel’s wagon train approached, and she marked its progress by a cloud of dust sifting over the trees. She turned her eyes to Josette Lavoie, who was on her knees in the garden, apron tented in one hand. Josette, who God had blessed with a fertile womb while striking hers barren.
Over the past six weeks, Madeleine had watered her garden from the river, awaiting her husband Gabriel, who had gone south across the boundary line. Even in the days of the buffalo hunts, he would not have ridden three hundred miles into the Montana Territory but for Louis Riel. Since word had come that Riel had agreed to help them, her neighbour Josette had been difficult, apt to strange silences. There might be good reason, but what kind of mother did not look up when a shout came from her four children playing at the bluff? Josette’s two daughters minded the young boys, calling out when they braved the edge.
Josette got up from her crouch in the garden and looked north with an ireful gaze. The Old Crows were on their way down from Batoche in Red River carts as they had in the buffalo hunts. Their wagon train and Riel’s would converge in the front pasture before the sun moved another pace across the sky.
“Pull the small ones, too,” Madeleine called to her before going back in the house.
“They’re all small ones,” Josette said and shaded her eyes to look south, as if a storm were coming.
About the Author
Maia Caron is the author of Song of Batoche, a historical novel about the Métis North-West Resistance of 1885. Her ancestors fought with Cuthbert Grant at the Battle of Seven Oaks in 1816 and served in Louis Riel’s councils in the resistance struggles at both Red River and in the North-West. Maia is a member of the Métis Nation of Ontario and lives in Toronto. Visit her at
www.maiacaron.com or on Twitter @MaiaCaron.
Photo credit Marlen James
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