Charles Rouleau

Charles Borromée Rouleau (born: December 16, 1840 L'Isle Verte, Lower Canada- died: August 25, 1901 Rouleauville, Northwest Territories) was a 19th-century Canadian politician, lawyer, judge and writer. He served as Stipendiary Magistrate and Justice of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories, as well as Legal Advisor to the Northwest Territories Legislature.[1][2]

Charles Borromée Rouleau (1868)

Early lifeEdit

Rouleau began his legal career when he was called to the bar in Quebec on December 16, 1868. He later became an inspector for the Ottawa and Pontiac Counties Catholic School Districts.

Rouleau first ran for public office on the municipal level in the County of Ottawa in 1874. He was unsuccessful.[3]

Legal careerEdit

Rouleau then made his career through political appointments as magistrate and judge at increasingly higher levels of government. On July 12, 1876 he was appointed District Magistrate in Ottawa County and held that position until 1883.

On September 28, 1883, Rouleau was appointed to the Northwest Territories Council where he replaced Matthew Ryan. He served his first term on the Council with the title of Stipendiary magistrate. The territories then included what became the provinces of Yukon, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

In 1885 during the North-West Rebellion his home in Battleford was looted and burned.[4]

On February 18, 1888, Rouleau vacated that position to accept an appointment to the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories, where he sat for cases in the Northern Alberta District. After the 1888 Northwest Territories general election, Lt. Governor Joseph Royal reappointed Rouleau as Legal Advisor to the Northwest Territories Legislature. He held that position until dissolution of the Assembly in 1891.

With his appointment to the Supreme Court, Rouleau moved just outside Calgary to a mission parish founded by French-Canadian priests in the 1870s. There he and his brother founded Rouleauville, which they intended to be a French-speaking community. The village was later annexed by Calgary and was renamed the Mission District. Rouleau's house, built before 1896, stood until 1940, when it was replaced by an apartment building.[5]

Although an 1892 assembly vote made English the only official language in the territories, French was reintroduced as an official language in the late 1980s. By the Northwest Territories' Official Languages Act (1988), nine native languages were also recognized as official for certain purposes, including in the territorial court.

Frog Lake trialEdit

Rouleau, in his capacity of Stipendiary Magistrate, tried the case of Wandering Spirit, (Kapapamahchakwew) a Plains Cree war chief, and others for the murders committed during the Frog Lake Massacre and at Battleford (the murders of Farm instructor Payne and Battleford farmer Barney Tremont).

Wandering Spirit, (Kapapamahchakwew) a Plains Cree war chief, Little Bear (Apaschiskoos), Walking the Sky (AKA Round the Sky), Bad Arrow, Miserable Man, Iron Body, Ika (AKA Crooked Leg) and Man Without Blood were put on trial for the murders. None of the accused natives were allowed legal counsel, and Rouleau sentenced each of them to death by hanging. He sentenced three others to hang as well, but their death sentences were commuted.[6]

Minister of Justice John Sparrow David Thompson reviewed the cases but mitigating circumstances were not taken into account, and in retrospect, justice seems to have been arbitrarily dispensed.[7]

Eight Natives, including Wandering Spirit, were hanged on Nov. 27, 1885, in the largest mass hanging in Canada's history.

See alsoEdit

Rouleau, Saskatchewan


  1. ^ ROULEAU, CHARLES-BORROMÉE. "Dictionary of Canadian Biography". Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  2. ^ "Genealogy (Charles Borome Rouleau)". Retrieved 2014-03-29.
  3. ^ Gemmell, John Alexander (1889). The Canadian parliamentary companion, 1889. J. Durie & Son. pp. 394–395.
  4. ^ Mulvaney, Charles Pelham (1885), The history of the North-West Rebellion of 1885 (Otter's March to Battleford) p.109, Toronto: A.H. Hovey & Co, retrieved 2014-04-10
  5. ^ "Home of Charles B. Rouleau". Glenbow Museum. Archived from the original on 2008-01-30. Retrieved 2007-11-12.
  6. ^ Beal and Macleod, Prairie Fire, p. 337-338
  7. ^ "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online". Retrieved 2013-02-15.

External linksEdit