“Hero of the Half-Breed Rebellion”: Gabriel Dumont and Late Victorian Military Masculinity
Abstract

This essay examines late nineteenth-century concepts of military heroism and martial manliness in the context of the 1885 North-West Campaign through contemporary interpretations of Métis general Gabriel Dumont (1837-1906). Many Canadian nationalists were able to distinguish heroic values in Dumont because his military exploits seemed to conform to the philosophy of rugged, muscular manhood that many in the country and the British Empire were attempting to instill in young male citizens. The reactions to Dumont suggested that these imperialists and nationalistic militia supporters recognized a non-White enemy warrior as a potential military model who reflected a distinctly Canadian martial spirit. This depiction of Dumont as an aggressive, individual fighter, however, also sought to separate him from Métis political advocacy. Canadian appropriation of Dumont served a nationalist agenda by reframing the conflict in 1885 as a contest of martial masculinity rather than a consequence of communal Métis resistance.


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