Jean-Louis Riel, (b at l'Île-à-la-Crosse, Sask. 1817; d at Saint-Boniface 1864), known as Louis Riel Sr/père, leader, patriot. Son of fur trader Jean-Baptiste Riel and a Métis woman, Marguerite Boucher. Jean-Louis Riel completed his studies in Berthier (Lower Canada), and then learned the trade of wool carding. Returning to the West in 1838, he joined the HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY (HBC) in Saint-Boniface, and three years later left again for Québec to carry out his novitiate with the Oblate Fathers. However, persuaded that he did not have the calling, he returned to his village, became a miller, and married Julie Lagimodière, the daughter of Jean-Baptiste Lagimodière and Marie-Anne Gaboury the first white pioneers in the West, with whom he would have 11 children.
A respected member of his community, Jean-Louis Riel clashed on several occasions with the HBC monopoly that aimed to suppress free fur trade with the Americans, and in 1848, with the help of a group of Métis, he freed a missionary priest accused of illicit trafficking. On May 17, 1849, he played a decisive role in the trial of Guillaume Sayer, a Métis accused of the same "crime". Heading several hundred armed men, he went to Fort Garry, disrupted the proceedings, and re-established free trade. Louis Sr. was a brilliant orator, a pious and courageous man motivated by a keen sense of justice. He had a profound influence on his son Louis RIEL (1844-1885), the future Métis chief, for whom he was constant source of inspiration after his death.