Library and Archives Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Institutional links

ARCHIVED - Canadian Confederation

Archived Content

This archived Web page remains online for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. This page will not be altered or updated. Web pages that are archived on the Internet are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats of this page on the Contact Us page.


John Black

(March 11, 1817 - February 3, 1879)

As one of the representatives named by the provisional government to defend the interests of the Red River colony, Judge John Black was called to play a major role in the events of 1869-1870 which led to Manitoba's entry into Confederation.

John Black arrived in the Red River colony in 1839 as clerk to the General Quarterly Court of Assiniboia. He was also an assistant to the Recorder of Rupert's Land and worked in the offices of the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1845, he married the daughter of the governor of the district of Assiniboia and, three years later, was named chief trader by the Hudson's Bay Company. From 1850 to 1852, he was chief accountant of the Upper Red River district.

After a brief stay in Scotland, and probably following his wife's death in 1854, John Black left the colony to work as a public servant in Australia. He remained there until 1861. At that time, he was named president of the General Quarterly Court of Assiniboia, a position he held for eight years.

In 1869-1870, John Black was acting governor and, as such, called Louis Riel to appear before the Council of Assiniboia and explain his refusal to allow Lieutenant-Governor McDougall to enter the Red River colony.

John Black was also secretary, then chairman, of the conventions from which the various "lists of rights" would emerge. He believed that a council should be nominated to supervise the transition of the colony's status to that of province. He would never really be convinced of the need for resistance, for the conventions and for the "lists of rights". His participation was motivated more by a desire for a peaceful resolution of the Manitoba question.

When the provisional government named Black, together with Father Ritchot and Alfred H. Scott, to defend the interests of the colony before the federal government, Mgr. Taché would have to convince him to be the spokesperson for the anglophone population in the colony.


Manitoba : The birth of a province. -- Ed. W. L. Morton. -- [Winnipeg] : Manitoba Record Society, 1984. -- P. xix

Dorge, Lionel. -- "John Black". -- Dictionnaire biographique du Canada. -- vol. X. -- [Québec] : Presses de l'Université Laval, 1983. -- P. 74-75

Knox, Olive. --  John Black of Old Kildonan. -- Toronto : Ryerson Press, 1958. -- 198 p.

Prud'homme, Louis-Arthur. -- Monseigneur Noël-Joseph Ritchot. -- Winnipeg : Canadian Publishers, 1928. -- 239 p.