Cst. George Knox GARRETT – March 27, 1885

  1. Reg. # 852, Cst. George Knox GARRETT

March 27, 1885, Duck Lake, NWT            Age: 24 years

Cst. GARRETT was from St. Helens, Cavan County, Cavan, Ireland, the son of a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary.   Unemployed and impoverished in Ireland, he wrote a letter to the Marquis of Lorne, Governor General of Canada, asking to be engaged in the NWMP. He explains his predicament. “… through stress of circumstances to seek employment in Canada and through no fault of ours we are here without money or means.”

As a consequence of that letter, George GARRETT was hired on with the NWMP on July 4, 1882 at Ottawa for 75 cents a day. By 1884, the strength of the NWMP force was raised to 557. When RIEL returned to Batoche from the US and further inflamed the Metis, the local white settlers began to run for safety to Prince Albert. Then the Metis ransacked the settlement of Duck Lake and drove out the white store owners. In response to that aggression, Supt. L.N.F. CROZIER led 57 NWM Policemen, bolstered by some 43 Prince Albert volunteers, into Duck Lake. It was March 26, 1885.

Opposing Crozier was Gabriel DUMONT, who led a combined force of Metis and Indians. The fighting was fierce, but the Metis won the day. The fact that DUMONT was wounded early in the fray spared CROZIER from losing more men than he did. Without DUMONT as their leader, the Metis faltered and didn’t follow up their early advantage. Still their victory clearly gave the Metis and the Indians control over much of the Saskatchewan River country, with the exception of Prince Albert and Fort Pitt. In the battle of Duck Lake, five Metis were killed and 12 died frm the government side. Three of those were Mounties. Cst. Thomas GIBSON died on the field from a shot through the heart. Cst. George ARNOLD was shot in the chest. Cst. George GARRETT was shot in the left lung. Badly in need of medical attention, GARRETT was taken by sleigh to Fort Carlton. He died there the next day at 3:30 PM from

internal bleeding.   He was buried with full military honours just outside Fort Carlton in a common grave with Csts. GIBSON and ARNOLD. Later Cst. GARRETT’s remains were removed and interred at St. Mary’s Cemetery at Prince Albert. His medal and clasp were sent home to his father who was a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary. He responded with the following letter:

Ireland

22 Dec. 89

Sir,

May I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 27th enclosing a medal earned by (my) late son, G.K. GARRETT in the North West during the rebellion of ‘85. I beg to thank you from my heart for this distinguished token that my poor boy did his duty to the satisfaction of his officers.

It is dearly prized by myself and his sorrowing mother.

I have the honour to be

Sir,

Your most obedient servant Richard Garrett R.I.C.

(File reviewed on www.collectionscanada.gc.ca)