Cst. Thomas James GIBSON – March 26, 1885

  1. Reg. # 1003, Cst. Thomas James GIBSON

March 26, 1885, Duck Lake, NWT                       Age: 24 years

Cst. GIBSON was born in 1860 and was a farmer prior to joining the NWMP at Fort Osborne/Winnipeg on March 11, 1884. He was posted to Battleford. 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. Csts. George ARNOLD and George GARRETT died the next day (March 27) from wounds received in the battle. All three were buried in a common grave 200 yards from nearby Fort Carlton. Their bodies were later moved to Prince Albert for proper burial at St. Mary’s Cemetery.

He was unmarried, his only living relative being an uncle in Prince Albert. He was awarded the North West Rebellion Medal and Clasp for his participation in the Rebellion. Sadly, it went unclaimed for many years until his nephew, Robert Johnston of North Battleford, applied for it in 1935. (Photo available)

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