Gabriel Dumont is best known as Riel’s general and commander of the small Métis military forces during the Northwest Resistance of 1885.
Gabriel Dumont was born in St. Boniface in 1837, the son of Isidore Dumont, a Métis hunter, and Louise Laframboise. He was the fifth child in a family of eleven. At the age of two, the family moved to Fort Pitt region, which is near the present site of Lloydminister.
As a young boy, Gabriel did not receive any formal schooling. Instead, he travelled with his father, trading, and going on buffalo hunts. Gabriel’s youth was not wasted, but well-spent learning the life of the Métis. At the age of 10, he could not only ride a pony, but break one in. Before Gabriel could handle a rifle he learned to use the bow of his grandmother’s people, the Sarcee. At the age of eleven, Gabriel’s family moved again. This time to Fort Garry and the Red River region. It was during this trip he received his first rifle which he named ‘le petit’ or ‘little one’. He received this rifle for his act of bravery. He thought the camp was going to be raided by the Blackfoot and alerted everyone. He requested a musket to help, but his father, Isidore, soon realized that it was just a herd of buffalo. So for not being afraid, he was presented with his first gun.
At fourteen, during a buffalo hunt at Grand Coteau, Gabriel fought his first battle against the Métis’ traditional rival, the Sioux. The Métis were hunting on what the Sioux considered to be their traditional hunting grounds. He received his initiation in plains warfare in what became known as, ‘The Battle of Grand Coteau’, in 1851.
In 1858, Gabriel married a Scottish Métis woman named Madeleine Wilkie, who he loved very much. He once said, “ what is done to my wife is done to me”. Gabriel and Madeleine did not have any children together, but they did adopt a girl named Annie, and a second cousin of his, named Alex Dumont.