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Back to Batoche : a cultural centre for the Metis Nation of Saskatchewan

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Title: Back to Batoche : a cultural centre for the Metis Nation of Saskatchewan
Author: Hutton, David Adam
Degree Master of Architecture - MArch
Program Architecture
Copyright Date: 1996
Abstract: The village of Batoche lies at the junction of the South Saskatchwan River and the Carleton Trail, important trade routes for the Northwest before the advent of the railway. French-speaking Metis from Manitoba settled the area in 1871, enjoying a high degree of political autonomy. The collapse of the plains buffalo, successive crop failures, and long-standing fears over land title's in the face of encroaching settlement led to an armed uprising in 1885. After initial success in skirmish attacks against federal troops, the outnumbered Metis were besieged at Batoche, where they were defeated after four days. Their leader Louis Riel—who had led a previous uprising in Manitoba—was captured, convicted of treason, and hanged at Regina. Gabriel Dumont received ammnesty and returned to Batoche, where he lies buried. After the uprising some reparations were paid by Ottawa and the village was rebuilt, but Batoche was abandoned in the first decades of this century. Today Batoche is a National Historic Site, a designation which once again brings the Metis Nation into conflict with federal policy. The Metis claim ownership of their ancestral capitol, and gather each summer in the tens of thousands for the Back to Batoche festival. The first priority of Parks Canada, however, is preservation of Batoche's archaeological remains. When a new national museum was built in 1985, the Metis were awarded an adjacent parcel of land which they have since been trying to develop. Chronic fiscal problems have delayed their plans for a large multi-purpose cultural facility. This design thesis proposes a strategy for development which is economically sustainable and culturally appropriate, with emphasis on cooperation between Metis and museum. Precedent studies of historic parks in Saskatchewan include Wanuskewin Heritage Park and Batoche Museum. A brief cultural investigation follows the development of the Metis Nation and the history of settlement at Batoche. Three sites—alternatives to the Metis' existing land allocation—are examined as possible locations for a cultural centre. These include: Gabriel's Crossing, at Dumont's former home; Batoche East Village, site of the siege; and the historic Caron Farm, overlooking the river valley at the Park's southern boundary. An incremental building programme is proposed, including, by priority: Elders' cabins, a multi-purpose meeting hall with cafe and giftshop, a stable and corral, an outdoor amphitheatre, seasonal artists' live-work studios, and a cultural archive. The proposed design, on the Caron Farm site, responds to existing contours and vegetation. In an isolated location, it accomodates large seasonal gatherings as well as small groups. It promotes an appropriate building technology which revives the traditional corvee, or building bee, to encourage community involvement. It complements the existing museum by providing new amenities. The completed drawings are intended to provoke discussion by Metis and Parks Canada, in the hope that increased co-operation will encourage more Canadians to come back to Batoche
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/6094
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]

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