McDougall and his entourage arrived in Pembina at the end of October. They ignored the Committee’s warning, and without McDougall proceeded to St. Norbert where they were stopped and escorted back to the American border accompanied by 30 Métis. On November 2, McDougall met with the same fate. The same day, the Métis took possession of Fort Garry, establishing their control over the surrounding area. However, with only the support of the French Catholic population, their power was precarious. Riel knew he would need the backing of all elements in the settlement for successful negotiation with the Canadian Government.
A series of meetings aimed at securing the necessary support were not successful as several people objected to the way McDougall had been treated. There was however, agreement on the preparation of a list of Métis rights. On November 23, Riel proposed that a provisional government be formed to replace the Council of Assiniboia. The surprised English-speaking half-breeds, did not believe they had the mandate to make such a decision and asked for a few days adjournment to consult.
The official land transfer to Canada was set December 1, 1869. During the period of unrest, Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald had postponed payments to the HBC but McDougall, the government’s representative, was not notified. On December 1, he read the Proclamation announcing the transfer of the territory from the HBC to Canada. The Proclaimation legitimized Riel's Provisional Government because the government of Canada had not kept up the payments for the land.
On December 10, the flag of Riel's Provisional Government was hoisted on the flag pole at Fort Garry and on December 27, Louis Riel replaced John Bruce as President of the Provisional Government and Donald Smith, the Hudson's Bay Company representative in Canada and a government agent, arrived in the settlement. At a two day meeting in January, Smith made it known that his government intended to negotiate Métis rights with the people of the Red River Settlement. Riel proposed that a new list of rights be drawn up by 20 French-speaking and 20 English-speaking representatives.
The work was completed in February and with unanimous consent, Riel formed another more representative provisional government. Three delegates were chosen to present the List of Rights to the Canadian Government. Although it seemed things were set to return to a state of calm, it was not to be. A group of Canadians was preparing a counter-Riel movement.The outcome was that Louis Riel allowed the execution of Thomas Scott for defying the authority of the Provisional Government, fighting with the guards and for insulting the President. Riel was forced into exile.