Charles de Salaberry was a career soldier. He first went to the Canadian West in 1857 and 1858 when he was asked by the Canadian government to explore the possibility of setting up a route between Fort William (Thunder Bay) and the Red River colony.
When the Red River Rebellion erupted in 1869, Salaberry and Father Jean-Baptiste Thibault were sent to reassure the colonists of the Canadian government's intentions. They were promptly sent back to Ottawa by Louis Riel, who did not deem them authorized to negotiate on behalf of the Canadian government. Although unable to convince the rebels to abandon their fight, Charles de Salaberry and Father Thibault nevertheless managed to calm the situation
In March 1870, Charles de Salaberry escorted Father Noël-Joseph Ritchot from the Red River colony to Ottawa. The latter was to join Alfred H. Scott and Judge John Black to negotiate with Sir John A. Macdonald and George-Étienne Cartier on the matter of Manitoba's entry into Confederation.