The Red River Settlement

The Red River Settlement

The Red River Settlement 50 years of instability 1820-1870 Changes in the Fur Trade Merger of HBC and NWC The turmoil over the Pemmican Proclamation and Battle of Seven Oaks were examples of a larger struggle between the HBC and NWC for control of Ruperts Land and the fur trade By 1820, both companies were on the verge of

bankruptcy Britain ordered the 2 companies to merge Retain the name HBC NWC partners received control of the company = 55 shares Maintained control of Ruperts Land and a trade monopoly York Factory remained the central trading fort York boats were the main means of transportation Continued reliance on First Nations and Metis

Metis: supply pemmican, labour First Nations: trappers, translators, guides, map makers, build/repair/paddle canoes, labour George Simpson became Governor in Chief and ran the company for 40 years Hands-on manager Travelled throughout the NW visiting trading posts Development of the

Red River Valley Development of a community Between 1821 and 1860, the Red River settlement became a close knit community of Metis, country-born, Scottish colonists, Swiss mercenaries, and employees of the HBC In 1821, the population was evenly divided amongst Metis, country-born, and European settlers By 1860, 80% of the population was of

mixed ancestry The economy revolved around the HBC Scottish: farmers and sold crops to HBC Metis: farmers, hunted bison, labourers on York boats or at HBC trading posts Country-born: clerks, teachers, judges, store owners Due to its isolation, inhabitants of the Red River colony had to be self reliant Life was physically demanding Men and women both had important roles in society Womens lives were very hard

Metis women, with their knowledge of traditional medicines, became midwives and health care providers Limited food and variety in diet Pemmican Bannock Race and Social Class in the Red River Colony Racism and a social hierarchy developed within the Red River Colony HBC traders were known to turn off their Metis wives and families

Marry European women and bring them over to the colony Frances Simpson, wife of George Simpson, was instrumental in trying to create this division within the population However in general, fur trade society was tolerant of racial and cultural differences, so the Simpsons found little support Change comes to the Red River Settlement 1860-1870

New arrivals bring tension New colonists from Canada West began to settle in the Red River Valley, due to population pressure and loss of good farmland Most of these colonists were Protestant and members of the Orange Order, a violent antiFrench, anti-Catholic movement Their arrival in the region brought racial tension Showed prejudice towards Metis who they viewed as inferior due to their bicultural heritage John Christian Schultz Member of the Orange

Order Created the Canadian Party and hoped to gain political control of the colony Produced the only newspaper in the colony, the NorWester He used this newspaper to promote hatred of Metis Canada buys Ruperts Land With business declining, the HBC

agreed to sell Ruperts Land to Canada in 1869, without consulting those who lived there Canadian government surveyors came to the Red River before the official transfer Red River settlers and HBC employees had ownership to the land Metis believed they owned land they had cleared and farmed, but they had no official ownership under the eyes of the Canadian government

Disregarded the seigneurial system of land ownership Standing up for Metis rights The Metis felt their rights were being ignored Louis Riel organized a group of Metis to stop the surveying In October 1869, Riel formed the National Metis Committee an

organization that would support and defend Metis rights in the Red River Valley to the Canadian government Created the Metis List of Rights Who governs the region? John A. Macdonald appointed William McDougall as Lieutenant Governor of the NorthWest Territories

Riel and the Metis feared that once McDougall, a strong antiFrench supporter, had control of the area, he would give governing power to the Canadian Party Riel set up a provisional government a temporary government that would maintain order in the region as it was being transferred over and give the people of Red River the power to negotiate entrance into Confederation

When McDougall tried to enter the region, the National Metis Committee told him he was not welcome and should return to Ottawa they would govern the region McDougall ignored this demand, entered the region, proclaimed himself governor, then quickly fled He did this without the support of Macdonald, who had told him to take no action until issues in the region could be resolved Riel and Committee members occupied Fort Garry (headquarters of HBC in the Red River) and seized ammunition and weapons Canadian Party had armed themselves to attack the Metis

Riel and his supporters had no intention of rebelling against Canada they just wanted to ensure the rights of the people in the Red River Valley would be retained How could the Metis govern if Canada owns the region? McDougall had made a crucial mistake: by proclaiming himself governor of the North-West Territories before it was officially owned by Canada, HBC power and authority in the region ended However, since McDougall fled soon after this proclamation, there was no official Canadian

government presence in the region Thus, Riels provisional government was now in fact the legal government of the area They had the right to negotiate with the Canadian government Any action in opposition to their authority would be considered against the law Riel takes action December 1869 Riel leads a party of Metis to arrest John Schultz and 48 Canadian Party members; taken to Fort Garry Macdonald refuses to

negotiate with Riel and sends a HBC official to negotiate In the meantime, Schultz and some of his men escaped from Fort Garry and were plotting to free the other prisoners Escalating violence Before these men can free any more prisoners, they clash with the Metis and are arrested again One of these men is Thomas Scott In prison, he espouses antiMetis views, verbally and

physically abuses his guards, and threatens the life of Riel Scott was placed on trial for treason and found guilty He was executed by firing squad on March 4, 1870 Manitoba Act, 1870 A delegation of Metis and Canadian Party members head to Ottawa to negotiate the creation of the province of Manitoba

John Christian Schultz was already in Ontario, describing the death of Thomas Scott and promoting anti-Metis sentiments This tainted negotiations with Macdonald and the Canadian government Macdonald refuses to allow provincial control of lands Grant 200,000 hectares of land for the Metis There are growing cries

for Macdonald to respond to the violence in the Red River Valley He sends 1200 militia, under the command of Colonel Wolseley to keep the peace in the region until power has been transferred to the provincial government Riel and the provisional government were no longer a legitimate government

Riel, fearing for his life, Were the events in the Red River Valley between 1869 and 1870 a rebellion or a resistance? Historically, this time period has been known as the Red River Rebellion. However, revisionist history now describes it as the Red River Resistance. What do you think is the appropriate description for these events in our history? Created by Ms. C. Ross

Socials 10 updated April 2015 Riverside Secondary

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