THE COLONY ON
RED RIVER FROM 1811
Lord Selkirk brings settlers to
Rupert’s Land from Scotland
Adventure, Intrigue, love and danger!
A man with a vision
• Lord Selkirk intended for evicted Scottish farmers to be able to
settle in Rupert’s Land, with a grant from the HBC
• The new settlers would be able to farm in the fertile Red River
Valley, and provide food for the HBC employees in the forts.
• Failed to appreciate the land was already inhabited by many First
Nations, Mètis, and fur traders
• Underestimated the harsh climate, much harsher than that of
Scottish farm lands.
First settlers reach the Red River in 1812
• But life is difficult – too late to plant crops, the settlers were forced
to over winter at NWC post of Fort Pembina
• After an unsuccessful harvest in 1813, again settlers had to rely on
the hospitality of the NWC people of Fort Pembina.
• Although their crops were more successful in 1814, settlers feared
they wouldn’t have enough food for the winter.
• Their leader, Miles Macdonell was belligerent, and acted contrary to
the wishes of Lord Selkirk.
• On 8 January 1814, Miles MACDONELL, the governor of Assiniboia
and Lord Selkirk's agent, promulgated a proclamation forbidding
the export of PEMMICAN from the colony for a year. The
proclamation was meant to ensure adequate provisions for settlers
expected in summer.
• prom·ul·gate (Verb)
• 1. promote or make widely known (an idea or cause).
• The Metis relied on the proceeds from selling pemmican to NWC fur
traders, so they were infuriated.
• The retaliated by destroying the settlers crops, and firing rifles
• Under the direction of the NWC Chief Trader, Duncan Cameron, the
Metis arrested Macdonell in the Spring of 1815.
• The problems seemed to be resolved until the Fall of 1815, when
Robert Semple the new governor of the Red River Colony arrived,
and provoked the Metis by burning down the abandoned NWC Fort
Battle of Seven Oaks
• The Selkirk settlers were aligned with the HBC, while the Metis
sided with the NWC.
• In a show of power, Semple led 28 men to confront the Metis.
Believing the Metis to be inferior because of their mixed ancestry,
he failed to appreciate the skill of the Metis in a battle situation.
• Within 15 minutes, Semple and 20 of his men were killed in what
was now called “The Battle of Seven Oaks”.
• The conflict between NWC and HBC continued to simmer, until it
was no longer financially viable for the 2 fur trade companies to
Merger of HBC and NWC
• Merged together in 1821
• More efficient to send all fur via HB to London
• George Simpson named Governor of HBC’s Northern Department,
actively visiting as many HBC posts across their territory from 1821 –
• HBC continued to rely on Native people as trappers, guides, map
makers, canoe builders, paddlers, and as staff at the forts
Peace at the Red River Settlement
• From 1821 – 1860, the Red River Settlement enjoyed a peaceful
period of community building
• Inhabitants included Metis, country-born, Selkirk colonists, Swiss
colonists, and HBC employees.
• By 1860, 80% of the population was of mixed race, with large
families of 10+ kids
• Community was self sufficient, growing crops and relying on
pemmican made as a result of the Metis buffalo hunt.