• Understand the historical significance of
Rupert’s land and the Red River Settlement
• Understand who the Métis are and why they
were angry at the Canadian Government.
• Understand who Louis Riel is and why he is
such a debated figure.
The Métis• The Métis nation began when
European men in the fur trade
(Coureur de Bois) began to marry and
have children with Aboriginal women.
• Many did this to make friends with
aboriginal people so that aboriginal
people would help them find fur.
• Because of this, the Métis’ culture is
influenced by both European and
• In early Canada, the Métis worked
mainly in the fur trade. Many were
the Métis and the Buffalo
• The buffalo hunt was an
important part of Métis
• it was a major source
• women would sell and
trade the pemmican.
How Canada Changed over
• Remember, this unit is about Aboriginal
peoples and how their lives changed because
of Europeans coming to Canada. Because of
this, we are jumping forward many years in
• In this lesson you need to know that Canada
changed a lot over the years.
• In the early days, it was just a colony. It
eventually grew to become the large country
that it is today. But this took many years.
• Click on the picture on the right. It is an
animated map that shows you how Canada has
changed during its 500 year history.
Rupert’s Land• When England wanted to start
trading furs, they found their way
into Canada through Hudson’s
• Remember our lesson on the fur
trade. Unlike the North West
Company, the Hudson Bay
Company OWNED the land that
• The sections of land that the
British took were called Rupert’s
• The Hudson’s Bay company had
the right to be the only company
trading furs in Rupert’s land.
• Lord Selkirk was an English businessman. He was a Lord,
which means that he was important to the King of
• Wanted to help Scottish Farmers by creating farmland for
• Paid a lot of money to buy control of the Hudson’s bay
• Took part of the land owned by the company to make a
city for the Scottish to build their farms in.
Do you think Lord Selkirk’s idea was good?
What would you do to help Scottish farmers
if you were Lord Selkirk? Use what you
know about Canadian history to answer
The Red River Settlement
• Inside Rupert’s land was a place called Assiniboia (The map
of how Canada changed over the years will show you where
Assiniboia is). There, many Metis lived.
• The Northwest Company relied on the Métis to provide them
• The British were worried that the North West Company was
going to take their business. So they built a settlement in Red
River to stop the North West Company from growing their
• The Métis were now stuck in the middle of the British and
French fighting over their business.
Conflict between Métis and
• Scottish settlers in Red River angered the Métis. Their farms were
ruining Métis hunting. The Métis needed to hunt buffalo, and the
Scottish didn’t care.
• The North West Company became angry that the Hudson’s Bay
Company was stopping them from growing their business.
• The North West Company warns Métis that if they help the Hudson Bay
Company, the North West Company will take their food away.
The Métis are stuck in the middle of a very messy competition
between the HBC and NWC. Imagine that you’re a Métis
person. How would you feel about being stuck in the middle of
this conflict? Who are you most angry at? The Scottish settlers
or the North West Company?
• In 1814, the British create a law called the “Pemmican Proclamation”.
The law stated that food couldn’t be taken from the area without a
• The Métis are angry because pemmican was an important part of
how they made money.
• In 1815, the Métis protested by barricading an English Fort.
• Seven Oaks Battle:
• Robert Semple, Governor-in-Chief of Rupert’s Land and a Group
of armed men went to find out what Grant and the Métis were
• 1 Métis died, 20 colonists including Semple were killed.
Canada Buys Rupert’s Land
• The Canadian Government becomes interested in buying Rupert’s land from The Hudson
• Remember that the company was different from the North West company because the
Hudson Bay company OWNED Rupert’s land.
• The Canadian Government wanted to buy it because it was known as very good farmland.
• Remember that the Canadian Shield is not good for farming. There simply wasn’t that
much farm land left in Ontario, so the Canadian government needed to expand west.
• The Prime minister of Canada at the time (Sir John A. Macdonald) had said that his goal
was to expand the country from Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean
• Canada purchases Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company for 1.5 Million dollars.
• The deal transferred Hudson’s Bay Company lands to the Canadian gov’t
• This happened Dec. 1, 1869
• Canadian gov’t sends surveyors (link) before the official transfer to look at the land and divide
– The Red River settlers and the Métis surprised because no one asked for their opinion.
• The Métis get very angry at the gov’t land surveyors
• Louis Riel emerges as the leader of the Metis
Louis Riel• Louis Riel 1844 - 1885
– Born in the Red River Settlement
– Sent to Montreal to study priesthood
– Studied law for a short period
– Persuasive speaker
– Fluent in English and French
– People call him the Father of Manitoba
• Louis Riel created the National Committee of
• He wanted to guarantee the lands, language, and
religious rights of his people. (Remember that
the European people were Ethnocentric.
• Louis Riel got a small army of Métis together and
took over Fort Garry, the headquarters of the
HBC in Red River.
• He creates the List of Rights – These were the
things he wanted before Manitoba would join
• Dec. 8, 1869 Louis Riel was made the leader of a
temporary government in Manitoba.
The Métis List of Rights
• Late December 1869, the Prime Minister of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald sent
a man named Donald Smith to speak with Red River people.
• Donald Smith was a Senior official of the Hudson Bay Company
– Wanted to talk to the Métis nicely to explain the Canadian government’s plans for Red
– He wanted to find out what the Métis concerns were and what he could do to make them
• Smith worked with the Métis to create a revised List of Rights.
• The Métis wanted these things:
• The right to make their own laws and choose their own leaders.
• They wanted to be in control of laws that affected Red River
• The right to have land set aside for schools and roads.
• Military people stationed near Red River should be people from Red River.
• That all existing Métis culture and customs be respected if they join Canada.
If you were the Canadian government would you say
yes to what the Métis’ wanted?
The Thomas Scott Affair
• Land surveyor and member of the Canada Party that was sent to Red River.
• Not interested in the rights of the Métis. In fact, Thomas Scott was a racist
and did not care about the Métis or what they wanted.
• When Fort Garry was seized by the Métis, members of the Canada Party
including Scott, were put in jail.
• While in jail, Scott insulted and attacked the guards. He threatened to escape
and kill Riel.
• Thomas Scott was sentenced to death for “disobedience to a lawful authority”
(disobeying the law) on March 4, 1870.
• Though Scott was killed, Louis Riel wanted them to forgive Scott.
• Canadians argue about Riel. Some say that he is a hero standing up for the
rights of his people. Others say that he is a murderer and a criminal.
• Prime Minister John A. Macdonald has a difficult decision to make. No matter
what he does, he’s going to make people unhappy. If he lets Riel go, people
will be angry. If they arrest Riel, people will be angry.
What would you do if you were Sir John A. Macdonald? Would you let Riel go or
would you put him on trial? Remember, no matter what you do people are going
to be angry. But what do you think is the right thing to do?