‘Before’ continues (1856 – 1865)

[under construction]

[Note: developments in governance that affected Red River Settlement — or rather might have inspired the political stance of the people in the settlement who undertook the Resistance during 1869 – 1870 — are highlighted in blue.]


On Vancouver Island:

After petitions were sent to the Colonial Office in London, protesting HBC proprietary rule, the Legislative Assembly of the Colony of Vancouver Island is created as an elected body to represent voters. Only handful of colonists meet the voting requirement, most of whom are tied to the HBC. The colony does not attain responsible government as it is headed by an appointed governor — an HBC chief factor.

In Canada West:

Captain William Kennedy steps up his lobbying for Canadian annexation of Hudson’s Bay Company [HBC] territory. Along with westward expansionist and railway promoter Allan Madonell, he makes a presentation to the Toronto Board of Trade.

The Toronto Globe begins a concentrated newspaper campaign to “conquer” the North West. [See, for examples, “The Great North West,” The Daily Globe, news section (10 December 1856), 2; “The Great North West,” The Daily Globe, news section (22 January 1857), 2; “The Hudson’s Bay Company and Territory. (Translated from the Pays),” The Daily Globe, news section (2 February 1857), 2; ‘Jumius,’ letter to the editor, “The Red River Settlement,” The Daily Globe, news section (27 February 1857), 2; “The Hudson’s Bay Committee. (From our Special Correspondent [in London].),” The Daily Globe, news section (4 May 1857), 2; ‘Red River Settler,’ letter to the editor, “Letter from the Red River,” The Daily Globe, news section (24 July 1857), 2; “The Hudsons Bay Company,” The Daily Globe, news section (31 July 1857), 2; “The Popular Voice in London on the Hudson Bay Question,”The Daily Globe, news section (12 September 1857), 2; “Hudson’s Bay Monopoly,”  The Daily Globe, news section (22 October 1857), 2.]

In Assiniboia:

Alexander Ross publishes his report on the progress of the settlement, styled as a ‘history,’ and hinting at Crown colony status. He hopes “the day is not far distant, when the British Government will say to the Hudson’s Bay Company, ‘Relinquish your chartered rights, not without their just value, indeed, and we will take the country to ourselves’.”

[See Alexander Ross, The Red River Settlement: Its Rise, Progress, and Present State: With Some Account of the Native Races and Its General History to the Present Day (London: Smith, Elder and Company, 1856).]

In the U.S.:

Joseph ‘Jolly Joe’ Rollette, elected representative for the Pembina district in the Minnesota legislature, introduces a memorial to Congress calling for an extension of the franchise to First Nations individuals who had adapted in terms of their “habits and mode of life.” He argues, “By granting the right of citizenship … a great step would be gained in the progress of tribes around us, in the path of civilization.” [Read ‘developing tax-paying citizens of the state’ (see discussion of ‘civilized’ this site). See, Carolyn Gilman, “The Gens Libres,” Making Minnesota Territory 1849 – 1858, Anne R. Kaplan and Marilyn Ziebarth, eds. (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1999), 40 who notes, “the memorial, which passed both bodies of the territorial legislature, clearly reflected the belief common among people of mixed ancestry that cultural attributes were more important than so-called racial background.”]


In India:

The Sepoy Uprising/ Mutiny/ Indian Rebellion/ India’s First War of Independence/ the Great Rebellion/ Revolt of 1857 against the British East India Company begins.

In England:

The British Government strikes a parliamentary committee to hold hearings on ending the HBC charter.

Chief Justice William Henry Draper from United Canada is present as an observer of the proceedings. He carries a “memorandum prepared by Joseph-Édouard Cauchon, Commissioner for Crown Lands, which reiterates arguments formerly put forward by the North West Company [NWC] — that Red River Valley had been part of New France, occupied by the French, and was therefore outside the boundaries of Rupert’s Land.

[Henry Pelham-Clinton, 5th Duke of Newcastle, colonial secretary, favours the creation of a Crown Colony in Rupert’s Land “as a connecting link between Canada and British Columbia, all of which would eventually comprise a British North American federation.” His proposal means “an elective legislature and responsible government’ as well as ‘the control of the natural resources by the people.”]

The parliamentary committee advises that either the District of Assiniboia should be annexed to the United Canadas [7th point] or it should become a Crown Colony  [9th point].

[See Great Britain, Select Committee on the Hudson’s Bay Company, Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson’s Bay Company together with the proceedings of the committee, minutes of evidence, appendix and index (London: HMSO, 1858). See also A.A. den Otter, “The 1857 Parliamentary Enquiry, The Hudson’s Bay Company, and Rupert’s Land’s Aboriginal People.”]

A British survey expedition headed by John Palliser is sent to the North West.

[See Irene M. Spry, The Papers of the Palliser Expedition, 1857 – 1860 (Toronto: Champlain Society, 1968).]

In Canada West:

Captain William Kennedy sets out across country  from Toronto to Red River to prove viability of a road to Red River.

A Canadian expedition headed by Henry Youle Hind and Simon James Dawson is sent to survey the North West.

A letter to the editor is published in the Globe, which expresses some alarm that Red River is not better known and describes its geographical location and characteristics:

“The Settlement is much like the French settlements of Lower Canada — it extends along the banks of the [Red] river; and, on this account, although its population does not much exceed 10,00, its length is considerable.” The description becomes somewhat difficult to follow as it wrestles to explain the spread of settlement along both the Assiniboine and the Red rivers — indicating 40 or 50 miles along the Red [?], 30 of which are below the junction with the Assiniboine [?], with an additional 30 miles along the Assiniboine [?]. The junction of the two rivers is not identified as ‘The Forks’ (as is the case in Winnipeg now). The writer avers, “The place where the two rivers meet, [is] usually called Coblenz  — suitably so, if it be true that this is a mere corruption of the word confluence,” adding, “It is impossible to imagine a more beautiful site for a town than this selfsame Coblenz.” The writer is of the opinion that, “this likely to become the central point of the grand colonization scheme which is contemplated. … destined to become the headquarters of a great Province.” [‘Jumius,’ letter to the editor, “The Red River Settlement,” The Daily Globe, news section (27 February 1857), 2, notes additionally that Coblenz was a name “given to the good old classic place in Rhenish Prussia, owing to the junction there of the Rhine and the Mosella.” See also, “The Late Flood,” Nor’-Wester (1 June 1861), 3, which notes, “the point of land opposite Fort Garry, … might pass for the Coblentz of this country.” ]

Another letter to the Globe by an anonymous “Red River Settler,” is published, which reads in part:

“We Red River men have had our hearts cheered during the last winter, in reading in the columns of your highly esteemed Globe, of the deep interest taken by the people of Canada in the great North-west, of which we form a small part. We were very happy to see that Canad had sent delegates to England to represent her interests there, and the more so, as we are willing to persuade ourselves that our own interest, nay destiny, is involved with that of your Province; of which, I think I may say, we naturally form a part. … [Our resources are] now shut out from civilization by the Hudson’s Bay Company, who, saying the least of it, have no sympathy with the progress of the age. … we see clearly, how deeply they are interested to keep the country as it is. … however, we cannot help remarking, that monopoly is virtually defunct in all the districts from Lac la Plui [Rainy Lake] to the La Crosse Lake [Ile a la Crosse]. … if the charter [of the HBC, 1670] be found a mere waste parchment, would not justice demand that the company should be punished for assuming dominion over the lives, liberties and property of their fellow subjects? I do not mean the Indians, for the company never establish any laws among those people … Justice to Canada by restoring to it all the lands which its traders occupied before the conquest, and all that has been discovered by the enterprise of the North-west Company of Montreal. And. though last, not least, to us,– justice to ourselves by having the rights of British subjects restored to us, of which the Company has illegally deprived the people of this colony.” [“Letter from the Red River,” The Daily Globe, news section (24 July 1857), 2.]

In Assiniboia:

A detachment of Royal Canadian Rifles (approx. 100 men) arrives “sent out at the request of the HBC to buttress its authority among the residents of Red River as well as to counter Sioux movements to the south and American troops stationed at Pembina.” (Some accounts present the latter’s presence at the border as  threatening in light of the San Juan border dispute between Britain and the U.S. — a hold-over from the Oregon Treaty settled in 1849, and, as of 1859, a dispute also known as the Pig War/ Pig Episode/ Pig and Potato War).

Settlers are not necessarily comforted by the show of force under HBC command. An anonymous letter-writer to the Toronto Globe complains that “arbitrary acts on the part of the Company’s people, give us just grounds of alarm at seeing military power in their hands … we would feel under the greatest obligations to you for giving publicity to our fears on the subject. … And at the same time we would feel obliged to any person who will … point out to us the object for which the troops are coming here.” [“Letter from the Red River,” The Daily Globe, news section (24 July 1857), 2.]

Rev. Griffith Owen Corbett returns to the settlement and begins campaigning for a road to Canada and Crown Colony status for the settlement.

Jean-Louis Riel (aka Louis Riel Sr.), presides over a meeting  at which Captain William Kennedy presents his arguments to French-speaking settlers. Kennedy circulates a petition which refers to the settlers’ ‘privileges’ as British subjects and advocates annexation to Canada in order to secure these ‘rights.’ The petition recounts the ‘threat’ posed by the U.S.; Canadian support for the old NWC claim; Red River settlers’ uncertainty over deeds to occupied land; and the outdated HBC monopoly. Kennedy argues, as “British subjects, we desire the same liberty and freedom of commerce, as well as security of property, may be granted to us as is enjoyed in all other possessions of the British Crown.” The HBC system of government is decried because settlers have “no voice” in its make-up, while yet it legislates and passes laws “affecting our interests.” He complains that the Governor is also judge, and “holds his appointment from the Company,” while the councillors are also “to a greater or lesser extent dependent on that body,” yet the Governor and Council “make the laws, judge the laws, and execute their own sentence.” In essence Kennedy’s petition asserts a right to “an elected, representative legislature and to the division of powers, most notably in the form of an independent judiciary.” Five hundred and seventy-four settlers sign (including “119 men with French names or known to be French-speaking, as well as fourteen more who may have been of French origin, and two with mixed names”).  [See “Letter from the Red River,” The Daily Globe, news section (24 July 1857), 2, which notes a series of public meetings were held in March, and again on 26 May, and 9 June. Captain Kennedy left for Canada on 15 June with the settlers’ list of 9 resolutions. ]

A French petition circulates, “expressing opposition to the annexation of Assiniboia by Canada without guarantees for the inhabitants.”

[Darren O’Toole, “The Red River Resistance of 1869-1870: The Machiavellian Moment of the Métis of Manitoba,” Ph.D. diss. (Ottawa: University of Ottawa, 2010).]

HBC Chief Trader Henry Fisher is sworn in as francophone Councillor of Assiniboia. HBC. Gov. George Simpson writes, “Roman clergy have been disposed to uphold the Company, probably under the impression that any change in the government of the colony, specially its transfer to Canada, would weaken their influence.”

Grasshoppers infest the settlement.

Canada West annexationists begin showing up in the settlement.


Grasshoppers infest the settlement.

In the ‘West beyond the West’/ on the Pacific Slope:

The Fraser River gold-rush begins.

[See also Jeremiah Saunders, “The Fraser River Gold Rush of 1858 and the Victoria Newspaper Boom: An Account of Bishop Demers’ Printing Press with the Victoria Gazette and the British Colonist.”]

The [gold-rich] fur trade district, New Caledonia, is re-named British Columbia and becomes a Crown colony. Its territory does not include the Island of Vancouver and its Dependencies/ Colony of Vancouver Island or other coastal islands, or regions north of the Nass and Finlay Rivers or east of the Rocky Mountains [approximately half the present day Canadian province of British Columbia].

In Canada:

Simon James Dawson’s Report proposes building wagon trail between Lake Superior and Red River.

HBC Gov. George Simpson and Edward Ellice journey to St Paul, Minn., to test the possibility of shipping trade goods by rail rather than through Hudson’s Bay. The HBC London Committee accepts their recommendation and tries sending a trade outfit from Montreal on Canadian and American railways to St Paul and from there by steamboat to Red River. The experiment succeeds.

In India:

Warfare ends. Britain takes over control of India from the East India Company.


In England:

The HBC charter is up for renewal.

Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species.

In Assiniboia:

Henry McKenney arrives from Canada and establishes McKenney & Co. (merchants) and the Royal Hotel (the beginnings of the Town of Winnipeg).

William Coldwell and William Buckingham arrive from Canada and start the first local newspaper, the Nor’-Wester. [See Red River Newspaper Chronology and the men who ‘made’ the news, The Press, this site.]

Rev. Griffith Owen Corbett also has a printing press, which he uses to print “A Few Reasons for a Crown Colony.” He  weighs crown colony status against annexation with Canada. He argues that with Crown colony status: Assiniboia will be “the Capital of the country,” raising property values; it will be subsidized by the Imperial Government and not subject to Canadian taxation; settlers will enjoy self-government and not be a mere county of “a subordinate power [Canada],” 1,000 miles away; the settlement will be protected by “a Council on the spot, chosen by the people themselves … against any chartered bodies [read the HBC] with exclusive privileges.”

Corbett also circulates a petition that points out the “anomalous condition wholly different from all other parts of the British Empire, without a Governor subject to the control of the Crown, the present Officer being appointed by, and subject to, the H.B. Company, that the law has been administered by a Judge, appointed by, and subject to, the control of the said H.B. Company; that the present legislative body […] nominated exclusively by the H.B. Company.” The petition ends by calling for the “same privileges” as “the country west of the Rocky Mountains [British Columbia]” which has “the full privileges of a British Colony.”

[Darren O’Toole, “The Red River Resistance of 1869-1870: The Machiavellian Moment of the Métis of Manitoba,” Ph.D. diss. (Ottawa: University of Ottawa, 2010).]

Captain William Kennedy, James Ross, and Donald Gunn draw up a counter-petition in favour of annexation to Canada.

French settlers reiterate their position: opposed to annexation to Canada unless the rights of inhabitants are guaranteed.

The local newspaper, The Nor’-Wester, prints an extract from a letter by Alexander Kennedy Isbister to Donald Gunn that indicates Isbister had “obtained an interview with Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the Secretary of State for the Colonies,” at which he reported on the pro-annexation meeting held in the Settlement the previous autumn. Apparently, Bulwer-Lytton had pursued the issue of annexation to Upper Canada with the Canadian government, but Georges-Étienne Cartier of Lower Canada had opposed the idea “as it would be putting a political fire-extinguisher upon the party and the Province he represented; and, if carried out, would lead to a dissolution of the Union.” Cartier was willing, however, to form a general federation of the British Provinces that included Assiniboia as “a separate colony.” [“Why We Were Not Annexed to Canada,” Nor’-Wester (28 December 1859), 2.]

[Darren O’Toole, “The Red River Resistance of 1869-1870: The Machiavellian Moment of the Métis of Manitoba,” Ph.D. diss. (Ottawa: University of Ottawa, 2010).]

The river steamboat Anson Northrup arrives.


In the U.S.:

Georgetown is linked by stagecoach service to Saint Cloud, which is already connected to St Paul, by the same. St. Boniface is now only eight or nine days from St Paul.

In Assiniboia”

Mail to Red River, which used to arrive twice a year, now comes monthly via the U.S.

Editors William Coldwell and William Buckingham‘s paper, The Nor’-Wester, while praising the Settlement’s growth, comparing its slow pace to that to a mighty oak, notes a time of swifter progress is upon the settlers and warns the “wise and the prudent” to be ready to take advantage of changes, because “the indolent and the careless, like the native tribes of the country, will fall back before the march of a superior intelligence.” [“Retrospect,” Nor’-Wester (14 January 1860), 2, columns 1 and 2.]

A letter signed by Peguis, “chief of the Saulteaux tribe,” to Parliament in Britain is printed in the Nor’-Wester, complaining of the conduct of the HBC in selling his lands (which it has not bought). [“Native Title to Indian Lands,” Nor’-Wester (14 January 1860), 3. See also response to the letter by Andrew McDermot, retired HBC Trader of Lower Red River District, “Peguis Refuted,” 28 February 1860.]

Kees-Kesuma-Kun [Keseekoowenin/ Moses Burns?] and Makasis Fox petition the British Parliament for recognition of their rights to “Indian title to their lands” and calling for a treaty. [See Nor’-Wester (1 June 1861), 1.],

British North America in the Future,” Nor’-Wester (14 February 1860), 3, describes Canada’s ambitious plan for the North West.

Our Country,” Nor’-Wester (14 February 1860), 2, argues that Red River Settlement is destined to become the capital of the “far far west” due to its access to an exceptional network of waterways.

An editorial in the paper opines: “since the Canadian Government are [sic] so lukewarm in the matter of annexation, a Crown Colony is the only other practicable scheme. … a Governor and a Judge are to be sent us from England and … other necessary officials will be left to the choice of the Local Legislature which, we are further informed, is to be elected by the people. This outline, meagre though it be, is very satisfactory: for it gives us what more than anything else was desirable – namely, an elective council. A community of eight or ten thousand souls is too large and important, surely, in these times of democratic ascendency, to be deprived of elective institutions. But, apart from mere numbers, our intelligence, our material possessions, and our morality, clearly entitle us to the franchise. The power to elect our own Councillors and control the expenditure of our own money, is a great boon; but it is after all, only our right as British subjects.” It admits that due to “want of experience, we may for a time encounter difficulties in getting representative institutions to work,” but “expressed confidence in the judgement and good sense of our people.” [“Red River a Crown Colony,” Nor’-Wester (28 February 1860), 2; see also “A Crown Colony for Red River!,” Nor’-Wester (28 February 1860), 3.]

James Ross buys out Buckingham’s share of the paper. [See Red River Newspaper Chronology and the men who ‘made’ the news, The Press, this site.]

Pascal Breland heads a meeting held at the Royal Hotel attended “chiefly of ‘Halfbreeds’ (as they are commonly styled) — that is, of those who are in part descended from the aborigines of the country.” Breland discusses Peguis’ letter and rights to the land, asserting that the Cree chief, Senna [aka Le Sonnant/ ‘Rattle’/ Yorston’s Guide, and father of The Fox, and a friend of the NWC], had the fullest title to lands at the time of the Selkirk treaty and “did never dispose of them.” He argues: “seeing that no satisfactory arrangement has yet been made for the lands … the ‘Halfbreeds’ of the country — representatives of the Crees and other tribes — might put in a good claim. They are natives; they are present occupants; and they are the representatives of the first owners of the soil, with whom … no satisfactory arrangement has ever been made.” Other speakers at the meeting include Urbain Delorme, William Dease, Pierre Falcon, William Hallet, George FLett, John Bourke [Jr.], and William McGillis. After 4 hours, the settlers agree upon a basic list of grievances. George Gunn then registers a complaint against the HBC Council of Assiniboia’s policy of denying admittance to its meetings to the editors of the Nor’-Wester. He puts forward a motion that the settlers “demand an elected assembly.” The motion is translated to French, seconded by Urbain Delorme, and carried by acclamation. [“The Land Question. The Council and the Press,” Nor’-Wester (14 March 1860), 2.]

HBC. Gov. George Simpson claims he has considered “appeasing” both French and English Half-Breeds “through the introduction of the elective principle into the government,” but that the clergy and others “do not wish that the present Councillors should be removed, but that the public should have the right of filling up vacancies by election.” Simpson dies after an attack of apoplexy (a stroke).

[See Darren O’Toole, “The Red River Resistance of 1869-1870: The Machiavellian Moment of the Métis of Manitoba,” Ph.D. diss. (Ottawa: University of Ottawa, 2010).]


In the U.S.:

American Civil War begins.

In Assiniboia:

An Editorial on the front page of the Nor’-Wester, entitled “Position of Red River in a Colonial Federation,” discusses the “formation of a continuous line of railway from Halifax to Vancouver, or to New-Westminster,” in order to access “Oriental traffic.” The HBC is presented as an impediment to this realization of economic progress. Upcoming confederation of the British colonies in North America is posited. The probable political economic make-up of the confederation is described. Britain is seen as responsible for undertaking the building of the railway. [Nor’-Wester (1 February 1861), 1.]

The newspaper prints part 1 of a “History of the Red River Settlement.” The Cree are described as present “from time immemorial.” The Saulteux, according to “Tradition,” are said to have arrived in 1780. [Nor’-Wester (1 February 1861), 2-3.] “A Magistrate Wanted!complains that five months have passed since the HBC Council of Assiniboia was to fill Genthon’s place on the bench. The paper also reports on the cession of South Carolina from the American Union, and of people taking “the first steps of war.” Temperance meetings are reported throughout the settlement —James Ross has taken the pledge.

An editorial [attributed to James Ross] portrays the link between the Council of Assiniboia and the courts as “not only wrong and mischievous, but … thoroughly un-British. No principle has been more clearly laid down in England than this – that one set of men should make the laws and quite a different set execute them. … if important changes are not speedily brought about, securing to us an unfettered, efficient, responsible system of government, … Red River loyalty will not be worth a sixpence. There is a large party here who, if they had the opportunity to morrow, would vote for annexation to the United States.” The article asserts, “We value British connection and British institutions; but if we cannot reap any advantage from either, of what use are they to us?” It warns, if “the people of Red River” are left “in their miserable state of political serfdom for two or three years longer, … they will take the reins of government into their own hands. … This will be a natural, if not welcome, result of the last five years’ wavering, do-nothing policy of the Imperial Government. … people of Red River are quite as intelligent and well educated as those of Canada, and perfectly well able to manage their own affairs, … if the country were joined to Canada, however, a single year would supply an emigrant population numerous enough to take charge of the affairs of a county municipality.” [“‘Present Unsatisfactory Condition of Red River,” Nor’-Wester (15 February 1861), 2, columns 3, 4, and 5]

Part 2, “History of Red River,” is published. [Nor’-Wester (15 February 1861), 3. In the same paper, additional coverage is given to the state of the American Union; and an account given of oil wells in Pennsylvania.

The newspaper of 1 March contains an editorial complaining of inefficiency in the collection of customs duties, which could be used to fund public improvements — noting that it takes up to a year before agents are sent to collect sums owing. The blame is laid on “the system” [italics in source], overseen by the HBC Council of Assiniboia. [“The Customs Duties,” (1 March 1861), 2.] “The Bishop of St. Boniface,” recounts the missionary tour undertaken by Taché, who has returned. A synopsis is given in English, while a more detailed account in given in French. Part 3 of “History of the Red River Settlement is published. “Far West of British North America,” reprinted from the Spectator, draws conclusions from reports of Hind’s expedition. The state of affairs in the U.S. is updated. The Council of Assiniboia is reported upon [the article does not seem to be accessible online].

The newspaper of 15 March reprints the 3rd part of Manton Marble’s “To Red River and Beyond,” from Harper’s New Monthly Magazine 22, no. 129 (February 1861): 306-323, re-titled “Red River Settlement.” On page 2, “The Public Revenue,” again takes up the issue of Custom Duties. The Council of Assiniboia is seen as unwilling to take action against individuals who avoid remitting sums owed. The ‘system’ in place is described, and the fact that it does not accord with the laws on the HBC Council of Assiniboia’s Statute-Books is pointed out, observing “it is manifestly absurd that they should be at variance one with the other. … And we would not make so much of this particular case, if it were not such a true specimen of the manner in which we are ruled in this Settlement.” The article is followed byMeeting of Council,” which reads:

There was a meeting of our irresponsible legislature on Tuesday week, but no conclusions were arrived at and they adjourned to yesterday. We know nothing of what transpired in this closed-doors meeting, and therefore can give nothing to out readers. The meagre account usually furnished us will appear in our next.” [Nor’-Wester (15 March 1861), 2.]

The substance of a lecture given by Frank Larned Hunt at Headingley is published as “The Red Man.” The lecture was not well attended [the “originality of thought” is not apparent in the 21st century — his outlook reflecting racist discourse commonplace in the 19th-century British empire]. News of the secession of the Seven States of the Confederacy from the U.S. is printed. Part 4 of “History of the Red River Settlement,” is published. There is missionary news as well as reports on world events. [Nor’-Wester (15 March 1861).]

The Nor’-Wester of 1 April includes: a continuation of Manton Marble’s, “Red River Settlement,” which includes some references to indolent/lazy settlers and outdated technology; a list of holdings in “The Colonial Empire of Great Britain” and asks “Where is RED RIVER in this list?“; Wesleyan missionary T. Woolsey’s letter to the editor; Revenue Laws passed by the HBC Council of Assiniboia; Liquor Laws passed by the HBC Council of Assiniboia; editorial comment on the laws; a description of “Improvements of Ten Years,” which lists postal communication through the U.S. service every 2 weeks (instead of the HBC packet 3 times per year) bringing news from Europe that is “not more than five of six weeks” old, the local paper (“twice quoted by the London Times“, and one article reprinted in Littell’s Living Age), the “introduction of Special Trades” such as “Booksellers, a Watchmaker and Jeweller, a Saddle and Harness-maker, Cabinet-makers, &c.”, and the advent of steamboat communication; “European News“; “Inauguration of President Lincoln“; “Council of Assiniboia,” which reports the swearing in of John Dease Jr. as a councillor, and appointment of Salomon Amlin as a magistrate, a complaint about Jean Mager’s drinking and gambling house, a complaint about the postal service, a complaint about the lack of survey of the outside limit of White Horse Plains (the outer reach of jurisdiction of the Council of Assiniboia), a request that John Inkster’s mill be allowed to proceed, that liquor laws be enforced, that roads and bridges be kept up; Part 5 of “History of the Red River Settlement.” [Nor’-Wester (1 April 1859).]

The 15 April edition of the newspaper includes: Charles Dickens, “Down a Crevasse“; Daniel Webster, “Influence of Newspapers“; “Advantages of Advertising“; “The Census of the United States“; “Constitution of the Southern Confederacy“; “Blockade of the Southern Ports“; “Lincoln’s Policy“; Thackeray, “Success in Life“; “The Legitimacy of Prince Napoleon“; “Red River Council,” which opines “The Councillors are, fortunately, roused to the conviction that matters are in an unsatisfactory condition; and bowing to the pressure of a stern public opinion, they have diligently set themselves to allay dissatisfaction by making timely concessions. This is so far creditable for a non-elective, irresponsible Council,” but objects to the councellors representing themselves as “acting in the Queen’s name” when in fact “the people usually regard the Council as acting in the name properly of the Hudson’s Bay Company and not her Gracious Majesty,” finally, the lack of lawyers in the Settlement is noted; “Thermometrical Summary“; “Indian Manifesto,” in which First Nations representatives — Peguis, Mannamig, Mooscoose, Eskepacakoose, Accupas, and Henry Prince — object to settlers ploughing, planting and fencing off land outside the settlements 2 mile limit (from the river banks), unless they make an annual payment of “one bushel of wheat [or barley or potatoes] for every five bushels of seed sown; Part 6 “History of the Red River Settlement”; “Titles in Red River,” which distances the editors from the anti-Catholic quibbling of Rev. George O. Corbett over the local habit of attaching the prefix ‘Lord’ to Bishop Taché’s title; “Council of Assiniboia“; a notice of W.G. Fonseca‘s lecture on the West Indies; and an article about an invasive weed, “The Canadian Thistle.”

The 1 May issue includes: Part 7 “History of the Red River Settlement”; “Exciting Things in British Columbia,” describing “meetings held with a view to move the people … to demand representative government”; “Official Pleading,” describes a move by the HBC Council of Assiniboia, to explain to the public its new policies on liquor, as “a fall” and “a poor specimen of special pleading” that proves “the power of public opinion”; a reprint entitled “Red River Settlement,” from the Toronto Leader (22 March); “Destructive Flood,” fearing one might happen — the same link leads to “Bishopric of Rupert’s Land”; “The Dean of Carlisle on Teetotalism“; “Foreign News” including “Great Britain. The Great Western Railway Fraud” and “The African Slave Trade”; “Death of the Duke of Sutherland“; “Reforms in Naples” on the separation of Church from State; “Annexing Upper Michigan to Canada” and “An Infernal Machine,” a new model gun firing “at the rate of two hundred and forty discharges per minute.”

John Christian Schultz arrives, intent on land speculation. Shortly after his arrival, Red River’s resident surgeon and coroner, Dr. John Bunn, HBC Councillor of Assiniboia, dies. Schultz begins presenting himself as a certified medical practitioner, using the prefix “Dr.” in a series of advertisements printed in the Nor’-Wester. 

[See “The Late Dr. Bunn,” Nor’-Wester (1 June 1861), 2; and advertisements, “Dr. Schultz, Physician and Surgeon, Residence, Royal Hotel, Upper Fort Garry,” Nor’-Wester (15 July 1861), 2; (1 August 1861), 2;  (14 September 1861), 4; (1 October 1861) 4; and (15 October 1861), 4.]

The Nor’-Wester of 1 June includes: “Indian Land Title,” the memorial of the Aborigines Protection Society to the Duke of Newcastle, followed by “Petition from Peguis“; “The American Rebellion. Fort Sumpter Captured!“; “The Late Sister Valade,” a eulogy to sister Mme Louise Valade, Superioress of the convent of St. Boniface, who died the previous week; Part 8 “History of the Red River Settlement“; “The Late Flood“; “Destructive Fire at St. Boniface“; “Fearful Explosion of an Oil Well“; “Latest from the States“; “Foreign News“; “Emancipation in Russia.”

The 15 June edition includes: “The Hudson’s Bay Territories,” by Alexander Kennedy Isbister; “Life at Red River Settlement” lauding the advent of a local paper; “Deputation to the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Governor and Committee,” the “United Kingdom Alliance — an association laboring to suppress the liquor traffic” has as members, Captain Kennedy, A.K. Isbister, Rev. H. Fry, Rev. Dawson Burns, and others, who present a memorial to the Committee; “Catholic Ascendance,” disputes Rev. Corbett’s complaint that HBC Governor Mactavish favours Catholics in the settlement; “The Public Roads“; “St. John’s Cathedral Church“; “The Troops Going“; “Liquor Licenses“; “Indignation Meetings” at White Horse Plains on the land question at the chapel and in Headingley; “Council of Assiniboia” notes the death of Dr. John Bunn, the appointment of James Ross as “Governor of the Gaol and Sheriff of Assiniboia,” the appointment of Francois Bruneau as President of the Middle District Petty Court, and the appointment of Henry McKenney as a Petty Magistrate of the same; Part 9 “History of the Red River Settlement”; “Arrival of the Steamboat“; “Funeral of the Late Dr. Bunn“; “Terrible News from South America. Total Destruction of Mendoza“; “Foreign News“; “Parting Gratitude” for medical care received; “American Civil War“; “Who Makes War?“;

The Royal Canadian Rifles depart from the settlement.

The Governor and the Council of Assiniboia ask the Nor’-Wester to publish a petition to have troops stationed in the settlement. [See “The Troops Going,” Nor’-Wester (15 June 1861), 2; “More Troops Needed,” Nor’-Wester (14 September 1861), 2.]

Coldwell and Ross publish a counter-petition critical of “weak and inefficient” HBC government. It quotes HBC Council of Assiniboia minutes for the meeting at which the request that British troops be stationed in the settlement arose and observes, “we consider it time we had some direct influence in the affairs of government. Our legislative body is composed entirely of nominees of the Hudson’s Bay Company in London, and we, for whom they legislate, have no voice whatever in their appointment and exercise no control over their proceedings.” It calls for “the security of life and property which, as British subjects, we ought to have” instead of HBC rule, which “is distasteful to the people of the Colony … [as] they [the HBC councillors] are merchants as well as governors … [and] their self-interest and their duty often clash, and results in the injury to the public.”
[Nor’-Wester (17 November 1861), 2?. See “Municipal Governance,” Nor’-Wester (1 August 1861), 1, columns 1, 2, and 3; “An Elective Council for Red River,” Nor’-Wester (15 August 1861), 2, columns 2, 3.]

The Gov. and Council of Assiniboia reprimand Ross, stating “such conduct was incompatible with his position as an Officer of the Government,” and remove him from the position of postmaster, sheriff, and governor of the jail.

Ross organizes public meetings — in the parish of St. James declaring that the Settlement was “entitled to responsible government.” Rev. John Chapman of St. Paul’s parish also “urged the need of a change to a Crown Colony” [A.S. Morton 858 – 859]

The Nor’-Wester’s series of articles entitled “The History of the Red River Settlement,” have caused widespread offence. Riel accuses Ross of authorship, and of sharing the Franco-phobic sentiments of Adam Thom. Ross denies the charge. saying the writing was done by another pen [the content was more in keeping with the sentiments of the ‘Canadian Party,’ which has rallied around John Christian Schultz ]. For his own part, Ross states that Half-breeds, whether of French or English ancestry, “both stand on the same footing, and they ought to regard each other as brethren. We have always viewed them as one people – each interested in the other’s welfare – common heirs of a like ancestry – collateral branches of the same family – and bound by every consideration of patriotism as well as nationality to uphold and defend each other.” [Nor’-Wester (15 August 1861), 2? See “A Cure for the Blues,” Nor’-Wester (14 September 1861), 2, continued next column, in which Riel’s complaint is translated, and Ross praises French-speaking Councillors of Assiniboia and leaders in the French parishes: “the Bruneaus, the Amlins, the Marions, the Genthons, the Ducharmes, the Fishers, the Deases, the Brelands, the Delormes, and many others too numerous to mention. these are their principal men and they are a credit to the Settlement.”


The new HBC Governor of Assiniboia, Alexander Grant Dallas (previously stationed in British Columbia), arrives. James Ross is reinstated as Sheriff and Governor of the Gaol.

In the U.S.:

The U.S. – Dakota War/ Sioux Uprising/ Outbreak/ Conflict/ Little Crow‘s War begins. Dakotah and U.S. government settlement agencies collide over treaty violations in a series of violent encounters dubbed the “Minnesota massacre” by the press. Thousands of Sioux flee, while 2000 men, women, and children are taken captive. On the day after Christmas, 38 men are executed in the largest official public hanging in American history at Mankato, Minnesota.

[See Kenneth Carley, ed., “As Red Men Viewed It: Three Indian Accounts of the Uprising,” Minnesota History 38, no. 3, Special Sioux War Issue (September 1962).

In Assiniboia:

A petition is sent to the British government requesting troops. Britain declines, the Colonial Secretary stating that the Crown was not responsible for protecting Rupert’s Land.


Settlers petition the HBC Council of Assiniboia to have cavalry organized to protect the settlement. The Council declines, being of the opinion that the Dakota have no intention of attacking Red River.

[See Alvin C. Gluek, “The Sioux Uprising: A Problem in International Relations,” Minnesota History (Winter 1955).

In England:

The HBC is purchased by Edward William Watkin and the International Financial Society, which

“included prominently in its membership representatives of the Glyn and Baring Brothers‘ financial houses, which were deeply involved financially in the Grand Trunk Railway. These interests, represented by the redoubtable Edward Watkin, had come to the conclusion that the salvation of Grand Trunk could be achieved only by an ambitious program of railway construction to the west and the colonization of the Hudson’s Bay territory. When the society floated shares in the re- organized company on the open market, it offered as the major inducement to investment the lure of lucrative returns from land sales. Sir Edmund Head, the first chairman of the board of directors, and his successors were wholeheartedly committed to the opening of the southern area of Rupert’s Land to colonization.

During the negotiations in 1863 for the transfer of the company’s rights, one group — the chief factors and traders, called the “wintering partners” — was ignored. … The failure of the old company to notify its overseas representatives of its intentions and, worse, its deception of these agents seemed to them both legally and morally wrong.”

[John S. Galbraith, “The Hudson’s Bay Land Controversy, 1863-1869,” Mississippi Valley Historical Review 36, no. 3 (December 1949): 457-478.]

In the U.S.:

Ex-Indian Agent, Major Edwin A.C. Hatch organizes the ‘maverick’ Independent Battalion of Cavalry, Minnesota Volunteers (over the objections of Brigadier-Generals of the Volunteers, John Pope and Henry Hastings Sibley) for the express purpose of capturing Dakota who had fled to Red River on the suspicion of their having participated in the revolt of 1862 – 1863. Hatch is located at Pembina, with no authority to cross the international boundary. He contracts with A.G.B. Bannatyne, merchant at Red River, to have supplies delivered for the troops.

[See Trish Short Lewis, “Major Hatch: Pembina and the Indian Wars,” St. Vincent Memories, http://56755.blogspot.ca/2010/06/major-hatch-pembina-indian-wars.html]

In Assiniboia:

Some 600 Dakota refugees arrive at Upper Fort Garry, Red River, having deserted their winter camps out of fear of Major Edwin A.C. Hatch‘s detachment. A.G.B. Bannatyne informs Hatch that only 9 among them had participated in the uprising and they are willing to surrender if they are guaranteed a fair trial and the rest of the people are fed. HBC Governor of Assiniboia, Alexander Grant Dallas, supplies £350 to £400 worth of food and ammunition for hunting to the Dakota refugees. On Christmas day they relocate out onto Whitehorse Plain. Hatch demands their unconditional surrender.

In the North-West:

On 21 December a public meeting is held, under the auspices of Father Albert Lacombe, for inhabitants at Big Lake and Lac Ste-Anne “to consider the necessity of organising some sort of Government.” Lacombe points out “the necessity of rules and regulations of some kind or common guidance” to avoid being “like savages in a state of nature.” A provisional government is established. Most of the attendees are apparently Usonians and Canadians, but there “is to be another gathering in March when all the plain hunters come in.”

[See ‘Viator’, Nor’-Wester (17 March 1864), 3.]


In Assiniboia:

Although the majority of Dakota refuse Major Edwin A.C. Hatch‘s demand, some 100 individuals surrender to him at Pembina. They are not people Hatch is interested in capturing, but they are imprisoned. By way of a message carried by John H. McKenzie (previously of Montreal, then Hutchison, Minnesota, and currently at Red River), and the promise of money, Hatch solicits fellow freemasons ‘Dr.’ John Christian Schultz and A.G.B. Bannatyne to carry out the abduction of Eatoka/ Shakpedan/ Zhaagobens/ Little Shakopee/ Sakpe/ Little Six (a leader of the Yankton Dakota in Minnesota), and Wa-Kan-O-Zhan-Zhan/ Wa-Kan-O-Zan-Zan/ Medicine Bottle. On the understanding that if the two men are delivered to Hutch all other Dakota will not be harmed — and that Bannatyne’s provisioning contract with Hutch would continue — Bannatyne supplies wine, which Schultz laces with laudenum. Mackenzie and Onisime Giguere/ George Guiers (of Canada West), who are ‘friends’ of the wanted men Having previously traded with them), hold a sham council at White Horse Plain with the Dakota. They lure Little Six and Medicine Bottle into a trap: inviting them to journey that night to Red River on the pretense of arranging a meeting the next morning with HBC Governor of Assiniboia, Alexander Grant Dallas, and James ‘Wahan’/ ‘Bear Skin’ McKay (negotiator of a Métis – Dakota Peace after the Battle of Grand Couteau [1851] and an interpreter whom they trust). The men are given shelter at the settlement, and plied with food and the drugged wine. When they fall asleep they are chloroformed, bound, and transported across the border where they are delivered to Hatch. (Other people allegedly involved include D.L. Kingsley and ‘Jaguish’ — who are apparently Americans at Pembina.) The episode is described as “disgraceful” by HBC Governor Dallas.

Hatch and his brigade leave Pembina for Fort Abercrombie with their two prisoners. Little Six And Medicine Bottle are transferred to Fort Snelling.

[See Alan R. Woolworth, “A Disgraceful Proceeding: Intrigue in the Red River Country in 1864,” The Beaver 48, no. 4 (Spring 1869): 54-59; and Carol Chomsky, “The United States – Dakota War Trials: A Study in Military Injustice,” Stanford Law Review 43, no. 1 (November 1990): 13-98. See also The Story of Manitoba http://www.electriccanadian.com/history/manitoba/story/chapter23.htm; David G. McCrady, Living with Strangers: The Nineteenth-century Sioux and the Canadian – American Borderlands (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010), 17-23; and Waziyatawin, What Does Justice Look Like? The Struggle for Liberation in the Dakota Homeland (St. Paul MN: Living Justice Press, 2008).]

John Christian Schultz  buys out James Ross’ share of the Nor’-Wester.

Rev. Griffith Owen Corbett leaves the settlement.

In the U.S.:

David Goodman Croly invents the term ‘miscegenation.’ During the U.S. elections of 1864, he combines the Latin verb ‘miscere’ (to mix) with the noun ‘genus’ (‘race’/type) as part of a pamphleteering hoax that  raises the spectre of ‘white’ disappearance through ‘racial mixing.’

[See David G. Croly, Miscegenation: The Theory of the Blending of the Races, applied to the American White Man and Negro (New York: H. Dexter, Hamilton & Co., 1864). The invention occurs on page 2, where the verb, associated verb, noun, adjective, and other invented terms are defined. Skin colour is the primary point of difference that the Croly’s disingenuous argument seeks to address. He states that “wherever, through conquest, colonization, or commerce, different nationalities are blended, a superior human product invariably results.” The consequence (to be feared by some) is that “Mixed breeds are very often superior, in almost all their physical qualities, to all the present races, and particularly with so much vigor of propagation, that they often gain ground upon the older varieties and gradually supersede them.” Thus, “in the course of time the dark races must absorb the white” (the ‘white’ comprising “only a comparatively small fraction of the people who inhabit the planet”). Everyone on the American continent is destined — once the “fullest results of civilisation” are attained — to become “a yellow-skinned, black-haired people.” He offers two other peculiar arguments: that a greater number of females than males in a ‘racial’ population is a marker of weakness and degeneration; that the first wave of miscegenation to be noticeable by skin colour would see the poorest among the ‘white’ (Irish Catholics) mingling with the poorest among  the  dark-skinned (African Americans).]

In England:

Edward Cardwell, Secretary of State for the Colonies, regards the establishment of a Crown colony as impracticable, and the HBC’s possession of the North-West to be both a barrier to progress and likely to inspire American aggression. In July, therefore, he asks the government of the Province of Canada whether it would be willing to undertake the administration of any part of the territory.

[John S. Galbraith, “The Hudson’s Bay Land Controversy, 1863-1869,” Mississippi Valley Historical Review 36, no. 3 (December 1949): 457-478.]

In Canada:

James Ross arrives at Toronto to study law.

The Quebec Conference is held in October.

Afterwards, the Canadian government [meaning Canada East/ Upper Canada/ Ontario and Canada West/ Lower Canada/ Quebec] feels it is in a position to respond positively to Cardwell’s inquiry. George Brown, editor of the Toronto Globe and “one of the leading spokesmen of the view that Canada’s destiny was linked with the West,” is sent to London to consult with the Colonial Office and to begin negotiations with the HBC. [he arrives in December, accomplishes little, then heads home]


James Ross passes his bar exam and is awarded an M.A. He works as a journalist for George Brown, editor of the Toronto Globe.

George Brown, John A. Macdonald, Georges E. Cartier, and Alexander T. Galt, head to London for discussions with the Colonial Office about acquiring Rupert’s Land.

In England:

Edward Cardwell, Secretary of State for the Colonies, wants Canada to get the western lands, but is dubious of the contention that the HBC possesses no legal claim. An agreement is reached in June, that “Rupert’s Land should be transferred to Canada ‘subject to such rights as the Hudson’s Bay Company might be able to establish,’ and that compensation to the company, ‘if any,’ would be made by Canada with a loan guaranteed by the Imperial government.” The HBC is not party to the negotiations, nor the agreement, yet effectively it denied the company “the right to sell its rights to any other agency than the government of Canada.”

[John S. Galbraith, “The Hudson’s Bay Land Controversy, 1863-1869,” Mississippi Valley Historical Review 36, no. 3 (December 1949): 457-478.]

In the U.S.:

American Civil War ends.

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolishes slavery.

Chief Little Six and Medicine Bottle are executed at Fort Snelling, hanged together on 11 November 1865.

In Assiniboia:

Hugh F. Olone (formerly a captain in the Union army), Jim Clewett (ex-corporal, Union cavalry), and Bill Sammon/ Salmon (ex-sergant, Union army) arrive at Portage la Prairie with wagons of trade goods and some “two hundred gallons” of whiskey.


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