Geography and history are closely related, even inextricably linked. In some respects geography is more tangible: as visual cues of the relation of past to present, maps can sometimes make history seem more directly relevant than written texts do, and in a much shorter span of time. The information coded on a map is often immediately graspable in instances where illustrating the same point via written description might require convoluted cross-referencing of details.[1] The following maps and illustrations help clarify the geographical and architectural context of the political events at Red River Settlement, Rupert’s Land/Assiniboia, 1869-1870.

Rupert’s Land:

  • Map of Rupert’s Land prior to 1818.
  • Map of U.S Territorial Acquisitions, showing land ceded to the U.S. after the 49th parallel was established as the international border in 1818, in keeping with the Treaty of Ghent that was negotiated after the War of 1812 (the Selkirk Treaty of 1817 had claimed to cover the lands further south).
  • John Arrowsmith, facsimile map, “Map of North America,” (1857), showing, as coloured green, the ‘plantation’ of Rupert’s Land, claimed by the Hudson’s Bay Company [HBC] by virtue of the charter granted by King Charles II. Other British territories are shaded pink, some of which also fell under the governance of the HBC — at one point, the Company oversaw almost three million square miles of land (one-twelfth of the earth’s surface). Russian territory is shaded yellow.

Red River Settlement:

Note the differences in parish names when the above map is compared to that immediately below.

  • Plan of the Red River Settlement devised for the first election in Manitoba (Source: Archives of Manitoba). The original was drawn by C.C.J. Bond and printed in The Birth of Western Canada: A history of the Riel Rebellions by George F.G. Stanley  (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1961).

The Town Winnipeg:

Note the location of the Garret House building. This photo seems to show the view eastward down Thistle Street (newly put in across from Portage Avenue), with Main Street south to the right. The building on the right would then be Devlin’s Restaurant (the McDermot building/Red River Hall, which was apparently standing to 1873 would be off to the left, out of view.

Upper Fort Garry Courthouse and Gaol:


[1] See Archer Martin, The Hudson’s Bay Company’s land tenures and the occupation of Assiniboia by Lord Selkirk’s Settlers, with a list of grantees under the Earl and the Company (London: William Clowes and Sons, 1898), for an example of a complicated verbal description of territory.


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