Red River Settlement was located within the District of Assiniboia (the yellow circle on the map), which had Upper Fort Garry at its centre. The western-most border of the Dominion of Canada (consisting of the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia) was some 500 km.s/ 300 miles distant (or more).
Excerpt, “Annexation, Our Manifest Destiny,” Pioneer/ New Nation (1 December 1869), 2:
From Canada, we are separated by a distance of some seven hundred miles, and by a country, which on account of climate and sterility of its soil is unfit for settlement. It is one dismal waste of rocks and water; the rock of the hardest species of granite, almost impervious to blasting tools, and the water a continuation of rapids, falls, and lakes which admit of navigation only by canoes.
Transcript, “North-West Route,” The Daily Globe, Toronto (Tuesday, 8 March 1870), 4. [Excerpt from debates of house of Commons.]
Mr. MACKENZIE said last year a vote was taken to open up communication with the North-West, and the House was given to understand that during the recess means would be taken to open up communication more satisfactory than the one that previously existed. He would like to know what had been done in the matter.
Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD said that the events at Red River had probably thrown the Government off their balance, and kept them later than they would have otherwise been.
Mr. MACKENZIE said that as that was a matter in which he took great interest, he would merely say that if the Government had not decided on some plan, he would give notice that he should move for a Special Committee to inquire into the matter.
Hon. Mr. HOWE said that would hardly be necessary. He was in Red River in the fall, and could say that the work was prosecuting up to the commencement of the winter. The recent disturbances turned attention from all matters connected with public works. He was hardly in a position at present to divulge the policy of the Government, but after the papers had been brought down the Government would be in a position to tell what had been done.
Mr. MACKENZIE said he did not propose censure, but simply to ascertain what had been done.
MEANWHILE, travel to Canada was still primarily undertaken by way of crossing over U.S. territory, via St. Paul, Minnesota.
For Additional information on travel to St. Paul, MN see:
Henry C. Klassen, “The Red River settlement and the St. Paul route, 1859-1870,” M.A. thesis (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba, 1863), http://hdl.handle.net/1993/3433.