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The Romantic Settlement of Lord Selkirk's Colonists
Chapter 25 Eden Invaded

The conception of Red River Settlement being an Idyllic Paradise was not confined to the writer, whose picture we have described as "Apples of Gold." It was a self-contained spot, distant from St. Anthony Falls (now Minneapolis) some four or five hundred miles, and this was its nearest neighbor of importance. Our astronomers thus describe it as an orb in space, and the celebrated Milton and Cheadle Expedition of 1862 looked upon it as an "oasis." It was often represented as being enclosed behind the Chinese wall of Hudson's Bay Company exclusiveness, and thus as hopelessly retired. The writer remembers well, when entering Manitoba, in the year after it ceased to be Red River Settlement, as he called upon the pioneer of his faith, who, for twenty years, had held his post, the old man said, when youthful plans of progress were being advanced to him, oh, rest! rest! there are creatures that prefer lying quietly at the bottom of the pool rather than to be always plunging through the troublous waters. Certainly, to the old people, there was a feeling of freedom from care, as of its being a lotus-eater's land—an Utopia; an Eden, before sin entered, and before "man's disobedience brought death into the world and all our woe."

We are not disposed to press Milton's metaphor any further in regard to the disturbers who came in upon Frank Larned's peaceful scene.

The time for opening up Rupert's Land was approaching. The agitation of the people themselves, the constant petitions to Great Britain and Canada called for it. The set time had come; 1857 was a red letter year in this advance. In that year the British Parliament appointed a large and powerful committee to investigate all phases of Rupert's Land, its history; government; geological, climatic, physical, agricultural, social, and religious conditions. The blue book of that year is a marvel of intelligent work. In this same year the British Government sent out the Palliser-Hector Expedition to Rupert's Land to obtain expert evidence in regard to all these points being considered by the Parliamentary Committee. Also in this year the Canadian Government dispatched the Dawson-Hind Expedition to obtain detailed information as to the physical and soil conditions of the prairie region, and it is said that the report of this party of explorers is one of the most accurate, sane, and useful accounts ever given of this prairie country.

With all this attention being paid to the country and with the press of Canada awakened to see the possibility of extending Canada in this direction, it is not to be wondered at, that adventurous spirits found out this Eden and sought in it for the tree of life, perchance often finding in it the tree of evil as well as that of good.

Of course, to the modern philosopher the disturbances of these peaceful seats is simply the symptom of progress and the struggle that is bound to take place in all development.

But to the Hudson's Bay Company pessimist, or to the grey-headed sage, the greatest disturbers of this Eden were two Englishmen, Messrs. Buckingham and Coldwell, who, in 1859, entered Red River Colony, and established that organ for good or evil, the newspaper. This first paper was called "The Nor'-Wester." It is amusing to read the comments upon its entrance made by Hudson's Bay Company writers, both English and French. The constitution and conduct of the Council of Assiniboia was certainly the weak point in the Hudson's Bay regime, and the Nor'-Wester kept this point so constantly before the people that it was really a thorn in the side of the Company. The Nor'-Wester, itself, was surely not free from troubles. The Red River Community was very small, so that it could not very well supply a constituency. Comparatively few of the people could read, many felt no need of newspapers, and the Company certainly did not encourage its distribution. It would have been a subject of constant amusement had the Nor'-Wester been in operation in the days of Judge Thom and his policy of repression. Mr. Buckingham did not remain long in Red River Settlement. Mr. Coldwell became the dean of newspaperdom in the Canadian West. The great antagonist of the Hudson's Bay Company, Dr. John Schultz, a Western Canadian, came to the Settlement in the same year as The Nor'-Wester—a medical man, he became also a merchant, a land-owner, a politician, and in this last sphere held many offices. At times he succeeded in controlling The Nor'-Wester, at other times the Hudson's Bay Company were able to direct The Nor'-Wester policy; sometimes Mr. James Ross, son of Sheriff Alexander Ross, was in control, but it may be said that in general its policy was hostile to that of the Company. About this time of beginnings came along a number of Americans, or Canadians, who had been in the United States, and these congregated in the little village, which began to280 form at what is now the junction of Main Street and Portage Avenue, in Winnipeg. Certain Canadians in St. Paul, such as Messrs. N.W. Kittson, and J.J. Hill, began at this time to take an interest in the trade of Red River Settlement, and to speak of communication between the Settlement and the outside world. The demand for transport led a company to bring in a steamer, the Anson Northrup, afterwards called "The Pioneer," to break the Red River solitude with her scream. The steamer International was built to run on the river in 1862, and thus the Hudson's Bay Company was unwittingly joining with The Nor'-Wester in opening up the country to the world, and sounding the death-knell of the Company's hopes of maintaining supremacy in Rupert's land.

The Anson Northrup
The machinery was brought from the Mississippi to the Red River. The name was changed to Pioneer in 1860. "International," larger boat of similar pattern was built by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1861. These steamers were run on the Red River.

Until this time of arrivals there had been no village of Winnipeg. The first building back from the McDermott, Ross and Logan buildings on the bank of Red River, was on the corner of Main and Portage Avenue. Here gathered those, who may be spoken of as free traders, being rivals of the Hudson's Bay Company Store at Fort Garry. Another village began a few years after at Point Douglas on Main Street, near the Canadian Pacific Railway Station of to-day, while at St. John's, on Main Street, was another nucleus. These were in existence when the old order passed away in 1870, but they are all absorbed into the City of Winnipeg of to-day. The Hudson's Bay Company, while long attached to its ancient customs, brought over from the seventeenth century, has fully and heartily adopted the new order of things. Glorying in the old, it has embraced the new, and has become thoroughly modern in all its enterprises. It has been a safe and solvent institution in its whole history. That it has been able to do this is no doubt, largely due to the enterprise and modern spirit of its great London Governor, who for years watched over its time of transition in Winnipeg—Donald A. Smith—Lord Strathcona of to-day.

When the regime of the Hudson's Bay Company is recalled old timers delight to think of a figure of that time who was an embodiment of the life of the Red River Settlement from its beginning nearly to its end. This was William Robert Smith, a blue-coat boy from London, who came out in the Company's service in 1813, served for a number of years as a clerk, and settled down in Lower Fort Garry District in 1824. Farming, teaching, catechising for the church, acting precentor, a local encyclopædia and collector of customs, he passed his versatile life, till in the year before the Sayer affair, 1848, he became clerk of Court, which place, with slight interruption, he held for twenty years. One who knew him says: "From his long residence in the Settlement, he has seen Governors, Judges, Bishops, and Clergymen, not to mention such birds of passage as the Company's local officers, come and go, himself remaining to record their doings to their successors."

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