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The Story of Manitoba
Chapter XIII The Second Party


Before Lord Selkirk's first party of settlers had reached the Red River a second party was on its way. His agents had been making an active canvass of England and Scotland for colonists, but do not seem to have met with very encouraging success; in Ireland, however, Mr. Owen Keveny, who was to lead the second party, had enlisted a considerable number, and when all its members were embarked at Stornoway, he had seventy-one people in his charge.

The colonists were favored with fair weather, and the voyage was much shorter than that of 1811. It was marked by an exciting incident, for some of the crew had decided to mutiny, capture the ship's officers, and cruise the seas under the black flag. But hints of the plot came to the ears of the passengers, who promptly notified the captain; and when the time seemed ripe for the uprising and the first mutineer put his head through the hatchway, he found the ship's swivel-guns shotted and turned towards it and her officers well armed and waiting. Before he could recover from his surprise at such a reception, one of his arms was severed by the' stroke of a cutlass; and the unexpected turn of events so discouraged the other mutineers that they surrendered. The leaders were punished by being obliged to "run the gauntlet," and the mutiny was over.

Fever broke out on the ship before the voyage was ended, but no deaths re suited; and except for sickness and the mutiny, the trip was a pleasant one. The second party seems to have been more contented and hopeful than the first; but in ail their forecasts of the future, few of them were likely to picture its realities. Young Andrew McDermott may never have imagined that he would become the leading merchant of the settlement and a benefactor of his fellow citizens in many ways; John Bourke, ''a useful man,'' as the agent's list informs us, may not have guessed that he and his descendants would give the community such good reasons to endorse the record; Owen Keveny could have had no presentiment that his skeleton would lie unburied for years on an island in the Winnipeg River where the ruffian, Reinhart, struck him down at the instigation of a North-West Company's agent; J. Warren could not have foreseen that he would die of wounds inflicted by half breeds in the course of the companies quarrel; and Heden, the blacksmith, could not have imagined that he would be taken out of the settlement as a prisoner after the skirmish at Seven Oaks. Some of the party were to suffer from frost, hunger, and long journeys in the wilderness; but for the time being their sky was unclouded, and they had nothing to do except to get all the pleasure possible from the voyage.

Before the voyage was completed one of the young men on board and one of the young women had decided that their life in the new land, would be far more happy and successful, if they could live it together; and fate seemed to have kept its special favors for them, for when they landed at York Factory they found Father Bourke there, waiting to go hack in the ship which had drought them out. So they were married at once; and we may he sure that their after life was none the less happy because the marriage ceremony was performed by a Roman Catholic priest, even though they were Presbyterians, as the story tells us. Life on the frontier has a happy way of shaking itself free from many of the unreasonable prejudices and conventions of older communities. This was probably the first marriage celebrated by a clergyman in Manitoba.

Among the names of the men in Lord Selkirk's second party of settlers we find the following: Andrew McDermott, John Bourke, J. Warren, Charles Sweeny, James Heron, Hugh Swords, John Cunningham, Michael Ileden, George Holmes, Robert McVicar, Edward Costello, Francis Heron, James Bruin, John Mclntyre, James Pinkham, Donald McDonald, and Hugh McLean. Many of their descendants are numbered among Manitoba's citizens today, and some of them have occupied prominent places in the life of the community.

It was not very late when their ship reached York, but many of the party seem to have remained there for the winter, and we are told that they were housed in the company's buildings at the fort instead of being sent up to the "Nelson Encampment." Several of the men, however, decided to push on to the settlement at once, and all, except three, arrived there safely on October 27, 1812. The three remained to assist some servants of the Hudson's Bay Company who were fishing on the shore of Lake Winnipeg. The fishing proved a failure, and the three men started to walk to the settlement, following the eastern shore of the lake. They had no food except such small game as they could kill along the trail. When this could not be obtained, they gathered tripe de roche from the rocks, boiled it, and tried to cheat their hunger with the unpalatable mess. Finally two of the men, exhausted by cold, hunger, and fatigue, lay down to die; but the third staggered on. Overtaken by darkness and a blizzard, he, too, was about to give up in despair, when he heard the sound of bells, and a few minutes later he met some employees of the North-West Company driving a team of dogs. His helpless companions were rescued, and all were taken to the company's post at the mouth of the Winnipeg River and kindly cared for. When they were fit to travel, they were sent up the Red River to the settlement.

In the meantime the settlers themselves had gone further up the river. Captain Macdonell found himself face to face with a very difficult problem. He had to provide food for nearly a hundred people who had reached a district where little food could be bought and who had had no chance to raise crops for themselves. During the autumn they could catch fish in the river, but as soon as winter came little food could be obtained from this source, and they, like the other inhabitants, must depend on the winter buffalo hunt. So, very soon after their arrival at the Forks, Macdonell took his colonists up to Pembina, the headquarters of the hunting parties. A band of mounted Indians convoyed them thither and kindly carried the smaller children; but the larger boys and girls and the adults had to make the journey of sixty miles on foot. Indians are fond of practical jokes, and they gave the anxious Scotch mothers many a bad scare by pretending to gallop off across the plains with the little ones. The French and the half-breeds living at Pembina seem to have received the strangers kindly, although their arrival meant a large increase in the number to be fed from the proceeds of the hunt and the new arrivals could lend but little assistance in it.

As soon as they reached Pembina, Captain Macdonell selected a spot about two miles away, and began to construct winter quarters for his colonists. In the meantime they were sheltered in the houses of the Pembina people or in such temporary structures as they could put up for themselves. Early in the new year log huts to house them all had been completed; but these buildings were far from being comfortable, for the floors were of clay, and the openings for windows had to be tilled with hay to keep out the winter wind. Captain Macdonell called the place Fort Daer. The colonists received a share of the meat obtained by the Metis hunters, and were helped by them in many ways : nevertheless the winter was one of great hardship.

Early in the spring the disheartened settlers returned to Colony Gardens, and began to work their farms; but as they lacked teams and implements, only small patches of land could be seeded. The remainder of the second party came up from York Factory early in the summer, but their coming seemed to add to the distress of the people who had arrived the year before. It was very difficult to obtain food. For some reason fish were very scarce in the lakes and rivers that season, and there was a small crop of wild fruits. Only the free use of wild roots growing 011 the prairies saved some of the people from starvation during that hard summer. The wheat which they sowed had grown and ripened well, but having so little to sow in the spring, it was necessary to save the whole yield as seed for the next season. When winter returned Miles Macdonell could do nothing but march his hungry settlers back to Fort Daer once more and trust to the buffalo hunt for food.

The Metis were naturally a hospitable people, and had they been left to themselves, they would probably have received the unfortunate colonists as kindly as they did a year earlier; but the enmity of the North-West partners in Montreal towards Lord Selkirk's colony had been transmitted to the company's agents in the west and by them to the Metis, who naturally sympathized with a company whose headquarters were in Lower Canada and which claimed to be the legitimate successor of the early French traders. Easily influenced and very excitable, the half-breeds became reckless partisans of the North-West Company. So the settlers did not find themselves welcome visitors when they went to Pembina in the fall of 1813. The cold was severe, the snow was deep, and the Scotch and Irish were without skill in hunting. Two of them attempted to join the Pembina hunters, but desisted when they learned of a plot to take their lives. The colonists obtained a little food for themselves, the more friendly Metis brought them meat occasionally, and the Indians, who always seemed well disposed towards the settlers, helped them as far as possible; but their misery was great, although they parted with nearly all their possessions in exchange for food. They went back to the settlement in the spring, absolutely destitute and vowing never to go to Fort Daer or Pembina again.

Captain Macdonell's position at the beginning of that year 1811 was more difficult than ever before. He had to provide food for a hundred starving and helpless people, and he expected another hundred, equally helpless, to arrive during the summer. Practically the only supply of food in the country consisted of a limited amount of pemmican and the meat which might be obtained from the winter buffalo hunt, and 110 provisions could be procured from other sources for at least six months. He believed that the governing powers bestowed on the Hudson's Bay Company by its charter had been transferred to Lord Selkirk with the title to his lands and that as his lordship's representative he was justified in exercising those powers; so he took a step for which he has been greatly blamed, because it helped to provoke the most lawless and violent acts in the contest of the rival fur companies, in the course of which the settlers endured the greatest loss and suffering.

Early in January, 1814, Captain Macdonell, who had been appointed governor of the little colony by the Earl of Selkirk, issued the following proclamation:

"Whereas the Right Honorable Thomas Earl of Selkirk is anxious to provide for the families at present forming settlements on his lands-at Red River, With those on the way to it, passing the winter at York and Churchill forts, in Hudson's Bay, as also those who are expected to arrive next autumn, renders it a necessary and indispensable part of my duty to provide for their support. In the yet uncultivated state of the country, the ordinary resources derived from the buffalo and other wild animals hunted within the territory, are not deemed more than adequate for the requisite supply.

"Whereas it is hereby ordered that no person trading furs or provisions within the territory for the Honorable Hudson's Bay Company or the North-West Company, or any individual or unconnected traders, or persons whatever, shall take any provisions, either of flesh, fish, grain, or vegetable, procured or raised within the said territory, by water or land carriage, for one twelvemonth from the date hereof; save and except what may be judged necessary for the trading parties at this present time within the territory, to carry them to their respective destinations; and who may, on due application to me, obtain a license for the same.

"The provisions procured and raised as above shall be taken for the use of the colony; and that no loss may accrue to the parties concerned, they will be paid for by British bills at the customary rates. And it is hereby further made known, that whosoever shall be detected in attempting to convey out, or shall aid and assist in carrying out, or attempting to carry out, any provisions prohibited as above, either by water or land, shall be taken into custody, and prosecuted as the laws in such cases direct, and the provisions so taken, as well as any goods and chattels, of what nature soever, which may be taken along with them, and also the craft, carriages and cattle, instrumental in conveying away the same to any part but to the settlement on Red River, shall be forfeited.

"Given under my hand at Port Daer (Pembina) the 8tli day of January, 1814.

(Signed) Miles Macdonell, Governor.

By order of the Governor.

(Signed) John Spencer, Secretary."

The evidence does not warrant the conclusion that Macdonell took this step to injure the North-West Company. Extreme conditions sometimes demand extreme measures, and this act was simply the last resource of a man doing his best in a difficult and responsible position. Nevertheless the proclamation roused much indignation. The Metis hunters declared that it interfered ,with their


JEAN, COUNTESS OF SELKIRK

right to sell pemmiean where they pleased. The agents of the North-West Company protested that it would cripple their trade, inasmuch as the war between Canada and the United States prevented the importation of provisions from Montreal, and that their brigades in the far west were entirely dependent on the pemmican supplied by the Red River country. The Abbe Dugas tells us that, in response to the protest of the North-Westers, Macdonell gave them permission to send out the provisions necessary for their western posts, on condition that they would furnish him with an equal quantity later, should the colonists need it. Although this arrangement seemed satisfactory to the local agents, the partners in Montreal repudiated it, when they heard of it, and later in the season they ordered the agents to send provisions west without regard to Governor Macdonell's proclamation.

The proclamation might hove done little harm, if Macdonell had not attempted to enforce the embargo in a practical way. Having been informed that the North-West Company was not living up to the agreement which he had made with it, he sent John Warren to seize a supply of food stored in a North-West pest some distance west of Pembina; and in June John Spencer, who acted as sheriff of the colony, was sent to seize the provisions kept in the North-West fort at the mouth of the Souris River. Spencer seems to have been doubtful about the wisdom of such a step and perhaps uncertain about its legality, for he insisted on receiving written instructions and a warrant to make the seizure. These were given him, and he was furnished with a strong guard. Proceeding to Fort a la Souris, he demanded the surrender of the food stored there. John Pritchard, the agent in charge, had too few men to attempt any effective resistance; but he refused to give up the supplies, and so Spencer was obliged to break open the storehouse to secure them. He took six hundred bags of pemmican, each weighing about eighty-five pounds, and had them conveyed to Brandon House.

The resentment of the North-Westers over these seizures was aggravated by Lord Selkirk's efforts to drive them off the lands which he had pur chased from the Hudson's Bay Company. His lordship regarded them as trespassers, and on April 15, 1814, he directed Governor Macdonell to serve all the agents of the company with notices to quit the forts and posts occupied by them in Assiniboia. and he advised that the notices should be given in writing as well as verbally and before a sufficient number of witnesses.

The annual meeting of the North-West partners opened at Fort William early in August, and there was much indignation among them when they learned the details of the steps taken by Governor Macdonell. Some time before McGillivray, writing to his partners, had said, "Lord Selkirk must be driven to abandon his projects, for his success would strike at the very existence of our trade;'" and this was the key-note of the policy which the men meeting at Fort William decided to adopt. Duncan Cameron, who had had a long experience in the company's posts about Lake Superior, was sent to Fort Gibraltar at the forks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers and was instructed to use every means to alienate the sympathies of the settlers from Lord Selkirk and the Hudson's Bay Company; Cuthbert Grant, a Scotch half-breed, was to keep in close touch with the hunters of the plains: Alexander McDonell was to proceed to the Qu'Appelle district, where he was well known, and hold the sympathy of the Metis there; and James Grant at Fond du Lac was to keep the Pillager Indians of his district in readiness for a descent upon the colonists, if less harsh measures failed to drive them from the country. These plots against a few inoffensive settlers may seem incredible, hut letters* exist showing that they were actually made. Alexander McDonell was a brother-in-law of "William McGillivray, one of the leading partners of the North-West Company, and he was a brother of that Aeneas McDonell, who had been killed in the tight at Eagle Lake during the fall of 1809. Thus personal feelings helped to inflame his hostility towards the Hudson's Bay Company and the colony which it had allowed the Earl of Selkirk to found. On August 5, 1814, he wrote to McGillivray:

"You see myself and our mutual friend, Mr. Cameron, so far on our way to commence open hostilities against the enemy in Red River. Much is expected from us. and if we believe some—too much. One thing certain is that we will do our best to defend what we consider our rights, in the interior. Something serious will undoubtedly take place. Nothing but the complete downfall of the colony will satisfy some, by fair or foul means—a most desirable object if it can he accomplished. So here is at them with all my heart and energy."

Writing to James Grant about the same time, McDonell said, "I wish that some of your Pillagers who are so full of mischief and plunder would pay a hostile visit to these sons of gunpowder and riot. They might make good booty if they went cunningly to work. Not that I wish butchery; God forbid;''

Soon after the bourgeois and clerks of the North-West Company had returned from the meeting at Fort William, their anger against Lord Selkirk and his colonists was further inflamed by receipt of the notices which the earl had ordered Governor Macdonell to send out. They were required to quit all their posts in Assiniboia within six months, and the governor's notice contained the warning, i4If after this notice your buildings are continued, I shall be under the necessity of razing them to the foundations." The employees of the NorthWest Company were not allowed to cut any more timber either for buildings or for fuel, and what they had cut might be seized. They were also forbidden to fish in any waters included in the earl's grant of land, and if they put down nets, these might be destroyed. Lord Selkirk was thoroughly convinced that He had the same rights to the timber, fish, and game oil his immense grant of prairie as he would have on an estate in Britain, and Macdonell seems to have shared the earl's opinion. In his instructions to his agents the governor said, "We are so fully advised by the unimpeachable validity of the rights of property that there can be no scruple in enforcing them, wherever you have the physical means. If they make forcible resistance, they are acting illegally, and are responsible for what they do, while you are safe, so long as you take only the reasonable and necessary means of enforcing that which is right."

In the meantime the settlers, not dreaming of the plots of the hostile North-Westers nor of the trouble which the near future held in store for them, had been cultivating their farms as well as they could. They were determined not to go to Fort Daer again in the autumn | so they had sown all the wheat and planted all the potatoes possible. The season proved very favorable; and the settlers, harassed so long by an unkind fate, began to think that comfort and prosperity were almost within their reach. They were cheered, too. by the arrival of a large party of new colonists during the summer. Lord Selkirk was making further efforts to secure cattle for them, as we learn from one of his letters to Governor Macdonell.

Nor was the earl mindful only of the temporal welfare of his colonists. With the first party he had sent a priest, Father Bourke; but Macdonell did not find him adapted for work on the frontier, and so he did not accompany the settlers on their journey south from York, but returned to Ireland. The earl made several attempts to induce another priest to go to Red River, and in a letter to the governor, written early in 1814, he expresses his regret that he had been unsuccessful. He was equally anxious to send a minister for his Presbyterian colonists. Lord Selkirk also tried, but with little success, to provide schools for the settlers' children.


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