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The Story of Manitoba
Chapter XIV The Third Party

The opposition of the North West Company's partners to his colony stirred Lord Selkirk to greater efforts to insure its success, and his third party of settlers was larger than either of the two which hail preceded it. On June 28,1813, three vessels sailed away from Stromness in the Orkney Islands, bound for Hudson Bay. On board the Prince of Wales there were ninety-three settlers for the Red River colony in charge of Archibald Macdonaid; the Eddystone carried employees of the Hudson's Bay Company; and the third shiji was taking a party of Moravian missionaries to their lonely stations on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. The last war between Britain and the United States had not, come to an end, and there was danger from the war-ships and privateers of the republic; so the man-of-war Brazen was sent as an escort to the three merchant ships of the Hudson's Bay Company.

A few of the people who sailed from Stromness with this third party came from Ireland, but the majority were natives of Sutherlandshire in Scotland. About thirty of them belonged to Kildonan and about twenty to Borobal. Eighteen bore the name of Gunn, seventeen were Sutherlands, and thirteen were Bannermans; while the McKays and Smiths numbered six each, and the Stewarts and McBeths five each. Kerrigan and Sheil appear among the Irish names.

Two days after the hills of their native land had faded from the sight of the passengers, the ships overtook an American privateer towing a prize westward. They gave chase, and as four to one seemed an unequal contest to the captain of the privateer, he cut his tow rope and abandoned his prize. The chase was continued until darkness fell, but when daylight came again neither the captured ship nor her captor were to be seen.

By the end of July the Prince of Wales was in Hudson Strait, but instead of continuing to her destination, York, she made for the nearer port of Churchill Fever had broken out on the ship, several of the passengers were dangerously ill, and one had died; and so the captain was anxious to make the nearest land. The ship dropped anchor in Churchill Harbor on August 12, and her passengers were landed as soon as possible. Those who were able to make the journey were sent forward to York, a hundred miles distant. The trail was? bad, and food gave out when the party had traversed about half of it; but finally its members reached the factory and wintered there in great discomfort The sick were cared for at Fort Churchill, but seven or eight persons, including P. La Serre, the surgeon who came out with the party, died. When the others were sufficiently recovered, they were sent to cabins in the neighboring forest; and when winter came, all were housed there except one old couple who preferred the shelter of the fort.

Winter had scarcely passed when the people who had spent it in the log cabins at Churchill started on their long walk to York. There were twenty-one men and lads iu the party and twenty women and girls, and one fourth of its members were under eighteen years of age, while only two whose ages are given were over twenty-six. Only a part of the journey had been accomplished when Angus McKay's young wife, Jean, became ill. The supply of food for the party was so scanty "that the others could not wait. But they stopped long enough to set up a tent, bank it with snow, and gather a good supply of firewood; then, leaving some food, a musket, and ammunition, they resumed their inarch through the woods. As soon as the young mother was able to travel, she took the baby boy, who had been born in that snow-banked tent, her nineteen-year-old husband shouldered the musket and their small possessions, and they followed the rest of the party. Before the end of April they reached York Factory, where the others had arrived twenty-one days after leaving Churchill. Of the people who had left Stromness with the intention of settling at Red River eight had died and two had deserted; but Jean McKay's babe had been added to the party, and so w hen all its members were re-assembled at York, it numbered about eighty-four.

As soon as the rivers were free of ice, half the party gathered at York Factory was sent south and reached the settlement on .May 27. They were in time to plant potatoes and other vegetables, which furnished a valuable addition to the food supply of the colony for the next winter. The remaining members of the party left York Factory about a month later than the first contingent, and were met on Lake "Winnipeg by Governor Macdonell and some of his men. Two of the men in this third party of settlers seem to have abandoned the idea of farming and to have entered the service of the Hudson's Bay Company in July, but the others received the usual grants of land from Lord Selkirk's agent. He also gave each of them two Indian ponies, as well as a rifle and some ammunition.

The arrival of a third body of settlers did not tend to allay the indignation of the Nortli Westers, but it gave Duncan Cameron larger opportunity to carry out the task which the partners had assigned to him. When he arrived at Fort Gibraltar in the latter part of August, he made a great show of dignity and authority. Because he had been an officer in a regiment of Canadian militia at one time, he assumed the title of captain, donned a red coat, and carried a sword. He nailed his commission to the gate of the fort that all might be impressed with his authority, and set himself to win the confidence of the settlers. He spoke Gaelic, and that fact opened one way to their sympathy. He invited them to dinners and dances, and at these entertainments liquid refreshments were dispensed generously, while there was music from bagpipes and fiddles which appealed strongly to Highland hearts.

Cameron did not confine his energies to these quiet but cunning efforts to undermine the allegiance of Lord Selkirk's settlers. He had received from Alexander Norman McLeod, one of the North-West partners who held a magistrate's commission from the government of Canada, warrants for the arrest of Governor Macdonell and Sheriff Spencer. They were charged with breaking into the posts of the North-West Company at the mouth of the Souris and elsewhere and carrying away provisions and other property ot' the company. Spencer was arrested on September 5 and sent as a prisoner to a post on Rainy Lake; but the governor refused to recognize the warrants in Cameron's Lands.

The next hostile move was made by Captain Macdonell. He sent the following notice to Cameron:

'To Mr. Duncan Cameron, acting for the North-West Company at the Forks of the Red River:

Take Notice. That by the authority and acting on behalf of your landlord, the Right Honourable Thomas Earl of Selkirk. I do hereby warn you, and all your associates of the North-West Company, to quit the post and premises you now occupy at the Forks of the Red River, within six calendar months from the date hereof.

(Signed) Mile* Macdonell.

October 21, 1814."

This notice was in accordance with Selkirk's instructions that agents of the North-West Company, who occupied posts in Assiniboia, should be treated as tenants at will.

Most of the settlers seem to have remained in the settlement during the winter of 1814-15, instead of going to Pembina or Fort Daer as they had done in the two preceding winters. Duncan Cameron had made himself so agreeable to them after his arrival that many of them were ready to listen to his advice about their future plans. He assured them that Lord Selkirk's colony would be short lived and that they could not hope to secure permanent homes of their own in the country. He hinted at the hostility of Indians and half-breeds, which his influence alone restrained. Early in the autumn he had won the allegiance of George Campbell, one of the members of the third party and a man who seemed to have a good deal of influence with his neighbors, and this man became Cameron's active agent in fanning the colonists' discontent. Through him Cameron advised them to abandon Red River and go to Canada, where the North-West Company would aid them in securing free grants of land in districts less remote and where they would be provided with implements and with free supplies for a year. Small grants of money w ere promised to some of them. Campbell had been promised a considerable sum, and early in the winter he went to live in the North-Westers' fort. It would appear that some of the other settlers followed him there later.

The leaven of discontent, so skillfully placed by Cameron and Campbell, worked as they expected. Early in the new year several of the settlers had decided to abandon the colony in the spring. In a letter to two of them, written in February, Cameron said, "I do not ask you a cent for jour passage, nor for the provisions that you may need on the way. You are going to a good country, where you can find an honest livelihood for your families. We will bind ourselves to find farms for those who wish to have them.' f Writing to the same men in March, he said, "I rejoice that you are always of the same mind, especially that I will thus have an opportunity of delivering a greater number of people from slavery, and not only that, but of saving your lives, for everyday your lives are in danger from the Saulteanx and Sioux Indians." In the same letter he adds, "You need expect no justice in this country. However, before going, take all you can get hold of from the storehouse of the colony; 1 will buy the articles that may be of use here, and I will pay you for them in Canada."

If the Indians had been left to themselves, the danger to which Cameron alludes in his letter would have been fictitious, for they were friendly toward the settlers; but there is evidence, perhaps not wholly conclusive, that they were not left to themselves. Some time later the following declaration was made at Drummond Island by an Indian chief before Mr. John A skin, of the Department of Indian Affairs and a justice of the peace:

"Katawabetay (the chief) declares that in the spring of 1815, as he was at Lake du Sable, McKenzie and Morrison told him that they would give him and his people all the. goods or merchandise, as well as the rum that they had at Fort William and at Lake du Sable, if he, Katawabetay, and his warriors w ould declare, war against the Red River settlers; on which he asked McKenzie and Morrison if the request to make war on the settlers was by orders from the big chiefs at Quebec and at Montreal, or by the officers in command at Drummond Island, or in tine by the Justice of the Peace, J. Askin. The answer of McKenzie and Morrison was that the request came from the agents of the North-West Company, who desired that the settlement be destroyed because it injured them; on which Katawabetay said that neither he nor his people would acquiesce to their demand before having seen and consulted the justice of the peace, J. Askin; that after that, he, the Indian chief, would be governed according to the advice he would receive."

By the first of April George Campbell had induced nearly one-third of the two hundred odd settlers to abandon the colony; the others, whose recognized leader was Alexander McLean, were not to be lured away by such inducements as Cameron and his agent could offer. So Cameron decided to adopt intimidation instead of persuasion. Business had taken Captain Macdonell to Fort Daer at the time, and he had left Archibald Macdonald in charge at Colony Gardens ; so it seemed an opportune time for Cameron's next move. lie therefore handed the following order to George Campbell:

"Monday, 3rd April, 1815.

To Mr. Archihald Macdonald,

Guardian of the Fort.

I have authorized the settlers to take possession of your fieldpieces, but not for the purpose of using them in a hostile manner, but only to prevent a wrong use bring made of them. I hope that you will not be blind enough to your own interests to make any useless resistance, especially as nobody wants to do any harm either to you or to your people.

(Signed) D. Cameron,

Captain of the Corps of Voyageurs."

On the following Sunday, after the settlers had been dismissed from the religious service of the flay, Campbell informed them that he had received the above order; but. Macdonald seems to have regarded the statement as an idle boast and took no precautions. On the next day, Monday, April 9th, Campbell took the order to Macdonald and demanded the surrender of the cannon. He was accompanied by several of the settlers, among whom were George Banner-man, Angus Gunn, Hugh Bannerman, Donald McKinnon, and Donald McDon aid. A number of half-breeds joined the party, as well as the employees of the North-West Company, Cuthbert Grant, William Shaw, and Peter Pangman. When Macdonald refused to give up the guns, he and the other officers in charge of the colony were detained as prisoners by George Campbell, Andrew McBeath, Angus McKay, ami John Cooper, while the others broke into a building adjoining Governor Macdonell's house and took from it four brass fieldpieces, four iron swivel-guns, and one howitzer. These were hauled across to Fort Gibraltar. It is said that Campbell's party took some of the goods in the colony store at the same time.

The seizure of these cannon left Colony Gardens in a defenceless position and was only the prelude to acts of open hostility against the settlers who refused to listen to Cameron's persuasions. Captain Macdonell had come back from Fort Daer, and Cameron was very anxious to have him removed from the colony. On May 25th another attempt to arrest him was made, but he would not recognize the warrant. During the first week of June a party of half-breeds came down from the west with Loughlin McLean, a North-West clerk. They went from house to house among the settlers, making threats, and finally camped at Frog Plain, a short distance below the settlement, from which point they sent notice to James Sutherland, factor of the Hudson's Bay Company, that they would not withdraw until Governor Macdonell was given up.

On June 11th Laiuarre, Grant, Shaw, and Pan gin an took guns from Fort Gibraltar and armed a number of the servants of the North-West Company and some half-breeds living in the vicinity. This party, about twenty in all, went to a small grove of trees not far from Governor Macdonell's house and began to tire upon those who passed near it. A cannon was discharged into the brushwood to disperse them, but they returned to the attack. Alexander McDonell, who directed their movements, then brought the band of half-breeds up from Frog Plain. They drove some of the settlers from their homes, pulled down their fences, and used the material to build a barricade about a house, some four hundred yards from the residence of the governor, in which they took their position and prepared to lay siege to the latter.

Governor Macdonell, aware that these attacks were made to compel his surrender and hoping that they would cease in his absence, left Point Douglas on June 11th; but as they continued, he returned on the 11th. Mr. McKenzie, one of the North-West partners, arrived at Fort Gibraltar about this time, and several men from Point Douglas had an interview with him in regard to the surrender of the governor and afterwards advised Macdonell to give himself up Finally' Governor Macdonell had a conference with McKenzie, and as a result he submitted to the warrant for his arrest on June 21st,, with the understanding that he would be given time to put his affairs in order. This was not allowed, however, and on the next day he was sent east as a prisoner.

By the 21st of June the settlers who had been induced to migrate to Upper Canada were ready for their long journey, and one hundred and thirty-four of them started east under the leadership of Duncan Cameron. Angus McKay, his wife, and their year-old baby were in this party. The trip was long and toilsome, and it was the 5th of September before the emigrants reached Holland Landing on Georgian Bay. There they learned that many of the fair promises made by Cameron and Campbell would not be carried out. Their situation seems fairly well indicated by the following dispatch from Sir Gordon Drummond to the Earl of Bathurst. dated November 2, 1815:

"I could not but lament this entire dispersion of the colony which Lord Selkirk has been endeavoring to form, yet it has occurred, and as the persons, who have thus sought refuge within the limits of my authority, were without means of subsistence, I have authorized the issue of rations to them for their immediate support, and I have recommended to Lieutenant-Governor Gore to grant- locations of land, with the usual conditions and advantages, to such of them as shall be willing and qualified to take up land as settlers. "

The people who had gone to Canada were allotted lands in various parts of the country, and most of them seem to have prospered there. The men who had assisted Cameron and Alexander McDonell in leading three-fourths of the settlers away from Lord Selkirk's colony were suitably rewarded by the North-West Company, as its records show. In regard to his useful assistant Cameron wrote:

''George Campbell is a well-known man; he was a zealous partisan, who more than once exposed his life for the company. lie rendered important services in the Red River transactions; he deserves a hundred pounds and the protection of the company.

"(Signed) Duncan Cameron."

Governor Macdonell seems to have been taken east as a prisoner in company with the settlers as far as Fort William, which was reached about July 25th; but here he was detained some time before being sent on to Montreal. John Spencer, the sheriff of the colony, who had been arrested in the preceding autumn and detained all winter at a North-West post near Rainy Lake, was also held at Fort William for a time. It was August before he reached Montreal and was admitted to bail. The charges against Macdonell and Spencer seem to have been dismissed for lack of sufficient evidence.

The governor and most of the settlers having been taken out of the country, it only remained to drive away the few determined people who remained. A few days after Cameron and his following set out for Canada the following , notice was given to the heads of the families left in the settlement:

"All settlers retire immediately from the River, and no appearance of a colony to remain.

CutHbert Grant, Bostonnais Pangman,^ William Shaw, Bonhomme Montour,

June 25tli, 1815.

This demand was emphasized by further hostile demonstrations against the settlers. John McLeod, who was in charge of the posts of the Hudson's Bay Company in the Red River district that summer, tells the story thus m his journal:

"On June 25th, 1815, while I was in charge, a sudden attack was made by an armed band of the N. W. party under the leadership of Alexander McDonell (Yellow Head] and Cuthbert Grant, on the settlement and Hudson's Bay Company fort at the Forks. They numbered about seventy or eighty, well armed and on horseback. Having had some warning of it, I assumed cominand of both the colony and H. B. 0 'y parties. Mustering with inferior numbers, and with only a few guns, we took a stand against them. Taking my place among the colonists, I fought with them. All fought bravely and kept up the fight as long as possible. Many about me falling wounded; one mortally. Only thirteen out of our band escaped unscathed.

"The brunt of the struggle was near the H. B. C'y post, close to which was our blacksmith's smithy—a log building about ten feet by ten. Being hard pressed, I thought of trying the little cannon (a three or four pounder) lying idle in the post where it could not well be used.

"One of the settlers (.Hugh McLean; went with two of my men, with his cart, to fetch it, with all the cart chains he could get and some powder. Finally, we got the whole to the blacksmith's smithy, where, chopping up the chain into lengths for shot, we opened a fire of chain shot on the enemy which drove back the main body and scattered them, and saved the post from utter destruction and pillage. All the colonists' houses were, however, destroyed by fire. Houseless, wounded, and in extreme distress, they took to the boats, and saving what they could, started for Norway House (Jack's River), declaring that they would never return.

"The enemy still prowled about, determined apparently to expel, dead or alive, all of our party. All of the H. B. Company's officers and men refused to remain, except the two brave fellows in the service, viz., Archibald Currie and James Mcintosh, who, with noble Hugh McLean, joined in holding the fort in the smithy. Governor Macdonell was a prisoner.

"In their first aj>proach the enemy appeared determined more to frighten than to kill. Their demonstration in line of battle, mounted, and in full 'war paint' and equipment, was formidable, but their fire, especially at first, was desultory. Our party, numbering only about half theirs, while preserving a general line of defence, exposed itself as little as possible, but returned the enemy's fire, sharply checking the attack, and our line was never broken by them. On the contrary, when the chain-firing began, the enemy retired out of range of our artillery, but at a flank movement reached the Colony houses, where they quickly and resistlessly plied the work of destruction. To their credit be it said, they took no life or property.

"Of the killed, on our side, there was only poor John Warren of the H. B. C'y service, a worthy, brave gentleman, who. taking a leading part in the battle, too fearlessly exposed himself. Of the enemy, probably, the casualties were greater, for they presented a better target, and we certainly fired to kill. From the smithy we could and did protect the trade post, but could not the buildings of the colonists, which were along the bank of the Red River, while the post faced the Assiniboine more than the Red River. Fortunately for us in the fort (smithy) the short nights were never too dark for our watch and ward. .The colonists were allowed to take what they could of what belonged to them, and that was but little, for as yet they had neither cow nor plough, only a horse or two. There were boats and other craft enough to take them all—colonists and H. B. C'y people—away, and all, save my three companions already named and myself, took ship and fled. For many days after we were under siege, living under constant peril; but unconquerable in our bullet-proof log walls, and with our terrible cannon and chain shot.

"At length the enemy retired. The post was safe, with from eight hundred to one thousand pounds' worth of attractive trade goods belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company untouched. I was glad of this, for it enabled mu to secure the services of free men about the place—French Canadians and half-breeds not in the service of the N. W. C'y—to restore matters and prepare for the future.

"I felt that we had too much at stake in the country to give it up, and had every confidence in the resources of the H. B. C'y and the Earl of Selkirk to hold their own and effectually repel any future attack from our opponents.

"I found the free men about the place willing to work for me; and at once hired a force of them for building and other works in reparation of damages and in new works. So when I got my post in good order, I turned to save the little but promising crops of the colonists, whose return I anticipated, made fences where required, and in due time cut and stacked their hay, etc.

"That done I took upon me, without order or suggestion from any quarter, to build a house for the Governor and his staff of the Hudson's Bay Company at Red River. There was no such officer at that time, nor had there ever been, but I was aware that such an appointment was contemplated.

"I selected for this purpose what I considered a suitable site at a point or sharp bend in the Red River about two miles below the Assiniboine, on a slight rise on the south side of the point—since known as Point Douglas, the family-name of the Earl of Selkirk. Possibly I so christened it—I forget.

"It was of two stories, with main timbers of oak; a good, substantial house, with windows of parchment in default of glass."

John McLeod, who had come to Red River as a clerk of the Hudson's Bay Company with Selkirk 's first party of settlers, tells us that the company had no post at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers at that time. He was left in charge of the company's business at that point during the summer of 1813 with four men, and he says, "I immediately on Mr. Henney's departure (for York Factory) began to build, and had a good snug house erected before the return of the fall craft." In the autumn Peter Fidler came to take charge of the district and appears to have made this new post his headquarters. It seems probable that this post was afterwards known as Fidler's Fort and that it stood a short distance north of the junction of Main Street and Portage Avenue. If should be added that other witnesses of the incidents described by John McLeod in the paragraphs quoted from his journal do not always agree with him as to details. For instance Alexander McDonell states that John Warren dud his three companions were wounded in the fighting of June 11, and that Warren was wounded by the bursting of a cannon on his own side. Other witnesses say that the houses of the settlers were burned on June 28, the day after they started for Jack River. Four houses were burned at Colony Gardens. eighteen houses in the settlement, besides a mill, and several stables.

There was a form of capitulation between the victors and the vanquished, which was signed by Grant, Pangman, Shaw, and Montour as chiefs of the half-breeds, and by James Sutherland, chief factor, and James "White, surgeon, for the Hudson's Bay Company. It provided that all the settlers were to retire, and that those who went peaceably were not to be molested; that the Hudson's Bay Company's people were to remove from the colony buildings and carry on trade at some other spot; that the company might send three or four trading boats up the river as usual with four or five men to each boat; that former disturbances between the company and the half-breeds were not to be recalled by either party, and that peace and amnity were to "subsist between all parties, traders, Indians, and freemen in future throughout these two rivers.'"

Thirteen families, numbering about fifty persons, left the colony on June 27 under the escort of a few friendly Indians and made their way in boats and canoes to the lower end of Lake "Winnipeg, where the Hudson's Bay Company had a post now known as Norway House. It was July when they reached it, ail poorer than when they had arrived there on their way south from one to three years before. A few went on to York Factory, and the agent at Norway House seems to have cared for the others. As the weeks dragged by it seemed that there was little hope of their return to Lord Selkirk's colony, which had cost so much in toil, hardship, and money.

A new actor was coming on the stage, who was to bring fresh hope and courage to the settlers and lead them back to their farms. The Hudson's Bay Company had at last adopted the policy which Colin Robertson had suggested years before; and the early months of the year 1815 found him in Lower Canada enlisting coureurs des bois for service with that company. Some time before the end of July he reached Lake "Winnipeg with two hundred of them, and there he learned of the disaster to Selkirk's colony. The matter demanded his immediate attention, and so he sent his men forward in charge of Mr. Clark. Dressed in their best clothes, wearing their gayest sashes, and singing their French boat-songs, the two hundred careless voyageurs set out for their destinations in the remote west, never di earning that most of them would be sacrificed to cold, hunger, accident, and the weapons of hostile Indians and North-Westers in the wilderness and that few of them would ever see Canada again. The fur trade took heavy toll of human life in those days.

Robertson turned south to take a hasty look at the abandoned settlement and then hurried north to Jack River. He had news for the refugees there. A large party of new settlers was on the way to the colony, also a number of clerks and servants for the company, and a new governor and his staff accompanied them. There would be an armed schooner on Lake Winnipeg to protect the settlers and the company's interests. Lord Selkirk himself would arrive during the next year. So the settlers determined to try once more and returned to their farms on August 15. When they harvested the crops which John-McLeod's thoughtfulness had saved for them, they had 1,500 bushels of wheat and a quantity of other grain, as well as potatoes and other vegetables.

Early in October Robertson re-occupied Point Douglas, and later in the month the cannon, which George Campbell's followers had carried away, were sent back from Fort Gibraltar. When Duncan Cameron, much elated by the rewards and commendation bestowed upon him by the North-West Company, returned to the Forks, he was surprised to find the settlers once more in possession of their homes, and Point Douglas with its new buildings in the hands of its owners. He was still more surprised later in the fall to find himself arrested by officers from Fort Douglas. He was permitted to return to his post after he had given his promise to keep the peace, but a number of his clerks and servants were sent down to Bas de la Riviere Fort.

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