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The Story of Manitoba
Chapter XX Progress in Organization


A census of the Red River Settlement was taken in 1831, and it showed the total population—whites and half-breeds—to be 2,390. There were 262 Roman Catholic families and 198 Protestant families. In the preceding four years no less than 204 new houses had been erected to replace those swept away by the flood of 1826 and to provide for the increasing population. The seasons which followed that disastrous spring were very favorable for agricultural operations, and the growing prosperity of the colony was shown in the larger size and better appearance of the new houses. The people were learning to use the limestone, which was so abundant in the lower part of the settlement. The powder magazine at Fort Garry, constructed in 1830, was the first stone building erected in the colony; but in a short time one or two churches and several private houses were built of this material. When the census was taken there were several churches built of timber; there were schools for boys at St. Boniface, St. John's, and elsewhere; and there was a school for girls in St. Boniface, which the Misses Nolin had opened in .1829 at the request of Bishop Proveneher, and another at St. John's, which Mrs. Jones had opened about 1830.

In the early history of the colony the settlers had to depend upon the Hudson's Bay Company for much of their food; but now they had produce to sell, and the company's store was their principal market. Governor Simpson's promise to purchase all the company's supplies from the colonists roused them to greater efforts, with the result that the small market was soon overstocked and the prices of produce fell, while the prices of goods which the farmers were obliged to buy remained the same. There was considerable dissatisfaction, but after a time a scale of prices was arranged which met the approval of the settlers. The company had reasons for dissatisfaction too, for the quality of the butter, cheese, flour, etc. which the settlers brought to its store ranged through all grades from very good to very bad. The quality of the grain differed with the methods of the farmers, some of it being well ripened and clean, anil some being poorly matured and dirty; and as there were a dozen mills in the settlement, some doing good work and some bad, the grades of flour produced were almost numberless. Hoping to remedy this, Governor Simpson arranged to have all the wheat grown in the settlement ground at the company's mill; but this proved no more than a temporary remedy.

It has sometimes been maintained that the Hudson's Bay Company looked with disfavor upon all attempts to establish an agricultural community in the valley of the Red River, but the facts do not sustain such a theory. Even before any attempt had been made to establish a colony of farmers in the country, the Hudson's liar Company had found in its climate and its soil conclusive evidence that it was destined to he a great agricultural country. It pointed this out very explicitly in the petition which it presented to the British government in 18(W when asking for some measure of relief from the adverse conditions m which it found itself at that time; and for many years after the colony had been established it made frequent attempts to encourage the settlers to far® on a larger scale and to follow better methods. Governor Simpson was tireless m his efforts to improve conditions in the colony; and we must give him credit for the best of intentions, even if some of his schemes were scarcely wise.

About 1831 the governor established another experimental farm. A fertile tract of land was selected beside the Assiniboine, and a tine dwelling and large stables and granaries were built. Well-bred cattle were bought, thorough-bred mares were imported from the United States, and a line stallion was brought from England at a cost of £300 with the commendable purpose of improving the stock of the farmers. The best agricultural implements were procured, regardless of expense. A large staff of servants was hired, although many of them had little knowledge of farm or dairy work. Air. McMillan, a retired chief factor, was engaged as manager; but as he had no practical knowledge of agriculture, the well-equipped farm was doomed to failure. After the experiment had been tried for six years, the farm, stock, and implements were sold, the company's loss being not less than £3,500. The governor had recognized the adaptability of the soil and climate for the production of flax and hemp and did all in his power to promote the cultivation of these plants; but, while the farmers responded to his encouragement for a short time, his efforts failed in the end.

Governor Simpson also tried to encourage sheep-raising, and on his advice the colonists formed the "Assiniboine Wool Company.'^ This company was a very ambitious project, for its capital was fixed at £6,000, divided into 1,200 shares of £5 each. The capital was to be expended in the purchase of sheep, either in England or the United States, which were to be brought to Red River and allowed to multiply until the flocks would bring great wealth to the shareholders. Trouble began when the shareholders were asked to pay for their stock in the company, for the total amount of cash in the whole colony at that time did not amount to more than one third of the sum which the settlers had agreed to contribute to the treasury of the wool company; and the collapse of the company followed its organization very closely.

In the autumn several of the settlers were induced to form a joint-stock company for the purpose of importing sheep from the United States, and a capital of £1,200 was secured. The governor encouraged them and sent Air. Rae, an officer of the Hudson's Bay Company, to assist Mr. Bourke, the agent of the settlers, in making the purchase. Late in the fall these two gentlemen, with four men to help them, went south to St, Peter's and thence to various points in the state of Missouri, where they had planned to secure the sheep. But news of their coming had preceded them, and the sheep-raisers of the state immediately raised the price from six or seven shillings per head to ten shillings. Air. Rae, angered at this evident attempt at extortion, refused to deal with the people of Missouri and determined to go on 1o Kentucky in spite of all that Air. Bourke could urge in regard to the increased difficulty and expense of transporting the sheep to Red River. After some time the party reached Kentucky and purchased about 1,475 sheep at prices ranging from 5s to 7s per head. When Messrs. Rae and Bourke started north with their drove in "the springy.'-they found that they had to pay for feed in nearly all the districts through which they passed. On their way up the Mississippi they halted to shear the sheep-, and when the purchasers of the wool could not pay the full price at the very time agreed on, the whole quantity was burned. During the hot weather of the summer the journey across the grass-grown, trackless prairie proved very trying for the sheep, yet they were driven forward with relentless haste. Many died, and those which became too weary to keep up with the drove were killed by the drivers. Only 251 reached the Red River Settlement, and some of these were too far spent with the long trip to recover; while 1,200 carcasses marked the route across the plains. The farmers who had subscribed the money for the purchase of the sheep had good reason for their bitter complaints, and the governor brought the matter to a close by returning the people's money. He kept the sheep, which throve and multiplied; and when they were sold at auction a few years later, the farmers were eager to buy them at £2 per head.

Another joint-stock concern, called the ''Tallow Company" was organized about the same time. Its capital was £1,000, divided into shares of £5 each. Most of the shares were paid up in cattle and a herd of 473 head was obtained in this way. About the end of April the herd was sent to its pasture grounds some miles away in charge of two herdsmen; but a week later a severe snowstorm killed a number of the cattle. They did fairly well during the summer, but during the following winter the wolves and the severe cold carried off nearly a third of the survivors. Finally the herd was sold and the scheme given up The net loss to the shareholders was £137, and once more the Hudson's Bay Company came to the rescue of the settlers and made good the loss.

Governor Simpson also planned extensive works for the Hudson's Bay Company, which must have given employment to a good many people in the colony One of these was a winter road between the settlement and York Factory. It was intended to use the lakes and rivers as far as possible and to cut roads along the most direct and convenient routes where goods would have to be transported by land carriage. Work on a section of this road lying between Oxford House and Fox River was commenced as early as 1827, and several stables were built along it at intervals of eleven miles. Oxen were sent down from the settlement to be used on the road, also a quantity of hay for fodder; but the experiment was not a success. The work was continued from time to time on other sections of the proposed road, but the scheme was finally given up.

In October, 1831, the governor began the construction of a strong fort, with walls, bastions, and inclosed buildings of stone, at the foot of the rapids on Red River and about twenty miles below the Forks. It was an extensive structure, and eight or nine years were required to complete it. The governor seems to have intended it for the head offices of the Hudson's Bay Company and as the seat of government, and he resided there during his visits to Red River; but his attempts to make Lower Port Garry, as the stronghold Was called, the capital of Assiniboia failed, because the fort at the Forks was more conveniently situated for business and was nearer to the Scotch and French settlements. The lower fort stands to-day almost as it was when first completed, the strongest post built by the Hudson's Bay Company in the interior of the country.

In 1835 Mr Alexander Christie, the governor of Assiniboia, received instructions from Governor Simpson to construct a new Fort Garry at the forks of the Red River and the Assiniboine. The fort of the same name, which had been built in 1821, stood on low ground close to the junction of the two rivers, but a more elevated site about 400 yards up the Assiniboine and on its north side was chosen for the new fort. It was rectangular in form, being about 280 feet from east to west and 240 feet from north to south. The walls were 15 feet high ana were strengthened at the corners by bastions and block-houses, the gates being in the north and south sides. A gallery ran around the wall on the inside, affording a pleasant walk and quite an extensive view of the surrounding country. Inside the wall were the house of the governor, dwellings for the officers and clerks of the company, together with stores, granaries, a court-house, and a jail. A part of the wall was demolished about thirty years ago, and the remainder, as well as the buildings inclosed, was taken down more recently. Only the northern gateway remains to mark the site of Upper Port Garry.

Prom the time the Red River colony was established until the death of its founder it was under his control; then his executors directed its affairs until 1823, when they found it advisable to transfer its government to the Hudson's Bay Company, with the understanding that the company would re-acquire the title to the land which it had granted to the earl. The executors were most anxious to be free of all responsibility in connection with the colony, but it was not until 1835 that the company repurchased the land, paying the executors £84,111 in full for all their claims. First and last the earl's colony must have cost his estate nearly a million dollars. The transfer of the land to the company made it possible to clear up some of the titles to the farms which the settlers occupied, for they had been transferred in a very loose way from one holder to another, often without any deed being given or the transfer being registered. The matter had been complicated by a change made in the plan of survey a few years after the first farms were allotted to settlers.

For more than twenty years the colony had existed almost without laws, rulers, or protectors; but when the earl's title to the lands of Assiniboia had been extinguished, and with it all possible right of his executors to control the colony, the Hudson's Bay Company thought it time to adopt some system whereby law and order could be more effectually maintained. Its first step towards this end was to appoint a new Council of Assiniboia in which the people of the colony would have a larger representation and to empower this council to make a simple code of laws, to establish courts of justice, and to appoint r constabulary force for the maintenance of order. In doing this the company was simply exercising the powers conferred on it by its charter. Accordingly new councillors, selected from the most influential citizens were nominated and commissioned by the company's executive committee in London; and these, with the councillors chosen from the company's officials, were to constitute the council of the governor-in-chief. It was a legislative body, having power to make laws in criminal as well as civil matters; and it was also a judicial body, inasmuch as it might sit as a court of appeal from decisions made in the magistrates' courts.

The new council met for the first time on February 12, 1835, and was composed of the following members: Air. George Simpson, governor of Rupert's


INTERIOR OF FORT GARRY, 1854

Land; Mr. Alexander Christie, governor of Assiniboia; the Right Reverend Bishop of Juliopolis (Bishop Provencher) ; Rev. T. D. Jones, chaplain to the Hudson's Bay Company; Rev. William Cochran, assistant chaplain; James Bird, Esq., formerly chief factor of the Hudson's Bay Company; James Sutherland, Esq.; W. II. Cook, Esq.; John Pritchard, Esq.; Robert Logan, Esq.; Alexander Ross, sheriff of Assiniboia; John McCallum, Esq., coroner; John Bunn, Esq., medical adviser; Andrew MeDermott, Esq., merchant; and Cuthbert Grant, Esq., warden of the plains. In his opening address, Governor Simpson, the president of the council, said:

"Gentlemen,—In order to guard as much as possible against misapprehension within doors, or misrepresentation out of doors, on the subjects which I am now about to bring under your consideration, I shall thus briefly notice them. From their importance they cannot fail of calling forth due attention, and from the deep and lively interest you all feel in the welfare and prosperity of the colony, I am satisfied you will afford me the benefit of your assistance and support towards carrying into effect such measures as may appear to you best calculated, under existing circumstances, to answer every desirable object.

"The population of this colony is become so great, amounting to about 5,000 souls, that the personal influence of the governor, and the little more than nominal support afforded by the police, which, together with the good feeling of the people, have hitherto been its principal safeguard, are no longer sufficient to maintain the tranquillity and good government of the settlement; so that although rights of property have of late been frequently invaded, and other serious offences have been committed, 1 am concerned to say, we have been under the necessity of allowing them to pass unnoticed, because we have not the means at command of enforcing obedience and due respect, according to the existing order of things.

"Under such circumstances, it must be evident to one and all of you that it is quite impossible society can hold together; that the time has at length arrived when it becomes necessary to put the administration of justice on a more firm and regular footing than heretofore, and that immediate steps ought to be taken to guard against dangers from abroad, or difficulties at home, for the maintenance of good order and tranquillity, and for the security and protection of lives and property.''

The council then passed a number of enactments, which became laws of the colony. The following are among the more important:

"1. That an efficient and disposable police force be embodied, to be styled a volunteer corps, to consist of sixty officers and privates, to be at all times ready to act when called upon, and to be paid as follows: commanding officer. £20 per annum; sergeants, £10; and privates, £6, besides extra pay for serving writs. When not so employed, their time to be their own.

"2. That the settlement be divided into four districts: the first to extend from the Image Plain downwards; the second from the Image Plain to the Porks; the third from the Porks upwards, on the main river; and the fourth the White Horse Plains, or Assiniboine River; and that for each of the said districts a magistrate be appointed That James Bird, Esq., be justice of the peace for the first district; James Sutherland, Esq., for the second; Robert Logan, Esq., for the third; and Cuthbert Grant, Esq., for the fourth. These magistrates to hold quarterly courts of summary jurisdiction on four successive Mondays; to be appointed according to the existing order of precedence m tne four sections, beginning with the third Monday of January, of April, of July, and of October.

"3. That the said courts have power to pronounce final judgment m all civil eases, where the debt or damage claimed may not exceed five pounds; and in all 'trespasses and misdemeanors, which, by the rules and regulations of the district of Assiniboine, not being repugnant to the laws of England, maybe punished by a fine not exceeding the aforesaid sum of five pounds.

"4. That the said courts be empowered to refer any case of doubt or difficulty to the supreme tribunal of the colony, the Court of Governor and Council of Assiniboine, at its next ensuing quarterly session, giving a viva voce intimation of the reference in open court, and a written intimation of the same under the hands of a majority of the three sitting magistrates, at least one whole week before the commencement of the said quarterly session, and this without being compelled to state any reasons for so doing.

"5. That the Court of the Governor and Council, in its judicial capacity, sit on the third Thursday of February, of May, of August, and November; and at such other times as the Governor-in-Chief of Rupert's Land, or, in his absence, the Governor of Assiniboine, may deem fit.

"6. That in all contested civil cases, which may involve claims of more than ten pounds, and m all criminal cases, the verdict of a jury shall determine the fact or facts in dispute.

"7. That a public building, intended to answer the double purpose of a court-house and gaol, be erected as early as possible at the Forks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. That in order to raise funds for defraying such expenses as it may be found necessary to incur, towards the maintenance of order, and the erecting of public works, an import duty shall be levied on all goods and merchandise of foreign manufacture imported into Red River, either for sale of for private use, at 7% per cent, on the amount of the invoice; and further that an export duty of  1.5 per cent, be levied on all goods and stores, or supplies, the growth, produce, or manufacture of Red River.''

Sheriff Ross was appointed commanding officer of the volunteer corps. It was to take the place of the constabulary force recommended by Colonel Coltman about eighteen years earlier and was to defend the colony, if it should be attacked by hostile Indians or others. The Hudson's Bay Company immediately made a grant of £300 towards the erection of public works for the settlement and received the thanks of the council for its generous donation.

The establishment of trial by jury pleased the people and helped to create a better feeling between them and the Hudson's Bay Company; but some of them were disappointed because their representatives were appointed by the governor instead of being elected by popular vote. A number were suspicious of the volunteer force, fearing that it might be made an instrument of oppression; and many of them objected to the import duty, because it increased the cost of goods brought from Britain or the United States. Owing to the great cost of transportation, the prices of English goods had always been nearly twice as high in the Red River Settlement as in the Old Country. There was also dissatisfaction with the export duty, although it was confined to fewer people. The Metis had found a market for the products of the buffalo hunt in some of the small towns which were springing up along the Mississippi River. They carried hides, etc. thither in their carts and brought back goods of various kinds, finding it more advantageous to do this than to trade with the Hudson's Bay Company. The duty of 7.5 per cent, seemed to be specially hard on them, and in the spring they made a demonstration before the gates of Fort Garry, asking for the abolition of the duty on goods imported from the United States, a change in the export duty on tallow, robes, and other products of the chase, and for higher prices for these products when sold to the Hudson's Bay Company. They did not obtain the concessions asked; but their discontent seems to have led the company to reduce the cost of land from 12s per acre, the price which had been put upon it shortly before, to 7s per acre and to promise 25 acres free to each young man settling upon a farm. Some years afterward the duty was reduced to 5 per cent, and later still to 1 per cent.

The Scotch people in the colony had some special grievances. The Presbyterian minister, whom they had been led to expect, was never sent to the settlement: and although Rev. Mr. Jones hail modified the service of the Church of England to bring it more in harmony with their ideas, it was never quite satisfactory to them. They were also dissatisfied with the educational facilities of the settlement. There were about a dozen primary schools in the country but they were not very efficient, as they do not appear to have received any special grants from the company for their maintenance. The school at St. John's, to which most of the children of officers of the company were sent, received a grant of £100 annually, and was a good school; but few of the settlers could send their children to it. These and other causes of discontent combined to send 111 people, mostly Presbyterians, to the United States. As they took all their cattle, implements, etc,, this exodus was quite a serious loss to the community.

In spite of defections and drawbacks of various kinds, the population of the colony increased. The census of 1840 showed the total population to be 4,704, the number of Protestant families being 257 and the number of Catholic families 488. In 1843 the population had increased to 5,143, and in that year it received a desirable addition, as twenty families of Lincolnshire farmers arrived. The next year was one of misfortune, for epidemics of influenza and measles in the early part of the year were followed by a disease resembling cholera, and the settlement lost 321 people by death. According to the census of 1847 there were 4,871 people in the colony, the Catholic families numbering 503 and the Protestant families 444. Two years later the population had risen to 5,391, although 1,511 of the people were listed as "transient"; This represents the number of half-breeds who spent a part of their time in the colony and a part of it m the United States. They were a source of weakness to the community for several years: but in 1849, 636 of them decided to locate permanently in Minnesota, and the others soon settled down in various parts of the Red River colony. The census of 1849 shows that there were 745 dwelling houses in the colony, 7 churches, 12 schools, 2 water-mills, and 12 windmills. The settlers owned 1,095 horses, 990 mares, 2,097 oxen, 155 bulls, 2,147 cows, 1,565 pigs, and 3,096 sheep, and they had 6,329 acres of land under cultivation

The governor had established another experimental farm in 1837, and had placed Captain Marcus Cary, a half-pay officer, in charge of it. It was equipped with the best implements and machinery obtainable in England. But mismanagement prevented the farm from benefiting the community; and when Captain Cary retired in June, 1847, and the stock and implements of the farm were sold, it had caused the Hudson's Bay Company a net loss of £5,500. "When the company deals in furs, it works for money; when it farms, it works for fame,'' became a saying among the Red River people.


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