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History of the North-West
By Alexander Begg (1894) in three volumes


DEDICATORY LETTER

TO

SIR DONALD A. SMITH, K.C.M.G.
Governor of The Hudson’s Bay Company, Etc., Etc., Etc.

Sir,—I Well remember the deep anxiety and dread which pervaded all classes in the Red River Settlement prior to your arrival at Fort Garry, in December, 1869, as Special Commissioner from Canada. I also have a very distinct recollection of the feeling of relief experienced by the community when it was learned that you had come with full authority to bring about a settlement of the misunderstanding then existing between the people of the country and the government of the Dominion.

The following pages will show thaGyours was no easy task, and, but for the skill and judgment displayed by you at that trying time, the hopes raised in our breasts of a speedy ending to our terrible suspense would not have been realized. To you more than anyone else the Dominion is indebted for a peaceful solution of the questions then agitating the minds of the people in the North-West, and the wise and soothing influence exercised by you in bringing together, and uniting the various contending parties in the settlement, is due the fact that bloodshed was avoided, and the horrors of an Indian war averted. Only those who were on the spot and knew the difficulties you had to contend against can realize the herculean task you were entrusted with, or the great service rendered to Canada at that time.

From the day when, through your advice and co-operation, a convention of all the various conflicting parties was brought about, and a bill of rights framed for presentation to the Dominion Government, the North-West gradually assumed a peaceful attitude, until by the passing of the Manitoba Act all cause for discontent or discord was removed.

The march of civilization in the North-West then began, and to-day, instead of being a vast hunting ground and wilderness, it is the home of thousands of thrifty settlers, and with its great transcontinental railway from ocean to ocean, places Canada in the proud position of being one of the brightest jewels in the British Crown.

I look upon the successful carrying out of your very important mission to the North-West in 1869 and 1870 as the turning point in the history of the Dominion, because from it sprang all the subsequent vast undertakings which to-day place Canada in the foremost rank as one of the most important links in the chain of Imperial unity. And in these undertakings I may say, without detracting from the value of their services, that without your aid and counsel your truly eminent colleagues would have found it difficult if not impossible to accomplish what has been done.

The Dominion as a whole, and the North-West in particular, owe much to you, and in the furtherance of science, art, literature, and in the alleviation of the sufferings of mankind, your hand, as the hand of the benefactor, is seen in many places. For my own part, undeserving though I be, you have been to me always kind and considerate.

I wish, then, as an humble token of my great respect for you and the deep gratitude I feel for all your goodness to me and mine, to dedicate to you my work, which I fear is but a poor attempt to chronicle events relating to so great a country.

I remain, Sir,

Your obedient servant,

Alexander Begg

Volume 1  |  Volume 2  |  Volume 3 (Index)


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