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,
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