Fonds MSG 403 - Earl of Selkirk Collection

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Earl of Selkirk Collection

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Fonds

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CA RBD MSG 403

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  • 1816-1818 (Creation)

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1 cm of textual records (13 items)

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Custodial history

Acquired from the Montreal antiquarian bookdealer William P. Wolf in 1986. Originally among the de Léry Macdonald Collection which were dispersed at various times.

Scope and content

The thirteen documents are depositions taken by Lord Selkirk concerning the conflict with the North West Company at the Red River Settlement in Manitoba and at Fort William. The Red River Settlement was a colonization project set up in 1811 by Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk who was granted 300,000 square kilometres (120,000 square miles) of land the Hudson's Bay Company. Upon inheriting his father's title in 1799, Selkirk focused the majority of his time and resources on establishing a Scottish colony in North America. Selkirk was influenced by humanitarian luminaries such as William Wilberforce and, following the forced displacement of Scottish farmers that took place during the Highland Clearances, decided that emigration was the only viable option to improve the livelihood of the Scottish people. In July 1811 Miles MacDonell sailed from Yarmouth, England to the Hudson's Bay post at York Factory with 36 primarily Irish and Scottish settlers. Due to persuasive efforts of the North West Company only 18 settlers actually arrived at Red River in August 1812. Dogged by poor harvests and a growing population, MacDonell, now governor of Red River, issued the Pemmican Proclamation in January 1814 to prevent the export of pemmican from the colony. In doing so, MacDonell undermined the security of Red River and plunged the colony into a conflict with the North West Company that would not end until 1821. On 11 June 1815, representatives of the North West Company attacked and fired upon the colonists, and demanded the surrender of Governor MacDonell, who, to avoid the loss of blood, gave himself up voluntarily. He was taken to Montreal as a prisoner, and charges were laid against him by his enemies, but his case was not tried. These depositions concern this case.

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  • English

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