Collection MSG 808 - Red River Settlement Collection

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Red River Settlement Collection

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  • 1816, 1818, [1819] (Creation)

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4 folio documents

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Custodial history

Acquired from Waddington’s Auction House, Montreal, at a date unknown.

Scope and content

The Red River Settlement was a colonization project set up in 1811 by Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk (1771-1820) who was granted 300,000 square kilometres (120,000 sq mi) 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.

Items include:
Deposition of John Pritchard before A.N. McLeod, 4 June 1816, concerning the attack by Alexander MacDonell of the Hudson’s Bay Company on the tool house of the North West Company at Pimbina River, and the theft of property. Copy dated 30 December 1819.

Letter from John Pritchard to A. Norman McLeod, 28 June 1816, from the “Entrance of the Red River”, describing events at the Red River including a raid by a group led by a Canadian named Bushé, and the capture of Pritchard and his men by them.

Letter from John Johnston at Fort William, 9 Sept 1816, to A. Norman McLeod, describing his duties as acting manager there for the North West Company and the terms of the negotiations between himself and Lord Selkirk. He states that he intends to travel to Montreal.

Affidavit by the Earl of Selkirk, Montreal, 18 March 1818, concerning the dispute between himself and the North West Company, and the inability to attend the upcoming Quarter Sessions at Sandwich.

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  • English

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