Red River Settlement

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Red River Settlement

Red River Settlement, agricultural colony in present Manitoba, North Dakota, and Minnesota. It was the undertaking of Thomas Douglas, 5th earl of Selkirk. Wishing to relieve the dispossessed and impoverished in Scotland and Northern Ireland, he secured enough control of the Hudson's Bay Company to obtain from it a grant of land called Assiniboia. This project met opposition from the very start, principally from the North West Company, but also from the fur traders in the Hudson's Bay Company. Despite efforts to discourage the colony, Miles Macdonnell, a Selkirk man, brought a small group to the colony in 1812. The determined hostility of the North West Company mounted, especially after the company men had won the Métis (people of mixed European–indigenous Canadian descent), entirely to their side. By cajolery and threat they persuaded settlers to desert, but a new group of settlers came, and the colony was restored in 1815. North West Company men and Métis now resorted to violence on a large scale, killing 22 in the massacre of Seven Oaks (June 19, 1816). On hearing the news of the massacre, Selkirk fell upon the North West Company post, Fort William, and seized it. Other attacks followed. The result of these moves was a series of court charges and countercharges that impoverished Selkirk and helped to bring about the union (1821) of the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company. Agriculture had by this time been firmly established on the Western plains, and the Red River settlements were to grow and flourish. See also Riel, Louis.

See J. P. Pritchett, The Red River Valley, 1811–1849 (1942); J. M. Gray, Lord Selkirk of Red River (1964).

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