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|Scotch Grove Pioneers
Those interested in the Scotch Grove settlers may want to contact [an error occurred while processing this directive]. She has some early marriage records from the Red River Settlement and will do lookups.
He traveled widely for his day and had visited Canada where he had become interested in the civilization of the Indians and advocated the suppression of the liquor traffic with them. As early as 1803 he established an emigration party of several hundred poor people on Prince Edward Island.
This land was then known even to the Highland people through the activities of the Hudson's Bay Company, which had controlled the rich fur trade of the Dominion of Canada from Quebec to the Northwest Territory through a charter secured in 1670 from King Charles II. Before 1680, there were at least three forts and trading posts built in this territory, one of these being York Factory on the west coast of Hudson Bay, later a place of great significance to the colonists. The great rival of the Hudson's Bay Company was the North West Company, which had defied the Royal Charter and under the leadership of Alexander Mackenzie had become a powerful foe.
Now Lord Selkirk was ready to promote his colonization plans actively. He sent agents into the Highlands to describe Assiniboia as "A land with black soil seven feet deep and no stones, with wood in abundance, fish and game for the catching, and great stretches of grass as thick as heather before the spring burning." Such homes were to be theirs free. Applications from more than seven hundred of the evicted farmers came in.
The North West Company, alarmed at the inroads a large agricultural colony might make in the fur trade, countered with letters to the "Inverness Journal" describing the atrocities of the Indians, and the severity of the climate, all giving Assiniboia a very bad name indeed. While these efforts dampened the enthusiasm of the Highlanders, many still had faith in Lord Selkirk, and to the stronger and more adventurous spirits his project had great appeal. Besides, these people were in desperate straits and this new land offered a refuge and a hope to them and their children.
Their boat left Stornaway in the Hebrides, July 26, 1811, and was signaled at York Factory, September 24, sixty-one days after. This party did not attempt to reach the Forks, the place of permanent settlement, until the next summer, and then made the journey of 728 miles in fifty-five days, arriving at what is now St. Boniface, across the river from the present site of Winnipeg, in August, 1812. There they began to clear the land for the settlers.
The second party, known as Owen Keveney's party from the name of the leader, included seventy-one men, women, and children and sailed on the "Edward and Ann" from Stromness in the Orkneys.
According to Dr. George Bryce, an authority on the history of the period, the ships lists found in the archives at Ottawa and Montreal are far from complete or correct. Of this group of seventy-one only seventeen names are given, including that of a John McIntyre. However, the Honor Roll in Martin's Hudson's Bay Company Tenures indicates those who arrived each year, and this includes among the arrivals of 1812 the names of Donald Livingston, Alexander Mclean, John McLean, Alexander McBeath, and John Sutherland, all names significant in Scotch Grove history.
This party reached the Forks October 27, 1812, only two months after the first party, and found but little preparation made for them, so they spent a terrible winter, suffering from cold and scarcity of food.
In spite of discouragements at home and abroad, in 1813 a still larger group of Kildonan families had sold their few possessions and waited transportation. Lord Selkirk himself came to Sutherlandshire in the spring of that year to make arrangements, and his Gaelic speech and charming personality gave the people new faith in his plan. Accordingly, the third party, known as the Churchill Party, sailed on the "Prince of Wales," convoyed by H. M. S. "Brazen," with the company's servants on the "Eddystone," from Stromness in the Orkneys, June 28, 1813. Miles Macdonell was leader of the party and Captain Turner had charge of the "Prince of Wales." Of the ninety-seven names in the ship's list, the following information is given concerning those from Kildonan who became associated with Scotch Grove history in some way.
"Alexander Sutherland, 24; William Sutherland, 19, his brother; Kate Sutherland 20, his sister. "Alexander McKay 24; Jean 24, his wife. Robert Gunn, 20, piper; Mary Gunn, his sister.
"John McIntyre to Port William, entered; service of Hudson's Bay Company, July 1814."
"The people gathered at Thurso (on the north coast) then by a boat, 'The Water Witch,' to Stromness in the Orkneys. The embarkation commenced in the forenoon and by one o'clock all were on board the craft. The forepart of the hold was formed into a huge bin filled with oatmeal, the after part of the hold was occupied by a bull and a cow of the largest and finest breed to be obtained in Rosshire."
J. M. McCulloch in "The Men of Kildonan" describes the scene with real emotion:
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