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Scotch Grove Pioneers
part 4

Those interested in the Scotch Grove settlers may want to contact Rose DeRocher. She has some early marriage records from the Red River Settlement and will do lookups.

Trouble With the North West Company
[Space]The colony was growing gradually and with their own land, houses and barns, with supplies and tools furnished by Lord Selkirk, and with families and clansman reunited the prospects appeared rosy for the settlers. But the agents of the North West Company were again actively working against Lord Selkirk and the Hudson's Bay Company, thus making life very hard for the colonist. The first move to reduce the growing Kildonan colony was made when the North West Company offered two hundred acres of land in Eastern Ontario to every settler who would leave the West. Many agreed and left, but Catherine Sutherland, said, "As for me and mine we will keep the faith. We have eaten Selkirk's bread, we dwell on his lands. We stay here as long as he wishes and if we perish we perish."*

* Note: "Whoever may have said this, as well as another quote later attributed to her in (this) article, it wasn't Catherine Sutherland. She and her children (including 'little Janet' who is referred to a bit later in the article), did in fact go to Eastern Ontario in 1815 in the North West Company canoes." (Chloe Clark)

[Space]In June, 1815, the settlers remaining received a notice from Cuthbert Grant, the North West warden, which said, "All settlers to retire immediately from the Red River and no trace of a settlement to remain." An attack by North West men and half-breeds, the Bois Brules in their employ, was made on the colony and Governor Macdonnell was taken prisoner, so the settlers left their homes and went in canoes to Jack River while the Bois Erules set fire to their homes and barns and trampled the growing crops.
[Space]This had happened before the arrival of the fourth party in the fall of 1815, and then encouraged by the new brigade the settlers returned to Winnipeg. Lord Selkirk, who was at Montreal, knew nothing of this attack as the North West people intercepted the letters until finally. Baptiste, a French. Canadian, took a message to him.
[Space]But in the summer of 1816, Grant again led an attack of Bois Brules against the colony. Tradition has it that "Little Janet" Sutherland warned the settlers and thus saved many lives before the massacre of Seven Oaks, which resulted in the death of Governor Semple and a score of men. Again the settlers were driven out, and they wandered around Lake Winnipeg without shelter or food except berries and the fish they caught. Sometimes the Indians gave them meat, and Grant himself brought them some food in a boat.
[Space]It is recorded that when he came to the Widow Catherine Sutherland where she sat with Janet and Sandy, her youngest, the Highland woman stood up and laughed scornfully at him; "I cannot curse you, Cuthbert Grant, for I am a Christian woman, and if you came to me hungry I would feed you, for so Christ bade us do to our enemies. But he never commanded that we should take food from our enemies—so I throw your charity in your face."
[Space]Finally, Lord Selkirk himself came to the rescue of his unhappy people. With a force of hired soldiers he punished the North West Company for their acts and brought peace to the colony. According to Dr. George Bryce's, "The Scotsman in Canada," when the Earl visited the settlement in 1817, he shook the hand of every one, listened to their complaints, and before his departure gathered them on the spot where the church and burial grounds of St. John's Cathedral stands today. "The parish," he said "shall be Kildonan. Here you will build your church and that lot," pointing to the prairie across the little stream "is for a school."
[Space]The Earl returned to England in 1818, and in 1820 he died in the South of France a disappointed, heartbroken man. A year later a union was brought about between these two rival companies under the name of the Hudson's Bay Company.

Growth of the Colony
[Picture][Space]Alexander Ross, a one time sheriff of Red River and a member of the first council, in his book, "The Red River Settlement." published in London in 1856, relates the successes and trials of the growing colony.
[Space]He writes: "In 1817 the industry of the settlers was amply rewarded by the results at harvest time; forty-fold was a common return and in one case for a bushel of barley some fifty-six were reaped; and for a bushel of seed potatoes one hundred and forty-five bushels. These facts were related to the writer by John McIntire, an intelligent settler."
[Space]The Rev. James West, an Anglican missionary, says, "Indian corn, every kind of garden vegetables, watermelons and pumpkins grow and mature. Tobacco plants fail as do flax, hemp, and winter wheat. Wild raspberries and strawberries are abundant."
[Space]But just when everything appeared so favorable, hordes of grasshoppers came in 1818 and again in 1819 and ate all the growing crops, so the settlers had to spend the winter on the Permbina river, where the buffalo ranged, and lived almost like savages.
[Space]Since there was no seed wheat that year several men were sent to Prairie du Chien, described as a town on the Mississippi several hundred miles distant. These men reached their destination on snowshoes at the end of three months and purchased two hundred and fifty bushels of wheat at ten shillings ($2.50) per bushel They made their way back in flat-bottomed boats, arriving June 20, late for sowing the wheat, but still enough matured to furnish seed for the following year. This expedition cost Lord Selkirk 1,040 pounds; and it revealed to the settlers the possibilities of the land to the south of them.
[Space]The Journal of Robert Campbell, one of the settlers, tells the story of an unsuccessful attempt to bring sheep from Kentucky in 1838, and speaks of reaching Prairie du Chien and Galena, Illinois. He also writes of the speed and endurance of "Fireaway," the splendid bay stallion imported from England. Three hundred head of cattle were brought from America, and the cows sold for 30 pounds ($160) and oxen for 18 pounds ($90). Later importations were bought by the colonists for much less money.
[Space]Along with the "ups" were many "downs" for the colonists. One of these was the terrible flood in the spring of 1826 when the water stood ten feet deep on the land that had once been farms. Houses were carried into Lake Winnipeg and the settlers fled for their lives, only to return and to start rebuilding when the water subsided.
[Space]Various commercial schemes were tried, some bringing in good wages for the settlers. One of these was the Buffalo Wool Company, an attempt to make cloth out of the wool of the buffalo. This sent wages up to fifteen shillings a day ($3.75) while it lasted. The Assinibolia Wool Company was another foolish project that soon blew up, as did a Tallow Company. The farmers' wives began to spin for small wages, but still bringing in some income.
[Space]The general prosperity of the colony may be judged by the fact that in 1880 two hundred new houses had been built. A reproduction of the living room of one of these homes is now a part of the museum in Winnipeg, all of the furniture being original articles. This shows the fireplace filling a space in the main wall with its chimney jack, tongs, iron pot, iron kettle, and handled frying pan. The flintlock rifle and powder horn occupy prominent places over it. At one side of the room are the querms, or stones used for grinding flour, while the mortar and pestle for crushing oatmeal is at the other. The earthen floor is covered with woven reed mats, the chairs are hand made, the wood fastened together with elk hide; the spinning wheel is seemingly the finest piece of furniture; the dishes are of pewter or buffalo horn. A besom (broom), a chopping bowl, candle-molds, molasses jug, and a tinder box about complete the furnish- ings. The leather covered Bible occupies a prominent place however.
[Space]Dr. Speechly, head of the Winnipeg Museum, has collected numerous single articles that fill a large case. Among these are an ox's shoe, a water yoke, wooden hay forks and rakes, several sickles, hand made bits and drills, a buffalo skinning knife made from an old sword, a cribbage board, a curling stone, a flail, a hand seeder, traps, and a Red River cart. The most perfect specimen of these carts is in the Hudson's Bay Company Museum also at Winnipeg.



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Last updated on Tuesday, 10-Apr-2018 14:44:20 MST