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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.
* 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." ([an error occurred while processing this directive])
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.
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."
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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