Metis 1848 - 1849


1848 - 1849

The Hudson Bay Company would only grant land titles to Metis

if they would agree not to engage in the fur trade.

They would not hire Metis as merchants, laborers or mechanics

unless they agreed not to engage in the fur trade.

The Metis cry continued to be liberty and free trade.


Some time in the late 1840's, Robert Campbell of the Hudson Bay Company reported the presence of gold on the Yukon River.

John Augustus Sutter and James Marshall discovered gold in California and tried to keep it a secret. They didn't discover any gold worth mentioning and both died poor men.

Fort Ripley on the west bank of the Mississippi, about seven miles downstream from the mouth of the Crow Wing River, Minnesota, is built to keep an eye on the Chippewa in this area.

Father George A. Belcourt sided with the Metis against the Hudson Bay Company over import duties, and is driven out of Red River to Pembina.

Father Georges Belcourt, from Pembina, came to Montreal seeking alms for his work among the Indians. He talked of the battling Saulteaux and Sioux ; of thundering buffalo; of a alternating feast and famine in Indian lodges; of suffering thirst in the scorching summer heat and of hardship and death in bitter winter blizzards. He talked of great rivers, the Missouri, the Athabasca and the Saskatchewan. His speech inspired the 'mon petit sauvage'- Father Albert Lacombe (1827-1916), son of Albert Lacombe and Agathe Duhamel, to become a missionary to the North West. On June 13, 1849 Albert was raised to the priesthood.

The Minnesota census suggests that St. Paul numbered 840 people, Little Canada & St. Anthony numbered 571

people, and La Pointe, Wisconsin numbered 22 people. La Pointe must be only Europeans, or there is a La Pointe in Minnesota??

May 29: San Francisco, California: The whole country resounds with the sordid city of gold! Gold! GOLD!

While the field is left half planted, the house half built, and everything is neglected but the manufacturer of shovels and pickaxes. San Francisco became a ghost town, as the 900 residents departed for the gold fields.

However, within two years the population became 30,000 men and only about 10-12 women.

May 29: Wisconsin became a state.


Joseph Gagnon born 1766 Canada and his son Joseph Gagnon born 1805 Red River are both living Red River census 1849.

Father Albert :Lacombe (1827-1916) began his journey to the North West. On his trip to Lachine, most of the passengers and crew displayed their hatred of his religion and race and jeered his cassock, calling it a petticoat.

When he reached the Mississippi River and St. Paul, he found folks more ready to accept strangers, regardless of race or religion. He said " I began to breath freely at last; I felt myself a new man." Lacombe joined a Red River cart train to Red River. The brigade was driven by two Canadian freemen, a Metis and an Indian. He found them to be competent and cheerful companions, even on the dreary, rainy days when, time after time, they had to put their shoulders to the wheels of the carts to get them through mud holes. These men remained cheerful throughout the six week journey which ended in November. They arrived at Pembina where only a hand full of Metis held small garden plots. Most Metis had departed this now American settlement for Red River, the White Horse Plains a..k.a. Grantown, located on the Assiniboina River- 12 miles from the mouth.

Father Pierre de Smet proposed establishing French Mixed-Blood colonies this year and it was supported by the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851.


Shingwaukonse (a Metis), a leading chief of the Ojibwa of Sault Ste Marie, son of a French Metis and

Anishinable, headed the Quebec Resistance Movement of this year against Quebec and the Lake Superior

Mining Company.


The Hudson Bay Company would only grant land titles to Metis if they would agree not to engage in the fur

trade. They would not hire Metis as merchants, laborers or mechanics unless they also agreed not to engage in

the fur trade.


The Hudson Bay Company leased Vancouver Island from the British for 7 shillings a year.


A smell of gold saw 30,000 would be miners set out overland from Missouri for California, and another 25,000

are said to have made it to San Francisco by sea. The sea trip around Cape Horn took anywhere from a few

months to a year. Hundreds of thousands would follow. The Oregon and Mormon Trails are filled with

covered wagons. This effectively wrestled California and the Southwest from Mexico and crowded the

Canadians out of Oregon and Washington in the Northwest.


J. E. Fletcher, Indian Agent in St. Peter, Minnesota, estimated the Metis from the Red River of the north is taking

20,000 buffalo each year from the American Territory of the Chippewa and Sioux. The Pembina census listed

one hundred and seventy seven families, five hundred and eleven males and five hundred and fifteen females,

totaling one thousand and twenty six people having six hundred carts, three hundred oxen, three hundred

working horses, one hundred and fifty horses for the chase, one thousand five hundred heads of cattle and a few

hogs and sheep. Another five thousand lived on the Canadian side and could be enticed to the American side.

On the banks of the Red River the ploughs-share throws out large quantities of human bones; the remains of the

destructive small pox scourge of years gone by. Mr. Wilky elected the leader of the Pembina Metis and

represents their interests with the American Government. Father G.A. Belcourt wrote that the Chippewa is a

heavy charge upon the half-breeds, to whom they have recourse in seasons of distress. Father Belcourt, however,

held the Metis in low regard considering them as having little memory or intelligence and not over anxious of

becoming rich. This was a commonly held belief among the religious community which they freely applied to

all non-English and French peoples. Red River Metis is selling cattle to Fort Snelling.

No one could agree on the number of Metis living in the Pembina region. Norman W. Kittson, enumerator in a

special census for Minnesota Territory, counted 637 people at Pembina. This same year Major Samuel Woods

reported 1,026 people, 600 carts, 300 oxen, 300 work horses, 150 horses for the chase, 1,500 horned cattle, a few

hogs and no sheep. The 1850 census counted 1,116 persons at Pembina and reported that most had been born

north of the boundary. In 1853 Isaac I. Stevens reported that 4,000 Metis lived about the Pembina Hills.


Bishop Anderson acquired the Red River Boarding School and considered it as entirely his school. Things were

not to change for the better. Adam Thom wrote Governor (I)- George Simpson (1787-1860) that the Red River

Boarding School was in bad shape, through the uncongenial combination of Bishop Anderson disinterestedness-

which amounts to apathy, and his sister's (Margaret Anderson) parsimony- which amounts to cruelty, their whole

establishment has fallen into a sad condition. Palpable dirt in every department. Itch went uncared for among two

thirds of the schoolboys. They had lice and were in want of water unless taken from the river for the youngest

pupils. There was an insufficiency of food, both in terms of quality and quantity, at breakfast and supper. The

fuel that was used for the school-room stove was obtained only by chopping it and, lastly, two girls, both of

whom had long been with Reverend Macallum, are in a family way before the end of six months operation. The

girls school was discontinued as a result of this scandal and the girls transferred to more respectable families in

the settlement. The infamous Reverend Macallum died on October 3, 1849.


Major Samuel Woods, on his expedition to the Red River of the North, described the inhabitants as being, for

the greatest part, descendents of the Canadian French. They speak French and are nearly all Catholic. They have

a mild and gentile manner, great vivacity and are generous and honest in their transactions. They are disposed to

be a civil and orderly community. They are hale and hearty, robust men and evidently accustomed to hardship

and exposure.


It is believed the first Orkney 'York Boat' built in Canada is built for use on the Albany River by the Metis.


May 17: Four Metis charged with free trading draw three hundred angry Metis outside the Red River court.

Pierre Guillaume Sayer, Metis, son of Fond du Lake John Sayer, is among those arrested. The Men are found

guilty but they are freed to the delight of the Metis who spread the news that the Hudson Bay Company's

monopoly has ended. The Metis' cry became liberty and free trade. Mr. Kittson of the American Fur Company,

who was also arrested for trading, is released. James Sinclair (1805-1856 and Louis Riel Sr. (1817-1864) are

among the angry, armed Metis. The English had feared for their own lives and could see no other course of

action. The fuse of liberty and free trade is lit, the decline and fall of the suppressive English Empire had begun.

This action resulted in the first Metis freeman representative being appointed to the council of Assiniboine. To

pacify the entrepreneurs and divert their energy from free trade, the Hudson Bay Company contracted out most

transportation to the Metis. Many central Canadians signed the annexation manifesto, calling for commercial

union with the United States. Cuthbert Grant (1793-1854), a Metis, is in the employ of the Hudson Bay

Company as the protector and provider of the Red River Colony. Grant tried to uphold the Hudson Bay

Company monopoly at the Sayer trial and, as a result, lost all credibility among the Metis peoples. This activity

ended his career as Warden and Sheriff of Assiniboina.


June: Captain W. Colquhon Grant, with eight engages, arrived at Fort Victoria with coaches and carriages for

nonexistent roads, with a set of cricket equipment for a nonexistent playing field and finally settled at Sooke,

Vancouver Island. He did not last due to his lack of true grit and sold his property to the Muirs coal miners,

returning to England


October: The abortive Montreal Annexationist Manifesto of the American Republic convinced the Canadians

that they wanted no part of the American's greed philosophy. The Americans believed that these Eastern

Canadians, like limpets, cling to their race, religion and their ancient way of life, not lifting their heads from the

scythe or the plow.


David Anderson (1814-1885) arrived at Red River as the 1st Anglican Bishop.