Metis 1857 - 1859


1857 - 1859


Oliver LaPointe married 1857 Archange Wabigon (Lafleur) aka Madjiassinokwe born Sault Ste Marie.

Feleman Dumont (Metis b-1857 British Columbia) settled Trail Creek, Alberta by 1878- a Metis settlement.

A petition was signed by 575 settlers at Red River Metis Colony against the Hudson Bay Company, claiming they were ruling with a hard and heavy hand. They also claimed they had paid large sums of money for land and yet cannot obtain deeds for the land. The Hudson Bay Company would only issue deeds if the settlers signed papers making themselves virtual slaves to the Company. The Hudson Bay Company used armed constables to break into our homes and steal any furs found. One settler had his home burned to the ground, and he was sent as a prisoner to York Factory. These Hudson Bay men are strangers to ourselves and to our country. We are forced to pay 100 to 400% tax on Hudson Bay goods. These foreigners appoint governors and chief traders, set prices and taxes, make laws, and set punishment. Allen, at this time, provided proof that the Hudson Bay Company did not have charter rights to Canada.

Mid - century is an Indian renaissance by the Europeans and Eastern Canadians. It is my guess that 70-80% of writings about these noble people is recorded about this time.

Some folks finally realized that if they didn't capture some of this culture, it would be lost forever. It is noteworthy that French contact is 250 years old, and research during this period is already culturally contaminated. It is also important to remember, especially among the Ojibwa, that French and Ojibwa mixed blood is extremely common. The Metis and Ojibwa, culturally are often very difficult to differentiate.

Canoe of Indians: This painting is called a canoe of Indians near Grand Portage. Some of the models are called Ojibwa in other paintings, so it is safe to assume these are also Ojibwa.

Ojibwa Camp: This painting is called an Ojibwa Camp near Grand Portage. It is also common practice for the Metis to live among their relatives, the Ojibwa. Note the log cabin in the back ground. Mobile Metis also used the tipi as a home.

Ojibwa Women: This painting is called Ojibwa Women, also near Grand Portage. Notice that the woman on the left is the same woman in the front of the canoe. This painting leaves nothing to the imagination as to why the French married the Ojibwa Women.

The Canadian House of Commons received this scathing indictment concerning the British Hudson Bay Company: The Management of their affairs is inscrutable; it is like a commercial tomb, closed with the key of death to all except a favored few; its councils unfathomable and its secrets unknown; its revenuers are acquired in secret and distributed in silence. It is noteworthy that most of present day Canada is being governed by this foreign Company.

James McKey (1828-1879), a Metis, married most likely Fort Ellice to Margaret (Marguerite) Rowland daughter of the late Chief Factor John Rowland Sr. of Fort Edmonton.

However, this year he provided as a guide service and as an interpreter to John Palliser from Fort Ellice to Fort Carlton, and returned with him that fall. He could have married at Fort Carlton. Others suggest he married on June 17, 1859 Red River. It's also possible he took her as a country wife and later church as they called it. The Rowlans were considered to be the wealthiest family in the Hudson Bay service. McKey, through marriage, became one of the rich of Red River.

Land-hungry white settlers began again to crowd close to the Dakota reservation boundaries in Minnesota.

The winter of 1856-57 is unusually severe, causing hunger in the Sioux City region (Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota). The army, under orders, began harassing the Dakota Sioux on the Little Sioux River and prevented the Dakota Sioux from moving south to their traditional wintering sites. The army drove the Dakota Sioux into South Dakota. On March 8 the Dakota Sioux attacked and killed a number of settlers at Spirit Lake, South Dakota. Other accounts suggest it was Inkpaduta (Scarlet Point), an outlawed Wahpekute Chief who murdered thirty persons at Lake Okoboji, Iowa and several persons in Jackson County, Minnesota. The Indian office in Washington notified the Minnesota Dakota Sioux that no annuities will be paid until Inkpaduta is apprehended.

The Company of Royal Canadian Rifles is called in to assist in maintaining law and order in the Assiniboia District. They would remain in Red River until 1861.

Rumors are circulating at Red River that the Committee of the British House of Commons is considering challenging the Hudson Bay Company's monopoly position. The Hudson Bay Company, when providing testimony before the select committee in London, England, lied to the House of Commons when they declared: Indians are never restrained.

No distinction is made between Indian and Metis.

They (the Company) exercise no authority over Indians, except if a crime is committed against whites.

The Hudson Bay Company does not possess any rights over the people of Rupert's Land.

Native people can free trade and half-breeds can freely trade among themselves.

This need to lie indicates the changing beliefs and values, and that those in authority knew they are in violation of basic human rights. Father Grandin is promoted to the Episcopate with the title of Coadjutor to the Prelate of Red River.


A sketch of Pembina on the Red River by John Fleming. In the early days the whole region of the Red River was called the Red River of the North. If more accurate reference was required, it was usually said that it was on or near Red River and Pembina River, or Assiniboine River and/or by fort or trading post names.

Mr. Cochran moved to Portage La Prairie to establish St. Mary's Anglican Church which catered to his civilized settlers and some Plain and Swampy Cree Indians. David Thompson died February 16, 1857 without a penny to his name, unable to provide sustenance for himself or his thirteen children during the last years of his life.

The Oblate and Sisters of Charity (Grey Nuns) of Montreal entered into a permanent association.

Some of the leaders of the Metis Settlement at Lac Ste Anne included Abraham Salois, Louis Paul, Alex Nault, George Ward, one of the Hamlins, a Loyer, Joe Gray and Gabtiel Dumont; the elder. Rather than being settlement leaders in the traditional European sense, these are likely the leaders of the buffalo hunt. They had cultivated little patches but they produced very little. The mission garden, however, was very productive. Cows were added this year to the missions operation.

The Oregon constitution reads in part "no free Negro, or Mulatto, not residing in this state at the time of the adoption of this constitution, shall come, reside, or be within this state, or hold any real estate." This law is still on the books as at 2000 A.D.

January: A Major earthquake at Fort Tejon, California showed a displacement of 30 feet.

June 26: A Cercie (Sarcee) informed Fort Edmonton that the Cree had broken the peace treaty by killing several Cercies.

July 11: Palliser, an Irishman, arrived Red River to hire some men of the Country for an expedition. Dr. James Hector whose first love was geology was an obvious choice. He acquired two wagons and five Red River carts with horses.

September: A great fire started at Quill Lakes by La Combe, the Roman Catholic missionary to the Crees, swept the Prairies.

September: The Blackfoot reported they had killed thirty Cree near Fort Pitt

December 30: The Palliser expedition, with Dr. James Hector, arrived at Fort Edmonton.


The Red River Metis are running 600 red river carts per year to St. Paul, Minnesota, causing great resentment from the Hudson Bay Company.

Pierre C. Pambrun is on the upper Missouri, River, as is a Virginian, a Missourian and two gold-seekers.

Since 1857, hundreds of white settlers had gathered on the Dakota Territory borders waiting to claim land. The Dakota Sioux would not let them enter until they completed the treaty later this year. With the treaty complete, Chief Strike-the-nee, camped at Yankton, South Dakota, moved to a reservation about sixty miles north. Chief Smutty Bear, camped nine miles west of Yankton on the river, also moved to reservation.

Fort Abercrombie on the Red River of the north, near present day McCauleyville, Dakota Territory, was built to watch the Yankton Dakota Sioux. It was also to spur white settlement in the Red River Valley and to guard the steamboat traffic on the Red River, as well as the wagon trains traveling overland from Minnesota to the gold fields of Montana. The freight traffic between Red River, North West Territories and St. Paul, Minnesota had reached some six thousand carts per year. Minnesota had a population of one hundred and seventy two thousand people. Red River, North West Territory only had some ten thousand people.

(I)- George Simpson (1787-1860) finally abandoned the old supply route from Hudson Bay to Britain, for the Metis free trader route by way of Fort Garry and St. Paul, Minnesota. The one hundred and twenty officers and men of the Royal Canadian Rifles are still in Red River at this time.

1858 CUMBERLAND HOUSE by John Fleming

The original Cumberland house was built in 1774 by Samuel Hearne as the first inland House of the Hudson Bay Company. It is located in the south east corner of Cumberland Lake on the route to the Saskatchewan and Churchill Rivers. This marked a change in H.B.C. policy, where they expected the natives to bring their furs to them on the Hudson Bay Trading Posts.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota established a Provisional Territorial Government. The Dakota Democrat paper started publication this year. Iowa established the Frontier Guard under Henry Martin at the Little Sioux River, north of Sioux City. This position was to ensure that the Dakota Sioux did not return to their traditional Iowa wintering territory after having been effectively driven from Iowa. Historically, the Dakota Sioux had traded to Lake Michigan and Iowa before the Europeans invaded their territory.

James Hector, looking for a rail route through the Rocky Mountains, is kicked unconscious by a horse: so they called it Kicking Horse Pass, British Columbia.

January: Father Lacombe (1827-1916) joined the Metis on a buffalo hunt, hoping to meet up with some Blackfoot.

February 8: Fort Edmonton assumed a lively appearance this afternoon due to the arrival of the Metis hunters from the plain with 40 horse sleighs loaded with buffalo meat.

There were 18 men, and the horses were all half-broken animals that had been brought from the mountains of Jaspar (Jasper) House the previous summer.

February 12: Dr. Hector visited Lac Ste Anne and wrote: There are two villages, each with 30 to 40 houses, but there is very little ground under cultivation. Barley, potatoes and turnips are the crops that succeed best, and wheat has never been raised. The temperature was running -20 to -47 F.

May 11: Minnesota became a State, having been effectively cleared off most Dakota Sioux from the territory. There still remained many Ojibwa in the northern region and in the two Dakota Sioux Reservations. Joseph R. Brown successfully persuaded the Dakota Sioux to give up nearly a million acres of their remaining reservations for thirty cents an acre. The delay of payment for two years and, after, the deduction for the 'trader claims' little settlement, remained for the Indians. The unjustified claims of the traders caused bitter feelings among the Dakota Sioux.


The Hudson Bay Company retained its territorial rights but lost its license for exclusive monopoly trade rights. The Company was insistent that it receive compensation for any transfer of rights or privileges. The Ontario Reform convention laid the ground work to annex the North West for Ontario's economic interests. St. Paul, Minnesota reported that the Red River Metis spent $100,000 in St. Paul this year. More than 500 Red River carts were used to transport trade goods between the two Metis centers.

Pierre Bottineau, Metis (1810-1895), guided Nobles on the Wagon Road Expedition to the Frazer River, British Columbia.

The future Bishop Vital Justin Grandin (1829-1902) became Bishop Alexander Antonin Tache (1823-1894), coadjutor this year.

James McKey (1828-1879), a Metis, established a trading post at Sheyenne River.

Georgetown is established by the Hudson Bay Company as a transfer point for goods from Red River to St. Paul, in an attempt to control the Metis trade route.

Sarnia Ontario witnessed the arrival of the Grand Trunk Railway.

Dakota became a State, with its westerly boundary extending no further than the Red River of the north.

(I)- George Simpson (1787-1860) of the Hudson Bay Company wrote on the subject of missions: I am quite aware of the inconvenience they (missionaries) are likely to occasion at our Posts and the trouble that may arise from the rivalry between the Protestant and Roman Catholic clergy. The Company, however, feels that it is a necessary evil to which they must submit. Father Vital Justin Grandin arrived at Fort Rae to found the St. Michel Mission. He would become a key player in the demise of the Metis Canadian culture and would be responsible for driving many from the Roman Catholic Church.

This year Lawrence Garneau (1840-1921) decided to become a fur trader like his father. So at the age of nineteen, he set out with two companions from Bayfield, Wisconsin (Lake Superior) for Sioux City; a city of Iowa on the Missouri River. Sioux City, Iowa has a population of about 400 people, mostly Metis. The Lawrence Garneau party would canoe the Lake Superior from Bayfield to Duluth. Then they would travel the old Dakota Sioux war trail up the St. Louis River from Duluth, Minnesota and portage to the Mississippi. The Garneau party would stop at Saint Cloud, Minnesota to visit brother Simon Gurnoe, then go onward to St. Paul; a thriving Metis settlement that serves the Red River of the North. There is no record to verify if they reached Sioux City, Iowa. It remains un-verified as to whether or not they are on an American Fur Company assignment. Being a fourth generation fur trader, it is highly probable that they were on assignment. They, however, went into business, but some say the disagreeable attitude of the Sioux made business life so unpredictable and long lives so unlikely, that they ventured northward up the Minnesota. Others suggest they are pursued by a Dakota Sioux war party. Others speculated that, due to the incursion of the Dakota Sioux and the relationship between the Sioux, Ojibwa and Metis, they are forced to abandon this project. This conjecture, however, doesn't fit the family tradition that places Lawrence Garneau in the Minnesota and Dakota territories until about 1863, which would place him in the center of the Santee, Teton and Dakota Sioux War of Resistance. The Santee and Teton are of the Dakota Sioux Family. Lawrence Garneau, however, claimed in the 1901 census to have arrived at Red River in 1861. In 1860, the Metis and Ojibwa (Chippewa) had entered into a peace treaty with the Dakota Sioux, and there is no indication that this treaty is ever violated, except by the Chippewa in Red River in 1863 and then the Dakota Sioux did retaliate. This tradition went on to suggest that, speaking French and Ojibwa only, he found hospitality among the French Metis on the White Horse Plains where he continued to live for sometime. (II)-James Brady contends that Lawrence Garneau is a descendent of a Dakota Sioux half-breed which, if true, would provide a higher probability of him being sympathetic with the Dakota Sioux in their pending war of Independence. His future actions in the Winnipeg Resistance Movement and the Edmonton Vigilance activities suggest he is not one to shirk moral responsibility.

The journey from Sioux City, Iowa to St. Paul, Minnesota and then the six hundred miles to Red River settlement in the North West required a considerable amount of pluck; so travelers reported at this time. St. Paul, Minnesota, only twenty years old, is crowded with steamboats, passengers and goods. There are substantial stone buildings on the main streets that would impress the frontier folk.

James McKey (1828-1879), a Metis, provided guide service from St. Paul to Red River for the Earl of Southesk, (I)- George Simpson (1787-1860) and Dr. John Rae. The Earl wrote: Up to his waist or chest in the clinging mud or the sluggish black water of the creek, now passing heavy packages across, now dragging reluctant animals through the mire, all came alike to him, and his cheerfulness never flagged.

The route to Red River and the North West lay along the left bank of the Mississippi through beautiful prairie country. Some referred to this route as the Sioux Trail. After passing Crow Wing Fort, you had to cross the Mississippi and Gull Lake Rivers and then travel to the Crow Wing River through marshy country. After Crow Wing Hills, you have to travel sandy tracts, scattered woods, creeks and more scattered swamp to Leaf River and on to Otter trail Lake. Then to the Red River valley on Otter Trail to Breckenridge; the Assiniboine River Crossing. An average journey from St. Paul to Red River is twenty five days, but some times this could double depending on circumstances. There was talk of annexation of Red River by the United States. James Wicks Taylor, commissioned by the United States Treasury, reported on the route, by way of Red River and the Saskatchewan, to the British Columbia gold fields.

June 10: The first steamship from Georgetown, Minnesota arrives at Fort Garry on June 10, 1859, called the Anson Northrop, and collected a two thousand dollar prize from the St. Paul, Minnesota committee. The Hudson Bay Company responded to this threat by buying the steamship, changing its name to Pioneer and raising freight rates to prohibitive levels on any goods carried for the Metis free traders.

November 30: Archange Gourneau, married to Rouleau, (Roulleau or Rolleau), began to learn how to read; being taught by the good Fathers at Sault Ste Marie.

December 28: The first issue of the Red River Nor'wester, owned by Buckingham and Coldwell, came out on December 28, 1859. The Earl of Southesk, impressed with the Metis he met, spoke of them as tall, straight and well proportioned. These true riders of the prairies, he wrote, could run after their sled dogs, fifty or sixty miles a day for weeks on end. S .J. Dawson, on his Red River Expedition, wrote: I never once heard an oath or an indelicate expression made use of among the Metis. This is different from what may be too often observed among the lower order of other communities. Henry McKenny, who was a half brother to Dr. John Schultz, arrived to start a store in Red River. He would later build the first hotel near Fort Garry called the Royal Hotel.