Metis 1871 - 1874


1871 - 1874

Land claims could only be made in Red River if
you could prove occupancy on July 15.

The Orangemen knew that the Metis were
engaged in the annual buffalo hunt.

Trail Creek des Metis becomes the capital of the Metis Nation.

Louis Riel, being elected to the Ottawa House of Commons,
is not allowed to sit.

The Orangemen have placed a $5,000 bounty on his head.


Some Metis researchers refer to the next few decades as the "Lost Years", the "Forgotten Years", the "Dispersal Years", or the "Reign of Terror". All these analogous phrases are valid depending on where you were living during this period. I would like to present the "Golden Years" as analogous to the Golden Age of the elderly who have retired. Many Metis recognized the end of the 'Red River Metis Colony' and made the decision to move on, rather than submit to the English yoke. The Metis culture, at this time, was centered around the Grand Buffalo hunt. They and their Indians cousins were well aware that the buffalo were on a rapid decline and that this would cause a fundamental change to their way of life.

The total failure of the Southern Saskatchewan buffalo hunt continued into this year, causing continued starvation among the Prairie Indians, Metis and fur traders. This drove Issac Cowie, H.B.C. man, being guided by Xazier Denomie- a Metis, to establish his trading post on the east end of Cyprus Hills. A large number of Metis wintered for the next two years at Cypress Hills. Their numbers were added to by the Red River exodus. Cypress Hills still had large numbers of Red Deer and Grizzly. The Metis killed 750 grizzly and 1,500 Red Deer the first winter. These Metis were trained for the Prairie buffalo hunt and, not being accustomed to forest hunting, they inadvertently shot dead five of their own. Issac Cowie says the Plaine Assiniboine, Cree and Ojibwa believe that the Metis are driving the buffalo westward.

It certainly was the 'Lost of Land' years and the "Dispersal Years" as the Metis' exodus from Red River finds 2,000 or more settling into Trail Creek des Metis, located on Buffalo Trail Creek that is fed by Buffalo Lake into the Red Deers (Deer) River. It is about 15 miles west of Stettler, Alberta, on the north side of Red Deer River. This became the new staging area for the fall buffalo hunt, replacing White Horse Plains near Red River. This site was chosen because it was free from Hudson Bay Company influence; no trading forts existed in this region, and it was free from religious influence and the buffalo were located in plenty here. These Metis realized that the water ways were now the domain of Europeans, but the Red River cart and overland freighting was still their domain.

The "Forgotten Years" are the result of the Metis being basically isolated from the H.B.C., European Country men or the various religious clergy. These Europeans basically confined them selves to the known waterways and seldom traveled cross country. The Metis historically did not record their deeds, although many could read and write. By isolating themselves at Trail Creek des Metis and other locations, they were able to live out their culturally declining years in a total Metis fashion.

They were "Golden Years" for many as they prepared for the transition into a new cultural lifestyle. Think about it. They had a winter home at Trail Creek des Metis where they lived according to ancient Metis tradition, totally isolated from European contact. They carried on the Grand Buffalo Hunt and engaged in the continuous grand social events and games. They had summer homes in such places as Edmonton, Big Lake, St. Albert, Devils Lake (Lac St. Anne), Lac La Biche and many lesser communities. This is where they planted their gardens, collected hay for the winter/spring, fished and freighted. Only the English aristocrats of England could boast of such a life. The Metis of Trail Creek, however, did not reside in idleness, but welcomed the hard work. As the years passed, the Metis began spending more time at their summer homes until they came to Trail Creek des Metis only for the hunt, returning to their summer homes for the winter.

Father Lacombe is believed to be in Red River, this and next year, encouraging the Francophone to immigrate up the Saskatchewan. He would spend the years from 1872 to 1882 in Red River.

The "Reign of Terror" by the Orange Order of Ontario in Red River, still being led by the likes of Cornish and Mulvey, invaded the St. Boniface Federal poling station and destroyed Metis printing presses. The Federal Government of Canada finally said that enough was enough; that it was one thing to attack the Metis, but destroying government property is going too far.

The Irish Fenians attempted to bring their squabbles into Manitoba in the fall, headed by O'Neill, hoping to receive support from Louis Riel and the Metis against the British.

The Metis, however, raised a group of loyalist volunteers to defend the frontier. The Americans, however, did not allow the Irish rebels to cross the border.

A number of Metis settlements were located on the Milk River, between Havre and the Cree Crossing.

Lt. William F Butler observed, after touring the prairies, that he had learned of six incipient settlements which had been founded by the missionaries. Most Metis settlements were founded by the Indians, then the Metis joined them and later the missionaries followed. He said that their was no law and order; meaning there was no English authority.

(I)-John A. MacDonald (1815-1891), on the evidence of one man, concluded the need for a force of mounted riflemen- similar to the Metis forces.

Lawrence Garneau and his family would spend about four years on the Prairies. He claims to have wintered the first year of the exodus in a rented house in Red River. It's more likely that he wintered in various locations, such as Trail Creek des Metis in the Carlton area at St. Antoine (Batoche or Duck Lake), at Saint Albert, the Fort Edmonton area or even in Dakota or Montana. The situation in Red River, combined with the sale of his property in 1870, suggests he did not winter more than one year at Red River. It is more likely that Lawrence wintered at Trail Creek des Metis and tried various summer locations over the next few years.

British Columbia joined the Dominion of Canada.

The Red River census lists: 5,720 French Metis, 4,080 protestant half-breeds for a total of 9,800 mixed blood and 1,600 who claimed to be European and 560 Indians (Cree and Ojibwa) in the settlement. It is noteworthy that 87% of the population had no property rights nor a right to elect their own assembly. The right to property and the right to bear arms is still not included in the Canadian constitution. Only the Ontario Liberal Orange Men have this right.

July 29: Joseph Gurnoe, at Du Luth, Minnesota, filed a protest against Peter Young ( alias Osh-ke-mur-na) as not being of mixed blood, but being a full blood Chippewa and, therefore, not entitled to script. John Buffalo of the Red Cliff band (near Bayfield, Wisconsin) of the Lake Chippewa, supported that Peter Young was full blood. The American Government issued 1,160 pieces of Ojibwa script; totaling 92,800 acres of land.

July 29: At Du Luth, Minnesota, (7)-Joseph Gurnoe swore that he knowingly witnessed invalid applications of Mixed Blood script at the insistence of his employer: Indian Agent General L.E. Webb. Joseph Gurnoe contended that he had only received two hundred and fifty dollars; being the removal of an encumbrance on his dwelling house and lot. Payment for the other witness, James Chapman, is not recorded. Joseph Gurnoe testified that Justice Tyler administered no oath on any applicant or on any applications signed in Washington.

October: John Kerler, a Metis of Red River, was trading near Frenchman's Creek, Montana when the American army destroyed his Post.


It is believed that the Metis are farming the Fort Saskatchewan, Fort Edmonton District about this time or maybe earlier.

George Leonard Hammond, b-1842 New Brunswick, is trading out of Fort Benton, Montana.

Edward McKay, Metis son of John Richard McKay- Metis, and Harriet Ballenden- Metis, established a trading post at Cyprus Hills.

Jean Baptiste Paranteau- Metis and Xavier Letendre are homesteading in the parish of St. Laurent, South Saskatchewan River this year.

Father Jean Marie Lestanc reported that 5-6 trading posts are operating at Cyprus Hills between 1872-1873.

A form of pony express was introduced in Manitoba this year where mail was delivered on horseback. This was considered revolutionary as to this point in time all mail was delivered by canoe. The only short fall was that it wasn't express as the mail was only delivered a few times a year.

The Hudson Bay Company stated that their experience with Metis reserves in Manitoba suggests that they should never be allowed in the Territories. It is only as settlers that any indulgence can be shown them. The question of land ownership near Hudson Bay Company Forts will be left up to the discretion of each Chief Factor on the Saskatchewan. As to Bishop Vital Grandin's concern that "my (white) right is better than yours", no man located there can be disturbed, and any settler there has the same right, being half-breed or Indian. Any body who goes to the Saskatchewan River district to settle has just as much right to go there and enter unoccupied land as those had who went before him. Any community has the right to make rules for its own government, so long as the people choose to abide by them. However, they have no power to enforce them if resistance is made. In short, the Hudson Bay Company and Government house will decide on the rules and method of enforcement and look forward to the requested Police force which will enforce these rules.

Lawrence Garneau (1840-1921) was obviously following the exodus further to the west on the Carlton trail, reviewing the Lac Saint Anne and St. Albert options. His wife, (IV)-Eleanor Thomas (1851-1912), would pack the dried pemmican with pounded choke cherries, dried raspberries, saskatoons and blueberries in cakes, and you broke off a piece as needed. The total Metis population, estimated by the Hudson Bay Company, is thirteen to fifteen thousand, with two to four thousand living along the Saskatchewan River. About eleven thousand are still remaining on the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. Populations not located on Hudson Bay fur runs may not be included in these estimates; such as Trail Creek des Metis.

Lewis Garneau is born in1872, probably on the Carlton Trail, North West Territories son Lawrence Garneau (1840-1921) and (IV)-Eleanor Heline Thomas (1851-1911). He is claimed to be born St. Andrews, (Anglican) Red River but no baptism record is obtained and Metis script is declined #768987 April 18, 1903. It is more likely that he is born Trail Creek des Metis or on the open prairie.

The Canadian Homestead Act reserved two million, four hundred and forty eight thousand, one hundred and sixty acres of land for the Metis in Manitoba. The Metis along the Saskatchewan, from Grand Rapids to Rocky Mountain House, raised concern about the loss of rights and land on Red River, and are active in trying to establish Metis rights and reserves along the Saskatchewan.

George M. Grant visited Red River and observed that the Metis are farmers, hunters, fishermen; all in one. The soil is scratched three inches deep early in May, some seed is thrown in and then the whole household goes off to hunt buffalo. It is noteworthy that this zero tillage method would be later adopted by many Prairie farmers in the late twentieth century to conserve soil moisture. They return about mid August to spend the month haying and harvesting and are then off to the hunt in early September. He went on to say that some are so devoted to farming, that they only go on one hunt in the year. It is astonishing that, through knowing so well how to do it, they raise some wheat and a good deal of barley, oats and potatoes. It is noteworthy that the religious considered this life style as anti-civilized, basically because they couldn't be controlled like full time farmers.

George M. Grant went on to say that the French Metis made better husbands and treated their native partner as a wife. Her people became his people; but his God her God.

The Scot with an Indian wife did not measure up as well; too often her position was not much higher than a servant. He believed the Metis inherited more Indian habits and weaknesses than did the English Half-Breed. The Metis exceed the Indian in strength of body and endurance, and beat him on his own field of hunting, running, riding, eating and, when necessary, of abstinence. The Scottish Half-Breed showed more the characteristics of the father, being shrewd, steady and industrious. It is noteworthy that the Metis followed the Indian tradition of caring and sharing, whereas the Half-Breed followed the European tradition of stinginess and hording. This difference is understandable, as the Half-Breed only had less than 70 years to develop their culture, whereas the Metis had two hundred and seventy years to develop their culture.

Grant noted that the leaders (likely the religious and European people) believed that farming offered one of the best chances for both Metis and Half-Breeds to gain independence. He noted that most people in Red River did not agree with the alleged leaders. Those who did do intensive farming feel that fortune had passed them by.

Starting this decade, about 7,000 Mennonites from the Russian Ukraine are offered free land in Southern, Manitoba. The first settled on the East Reserve near Niverville and then in the West Reserve near Altona and Winkler.

Settlers around Fort Victoria numbered 150 people in 25 houses.

The census of January 1, 1872 at the trading post in the Saskatchewan River District are as follows:



Carlton 402 46 8 253

Edmonton - 20 18 -

Fort Assiniboine - - - 46

Fort Pitt 13 - - 600

Jasper House 190 - - 91

Lac La Biche 360 - 11 206

Lake St. Anne 154 - - 182

Lesser Slave Lake - - - 784

Pigeon Lake - - 1 549

Rocky Mtn. House - - - 3,350

St. Albert 1,015 9 - 387

Victoria - 153 - 650

White Fish Lake - 25 - 225


January 11: The Metis request for a one hundred and forty by twenty mile tract of land; being one million eight hundred thousand acres, be set aside as a Metis reserve is soundly rejected by the Hudson Bay Company and Government House at Fort Garry. They called the request an absurdity that no government would entertain, let alone support. These very same people did not see an absurdity in selling 116,000 square miles of land for ten shillings to Thomas Douglas of Selkirk. Upon this absurd act they all claimed their authority? Government House responded that these people (the Metis) can forward no claim upon there being Half-Breeds. They, however, admitted that they had no authority outside Manitoba, but that under no circumstances should half-breeds be treated any differently from white people or Indians. This subtle double standard, used for the next one hundred years, effectively suppressed the Metis and Native peoples.

October: The fundamental loyalty of the Metis to Canada is tested when they gathered with Riel and his men to turn back a local Fenian raid on Red River. This attack included the ex-Provisional Government Treasurer and secret agent- O'Donogue from the United States. Racial and religious intolerance, however, would intensify against the Native Metis peoples. (I)-John A. MacDonald (1815-1891) forwarded secret service funds through the Catholic Church to induce Riel to go to the United States and, at the same time, the Liberal Government of Ontario offered a five thousand dollar reward for the apprehension of Riel. Riel went to Montana then on to Quebec, Keeseville, New York, then returned to St. Paul, Minnesota and Montana.


This season it is estimated that 150 Red River Carts departed Fort Garry for Fort Edmonton. It is highly likely that Lawrence Garneau (1840-1921) is included in this brigade, as one of his occupations was freighting.

Cuthbridge Fagnant and Andre Letendre (later killed at Batoche), both Metis, are homesteading in the parish of St. Laurent, South Saskatchewan River this year.

Colonel D. S. Stanley wrote that Custer is a cold-blooded, untruthful and unprincipled man .. universally despised by all the officers of his regiment.

The distribution of land in Red River began this year, but only one hundred and forty acres each, and only if they could prove residency on July 15, 1870- a date the officials selected knowing that most Metis were on the buffalo hunt. The Newfoundland Government agreed to joining (I)-John A. MacDonald's Canada. However, the people did not trust MacDonald and his boys after hearing the Red River stories, and they thoroughly defeated their government at an election and, by 1879, had dropped out of discussions.

The Hudson Bay Company, represented by Donald A. Smith, opposed this action as it further diminished the Company's power base. The tarring of Smith by a group of citizens, resulted in a one thousand dollar reward being offered for the arrest of his unknown assailants. Louis Riel won the by-election for the constituency of Provencher.

Frank Oliver of Edmonton fame, was setting type for the Winnipeg Free Press and probably learned how not to run a newspaper.

Prince Edward Island joined the Dominion of Canada.

Grasshoppers destroyed the crops, the fall fisheries failed and people are consuming the potato seed for next year in the District of Luscar; according to St. Peters Parish records in Red River.

George French is responsible for organizing the first Mounted Police and their march west. He was forced to resign in 1876 because he had discovered that Ontario was misinformed about conditions in the West. Lt. William Butler was a liar, or more likely the infamous (I)-John A. MacDonald (1815-1891).

January 1: The first North West Council is appointed and included: , D. A. Smith, H.J. Clarke, P. Brelong, Alfred Boyd, John Schultz, J. Dubue, G.B. Bannatyne, William Frazer, Rob Hamilton and W.J. Cristie. This dictatorship process is a major setback for the Metis who have lived under a democratic process of elected officials, based on Canadian Common Law.

February: A major snow storm and blizzard devastated northern United States and much of eastern Canada. It is estimated that 100's of, maybe as many as 300, lives were lost. New Ulm had ordered 19 coffins in one day, and 50 deaths were reported from there and Fort Ridgedale. There were 20 deaths in Morris, nine in Madelia, 24 at Sleepy Eye Lake, 8 at Worthington and 10 at Manketo. The rail lines near St. Paul saw a 3,000 foot long drift, which was 15 feet high- you could drive a team of horses over the rail cars. Many wagons and cutters were found with the horses standing frozen and the occupants still holding the reins, frozen to death- even though clothed in buffalo robes.

Manitoba was experiencing a normal winter.

March: Curtis Bird, Metis and speaker of the Legislative Assembly, is tarred by the Ontario Orange Order.

May: The American Woofers, S.A. Harper, headed by John Evens of Fort Benton, Montana, and Thomas Hardwick are in pursuit of alleged horse thieves. There were a few Metis freighters involved, such as Joseph Lange. Some Metis warned the Assiniboine of their impending doom, but it was too late. They massacred the Indians at Little Soldier's North Assiniboine camp. The Americans raged into the camp at Cypress Hills and killed Little Soldier, cut off his head, and set it up on a pole. They raped the women all night and slew the children along with the adults; killing thirty men, women and children in all. Little Soldier's party had nothing to do with the horse stealing. The balance of the tribe sought refuge among the Metis camps. Solomon and Farwell hastily departed the massacre area, and their trading post was burned. The Irish Fenians in Fort Benton are all in favor of the massacre, as it was necessary to keep the Indians in order. James Hughes, George Bell and Philander Vogle, captured when they come to Canada, are sent to Winnipeg for trial in 1876 but are acquitted due to lack of evidence. Thomas Hardwick, alias Green River Renegade- an ex-Confederate army, was described as a person of the worst class in the country. In June of 1876, five wolfers were arrested but they are acquitted of the massacre.

September 24: (I)-John A. MacDonald (1815-1891) announced the formation of the North West Mounted Police.

November 8: Winnipeg becomes a city.


Jean Baptiste Boyer, Metis, and Gilbert Breland are homesteading in the parish of St. Laurent, South Saskatchewan River this year.

Edward (Ned) Garneau, born November 12, 1874 Red River, Strathcona or on the trail, son (7)-Lawrence Gareneau born 1840 and (IV)-Eleanor Thomas born 1851. Grand daughter Peggy Fidler claims he is born April 3, 1872 Red River. This date does not agree with 1880 or 1890 census. April 18, 1903 #768987 disallowed Metis script suggesting a birth or baptism document couldn't be obtained.

Samuel Steel would follow the same route that Lawrence Garneau and his young family had taken on their exodus from Red River. Steel would take longer and run into many problems because they are incorrectly equipped.

The English are infamous for changing the rules of the game during play to give themselves the advantage. The rules for the distribution of land changed to one hundred sixty acres or one hundred and sixty dollars per adult. Later the allotment changed to two hundred and forty acres, and all previous allotments were cancelled. As a result of the change in rules, many Metis farmers lost their land, as the new English settlers filed application on the Metis Land. Others returned from the buffalo hunt to find their homes and improved farms given away. Winnipeg's first civic election listed three hundred and eight on the voter's list but three hundred and thirty one votes are recorded.

The Hudson Bay Company held their annual meeting at Fort Carleton, with Robert Hamilton being Inspector Chief Factor, William McMurray Chief Factor and Richard Hardisty the other Chief Factor, The four Factors are: Lawrence Clark, R. MacFarlane, Archibald McDonald and William McKay. Ontario expanded its boundary to southern James Bay.

A grasshopper plague swept southern Minnesota for the second year, and many settlers are suffering for food.

Her Majesty's Poor Law Inspector reported that the poor indentured children deported to Canada under Britain's emigration policy has grave concerns. Living conditions in Canada are more strenuous combined with loneliness, homesickness, recollections and attachments of children isolated from kinfolk and homeland. John Walters wrote in 1875 that the poor children are not wanted in Canada as they have their own poor children to handle. It is noteworthy that over 80,000 child slaves are deported to Canada by 1930. Britain, Canada and the major Churches condone this moral and social degeneracy. The Roman Catholic Workhouse Association is deeply involved.

At Fort Benton, Montana, Issac Gilbert Baker formed a partnership with Charles and William Conrad, becoming the I.G. Baker Company. Charles and William were ex-civil war veterans, as was Thomas Hardwick of this time period.

Fort Smith on the Slave River (Alberta/N.W.T boarder) is built by the H.B.C. this year.

March 30: Louis Riel sneaked into the Ottawa house of Commons for the swearing in ceremonies. Riel won a parliamentary seat in a Manitoba riding, but there was a five thousand dollar reward for his capture. Henry J. Clark, Attorney General, anxious for the Orangemen vote, had obtained a warrant for Riel's arrest. On July 20, 1874, Henry J. Clark was assaulted by a gang that was headed by Michael Hoy; Chief of Police of Minneapolis and Alderman Glenn, for his infamous actions. Some claim the Reverend J. Dallas O'Meara incited the beating by stating the Riel outlawry would be completed when Clark returned to Red River. On April 9, the House of Commons, by a majority of fifty six votes, expels Riel. Voting division is along racial and not party lines. This racism in the House of Commons, sends a strong signal out to the Territories and to Quebec.

June: The Royal Canadian Police leave Fort Garry with one hundred and fourteen Red-River carts, ninety five head cattle, one hundred seventy supply wagons and two field guns, starting on the thousand mile trip to Fort Edmonton and Fort MacLeod. Samuel Steele would follow the Metis route; called the Touchwood or Carlton Trail, and would take six months to travel the one thousand two hundred and twenty five miles. Some called it a bumbling effort, as the southern group got lost at Sweet Grass. They are saved by the good will of Jerry Potts- the Half-Breed. Jerry Potts, a.k.a. Ky-yo-kosi (bear child), a Metis, is of Blood Indian and Scottish decent. He was a scout, guide, interpreter and advisor to the Canadian Police.

July 11: The infamous Honorable Minister, Mr. Bannerman (Bennerman), the Scott, who lives near St. John's Cathedral, is a prominent member of the claim jumping Orangemen Gang who are three hundred strong at this time.

July 14: The New Redistribution Bill maintained the English majority of fourteen to ten French; which is the same as the old Government. The English press contends that it should be sixteen to eight, and the locals suggest it should be a majority of French. Over the past three years, pleasure hunters had killed three million buffaloes. Some believe it is an American attempt to eliminate the Indian food supply; as the cost to kill Indians directly is proving to be too costly.

August 12: The Winnipeg Free Press claimed that Manitoba is largely created by the Ontario British. They went on to suggest that Scottish and French Half-Breeds be given script rather than the promised land so that they can move up the Saskatchewan to less settled areas. This is suggesting that it is more suited to their less civilized nature. In short, get off the land we want.

August 13: Mr. French of the R.C.M.P. first encountered the Dakota and assumed their presence impressed the Indians. He is totally unaware that the Metis had negotiated a number of peace treaties between the two Nations.

August 14: The Dakota Sioux warned the chief of all thieves, General George Armstrong Custer, not to enter the Black Hills or they wouldl catch him and do battle. The English at Winnipeg believed that if they do, they will be catching tartar (attacking someone too strong for one; getting more than one bargained for).

September 4: Mr. French of the R.C.M.P. again encountered the Dakota, but this time they brought their Metis allies to help in understanding why they were in the region.

September 24: Mr. French of the R.C.M.P. reports that the state of affairs on the Bow and Belly River has been greatly exaggerated.