HISTORY 261: The West, Late 1800’s 1
The West 1850’s to 1870’s
January 10th 2014
Ontario had the richest economy agriculture provided lots of wealth (wheat farmer increased wealth)
Between the 1850 and 1870’s Ontario was growing and people were migrating to the west. Farming
was the main economic activity for people, land was available in the west.
● Quebec and Maritimes figured if the west was an agricultural hub, the east would become
industrial centres and the market could be expanded into the west.
● Railways allowed connections between large cities.
The US was pushing west as well, american settlers were moving into manitoba (Red River Settlement)
and trading out of there instead of Ontario
The people pushing west didn’t consider the 100,000 some aboriginal people throughout the prairies.
The Canadians believed the land had a lot of potential and nothing could stand in their way.
The Maritimes was opposed to the push west, as they had not received their railway yet. Another group
believed the push west would be too expensive. The opposition was ignored and in 1868 McDougal
and Cartier headed to London to negotiate for Rupert's Land and the Northwest Territories.
Red River Settlement
● Originated as an attempt to colonize Rupert’s Land and the West.
● Most abandoned Red River expect a few scottish settlers, HBC employees, and an increasing
population of metis. The Metis had their own government, strong sense of local identity
● Declining fur trade and bison herd meant the HBC didn’t resist Canadian offers of purchase.
People of Red River were ignored in the negotiations, Canada bought the area for $1.5 million.
● In June 1869: an act was passed allowing a colonial government, plans to build a road and
railway were designed, surveyors were sent out Canada planned to take over the area in
December 1869: the people living on Red River were very opposed, especially the French
Metis and the Aboriginals. They resurveyed the land into square lots instead of the rangs.
● The English Canadians felt no sympathy for the Metis.
● Louis Riel formed a national committee of Metis and would demand negotiations for the rights
to their land, religion, and culture. They stood on the surveyor’s chains as an act of resistance.
They also stopped william McDougall (Lieutenant governor) from entering the settlement.
● Canadian supporters opposed Louis Riel’s provisional government. They met in Dr. Schultz's
office. Riel raided the office and took prisoners demanding they leave the settlement or obey the
metis’ rules. Dr. Schutz refused and later escaped.
● Dr. Schutz arranged an attack on the provisional government, his attack was unsuccessful and HISTORY 261: The West, Late 1800’s 2
Riel took prisoners again, including the Famous Thomas Scott.
○ Thomas Scott was a member of the orange order, and strongly opposed to catholicism
and French Canadians. Many French Canadians feared the Orange Order.