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ago we see a distinct rivalry, from time to time drifting into civil war, between the older and the younger company_a rivalry purely British—the French element being wholly eliminated from the northern part of the continent. It lasted until 1821, when, chiefly through the exertions of the late Mr. Edward Ellice, the North-West Company was amalgamated or, more strictly speaking, absorbed in the body which was not only a trading but a governing corporation. But the North-West Company had before this event attained a trading position which will cause it to live long in the history of Canada.
There are, however, some incidents which must be noted in the story of the Hudson's Bay Company occurring during this period, which has—as we have seen-characteristics that differentiate it from those which preceded and followed it. Indeed the entire history of the company from its inception until to-day is divisible into well-defined epochs. It would have made the recent works on the subject more valuable, as well as more readable, if their authors had endeavoured to evolve from the great mass of detail which their industry has collected, a larger and more defined view of the history of Rupert's Land.
The Hudson's Bay Company, though it indirectly colonised those places where it established forts and factories, was primarily a corporation formed for the purpose of trading, chiefly in furs with the Indians. But in the beginning of the century an interesting effort was made to colonise systematically a tract of the company's vast territories. From the county of Sutherland large numbers of its people were in process of eviction. The fifth Earl of Selkirk, in the desire to benefit these poor men, obtained a grant of waste lands on Prince Edward Island, and with about eight hundred of the evicted tenantry arrived there in 1805. The success of the colony decided Lord Selkirk, a man of remarkable character, philanthropic, active, and large-minded, to establish another colony on the banks of the Red River, in Rupert's Land, the property of the Hudson's Bay Company. The scheme was by no means as easy as it seemed. Doubts arose whether the company could grant land in fee simple; there was a dislike on the part of many of those interested in the company to the invasion of their territory by persons whose
been told by Washington Irving in his • Astoria or Enterprise beyond the Rocky Mountains, probably the most picturesque and vivid description of the fur trade of the North-West which exists,
object was to change it from a hunting ground to agricultural land. The North-West Company and the BoisBrulés, the descendants of the French Canadians, and some hardy English and Scotchmen, and the Indians—a section of the population-half-breeds, but distinct in character, with the wildness of the Indian and the white man's determination, were all hostile to any such colony. At length, however, in June 1811, after much opposition, carried into the heart of the company, there was made to Lord Selkirk a grant of 116,000 square miles, an area altogether out of proportion to the number of the settlers. It was a country nearly as large as England and Scotland, extending from near the head of Lake Superior to the middle of Lake Winnipeg, and received the name of Assiniboia. It became the absolute property of Lord Selkirk, until in 1836 it was repurchased by the company from the executors of the fifth earl, to whom it had been financially disastrous. Colonisation is now spreading over the land, and the fine city of Winnipeg has arisen on the banks of the lake. But when Lord Selkirk founded his colony he was premature; the river and the forest were still only for the hunter and the trapper; it was a colony too remote from men.
The export and the import of produce were impossible, the colony was separated from the ocean and from the more civilised parts of the continent, whether British or American, by interminable miles of almost impenetrable woodland, stormy lakes, and rapid streams. Its early stages were marked by trouble and turmoil. The first emigrants collected from Ireland and the highlands of Scotland arrived in Hudson's Bay, at York Factory, on the Nelson River, in the autumn of 1811. Before them was the hard long northern winter. They proceeded some fifty miles up the river, and there at Seal Creek they remained till spring. It was late in August of the next year before they reached the Red River Valley. They had braved the severity of the season; they had now to face the half-wild hunters of the North-West.
A band of armed men, painted, disfigured, and apparelled like savages, confronted this little band of colonists and bade them halt. They were told briefly that they were unwelcome visitors in that region, and must depart. The colonists might have been urged to make a stand, but to the terrors of hostile Indian and half-breed was added that of prospective starvation, for none there about would sell them provisions. The painted warriors, who were North-West Company Métis in disguise, urged them to proceed to Pembina, where they would be unharmed, offering to conduct them there. They acquiesced
and the pilgrimage was resumed for seventy miles farther. At Pembina they passed the winter in tents, according to the Indian fashion, subsisting on the products of the chase, in common with the natives.'*
In the spring a fresh attempt was made to establish the wanderers. They ventured again to the Red River, and builtlog huts and cultivated patches of prairie. The harvest was successful, but they nevertheless returned to Pembina for the winter, employing it in hunting. Presently there appeared a second batch of colonists, mostly Irish. Their experiences were similar to those of the men who had preceded them, and in the spring of 1814 the colonists were on the Red River in a state of great destitution. It would be tedious to follow out in detail the misfortunes of these early colonists. The North-Western and the half-breeds became so actively aggressive that they took prisoner Governor MacDonnell, and finally, after tempting some colonists from the place and terrifying others, all the remaining officers and settlers were driven from the new home to a trading post of the company on the Jack River. The day following their departure a
party of North-West Company clerks, servants, and half• breeds gathered at the spot, and, setting fire to the houses, 'the mill, and the other buildings, destroyed them.' Then came fresh colonists, new intrigues, more attacks, and more deportations of the settlers by the North-West Company. Finally Lord Selkirk, collecting ostensibly as settlers, really as soldiers, some French officers and men of De Meuron's and Watteville's regiments, who had been employed in the Anglo-American war, penetrated into the North-West, and towards the close of 1816 made an end once for all of the persecution and bloodshed by taking forcible possession of Fort William, arresting therein some of the leaders of the North-West opposition, and holding it throughout the winter. Thence he sent out parties which seized other forts of the North-West Company at Fond du Lac, Michipicoten, and Lac La Place. Thus pressed by the Hudson's Bay Company commercially, and by Selkirk and his officers as police, it came about that the North-West Company made terms in 1821 with its long-established rival.
Peace was restored to the North-West, but before it came Lord Selkirk had died at Pau in 1820.
In the year which followed this cessation of forest warfare the Red River Colony, reinforced by settlers of various
* The Great Company, vol. i. p. 160. VOL. CXCII. NO. OCCXCIII,
nationalities, began to attain some measure of prosperity. That the Hudson's Bay Company looked coldly on Lord Selkirk's colonising operations there can be no doubt. He had become a shareholder with the avowed object of pressing forward a policy to which many of the proprietors were opposed, and which was contrary to the traditional aims of the company. The fur trade from the beginning had been the main object of the company. In the increasing importance in recent times of other forms of commerce, and in its own diminution of extent, we are apt to overlook the value which was attached to it in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. After the creation of the United States as an independent power one of the great objects of practical statesmen was to secure for the new nation as large a share as possible in the fur trade of the NorthWest. Washington devoted time and labour to this object; he formulated a plan to turn it to the States. Colonisation was inimical to such a trade, and it was to the interests of the company to retain the North-West in a wild condition and at the same time to extend its trading operations as far as possible towards the Pacific.
In this narrative of colonisation, hunting, and warfare we are apt to overlook the enormous size of the region over which the Hudson's Bay Company was supreme, to forget that the forts which were captured were mere log houses isolated by the side of lake or river in the midst of a boundless wilderness-that the roads over which Selkirk's settlers and soldiers trudged were mere trails in the obscurity of the forest often only to be reached after a long water-journey in birch-bark canoes. Fort William now rising as the great grain emporium of the West—then the headquarters of the North-West Company-was the centre to which an extraordinary number of men resorted --hunters and trappers, white men, half-breeds and Indians, pedlars and commercial agents.
agents. In front lay the ocean-like waters of Superior down which the peltries of the forest were carried in scores of canoes; behind it was a halfexplored and uncivilised region of mountain, forest, stream, and prairie bounded on the distant west by the Pacific Ocean. Over it all were studded the posts of the Hudson's Bay Company, which expanding from the north had outlived the dominion of France, had withstood the attacks of the unorganised fur-traders, and then the more systematicopposition of the North-West Company. Now secure in its possessions, it was by the natural evolution of events presently to relinquish
its position as a semi-sovereign power and to enter into its last and modern phase of a purely trading corporation.
The last epoch commences with the surrender to Her Majesty's Government in 1869 of all the company's rights of government and property in Rupert's Land. For this cession it received 300,0001., and the right to blocks of land pot exceeding in the aggregate 50,000 acres. Various minor points were agreed upon, but the cardinal fact of the whole transaction was the transformation of the Hudson's Bay Company into a purely mercantile concern. The confederation of the separate provinces of Canada in 1867 into the Dominion of Canada had made this event inevitable. It was impossible for the new dominion to have stretching beyond it to the north and west a vast region which it had no power either to defend or to keep in order. Not that the rule of the company had been unsatisfactory. It had for centuries remained on the most friendly terms with the Indians. It is, indeed, one of the best features in its history, that from first to last its dealings with the aboriginal inhabitants seem to have been fair, kindly, and just; it obtained their confidence by honest dealing in the beginning of its existence, it retains it to this day. Justice was administered without hesitation and with absolute equality; the company, while it allowed the Indians to roam and hunt in their wide territories, never recognised any native title to the land, but never interfered with their habits, their religion, or their social system. So far as it was able the company kept from the red man the poison of alcoholic liquors, but otherwise it allowed him to live his life as he had ever done. It showed neither missionary zeal, nor a doctrinaire desire to establish new systems of government or society. Its officials and agents were not exposed to the temptations of those who in India were contemporaneously under the authority of a yet greater and more celebrated company spreading the influence and dominion of Great Britain in the East. Differing in many ways, men both under the authority of the East India Company and of the Hudson's Bay Company were alike working for the expansion of England. In the unimaginative, gross fashion of the eighteenth century the servants of the Hudson's Bay Company did not indulge in brilliant dreams of national dominion; they were content to look at affairs in a common-sense and businesslike manner. It has been urged as a reproach against the policy of the company that it was actuated by an anti-colonising spirit,