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236   HISTORY OF CANADA.

Varying Fortunes—The Company's Monopoly.—The settlers, during the fourteen years which followed the union of the rival companies, experienced many vicissitudes of fortune. During three successive seasons (1818-1820) their crops were destroyed by grasshoppers, which came upon then in swarms from the south. In 1821 seed wheat was obtained from the United States by Selkirk's executors, at great expense, and for some years apparently the colony prospered fairly well. In 1826, however, a great flood upon the Red River washed away the settlers' houses, destroyed their crops, and left them to begin the battle anew. But the great drawback to progress was the company's monopoly, not merely of the fur trade, but of all commerce. Selkirk's executors, for a time, had supplied the settlement with goods, but shortly after the union of the two companies this enterprise was given up, and the settlers were left to procure their supplies from the company's post at Fort Garry —the name by which the rebuilt Fort Gibraltar was thenceforth known. The company charged what they thought proper for sup-plies sold, and fixed to suit themselves the scale of prices for what they had to buy. They guarded their monopoly of the fur trade with extreme jealousy. None but the company's men were allowed to buy skins from the Indians. The Scotch settles, who lived chiefly by farming, were not much affected by this restriction upon their freedom ; but the half-breeds, both English and French, chafed under it, and finally, in 1835, broke out in open defiance of the company's authority.

The Council of Assiniboia.—It was at this time that the company bought out the interest of the Selkirk heirs in the Red River settlement. With a view to securing a more regular and firm administration of affairs, they, in 1835, established in the colony the Council of Assiniboia with legislative and judicial powers. This council was composed of the governor of Rupert's Land, the colony governor, and other officials of the company ; but, though its members were "the wealthiest men in the colony and generally well-informed," it was in no proper sense representative. At its first meeting it passed laws for the establishment of a volunteer corps ; for the division of the colony into four districts with a magistrate for each ; for regular sittings of a court to be known as the Court of the Governor and Council of Assiniboia ;


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