The Metis

The Metis were partly french and
partly indian. Their leader was called Louis riel. Following
the Union of the Hudson\'s Bay Company and the North
West Company in 1821, trading had been reorganized in
order to reduce expenses. Since there was no longer
competition in the fur trade, it was unnecessary to have two
or more posts serving a single trading district. For this
reason, some posts had been closed and the number of
brigades reduced. This reorganization had led to some
unemployment amoung Metis who for years had been
working in the fur trade. The Hudson Bay Company had
attempted to assist these these men by encouraging them to
engage in farming in what is now South Manitoba. A few
families take to agriculture, but most of the metis found it
difficult. To them, the excitement and the adventure of the
buffalo hunt held more appeal than farming. Hundreds of
Metis were content to earn a living by hunting buffalo,
making pemmican or finding employment as freight drivers.
After a while Canada bought Rupertsland from Hudson Bay
Company. When the Metis herd this they were alarmed.
They feared their religion,their language, their lands and their
old, free way of* life. They had known for some time that
Canada was busy constructing a colonists highway from
Lake Superior to the Red River. The situation became tense
surveyors were sent into the flow of settlers, and it was
considered a wise move to have the surveying well under
way before settlement began in earnest. It was decided to
use a system or land survey similar to that used in the
western part of the United States. Townships were to be
divided into thirty- six sections, each containing one square
mile or 640 acres. The sections were then to be divided into,
the quarter-section was thought to be enough land for each
family settling in the North West. (An interesting aspect of
the survey system was the plan of the setting asside two
sections in each township for the future support of education.
The idea to sell these sections at a later date and use the
money for the construction of schools.) When th survey
began, friction occured in those areas where the french
specking Metis had settled along the river, occupying long
narrow strips in the manner common in New France.
Attempts were made by the surveyors to avoid disturbing
the pattern, but in some cases the survey lines crossed the
narrow holdings, leading the Metis to believe the their land
was being taken away from them. Louis Riel Mon April 5,
92 ************ =============== Louis Riel was
the leader of the Metis. He was a black-bearded, handsome
young man, the son of the leader of a minor Metis revolt in
1849 against the Hudson\'s Bay Company. Born in the red
River region in 1944, Riel had been chosen as a possible
candidate for the priesthood and had stidied at the Jesuit
College de Montreal. However, he failed to complete his
religious studies and returned to the Red River in 1868,
looking for employment. His powers of eloquence and his
hot-tempered nature soon made him an outspoken defenter
of the Metis.

Category: History