Battle of Seven Oaks

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Battle of Seven Oaks
Part of the Pemmican War
The Fight at Seven Oaks.jpg
The Fight at Seven Oaks, 19 June 1816
Date19 June 1816
Location
Seven Oaks (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
Result Decisive Métis/North West Company victory
Belligerents
Metis Blue.svgMetis Red.svg Métis of the North West Company Hudson's Bay Company Flag.svg Hudson's Bay Company
Commanders and leaders
Metis Blue.svgMetis Red.svg Cuthbert Grant Hudson's Bay Company Flag.svg Robert Semple  
Strength
65 [1] 28 [1]
Casualties and losses
1 [1]

21 [1]

Official nameBattle of Seven Oaks National Historic Site of Canada
Designated1920

The Battle of Seven Oaks [2] was a violent confrontation in the Pemmican War between the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) and the North West Company (NWC), rivals in the fur trade, that took place on 19 June 1816, the climax of a long dispute in western Canada. [3] The Métis people fought for the North West Company, and they called it "the Victory of Frog Plain" (la Victoire de la Grenouillère). [4]

Contents

Background

Miles MacDonell was the governor of the Red River Colony in 1814, the area around Winnipeg, Manitoba. He issued the Pemmican Proclamation [5] which prohibited export of pemmican from the colony for the next year. It was meant to guarantee adequate supplies for the Hudson's Bay Colony, but the North West Company viewed it as a ploy by the Earl of Selkirk to monopolize the commodity, which was important to the North West Company. [6] [7] The Métis did not acknowledge the authority of the Red River Settlement, and the Pemmican Proclamation was a blow to both the Métis and North West Company. The North West Company accused the HBC of unfairly monopolizing the fur trade.

MacDonnell resigned as governor of the Red River Colony in 1815, after several conflicts and suffering from "severe emotional instability." [8] He was replaced by Robert Semple, an American businessman with no previous experience in the fur trade. [9]

Battle

In 1816, Cuthbert Grant led a band of North West Company employees to seize a supply of pemmican from the Hudson's Bay Company. Cuthbert Grant.jpg
In 1816, Cuthbert Grant led a band of North West Company employees to seize a supply of pemmican from the Hudson's Bay Company.

Cuthbert Grant led a group of North West Company employees in 1816 to seize a supply of pemmican from the Hudson's Bay Company that had been stolen from the Métis. [10]

Grant's group encountered Semple and a group of HBC men and settlers north of Fort Douglas along the Red River at a location known as Seven Oaks, which the Métis called la Grenouillière (Frog Plain). The North West Company sent François-Firmin Boucher to speak to Semple's men. He and Semple argued, and a gunfight ensued when the settlers tried to arrest Boucher and seize his horse. [11] [12] Early reports said that the Métis fired the first shot and began the fray, but Royal Commissioner William Bachelor Coltman determined with "next to certainty" that it was one of Semple's men who fired first. [4] [13] The Métis were skilled sharpshooters and outnumbered Semple's forces by nearly 3 to 1. The Metis killed 21 men, including Governor Semple, while suffering only one fatality. [1]

Aftermath

An obelisk monument to commemorate the battle was erected in 1891 at West Kildonan, Winnipeg. Battle of Seven Oaks Monument3.jpg
An obelisk monument to commemorate the battle was erected in 1891 at West Kildonan, Winnipeg.

The settlers were demoralized from the losses, so they gathered their belongings the day after the battle and sailed north, leaving the Métis in command of the settlement. [14] Royal Commissioner W. B. Coltman investigated the incident, and he exonerated the Métis. Lord Selkirk attempted to prosecute several members of the North West Company for murder and kept Boucher in prison for nearly two years without specific charges. All trials ended in acquittals, and the remaining charges were dropped. Members of the North West Company counter-sued Selkirk, whose health and influence subsequently declined. Selkirk died in 1820, and the two companies merged in 1821. The Hudson's Bay Company gave Cuthbert Grant an annual salary in 1828 and the position of "warden of the plains of Red River". [15] [16]

The Manitoba Historical Society erected an obelisk monument in 1891 commemorating the battle at the intersection of Main Street and Rupertsland Boulevard in the Winnipeg district of West Kildonan, the approximate centre of the battle site. The site was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1920. [17] [18] Parks Canada installed new interpretive signs as part of their reconciliation with the Métis, and the Seven Oaks Park was re-landscaped. The site was officially reopened on 19 June 2016 to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle. [19]

Related Research Articles

Red River Colony 1811–1870 British colony in modern Canada

The Red River Colony was a colonization project set up in 1811 by Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk, on 300,000 square kilometres (120,000 sq mi) of land in British North America. This land was granted to Douglas by the Hudson's Bay Company in the Selkirk Concession. It included portions of Rupert's Land, or the watershed of Hudson Bay, bounded on the north by the line of 52° N latitude roughly from the Assiniboine River east to Lake Winnipegosis. It then formed a line of 52° 30′ N latitude from Lake Winnipegosis to Lake Winnipeg, and by the Winnipeg River, Lake of the Woods and Rainy River.

Cuthbert Grant Métis leader

Cuthbert James Grant was a prominent Métis leader of the early 19th century. His father was also called Cuthbert Grant.

Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk Scottish Earl

Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk FRS FRSE was a Scottish peer. He was noteworthy as a Scottish philanthropist who sponsored immigrant settlements in Canada at the Red River Colony.

Pemmican Proclamation

In January 1814 Governor Miles MacDonell, appointed by Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk issued to the inhabitants of the Red River area a proclamation which became known as the Pemmican Proclamation. The proclamation was issued in attempt to stop the Métis people from exporting pemmican out of the Red River district. Cuthbert Grant, leader of the Métis, disregarded MacDonell's proclamation and continued the exportation of pemmican to the North West Company. The proclamation overall, became one of many areas of conflict between the Métis and the Red River settlers. Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk had sought interest in the Red River District, with the help of the Hudson's Bay Company as early as 1807. However, it was not until 1810 that the Hudson's Bay Company asked Lord Selkirk for his plans on settling in the interior of Canada.

Robert Semple (Canada) Canadian businessman

Robert Semple was Governor of the territories owned by the Hudson's Bay Company from autumn 1815 until his death.

Métis Mixed indigenous ethnic group of Canada and the US

The Métis refers to a group of Indigenous peoples who inhabit Canada's three Prairie Provinces, as well as parts of Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, and the Northern United States. They have a shared history and culture and are of mixed Indigenous and European ancestry which became a distinct group through ethnogenesis by the mid-18th century, during the fur trade era.

Pierre Guillaume Sayer was a Métis fur trader whose trial was a turning point in the ending of the monopoly of the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) of the fur trade in North America.

Fort Douglas (Canada) Human settlement in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Fort Douglas was the Selkirk Settlement fort and the first fort associated with the Hudson's Bay Company near the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers in today's city of Winnipeg. Named for Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk, founder of the Selkirk Settlement, the fort was built by Scottish and Irish settlers beginning in 1813. Completed in 1815, it was in the immediate vicinity of the North West Company establishment, Fort Gibraltar.

Métis flag

The Métis flag was first used by Métis resistance fighters in Rupert's Land before the 1816 Battle of Seven Oaks. According to only one contemporary account, the flag was "said to be" a gift from the North West Company in 1815, but no other surviving accounts confirm this. Both the red and blue versions of the flag have been used to represent the political and military force of the Métis since that time. The Métis flag predates the Flag of Canada by at least 150 years, and is the oldest patriotic flag that is indigenous to Canada.

Fur brigade

Fur brigades were convoys of canoes and boats used to transport supplies, trading goods and furs in the North American fur trade industry. Much of it consisted of native fur trappers, most of whom were Metis, and fur traders who travelled between their home trading posts and a larger Hudson's Bay Company or Northwest Company post in order to supply the inland post with goods and supply the coastal post with furs.

Fort Gibraltar Historic trading outpost in present-day Manitoba, Canada

Fort Gibraltar was founded in 1809 by Alexander Macdonell of Greenfield of the North West Company in present-day Manitoba, Canada. It was located at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers in or near the area now known as The Forks in the city of Winnipeg. Fort Gibraltar was renamed Fort Garry after the merger of North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821, and became Upper Fort Garry in 1835.

Fort Espérance was a North West Company trading post near Rocanville, Saskatchewan from 1787 until 1819. It was moved three times and was called Fort John from 1814 to 1816. There was a competing XY Company post from 1801 to 1805 and a Hudson's Bay post nearby from 1813 to 1816. It was on the Qu'Appelle River about 20 km from that river's junction with the Assiniboine River and about 7 km west of the Manitoba border. It was on the prairie in buffalo country and was mainly used as a source of pemmican which was sent down the river to Fort Bas de la Rivière at the mouth of the Winnipeg River.

Selkirk Concession 1812 land grant issued by the Hudsons Bay Company

The Selkirk Concession was a land grant issued by the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) to Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk, in 1812. The Hudson's Bay Company held a commercial monopoly in Rupert's Land, consisting of the entire Hudson Bay drainage basin. The Selkirk Concession, also known as Selkirk's Grant, included a large section of the southwest area of Rupert's Land, bounded: on the north by the line of 52° N latitude roughly from the Assiniboine River east to Lake Winnipegosis, then by the line of 52° 30′ N latitude from Lake Winnipegosis to Lake Winnipeg; on the east by the Winnipeg River, Lake of the Woods and Rainy River; on the west roughly by the current boundary between modern Saskatchewan and Manitoba; and on the south by the rise of land marking the extent of the Hudson Bay watershed. This covered portions of present-day southern Manitoba, northern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota, in addition to small parts of eastern Saskatchewan, northwestern Ontario and northeastern South Dakota.

Pierre Falcon was a Métis fur trader and pioneer living in what is today known as Manitoba. He was also a well known composer and singer.

St. Laurent is a community on the eastern shore of Lake Manitoba. It lies within the boundaries of the Rural Municipality of St. Laurent, 70 km (43 mi) from Winnipeg. A historically-Métis settlement, St. Laurent is one of the few remaining places in which the Michif language is still spoken.

St. François Xavier is an unincorporated urban centre located in the Rural Municipality of St. François Xavier, Manitoba, Canada. It is located about 15 km west of the city of Winnipeg on the Assiniboine River.

The Iron Confederacy or Iron Confederation was a political and military alliance of Plains Natives of what is now Western Canada and the northern United States. This confederacy included various individual bands that formed political, hunting and military alliances in defense against common enemies. The ethnic groups that made up the Confederacy were the branches of the Cree that moved onto the Great Plains around 1740, the Saulteaux, the Nakoda or Stoney people also called Pwat or Assiniboine, and the Métis and Haudenosaunee. The Confederacy rose to predominance on the northern Plains during the height of the North American fur trade when they operated as middlemen controlling the flow of European goods, particularly guns and ammunition, to other Indigenous nations, and the flow of furs to the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) and North West Company (NWC) trading posts. Its peoples later also played a major part in the bison (buffalo) hunt, and the pemmican trade. The decline of the fur trade and the collapse of the bison herds sapped the power of the Confederacy after the 1860s, and it could no longer act as a barrier to U.S. and Canadian expansion.

Pemmican War Conflict between the Hudsons Bay Company and North West Company from 1812 to 1821

The Pemmican War was a series of armed confrontations during the North American fur trade between the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) and the North West Company (NWC) in the years following the establishment of the Red River Colony in 1812 by Lord Selkirk. It ended in 1821 when the NWC merged with the HBC.

Métis buffalo hunting

Métis buffalo hunting began on the North American plains in the late 1700s and continued until 1878. The great buffalo hunts were subsistence, political, economic, and military operations for Métis families and communities living in the region. At the height of the buffalo hunt era, there were two major hunt seasons: summer and autumn. These hunts were highly organized, with an elected council to lead the expedition. This made sure the process was fair and all families were well-fed and provided for throughout the year.

William Bachelor Coltman was a politician, active in the early 19th century. He was born in Great Britain, and traveled to Canada in 1799. He worked as a merchant in Quebec City, and purchased a schooner, and entered into a partnership with his brother John, and two merchants in Yorkshire, in 1807. In 1808 he acquired a contract to supply flour to the Army, in Canada.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Hargrave, Joseph James (1871). Red River. author-published. p.  487.
  2. Also known as the Seven Oaks Massacre and the Seven Oaks Incident
  3. Rea, J.E. (4 March 2015). "Seven Oaks Incident". The Canadian Encyclopedia (online ed.). Historica Canada. Archived from the original on 16 June 2012.
  4. 1 2 "Battle of Seven Oaks | The Canadian Encyclopedia". www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca.
  5. Foster, John E. (24 July 2015). "Pemmican Proclamation". The Canadian Encyclopedia (online ed.). Historica Canada. Archived from the original on 30 April 2012.
  6. Bumsted, J.M. (2008). Lord Selkirk: a life. University of Manitoba Press. p. 236. ISBN   9780887553370.
  7. Mays, Herbert (1987). "MacDonell, Miles". Dictionary of Canadian Biography. University of Toronto/Université Laval.
  8. Bumsted, J.M. (17 November 2014). "Miles MacDonnell". The Canadian Encyclopedia (online ed.). Historica Canada. Archived from the original on 20 September 2012.
  9. Rea, J.E. (17 November 2014). "Robert Semple". The Canadian Encyclopedia (online ed.). Historica Canada. Archived from the original on 20 September 2012.
  10. Report of the proceedings connected with the disputes between the Earl of Selkirk and the North West Company: at the assizes, held at York, in Upper Canada, October 1818. Montreal, Quebec: James Lane and Nahum Mower. 1819.
  11. Narratives of John Pritchard, Pierre Chrysologue Pambrun, and Frederick Damien Heurter, respecting the aggressions of the North West Company, against the Earl of Selkirk's settlement upon Red River. London, England: John Murray. 1819.
  12. Boucher, François-Firmin (c. 1819). François-Firmin Boucher à ses Concitoyens[François-Firmin Boucher to his Countrymen]. author-published.
  13. Goulet, George; Goulet, Terry (2006). The Metis: Memorable Events and Memorable Personalities. ISBN   978-1-894638-98-2.
  14. Friesen, Gerald (1987). "Maintaining the Old Order 1805-1844". The Canadian Prairies a History (Student ed.). Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press. p. 80.
  15. Grant, Cuthbert National Historic Person . Directory of Federal Heritage Designations. Parks Canada . Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  16. Woodcock, George (1985). "Grant, Cuthbert". In Halpenny, Francess G (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography . Vol. VIII (1851–1860) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  17. Battle of Seven Oaks . Canadian Register of Historic Places . Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  18. Battle of Seven Oaks National Historic Site of Canada . Directory of Federal Heritage Designations. Parks Canada . Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  19. Barkwell, Lawrence (7 February 2006). "Battle of Seven Oaks". The Canadian Encyclopedia (online ed.). Historica Canada. Retrieved 14 February 2021.

Further reading

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Coordinates: 49°55′55″N97°07′16″W / 49.93194°N 97.12111°W / 49.93194; -97.12111