Lord Strathcona (1920-1914)

Smith Utters Settlement

Can you identify Donald A. Smith? The chances arc that you are stumped, although Donald Smith was one of the most colourful and successful Canadians of all time. One of the greatest roles he played was on January 19, 1870, when he stood on the balcony of a Winnipeg prison and spoke for five hours to a gathering of 1,000 people below. The temperature was 20 below zero, and they stood huddled in brightly-coloured blankets, hoods over their heads, and icicles forming on their beards.

The meeting was arranged to announce proposals by the federal government for settling the uprising which Louis Riel was leading in Red River. Canada had taken over Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay Company on December 1, 1869, but the transfer had been badly arranged. The settlers of the area, most of them Métis, thought their lands were being taken from them. Riel, who had been elected president of a provisional government, seized Fort Garry and put a number of Canadian supporters in prison. He was considering making a deal with the United States to take over the Northwest.

Sir John A. Macdonald had asked Donald Smith, Montreal director of the Hudson's Bay Company, to go to Red River and present the government's proposals. The colourful meeting on the night of January 19 was successful, although it was necessary to send troops from the east in August to keep order. Louis Riel had to leave Canada and live in the U.S.A. until 1884, when he returned to lead another rebellion in Saskatchewan.

The name Donald A. Smith is hardly remembered today because in 1897 Smith became Lord Strathcona. A man of great wealth, he eventually became the resident governor of the Hudson's Bay Company and was also an important member of the group which built the C.P.R. One of the most famous regiments in Canada is the Lord Strathcona Horse, which he raised and financed to fight for Britain in the Boer War.



-1824    The Welland Canal Company incorporated.

-1843    Mount Allison Wesleyan Academy was opened at Sackville, N.B.

-1857    The Lord Ashburton was wrecked on Grand Manan Island en route from France to Saint John, N.B., with a loss of twenty-one lives. Two men saved themselves by climbing an icy cliff, a difficult feat even in summer.

-1865    Parliament met at Quebec and adopted proposals for Confederation. The New Brunswick Legislature dissolved to hold an election on the Confederation issue, which was defeated.

-1960    The announcement was made that Canada's second nuclear research centre, to be known as the Whiteshell Nuclear Research Establishment, would be built on the east bank of the Winnipeg River-60 miles northeast of Winnipeg.