19 June

Selkirk Settlers Killed

In 1811, Lord Selkirk bought a controlling interest in the Hudson's Bay Company so that he could establish a settlement at Red River, now Manitoba. At that time there was great rivalry between the Hudson's Bay Company and the Northwest Company of Montreal. The Nor'Westers, as they were called, were bitterly opposed to agricultural settlers going into the West because it might spoil the hunting and trapping for furs.

The first Selkirk settlers arrived at Fort Douglas, now Winnipeg, in August 1812. The Nor'Westers disputed the legality of the sale of the area to Lord Selkirk and trouble began when they saw the new arrivals ploughing the land and building a storehouse for wheat. When Miles Macdonnell, the leader of the settlers, ordered the Nor'Westers to give up their posts on the Red River, they reacted by destroying the houses and crops of the new settlers and driving many of them out of the country. Others were induced to go to Upper Canada where the Northwest Company offered them land.

There were. many skirmishes between the Selkirk settlers and the Nor'Westers. The worst took place on June 19, 1816, after Governor Semple of the Hudson's Bay Company had sent a fearless officer, Colin Robertson, to arrest Nor'Wester Duncan Cameron for having burned a Selkirk village.

On June 19, a force of 70 armed Nor'Westers and Métis approached Fort Douglas. Governor Semple went out with thirty men and demanded to know what they planned to do. Angry words led to shots being fired, and in a few minutes Semple and most of his followers had been killed. Six managed to get back to Fort Douglas to tell the story. The encounter took place near a group of seven oak trees, and is known in history as "The Battle of Seven Oaks."

Once more the Selkirk settlers were driven from their homes and lands. When Lord Selkirk heard the news he seized the North west Company's trading post at Fort William, and a number of its most important officers. For this action Lord Selkirk was compelled to go on trial in Upper Canada, and fined £2,000 (pounds) ! By this time he was in poor health, and went to the south of France where he died.


19 June

-1610    Champlain defeated the Iroquois near the mouth of the Richelieu River.

-1687    Champigny seized Indians at Fort Frontenac and sent them to France where they were made galley-slaves. This was one of the reasons for the enmity of the Iroquois towards the French.

-1719    Henry Kelsey left Hudson Bay to explore the west for the Hudson's Bay Company and may have been the first white man to sec herds of buffalo.

-1897    The Allan Steamship Company was formed at Montreal.

-1903    Regina was incorporated as a city.

-1917    Sir Arthur Currie succeeded Lord Byng as a commander-in-chief of Canadian forces in France.

-1924    Postal workers went on strike until June 29.

-1964    Canadian Lucien Rivard was arrested in Montreal on a charge of smuggling narcotics into the States from Mexico.