Canada Lord Selkirk

We have been favoured by a Gentleman in this city, with the following interesting and authentic communication, on the subject of the dispute between Lord Selkirk, and the Gentlemen of the North West Company:

Extract of a Letter from Montreal, dated 6th October, 1816.

“In the newspapers which I sent you, you will see some accounts of the disturbances which have taken place in the North West between the North West Company and Lord Selkirk’s colonists. The latter have been obliged to leave the Red River, after having had 22 of their men, including Governor Semple, killed by a party of half-breeds, the spurious offspring of the North West Company. As yet have not had an accurate statement of that melancholy transaction. Lord Selkirk’s party state that these half-breed with some of the North West Company servants, came to destroy the settlement, and that Mr Semple, with about 25 of the Colonists, went out to meet them, to know what could be their intentions, when those rascals commenced firing on them, and massacred all but three, who were fortunate enough to make their escape. The North West people’s account is that these half-breeds with some Indians were bringing down provisions from the upper part of the Red River to the entrance near Lake Winipie, and as the Colonists had the command of a great part of the river, they were obliged to pass in the rear of the settlement, which being observed by Governor Semple, who was on the look-out for them, he settled out of his Fort with 25 men and a [?]-piece to take from the Indians the provisions which were intended for the North West Company ; that the result[?] was an engagement which terminated in the defeat of the Colonists, of whom twenty-two were killed. Lord Selkirk [?] from Montreal for the Red River about the latter end of June, when[?] three or four officers and about 150 men of De Men[?]’s regiment, which had been disbanded, and when he arrived at Fort William on Lake Superior, hearing the fate of his Colonists, he[?] immediately issued a warrant against Mr M’Gillivray for high treason, conspiracy and murder, and subsequently warrants against all the partners of the N. W. Company, who were at F William, [?] formal possession of their establishment there, and sent Mr M’Gillivray, with about ten others, prisoners to Montreal, with all their papers [?] a number of packs of Beaver and other Furs, and several bales[?] of Merchandise, which he found in possession of the North West Company, belonging to the Hudson’s Bay Company. The Police Officers in Montreal were several days examining the papers, and about four or five days after the arrival of Mr M’Gillivray and the others, they were admitted to bail, to appear to take their trial at the next criminal court, or any court of Oyer and Terminer which may be appointed. Stuart (the ci-de vant Solicitor-General, who was dismissed by Sir James Craig, and at whose instance an ineffectual attempt was lately made by some misguided members of our House of Assembly to impeach Chief Justices Sewell and Monk) is one of Lord Selkirk’s counsel and spoke at great length, and what his friends and admirers call very eloquently, strongly opposed their being admitted to bail, but all would not do, and they were accordingly bailed ; Mr M’Gillivray in sureties of t1000 and the others in t500, sums inconsiderable enough, advering to the high crimes and misdemeanours with which they were charged.

“In the Montreal Herald you will see a very learned, and (as our neighbour Jonathan would say) a lengthy communication, signed Montius[?], setting forth the rights which the Hudson’s Bay Company by their charter possess over the Countries which they have granted to Lord Selkirk, and the power vested in him of appointing Governors and other Officers to superintend and regulate the Colony. Being a masterly production, it will no doubt makes its appearance in a pamphlet, and when it does, I shall send you one, in case the papers should miscarry. It is uncertain whether the Earl will remain in the North West during the winter, or come down to Montreal ; if the latter, he must be down[?] soon[?], as the season for water-travelling will shortly close.

“Montreal is now divided into two parties, one favouring the Lord, and the other the North West Company ; and with the exception of the friends of the latter, strongly in favour of his Lordship.”

Citation: Aberdeen Journal (Aberdeen, United Kingdom), 16 December 1816, available at the Scissors and Paste Database,