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Rupert's Land

Rupert's Land

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Rupert's Land, or Prince Rupert's Land, was a territory in British North America
British North America
British North America is a historical term. It consisted of the colonies and territories of the British Empire in continental North America after the end of the American Revolutionary War and the recognition of American independence in 1783.At the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775 the British...

, consisting of the Hudson Bay drainage basin that was nominally owned by the Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

 for 200 years from 1670 to 1870, although numerous aboriginal groups lived in the same territory and disputed the sovereignty of the area. The area once known as Rupert's Land is now mainly a part of Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, but a small portion is now in the United States of America. It was named after Prince Rupert of the Rhine
Prince Rupert of the Rhine
Rupert, Count Palatine of the Rhine, Duke of Bavaria, 1st Duke of Cumberland, 1st Earl of Holderness , commonly called Prince Rupert of the Rhine, KG, FRS was a noted soldier, admiral, scientist, sportsman, colonial governor and amateur artist during the 17th century...

, a nephew of Charles I
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

 and the first Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company.

Areas once belonging to Rupert's Land include all of Manitoba
Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

, most of Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has an area of . Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota....

, southern Alberta
Alberta
Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

, southern Nunavut
Nunavut
Nunavut is the largest and newest federal territory of Canada; it was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999, via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, though the actual boundaries had been established in 1993...

, northern parts of Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 and Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, as well as parts of Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

 and North Dakota
North Dakota
North Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S....

 and very small parts of Montana
Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

 and South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

.

Fur trade



In 1670, the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) was granted a charter by King Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

, giving it a trading monopoly over the watershed
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

 of all rivers and streams flowing into Hudson Bay
Hudson Bay
Hudson Bay , sometimes called Hudson's Bay, is a large body of saltwater in northeastern Canada. It drains a very large area, about , that includes parts of Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta, most of Manitoba, southeastern Nunavut, as well as parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota,...

, thereby making the HBC owners of the whole of Rupert's Land (named in honour of Prince Rupert of the Rhine
Prince Rupert of the Rhine
Rupert, Count Palatine of the Rhine, Duke of Bavaria, 1st Duke of Cumberland, 1st Earl of Holderness , commonly called Prince Rupert of the Rhine, KG, FRS was a noted soldier, admiral, scientist, sportsman, colonial governor and amateur artist during the 17th century...

, the king's cousin and the company's first governor). This covered an area of 3.9 million square kilometres
1 E12 m²
To help compare orders of magnitude of different surface areas, here is a list of areas between 1 million km2 and 10 million km2. See also areas of other orders of magnitude.* Areas smaller than 1 million km2* 1,000,000 km2 is equal to:** 1 E+12 m²...

 (1.5 million sq mi), over one-third the area of Canada today.

The Hudson's Bay Company dominated trade in Rupert's Land during the 18th–19th centuries and drew on the local population for many of its employees. This necessarily meant the hiring of many indigenous and Métis
Métis people (Canada)
The Métis are one of the Aboriginal peoples in Canada who trace their descent to mixed First Nations parentage. The term was historically a catch-all describing the offspring of any such union, but within generations the culture syncretised into what is today a distinct aboriginal group, with...

 workers. Fuchs (2002) discusses the activities of these workers and the changing attitudes that the company had toward them. George Simpson
George Simpson (administrator)
Sir George Simpson was a Scots-Quebecer and employee of the Hudson's Bay Company . His title was Governor-in-Chief of Rupert's Land and administrator over the Northwest Territories and Columbia Department in British North America from 1821 to 1860.-Early years:George Simpson was born in Dingwall,...

, one of the most noted company administrators, held a particularly dim view of mixed-blood workers and kept them from attaining positions in the company higher than postmaster. Later administrators, such as James Anderson and Donald Ross, sought avenues for the advancement of indigenous employees.

Morton (1962) reviews the pressures at work on that part of Rupert's Land where Winnipeg now stands, a decade before its incorporation into Canada. It was a region completely given over to the fur trade, divided between the Hudson's Bay Company and private traders. with some incursions by the rival Northwest Company based in Montreal. There was strong business and political agitation in Upper Canada for annexing the territory; in London the Company's trading license was due for review; in St. Paul there was a growing interest in the area as a field for U.S. expansion. The great commercial depression of 1857 dampened most of the outside interests in the territory, which itself remained comparatively prosperous.

Law



Baker (1999) uses the Red River Settlement in the "District of Assiniboia" south of Lake Winnipeg, the only non-native settlement on the Canadian Prairies for most of the 19th century, as a site for critical exploration of the meaning of "law and order" on the Canadian frontier and for an investigation of the sources from which legal history might be rewritten as the history of legal culture. Previous historians have assumed that the Hudson's Bay Company's representatives designed and implemented a local legal system dedicated instrumentally to the protection of the company's fur trade monopoly and, more generally, to strict control of settlement life in the company's interests. But this view is not borne out by archival research. Examination of Assiniboia's juridical institutions in action reveals a history formed less through the imposition of authority from above than by obtaining support from below. Baker shows that the legal history of the Red River Settlement – and, by extension, of the Canadian West in general – is a story of local legal culture in formation, dependent for its viability on community notions of law, justice, and reason.

Following the forced merger of the North West Company
North West Company
The North West Company was a fur trading business headquartered in Montreal from 1779 to 1821. It competed with increasing success against the Hudson's Bay Company in what was to become Western Canada...

 with the HBC in 1821, British Parliament applied the laws of Upper Canada
Upper Canada
The Province of Upper Canada was a political division in British Canada established in 1791 by the British Empire to govern the central third of the lands in British North America and to accommodate Loyalist refugees from the United States of America after the American Revolution...

 to Rupert's Land and the Columbia District
Columbia District
The Columbia District was a fur trading district in the Pacific Northwest region of British North America in the 19th century. It was explored by the North West Company between 1793 and 1811, and established as an operating fur district around 1810...

 and gave enforcement power to the HBC. The Hudson's Bay Company maintained peace in Rupert's Land for the benefit of the fur trade; the Plains Indians had achieved a rough balance of power between themselves; the organization of the Métis provided internal security and a degree of external protection. This stable order broke down in the 1860s with the decline of the Hudson's Bay Company, the arrival of smallpox and trade-whiskey, and the disappearance of the bison. Anarchy was prevented by the creation of the North-West Mounted Police. But the basic need was for capital to convert to a farming economy and this did not come until the railway opened the area to settlers.

Aboriginal people


In 1857, a British parliamentary select committee investigated the Hudson's Bay Company. In the course of its hearings, the committee often directed its attention to Rupert's Land's First Nations. Despite an obvious polarization between supporters and opponents of the company on many issues, a consensus emerged on the fate of Rupert's Land's indigenous citizens in what all presumed to be the inevitable European settlement of the Plains and adjacent woodlands. Hudson's Bay Company officials and their opponents shared the paternalistic assumption, based on 19th-century liberalism, that the Native peoples would be unable to cope with the onslaught of a supposedly superior, modern and educated population. Without consulting the objects of their concerns, the participants at the committee's hearings agreed that it was the task of the state and church to protect the aboriginal nations and educate them into the new order. On this point, the committee's report was an important omen for the subsequent history of western Canada's Native inhabitants.

Although it is widely assumed that the royal charter that granted the land to the Hudson's Bay Company in 1670 encompassed the entire territory, international law supports the argument that the company only had sovereignty over the relatively small portion it actually possessed and controlled. Court cases in the following centuries involving continuing aboriginal claims to the land reflected the government's view that the Indians had no sovereignty rights. Latter 20th-century rulings, however, have held that the Hudson's Bay Company never had the rightful sovereignty to return the land to the British government, which in turn gave it to Canada. The key question is whether the Crown gained sovereignty of the land in 1670 or later in a series of treaties signed between Canada and the aboriginal nations from 1871 and 1921. The problem of aboriginal claims is further complicated by the fact that the aboriginal nations that occupied the land involved in the treaties were not the same ones that occupied it in 1670 when the British initially claimed sovereignty.

Missions


Peake (1989) describes people, places, and activities that were involved in 19th-century Anglican missionary activities in the prairie areas of Rupert's Land, that huge portion of Canada controlled by the Hudson's Bay Company and inhabited by few Europeans. Early in the century, fur trade competition forced the company to expand into this interior region, and some officials saw advantages in allowing missionaries to accompany them. Officially they did not discriminate among denominations, but preference was often granted to the Anglicans of the Britain-based Church Missionary Society. The prairie missions extended from the area of 20th-century Winnipeg to the Mackenzie River delta in the north. Notable missionaries included David Anderson, the first bishop, the inept William Carpenter Bompus, and Robert McDonald, a part-native and very effective missionary.

There were also Roman Catholic missions in Rupert's Land. One notable missionary was Alexandre-Antonin Taché
Alexandre-Antonin Taché
Alexandre-Antonin Taché was a Roman Catholic priest, missionary of the Oblate order, author and the first Archbishop of Saint Boniface in the Canadian province of Manitoba.In late 1844 Taché entered the Oblate novitiate...

, who both before and after his consecration as bishop worked as a missionary in Saint-Boniface
Saint Boniface, Manitoba
Saint Boniface is a city ward of Winnipeg, home to much of the Franco-Manitoban community. It features such landmarks as the Cathédrale de Saint Boniface , Boulevard Provencher, the Provencher Bridge, Esplanade Riel, St. Boniface Hospital, the Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface and the Royal...

, Île-à-la-Crosse
Île-à-la-Crosse
Île-à-la-Crosse is the second oldest community in Saskatchewan, Canada, being established in 1846 as a Roman Catholic mission by Alexandre-Antonin Taché, but as a fur trading post in 1779 by the Hudson's Bay Company. It has a rich history being connected to the Churchill River, Beaver River and...

, Fort Chipewyan
Fort Chipewyan, Alberta
Fort Chipewyan, commonly referred to as Fort Chip, is a hamlet in northern Alberta, Canada within the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. It is located on the western tip of Lake Athabasca, adjacent to Wood Buffalo National Park, approximately north of Fort McMurray.Fort Chipewyan is one of...

 and Fort Smith
Fort Smith, Northwest Territories
Fort Smith is a town in the South Slave Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. It is located in the southeastern portion of the Northwest Territories, on the Slave River and adjacent to the NWT/Alberta border.-History:Fort Smith's history began because of the Slave River and the vital link...

.

Sale to Canada


In 1869 - 1870, the Hudson's Bay Company sold most of Rupert's Land, as well as the North-Western Territory
North-Western Territory
The North-Western Territory was a region of British North America until 1870. Named for where it lay in relation to Rupert's Land, the territory at its greatest extent covered what is now Yukon, mainland Northwest Territories, northwestern mainland Nunavut, northwestern Saskatchewan, northern...

, to the newly formed Canadian Government, pursuant to the Rupert's Land Act 1868. Control was originally planned to be transferred on 1 December 1869, but due to setbacks caused by the Red River Rebellion
Red River Rebellion
The Red River Rebellion or Red River Resistance was the sequence of events related to the 1869 establishment of a provisional government by the Métis leader Louis Riel and his followers at the Red River Settlement, in what is now the Canadian province of Manitoba.The Rebellion was the first crisis...

, the government assumed control on 15 July 1870. Canada then created the Province of Manitoba
Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

 and the North-West Territories
Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territories is a federal territory of Canada.Located in northern Canada, the territory borders Canada's two other territories, Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, and three provinces: British Columbia to the southwest, and Alberta and Saskatchewan to the south...

 from Rupert's Land and the former North-Western Territory
North-Western Territory
The North-Western Territory was a region of British North America until 1870. Named for where it lay in relation to Rupert's Land, the territory at its greatest extent covered what is now Yukon, mainland Northwest Territories, northwestern mainland Nunavut, northwestern Saskatchewan, northern...

, which comprised the regions northwest of Rupert's Land and to the north of the Colony of British Columbia
Colony of British Columbia
The Colony of British Columbia was a crown colony in British North America from 1858 until 1866. At its creation, it physically constituted approximately half the present day Canadian province of British Columbia, since it did not include the Colony of Vancouver Island, the vast and still largely...

.

The transaction was actually three-cornered. On November 19, 1869, the Company surrendered its claim to the lands under its letters patent back to the British Crown, which was authorised to accept the lands by the Rupert's Land Act. By Order-in-Council dated June 23, 1870, the British government admitted the territory to Canada, under s. 146 of the Constitution Act, 1867, effective July 15, 1870. The Government of Canada then paid the Hudson's Bay Company for the lands, on the terms set out in the Order-in-Council.

The Company retained its most successful trading posts, one twentieth of the best farmland in the region, and was compensated £300,000 ($
Canadian dollar
The Canadian dollar is the currency of Canada. As of 2007, the Canadian dollar is the 7th most traded currency in the world. It is abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or C$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies...

1.5 million) for the remainder of the land.

See also


  • 49th parallel north
    49th parallel north
    The 49th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 49 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

  • British Arctic Territories
    British Arctic Territories
    British Arctic Territories were territories claimed by Britain in North America, consisting of the islands of what is now known in Canada as the High Arctic....

  • Former colonies and territories in Canada
    Former colonies and territories in Canada
    Former colonies, territories, boundaries, and claims in Canada prior to the current classification of provinces and territories. In North America, ethnographers commonly classify Aboriginals into ten geographical regions with shared cultural traits and by related linguistic dialects...

  • Hudson's Bay Company
    Hudson's Bay Company
    The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

  • Hudson's Bay Company Archives
    Hudson's Bay Company Archives
    The Hudson's Bay Company Archives are located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The HBC archives are a division of the Archives of Manitoba that preserves the thousands of mainly hand-written records and maps of the Hudson's Bay Company employees for hundreds of years...

  • Canadian Confederation
    Canadian Confederation
    Canadian Confederation was the process by which the federal Dominion of Canada was formed on July 1, 1867. On that day, three British colonies were formed into four Canadian provinces...

  • The Canadas
    The Canadas
    The Canadas is the collective name for Upper Canada and Lower Canada, two British colonies in Canada. They were both created by the Constitutional Act of 1791 and abolished in 1841 with the union of Upper and Lower Canada....

  • Columbia District
    Columbia District
    The Columbia District was a fur trading district in the Pacific Northwest region of British North America in the 19th century. It was explored by the North West Company between 1793 and 1811, and established as an operating fur district around 1810...

  • Royal eponyms in Canada
    Royal eponyms in Canada
    In Canada, a number of sites and structures are named for royal individuals, whether a member of the past French Royal Family, British Royal Family, or present Canadian Royal Family, thus reflecting the country's status as a constitutional monarchy under the Canadian Crown.-King Francis I:-Queen...


Further reading




External links