Grant's Old Mill Operated by
The St. James Assiniboia Pioneer Association
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First Leader of the Metis Nation
The Battle of Seven Oaks
Cuthbert Grant returned to the West in 1812 at the age of 19. This was a period of rivalry between the Hudson Bay Company and the North West Company. It was also about the time Lord Selkirk was building a colony of Scots at the Red River. Friction was building between the colonists and the HBC on one side and the NWC and the Metis on the other. Friction continued to build between the parties and was further heightened by the Pemmican Proclamation of 1814 which forbade the taking of food out of the Red River. This was food the Nor’westers, voyageurs and the Metis relied on. This was all to come to a head in 1816.
In March of 1816, the Metis seeing themselves as a distinct group, appointed Cuthbert Grant Captain General of the Metis (effectively making him the First Leader of the Metis Nation). In May of 1816 a band of Metis led by Grant seized a supply of HBC pemmican at Qu’Appelle and at Brandon House and were travelling to the South end of Lake Winnipeg to meet with traders of the NWC. On June 19, 1816 Governor Semple, learning of the meeting went to meet Grant and the Metis at a spot known as Seven Oaks. They argued, a shot was fired by one of Semple’s men and the Metis replied with a volley that killed 21 of Semple’s men. Semple having been wounded was killed by an aboriginal who had blamed him for the death of his child.
To understand what happened at Seven Oaks on June 19, 1816, it is necessary to understand the rivalry of the HBC and the NWC. By about the year 1800, Metis families were increasing in number. They were becoming aware of their distinctiveness. In the Red River area they worked mostly for the NWC. They supplied the guides, the food such as pemmican, trapped the furs, and were the leaders and members of the buffalo hunt. Trouble started when Lord Selkirk was granted the land around the Red River to establish his colony of Scottish settlers. The governor began dividing up the land along the Red River into lots without consulting the NWC or the Metis. The Red River had been the Metis home for many years. Governor Miles MacDonnell fearing food shortages then issued the proclamation forbidding the export of food from the Red River. This to the Metis threatened their very way of life. The Metis felt the settlements could not be allowed to flourish. The Metis saw that their claim to do as they pleased, on land they considered their own, was not going to be recognized by the intruders. Their very existence was being threatened. A royal commissioner (Coltman) investigated the incident and later exonerated Grant and his people.
Grant's Old Mill
2777 Portage Ave.
(at Booth DR)
Winnipeg MB Canada
Mail: PO Box 48065
Open May long week-end to
Tuesday to Sunday, closed Monday
Hours: 10:00 am to 06:00 pm
Admission by donation
Tours can be booked by using one of the above phone numbers
visit us on facebook at: Grants Old Mill-Winnipeg