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gion known as the “Indian Territory.” This was an immense expanse of indefinitely bounded and scarcely penetrated wilderness, including the whole northwestern part of the continent, its waters draining into the Arctic and the Pacific. The grant thus made was restricted to such parts of North America as do not form a part of any British province, nor lands of the United States nor of any foreign power. The grant was also limited to a period of twenty-one years. Thus the Hudson Bay Company found itself in possession of two covenants, the latter covering territory now estimated to include 2,764,340 square miles, a trifle larger than that held by the original charter. No reference was made to this instrument, either to confirm,
extend, or even recognize it, in the later grant. The policy of the company seems to have been to assume that the original charter needed no renewal, not venturing to invite upon it the light of modern legislation.
The most active agent in the negotiation for the union of the Bay and the North West companies was the Hon. Edward Ellice, then of London ; his two chief partners being Simon McGillivray, also of London, and William McGillivray, of Montreal. The plea on which the grant of the Indian Territory was first asked of George IV was largely urged on the ground that it would benefit and protect the natives. Governor Pelly laid stress upon the hazardous character of the business, requiring unusual enterprise to meet its risks of heavy losses. 'The government had been deaf to the appeals of the company for protection covenanted to it by its charter. Its profits have been no more than reasonable, considering its service to the mother country, “by a commerce wrested out of the hands of foreigners,
[Reproduced from an engraving in J. C. Dent's Last Forty Years, ii. 104, after a drawing by the Earl of Dufferin. — Ed.]
subjects of Russia and the United States."
The papers at the Colonial Office would show that during a long period of years, applications for protection and redress were made by the company without avail. The trouble continued till the rival parties, both nearly exhausted, were united. these considerations that first led to the license for exclusive trade in the Indian territories for a limited period of twenty-one years. The act also extended the jurisdiction of the civil and criminal courts of Canada over the chartered and the licensed territories of the company. A degree of tranquillity and of renewed prosperity followed the harmonizing and the legislative measures just rehearsed. The company, however, by thus concentrating and increasing its power, retained in exercise all the monopoliz
ing and other objectionable features of its policy which had stirred hostility to it; and at the same time it was involved in new controversies. Here we may properly close the review of the troubles encountered by the company from rivals disputing its prerogatives, and may turn to another class of its conflicts.
The third series of embarrassments and contentions in which the Bay Company was involved, in being challenged as to the validity of its charter and as to its general policy, is connected with its own halting consent to allow, and then in the obstructions which it put in the way of the prosperity of, a colony planted in a portion of its territory. The inquisition and discussion attending this series of contentions finally resulted in the extinction of the monopoly of the company, and the purchase of its proprie
[Reduced from a cut in Bryce's Manitoba (p. 160), which follows a drawing by Selkirk in 1817. – Ed.]
tary by the Canadian government. The struggle was a hard one. The company availed itself of the utmost ingenuity and of legal resources to parry the assaults of its enemies and to retain its profitable and exclusive right of trade. But the time was felt to have come when such far-reaching expanses of territory, containing unknown wealth, should no longer be held simply as a preserve for fur-bearing animals, and that some two or three hundred British subjects, as shareholders in a mercantile company, might appropriate to themselves all the harvestings and the gleanings. In the full and searching inquisition by a parliamentary committee near the close of
the long struggle, we shall have occasion to note how thoroughly the whole process exposed the fact that it was not possible for a permanent settlement to flourish in any portion of the territory controlled by the Bay Company, while it was allowed even the slightest jurisdiction. As its last resource, the company seems to have planted itself upon what, in view of later facts, stands proved as a monstrous fiction, that its territories were wholly unsuitable for settlement.
The validity of the charter was brought under question in connection with the grant to Lord Selkirk of territory for a settlement. This was a sub-grant, and its legality was denied by eminent legal
* (After a cut in Bryce's Manitoba, showing the position of the early forts in relation to the modern city. There have been five forts within the limits of Winnipeg. (Cf. George Bryce in Trans. Roy. Soc. Canada, and in the Canadian People, p. 335.) The first was Fort Rouge, built by Vérandrye about 1736. The second was Fort Gibraltar, built in 1806, after the union of the North West and X Y companies, which was levelled by Semple in 1818. The third was Fort Douglas, built in 1812 by Selkirk, and named after his family. This was later enlarged. The fourth was the first Fort Garry, built in 1822, near the site of Fort Gibraltar, upon the union of the Hudson's Bay and North West companies, which was succeeded by the fifth, the later Fort Garry, built in 1836, a little west of the earlier fort. — Ed.]
counsel in 1816. Recalling the fact that the charter had been granted solely by the king, without the sanction of Parliament, it was pleaded that this royal prerogative had been judicially approved as allowed before the English Revolution, though not afterwards. The question of the validity of a similar royal charter had been raised in the case of the East India Company, and had been decided upon favorably in the King's Bench. Colonial officers, committees, and legal counsel seem on several occasions to have thought it wise not to open the fundamental question. Supposing, however, that the king might have lawfully granted a patent of territory, a vulnerable point was found in other grants conveyed by the charter. It gave a monopoly of trade to some British subjects, excluding all others; and the favored parties were empowered to impose fines and penalties, to arrest interlopers, and to seize and confiscate goods and ships. The charter had been strained to cover illegalities. It granted certain lands and waters “within the straits." These were to be reasonably limited, and not extended to lands two thousand miles distant. Some of those far-off regions were certainly to be left free to other British subjects. The French had laid a claim to the territory prior to that of Britain. Whatever the territorial rights of the French were, on the cession of Canada these rights would go through the king of England equally to all his subjects. Then, too, the sub-grant to Lord Selkirk was illegal, because the region was thus made independent of the company, and assigned to other uses than those of the company. The latter could only insist upon the rightfulness of all the claims which it asserted under the charter ; and it urged that though the parliamentary sanction in the act of 1690, limited to seven years, had not been renewed, yet, in a series of acts, in 1708, 1744, 1803, and 1818, when rights of trade in America were secured to British subjects, there were saving clauses which protected the company.
In 1837, when only fifteen of the twenty-one years for which the license for “ exclusive trade ” with the natives in the Indian Territory had expired, the governor of the London company, J. H. Pelly,' asked of the crown a prospective renewal for twenty-one years further. The privilege sought was not to be exercised to the prejudice of any foreign power to the westward of the Rocky Mountains, with which there was a temporary convention. The company made a strong appeal on its claims and merits. Since the coalition with the North West Company there had been no rivalry, but much prosperity. There had been peace on the frontiers. The company had kept off the Russians from trespassing. It had favored explorations and polar expeditions, and hoped to complete the survey of the coast of the Polar Sea. The company had been at great charge to extend its establishments, and had made efforts for “the improvement and civilization of the country Before the union of the companies the Russians and Americans
i There is a singular coincidence in the name His cousin, Robert Pelly, was for a time local of this governor of a fur company, whose seal governor. The company had also in its employ bore the legend, Pro Pelle Cutem, skin for skin. a Mr. Beaver and a Mr. Hunter.
had plied their enterprise with some success between Behring's Straits and the Mexican frontiers, including Astoria, and the North West Company had been sorely pressed. But now the Bay Company had strengthened itself on the Pacific, having sixteen establishments on the coast and sixteen in the near interior, several migratory and hunting parties, and six armed vessels, one a steamer, in the Pacific. With a view to a large agricultural settlement, Lord Selkirk's Red River colony had been planted, to be peopled by emigrants from Great Britain, and to draw in natives, with an aim to their civil, moral, and religious improvement, and to a large future export trade to the mother country. Selkirk's ownership had been extinguished by the company, and the result had been favorable. The population there was 2,000 whites and 3,000 natives and half-breeds, some of them substituting agriculture for hunting. Legal officers and courts were needed, and the company deserved the encouragement it would receive by a renewal of its privileges in the Indian Territory.
Accompanying this appeal from Governor Pelly in 1837 was a letter from the resident governor, George Simpson, reporting on the condition and state of trade in the Indian Territory previous to the license to the company. It had been a scene of lawlessness and outrage. Its Indian population was estimated at 120,000, and the liquor traffic had run riot in it. It was now tranquillized. The company derives very little benefit from the licensed territory beyond being helped to a more peaceable possession of their own. The region principally lies west of the Rocky Mountains, the most valuable portion of it bordering upon the Pacific. The company has found difficulty and scant profit in holding it against the schemes of Russia and America. But national pride prompts it to such energetic measures that it “has compelled the American adventurers to withdraw.” The company is pressing hard upon the Russians, though supported by their own government and by military guards. The loss and damage to the company from the Russians in 1834 amounted to £20,000. As the territory, by a convention, is opened to the United States as well as to British subjects, the license leaves competition open. Then “the company is now promoting discovery, science, and surveys, at great expense
The company succeeded in obtaining, under date of May 30, 1838, a renewal of its territorial license for twenty-one years, with a reservation to the queen of a right to plant distinct colonies upon any portion of it.
In the petition of the company just rehearsed a reference is made to the trouble it encountered in the management of the Red River Settlement, with its mixed population of 5,000 whites, Indians, and half-breeds; dropping a suggestion that as this involved an expense of £5,000, the company might look to the government to repay it. We take up this annoyance from the colonial enterprise at a later period.
On February 17, 1847, a petition and memorial came before the colonial secretary of state, urging complaints against the Hudson Bay Company. The principal agent in this movement was Mr. A. K. Isbister, signing in