Manitoba Historical Society
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Manitoba History: Red River Records: Highlights of the Archives of Manitoba’s Holdings Related to the Red River Settlement, 1812-1870

by Rachel Mills and Joan Sinclair
Archives of Manitoba

Number 71, Winter 2013

This article was published originally in Manitoba History by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make this online version available as a free, public service. As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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The Archives of Manitoba holds records that document virtually all aspects of the province’s history. There are three main collection areas: records created by the Government of Manitoba; records of private individuals, families, organizations, businesses and groups in Manitoba; and records of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC).

The first area, records of the Government of Manitoba, consists of records created since 1870, the year of the creation of the province of Manitoba. These records, therefore, are too recent for a paper on the Red River Settlement, even though some of them are over 140 years old.

The third area, the collections of the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives (which is part of the Archives of Manitoba), holds many records that relate to the Red River Settlement, given the relationship between the company and the settlement after the establishment of the settlement in 1812. These are not discussed in this article either.

Rather, it is the second of these areas—the records of private individuals, families and organizations—that will be the focus of this article. We will discuss some of the many records relating to the Red River settlement in the Archives of Manitoba’s private records holdings. Researchers have relied on some of these records in their research and writing. We hope, however, to present some records that few have seen before and, for the more familiar records, we hope to provide some of the back-story and behind-the-scenes information about where the records came from and how they have been kept.

As archivists, we believe that it is important to know where records came from and to communicate this to researchers. Information about the records from before they came to the Archives allows researchers to assess and hopefully confirm their authenticity. Are the records really what they seem to be? Knowing who gave them to the Archives—a descendant or a stranger, to use a very simplistic example—can help us to evaluate whether they are “the real thing.” Knowing the chain of custody can also help us to ascertain whether they could have been tampered with at any point since their creation. Also, if there are annotations or other marks on the records, it can help us to find out who made them and why. In short, context is important!

There is no question about where to start. We would like to take you back to 1885. The Provincial Library had been established just the year before and from the very start had been interested in acquiring archival documents as well as published material, e.g., newspapers and books. In his first report, for the year 1884, the first Provincial Librarian J. P. Robertson noted that the records made in the decades before the creation of Manitoba had not been maintained well and had fallen into the hands of private individuals. [1] It is unclear whether he knew who these private individuals were but if he did not, he soon would. In February 1885, Robertson received a letter, addressed to Premier John Norquay and forwarded from his office, from a James Taylor offering to sell “some old records of this country commencing from the formation of a government in 1835.” [2] This James Taylor was the son of Samuel Taylor, a former HBC employee in the Moose Factory area who came to the Red River Settlement with his young family in 1857. Correspondence went back and forth about the 135 documents Taylor was offering to sell to the library (in addition to early issues of The Nor’Wester, the first newspaper to be published in the settlement). Robertson requested a full list and inquired about the price Taylor had in mind. At the same time, Robertson contacted Government legal counsel to ask whether there was any legal imperative for Taylor to give these up to the Government, since they were government records. Legal counsel gave Robertson a favourable answer to this and in his 1885 report, Robertson noted that, “the documents of the old Government of Assiniboia have fallen into the hands of a private individual, and legal steps have already been taken to recover them.” [3] We assume this refers to Taylor’s records but it is unclear exactly what happened next. A colleague of ours, Chris Kotecki, notes in his paper on J. P. Robertson that Taylor did finally receive payment for the records of the Government of Assiniboia. [4] The Public Accounts record $300 being paid to Taylor for these records in 1890. [5] Questions remain, however. The letter from legal counsel suggests that Taylor should be made aware of the new legislation and be encouraged to hand them over. (The legislation was An Act respecting the Department of the Secretary of this Province, which identified the Provincial Secretary as the “keeper of all registers and archives of the Province, and of all registers and archives of any Government whatever that has had jurisdiction over the territory or any part of the territory constituting the Province of Manitoba.”) Unfortunately, no record remains (or has been found) to tell us what was communicated to Taylor and what his response was. What we know for certain is that these records were acquired from Taylor, for a price, and have been treasures of the Archives’ holdings ever since.

Representing the history of records to researchers is a challenge, particularly when they have been identified in different ways over time. For the James Taylor papers—and we know they were once identified that way since we have some old finding aids—we think that something was lost when these records were put with other records of the same period and described instead as the Red River Settlement papers (and variations on that). A few years ago when we entered them into our descriptive database, “Keystone”, we redescribed the Red River Settlement papers and separated them using their more specific titles, e.g., Council of Assiniboia fonds. (Fonds is a Canadian archival term meaning all the records of an individual or organization.) We included information about who donated the records, if that information was available, including whether they were acquired from James Taylor in 1885. However, we still question whether this was enough, given that they were kept by one individual for a significant time (perhaps 15 years) and were also known as the James Taylor papers for some time. This became significant when we learned more about James Taylor. He was the President of the Veterans of the Fur Trade Association, which worked for compensation from the federal government that it believed the HBC promised to its former employees. [6] It is possible that James Taylor was not just someone who happened to have these records but that he had actively sought them out to assist with this cause. Why was he willing to part with them as early as 1885 when the fight for compensation continued at least until the first decade of the 20th century? Did he need the money? Did he think they would be safer in the library? We have spent much time digging into this story and many questions remain. There is more work to be done and there are also probably some things that we will never know for certain.

The early annual reports of the Provincial Library provide us with some information about the early acquisition of other records. Librarian J. P. Robertson reported that in 1885 the current judicial authorities handed in three volumes of Quarterly Court records from the District of Assiniboia. [7] Interestingly, these records were used up until 1872; so they include early judicial records of the Government of Manitoba as well as the earlier records of the District of Assiniboia. Evidently, there was some sense that the same work was continuing despite the events and changes of the past two or three years.

In 1889, Robertson also noted that the Library received the Council of Assiniboia minutes dating between 1835 and 1870. It is unclear to what this refers since some minutes, from 1861–1869, were acquired from James Taylor in 1885 and the other Council minutes at the Archives appear to have been donated in 1949 and 1972. The 1972 donation consisted of records found in Government House. Is it possible that those records had been previously donated to the library at the end of the 19th century and had somehow found their way to Government House? Or did Robertson simply make a mistake in the report?

In the following decades, additional records were acquired; however, the documentation on these acquisitions is scarce and few are mentioned in the annual reports in the early 20th century. For some records, we have correspondence noting how and when they came to the Archives. Elizabeth Blight, a retired archivist from the Archives of Manitoba, recalls that one of her first tasks when she came to the Archives in the late 1960s was to go through early Provincial Library correspondence and remove any letters that documented the donation of archival material so that these could be filed in the Archives’ purchase and acquisition files (known as P&A files). This early correspondence includes information about the records of the Kennedy family, including records of Alexander Kennedy, his son William and William’s wife Eleanor and their daughter Mary. The majority of these records were donated to the Archives from the estate of Mary Kennedy in 1949 after Mary’s death in 1945. Much of the correspondence in this collection is from after the Red River Settlement period and the earlier correspondence mostly relates to William Kennedy’s involvement in the Franklin expeditions. There are, however, some interesting glimpses of life in the Red River Settlement including correspondence of Alexander Kennedy who lived in the settlement in the 1820s and correspondence of Eleanor who lived in the settlement after her marriage to William in 1860. In some letters received by Eleanor, friends send their wishes and what help they can in response to news of difficult times in the settlement in 1868 and 1869. [8] Much of the correspondence in the Kennedy family fonds includes pencilled annotations, which we think were made by Mary Kennedy, Eleanor’s daughter, since we know she prepared calendars of the correspondence (a list of the letters with a summary of each of their contents) presumably in preparation for their eventual donation to the Archives.

For other records acquired before accessioning systems were firmly established in the 1970s and for which the Archives has not been able to locate correspondence, we need to look for clues in various places to find out more about when the records came to the Archives of Manitoba and from whom. Some clues about what we term “the custodial history of records,” that is, their history before they came to the Archives, can be found in early published articles and books written by scholars who cite records located at the Provincial Library, and later the Provincial Archives. An excellent example of this is W. S. Wallace’s 1952 article on the Peter Fidler notebook. [9] Wallace begins his article by noting that the Fidler notebook was discovered by the current Provincial Librarian (this would have been John Leslie Johnston in 1952) when he was going through some uncatalogued material soon after he began his duties there. Johnston became Provincial Librarian in 1937, so presumably this Fidler notebook which contains entries from 1794–1822 was acquired by the library sometime before 1937. This is all we know about the Fidler notebook— we do not know who gave it to the Archives or exactly when—but it is a wonderful early record in our private record holdings. Much of its content is from before the arrival of the Selkirk settlers and records Fidler’s notes about his survey work for the HBC. The notebook does include entries until just before Fidler’s death in 1822, and includes a list of the dates and locations of the birth of his children, as well as details about the deaths of those who died young. The birth of one daughter, Faith, is recorded in 1813 at Red River. [10]

A page from Peter Fidler’s diary.
Source: Archives of Manitoba, P4642/1.

Sometimes clues can come from other records held by the Archives of Manitoba. We know that the Matilda Davis School collection of correspondence, accounts, journals and other records relating to a school for girls established circa 1856 by Matilda Davis at St. Andrews was donated to the Archives by Charles Gessner of St. Andrews in 1951. [11] What we did not know was who Charles Gessner was and how he came to have the records. We were particularly interested in Gessner because the Archives also holds the Matilda Davis family fonds, which came from Barbara Johnstone, a name known to many in Manitoba. Johnstone, an historian and the superintendent of Lower Fort Garry in the 1960s (the first woman to hold such a position at a National Historic Site), was given the records by a Charles Hodgson in Edmonton in the 1960s with instructions to dispose of them as she thought appropriate. Johnstone then gave them to the Archives in the 1980s. [12] Having recently worked on both collections we had noted that the records in the two collections are like two parts of a larger whole and thought it curious that it had been separated at some point—one wonders when—and that so much is now safely housed at the same institution. We knew that Charles Hodgson was a relative of Matilda Davis, a great-nephew we have since learned, and wondered whether Charles Gessner was also a family member and whether there had been an earlier decision to divide the records to share them among members of the family.

We had earlier thought of looking into Provincial Library files in the Archives’ government records holdings to see whether there was any additional information on archival acquisitions (other than the correspondence that Archives staff had removed in the 1960s and 1970s). We searched in our Keystone database and found a file from the 1950s. [13] We checked it on the off-chance that the Matilda Davis donation would be mentioned and could not believe our luck when we saw Gessner’s name in a 1952 report written by the Provincial Archivist, which noted that Gessner had found the records in his granary and, realizing their importance, had handed them over to the Archives. This does not tell us more about how and why the records were originally separated but it does tell us that, while some were carefully kept by a family member and passed on to a Manitoba historian, others were presumably forgotten and stored in an outbuilding! We will, of course, keep the two collections separate to distinguish between them and their vastly different histories but we will ensure through notes in our database that researchers look at both sets of records if they are at all interested in Matilda Davis or her school.

As mentioned above, Matilda Davis’ school for young girls started in St. Andrews in the mid-1850s. In 1858, a stone building was erected to house the school; it was called Oakfield but was usually known as the Matilda Davis School or Academy. This house still stands in St. Andrews and has, since the 1930s, been known as Twin Oaks. Many of the records in both of these collections provide considerable detail about the school, the staff, the students and the curriculum and also shed light on the characters, events and life in the Red River Settlement. An account book from 1862 contains a list of things to order from England. There are more than forty similar notebooks containing a variety of information in the school collection. A letter from A. G. B. Bannatyne to Matilda Davis in 1867 promises to settle Mary Logan’s school account, and notes that she will not be returning since “poor Mary like many more of the Red River girls is going to get married (before she knows the pleasure of being a girl for a year or two.).” [14]

A letter from A. G. B. Bannatyne to Red River school teacher Miss Matilda Davis explained that Mary Logan would not be returning to school because she was to be married.
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Matilda Davis School Collection, P4724/4.

The collections also contain records from before Matilda’s arrival in Red River and document her life in London, with her sister Elizabeth, where the two girls had been taken by their father in 1822 or 1823 to receive an education. (They were both very young; Matilda was born circa 1820 and Elizabeth was probably born in the following year). Tragically, their father, John Davis, a HBC officer, died in 1824 while travelling to assume a new post with the HBC and his Métis wife Nancy and the other children moved to the Red River Settlement after his death. [15] Matilda and Elizabeth remained in England and, after receiving an education, worked as governesses. The girls corresponded with their family in the Red River Settlement, and these letters tell us much about the family, the settlement, the postal system (one letter dated in May notes that they had recently received the letter of last year!) and life in London working as governesses. In an 1843 letter to her brother George, Matilda asks him to tell their mother that she will not write separately this time since she does not have much time for writing; she is engaged in her “various duties often until a late hour”. She also tells him: “I often wish I were with you all, and have a desire to go to America and live with you but the want of money quite prevents the wish being executed. We must live in hope.” [16] George was born in 1824, so we assume that Matilda and Elizabeth had never met their brother. It also seems likely that they did not remember their mother or other siblings and had never been to the Red River Settlement. Still, Matilda wished to go there to be with them.

A letter of 1850 from Elizabeth to George acknowledges receipt of his letter informing her and Matilda that their mother had died in 1849. In this letter, Elizabeth speaks of her own illness, which has her confined to her room and writes that Matilda had left her situation and is finding it difficult to find work as more and more was expected of governesses—“if they cannot speak three or four languages fluently and know everything, they get but small salaries.” [17] Elizabeth died in 1854 and Matilda finally came to the Red River Settlement a couple of years later. It seems that her uncle’s death a few years earlier might have made this financially possible for her. Matilda operated the school until her death in 1873. These are very rich records and we are glad that both collections found their way to the Archives, along their very different paths.

More recent acquisitions to the Archives can also shed light on earlier ones. Here we return to James Taylor. We were recently offered two scrapbooks of newspaper clippings made by Taylor. We had never been contacted by this particular descendant, donor Mary Taylor (James’ granddaughter), but soon realized that the Archives of Manitoba had been offered these same scrapbooks in the 1970s. At the time, the Archives was interested but nothing was ever sent. It turned out that the original donor, Vern Casebeer, Mary’s cousin by marriage, after offering the scrapbooks to the Archives, became very sick and gave them to Mary’s mother. More than thirty years later Mary contacted us and the scrapbooks finally came to the Archives.

The books are an interesting record of Taylor’s work for the Veterans of the Fur Trade Association but most interesting for this article, they include a 1907 article clipped from the Winnipeg Free Press containing some highlights of the holdings of the Provincial Archives in Manitoba. We had not come across this article before. Among other things, it lists the journals of Samuel Taylor (James’ grandfather) as already being held by the archives. This was a great discovery for us. This means that they were here by 1907 and since James Taylor did not die until 1924, it seems possible that he was the donor although it is unlikely we will ever be able to prove that with complete certainty.

Samuel Taylor’s journal for the period from 1863 to 1869 included, among other things, his observations about women’s fashions at the Red River Settlement: “I ought perhaps to have mentioned more than two years ago, for to let people know if the world stands any time, that the greater number of Women are wearing Hoops inside of their dresses more than two years ago, and are still doing so, poor servant girls when cooking or milking cows, or reaping or planting, or picking Potates [sic], or at Church all have the everlasting hoops on, ...”
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Samuel Taylor fonds, P4641/2, page 9.

The Taylor journals are a treasure. As well as containing lots of interesting details about Taylor’s work for the HBC in the Moose Factory area until 1857 and his life in the Red River Settlement after that, the diaries are beautifully written. Reading them draws you into Taylor’s world, which is obviously quite different from ours but which feels so familiar because of Taylor’s entertaining, easygoing voice. In an entry from May 1864, Taylor records something he apologizes for not mentioning earlier—the current fashion for women. And in November 1865, Taylor included a poignant entry about the death of his son. [18] If you have not read these journals, we encourage you to come to the Archives to do so. They are an excellent source of information about the Red River Settlement written by a great diarist.

One further Taylor mystery remains. The most recent donor, Mary Taylor, asked us whether we knew what happened to James Taylor’s personal records which, she heard, he was working on in the months before his death in 1924 to prepare them for donation to an archives. We do not have these records and it does not seem that they went to Library and Archives Canada or the provincial archives in Saskatchewan (where he lived for the last years of his life). What happened to these records? Will they ever turn up? On the one hand, it seems unlikely after all this time. On the other hand, the Taylor connection to the Archives of Manitoba seems so strong that it might just happen.

William Coldwell is another example of how records pertaining to one individual or family are often acquired over a long period of time as descendants gradually divest themselves of family papers. Coldwell came from London, England to Toronto in 1854 and then to the Red River Settlement in 1859 to publish, along with William Buckingham, The Nor’Wester, the first newspaper in the settlement. The paper’s ownership changed several times and Coldwell went back to Toronto for a time before returning to the Settlement in 1869 just in time to be named as clerk of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia on 23 March 1870.

Coldwell and his second wife, Jemima MacKenzie Ross, the widow of William Ross, lived in Ross House at the end of Market Street overlooking the Red River in Winnipeg. William Coldwell suffered from poor health in his later years and eventually moved to Victoria, BC where he died in 1907. His wife, Jemima McKenzie Ross, moved back to Manitoba to live with her daughter’s family in Rosser. In 1912, she passed away at the home of her grandson, Edward Ross James. His son, E. Renouard James, is presumably the E. R. James from whom the Legislative Library bought the Sessional Journal of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia for $40 in 1939. The journal marks the activities of Riel’s Provisional Government leading up to the proclamation of the Manitoba Act and the end of the Red River Settlement. [19]

In 1958, the Archives purchased a collection of William Coldwell’s papers from E. R. James, [20] which consisted of items relating to the estates of William Ross who was the first postmaster of Red River and his wife’s first husband and Roderick MacKenzie, Jr. who was his wife’s father. The papers span the period from approximately 1856 to 1903 and document the administration of the estate which was not to be divided during the lifetime of Roderick’s heirs—his daughters—but could be willed upon their death. It is interesting because it shows how complex the financial and property dealings could be in the settlement and also how interconnected the families living in the area were; Jemina had sisters that married into the Taylor and Kennedy families. The collection also includes notebooks with some entries in shorthand kept by Coldwell from 1885 to 1904. In 1975, the Archives again acquired records from an E. R. James in Grosse Isle that pertained to Coldwell. These included correspondence, accounts, poetry and papers relating to the Market Street East property. Lastly, in 1997 the Archives was contacted by a descendant of Coldwell’s son through his first marriage who was living in Prince Rupert, BC and offered the Archives a diary kept by Coldwell from the period 1867 onwards.

Other clues about the earliest records acquired by the Provincial Library and the Provincial Archives (a distinct office after 1946) can be found in an inventory of the records, which was completed in 1955. [21] This is often the only way we can definitively say how long something has been at the Archives. We can know that it was here as of 1955. The inventory also provides some acquisition information where this was known and so is a very useful record for researching the history of our holdings.

Unfortunately, photographs and other still images do not seem to have been captured in the 1955 inventory; so the acquisition of some of this material is even more mysterious. Here we are fortunate to have the advice of former colleague Elizabeth Blight who started working at the Archives in 1967 and retired more than 41 years later. She remembers well the filing cabinets of photographs already held by the Archives when she arrived in December of that year. (Only a couple, she recalls.) She particularly remembers that the Humphrey Lloyd Hime photographs were in those cabinets in the Archives, at the time located in the Archives offices in the Legislative Building. Unfortunately, this is almost all we know about these wonderful photographs, the first to be taken in the settlement in 1858. Hime was the photographer appointed to accompany the Assiniboine and Saskatchewan Exploring Expedition in 1858—the first Canadian expedition to use photography. Hime struggled to take photographs in the wilds of the North West with the glass-plate technology of the mid-19th century, but had some real success in the Red River Settlement in September and October 1858. [22] Some of our personal favourites are the photographs of the early churches and homes, solid, large and tall buildings on the vast prairie. There are also some photographs of people and of canoes, landscapes and aboriginal graves. As well as 34 original prints, there are mounted and captioned prints of some of the images and glass-plate negatives of four of the images. [23] We know that a few of the mounted and captioned prints were donated to the Archives by Dr. F. C. Bell in 1965 and 1972. For the rest of the collection, we know only that most, if not all of it, was here before the late 1960s. Our conservators have confirmed that the glass-plate negatives have been made from prints, as a form of copy negative, but we do not know whether the Archives or someone else made them or why there are only four. The collection also contains two additional prints which were acquired from the Toronto Public Library and the Minnesota Historical Society for research purposes only (copies cannot be made) to “complete” our collection. We no longer do this since researchers can more easily access collections in other institutions, either through travel or increasingly via the Internet, and we need to use our limited resources to preserve and provide access to originals.

Other Red River Settlement photographic collections held by the Archives include the Bannatyne family collection—143 photographs of prominent settler families including the Bannatynes, the Ballendens, the Logans, the Kennedys, the McDermots, the Inksters, and on and on. When we were looking into this collection, it took us some time to realize that we should stop trying to find the original prints, as they are not at the Archives. Rather, in 1967, we made copy negatives from the originals and returned them to Mrs. Mary Ferguson who seems to have organized their reproduction on behalf of the owner, Mrs. Shannon. In the few pieces of correspondence we have for these records, Mary Ferguson notes that the photographs had belonged to James and Mrs. McKay. It is unclear from the records we have why this collection became known as the Bannatyne family collection. After the negatives were made, prints were made from the copy negatives. Interestingly, when comparing the negatives to the prints (to check that they were copy negatives), we noticed that the mounts (sometimes with handwritten captions) were left off the prints. A colleague in the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, Mandy Malazdrewich, notes that this was often done to make the photographs look neater or to fit them to a specific paper size. As we move towards digitizing some of our holdings, we will scan from the negatives in order to show the additional information to researchers. One example of a photograph from this collection and its negative shows the additional information on the copy negative. The woman in the photograph is Margaret Anderson, sister of Bishop David Anderson. [24] The negative contains a caption noting that the photograph was taken in 1852. This is useful because having only copy negatives and prints makes photographs difficult to date; we cannot ascertain the original photo process, see any information on the back of the photograph or look for other clues. Mandy also points out that the colour of the original is lost because black and white/greyscale negatives were made from what would often have been sepia prints.

A photographic print of Margaret Anderson omitted the details shown on the negative that she was the sister of Bishop Anderson and that it was taken in 1852.
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Bannatyne Family Collection, #4, N14603.

The practice of making and acquiring a copy of photographs or textual records, rather than the originals, was common in previous decades in archives across the country. This is another example of something we no longer do. We always ask donors to donate the originals, letting them know that they will be well cared for and accessible to the donors and anyone else interested in the records. We were disappointed when we realized that we only had copy negatives and prints of the Bannatyne family collection. It would be wonderful to have the originals and what is the chance that the originals have survived? Then we were just relieved that the Archives made copies of these photos since we would not have had anything at all if this had not been done. Of course, it is always possible that these photographs are still in a shoebox somewhere. The Archives gets calls every week from potential donors who are sorting through their parents’ papers or disbanding an organization or who found something while renovating their home. While much has either been already acquired or lost, there are also things from the Red River Settlement that families are preserving and which may eventually be offered to the Archives. We had a recent call from a settlement family descendant about donating some family records to the Archives. Things also “turn up.” If anyone knows of records from the Red River Settlement period that are not preserved in an archives, please contact us.

While we can look in many different places for information about how records came to the archives, for some records we have to accept that we have no acquisition information at all. One example of this is a small folder of records relating to Neil McKinnon and his family, one of the first families to arrive in the Red River Settlement in 1812. The first document in the file is a receipt for payment of passage for the McKinnon family, signed by Selkirk himself. [25] It is not in good shape but it is two hundred years old! We really do not know anything else about this record—for example, who donated it or when. It was not included in the 1955 inventory. Whether it was missed in the inventory or perhaps acquired since then is unknown. The other records in this file include a letter from McKinnon to Selkirk, a fragment of a HBC document and some biographical information on the McKinnons. There is no information on how they came to the Archives, or indeed whether they all came together. We think this illustrates how important information about records is. How can we assess the authenticity of these records when we know nothing about their provenance or history?

As well as records created by Red River settlers during the settlement period, there are also records created “after the fact” which are also an important record of the Settlement. The reminiscences of settlers after the creation of Manitoba, stories told to and written down by descendants of the settlers, and the records of organizations created to commemorate and remember the settlement are all useful to researchers of the period.

There are many examples of these kinds of records at the Archives including the records of the Lord Selkirk Association of Rupert’s Land which are a well-used resource by researchers and descendants of the settlement. Soon after the Lord Selkirk Association records were described in our Keystone database, a couple from outof- town came into our Research Room with a printout from the database asking to see the photo album in the collection. [26] It was retrieved for them and when one of the researchers said this was the first time he had ever seen his great-grandparents, it was one of those moments when we can feel really good about what we do. We would note that after all of the uncertainty of the early acquisitions that we have discussed, we do know how these records came to the Archives. The majority of these records were donated to the Archives of Manitoba by the Lord Selkirk Association of Rupert’s Land in 1998. An undated membership list was acquired from Dale Johnstone in 1956 and Anne Henderson donated correspondence with Vilhjalmur Stefansson in 1978. For many collections, particularly more recent acquisitions, we know more about their history before their donation to the Archives.

There are many other records at the Archives of Manitoba—and of course, not just about the Red River Settlement—with amazing stories to tell and amazing histories of their own. We encourage Manitoba History readers to explore our holdings, search our Keystone database and come to the archives to see our wonderful holdings.

Receipt from Lord Selkirk for passage to the Red River Settlement, 1812.
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Neil McKinnon fonds, MG2 A2-1.


1. First Annual Report of the Provincial Library, 1 July–31 December 1884.

2. Archives of Manitoba, James Taylor P&A (Purchase & Acquisition) file, Correspondence from James Taylor to Premier John Norquay, 3 February 1885.

3. Second Annual Report of Provincial Library, 1 January-30 June 1885.

4. Kotecki, M. C., “J. P. Robertson (1841–1919): Foundational Documents,” presented at the 44th Annual Northern Great Plains History Conference, 14–17 October 2009, p. 9.

5. Public Accounts, Province of Manitoba, 1890.

6. This is known from newspaper clippings in James Taylor’s scrapbooks which have recently been donated to the Archives of Manitoba. These are discussed later in this article.

7. Second Annual Report of the Provincial Library, 1885.

8. Archives of Manitoba, Kennedy family fonds, MG1 D1.

9. W. S. Wallace, “Notes on an 18th Century Northerner”, The Beaver, June 1952, pp. 39-41.

10. Archives of Manitoba, Peter Fidler notebook, P4642/1.

11. Public Archives of Manitoba: Preliminary Inventory, 1955, (Provincial Library, 1955).

12. Archives of Manitoba, Barbara Johnstone P&A file.

13. Archives of Manitoba, CH 0130 Legislative Library operational files, GR1596, Preservation of Public Documents, 1934–1956, G 10509.

14. Archives of Manitoba, Matilda Davis School collection, letter from A. G. B. Bannatyne, P4724/4.

15. This biographical information was collected from the John Davis biographical sheet and search file, Hudson’s Bay Company Archives; articles on Matilda Davis on the Manitoba Historical Society website, and in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, http://www.biographi. ca/EN/009004-119.01-e.php?id_nbr=4931.

16. Archives of Manitoba, Matilda Davis family fonds, letter from Matilda to George, P2342/2.

17. Archives of Manitoba, Matilda Davis family fonds, letter from Elizabeth to George, P4724/2.

18. Archives of Manitoba, Samuel Taylor fonds, Journal, 1863–1869, P4741/2.

19. Archives of Manitoba. Red River Disturbance collection. Sessional Journal of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia, 1870. MG3 A1/15.

20. Archives of Manitoba. William Coldwell fonds, 1856–1904. MG14 C73.

21. Public Archives of Manitoba: Preliminary Inventory, 1955, (Provincial Library, 1955).

22. Much of this information about Hime, the Assiniboine and Saskatchewan Exploring Expedition, and Hime’s photographs has been taken from Richard Huyda’s work including his book on Hime, Camera in the Interior, 1858, (1976).

23. Archives of Manitoba, Humphrey Lloyd Hime collection, C39.

24. Archives of Manitoba, Bannatyne family collection 4, Margaret Anderson.

25. Archives of Manitoba, Neil McKinnon fonds, Receipt from Lord Selkirk for passage to the Red River Settlement, 22 June 1812, MG2 A2/1.

26. Archives of Manitoba, Lord Selkirk Association of Rupert’s Land fonds, photograph album, C110.

Page revised: 6 January 2018

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