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Memorable Manitobans: Andrew Bulger (1789-1858)

Civil servant, Governor of Red River Settlement (1822-1823).

Born in Newfoundland, Bulger became an ensign in the Newfoundland Regiment of Fencible Infantry in 1804. He became lieutenant two years later. He and the regiment (now the Royal Newfoundland Regiment) served in the Atlantic region and in Lower Canada before the War of 1812. Bulger was then ordered to serve under Major-General Isaac Brock on the Niagara Frontier, participating in most of the great battles in that military theatre. In 1814 he served in the West.

In 1822 he was appointed for three years as secretary and registrar of Lord Selkirk’s Red River settlement, with military responsibilities. He was also appointed governor locum tenens of Assiniboia. Arriving at Red River in June 1822, he quickly became disillusioned with “one ofthe most miserable countries on the face of the earth”. He was particularly unhappy about the lack of military presence in the settlement and proper lines of authority, soon engaging in a running feud with Hudson's Bay Company Chief Factor John Clarke over the fur trade. Bulger advocated the introduction of a judicial system in Red River, the posting of troops, the legal entrance of settlers into the fur trade, a legal medium of exchange, and the necessity of a market for surplus grain. Without these things, he warned Andrew Colvile in late 1822, “spend no more of Lord Selkirk’s money upon Red River.” He left Red River in ill health in August 1823, appreciated by the settlers more than by the Company. He subsequently went to Quebec in 1825 as a minor clerical functionary, serving there without distinction until his death.

Bulger died in Montreal on 28 March 1858. His correspondence is preserved in Library and Archives Canada.

More information:

An Autobiographical Sketch of the Services of the Late Captain Andrew Bulger of the Royal Newfoundland Fencible Regiment (1865). Dictionary of Canadian Biography VIII, 111-13.

Sources:

Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by J. M. Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

Page revised: 27 July 2008

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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