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Memorable Manitobans: William Bletterman Caldwell (c1798-1882)

Soldier, Governor of Assiniboia (Red River Settlement) (1848-1855).

A career army officer of unknown background, Caldwell was sent to Red River in 1848 in command of a small body of pensioners from the Chelsea Royal Hospital (the Chelsea pensioners) and as governor of Assiniboia, his salary paid by the Hudson’s Bay Company. He was not able to distance himself from the HBC, however, and he emerged from the Sayer affair with a reputation for weakness, particularly since he insisted he lacked the force to police the settlement. Criticism of Caldwell increased with the Fossv. Pelly case, which involved alleged marital indiscretions by Sarah McLeod, the wife of chief factor John Ballenden, with Captain Christopher Foss. Caldwell, with the assistance of interested party Adam Thom, presided at the trial. Some of the settlers, led by Alexander Ross, petitioned for his dismissal, but he continued to serve until 1855. He got his revenge by testifying for the HBC and against the settlers in the parliamentary inquiry of 1857. He died in London.

See also:

Governor William B. Caldwell’s Souvenir: Exoticism and a Gentleman’s Reputation by Laura Peers and Anne Lindsay
Manitoba History, Number 73, Fall 2013

William Bletterman Caldwell, Dictionary of Canadian Biography XI,138-39.


Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 4 November 2018

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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