Foundations of Dual Education at Red River, 1811-34
MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1964-65 season
The purpose of this paper is to examine the origins of the dual confessional system of education in the Red River Settlement, particularly during the proprietary rule of the Selkirk family from 1811 to 1834.
The first Europeans and Métis at Red River were neither entirely ignorant nor were they devoid of any desire for schooling for their children. The Hudson's Bay Company did not neglect its servants entirely: in 1808, it sent out James Clouston, Peter Sinclair and George Geddes to act as teachers at some of the posts, paying each of these schoolmasters an annual salary of £30. In addition, many of the factors who took Indian wives sent their children to Great Britain or Canada to be educated. This was particularly true of the Nor'westers after 1783. Schofield writes with justification:
Cuthbert Grant is an example that readily comes to mind in this connection.
Our narrative begins more properly with the Selkirk settlement. Lord Selkirk had definite views about the nature of the colony he wished to plant at the Forks. His Advertisement and Prospectus made the following pronouncement:
Selkirk also wrote a pamphlet On the Civilization of the Indians in British America and another called Observation on a Proposal for forming a Society for the Civilization and Improvement of the North American Indians within the British Boundary. These pamphlets made a plea for schools, especially industrial schools, and for the sedentary settlement of the aborigines. He wanted the parliament "to authorize the governor of Canada to fix by proclamation the limits for the use of the Indian nations".  After the first contingent of his colonists arrived at Red River he instructed his Governor, Miles Macdonell, to do what he could to meet the request of the settlers for schools:
That was the plan Selkirk had in mind. What were the actual resources in the nascent colony?
With the first contingent of Selkirk settlers there was a Roman Catholic priest, who might have acted as a schoolmaster ad tempus, and there was McRae, already mentioned, who could supervise education in the colony. Selkirk intended that McRae should supervise, not teach:
The Lancastrian system was monitorial in organization and emphasized precision, drill, discipline - all virtues required on the western frontier at this time. Macdonell could not get along with McRae; besides there was no school for McRae to supervise. The abbe Charles Bourke, on whom Macdonell had relied so much to establish Catholicism at Red River, was found not only to have left Ireland without the permission of his ordinary, the Bishop of Killala, but also to spend much of his time collecting rocks he believed to be precious. Macdonell confided to Selkirk that Bourke was "only an encumbrance" to him and that he was "irregular and eccentric in his conduct as a clergyman". To Bishop Plessis of Quebec, the Governor explained his motives:
The idea of asserting the right of Roman Catholics to hold public office was taken up again by the missionary Dumoulin in 1819. He wrote:
Bishop Plessis' reply eventually came to the effect that it would be necessary to find well-educated Catholics in the colony to fill public offices and these would then have to be commissioned. He saw a further difficulty:
Bishop Plessis knew his flock better than the young missionary did. The opportunity to establish Catholic predominance in the colony seemed to have slipped away.
Macdonell was concerned about the state of affairs at Red River and appealed to Bishop Plessis for clergy from Lower Canada.
This appeal was seconded by a formal petition in the name of twentytwo heads of families at Red River, seven of whom could sign their names,  taken to Montreal by Samuel Gale (Selkirk's counsel) where the Speaker of the House of Assembly presented it eventually to the Bishop of Quebec. Plessis wrote to Gale:
The Council of Assiniboia and the Catholic church were committed now to do something about "the disorders". Bishop Plessis headed up a drive for funds, Governor Sherbrooke being of the opinion that his administration would likely be considered independent of both the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company which were at that moment locked in mortal combat. 
Contemporary records do not lead one to believe that the coming of the Selkirk settlers did very much to elevate the cultural level of the local population. Social-class influences are always important in education. There is little evidence to substantiate the view that the settlers were of superior cultural level to the "free Canadians" at Red River; indeed, the initial Selkirk settlers seem to have been largely ignorant, illiterate, and rather dependent on the Indians and Métis for elementary survival. The abbe Bourke and Macdonell were probably the only two individuals who were well educated. In any case, Bourke did make himself of some use by writing letters for the other settlers, according to the Governor's report:
An anonymous contemporary in speaking of the low cultural level of the settlers added that "some respectable families of a better class, comfortable situated in their own country, were also tempted by the offers of townships in the Grant, and the misrepresentations held out in the Prospectus".  In general, however, the situation was that "in the winter of 1810 and 1811, a number of poor Irishmen were got together at Sligo, and sent to Stornaway, in the Island of Lewes, where they joined other emigrants who had been inlisted or crimped in Scotland".  Governor Miles Macdonell argued that "the very liberal mind and philanthropic views of the Earl of Selkirk merit the cooperation of the chief pastor of the catholic Church of North America to carry the standard of Christ to that part of it which is yet in a state of barbarous idolatry". 
The Hudson's Bay Company felt some responsibility towards educational work at the Forks. In 1812 the Company sent our Francis Swords to be schoolmaster. Two years later the Governor reported:
In 1815, a Scottish Presbyterian named John Matheson assumed the duties of schoolmaster and his tale is told in the Governor's journal:
Macdonell indicated that the settlers had approached him for a clergyman (likely a Presbyterian) and a schoolmaster. He added:
On June 11 the Nor'Westers attacked the settlement and four days later John Matheson was among those bound for Upper Canada. Macdonell himself was taken to Montreal for a trial which never occurred. 
The arrival of the fourth contingent of settlers saved the colony in 1815. Among the new arrivals was a schoolmaster, George McBeth, who during the Atlantic crossing had started a school on board ship. Schofield comments that "it proved a source of entertainment for the adults as well as a benefit to the children."  The lessons were given on deck in fine weather; hours were from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; English Bibles were the only textbooks used. Once in the colony, McBeth does not seem to have impressed Governor Semple. The Governor received an inquiry from London about the role of the Hudson's Bay Company in education at Red River. A letter dated May 8, 1816 said:
Among the 1815 arrivals was James Sutherland, an elder authorized by the Church of Scotland to baptize and marry. Another new arrival, John Poison, later (1881) gave this comment:
The situation in the colony remained unfavourable for any educational enterprise. The massacre at Seven Oaks in 1816 and the murder of Owen Keveny (leader of the second contingent of settlers), as well as another disbandment of the settlement, retarded progress. Coltman was sent out to investigate and the Earl of Selkirk planned a personal visit. 
When he did come to the Forks, Selkirk is reported to have said, pointing to lot 4 on which he stood, "Here you shall build your church" and pointing to lot 3, "that lot is for a school".  At that time the English-speaking community was without a school, without a teacher, and without a clergyman. The French-speaking settlers were not better provided for. Selkirk heard many complaints and he probably took down in shorthand on his large nails the conversations he had with people, which feat according to Nicholas Garry he did unobserved. 
The arrival of the De Meurons soldiers and then of Swiss settlers ought to have improved the situation. It has generally been assumed that it did. However, one eyewitness reporter, Nicholas Garry, Deputy Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company from 1822 to 1835, was of the opinion that the arrival of European mercenaries and Swiss settlers did little to improve the cultural level of the small community. Commenting on the inadequate preparations to receive new settlers he wrote:
As if this were not misfortune enough for a nascent colony, Garry added: "The Heads of the Colony are men without Energy or Foresight and without Virtue in every Sense of the Word".  This was the social milieu in which schools were established.
From the foundations of the colony at Red River there is evidence that the French Canadians resented the Conquest, the opposition of the Hudson's Bay Company to the Montreal-based North West Company, and the fact that membership in the British Empire seemed to prevent the establishment of a Catholic hierarchy in British North America. Educational and missionary work in the West seemed to offer a possible solution to several related problems. Selkirk saw the presence of priests at Red River as a force for law and order which might stay the hand of the Canadian engages of the North West Company. Bishop Plessis came to see a Western mission as a lever to obtain the creation of a missionary diocese and so the formation of a hierarchy in British North America. The bishop and Selkirk had the good sense to appeal to the idealism and humanitarianism prevalent in England at the time. 
In 1818 Bishop Plessis appointed three young men to the mission at Red River and launched a campaign for funds. The parish of Kamouraska responded especially well,  the Nor'Westers were quite co-operative,  and the Governor-General personally subscribed to the appeal for funds and issued a proclamation in his own name.  This proclamation given under his seal said:
Selkirk made a concession of lands for the church and school and a formal indenture was drawn up between the Earl and the bishop.  Arrangements were also made to send out reliable canoemen, an Indian agent and interpreter.  Lady Selkirk assisted "so charmingly that she has increased by half the value", according to Dumoulin, the mass kit and the two expensive vestments she provided.  All this attention and official support had some negative results though. Dumoulin reported:
One parish priest in Lower Canada came to the conclusion that Selkirk was pursuing his own designs without having to expend much money:
Nevertheless, Bishop Plessis felt the price was not too high to pay for the fulfillment of his hopes.
On July 16, 1818, the three missionaries arrived at the Forks. An employee of the Montreal trading interests reported:
In another communication written the same day he said:
Provencher reported to his bishop that Alexander Macdonell, "the grasshopper governor", had received them well, that the North West Company's bourgeois had provided all the assistance and supplies necessary and that all in the colony seemed "anxious to benefit by our instruction".  He added some temporal observations such as:
To a personal friend he indicated they were already busy "instructing young and old, the former for baptism and the latter for legitimate marriage".  The enterprise promised success. Two months after arriving in the West, Provencher wrote to a personal friend in these terms:
There were more people at Pembina than at the Forks, and there would be still more at Pembina when winter arrived, but Dumoulin had not been able to proceed to that southern settlement "on account of having no chapel, for there are still two cases that have not arrived".  As soon as it arrived he prepared to leave  reporting that Provencher and Edge were getting settled at St. Boniface:
Dumoulin asked Bishop Plessis if serious objection ought to be made "to baptize young brules whose Protestant fathers are absent but whose infidel mothers wish to have them baptized?"  He had not seen many Indians about the Forks that autumn. The prospects for a school were passably good:
The new year brought numerous communications from Lord Selkirk testifying to his interest in the venture  and one letter told of a bell being ordered for the church at Red River.  Bishop Plessis reminded the missionaries that emphasis had to be placed on educating the children in the settlement rather than catechizing those out on the prairies, therefore Edge's school was a most commendable beginning. He said:
By the time this letter arrived at Red River, Edge had moved south with Dumoulin to Pembina.
At Pembina a very good beginning was made in schooling during the first winter. Dumoulin reported in January, 1819:
The Bishop's reply to this letter indicated advantage should be taken of the aptitudes of the bois brules' children and that Edge should be encouraged "to ground them well in knowledge and virtue". Plessis observed that the gathering of Indians into villages was "more disastrous than beneficial to them" unless the authorities gave the missionaries "boundless authority over them" and unless whites were not allowed among them.  This was a conclusion that had been reached in New France as early as 1637. Dumoulin had opined that the Indians hesitated to receive baptism because they realized that once their children were baptized they would be obliged to have them taught.  Plessis was anxious for the missionaries to pursue zealously their mission because public financial support for the Red River mission was beginning to drop off. He said, "the public no longer takes the same interest" and added that "the affections of the populace are short lived". He outlined his plan of action to Provencher:
At about the same time Provencher was writing to his bishop explaining his own ideas about the Red River mission. He wrote:
He was now more aware of the need for schooling because, Dumoulin and Edge having gone to Pembina, he was in charge alone at St. Boniface.
During that first winter in the West a rare opportunity presented itself to open a "school" among the freemen on the prairie. A well educated young man called Lagasse had come West, after failing in business, intent on recouping his fortune. Dumoulin engaged him. His version of the results was as follows:
Thus, within six months three schools had been estabilshed. At Pembina instruction was probably offered in English as well as in French.  Provencher preferred to report progress rather than unqualified success:
The chief problems in education arose out of a cultural factor-the Catholic community was largely non-agricultural and semi-nomadic.
In 1820, two more missionaries arrived from Lower Canada: Thomas Destroismaisons, who replaced Provencher at St. Boniface while the latter returned East on a visit, and Jean Baptiste Sauve, who replaced Edge at Pembina.  Edge had been unhappy in the West and Provencher had reported that he was "not at all the man we need".  Provencher had requested that both men sent out should be able to speak some English because, as he said, "it is a necessary language here". Sauve seemed to be very successful at Pembina. Dumoulin wrote:
No concession whatever was made to the children in the matter of curriculum. Sons of bourgeois and sons of lowly buffalo hunters would all be given a thorough classical training.
During Provencher's absence the Anglican minister, John West, arrived at Red River. Also, Nicholas Garry of the Hudson's Bay Company visited the Forks. Garry's comments on the Catholic clergy and the Meurons and Swiss settlers are interesting:
So far as the priests were concerned the presence of this "third element" broke down the duality of culture and added only seven Catholics from about 150 Swiss settlers. Garry continued his diary entry on August 5, 1821:
Dumoulin's defence for starting a mission station at Pembina did not meet with much favour because Governor McDonell continued to insist that he "never gave any encouragement to the measure" and never gave any hope that "any land would be granted to the mission at that place".  Dumoulin pleaded with Bishop Plessis to send gifts via the Hudson Bay route to win the Indians to a sedentary way of life for he said they would be "won over with gifts rather than logic".  Besides, the Anglican minister seemed to have a similar scheme in mind. Dumoulin warned that West seemed to be "seeking control of the matter" and this would be, in his words, "very injurious to the Catholic Church". In a later letter to Plessis he said:
There were problems of an internal and more serious nature plaguing Dumoulin by this time. He wrote:
This reverse he balanced with increased efforts in education.
Provencher arrived back at St. Boniface on August 7, 1822, now elevated to Bishop of Juliopolis. Jean Harper, a young seminarian, accompanied him and was soon put in charge of teaching at St. Boniface. Provencher found that the school was "not much at present" with only two students showing much promise, one of them being a Métis who lived with Dumoulin.  Bishop Plessis sent books for these two young scholars the following year. 
When John Halkett, the executor of Selkirk's estate, visited Red River in 1822 he determined that the Pembina post should be removed north wards into Hudson's Bay Territory since Peter Fidler had declared it was situated south of the 49th parallel which became the international boundary in 1818.  A survey party from the American army confirmed this fact in 1823.  Dumoulin was quite demoralized by the decision to remove most of the settlers to St. Boniface and the order to close the mission station at Pembina. Bishop Plessis wrote to Bishop Provencher:
Harper, at St. Boniface, continued to teach elementary subjects while Bishop Provencher taught the more advanced subjects. In a sense, it is correct to say that the classical college was founded in 1823. The two students in advanced courses were Senecal, a French-Canadian youth, and Chenier, a half-breed son of a man from Lachine who had settled at Pembina. By 1827 there were four boarders and in 1834 no less than six students were pursuing a classical course. The Pembina contingent moved to White Horse Plains under the leadership of Cuthbert Grant in 1824. George Simpson wrote in June of that year:
Destroismaisons began services in Grant's uncompleted house. In 1827 Harper went to St. Francois-Xavier, built a chapel and instructed "some girls and young women" who could not come to the Forks.  In 1828 he opened "a boys' school conducted by a former clerk who does not know what to do with himself but who applies himself well to teaching school." 
The school at St. Boniface suffered severe reverses in 1825. The two scholars on whom Provencher counted so much were now described as "hopeless this year; one has gone since January, the other though still here, is entirely unfitted for the Church."  Two months later, Provencher took up the sad tale:
Such were the beginnings of higher education in Manitoba - two students, both of whom failed out. The missionaries persevered: "our school is still going but there are few pupils." Provencher reported that his flock was so poor that "it would be necessary to make expenditures beyond our means in order to get their children".  During the winter months the wife of the mission's farm manager began to teach the girls to work in flax and wool. A long and severe winter, the disastrous flood of 1826, and the loss of some 250 Swiss settlers followed.
Hopes rose again in 1828 when it was reported that there was one advanced student at St. Boniface who seemed to be headed for the priesthood and who was of great usefulness in teaching others his mother tongue, Cree.  Nevertheless, the school was somewhat less than outstanding:
When Provencher proposed to give the tonsure to his young Métis candidate, and the latter refused to enter the priesthood, the bishop proposed that he take over the school from Boucher who had discharged his duties "in a rather vague manner".  The following year, the bishop returned to Eastern Canada to launch another campaign for funds for his missionary diocese.
Back at Red River in 1831, Provencher was pleased with the manner in which Harper had administered the schools and proposed that Harper assume the duties of a superintendent of education.  Boucher, who had not returned to Canada after being discharged at St. Boniface, offered himself for the mission at White Horse Plains, a mission already served by the abbes Belcourt and Thibault. Harper did not accept his bishop's offer but decided to return to Canada. However, he did agree to ask his brother Charles to come out to Red River the following year as supervisor of schools, and agreed to consider returning himself, after two or three years in the East, with one of his sisters who could open a girls' school at White Horse Plains.  Meanwhile, Harper was succeeded in 1832 by a young deacon named Poire, described as a man of "good talents, applied to his task".  Nevertheless, he seems to have closed down his school during the first summer he spent in the West in order to go off hunting. Thibault was probably the best teacher in the colony, therefore he was asked to come to St. Boniface to take charge of two daily English classes required of the Latin students. 
Out on the prairie near the mission of St. Francois-Xavier the abbe Belcourt organized a school for the children of the semi-nomadic population but he soon discovered that the people expected sizeable gifts in return for sending their offspring to school. Provencher opined: "I have always believed that we should not carry on missions in a Protestant fashion, that is to say we should not buy students but we should win them by persuasion".  Belcourt also wanted to organize a Catholic missionary society to compete with John West's Auxiliary Bible Society; he cited the Propaganda's action in Ireland in 1820 as a precedent for his scheme.  His initiative did not stop at this. He began to write his own school textbooks in the Indian dialects and he requested a printing press, weighing someone thousand pounds and costing 50 louis, to facilitate his task. Provencher's reply was that he would have done well to heed Jesus' command to go and preach the gospel and not go and teach.  All in all, the bishop was quite satisfied with the efforts of what he described as "my numerous clergy".
An interesting episode in the development of the Catholic schools at Red River is the initiation of instruction for girls. As early as June, 1824, Provencher wrote:
Angelique Nolin lived at Pembina with her father and her four halfbreed sisters. Her father refused to heed the bishop's pleas and obstinately insisted he required Angelique at home.  Provencher acknowledged she was necessary at home and since the old man was 83 years old she would likely be released from this responsibility before many years. In 1825 the Nolin sisters indicated their willingness to come to St. Boniface to open a girls' school. Provencher said in a letter:
The Nolin sisters opened their school in January, 1829, and within six months their efforts were meeting with evident success. 
What support was given to these Catholic schools by the established authorities in the region? Provencher indicated in a letter of 1825 that the Hudson's Bay Company was offering him a free passage on one of its convoys, and this offer of free transportation for missionaries was repeated in 1832 and 1835.  The Company was willing to do this so long as the missionaries were officially listed as "teachers" and not as priests. Dumoulin had complained in 1823 that the Company was not inclined to give much support to the Catholic schools and even went so far as to accuse Halkett of ordering the Newfoundlander, Captain Bulger, not to provide the usual wine supplies so as to bring the saying of mass to a halt.  In 1824, on the other hand, the Council of Assiniboia, imposed tithes as had been imposed in Quebec after 1774:
The local Governor also offered to obtain some black cloth, books, slates, dictionaries and gradus. Each year these gifts were repeated. In 1825, Provencher wrote that he had obtained 25 pounds worth of wine, sugar, tea, chocolate, rice, raisins, etc. from the Governor. By 1830, the Council of the Company, meeting at York Factory, voted an annual allowance of £50 for luxuries and £100 for buildings.  This custom of making equal grants to the Catholic and Protestant schools became so inflexible that when the Presbyterians eventually received a grant of £15 and the Anglicans received the usual £100 the Council voted £115 for the Catholic schools. 
The principle of duality was maintained as well as a certain concept of equality of treatment between the two sectors. These seem to have been the foundations upon which the early schools at Red River were organized. What did not receive legal or statutory expression did exist in principle and in practice.
The coming of Catholic missionaries and teachers to Red River in 1818 stimulated Protestant activity. The Committee of the Hudson's Bay Company informed Chief Factor James Bird at Ft. Douglas that they lamented their inactivity and that they were "extremely anxious to forward the Views of those religious Societies which are already established for the purpose of civilizing, educating and converting to Christianity native Indians".  The Committee wanted information on several matters:
The Hudson's Bay Company had reason to believe that one of the missionary societies would undertake to send out missionary teachers "if a sufficient number of children of the native Indians could be prevailed on", especially in the region of Red River. The Literary Chronicle told its readers in July, 1819, that there were already two Catholic priests at Red River and "schools have been established".  In 1820 the Rev. Mr. West was sent to Red River to build up the Protestant community. The Church Missionary Society aided him, the Hudson's Bay Company engaged him as a chaplain, and the Anglican Church expected him to serve all the Protestants. The Hudson's Bay Company understood his duties to include education:
The Company offered some assistance by way of providing textbooks, and a loan of £50. 
Lord Selkirk was particularly anxious that the Catholic clergy should be informed of this plan in order to avoid hostility and weakening competition. To Bishop Plessis he wrote:
Bishop Plessis passed this information on to Dumoulin at Red River, adding the warning to "be on guard against the fanatical zeal with which this kind of person is sometimes seized". 
The threat to the already established schools was obvious. The Anglicans had the support of the administration in the territory. Moreover, the fact that a Presbyterian community had been given an Anglican priest savoured somewhat of an attempt to introduce an established church.
John West wasted no time in setting up educational institutions. While still at York Factory he began his labours:
The essential feature of the plan was the concentration of some 100 children at a central boarding school at the Forks to be cared for and educated at Company expense. The Committee liked some aspects of the proposal, a "very judicious paper", and kept it for future reference. John West brought a native lad, Henry Budd, with him for York Factory as he travelled to the Red River settlement. By the time he got there he had ten boys with him for his school. His purpose he gave as follows:
With him also was George Harbidge, a company servant, who would teach. West believed the situation at Red River conducive to his work. He wrote in his Journal:
This school opened on November 1, 1820. Although West remarked that the Indian and half-breed children ran about almost naked "several of them had pleasing countenances which indicated a capacity for much intellectual improvement".  How could he extend the benefits of schooling to them? He resolved to make provision for them too:
This multi-purpose and integrated schooling was indeed a bold vision. West seemed to insist that if the Catholics first built a church he would first build his school. Father Destroismaisons kept a careful watch over West's activities and reported to his bishop:
The Selkirk settlers were only slightly more frugal, and disciplined than the Canadians.
West complained that the halfbreeds did not understand English and then added that this was also the case with "a few of the Scotch Highland settlers, who speak generally the Gallic language".  However, when Nicholas Garry visited the colony in 1821 he reported that he saw four little Indian boys "who have been educated by Mr. West and who speak very good English".  He added that many of the Indians "would gladly give their children" to be educated. Garry reported that there were at Red River 221 Scots, 65 de Meurons, and 133 Canadians.  He reported as follows on Sunday, September 2, 1821:
It did not occur to him while at Red River to attend mass. He did put his finger on one of the basic problems in the Protestant community.
The Presbyterians were dissatisfied with an Anglican clergyman. However, the school seems to have prospered. West's entry in his Journal for May, 1821 read:
In the autumn, the Catholic missionaries became quite alarmed by the news that since the North-West Company and Hudson's Bay Company amalgamation the Hudson's Bay fort was to be given to West for his school. Destroismaisons said this would "retard the progress of Christianity somewhat".  The Harbidge school did move to the old fort but the transfer proved unfortunate for the Protestants because the Scottish boys were so far away from it that their attendance fell off badly during the winter months. West determined to have a schoolhouse built at a more convenient location. In June 1822 he opened a building "though it was not finished" and "intended as a school-house". 
The best report of the measure of success of this school came from Provencher, who wrote in November, 1822:
His doctrine was not even taking root in Scottish hearts according to Governor Simpson.  Dumoulin seemed to know exactly what financial resources West had at his disposal:
The comparative wealth of the Protestant mission can be attributed to the fact that the Church Missionary Society assumed charge of this mission in 1822. The Council of the Hudson's Bay Company, Northern Department recorded in its minutes:
Halkett had just visited the colony and had been rather cool towards the Catholic clergy. Provencher kept Plessis informed of developments:
The extent to which non-co-operation should be carried is illustrated from a letter Dumoulin sent from Pembina to Quebec:
Dumoulin had given this advice before meeting West, although he said he had heard "quite a good deal about him". The only comment we have from West concerning the favourable financial arrangements for his mission are the phrase "a liberal provision has been made ... for the maintenance and education of native Indian children, by the Church Missionary Society". 
The Hudson's Bay Company was quite happy to see the Protestants and Catholics sharing the burden of responsibility for providing schools and teachers.
The Northern Department minutes read:
Governor George Simpson reported to the Committee in London:
The Hudson's Bay Company was not the agency for conducting educational work, however. The New Times, in an article of January 23, 1824, paid tribute to what the Company had done:
Henceforth, the Church Missionary Society would be responsible for directing and financing the efforts. Benjamin Harrison reported to the C.M.S. on the situation at Red River; his most telling phrase was that unless a church were provided immediately large numbers "will form part of the Catholic congregation". 
The Church Missionary Society was very satisfied with the initial efforts of John West.  But the Society thought it necessary to remind him that his stipened derived "partly from the Company and partly from the Society" and therefore his time and efforts would have to be divided accordingly.  The Society indicated that it felt that the amount to support each student should not exceed "about £10 or £12". It also set the tone for all bodies charged with education in the region thereafter: "The Committee rely on your discretion in the selection of Children to be received into the schools, and in your paying a strict attention to economy in this department of your expenses."  Concern was shown for the education of the girls, and accordingly a young woman called Elizabeth Bowden, reported as "now going through the National School, on application from our Committee, in order to qualify herself for aiding in the instruction of the Indian children", would soon join Harbidge, the schoolmaster.  The C.M.S. had planned to send out another missionary to replace John West, who was due to return home to his family in 1822, but this was not possible. Therefore, West was advised to leave Harbidge in charge of the schools, "which is his appropriate department", and the maintenance of worship.  Harbidge was to be instructed "to proceed with cautious discretion in the discharge" of these duties, "especially, that he will abstain from entering into controversial discussions with the Roman Catholics and bodies dissenting from the Church of England". The Anglicans did not feel themselves in a strong position and therefore emphasis was placed on "the maintenance of a friendly disposition and conciliatory spirit".  Harbidge received a communication ordering him to "most cautiously abstain from whatever might give just offense, either to the servants of the Hudson's Bay Company, or to the Christians of other communions".  He was also reminded that Miss Bowden, his fiancée, was to "devote her best efforts and as much of her time as possible to the instruction of the female Native children".  Harbidge and Elizabeth Bowden were married on October 22, 1822.
As has been stated already, there was a desire to avoid open conflict with the Catholic community. Relations had been strained by this time by the formation in 1821 of an Auxiliary Bible Society which would seek to distribute the scriptures and encourage simple devotions among the inhabitants. Nicholas Garry presided over the meeting at York Factory initiating this scheme; the Hudson's Bay servants subscribed £130 for the society.  Father Dumoulin wrote in Latin to Bishop Plessis "that fanatic on his visit to Hudson Bay with Indian traders established an auxiliary Bible society" which he described as being at once "recommended highly in heretical praises" and "fundamentally subversive".  Dumoulin knew about it because he had been invited to join the society and had been sent a prospectus! West reported that the Catholic clergy seized copies of the scriptures which were distributed among the Canadians.  The Bible society continued its efforts distributing English, Gaelic, German, Danish and French Bibles. In 1822 West wrote in his Journal:
The news that West was returning to England must have been welcome to Dumoulin. On the other hand, he was certain that West would lay charges in England that the Catholic clergy were using obstructionist tactics at Red River.  One evidence of hostility towards the Catholic mission was the fact that while the debts of the inhabitants had been reduced by 25%, on the grounds that the first Governors had over-charged for supplies, the debts of the Catholic mission had not been reduced by a similar amount.  On the other hand, Governor George Simpson had little use for West and on one occasion accused the minister of gross misconduct:
This accusation was somewhat supported by Alexander Ross's comment:
Simpson disliked West's efforts to regulate Sunday trading, to curb drunkenness and to introduce more sobriety and piety in the colony. It ought not to be imagined that Simpson's stated preference for the Catholic missionaries was altogether sincere. He seems rather to have been anticlerical. He wrote as follows to the Governor and Committee of the Hudson's Bay Company:
He indicated that the Scottish settlers had refused to give three days labour to the building of a school and church for Mr. West because they wanted a clergyman of their own Presbyterian religion. But Alexander Ross was later to write that while West had claimed he had given "his heart to perfect the work" he had given little else because the Scottish settlers gave "their money and their labour", they "began it and finished it, with some assistance from the colonial authorities".  Simpson succeeded in having West dismissed in 1824 and his replacement in the colony, David Jones, was notified of the decision by the Church Missionary Society:
Circumstances have arisen to dissolve Mr. West's commission with the Hudson's Bay Company. This occurrence will deprive you of the immediate prospect of having a fellow labourer immediately associated with you. 
West, as Dumoulin had feared, did what he could to discredit the Catholic mission. In his Journal he indicated his thoughts:
When one mother wished to remove her two sons from Harbidge's school, West reported he had investigated the matter. He gave his conclusions as follows:
These irritations aside, it must be acknowledged that West had successfully initiated the C.M.S. programme of education at Red River. This plan had called for 15 boys and 15 girls from the Indian encampments to be educated at Society expense, for provision for education of Company servants children in return for a fee, and for Sunday school during the summer months.  The fees were equally divided between the schoolmaster, George Harbidge, and the Church Missionary Society. West had had in residence, besides the native servant-woman Agathus, two orphan girls and eight boys. 
Our attention must now turn to Harbidge who attempted to carry on when John West returned home. A minute of 1822 outlined the C.M.S. role:
Harbidge's first full report on the school indicated that a severe winter had resulted in poor attendance for four months. Sunday school attendance from March to May was also unsatisfactory.  The average daily attendance seems to have been seven, the figure which passed into law as the minimum registration for a school. Harbidge was certain that registration had declined because of the 20 shilling fee, which he believed was too high. On the other hand, salaries were not high. William Garrioch refused an offer made him in 1824 "to board, Clothe, and Educate twelve Indian Boys for a salary of £ 150 p. annum".  Garrioch calculated that the minimum cost of undertaking such a plan would be at least £178/17/6.  The Hudson's Bay Company seems to have continued to furnish some of the textbooks including in 1823 some "Sermons and Moral Lectures in French expressed in easy and familiar language suited to the Canadians.  The extent of the curriculum and prerequisites may be understood from Harbidge's request for materials:
The Church Missionary Society in requiring Harbidge to give an account of his pupils - "names, age, natural abilities, moral character and proficiency" - required his wife to do likewise for the girls.  West had greatly encouraged the education of girls:
Had the arrival of Jones made any appreciable change in educational policy? It does not seem so. The C.M.S. assured the missionary that there was no reason to suppose that "the separation of Mr. West from the service of the Hudson's Bay Company will alter the views of those who conduct the Company's affairs" concerning his work."  Jones was warned to avoid party strife:
Jones was also reminded that he was both chaplain to the Company and missionary of the society, therefore he had to "let the duties of each relation occupy their proper place without neglecting either". Educational supervision was part of his duty; he was exhorted to "collect as many children as you can, and impart to them as much knowledge, especially religious knowledge, as they are capable of receiving".  Jones replied that he regretted that John West had been "much thwarted in his views by the Company's agents in this country" and went on to say that he had two Indian boys of the Chippewa tribe who were willing to come into residence at his school.  As winter approached he had some apprehensions:
The Hudson's Bay Company, at a Council meeting held at York Factory in July, 1823, decided to encourage its factors who had Indian wives and halfbreed children to take a greater interest in education. The Council required every father to attend divine service regularly with his family, to address his children in his own mother tongue, to devote part of his leisure time "to teach his children their A.B.C." and catechism. 
By 1824, the weaknesses of Harbidge were becoming apparent. The Governor wrote to Colville:
The Company also hastened to take action on a request from a certain Miss Allez to open a school for girls' at Red River: The Council passed a resolution:
Nevertheless, Jones still reported that the Governor seemed well disposed towards his mission, that he attended church regularly, and that he said "that he will render all necessary assistance to procure as many native children from various tribes as we are prepared to receive". 
Perhaps, the Governor was desirous of sponsoring segregated schools - a Company school for white and halfbreed children and a mission school for the Indian children. Jones was now aware of Harbidge's limitations. He wrote:
Jones' conclusion was that Harbidge would have to be dismissed. Harbidge made a vigorous defense of his position and it would appear that Harbidge and Jones were as incompatible personalities as West and Simpson have proved to be.
In 1825, the Church Missionary Society sent out a teaching couple, Mr. and Mrs. William Cochran. Regret was expressed over Harbidge's conduct. Jones was given a rather unusual reminder:
The hundred pound grant from the Company was offered also to the Catholic mission schools, of course. Jones replaced George Harbidge with William Garrioch. The details of his contract are not available but it is apparent that terms were now favourable.  Harbidge was not cast aside like an unwanted orange peel, however; the C.M.S. offered him a small grant as a type of severance pay.  Jones, who was quite popular with the Scots, probably in some measure because he had amended the Anglican service to accommodate them on several points, proposed to go to the Pacific region and leave Cochran in charge at Red River, where he had already assumed the chief responsibility for overseeing the schools. The C.M.S. did not approve and replied:
Jones went to England instead to bring out a bride to assist him. The C.M.S. had also received some information about a proposed school on the "lowlands". There was a refusal to countenance any move away from Red River. The accountants had also caught up with a rather large error in Jones' statement of salary. West had been paid £200 but Jones would only receive £100 because he was single, although in error he had been told he would receive the same salary as West had commanded.  Cochran, on the other hand, was a married man and therefore he would receive a remuneration of £200. Cochran was a very aggressive young man. In 1827 he founded the new parish of St. Andrew's down the Red River from Kildonan. Mrs. Cochran also came in for some praise from the C.M.S.: Her husband was told:
Captain Palliser has left a glowing tribute to Cochran's efforts:
Bishop Provencher concluded that now there was no hope of converting the Protestants in these parts. He found the English-speaking community growing more religious, and many were now quite devout and "made long prayers and for that purpose held home meetings as well as hearing preaching three times a week". 
Cochrane took it upon himself to manage the Society farm which was to provide food for the Indian school. He found that it was managed most inefficiently, the wages of the three farm workers amounting "to more than double the value of all they made from the farm produce". 
Between 1826 and 1829 he increased the acreage fourfold, balanced the budget and provided sufficient food for the boarding school children. Cochran urged that native children be made to work on this farm as part of their training. In 1829 the farm produced enough to feed thirty boarding school students but since not that number were present the surplus produce was sold. Cochran wrote to the C.M.S.:
Cochran was joined by the Rev. David Jones and Mrs. Jones in 1829.
Jones found on his arrival that Garrioch, who had charge of the school in the upper settlement, was in poor health and wished to give up teaching.  A certain John Bunn was recommended as a replacement but no immediate action was taken. Jones had made some disparaging remarks about the Selkirk settlers and so Alexander Ross took it upon himself to set the record straight. He objected to the statement that "few or no payments" had been made to the schoolmaster. He termed "unfounded" Jone's allegations that Garrioch's scholars did not pay their fees, or that "a bush of grain or potatoes, now and then, is all that came to hand".  Moreover, he remarked that at the Lower Church only three Scottish families sent their children to school. Jones had given a different account. The parents did not seem to value an education for their children and the scattered nature of settlement inhibited attempts to provide adequate schooling. Nevertheless, Jones reported in 1830 that "during the past Winter there were three Day School on a small scale in operation beside the Society school under Mr. Garrioch".  There were other problems too. Only five of the Scotsmen could speak English; the others spoke Gaelic. Also agitation for a minister of the Presbyterian persuasion had increased; "bigotry and resentment" also "mischief and agitation" had grown since Governor George Simpson had left in June. 
On October 1, 1830, Garrioch was succeeded in the position of schoolmaster by William Smith.  Two of the boys enrolled at St. Andrew's (Grand Rapids) had spent the holidays with friends in the Rockies and they had returned with five more recruits for the school, a development which was welcome and augured well for the future of the school and mission.  William Smith, in accepting his appointment, underscored the advantage of his twenty years experience among the Indians and requested "permission to draw my salary by Bills of Exchange on the Society ..."  Cochran's plans for an Industrial school at St. Andrew's had fallen through by this time. He expressed his own disappointment to the Secretaries of the C.M.S. blaming the Roman Catholic Bishop for the failure:
Both Cochran's and Ross' accounts seem to indicate a more basic reason for the failure of the scheme - the disinterest of the natives. Jones wrote to London for a woman teacher to assist his wife and be Governess at the residential school for Indians. The remuneration offered was to be £100 plus board and room. A man teacher was also sought at the same remuneration. Jones specified that he need not be a classical scholar as he himself would take care of such courses. There was some urgency in his letter to the C.M.S. secretariate:
By mid-summer, 1832, the school registration seemed to justify the expenditures of the Church Missionary Society. Jones reported:
It should also be noted that a John Pritchard, agent for Lord Selkirk, opened a private school in about 1829 in a house known as "The Elms" on the east bank of the Red River below St. Boniface. This school later received grants from the Northern Department of the Hudson's Bay Company. There is a tradition that this school drew its boys from families of fur traders in the American West.  The Hudson's Bay Company again entertained the idea of subsidizing a separate school for white children. In 1833 an assistant was obtained in Scotland, John Macallum, and the Red River Academy, a school organized by Mr. Jones and the Hudson's Bay Company, began to offer intermediate and secondary level instruction. A governess called Mrs. Lowman came to look after the C.M.S. girls school. One of the girls of that school who later went on to study at the Red River Academy, Mrs. Harriet Cowan, has given her recollections of the problem in retaining schoolmistresses in the colony:
The Scottish Presbyterians remained unsatisfied concerning their requests for a minister and schoolmaster of their own persuasion. However, Jones' emphasis on education began to bear fruit. Alexander Ross wrote:
Although Ross seemed to neglect the Catholic educational work at Red River in writing his The Red River Settlement, he had no doubt about the duality of culture existing at the Forks. He wrote:
It was this duality that the administration formally recognized in making equal educational grants to the two communities.
In conclusion, it does not seem reasonable to suppose that the first settlers at Red River were of a high educational level. Had this been the case then Red River would have been rather unique among the settlements of this particular period. The social milieu must take into account the social conditions in Scotland and Ireland from whence the settlers emigrated, the wretched conditions at the Forks, the social conditions of other comparable groups of settlers from the British Isles (e.g. Maritimes, Newfoundland), and the first-hand accounts of contemporaries who visited the colony. The educational achievements at Red River are nothing short of amazing when considered against this background.
It seems correct to state that the schools at Red River, Catholic and Protestant, were for the most part tied to the parochial system, were officially supported and made some effort at raising local fees as well. The religious pattern was not strictly denominational - it was rather a Protestant/Catholic orientation, the Presbyterians being served by Anglicans. In the matter of languages of instruction, the Protestant schools were for the most part English, and the Catholic schools French. Nevertheless, there was some effort in both sectors to make some instruction bilingual. Protestant and Catholic schools received subsidies from the official government of the region, but not on a regular basis and certainly not by statutory requirement. The Catholic diocese of the North West and the Church Missionary Society were the mainsprings of support and direction, as well as of administration, for the dual system of schools.
1. F. H. Schofield, The Story of Manitoba. (Winnipeg, 1913), Vol. I, p. 415.
2. S. W. Wilcocke, A Narrative of Occurrences in the Indian Countries of North America since the Connexion of the Right Hon. the Earl of Selkirk with the Hudson's Bay Company, and His Attempts to Establish a Colony on the Red River (London, 1817), Appendix No. II, p. 5.
3. G. Bryce, Manitoba: Its Infancy, Growth, and Present Condition (London, 1882), p. 138.
7. Archives de l'Archeveche de Saint-Boniface (Hereafter cited as A.A.S.B.), Correspondence de Divers Officiers, No. 2, Macdonnell to Plessis, April 4, 1816, p. 6; also English translation printed in G. L. Nute, ed., Documents Relating to Northwest Missions, 1815-1827 (Minneapolis, 1942), pp. 4-5.
21. Nicholas Garry's Diary has this entry on June 13, 1821: "At 1 o'clock we approached the Long Sault and landed at a small Village where Mr. Miles Macdonald is living, now in a deranged state of mind". Cf. "Diary of Nicholas Garry", Proceedings and Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Vol. VI (1900), p. 94.
22. Schofield, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 127.
24. G. Bryce, Manitoba: Its Infancy, Growth, and Present Conditions (London, 1882), p. 161.
25. B. B. Barker, The McLoughlin Empire and Its Rulers (Glendale, 1959) ; "Colt Coltman arrived yesterday from the Interior. He has succeeded in restoring tranquility to our disorganized Indian country. Lord Selkirk is making his way out of the N West by the American territory ... His Example in violating the laws is not one to set. He who boasts so much of his wish to introduce laws into this country but this sacrifices the old Motto where there is much law there is little Justice. Colt Coltman has issued no process against any of those concerned in the Battle of the 19th June and this must proceed from a conviction of the truth that the Half Breeds were not the aggressors - Cuthbert Grant goes down to Answer the charges against him for the murder of Keveney - he feeling himself innocent gave himself up voluntarily. It was not in the power of the Commissioner even supported by us and the H B to have taken him had he been inclined to resist." Dr. John McLoughlin to Dr. Simon Fraser, October 10, 1817, pp. 168, 169.
27. "Diary of Nicholas Garry, Deputy-Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company from 1822-1835. A detailed narrative of his travels in the Northwest Territories of British North America in 1821". Proceedings and Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Second Series, Vol. VI (May, 1900), Sec. II, p. 136.
40. L. R. Masson, Les Bourgeois de la Compagnie du Nord-Ouest. Original Journals, Narratives, Letters, etc. Relating to the Northwest Company (New York, 1960), W. F. Wentzel to Hon. Roderic McKenzie, August 14, 1818, Vol. I, p. 120.
51. A.A.S.B., Correspondance de Divers Officiers, No. 18, Selkirk to Plessis, January 12, 1819, pp. 48-49; No. 22, March 27, 1819, pp. 52-56; No. 24, April 24, 1819, p. 58; No. 25, April 29, 1819, pp. 59-62; No. 26, April 30, 1819, pp. 62-63.
109. John West, The Substance of a Journal during a Residence at the Red River Colony, British North America; and frequent excursions among the North-West American Indians in the years 1820, 1821, 1822, 1823 (London, 1824), pp. 12-13.
196. T. C. B. Boon, The Anglican Church from the Bay to the Rockies (Toronto, 1962), p. 96, n. 7.
Page revised: 22 May 2010