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Red River 200: A Resource for Teachers



in Manitoba

Lord Selkirk’s






Lord Selkirk
Source: Archives of Manitoba

In 2012, we commemorate the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Selkirk Settlers in what would later become the Province of Manitoba.

Manitoba teachers and others with an interest in our province’s history will be excited by this commemoration and the possibilities it presents for heritage projects and expanded social studies. The Selkirk Settlement was the first permanent agricultural settlement in British North America and the foundation of the city of Winnipeg. As such, the Red River Selkirk Settlement’s Bicentenary is a very significant anniversary for Manitobans.

The Bicentenary has relevance for students from across Manitoba’s cultural mosaic. The Selkirk Settlers shared many of the experiences of more recent immigrants to Manitoba. Both then and now, children left their homeland under adverse conditions, met with both help and hostility from those who were here before them, and faced the challenges of Manitoba’s harsh climate, its unfamiliar cultures and languages, and isolation from their extended families and friends. The contributions of these early settlers have been commemorated in icons that are familiar to many students including street and community names, historical monuments and plaques, the music of bagpipes, fiddles, and Celtic rock, and foods such as porridge, shortbread, and meat pies.

This project presents on-line resources and activities that tell the story of the Selkirk Settlers and their contributions to Manitoba’s heritage. It provides rich opportunities for collaboration among classroom, phys ed and music teachers as it expands existing curricula with resources that are specific to the Selkirk Settlers. Teachers will find background information to supplement their own knowledge of this period in Manitoba’s history, as well as activities and information that children will find fun and accessible. The Manitoba Social Studies curriculum includes study of the Selkirk Settlers at the Grades 4 and 5 levels so your class can enjoy these activities at the same time that you are meeting curriculum goals!

Another significant source of information about the Red River Selkirk Settlement written expressly for young people is A Visit With The People of Red River–A Young Person’s Guide and Resource Book by C. Barry McPherson and Judy McPherson. It is beautifully illustrated, well told, and contains directions and aids for crafts projects and games, as well as an extensive glossary. This book, our on-line project, and many special events planned by historical societies and cultural groups provide a wealth of opportunities for teachers and others to prepare children to participate in this Bicentennial Celebration.

If you are planning to use these activities in preparation for Heritage Fairs or for other school or local celebrations of the heritage of the Selkirk Settlers, it would be a good idea to decide on your “end product” before you begin. Do you want to have projects chosen by individual students or do you want a class project such as a mural, a quilt, a song, or a demonstration of Scottish dancing? Whichever project is chosen, we hope that you and your students will enjoy learning about the history and culture of these intrepid Scots who took a chance on Manitoba and helped to build the foundation of our province!

Page revised: 18 October 2011

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Website created by the Committee for the Bicentenary of the Red River Selkirk Settlement 2012.