Selkirk Settlers

An Introduction of The Selkirk Settlers

History - Selkirk Settlers - St. Andrew's Society of Winnipeg

In the region of what is now Lord Selkirk/West Kildonan Community the genesis of the city of Winnipeg began with the arrival of twenty three Scottish Settlers in August of 1812 as a result of the vision of Thomas Douglas, Fifth Earl of Selkirk.

Prior to this colony there were many first nations people hunting and gathering along the riverbank areas, and traders for both the Northwest company and the Hudson's Bay company moving seasonally throughout the land, but no permanent settlement existed. But how and why did they come to the banks of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, so very far from home in Scotland?

In fact, these early settlers were victims of other peoples' greed as they were caught up in the Scottish Highland Clearances, a shameful program that saw landlords throwing their tenant farmers off the land and burning or tearing down their home so they could raise sheep; a much more profitable venture than that provided by the crofters themselves. With no land, no vote and no way of making a living these suddenly dispossessed peoples had no future and many starved or froze to death on the land where their homes once stood. Although a difficult decision to make, some chose to try their lucky in the untamed expanse of Western Canada (later to become Manitoba) under the patronage of Lord Selkirk.

Selkirk was a humanitarian and saw the establishment of Scottish colonies in Canada as a possible solution for this heart wrenching situation in Scotland. Although the clearances were vast and displaced over an estimated 500,000 people between 1783 and 1881 his foresight and concern caused him to act early in an attempt to establish a viable future for these suddenly homeless farmers.

History - Selkirk Settlers - St. Andrew's Society of Winnipeg

Whether you believe that colonization was in fact the right thing to do, or whether it was the seed that started wide spread unrest and fighting within the territory, the fact remains that Winnipeg would not likely exist if it weren't for these hardy, tough and determined Scots. Although it took many years, some marred by bloodshed and open conflict, by 1821 a peaceful, growing colony existed, consisting of over 200 settlers and 100 soldier-farmers of the des Meurons. In fact, the foundation for the city of Winnipeg has been laid and its future was established as a result of their perserverance and Lord Selkirk's vision.

For this reason, our monument which reflects the bravery, effort and sacrifice these peoples made in establishing Winnipeg, will be placed upon the same river bank these people arrived at those many years ago. We trust you share in our feelings of admiration for such an accomplishment.

Why a Scottish Settlers' Monument?

The Selkirk Settler's Monument - Celebrating the founders of The Red River Colony

The Selkirk Settler's Monument - Generous Donors