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Click here for a definition of the Metis people


Long ago, before Manitoba was a province of Canada, the first people who lived here were Aboriginal People(s). There were several groups or tribes living in different environments. These groups were hunters of the animals in their area and gatherers of plants. In some areas they also did some gardening. Some lived on the prairies and hunted buffalo; others lived in the forests and hunted deer and moose. Each people had a rich and unique way of life and culture.

"A Party of Indians-Asseneboines"
Buffalo Hunt
"A Forest Scene"
Aboriginal Woman Skinning Rabbit

When the first explorers came to the area, they traded goods for the furs the Aboriginal People(s) had. Soon, two fur trading companies, The Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) and the North West Company, were established. Both companies hired many people to travel to the west with goods to trade for furs. The HBC hired men who were Scots from the Orkney Islands. The North West Company hired mostly French Canadians from "Lower Canada", now called Quebec. This work was very dangerous. Many men died on the trips. Later, both companies set up trading posts. A trading post was like a store where the traders brought the goods they had to trade for goods from the store.

"Company Officers Travelling in Canoes"
"Burial Place of the Voyageurs"


Red River Settlement

Gradually the settlement at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers grew. In 1810, Fort Gibraltar was built where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers met. In 1812, Lord Selkirk brought a number of people from Scotland to make their homes at the settlement, too. This is where Louis Riel was born.


Riel's Parents and Childhood

Living In Montreal