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MODULE 3:

RED RIVER SETTLEMENT RIVER LOTS

 

Click here for a definition of the Metis people


From the establishment of the Red River Colony at the forks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, the surveyors measured the lots in long narrow rows back from the river. Can you think why they would do this?

Each lot was two miles back from the river. Most people owned the lots on the other side of the river as well. They saved these lots for timber as most of the trees grew along the river banks.

Peter Fidler was a trader with the Hudson’s Bay Company. In 1817, he made a map showing the style of the lots. The French Canadians used this "Seigneurial System" in Quebec and the Metis learned from their fathers that this system worked well. Later the Scottish custom of inner and outer farm lots was added. The “inner two miles” included the house (log cabin), barn or stable and gardens. The outer two miles was part of the “hay privilege” which had long grass which could be cut for animal feed. The leaders of the settlement developed strict rules about cutting this hay and set a date each year for that activity. Farmers were not allowed to cut before that date just as buffalo hunters were not allowed to chase the buffalo before the community went out together for that purpose.

As a result of this system, Red River trails developed parallel to the rivers. One trail was close to the river which connected the houses. The other developed along the two mile border and another at the four mile border. These trails (now streets) can still be seen on maps of Winnipeg today.

Settlement Belt at Red River
Red River Settlement, ca. 1816
St. Boniface, ca. 1835-1860
St. Andrews River Lots, ca. 1870


ADVANTAGES OF THE RIVER LOT SYSTEM:

1.) Everyone had access to the river for transportation and drinking water.
2.) All the houses were close together because the lots were narrow.


PARISHES OF THE RED RIVER SETTLEMENT