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Colonial Administration
Original title:  Fort Garry in 1860 (1885) | by Manitoba Historical Maps

Source: Link

 

Andrew H. BULGER, governor of Red River in 1822–23, described the needs of the colony and shared his recommendations with Andrew Colvile, a board member of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) in London:

“Bulger had written a lengthy letter to Colvile in December 1822 about the state of the colony. He recommended that a system of courts and magistrates be set up, that a company of troops be sent to the colony to enforce the laws and keep the natives in order, that the settlers be allowed to purchase provisions and skins for clothing from the Indians and Métis, and that money be circulated. He also asked Colvile to find a market for the colony’s surplus grain. ‘If these things cannot be done,’ he warned, ‘spend no more of Lord Selkirk’s [Douglas*money upon Red River.’ Although his recommendations concerning provisions and currency were implemented by return post, the appeal for troops and markets remained unsatisfied for many years.” 

 

After working at Red River as a bookkeeper for the HBC in the late 1810s, Duncan FINLAYSON was promoted within the company, and his good reputation resulted in his appointment as governor of the colony in 1839:

“Finlayson became the governor of Assiniboia in the spring of 1839. Joined by his wife a year later, he supervised the Red River community, oversaw HBC interests, and contributed to the stability and grace of local society throughout his five years at Upper Fort Garry. During his tenure the judicial system of the colony was reorganized by the newly appointed recorder, Adam Thom*. At the same time agriculturalists were encouraged to develop methods and products appropriate to the environment.… He faced continual problems related to ‘freedom of trade’ but carefully avoided open confrontation. Challenges from merchants James Sinclair and Andrew McDermot*, and from Pembina trader Norman Wolfred Kittson*, had only begun when Finlayson left Red River [see Alexander Christie*]. His term was considered a success; Alexander Ross* concluded that he had ‘laid a solid basis, not only for the prosperity of the white man, but also for the Christian civilization of its aboriginal inhabitants.’…

“A dominant feature of Finlayson’s personality was his firm adherence to a high standard of personal conduct. Combined with moral uprightness was a sincere concern for the native peoples within the fur trade empire. In his record of the 1831 trip to the Columbia, Finlayson had condemned the treatment of the natives by his ‘licentious’ Canadian crew. In Columbia and Red River he supported the missionary enterprises as best he could.”

 

To learn more about the governors of the colony and various aspects of its administration between 1812 and 1870, read the biographies that appear in the following lists. 

 

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