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Maintaining Order and the Colony’s Defence
 

The recorder for Rupert’s Land, Adam THOM, played an important role in rationalizing the structure of the judicial system in Red River:

“Prior to Thom’s appearance [in 1839], the administration of justice in the settlement had been informal and marked, according to Sheriff Alexander Ross*, by a ‘simple honesty.’ The HBC, however, in the course of a general administrative reorganization of the territory, decided ‘to establish as early as convenient a more regular and effectual administration of Justice.’ The recorder, functioning as legal organizer, adviser, magistrate, and councillor, was to be responsible for this rationalization and formalization of the judicial system.

“Thom’s reorganization was completed on 4 July 1839 and greatly pleased the governor and committee of the company. He also prepared a code of laws for the Council of Assiniboia in 1841 which was to prove of lasting value in that it formed the basis of a more comprehensive code written in 1862.”

 

The businessman and member of the Council of Assiniboia, Robert McBEATH, was eager to improve the defence of the colony:

“As a prominent figure in the settlement, McBeath was frequently called upon for jury duty and was appointed a justice of the peace on 19 Nov. 1852. In 1863 he was one of four justices of the peace who sent a petition to Governor Alexander Grant Dallas. Deploring the lack of a sufficient military force in the settlement to prevent jail breaks and to guard against Indian disturbances, the petitioners requested a renewal of negotiations with the Sioux as well as a warning to them to keep away from the settlement. In 1866 the governor was authorized to raise a body of 50 to 100 mounted men to meet any emergency.” 

 

Consult the biographies grouped in the following lists to learn more about the organization of the colony’s justice system and its defences between 1812 and 1870.

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