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Battle of Seven Oaks

battle of seven oaks 1816, map of seven oaks rancho bernardo community

National Historic Site of Canada Official name Battle of Seven Oaks National Historic Site of Canada Designated 1920

The Battle of Seven Oaks was a violent confrontation in what was known as the Pemmican War between the Hudson's Bay Company HBC and the North West Company NWC, rivals in the fur trade, that took place on 19 June 1816 It was the climax of a long dispute in western Canada The Métis people, who fought for the North West Company, called it "the Victory of Frog Plain" la Victoire de la Grenouillère


  • 1 Background
  • 2 Battle
  • 3 Aftermath
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References
  • 6 Further reading


In 1814, Miles MacDonell, Governor of the Red River Colony the area around present-day Winnipeg, Manitoba, issued the Pemmican Proclamation, which prohibited the export of pemmican from the colony for the next year It was meant to guarantee adequate supplies for the Hudson's Bay Colony, but it was viewed by the North West Company as a ploy by employees of the Earl of Selkirk majority shareholder of the Hudson's Bay Company to monopolize the foodstuff, which was important to the North West Company

The local Métis did not acknowledge the authority of the Red River Settlement, and this stand was probably consistent with the Royal Proclamation of 1763 The Pemmican Proclamation was a blow to both the Métis and North West Company The North West Company accused the HBC of unfairly monopolizing the fur trade by this edict As the North West Company floundered under these and other restrictions, the HBC attempted to take it over, but was not successful

Later in 1815, after several conflicts and suffering from "severe emotional instability", MacDonnell resigned as governor of the Red River Colony He was replaced by Robert Semple, an American businessman with no previous experience in the fur trade


In 1816 a band of mostly Métis which included some French-Canadians, English, and Native American employees, led by Cuthbert Grant and working for the North West Company, seized a supply of pemmican from the Hudson's Bay Company It had been stolen from the Métis They travelled to meet traders of the North West Company, to whom they intended to sell it

They encountered Semple and a group of HBC men and settlers north of Fort Douglas along the Red River at a location known to the English as Seven Oaks, and called la Grenouillière Frog Plain by the Métis The North West Company sent a French-Canadian, François-Firmin Boucher, to speak to Semple's men He and Semple argued, and a gunfight ensued when the English tried to arrest Boucher and seize his horse Although early reports said that the Métis fired the first shot and began the fray, the Royal Commissioner WB Coltman determined with "next to certainty" that one of Semple's men fired first The Métis were skilled sharpshooters and outnumbered Semple's forces by nearly 3 to 1 They repulsed the attack, killing 21 men, including Governor Semple, while suffering only one fatality, Joseph Letendre dit Battosh the 16-year-old son of Jean Baptiste Letendre Pierre Falcon, a Métis poet, later celebrated the victory of the Métis in his song La Chanson de la Grenouillère


Seven Oaks monument top part

On the day after the battle, the settlers, demoralized from the losses, quickly gathered their belongings and prepared to leave the colony On the next day, they set sail northward, leaving the Métis in command of the settlement

The Métis were exonerated by WB Coltman, a Royal Commissioner appointed to investigate the incident But, Lord Selkirk attempted to prosecute several members of the North West Company for murder, and kept Boucher in prison for nearly two years without specific charges All trials ended in acquittals, and the remaining charges were dropped Members of the North West Company counter-sued Selkirk, whose health and influence subsequently declined Following Selkirk's death in 1820, the two companies merged in 1821 In 1828 Cuthbert Grant was given an annual salary and the position of "warden of the plains of Red River" by the Hudson's Bay Company

In 1891 the Manitoba Historical Society erected an obelisk monument commemorating the battle at the intersection of Main Street and Rupertsland Boulevard in the Winnipeg district of West Kildonan, the approximate centre of the battle site The site was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1920 The surrounding neighbourhood was named Seven Oaks after the battle

See also

  • Pemmican War


  1. ^ a b c d e f Joseph James Hargrave 1871 Red River author p 487 
  2. ^ Also known as the Seven Oaks Massacre and the Seven Oaks Incident
  3. ^ Rea, JE 4 March 2015 "Seven Oaks Incident" The Canadian Encyclopedia online ed Historica Canada Archived from the original on 2012-06-16 
  4. ^ Foster, John E 24 July 2015 "Pemmican Proclamation" The Canadian Encyclopedia online ed Historica Canada Archived from the original on 2012-04-30 
  5. ^ Bumsted, JM 2008 Lord Selkirk: a life University of Manitoba Press p 236 ISBN 9780887553370 
  6. ^ Mays, Herbert 1987 "MacDonell, Miles" Dictionary of Canadian Biography University of Toronto/Université Laval 
  7. ^ Bumsted, JM 17 November 2014 "Miles MacDonnell" The Canadian Encyclopedia online ed Historica Canada Archived from the original on 2012-09-20 
  8. ^ Rea, JE 17 November 2014 "Robert Semple" The Canadian Encyclopedia online ed Historica Canada Archived from the original on 2012-09-20 
  9. ^ Report of the proceedings connected with the disputes between the Earl of Selkirk and the North West Company: at the assizes, held at York, in Upper Canada, October 1818, printed by James Lane and Nahum Mower, 1819, Montreal
  10. ^ Narratives of John Pritchard, Pierre Chrysologue Pambrun, and Frederick Damien Heurter, Respecting the Aggressions of the North-West Company, Against the Earl of Selkirk's Settlement Upon Red River, published by John Murray, London, England, 1819
  11. ^ François Firmin Boucher, à Ses Concitoyens "François-Firmin Boucher to His Countrymen", by François-Firmin Boucher, self-published ca 1819
  12. ^ The Metis: Memorable Events and Memorable Personalities, by George and Terry Goulet, published 2006, ISBN 978-1-894638-98-2
  13. ^ "La chanson des Bois-Brûlés" SHSB Centre du patrimoine, 340, boulevard Provencher, Saint-Boniface, Manitoba Retrieved 2014-01-11 
  14. ^ Friesen, Gerald "Maintaining the Old Order 1805-44" In The Canadian Prairies a History, 80 Student ed Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987
  15. ^ Grant, Cuthbert National Historic Person Directory of Federal Heritage Designations Parks Canada Retrieved 9 January 2015
  16. ^ Woodcock, George 1985 "Grant, Cuthbert" In Halpenny, Francess G Dictionary of Canadian Biography VIII 1851–1860 online ed University of Toronto Press 
  17. ^ Battle of Seven Oaks Canadian Register of Historic Places Retrieved 5 May 2012
  18. ^ Battle of Seven Oaks National Historic Site of Canada Directory of Federal Heritage Designations Parks Canada Retrieved 8 January 2015

Further reading

  • Barkwell, Lawrence J The Battle of Seven Oaks : a Métis perspective Winnipeg : Louis Riel Institute, 2010 ISBN 978-0-9809912-9-1
  • Metis Resource Centre article on Battle of Seven Oaks

Coordinates: 49°55′55″N 97°07′16″W / 4993194°N 9712111°W / 4993194; -9712111

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