Alwynne B. Beaudoin - E-SCAPE - The SCAPE file - Canadian
- History

Canadian Prairies - History

Binnema, T. 1998
The Common and Contested Ground: A History of the Northwestern Plains from A.D. 200 to 1806. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation. Department of History and Classics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. 422 pages.
The Cypress Hills forms the hub of the region that Binnema discusses.

Book cover Brown, J. S. H. 1980
Strangers in Blood: Fur Trade Company Families in Indian Country. University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. xxiii + 255 pages.
AEU HSS FC 3207 B87 1980 Relevant mainly to the Manitoba and Saskatchewan study areas. Deals primarily with fur trade areas around the margin of the Prairies. Examines the relationships between fur traders and Indians in the 18th century and the development of a distinct society based on fur traders' descendants, finally focused on the Red River colony and resulting in the establishment of a distinct social group, the Métis. Between the 1820s and the mid-19th century, the position of these people became more difficult, partly due to the amalgamation of HBC and NW Company but also by the increasing numbers of European women in the colony, as fur traders followed the example of the Governor, George Simpson, and sought European wives. This involved a more rigid social and racial stratification and resulted in an increasing split between those with European wives, who settled in "civilized" areas, such as near Montreal, and those with native- born wives, who often preferred to stay in the west and became part of the Red River settlement. Illustrated by excerpts from diaries and letters, mainly written by the fur traders themselves, and plenty of case studies. Deals primarily with fur trade areas around the margin of the Prairies. (21/Jan/1990).

Book cover Cruise, D., and A. Griffiths 1996
The Great Adventure: How the Mounties Conquered the West. Viking, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. xii + 416 pages.
AEU HSS FC 3216.2 C78 1996 A popular account of the beginning of Northwest Mounted Police and the "Great March West," culminating in the establishment of Fort Macleod. Also describes the founding of Fort Walsh and associated events in the Cypress Hills. The tale of the march west in 1874 - 1875 is told mainly through the diaries and records kept by the participants, interspersed with imagined re-creation of events. Illustrated by the sketches by Henri Julien, who had been sent along as official artist. The authors note that the Aboriginal people of the plains were well aware of the progress of the expedition, and were astonished at the troops' ineptness, with poor horses and equipment and no real knowledge of where they were going. Also describes the founding of Fort Walsh and associated events in the Cypress Hills. (20/Apr/1997, 10/Nov/2001).

Book cover Dempsey, H. A. (editor) 1973
William Parker: Mounted Policeman. Hurtig Publishers, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. xviii + 163 pages.
AEU HSS HV 7911 P24 A4 1973 Parker served with the Northwest Mounted Police, 1874-1912. His biography forms an interesting contrast with that of Denny. It is clear that Parker was far from the centre of decisions, he just followed orders and didn't seem to have a great grasp of situations. However, his account contains far more of the nitty-gritty of camp life and daily routine as a police officer. This mostly seems to have consisted of unremitting hard work! (09/Jul/2000).

Book cover Denny, C. E. 1972
The Law Marches West. Second edition. Edited by W. B. Cameron. J. M. Dent and Sons (Canada) Ltd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. xiii + 319 pages.
AEU HSS FC 3216.2 D412 1972 Recollections of a life as an Inspector in the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) and afterwards. Denny participated in the March West, although his career encompassed more than this. He helped in construction of Fort Macleod. He was involved in Indian affairs, being one of the signatories to Treaty 7. He worked as an Indian agent to the Blackfoot for several years before resigning in protest at the Canadian Government's actions (especially cutting rations). He was clearly part of the network of influence in the West. He does not conceal his disgust at some of the actions of the Federal Government and the bureaucratic rule from Ottawa, by people that knew nothing of the land and had no sympathy with the West. (09/Jul/2000).

Book cover den Otter, A. A. 1982
Civilizing the West: The Galts and the Development of Western Canada. University of Alberta Press, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. xiv + 395 pages.
AEU HSS FC 471 G3 D39 1982

Book cover Epp, H. (editor) 1993
Three Hundred Prairie Years: Henry Kelsey's "Inland Country of Good Report". Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. 238 pages.
AEU HSS FC 3511 T5315 1991 A collection of papers produced to mark the tri-centenary of Kelsey's journey to the prairies.

Book cover Francis, R. D. 1989
Images of the West: Changing Perceptions of the Prairies, 1690- 1960. Western Producer Prairie Books, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. xviii+ 268 pages.
AEU HSS FC 3237 F819 1989

Book cover Friesen, G. 1987
The Canadian Prairies: A History. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. xv + 534 pages.
AEU HSS FC 3237 F92 1987 A classic text, a must-read for anyone interested in western Canadian history. (10/Jul/1986).

Book cover Goldring, P. 1979a
The First Contingent: The North-West Mounted Police, 1873- 74, pp. 5-40. Canadian Historic Sites: Occasional Papers in Archaeology and History 21. National Historic Parks and Sites Branch, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
AEU BARD FC 65 G621 1979

Book cover Jones, D. C. (editor) 1986
"We'll all be buried down here": The Prairie Dryland Disaster 1917-1926. Historical Society of Alberta Volume VI. Alberta Records Publication Board, Historical Society of Alberta, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 200 pages.
AEU HSS HD 1790 P6 W36 1986

Book cover Jones, D. C. 1987
Empire of Dust: Settling and Abandoning the Prairie Dry Belt. The University of Alberta Press, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. 316 pages.
AEU HSS FC 3695 A8 J77 1987 A passionate and eloquent book, focussing on events in southern Alberta between about 1880 and the 1940s. The events are told from the perspective of one small town, Carlstadt/Alderson, not far west of Medicine Hat. Using many of their own words, Jones chronicles the settlers' attempts to wrest a living from the pitiless landscape. He describes the effects of government propaganda and boosterism, not to speak of downright corruption, on the population history of the region. Well-written and closely argued. (11/Aug/1996).

Book cover Kelsey, H. 1994
The Kelsey Papers. Republication of 1929 edition edited by A. G. Doughty and C. Martin. Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. xlvii + 88 pages.
AEU HSS FC 3211.1 K3 1994

Book cover McGrady, D. G. 2010
Living with Strangers: The Nineteenth-Century Sioux and the Canadian-American Borderlands. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 168 pages.
AEU HSS E 99 D1 M44 This book concentrates primarily on the nineteenth century history of the Sioux peoples on the northern Plains, the region that became transected by the Canada-US border. McGrady makes the point that this is a "forgotten" history because Canadian historians have concentrated largely on Aboriginal groups north of the border, and US historians have likewise mainly considered groups south of the border. So groups in the borderlands as their heartland have tended to be ignored or "fall through the cracks." He documents that Sioux peoples had complex inter-relationships - sometimes friendly, at other times hostile - with Aboriginal groups throughout the region, though relations with the Crow seem to have been uniformly hostile. He also documents a longstanding and ongoing trading relationship with the Red River Métis and Métis groups from elsewhere, such as Montana, Wood Mountain, and later the Cypress Hills. Again, this relationship was marked by intervals of unease and hostility. The fact that Sitting Bull crossed the border into Canada after the Battle of the Little Big Horn is well known (see Utley 1993, elsewhere in this list), but McGrady shows that this was simply part of a much longer term pattern of behaviour, with people freely moving throughout the borderlands. He also shows that Sioux groups became adept at using the border to their advantage, setting up camp on the Canadian side and raiding or hunting into the American side. This activity was essentially shut down in the 1880s when both the US and Canadian governments restricted access to the border and made crossing more difficult. This is a complicated historical account (lots of names and different groups to keep track of) but it certainly enriches the historical perspective on this region. [Cover image is by William Armstrong (1822-1914), and is a painting called 'Sioux Buffalo Hunter, White Horse Plains, Red River', from the Glenbow collections (55.17.2). No date is given for the painting. The pose is interesting, a modern-looking relaxed pose, rather unlike the stiff 19th century portraits of Paul Kane or George Catlin.] (11/Jun/2010).

Book cover Owram, D. 1980
Promise of Eden: The Canadian Expansionist Movement and the Idea of the West 1956-1900. Reprinted with new preface 1992. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 264 pages.
AEU HSS FC 3217 O97 1980

Book cover Ruggles, R. I. 1987
Exploration in the Far Northwest. In Historical Atlas of Canada, I: From the Beginning to 1800. Plate 67, edited by R. C. Harris, pp. 168-169. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
AEU SCI G 1116 S1 H673 1987 folio

Book cover Ruggles, R. I. 1993
Exploration to Mid-Century. In Historical Atlas of Canada, II: The Land Transformed, 1800- 1891. Plate 2, edited by R. L. Gentilcore, pp. 10-11. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
AEU SCI G 1116 S1 H673 1987 folio

Book cover Ruggles, R. I. 1993
Exploration and Assessment to 1891. In Historical Atlas of Canada, II: The Land Transformed, 1800- 1891. Plate 3, edited by R. L. Gentilcore, pp. 12-13. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
AEU SCI G 1116 S1 H673 1987 folio Provides a geographic definition of Palliser's Triangle.

Book cover Siggins, M. 1995
Riel: A Life of Revolution. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. xviii + 507 pages.
AEU HSS FC 3217.1 R53 S54 1995 A popular biography of Louis Riel (1844-1885). Although he had a short life, Riel has spread an immense shadow across the history of western Canada. He played a pivotal, decisive and leadership role in two armed conflicts: the Red River Rebellion (1869-1870), which led to the establishment of Manitoba as a province, and the Northwest Rebellion (1885). This latter conflict decisively set the course of western Canadian history and ensured it would be Anglo, Protestant, and European-derived, rather than French, Catholic, and Métis. This was likely inevitable, given the policy of the government in Ottawa and the flood of immigrants from (mostly) northern Europe and eastern Canada. But the events of 1885 probably hastened the consolidation of this social orientation. Riel's activities also turned the central government's attention westward and probably prevented the threat of annexation of the Red River areas by the US. At the time, most of this area looked south, to the, now, small town of Pembina, just across the border. This was the main transport route and the way most goods and visitors appeared in the Red River settlement. At the time, many Métis families had members spread throughout this area, both north and south of the border, which seems to have been mainly nominal and no real barrier to movement. Riel's cause was land rights and justice for Métis people. Siggins' account highlights the anti-Catholic, anti-French, and anti-Aboriginal cast of mind in eastern Canada, as represented by Ontario, at this time, and the role that rabidly bigoted Orangemen and the Orange Order played in these events. The Métis, being all three, were completely despised. However, Siggins makes it clear that there was a great deal of distrust between all groups. There was also tension and distrust between the Métis and Aboriginal groups too, which occasionally flared into violence. Throughout, Siggins emphasizes the role of the Catholic church and priests in the development of Métis society. Their religion became very much entwined with Métis identity. Riel's role was as a leader and agitator, a focus for coalescence of discontent. Articulate, educated, and intelligent, he was able to translate the feelings of frustration into words and petitions to the federal government. Most of these were ignored or merely taken as evidence of the "uppityness" and presumptuousness of people who did not know their place. Despite his positive qualities, Riel does not come across as a likable or sympathetic person. He was extremely religious, and an exaggerated religiosity dominated all his actions. Towards the end of his life, his religious ideas became distinctly unorthodox. As summarized by Siggins, he saw himself as a prophet of the New World and the Pope as a betrayer of Catholicism. He wanted to establish a new reformed Catholic church with its HQ in North America. Practically, he did help to bring about the establishment of Manitoba as a province, albeit with the Métis people playing a very minor role in the political life of that area from then on. A complicated and tragic character. (09/Jan/2006).

Book cover Spry, I. M. (editor) 1968
The Papers of the Palliser Expedition, 1857-1860. Champlain Society, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
An excellent survey and summary of a very arduous expedition. Palliser and Hector (the geologist) in the Canadian Prairies in 1850s. Describes an uncomfortable and sometimes hazardous journey that is hard to imagine today when the area is criss-crossed with roads. (10/Aug/1996).

Book cover Spry, I. M. 1995
The Palliser Expedition: The Dramatic Story of Western Canadian Exploration 1857-1860. 2nd. Fifth House Ltd, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. 315 pages. Originally published 1963.
AEU HSS FC 3205.1 S68 1995 An excellent survey and summary of the expedition. (10/Aug/1996).

Stonechild, B., and B. Waiser 1997
Loyal till Death: Indians and the North-West Rebellion. Fifth House Ltd, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. ix + 308 pages.
AEU HSS FC 3215 S85 1997

Book cover Thompson, J. H. 1998
Forging the Prairie West. The Illustrated History of Canada. Oxford University Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. xii + 212 pages.
AEU HSS FC 3237 T45 1998

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This presentation has been compiled and is © 1998-2011 by
Alwynne B. Beaudoin (
Latest update: 21 May 2012