We recently launched a new exhibit at the Archives of Manitoba including the Hudson's Bay Company Archives. The exhibit is called “Evidence of Life in the Red River Settlement.” It celebrates the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the Red River Settlement and the arrival of the Red River settlers in 1812.
The records that are on display at the exhibit document life at the Red River Settlement and also the people who lived there. But the records in this exhibit are just a small sampling of the many records in our collections that relate to the Red River Settlement.
One of the records that we have featured in this exhibit is a plan of the Red River Settlement done by surveys created by George Taylor in 1836, 1837, and 1838. This plan shows the river lots that were granted to the settlers. Each of the lots had began at the river and they were two miles long and four hundred meters wide.
The Taylor plan really captures the growth and evolution of the Settlement. The original surveyor for the Settlement was Peter Fidler and he laid out the original 36 lots in 1814. Peter Fidler then added to the surveys in 1817, and then in the 1820s, William Kempt as well surveyed some of the land.
In the 1830s, George Taylor significantly expanded the amount of surveyed land. He surveyed a total of 1542 new lots and these Lots were located north and south along the Red River from the area of Selkirk to St. Norbert and westward along the Assiniboine River to the area of St. Francis Xavier.
So the plan we have here is what is referred to as a cadastral plan. It defined land boundaries and it also showed ownership of land. If you take a look at the plan you can see that each individual lot was assigned a number. The numbers on the lots correspond to Land Register B. The Hudson's Bay Company used this Register to administer land grants to the settlers who occupied the various lots.
If you take a look at the register, each individual entry indicated whether the land was granted from Selkirk or from the Hudson's Bay Company. It also included the names of the occupants, as well as any successive occupants of the particular lots.
One interesting thing about the Taylor Plan is that it was later used by Dominion surveyors in the 1870s. These surveyors used the plan as the basis for what would become Winnipeg's legal land system. Although many of the Lots in the later surveys were subdivided, they still show the same pattern and reflect the surveys that were done by Taylor in the 1830s.
I think this is a record that many people can relate to and identify with. The plan shows the area of Manitoba where the two rivers intersect, the area known as the forks. This had long been a meeting place for Aboriginal peoples and it then became the center of the new European settlement, and eventually would become the hub of the city of Winnipeg.
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