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Battle of Seven Oaks (1816)
|Battle of Seven Oaks (1816)|
|Conflict||North West Company - Hudson's Bay Company Rivalry|
|Date||June 19, 1816|
|Place||Seven Oaks Present day Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Result||Decisive Métis/Northwest Company victory|
The Battle of Seven Oaks took place on June 19th 1816 during the long dispute between the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company, rival fur-trading companies in western Canada. Because of a shortage of food in 1814, Miles Macdonell, had issued a proclamation prohibiting the export of food called the Pemmican Proclamation. Macdonell was the governor of the Red River Colony (the area around present-day Winnipeg, Manitoba), which had been established by the majority shareholder of the Hudson's Bay Company. The local Métis, however, 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 with this edict. As the North West Company floundered under these and other restrictions, the HBC attempted to take over the NWC, but with no success.
In 1815 after several nervous breakdowns and conflicts, Macdonell 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 Métis, led by Cuthbert Grant, seized a supply of Hudson's Bay Company pemmican and were travelling to a meeting with traders of the North West Company to whom they intended to sell it. They were met south of Fort Douglas along the Red River at a location called Seven Oaks by Semple and a group of HBC men and settlers. Semple argued with several of the Métis and a gunfight ensued. Although early reports state that it was the Métis who fired the first shot, it may have been one of Semple's men who fired first. Semple and his men did not have a chance against the Métis, who were skilled sharpshooters and outnumbered Semple's crew by nearly 3 to 1. The Métis repulsed the attack, killing 22 men, including Governor Semple, while the Métis themselves suffered only two casualties. They were later exonerated by a Royal Commissioner appointed to investigate the incident. Grant later became an important figure in the Hudson's Bay Company after its merger with the North West Company.
The battle of Seven Oaks, painted by Charles W. Jefferys the Métis are on the left and Semple's men are to the right.
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