OTD: Thomas Douglas pays HBC 10 schillings for 74 million acres

On today’s date in 1811, Scottish-born peer Thomas Douglas paid the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) 10 shillings for 74 million acres of land in the Red River Valley.

Douglas, who was named lord-lieutenant of Kirkcudbright, Scotland, in 1807 and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1808, planned to use the land to settle displaced Scottish Highlanders, the first of which arrived in 1812, according to HBC Heritage.

“The Selkirk settlement not only straddled the established NWC route to the Northwest, but also encompassed a number of important NWC forts such as Esperance, Dauphin, Souris, Pembina, Gibraltar and Bas-de-la-Rivière. This immediately caused friction. Adding to this was the issue of settlement itself. At the best of times the farmer and the fur trader are poor neighbours: the success of the former usually depends on clearing the forests that support the animals sought by the latter. But in Red River these tensions were exacerbated by the presence of a unique local population—the Métis.”


Douglas was featured on a five-cent commemorative stamp (Scott #397) issued by Canada’s Post Office Department (now Canada Post) in 1962.

Designed by Phillips-Gutkin and Associates, the stamp depicts a left-facing portrait of Douglas alongside the Red River Settlement in an effort to recognize the accomplishments of Canada’s western pioneers.

A 2012 stamp depicts the various people, including Indigenous communities and settlers, living in the Red River area in the early 19th century.


Douglas was also featured on a 2012 Permanent stamp (SC #2539) commemorating the settlement’s 200th anniversary.

Designed by Susan Mavor, this stamp depicts the various people living in the area at the time.

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