OTD: Manitoba’s Fort Garry hosts first council meeting

On today’s date in 1835, the first meeting of the council of Assiniboia was held at Fort Garry in Winnipeg.

The initial meeting was the first effort to provide governance over Rupert’s Land – an area owned by the Hudson Bay Company (HBC) and granted to Lord Selkirk’s settlers – which in the mid-1830s stretched across most of what is now central Canada.

While both Protestant and Roman Catholic clergy were represented on the council along with Francophone, Metis and Anglophone-Metis (or “country borns,” as they were known at the time), the Council of Assiniboia wasn’t the responsible government its members hoped for. There were no elections, and most members of council were also doing business with the HBC.

The council was eventually abandoned and replaced by the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia following the Red River Rebellion, which was spurred on by Louis Riel and local Métis communities.

1938 FORT GARRY STAMP

In 1938, Canada’s Post Office Department (now Canada Post) featured Fort Garry on a 20-cent stamp (Scott #243) from the “Pictorial Issue.”

The stamp depicts the old Fort Garry Gate, which “symbolizes the Gateway to the Red River Country, the Prairies and the Middle West,” according to Douglas and Mary Patrick’s 1964 book, Canada’s Postage Stamps. It’s bordered on all sides with the left and right sides each holding a column of six maple leaves.

It was designed by Herman Herbert Schwartz with the picture engraved by William Jung.

Métis leader Louis Riel is commemorated on a Permanent domestic-rate stamp issued by Canada Post on Nov. 6, 2019.

2019 RED RIVER STAMP

Another stamp commemorating Riel’s defence of Métis rights and its impetus for Manitoba’s entry into Confederation was issued last November by Canada Post.

Unveiled at Upper Fort Garry Park, where Riel and his provisional government seized land 150 years earlier, the stamp’s design is based on an 1848 lithograph of Fort Garry by Henry James Warre plus an 1870 photograph of Louis Riel and his provisional government councillors.

It was designed at Montréal’s Paprika by Raymond Lanctot with art direction by Louis Gagnon and illustration by Gérard DuBois.

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