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Batoche National Historic Site of Canada

History

The Métis

During the mid-18th century, French Canadian voyageurs carried the fur trade deep in to the interior of western Canada. Here they met and married Cree and Saulteaux women, "a la façon du pays." The children born of these relationships became known as Métis, a people whose pride in their cultural traditions enabled them to maintain their identity throughout the 19th century.

Between 1783 and 1821, the Métis worked for the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company hunting, fishing, guiding and paddling the canoes of the two rivals across Rupert's Land. With the union of the two great competitors into the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821, many Métis were left without work. Settling in Red River, they turned to buffalo hunting, the York boat brigades and freighting for the Company to provide for their families. By 1850, the Métis, or "les gens libres" as they called themselves, had successfully challenged the Hudson's Bay Company monopoly and many were trading independently with the First Nations peoples in the West.