James Ross : 1835-1871 : the life and times of an English-speaking halfbreed in the old Red River settlement

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Remis, Leonard Lawrence
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To venture into the history of the Red River Settlement is to tread on ground that has been well travelled. From the first appearance of European fur traders on Hudson Bay in the seventeenth century until the formation of Manitoba, Canada's "first province" in 1870, the road is clearly defined. The Hudson's Bay Company records, eye witness accounts, letters, diaries, newspaper reports and government documents continue to illuminate the way. In addition there are archaeological, anthropological and sociological studies to shed new light on the way people accommodated themselves to their environment and to each other. The facts are seldom in doubt. The evidence has been sifted through over and over again by eminent scholars -- British, Canadian and American -- producing a body of work distinguished by its quality and its quantity. New studies continue to penetrate the veil of the past bringing it into sharper focus. The continued enquiry stems from the historian's need to know. Has the story been fully told? What were the motivating factors which compelled people to do what they did? How much can be explained by rational behaviour? Can we ignore the irrational? How much of what took place was conditioned by the physical environment ? How much was culturally determined? To what extent did human personality control and influence events and how much was sheer chance - accidents that defy prediction? These are only a few of the questions that impel historians to go over the ground repeatedly in search of new insights to an understanding of the past; perhaps even to acquire guidance for the future.