The Murals of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: Murals
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1812 Main Street (4)    Location Map
  

Scene of 1817.


Location: SW corner Main & Semple; North Face

Occupant: Manitoba Hydro substation

District: West Kildonan

Neighbourhood: Jefferson

Artist(s): Jill Sellers (Jill Sellers Design)

Year: 2001

Sponsors: Manitoba Hydro

 

Jill Sellers: "This scene portrays how the land was divided for the colonists. Selkirk signed a treaty with Chief Peguis (the Cree and Saulteaux) that ceded a strip of land on both sides of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers to the settlers."

"I tried to get it to look exactly what I would look like if you were there. I tried to get the river to look exactly what it would look like. I found sketches of what the fences looked like and how they were constructed. I went to Manitoba archives, museums and libraries because of the clothing, the portraitures, and the farm equipment of that era. The clothing was a big thing: to get it historically accurate and period specific."

The scene illustrates how the land was divided for settlers. One legend has it that they were given as much land as they could see below the belly of a horse, but we're not certain if that was the actual agreement. The end result was that the land was divided into long narrow lots that were 220 yards wide and 2 miles long; 80 acres in each lot. The mile of land closest to the river was tilled and planted; whereas the other was used for hay. They had the birch bark canoes in which they transported goods for trading. To create the cabins, and give them an authentic look, Jill went to the Museum of Man and Nature to learn of their precise look and construction.

Historical backstory: Chief Peguis was known for his friendliness towards the Selkirk Settlers. "Peguis," said Lord Selkirk in 1817, "has been a steady friend of the settlement and has never deserted its cause in its reverses." He was a Saulteaux (Cree) leader and befriended the settlers. The Selkirk Settlers who came in 1812 discovered that there was not enough food for the winter. Families marched on foot to better-supplied posts at Pembina. Chief Peguis met the Selkirk Settlers and carried their children to Pembina.

When he found out that the settlers were having trouble with the North West Company, he offered the services of seventy of his men to Governor Semple. Sadly, this offer of friendship was not utilized by Semple (to his own downfall). Chief Peguis helped the settlers recover from the attacks by the Nor'Westers. Chief Peguis, along with three other chiefs, signed a historical land treaty between Lord Selkirk and the First Nations peoples in July 1817.