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The Métis in Western Canada: O-Tee-Paym-Soo-Wuk

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The BeginningsThe People and Their CommunitiesCulture and Lifeways
Western Settlements

During the fur trade, communities of wage employees, voyageurs, and hunters and trappers and their families surrounded trading posts. This practice began in the posts on the Bay, where fur trade families did not officially exist, but lived outside the post, as members of the "House" Indians. Over time, these communities grew, in the same way the Great Lakes Métis communities developed. By the mid-nineteenth century, some of the larger posts were spawning more communities. Fort Ellice, Fort Carlton and Fort Pitt had a connection to the Aboriginals in the nearby reserves. Through the work of missionaries, Fort Edmonton, a larger centre, had set up communities for the Aboriginals in the area, including the mission colony at Pigeon Lake. They also assisted the Métis at Lac Ste Anne and St. Albert in settling down into an agricultural life. There were also similar communities at Lac la Biche and Lesser Slave Lake, at Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewyan.

The prairie forts, Ellice, Carlton, Pitt and Edmonton, were part of the provisioning trade, and their communities were attached to the buffalo hunt. Both Peter Erasmus and Norbert Welsh described a setting on the plains where small family groups would join together and link up with Aboriginal bands. Father Lacombe, talking about later movements, described the families from Victoria and St. Paul de Métis flooding south to hunt buffalo, in a long-held seasonal pattern.

Buffalo hunters pressed into the plains from Red River and the Assiniboine, moved south onto the plains from Carlton, Pitt and Edmonton. As the distances increased, the buffalo hunters established communities on the plains. Peter Erasmus described a very large camp at Beaverhill Lake, a short distance southeast of Edmonton. As the buffalo strayed further away from settlements, the buffalo hunters began to set up around Buffalo Lake and Tail Creek, east of the Red Deer River crossing.

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Liens Rapides

Life at Red River

Western Settlements

Buffalo Hunting

Agriculture

Fishing

Métis Traders

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