The Royal Navy, Ruler of the Seas
The Red River Volunteers
First Prairie-Recruited Militia Corps
However, the region to the south of Lake Winnipeg grew steadily in population, and on February 12, 1835, the Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, Sir George Simpson, ordered the raising of a corps of 60 men, called the Red River Volunteers, to defend and police the colony. Each member agreed to "well and truly serve the same double office of Private in the Volunteer Corps and Peace Officer." 118 They were to be ready to serve at all times, in exchange for which they were paid a modest annual sum. The commander of the unit, Alexander Ross, was also sheriff of the district.
Based on their names, approximately one third of these Red River Volunteers were of French descent, with most of British descent and a few, such as Gaspard Bruce and John Baptiste Wilke, of both. It is virtually certain that several of them also had Amerindian roots. The Red River Volunteers probably did not wear a uniform, and they used hunting weapons, but they nevertheless represented the first militia corps recruited in the Prairies. But a militia formation like this one, however useful it may have been, could not replace regular troops in the event of major problems.
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