The Royal Navy, Ruler of the Seas

The Red River Volunteers

Regular British Troops Arrive

Lower Fort Garry, Winnipeg, circa 1848

Caption: Lower Fort Garry, Winnipeg, circa 1848

Thus in 1845, when the Oregon Crisis arose, the presence of American troops was signalled at Pembina along the disputed border with the United States only 100 kilometres to the south of Fort Garry. The Hudson's Bay Company was forced to ask London for regular troops, and these were indeed sent. In the summer of 1846 a portion of the 6th Regiment, along with artillery and engineering detachments consisting of 17 officers and 364 non-commissioned officers and men accompanied by 17 women and 19 children, left Ireland for Fort Garry via Hudson Bay. They remained in garrison until 1848 and then returned to Great Britain. Given that the crisis had been dealt with in the meantime, the British government did not replace the 6th Regiment, but instead sent Enrolled Pensioners - retired soldiers - to keep watch in the two forts in Rupert's Land.

The integrity of the land north of the 49th parallel remained precarious. In 1856 a detachment of American cavalry visiting Pembina revived the old fears of an invasion, and the following year 120 officers and soldiers of the Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment were sent to the Red River. Consideration was even given to adding a company of Amerindians and Métis, but the idea was abandoned. Once there, however, the commander of the troops deemed the "threat" to be exaggerated because the closest American military post, Fort Riley, was nearly 700 kilometres away. The Royal Canadian Rifles detachment was nevertheless maintained in garrison for four years at Red River.

Additional Images

Rifleman, The Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment, circa 1858-1870
Men's Barracks, Lower Fort Garry. Winter of 1857-1858