At the end of this lesson, students should be able to visualize what life might have been like in Red River in 1869.

Essential Questions:

1.3: How did First Peoples and Europeans interact in the Northwest, and what were the results?

2.2: How did the fur trade, European settlement, and the rise of the Métis nation transform life for the peoples of the Northwest?

Historical Thinking Concept:

2.  Use primary source evidence


As students enter the room, have them bring their backpacks in with them and form a circle on the floor. Ask them one by one to describe what they have in their backpacks.

Now have students think about what would not be in their backpacks in 1869. What items might be included in a 16-year-old’s bag at that time?


Now that students are curious about life in Red River in the late nineteenth century, have them explore the St. Boniface Museum, either directly as a class or through a virtual tour via a link to the St. Boniface Museum at http://msbm.mb.ca/ or visit the Manitobia site at http://manitobia.ca/ . Students can create a list of items they would have in their bag as a 16-year-old living in Red River, based on who they might have been.

If you do not have the resources for the virtual tour, use images which can be found on sites provided in the “Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia Resource List.”


In groups of three or four, have students review each other’s lists. Give each group a large sheet of blank newsprint paper and some markers. Based on the items in their “virtual” backpacks, have them create a scene from Red River in 1869. They will likely not know what things looked like in 1869 so they are merely going by what they have seen in the Museum.

After they have created their scenes, have each group present. Ask the groups why they have placed certain items in their scene. Probe students to go deeper into their analysis. What was life like in 1869? How did people live? What was the economy based on? How was society structured?

Following this, use the following photo gallery from Libraries and Archives Canada to see how the images match. As there is not an official Manitoba Métis photo gallery, educators can also plan a trip to the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives at the Archives of Manitoba to work on the compilation of one or investigate the Métis virtual museum.

When comparing the scenes created by the students and the images from the nineteenth century, lead a discussion about the similarities and differences between the photographs and the student’s scenes. For example, what surprised the students? What did not?


At the end of the activity, have students describe what life might have been like in Red River in the nineteenth century. This can be done via an exit slip, a photo gallery submission, the class blog, or through some other mechanism of collecting the students’ voices.