Place:Southbranch Settlement, Saskatchewan, Canada


NameSouthbranch Settlement
Located inSaskatchewan, Canada

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Southbranch Settlement was the name ascribed to a series of French Métis settlements on the Canadian prairies in the 19th Century, in what is today the province of Saskatchewan. Métis settlers began making homes here in the 1860s and 1870s, many of them fleeing economic and social dislocation from Red River, Manitoba.

The Settlements stretched along both sides of the South Saskatchewan River in river lot style from Fish Creek north through Batoche and St. Laurent to St. Louis which was its northern boundary. They included Duck Lake 12 kilometers from St. Laurent accessed by the St. Laurent Ferry. The distance from Fish Creek to St. Louis was less than 50 kilometres. They were proximal to several Cree reserves, as well as Anglo-Metis settlements to the north around Prince Albert.

Batoche and St. Laurent de Grandin were founded by French Métis hivernants from the Red River settlement. Hivernants were hunters and trappers who spent the winter on the prairies and returned to the Red River settlement in the spring with their winter catch.

Gabriel Dumont was the leader of the buffalo hunt for his group of 200 hunters living in the Southbranch settlements from 1863 to the end of the Métis buffalo hunts in about 1875. In 1873 the Southbranch settlements organized a form of local government, under Gabriel Dumont, based on the laws of the buffalo hunt.

In the 1880s the population of the Southbranch settlements may have been as high as 1300 with 40 to 60 families living in each of the four largest communities.

The Northwest Rebellion of 1885 was a traumatic event for all the Southbranch communities, and they had passed their prime by the 1890s when the railway brought in increasing numbers of new immigrant settlers. Some of the settlements, such as St. Louis still remain however.

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