In 1690, Henry Kelsey became the first European to enter Saskatchewan when he traveled up the Saskatchewan River to pursue fur trade with the native Athabaskan, Algonquian, Atsina, Cree, Saulteaux and Sioux peoples.
Then, in 1774, the first permanent European settlement was established at Cumberland House by the fabled Hudson's Bay Company (HBC). This post helped strengthen HBC's stranglehold on the fur trade market in North America.
In 1803, France transferred part of what is now Alberta and Saskatchewan to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase. However, the HBC still staked claim to most of present day Saskatchewan. In 1870, Canada acquired the HBC's lands taking control of the vast territory between British Columbia and Manitoba.
In 1874, the "March West" of the federal government's new North-West Mounted Police proved to be crucial in the history of what was to become Western Canada. Despite the huge area to cover (from Manitoba to Alberta), poor equipment, and lack of provisions, the men endured and established a Canadian presence in the new territory.
Though some historians have argued that failure by the Mounted Police on this expedition would have merely delayed Canada's western expansion, others have theorized that the United States would have been tempted to seize control of this void. Also, if the expedition had failed, the Canadian Pacific Railway would likely have been forced to seek a more northerly route, impeding the growth of cities like Regina and Moose Jaw.
In 1883, the Métis people (mixed indigenous and French heritage) of Saskatchewan united under the leadership of Louis Riel and began to seek self-government. They were unhappy with the difficulty they faced when trying to settle down to farm and wanted their own land.
In 1885, after the Canadian government refused to hear their grievances, the Métis staged the North-West Rebellion. However,they were quickly defeated by Canadian militia brought to the area by the new Canadian Pacific Railway.
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