Eric's Big Red River Carts

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The Red River cart was a large two-wheeled cart made entirely of non-metallic materials. Often drawn by oxen, though also by horses or mules, these carts were used throughout most of the 19th century in the fur trade and in westward expansion in Canada and the United States, in the area of the Red River and on the plains west of the Red River Colony. The cart was a simple conveyance developed by Metis for use in their settlement on the Red River in what later became Manitoba. According to the journal of north west company fur-trader Alexander henry , the carts made their first appearance in 1801 at fort pembina, just south of what is now the United States border. Derived either from the two-wheeled used in French Canada or from Scottish carts, it was adapted to use only local materials.

What they used them for


The Red River trails on which the carts were used extended from the Red River Colony via fur-trading posts, such as Pembina and St. Joseph in the Red River Valley, to mendota and St. Paul, Minnesota . Furs were the usual cargo on the trip to St. Paul, and trade goods and supplies were carried on the trip back to the colony.

The carlton trail was also an important route for the carts, running from the Red River Colony west to Fort Carlton and Fort Edmonton in present day Saskatchewan and Alberta, with branches such as the Fort a la corne trail. The carts were the primary conveyance in the Canadian West from early settlement until the coming of the Canadian Pacific Railway toward the end of the century. Carts could not be used west of Fort Edmonton because there were no roads or trails passable by wheeled vehicles over the Rocky Mountains.

Invented and developed by the Metis and Anglo-Metis peoples, it is sometimes used today as a symbol of Métis nationalism.

Red River Carts