Corps of Canadian Voyageurs (Historical Name)
During the War of 1812, American invasion could have proven detrimental to the British Government and to the North West company alike.
In late July through the locks at Sault Ste. Marie would pass the North West Company’s entire year’s profits in trade goods and furs. At St.Joseph’s Island were large warehouses containing stores of firearms, gunpowder and liquor. If the Americans secured either of these establishments they would control access to Lake Superior and threaten British holdings in North America and result in the eventual ruin of the North West Company. It was less than one day’s travel to Sault Ste. Marie from the American Fort Mackinac.
For obvious reasons it was advantageous to the British and the North West Company to secure Fort Mackinac. In July 1812 a force consisting of 180 voyageurs, 300 Indians, and 45 regulars of the 10th Royal Veteran Battalion stationed at St.Joseph’s Island departed for Fort Mackinac. On July 18th the American fort was captured.
In October 1812 William McGillivray was given the rank of Lt. Colonel and instructed to form a company of voyageurs made up of North West Company engagees. Officers of this newly formed corps came from the Scottish gentlemen partners and clerks of the Company. The Corps disbanded March 1813 in Lachine, Quebec after serving in engagements at St. Regis 23rd October and LaColle, 20th November 1812.
DeMeuron’s Swiss Regiment
Originally raised by the Swiss Count DeMeuron for the Dutch East India Company (1781), the regiment subsequently transferred its service to the British and fought in the second Mysore campaign under Arthur Wellesley (the future Duke of Wellington). It was in this campaign that the regiment’s first battle honour was won during the siege of Serengapatam.
In 1813 the regiment was transferred to North America where it distinguished itself in covering the retreat from the Battle for Plattsburg. In 1816 the unit was disbanded.
Lord Selkirk of the Hudson Bay Company then employed 90 discharged soldiers of the former DeMeuron and DeWattville regiments (these included 80 DeMeurons) to serve as soldier/settlers at his Red River settlement. In retaliation for the killings at Seven Oaks Lord Selkirk would seize Fort William on August 13th 1816.