For centuries before European settlers set foot on the shores of North America, the Red River area was a popular hunting ground for the Cree First Nations, hunting the wild buffalo that roamed the prairies. Some 50 km south of the current location of the city is an old buffalo jump site, where the Cree would drive herds of bison over a cliff. The area is now a provincial park and gives a clue into the historical culture of the First Nations people. After the European settlers made their way into the continent and the Hudson's Bay Company was formed, outposts were built across the interior of the continent, gaining an ever increasing reach for the trade of supplies and beaver pelts for the British Empire. On the banks of the Red River, Fort Souris was built as a minor trade outpost, 5 km east of the present day site of the city of Red River. It stood relatively unimportant for much of its early history, right through Confederation in 1867.
It wasn't until the North-Western Rebellion that Fort Souris gained a foothold in history. The CPR was furiously building its new railway lines into the western frontier when the Rebellion broke out. Needing a way to transport troops to quell Louis Riel and his followers, the young Government of Canada decided to use the new railway to get the North-West Mounted Police to the closest fort.. this being Fort Souris. Used as a staging point for the troops, the rebellion was quickly put down, Riel being tried and hung in Regina, in July of 1885. While one of the most violent points of Canada's young history, it was also a key cog in completing the coast-to-coast railway. The efficiency of getting the NWMP to the rebellion prompted the government to give the cash strapped rail company enough funds to finish the railway across the pacific, solidifying Canada's claim of the land north of the 49th Parallel.
In 1904, a year before the creation of the Province of Saskatchewan, the townspeople abandonded the old Fort Souris and moved a few kilometers away from the river, establishing the new village of Red River.. now, much closer to the CPR line and in line with a frequently travelled trader route. With the new CPR connection, the town exploded in population, quickly being established as a city in 1912 and surpassed its provincial neighbors of Saskatoon and Regina in population quickly.
Through the latter half of the century, the population steadily increased, peaking in the early '90s at 950 000. It has since remained stagnant for nearly two decades. Now, with the recent development of the Bakken Formation, a geological area which is predicted to contain massive reserves of oil, development has surged in the Red River area. With close proximity to the formation, railway and the Trans-Canada, Red River is poised to become the oil city of the south for Canada through the next decade and in the future to come.