Rooster Town

The History of an Urban Métis Community, 1901–1961


Rooster Town

Melonville. Smokey Hollow. Bannock Town. Fort Tuyau. Little Chicago. Mud Flats. Pumpville. Tintown. La Coule. These were some of the names given to Métis communities at the edges of urban areas in Manitoba. Rooster Town, which was on the outskirts of southwest Winnipeg endured from 1901 to 1961.

Those years in Winnipeg were characterized by the twin pressures of depression, and inflation, chronic housing shortages, and a spotty social support network. At the city’s edge, Rooster Town grew without city services as rural Métis arrived to participate in the urban economy and build their own houses while keeping Métis culture and community as a central part of their lives.

In other growing settler cities, the Indigenous experience was largely characterized by removal and confinement. But the continuing presence of Métis living and working in the city, and the establishment of Rooster Town itself, made the Winnipeg experience unique. Rooster Town documents the story of a community rooted in kinship, culture, and historical circumstance, whose residents existed unofficially in the cracks of municipal bureaucracy, while navigating the legacy of settler colonialism and the demands of modernity and urbanization.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Cover 1
Contents 6
List of Tables 7
List of Illustrations 8
Preface 12
Chapter 1. Settler Colonialism and the Dispossession of the Manitba Métis 22
Chapter 2. The Establishment and Consolidation of Rooster Town, 1901–1911 42
Chapter 3. Devising New Economic and Housing Strategies: Rooster Town During the First World War and After, 1916–1926 72
Chapter 4. Persistence, Growth, and Community: Rooster Town During and After the Great Depression, 1931–1946 106
Chapter 5. Stereotyping, Dissolution, and Dispersal: Rooster Town, 1951–1961 139
Conclusion 175
Appendix A. Fort Rouge as Métis Space: Losing the Land 180
Appendix B. Rooster Town Population Details 190
Notes 200
Bibliography 224
Index 240