Pierre Guillaume Sayer and three other Métis in the Red River Colony were brought to trial on 17 May 1849 in the General Quarterly Court of Assiniboia on charges of violating the Hudson's Bay Company's charter by illegally trafficking in furs. Led by a "committee" or "council" including Louis Riel, père, 300 armed Métis assembled outside the court. Styled "Chief of the Halfbreeds," a prominent merchant and former free trader, James Sinclair, acted as Sayer's counsel. A jury of seven English speakers and five French speakers heard evidence proving Sayer's guilt but indicating HBC encouragement to itinerant traders in border regions. Following recorder Adam Thom's summation, the jury retired to find the defendant guilty, but it recommended mercy. Chief factor John Ballenden, HBC, satisfied with the verdict, asked that there be no punishment and withdrew charges against the other three. When Sayer and his supporters emerged "free" from court, gunfire as a feu de joie and shouts of "le commerce est libre" greeted them. To the dismay of the HBC their legal victory dissolved into commercial setback. Henceforth they would have to meet the free traders with effective competition and not with the legal canons of their charter.
- MLA 8TH EDITION
- Foster, John E.. "Sayer Trial". The Canadian Encyclopedia, 24 February 2015, Historica Canada. www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/sayer-trial. Accessed 22 September 2023.
- APA 6TH EDITION
- Foster, J. (2015). Sayer Trial. In The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/sayer-trial
- CHICAGO 17TH EDITION
- Foster, John E.. "Sayer Trial." The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Article published February 07, 2006; Last Edited February 24, 2015.
- TURABIAN 8TH EDITION
- The Canadian Encyclopedia, s.v. "Sayer Trial," by John E. Foster, Accessed September 22, 2023, https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/sayer-trial
Article by John E. Foster
Published Online February 7, 2006
Last Edited February 24, 2015