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The Story of Manitoba
Chapter XXXIV The Making of Manitoba

Many of the people of the Red River Settlement felt that Mr. Alfred H. Scott and Father Ritehot could hardly be considered representatives of the whole community in the negotiations with the Dominion government and were most anxious that Judge Black would consent to act as the third delegate. Mr. Donald A. Smith also urged him to act, and he finally consented and left Fort Garry 011 March 24th. The following commission and letter of instructions were handed to the delegates on March 22nd:

"Government House, Winnipeg, Assiniboia.


Sir—The President of the Provisional Government of Assiniboia (formerly Rupert's Land and the North-West), in council, do hereby authorize and dele-1 gate you to proceed to the City of Ottawa, and lay before the Dominion Government the accompanying list of propositions and conditions as to the terms upon which the people of Assiniboia will consent to enter into Confederation with the other provinces of the Dominion. You will also herewith receive a letter of instructions, which will be your guide in the execution of this commission.

"Signed this twenty-second day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy.

"By order,

Thomas BcjnN, Secretary of State."


"Sir—Enclosed with this letter you will receive your commission and also a copy of the conditions and terms upon which the people of this country will consent to enter into the Confederation of Canada.

"You will please proceed with convenient speed to the City of Ottawa, Canada, and on arriving there you will, in company with the other delegates, put yourself immediately in communication with the Dominion Government, on the subject of your commission.

"You will please observe that with regard to the articles numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 15, 17, 19 and 20, you are left at liberty, in concert with your fellow commissioners, to exercise your discretion; but bear in mind, that as you carry with you the full confidence of the people, it is' expected that in the exercise of this liberty, you will do your utmost to secure their rights and privileges which have hitherto been ignored.

"With reference to the remaining articles, I am directed to inform you that you are not empowered to conclude finally any arrangements with the Canadian Government, but that any negotiations entered into between you and the said government must first have the approval of and be ratified by the Provisional Government, before Assiniboia will become a province of Confederation.

"I have the honor to be, Sir,

Your obedient servant,

Thos. Bunn, Secretary of State."

The List of Rights handed to the delegates to Ottawa was not identical with that adopted by the representatives of the people on the 1st of December, nor was it identical with that adopted by the convention on the 5th of February and discussed with Mr. Donald A. Smith a few days later. In both the earlier lists the admission of Rupert's Land and the North-West to Canada as a territory was contemplated, for that was the purpose of the Act for the Temporary Government of Rupert's Land and the North-West Territory, passed by the Dominion parliament 011 June 22, 1869; but this third list of rights distinctly stipulates that the country is to be confederated with the Dominion as a province. From this it is plain that the plan embodied in the motion, which Riel made in the convention on February 5th and which was defeated then, had been adopted by his cabinet a little later. The list of rights delivered to the delegates sent to Ottawa contained the following clauses:

"1st, That the Territories, heretofore known as Rupert's Land and NorthWest, shall not enter into Confederation of the Dominion of Canada, except as a province, to be styled and known as the Province of Assiniboia, and with all the rights and privileges common to the different Provinces of the Dominion.

"2nd. That we have two Representatives in the Senate, and four in the House of Commons of Canada, until such time as an increase of population entitles the Province to a greater representation.

"3rd. That the Province of Assiniboia shall not be held liable, at any time, for any portion of the public debt of the Dominion, contracted before the date the said Province shall have entered the Confederation, unless the said Province shall have first received from the Dominion the full amount for which the said Province is to be held liable.

"4th. That the sum of eighty thousand dollars be paid annually by the Dominion Government to the local Legislature of this Province.

"5th. That all properties, rights and privileges enjoyed by the people of this Province^ up to the date of our entering into Confederation, be respected, and that the arrangement and confirmation of all customs and privileges be left exclusively to the Local Legislature.

"6th. That during the term of five years the Province of Assiniboia shall not he subjected to any direct taxation, except such as may be imposed by the Local Legislature for municipal or local purposes.

"7th. That a sum of money, equal to eighty cents per head of the population of this Province, be paid annually by the Canadian Government to the Local Legislature of the said Province, until such time as the said population shall have increased to six hundred thousand.

"8th. That the Local Legislature shall have the right to determine the qualifications of members to represent this Province in the Parliament of Canada and in the Local Legislature.

"'9th. That in this Province, with the exception of uncivilized and unset-tied Indians, every male native citizen who has attained the age of twenty-one years; and every foreigner, being a British subject, who has attained the same, and has resided three years in the Province, and is a householder; and every foreigner other than a British subject, who has resided here during the same period, being a householder, and having taken the oath of allegiance, shall be entitled to vote at the election of members for the Local Legislature and for the Cana dian Parliament. It being understood that this article be subject to amendment, exclusively by the Local Legislature.

''10th. That the bargain of the Hudson's Bay Company with respect to the transfer of the Government of this country to the Dominion of Canada, be annulled so far as it interferes with the rights of the people of .Assiniboia, and so far as it would affect our future relations with Canada.

"11th. That the Local Legislature of the Province of Assiniboia shall have full control over all the public lands of the Province, and the right to annul all acts or arrangements made or entered into with reference to the public lands of Rupert's Land and the North-West, now called the Province of Assiniboia.

"12th. That the Government of Canada appoint a Commission of Engineers to explore the various districts of the Pru\ince of Assiniboia, and to lay before the Local Legislature a report of the mineral wealth of the Province, within live years from the date of our entering into Confederation.

"13th. That treaties be concluded between Canada and the different Indian tribes of the Province of Assiniboia, by and with the advice and co-operation of the Local Legislature of this province.

"14th. That uninterrupted steam communication from Lake Superior to Fort Garry be guaranteed to be completed within the space of five years.

"15th. That all public buildings, bridges, roads, and other public works be at the cost of the Dominion Treasury.

"16th. That the English and French languages be common in the Legislature, and in the Courts, and that all public documents, as well as Acts of the Legislature, be published in both languages.

"17th. That whereas the French and English-speaking people of Assiniboia are so equally divided as to number yet so united in their interests, and so connected by commerce, family connections, and other political and social relations, that it has happily been found impossible to bring them into hostile collision;"'' although repeated attempts have been made by designing strangers for reasons known to themselves to bring about so ruinous and disastrous an event; and whereas, after all the troubles and apparent dissensions of the past, the result of misunderstanding among themselves, they have, as soon as the evil agencies referred to above were removed, become as united and friendly as ever; therefore, as a means to strengthen this union and friendly feeling among all classes we deem it expedient and advisable that the Lieutenant-Governor who may be appointed for the Province of Assiniboia should be familiar with both the French and English languages.

18th. That the Judge of the Supreme Court speak both the French and English languages.

"19th. That all debts contracted by the Provisional Government of the Territory of the North-West, now called Assiniboia, in- consequence of the illegal and inconsiderate measures adopted by Canadian officials to bring about a civil war in our midst, be paid out of the Dominion Treasury g and that none of the members of the Provisional Government or any of those acting under them be in any way held liable or responsible with regard to the movement, or any of the actions which led to the present negotiations.

"20th. That in view of the present exceptional position of Assiniboia, duties upon goods imported into the province shall, except in the case of spirituous liquors, continue as at present for at least three years from the date of our entering the Confederation, and for such further time as may elapse, until there be uninterrupted railroad communication between Winnipeg and St. Paul, and also steam communication between Winnipeg and Lake Superior."

Certainly the delegates from the Red River Settlement did not go to Ottawa as suppliants; instead there was an attempt to clothe them with the dignity and authority of representatives of one government sent to conduct negotiations with another. Yet the dignity of their position did not save two of the delegates from harsh treatment when they reached the end of the tiresome journey. The continued disorder in the Red River Settlement and the failure of the government to put down the insurrection had roused a great deal of resentment among the people of Canada, and this was intensified when news of the death of Scott reached the country. The accounts of the lawlessness prevailing in the west and of the hardships endured by some of Riel's prisoners, brought by I)r. Schultz, Dr. Lynch, Colonel Boulton, Mr. Mair, Mr. Drever, and other refugees, added to the excitement. Meetings were held in Moidreal, Toronto, and other places, where thousands of indignant citizens gathered to protest against the government's delay in suppressing the rebellion and bringing to justice those responsible for the murder of Thomas Scott, Almost as soon as they arrived in Ottawa, Mr. Scott and Father Ritchot were arrested on a charge of being accessories to the murder. When the ease came before Judge Gait, he dismissed it on the ground that, as the warrant had been issued by a magistrate in Toronto, he had no jurisdiction; but the two delegates were immediately re-arrested on a warrant issued in Ottawa. As soon as their case came before the court, it was found that there was no evidence to support the charge, and the two men were honorably discharged on April 23rd.

As soon as Father Ritchot and Mr. Scott were free, the delegates entered upon the negotiations with the Dominion government. These were prolonged for some time, for the delegates found that the government had drafted a list of rights for the province which was to be created, and that this list was quite unlike that placed in their hands the day before they left Fort Garry. At first they were disposed to stand firmly by all the rights and privileges which they had been sent to secure, while the government seemed as determined to abide by its own list. For a time it appeared as if a deadlock might be the only result of the conference; but strong influences from several quarters were brought to bear upon both parties with a view to some satisfactory compromise. Sir Clinton Murdoch, who seems to have had some special commission from the imperial government in the matter, did much to induce the delegates to abate some of their demands and the ministers to' Concede more than they were willing to offer at first. The delegates modified their list of rights, and the government modified its scheme; but still the desired compromise was not reached. The half-breed» title was one of the most difficult points to adjust. The delegates maintained that the lands of Assiniboia belonged to the half-breeds and that they and their children should receive grants of land in recognition of their just claims; but the ministers argued that their only claim must be based on their Indian descent and that it could only be recognized if they consented to be treated as the Indians were. Finally the delegates and the government made a second modification in the terms on which the new province would be admitted to the Dominion, and an agreement on all the more important points was reached.

A bill incorporating the general principles upon which both parties were agreed, was drafted; and on May 2nd, Sir John Macdonald introduced the Manitoba Act in the House of Commons. The province, as delimited in the original bill, was very small, its northern boundary being on the 50th parallel of latitude, and its western boundary being east of Portage la Prairie. This would have excluded the English-speaking district of Portage la Prairie and made Manitoba a province in which the French element of the population predominated. The plan met with so much opposition, both from members of the opposition and supporters of the government, that the government abandoned it on May 4th, and Sir John Macdonald announced that the province had been extended both northward and westward and that the aggregate grant of land to half-breeds had been increased. The increased area gave the province a greater population and necessitated an increase in the number of its representatives in the Canadian Senate and the House of Commons as well as an increase in the subsidies granted to it by the Dominion. The debate on the bill was warm and long; but the government declined to accept further amendments, and the measure was passed. The act received the assent of the governor-general on May 12th, and on July 15, 1870, it came into effect. Thus July 15tli is the natal day of the province of Manitoba.

The delegates, feeling that their mission had been accomplished when the Manitoba Act had been introduced into parliament, soon left the capital for their homes. Mr. Scott did not reach Fort Garry until July 8; but Father Ritchot arrived on June 17th, and a week later he made a somewhat informal report to the assembly. A special session of this body opened on June 23d, and the next day Father Ritchot addressed it on the subject of the work done by himself and his colleagues while at Ottawa. He pointed out the differences between the list of rights, which they had been asked to secure, and those contemplated in the original plan of the Canadian government; and he justified the concessions, which the delegates had made in order to reach an agreement. He believed that the Manitoba Act was an equitable bill and that it secured to the people of the country full recognition of their rights and a full measure of self-government. The main features of the act were known to the members of the assembly, and he believed it should be accepted as satisfactory. He and his colleagues had insisted strongly upon two points—a generous grant of land to the half-breed inhabitants and complete amnesty- to all who had taken part in the rebellion. In the first matter they had been successful, for the government would set apart 1,400.000 acres of land in order to make a grant to every adult half-breed and every half-breed child in the province. They had not been successful in the other matter, for the government would not promise amnesty to the rebels.

At the conclusion of Father Ritchot's address Messrs. Bunn and Bannatyne moved that the thanks of the assembly be given to him and his fellow delegates for the valuable services which they had rendered to the country, and the motion was adopted unanimously. The president, Mr. Riel, then asked what action the assembly proposed to take in view of the report made by Father Ritchot and the information regarding the Manitoba Act previously possessed by the members. On motion of Messrs. Schmidt and Poitras the assembly resolved to accept the Manitoba Act and to enter Confederation on the terms contained in it. Later in the day it was decided, on motion of Mr. Louis Schmidt, to extend a warm welcome to the newly appointed governor, Mr. Adams O. Archibald, when he reached the capital of the province over which he was to rule. This seems to have concluded the business of the special session of the assembly, and the next turn of fortune's wheel made another session unnecessary.'

The passage of the Manitoba Act removed the alleged causes of the discontent of the Metis and all ground for continuing the insurrection. Many of them, who had been prominent in the movement, naturally became anxious about the position in which they would find themselves when the country was proclaimed a part of the Dominion and a new government was established. The promise of amnesty made by the governor-general in his proclamation of December 6th was conditional. His promise was, "In case of your immediate and peaceable obedience and dispersion, I shall order that no legal proceedings he taken against any parties implicated in these unfortunate breaches of the law." But the condition had not been met, and consequently the proclamation contained no comfort for the insurgent Metis. It appears that soon after Bishop Tache returned to St. Boniface in March, he gave another promise of amnesty on behalf of the governor-general, and this, too, must have been conditional. But Riel's men hod not dispersed. "With the advent of June came news of the formation of a new province as a part of the Dominion and rumors of the approach of a large military force, sent to establish and preserve peace on the Red River. Stories of the treatment likely to be meted out to them by the Canadians were circulated among the Metis by interested parties and had a very disquieting effect upon them. They were in such an uncertain temper that Bishop Tache considered the situation full of danger, and 011 June 9th he promised, on behalf of the Canadian government, that all who had taken part in the rebellion would receive a full pardon. On the same day he wrote to Hon. Jos. Howe to report what he had done and to give his reasons for doing it. He does not appear to have been certain that the government had given him full and explicit authority for the step which he had taken, but he believed that the action was necessary and that the government had given him, by implication, authority for taking it. But inasmuch as the Red River country was not a part of the Dominion when the rebellion was in progress, the Dominion government did not feel that it had power to offer amnesty to the rebels; that could only be done by Her Majesty through her representative, the governor-general. So the government neither endorsed nor repudiated the action of Bishop Tache, who felt that his well-meant act had placed him in a very unfortunate position before his people. He went to Ottawa in connection with the matter, but the government declined to endorse the promise of amnesty. It seems, however, to have advised him to urge the leaders of the rebellion to leave the country as quickly and quietly as possible.

On July 30, 1870, the news columns of the New Nation contained the following paragraph: "By an order-in-council, passed on the 23rd ult from and after the 15th of July, Rupert's Land and the North-West Territory shall be admitted into and become a part of the Dominion of Canada.' The old order had changed, "yielding place to new." After years of agitation, the union with Canada was accomplished. The old order had not passed without some months of lawlessness and disturbance, but the new order was full of happy promise for the welfare of the country. If August 30th ought to be celebrated in Manitoba as the anniversary of the day on which the first weary settlers came to make a permanent home for themselves beside the Red River, then July 15th ought to be celebrated as the anniversary of the day on which the colony, that they planted in the wilderness, became a province of the Dominion, the day on which their descendants were formally accorded the right of self-government.

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