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The Story of Manitoba
Chapter XXXVI The Organization of a Provincial Government


When Riel and his followers fled from Port Garry on the approach of the troops, no one was left to represent the "provisional government.'.' Nor was there any one to represent the Dominion government; for, although the country had been federated with Canada by act of parliament, a province formed, and a lieutenant-governor appointed to organize its government, he had not yet arrived. Colonel Wolseley had come to the province, not as the representative of the government of Canada, but as the commander of a military expedition. He could not assume the function of a governor without proclaiming the country under martial law, and it did not seem either necessary or wise to do that. Until the lieutenant-governor arrived, it appeared best to assume that the province was under the government of the Hudson's Bay Company; and so Mr. Donald A. Smith, its chief officer, was asked to administer affairs until Governor Archibald reached Port Garry.

In making his journey to the new province over which he was to preside Lieutenant-Governor Archibald followed the route taken by the troops a few weeks earlier. He came up the Red River by canoe, on the evening of September 2, and early the next morning a salute from the guns of Port Garry announced his arrival. A few days later the formalities preliminary to the assumption of his office took place, and Manitoba's first governor commenced his duties. In handing over the reins of government', which he had held for twelve days, Mr. I"). A. Smith remarked, "I yield up my responsibilities with pleasure, I really don't anticipate much pleasure on my own account," replied the governor. Indeed his position was not an easy one. Each of the two parties among the people hoped that he would adopt its views; and when he failed to do so as fully as the party hoped, each charged him with partiality toward the other. But Governor Archibald was a prudent man and proved himself equal to most of the difficulties which confronted him.

Some of these difficulties grew out of the enmity between the Ontario volunteers and the adherents of Riel. This enmity, inflamed by the intoxicating liquor furnished so freely to some of the volunteers for several days after their arrival, led to frequent disturbances on the streets. One of these brawls occurred on September 13. and in it a resident' of St. Boniface was attacked by a mob and driven into the river. When he attempted to swim to the far side, he was assailed with a volley of stones. Struck on the head with a stone, he was rendered unconscious, and was drowned. An investigation was ordered, and three men were named as those responsible for the death of the unfortunate man. Owing to the race rancour, it was not considered wise to bring them to trial at the time and afterwards the matter was dropped. The efforts of the officers soon checked the consumption of liquor and removed one cause of the disturbances; and as time passed, many influences tended to bring about a better understanding between the various sections of the community.

Another difficulty was one which inevitably grew out of the rebellion. Bishop Tache felt keenly the refusal of the Dominion government to endorse his promise of amnesty to the rebels. His letters to Mr. Howe having proved futile, he made a visit to Ottawa to induce the government to grant the promised amnesty. This effort, too, proved unsuccessful; but it would appear that some one acting on behalf of the government advised the bishop that the rebel leaders had better leave the country as quickly and quietly as possible. We find that he wrote Mr. Smith on August 27, urging that no steps be taken against any of the Metis for their part in the insurrection, and he wrote him again about the matter a few days later. As soon as Governor Archibald arrived, the bishop renewed his plea for a practical amnesty to the insurgents.

But this was exceedingly difficult, for many of the English-speaking people of the province insisted that the leaders of the insurrection, and especially those responsible for the death of Thomas Scott, should be brought to trial and punished. Soon after Colonel Wolseley's arrival warrants were sworn out for the arrest of Riel, Lepine, and O 'Donoghue; but through the influence of Mr. Smith the execution of these warrants was delayed, and the three ex-leaders were given time to place themselves on the south side of the international boundary. After Governor Archibald arrived, the officials were again urged to arrest these men, and it would not have been a difficult task, as they seem to have come north on several occasions. There is reason to believe that Riel and 0'Donoghue were present at a meeting of Metis held at La Salle river on September 17th. But race feeling ran so high that bloodshed, and perhaps a renewal of the insurrection, might have followed an attempt to arrest the Metis leaders; and in case of a trial it would have been difficult to secure unbiased evidence and an impartial verdict. The Dominion government did not wish to prolong the troubles in Manitoba, and it had to consider the effect which the trial would have upon popular opinion in Quebec. Thus it had cogent reasons for believing it best that the three leaders of the insurrection should leave the country before they were arrested. Governor Archibald took the same view, and so execution of the warrants was again delayed.

As soon as possible Governor Archibald proceeded with the work of organizing a government for the new province. He appointed Mr. Alfred Bovd, a merchant of Winnipeg, and Mr. Marc Amable Girard, a notary who had reached the province a few weeks earlier, as the first members of his executive-council. The former was much respected by the English residents; the latter soon became popular with the French. The next step was to organize a provincial police: force, and the task was entrusted to Captain Villiers of the Quebec battalion. Of the nineteen men sworn in as constables, several have since become prominent in the life of the province.

It was necessary to take a census of the population preliminary to dividing the province into ridings for the election of members of the legislative assembly. The work of enumeration was commenced on October 27 and was completed before the end of November. The total population was found to be 11,963. There

were 1,565 whites, 5,757 French half-breeds, 1,083 English half-breeds, and 558 Indians. Of the whites 747 had been born in the North-West, 294 in Canada, 412 in the British Isles, 69 in the United States, 15 in France, and 28 in other countries. Of the total population 6,247 were listed as Roman Catholics, and 5,176 as Protestants.

On December 13 the governor proclaimed the, boundaries of the twenty-four electoral districts into which the province had been divided^ writs were issued and nominations were made as soon as possible; and the tirst provincial elections were held on December 30. The members elected to the first legislative assembly of Manitoba were: Baie St. Paul, J. Dubuc; Headinglv, J. Taylor; High Bluff, J. Norqua  J. Kildonan, J. Sutherland; Lake Manitoba, A. McKay; Poplar Point, 1). Spence; Portage la Prairie, F. 0. Bird; St. Agathe, George Klvne; St, Andrew's North, A. Boyd; St. Andrew's South, E. II. G. G. Hay; Ste. Anne, J. H. Maetavish; St. Boniface East, M. A. Girard; St. Boniface West, L. SchmidtV St. Charles, H. J. Clarke; St. Clement's, Thomas Bunn; St Francois Xavier East, P. Breland; St. Francois Xavier West, J. Royal; St. James, E. Bourke; St. Norbert" North, J. LemaySl St. Norbert South, P. Delorme; St. Paul, Dr. Bird; St. Peter's, T. Howard; St. Vital, A. Beaucliemin; Winnipeg, D. A. Smith.

Governor Archibald appointed the following gentlemen on January 10, 1871, as members of the executive council: Hon. Marc A. Girard, provincial treasurer; Hon. Thomas Howard, provincial secretary; Hon. Alfred Boyd, minister of public works and agriculture and Hon. James McKay without a portfolio. On March 10 the first legislative council was formed by the lieutenant-governor, the members being Hon. James McKay, speaker, and Ilon-orables P. Dauphinais, Donald Gunn, Solomon Hamelin, Colin Inkster, J. II. O'Donnell, M. D., and Francis Ogletree.

The first session of the new provincial parliament had been called for February 2; but it was postponed several times. The opening finally took place on March 15 with the usual ceremonies, the guard of honor for the lieutenant-governor on the occasion being furnished by the Ontario Rifles. Mr. Joseph Royal was elected speaker of the legislative assembly, and both houses settled . down to the business of making laws for the new province. The meetings of the legislature were held in a private residence belonging to Mr. A. G. B. Bannatyne, and the government offices were in the same building. The session lasted until May 3, and when it closed, his honor had given assent to no less than thirty-six laws dealing with public affairs and seven private bills. The public bills dealt with such matters as courts, police, electoral divisions, surveys, currency, parish assessments, wills, deeds, sales of real property, roads, statute labor, animals at large, noxious weeds, the legal and medical professions, Sabbath obervance, a system of public schools, etc. The private bills incorporated the Bishop of Rupert's Land, the Bishop of St. Boniface, St. Boniface College, St. John's College, the Manitoba Brick and Pottery Company, the Manitoba Brewery Company, and the General Manufacturing and Investment Company.

The elections for the Dominion house of commons had been held on March 2, Mr. Donald A. Smith being successful in Selkirk, Mr. Pierre Delorme in Provencher, and Dr. Schultz in Lisgar, while in Marquette Mr. Angus McKay and Dr. Lynch each received 282 votes and a new election was held later

The first session of the General Quarterly Court of the province was held on May 16. Judge Francis G. Johnson presided, Mr. Thompson Bunn was clerk of the* court, and Mr. John Sutherland was sheriff.

No sooner had the Dominion government established peace in Manitoba than claims for compensation began to reach it from men who had been imprisoned or expatriated and men whose property had been seized by the insurgents or whose business had been ruined by the rebellion. The, Hudson's Bay Company had suffered most. It claimed about 30,000 for its losses during the Kiel regime, and with this claim the company combined one for interest on the 300,000, payment of which the Dominion government had delayed so long. Many objected to giving the company any compensation, on the ground that its officials at Fort Garry had connived at the movements of the rebels; others went so far as to say that Kiel had received active aid and encouragement from these officials. The company may not have done everything in its power to check the insurrection at the beginning, but it seems absurd to contend that it abetted the movement. It had nothing to gain and much to lose from the success of the Metis rebellion. On one ground or other the settlement of the company's claims was delayed, and it seems to have withdrawn them some years later.

The claims of private parties for recompense for losses growing out of the rebellion aggregated $336,260.95, the largest single claim being that of Dr. Sehultz for $65,065, of which $10,000 was claimed for imprisonment. Early in 1871 the Dominion parliament voted $40,000 to meet the more pressing of these claims, and Dr. Schultz received half the amount, while $800 was paid to those whom Riel obliged to leave the country. In July the government instructed -Fudge F. J. Johnson to make careful inquiry into all these claims. He did so and reported what, he considered an equitable compensation for the loss sustained in each case. The government adopted his recommendations and paid the amounts awarded to the claimants by the judge, the aggregate 'being $85,755.95, or little more than one-fourth of the amount originally claimed. Judge Johnson also suggested that Narcisse Marion be paid $100 for services rendered toward the preservation of law and order, and this w as done. In April, 1872, a committee of the privy council recommended that $2,000 be paid to the parents of Thomas Scott. This recommendation was approved by the goveinor-in-council, and the sum was paid.

The long-continued negotiations for the annexation of Rupert's Land to Canada, the Metis insurrection, and the Red River expedition all helped to draw-public attention to the new province and its great possibilities as an agricultural country. No sooner was peace restored and a government established than people began to migrate to Manitoba. These immigrants wished to take up farms; but there was no survey to guide them in locating their claims, nor was there any official with whom they could register them. Many of the new arrivals squatted on land to which the old settlers thought they had prior rights. Some of the discharged volunteers decided to remain in the country, and they, too. wished to secure a share of its fertile land. Claims were being staked out in a most unsystematic fashion. An order-in-council, dated at Ottawa on May 31, notified the people of -Manitoba that it would be impossible to make a survey in time to meet the needs of the people already settled in the country and those about to enter it, but intimated that the government would respect the rights of those who had taken up land, improved it, and were in possession of it when the survey was made. This was thought to mean that any person who had staked a claim could hold it against all comers; and so irregular claim-staking went on more rapidly than ever. The people who viewed this movement with most alarm were the half-breeds, for they feared that, if the survey were delayed very long, their choice of the 1,400,000 acres guaranteed them by the Manitoba Act would be restricted to the more remote and less fertile districts.

The government had been making plans for a survey of the province in harmony with that commenced by Colonel Dennis and summarily stopped by Riel's men. A report, embodying a system of surveys and a plan of the lands avail able for half-breed grants, had been presented to the Dominion parliament on March 1, 1871, and on April 12 it voted $100,000 for surveys. A staff of surveyors was soon at work, some running division lines between sections in the districts partially occupied by settlers, others making surveys in districts where early settlement was anticipated. Mr. Gilbert McMicken was appointed agent of Dominion lands for Manitoba in the latter part of September, and his arrival in the province early in October did much to check the irregular location of claims.

The laud regulations adopted by the Dominion government were very liberal. Any British subject might take up a homestead of 160 acres (a quarter-section). He was required to pay a fee of $10 at the time his application was made and to cultivate the land for five years; these conditions filled, he received a patent for the land. The period of residence was afterwards reduced to three years, and even then he might be absent from his homestead six months out of each twelve. He was also allowed to purchase another quarter-section, called a pre-emption, at the rate of $1.00 per acre. Certain lands, such as those reserved for the Hudson's Bay Company under the terms of the transfer of its territory to the Dominion, those reserved for the support of schools, wooded lands necessary to supply settlers with fuel, etc., were not open as homesteads or pre-emptions.

Clause 31 of the Manitoba Act had provided for the appropriation of 1,400,000 acres of ungranted lands, which were to be divided amongst the half-breeds as a step "towards the extinguishment of the Indian Title to the lands of the Province." This grant took about one-sixth of the land open for settlement in the province as then constituted. It was arranged that each head of a half-breed family would be given scrip which entitled the holder to take up a quarter section of Dominion land open for settlement, and that each half-breed boy or girl would receive a patent for 240 acres of land on reaching the age of eighteen years. Arrangements were made for drawing claims by lot and for keeping the necessary records of the claims allotted. This most generous grant of land did not benefit the half-breeds much, for most of them disposed of their rights for trifling sums to speculators, who made considerable money out of them when the farm lands of the province became more valuable.

The government was anxious to complete the work of extinguishing the Indian title by making treaties with the natives themselves. In the autumn of 1870 the Indians had asked Governor Archibald to make such treaties, and he had promised that this would be done during the following year. The Dominion government appointed Mr. W. M. Simpson as Indian Commissioner with power to arrange the terms on which the native tribes would cede the lands occupied them and to determine the location and extent of such reserves as would be needed for their use.

During the month of July 1871, Mr. Simpson, in company with Mr. S. J. Dawson. C. E.. and Mr. Robert Either, visited the various Ojibway tribes living between Thunder Bay and the Northwest Angle of the Lake of the Woods, and opened negotiations for a treaty. Although the agreement was partially completed, it was not signed until more than two years had passed. Mr. Simpson and his associates proceeded to Fort Garry and consulted with Governor Archibald and Hon. .lames McKay in regard to the best methods of arranging treaties with the Indians of Manitoba. It was deemed advisable to secure a surrender of the Indian title, not only to all lands within the boundaries of the province, but also to those timber lands on the north, which would be found necessary for the white settlers of the province, and those rich agricultural lands west of Portage la Prairie, which would be occupied by settlers at an early date. Accordingly a proclamation was issued by Mr. Simpson, asking the Indians of the first district to meet him at Lower Fort Garry on July 25, 1871, and those of the western and northern districts to meet him at the Lake Manitoba post of the Hudson's Bay Company on August 17.

The commissioner's party reached the Lower Fort on July 24. It was considered wise to impress the Indians with the importance of the occasion, and a small military force under Major Irvine was present. Few of the aborigines had arrived, however, and the first meeting was postponed until the 27th. By that date a thousand of the Indians and many half-breeds had assembled. It will be remembered that in 1817 Lord Selkirk had made a treaty with the natives for the surrender of a part of the territory which the Dominion government wished them to cede to it in 187.1, and that some of them subsequently repudiated the bargain made with his lordship; so it was thought wise to open negotiations as if that treaty had never been made. The conference began with an address by Lieutenant-Governor Archibald, and then Mr. Simpson explained to the assembled people the purpose of the government in making a treaty and outlined the terms which it offered.

The proceedings occupied nine days, and during this time the Indians had to be fed at the government's expense. First they demanded the release of four Swampy Crees, who had been imprisoned for failing to carry out a contract with the Hudson's Bay Company. When Governor Archibald explained that this request could be granted only as a favor, not as a right, those present agreed to receive it as a favor and promised to observe the white man's laws thereafter. The prisoners were then set free. About two days were occupied by the different bands in choosing men to represent them in the negotiations with the commissioner. Then the demands of the Indians for reserves were so excessive that to grant them would have taken most of the province, and it took some time to convince them that such excessive grants could not be made. Then followed long discussions alwut reserves, the amount of treaty money to be paid, and supplies of food, clothing, etc.

At length all details were settled, and on August 3rd the treaty (No. 1) was signed by Commissioner Simpson and by the six chiefs, Mis-koo-ke-new (Red Eagle), known as Henry Prince, Ka-ke-ka-penais (Bird Forever), known as William Pennefather, Na-sha-ke-penais (Flying Down Bird), Na-na-wa-nana (Center of Bird's Tail), Ke-wa-tay-ash (Flying Round), Wa-ko-wush (Wliip-Poor-Will), and Oo-za-we-kwpn (Yellow Quill). Governor Archibald. Hon. James McKay, Major Irvine, and eight others signed it as witnesses. By the treaty the Indians surrendered all claims to the land within the following limits: "Beginning at the International boundary line near its .junction with the Lake of the "Woods, at a point due north from the center of Roseau Lake; thence to run due north to the center of Roseau Lake; thence northward to the center of White Mouth Lake, otherwise called White Mud Lake; thence by the middle of the lake and the middle of the river issued therefrom, to the mouth thereof in Winnipeg River; thence by the Winnipeg River to its mouth; thence westwardly, including all the islands near the south end of the lake, across the lake to the mouth of the Drunken River; thence westwardly, to a point on Lake Manitoba, half way between ()ak Point and the mouth of Swan Creek; thence across Lake Manitoba, on a line due west to its western shore; there in a straight line to the crossing of the Rapids on the Assinil>oine; thence due south to the International boundary line, and thence easterly by the said line to the place of beginning."

Four reserves, the aggregate area of which was equal to about 160 acres for each family of five, were set apart for the Indians. One was situated near the mouth of the Red River, another near the mouth of the Winnipeg River, a third was located on the Roseau, while the fourth was on the Assiniboine above Portage la Prairie. The government was pledged to maintain a school on each reserve, if the Indians desired it. Each Indian man, woman, and child received a present of $3.00 on the signing of the treaty, and thereafter each was to receive a yearly payment of $3.00 in cash or its equivalent.

The treaty (No. 2) made with the Indians assembled at Manitoba Post took much less time than that made at Lower Fort Garry, for the more western Indians had learned the details of the earlier treaty and were content to accept similar terms for themselves. The treaty was concluded on August 21. It was signed by Mr. Simpson and five chiefs, while Governor Archibald, Hon. Mr. McKay, Mr. Molyneux St. John, and seven others signed as witnesses. By the first treaty the Indians had surrendered all claim to the 'and of a district that was almost identical with the province of Manitoba; by the second they ceded additional districts on the east, north, and west of Manitoba, whose aggregate area was twice that of the province. In return the government made, provisions similar to those promised to the Indians by Treaty No. 1. Four reserves, located about Lakes Manitoba and Dauphin, were set apart, schools were to be maintained, the cash payments were to be made and presents given, and the sale of liquor to the Indians prohibited.

Some three years later it was pointed out that certain verbal promises made to the Indians at the Lower Fort and at Manitoba Post had not been included m the texts of the treaties signed at those points. These promises included a dress for each chief and one for each of his councillors, buggies for certain chiefs and councillors, several domestic animals for each reserve, and a plow and a harrow for each Indian cultivating the soil. The government then decided to revise these treaties (Nos. 1 and 2), and the yearly payment to each member of a band was raised from $3.00 to $5.00, while each chief and four of his leading councillors were given $20.00 per annum, it being understood that those accepting the increased payments would waive all claims against the government for non-fulfillment of the verbal promises made when the original treaties were concluded.

During the first year of the history of the province mails arrived from Canada but once per week, coming from Pembina by stage. There was a weekly mail from Fort Garry to the Lower Fort and a weekly mail from Fort Garry to Portage. No telegraph line had reached the province, and the nearest point of railway was many miles south of the international boundary. But before the close of 1871 the conditions had been greatly improved. A stage line from Abercrombie to Fort Garry had been established, and the proprietors, Messrs. Blakely & Carpenter, had contracted with the government to carry a tri-weekly mail each way between the two points. Alexander Begg was the express agent in Winnipeg, and the first stage coach of the line reached the little prairie town on September 11. On November 20 the telegraph line connecting the town with the American lines at Pembina was completed, and the first message sent over it was Lieutenant-Governor Archibald's announcement to the governor-general of Canada that Manitoba was no longer isolated so completely from the rest of the world, and the second was Lord Lisgar's congratulatory reply. Before the end of the year 1871 the Northern Pacific Railway had been constructed to the town of Brainard in Minnesota, and plans had been made for a more complete steamboat service on the Red River.


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