No Meeting of Council in 1882;
Reasons—Creation of the Four Provisional Districts—Inadequate Mail and
Telegraph Service— Bright Prospects of 1882; Surveys and
Explorations—Regina Becomes Territorial Capital—Press Comments—Dewdney's
First Council—Address in Reply to Speech from the Throne— Serious
Grievances—Legislation and Legislators of 1883—Collapse of the Boom—McPherson's
New Land Regulations— Dewdney's Council of 1884—Lieutenant-Governor's
Comments of Contentment of Indians—Import of Spirituous Liquors— School
Bill; Other Important Legislation—Visit of Blackfeet Chief—Friction in
the Council—Executive Functions of the Council—North West Grievances
Reiterated bv Council; Brought Before Parliament by Mr. M. C.
Cameron—Territorial Elections of 1885—Speech from the Throne and Debate
on Reply—Memorial of Grievances—Important School Legislation—Futile
Debates in Parliament on North West Topics —Council of 1886—Territories
Given Representation at Ottawa—Creation of Supreme Court—Tokrens Land
Titles System—Council of 1887—Recommendations Regarding Constitutional
Changes—North West Council Authorized—Constitution of New
Assembly—Dewdney's Subsequent Career.
The Honorable Edgar Dewdney, who for the
two previous years bad filled the office of Indian Commissioner,
succeeded the Honorable David Laird as Lieutenant-Governor of the
Territories in December. 1881. No meeting of the North West Council
occurred, however, until August, 1883. The choice of the southern route
for the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway rendered it
undesirable to retain Battleford as the Territorial Capital, and
doubtless the conflict of various interests to be affected in the choice
of a permanent Capital were in part accountable for this long delay.
Moreover, half a dozen districts in the Territories had by this time
become sufficiently advanced in population to be entitled to erection
into electoral constituencies. This involved additional delay.
Furthermore, as we pointed out when treating of the work of Mr. Laird's
last Council, grave doubts had been raised as to the Council's powers,
and the satisfactory settlement of this difficulty involved lengthy
correspondence with the Ottawa Authorities. Still another explanation
was at the time offered by the Saskatchewan Herald. That journal was
probably not alone in its belief that the decision not to call the
Council during 1882 arose from "the manifest expectation of the early
creation of two provinces." This "expectation" was not fulfilled,
however, until twenty-three years later.
In May, 1882, the Dominion Government,
on the suggestion of Lord Lorne, by Order in Council created in the
North West Territories four provisional districts, chiefly for the
convenience of the Post Office Department. Certainly the postal
conditions of the West required attention, a fact clear by the following
newspaper clipping, dated June 10, 1882;
"The Government has abolished two light
but vexatious taxes—the stamps on promissory notes and bills, and the
postage on newspapers. The wording of the latter Act defines a newspaper
to be a publication issued at intervals of not more than seven days; and
this just lets the Herald in as about the only newspaper that has to pay
postage. We will try and stand it for the present. Put when the promised
"more frequent mail service' is given us we will get even, for then the
Herald will be issued every week, which will bring it within the
operations of the law. Under existing arrangements there is no use in
publishing a paper every week when there is a mail but once in three."
The people of Battleford district were
at this time promised a weekly mail, and in the autumn an announcement
was made that the contract had been let. Many months elapsed, however,
before it came into effect.
The four provisional districts were
called Assiniboia. Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Athabasca. These districts
have since then disappeared from the map of Canada, so it may be worth
while to recall their extent and positions. Assiniboia included an area
approximately 95.000 square miles, bounded on the east by Manitoba, on
the west by the line dividing tenth and eleventh ranges of townships, in
the north by the townships of series nine, and on the south by the
forty-ninth parallel of latitude. Saskatchewan lay north of Assiniboia.
and included about 114.000 square miles. It was bounded on the west by
the continuation of the boundary line of Assiniboia, and on the north by
the eighteenth correction line. Alberta included about 100.000 square
miles, between Assiniboia and British Columbia. It was bounded on the
north by the eighteenth correction line, near the fifty-fifth parallel
of latitude. Athabasca, the largest of the provisional districts,
covered approximately 122,000 square miles. It lay north of Alberta and
west of Saskatchewan.
The Dominion Government also intimated
to the people of Prince Albert that it would establish a line of
telegraph from the crossing on the south branch to their settlement, and
maintain stations at The Crossing, St. Laurent and Prince Albert, on
condition that the people should lay the necessary poles on the ground.
They were also to have a special telegraphic service with the East
during the remainder of the winter, and, until the missing link was
constructed, despatches would be received at Touchwood Hills from the
East, and from the West at Humboldt, and exchanged between those points
once a week.
During the summer of 1882 more than one
hundred parties of surveyors were busy resurveying base lines and
surveying townships in the North West, chiefly along the route of the
Canadian Pacific Railway.
Hope and confldence were returning.
Air. Clarke, the member for Lome, had devoted himself with apparent
success to the task of securing satisfactory terms for the Halfbreeds
and squatters in the unsurveyed districts, the Dominion Government
promising through him its early and favorable consideration to the
settlers' demands. This year we find recorded 2,753 homestead entries in
the North West. Even the Far North was becoming better and more
favorably known, through the explorations of Dr. R. Bell, who was
conducting careful investigation in districts never previously visited
The original Battleford reserve of 1876
covered an area of sixteen square miles, and in the summer of 1882 a
portion of this was surveyed as a town plot by the Dominion Government.
Sad havoc was played with the streets as laid out by the old settlers.
Scarcely a house was left standing squarely on the lot it was supposed
to occupy. However, the people of Battleford were so pleased at
obtaining any official survey, and over the fact that Battleford was the
first town plot in the North West to be laid out by the Dominion
Government, that they accepted pretty philosophically the apparently
arbitrary decisions of the Government surveyors.
Meantime Lieutenant-Governor Dewdney
was endeavoring to locate a capital. Troy or South Qu'Appelle and Fort
Qu'Appelle were vigorous claimants. However, for reasons which long
remained the subject of acrimonious dispute and disagreeable
insinuation. Governor Dewdney ultimately selected as the site for the
new headquarters of the Indian Department of the Mounted Police ''the
point where the railway crosses the Tile of Bones Creek, about fifty
miles southwest of Fort Qu'Appelle and twelve miles south of that river,
in or near township eighteen, range twenty-one, west of the Second
The name proposed first for the new
capital was Leopold. The Governor-General, however, was appealed to, and
his consort chose the name '"Regina," in honor of Queen Victoria.
The Honorable Mr. Dewdney's choice of
ibis site aroused a storm of protest in the contemporary press, but on
the 27th of the following March the Governor-General passed an Order in
Council removing the Capital from Battleford to Regina.
"One thing is certain." said the
Winnipeg Free Press. "Regina will never amount to anything more than a
country village or town, for the simple reason that in neither its
position nor its surroundings is there anything to give it the slightest
commercial importance. Situated in tbe midst of a vast plain of inferior
soil, with hardly a tree to be seen as far as the eye can range, and
with about enough water in the miserable little creek known as Pile of
Bones to wash a sheep, it would scarcely make a respectable farm, to say
nothing of being fixed upon as a site for the capital of a great
province. The place has not a single natural advantage to commend it."
Nevertheless, a thriving settlement was
established at Regina within a few months. Of its subsequent history we
will have something to say elsewhere.
Governor Dewdney's First Council met at
Regina 011 August 20, 1SS3, the session lasting until October 4. It
included Messrs. Richardson, Macleod and Breland (members of the former
Council), Lieutenant-Colonel Ache-son. Gosford Irvine. N. W. M. P., and
Hector Reed. Esq.. Indian Agent at Battleford, in addition to six
elected members. Honorable Lawrence Clarke had been succeeded by Captain
D. II. Maedowall as member-for Lome. Francis Oliver appeared as member
for Edmonton. James Hamilton Ross had been elected by the Moose Jaw
district. T. F. W. Jackson represented Qu'Appelle constituency. John
Claude Campbell Hamilton had been the choice of the electors of
Broadview and William White was the first member for Regina. Mr. Forget
still retained his office as clerk of the Council.
The address adopted in reply to the
Lieutenant-Governor's opening speech reflects in an interesting manner
the hopes and opinions of representative Westerners at this time. It is
therefore here reproduced:
"The members of the Council of the
North West Territories desire to congratulate Your Honor on being able
to speak so hopefully and so truthfully of the prosperity of the
country. We believe with you that the rapid growth and development of
the North West Territories is without a parallel in the history of the
world. Within a short space of a year and a half a country containing
more arable land than the whole of continental Europe, then without any
settled population comparatively, now with its broad and fertile acres,
the homes of thousands, happy in their choice of a home in the New Land,
and sanguine of a peaceful and prosperous future.
"We believe that a very great measure
of the success which has attended the opening up of the country is due
to the wise railway policy adopted by the Dominion Government. We wish
also to speak in terms of praise of the manner and rapidity of
construction of the line of railway now about completed from the Great
Lakes in the East to the Rocky Mountains in the West. And
notwithstanding the vast labor involved and the large number of men
employed, all has been done we believe without interference or
inconvenience to the requirements of the public, and without breach of
the law or hindrance from the Indian or white man. This happy state of
affairs must be, and we believe is, a matter of congratulation to Your
Honour as well as to the country at large. We desire also in this
connection to acknowledge the services which the North West Mounted
Police Force have rendered the country, and feel that no small share of
credit for peace and good order preserved is due to them.
"As the federal authorities have
selected Regina as the new capital of the North West, we venture to
express the hope that the future will but the clearer demonstrate the
wisdom of the choice. We believe it to be the duty, as it is we think
the desire, of every one interested in the prosperity of the country, to
witness the prosperity of the country's capital.
"We wish to thank Your Honor for the
representation given to the people in the Council of the country, and,
as foreshadowed by Your Honor in your address to the Council, trust that
by revision of the boundaries of the present electoral districts and the
erection of new ones, a fuller and broader representation may be given
at no distant day.
"We assure Your Honor that the
assistance you expect from the recently elected members, and to which
you refer in such gratifying terms, will be given you. We feel actuated
as we arc by a desire to legislate for and in the interests of the
people at large, that with an honest endeavor to promote the general
good, without regard to section or people, the result will be
satisfactory to ourselves and to those who are looking anxiously forward
to the course legislation may take in this Council, as well as to the
action which may be taken by us toward assisting to remove laws and
regulations over which we as a Council have no direct power. To this end
the Council will ask Your Honour to consider with us the best means that
can be adopted to convince the Dominion Government of the necessity that
exists of some definite action being taken with regard to those matters
on which repeated memorials have been presented by the people, as well
as matters and complaints which have arisen as the results of more
recent legislation by the federal authorities.
"We share with Your Honor in the regret
expressed by us at the approaching departure of the Governor-General and
his Royal Consort. We are aware that in a very large measure the
attention of the outside world has been directed with favourable results
to these territories through the exertions of His Excellency, who has
lost no opportunity of making known the resources of the country, with
which he was greatly impressed on the occasion of his visit to the North
West, and we assure Your Honor that we will heartily join you in an
address expressive of our regret that His Excellency and Her Royal
Highness are about to leave us.
"We further wish to assure Your Honor
that the several important measures spoken of by Your Honor will have
our most 'careful consideration.
"We would feel remiss in our duties
were we, before concluding, not to give that expression of loyalty and
attachment towards Her Most Gracious Majesty, the Queen, who has so long
and prosperously reigned over this great empire of which this Dominion
of Canada is a component part, who, by her ruling as a Sovereign as well
as in domestic affairs, has made herself a model to the world at large."
Before the end of the session a lengthy
memorial to His Excellency the Governor-General in Council was adopted,
calling attention to sixteen important grievances or requests. The
newspapers, particularly The Regina Leader, which had recently been
established by Nicholas Flood Davin, were full of protests against the
Regina reserve, and the North West Council added their remonstrances
against any such large blocks of land, otherwise available, being
deliberately withheld from settlement. The Council vigorously championed
the rights of Halfbreeds, and other squatters; prayed for more extended
surveys, especially in settled localities; protested against the leasing
of arable land for grazing purposes; asked that cancelled homesteads
should be reopened for entry, not held for sale; petitioned for proper
vaults for the land and registry offices; called for additional
Stipendiary Magistrates; asked for increased powers with regard to the
incorporation of territorial companies; desired that all trails and
highways should be vested in the Council; protested against the existing
duties on agricultural implements and lumber; requested a largely
increased sum for the improvement of navigation of the Saskatchewan
River; prayed that the mining laws should be assimilated to those of
British Columbia and Montana; protested against the proposed abolition
of pre-emption rights; urged that the territorial grant should be based
on a definite sum per capita; declared the system of granting immense
tracts of land to colonization companies to be vicious; and asked for
the representation of the Territories in the Dominion Parliament.
The influence of the elective members
was now powerful, and may be seen in many clauses of this notable
memorial. However, even yet the Ottawa Authorities seemed to care very
little about the Territories, and many manifest grievances remained for
long years unredressed.
Legislation regarding municipalities,
the relict" of indigent children, the prevention of the profanation of
the Lord's Day, the disposal of found or stolen horses, the herding of
animals, and other important Ordinances occupied the attention of the
Council. The following editorial on the Council of 1883 is quoted from
the Regina Leader:
"Mr. Macdowall of Prince Albert has a
clear, business-like head, and whenever lie spoke he showed a grasp of
the question in hand and the fruits of careful observation.
"From Moose Jaw we have Air. Jas. H.
Ross, a man of whom we in the North West may feel proud—a young man.
full of truth and courage, with a single eye to the good of the country.
He has been diligent in his attendance and given careful attention to
the work brought before the Council.
"Mr. T. W. Jackson, of Qu'Appelle, has
proved a most useful member. He has worked hard at the Municipal Bill.
Many persons thought he would make the work of the Council difficult,
and would display a hostility to Mr. Dewdney and Regina which would be
inconvenient in discussion. So far from this, he allowed an address to
pass which afforded him an opportunity of attacking both. Mr. Jackson
may therefore be credited with a desire to pave the way for the good
feeling which has prevailed. Reginians, after the way the city has been
assailed, may well-feel proud that the North West Council has endorsed
'the wisdom of the choice,' and Mr. Jackson cannot be too highly praised
for his patriotism. He was able to boast last week that though a course
opposing the Lieutenant-Governor would have been popular with his
constituents, he rose above the instincts of the demagogue and dictates
of anger, and indeed there has been no more decorous or assiduous member
of the Council.
"Mr. Claude Hamilton, of Broadview,
has, when present, shown both intelligence and spirit.
"Mr. Wm. White, of Regina, has been
attentive. He has wrestled with the noxious weed, and the Canada thistle
has felt him at its throat. He has been most desirous of doing all he
could to please the people of Regina. Indeed, this desire has been so
strong as almost to denude him of self-reliance and make it seem that be
almost shrank from responsibility. All that was in his power we may be
sure he has done.
"Among the appointees, Mr. Hayter Reed
has been most diligent, and Colonel Richardson's experience, legal
knowledge and familiarity with the North West cannot fail—even though he
necessarily takes an ultra-conservative view of every question—to have
been most useful. Colonel Macleod is intelligent, knows the western
ranch country well, but he seems to feel—for there is a good deal of
soldier in him—that galloping across the country would be more in his
line than legislating. Colonel Irvine's duties called him away nearly
the whole period the Council was in session.
"The Governor has been very zealous as
regards legislation, and when he had occasion to speak, spoke with force
and clearness—more force and clearness than we should have expected from
one so reticent in his habitual demeanor. Even persons disposed to
regard him with hostile feelings acknowledge that throughout he has
displayed breadth and grasp, readiness and statesmanlike instincts.
Altogether, the Council has shown itself a businesslike assembly, and
has done good work.
"One member we have not yet mentioned,
perhaps the most remarkable man, in some respects, in the Council, Mr.
Oliver, of Edmonton. If this gentleman is a type of the people of
Edmonton, we take the people of Edmonton to our heart, for Mr. Oliver is
a man not only of independent thought and great natural ability, but a
man of transparent honesty. Such men the free air of our North West
breeds. Mr. Oliver's name will be always connected with the foundation
of the school system in the North West.
"In the article in which we commented
on the opening of the Council, we expressed our confidence in the
appointed members, that they would show 'an intelligent appreciation of
the situation.' If they did nothing but vote the memorial they voted on
Tuesday, they would have justified this confidence."
The year 1883 marked the end of two
years of wild speculation. The number of persons who came up to the
North West not to farm but to make fortunes were out of all proportion
to the number of real wealth producers. Paper towns sprang up
everywhere, and the aftermath of the ill-starred boom caused widespread
disappointment and considerable suffering.
During this year the .Marquis of Lome's
term of office was brought to a close, and he was succeeded by Lord
Lansdown. Toward the close of the year the Honorable D. L. McP'herson
became Minister of the Interior, and immediately promulgated new
regulations opening up "the mile belt" for settlement and foreshadowing
a liberal policy as regards the railway reserves. The even sections of
the railway belt within a mile of the railway were thrown open on
condition that the settlers should prepare ten acres the first year;
should crop ten acres and prepare fifteen the second year; and. in the
third and final year, crop twenty-live acres and prepare fifteen. The
even numbered sections in the Regina Reserve were placed on sale to bona
fide settlers at five dollars an acre. Purchases were limited to one
hundred and sixty acres by any one individual, and settlers cultivating
a quarter of their land within the three-year period were to be granted
a rebate of half the purchase price. On the other hand, if the settler
failed to cultivate the minimum of a quarter of his land within the
three-year period the sale might be cancelled. The object of these and
other analogous regulations was, of course, to prevent valuable lands
adjacent to the railway from being monopolized by speculators.
In Governor Dewdney's Council of 1884
Charles Porromee Rouleau, an additional Stipendiary Magistrate, was
added to the list of our-officio and appointed members. Two new elected
members also presented themselves now for the first time. John
Gillanders Turriff, for the electoral district of Moose Mountain, and
James Davidson Geddes for that of Calgary. The elected members were now
eight in number and the appointed and ex-officio members six.
In his opening speech Honorable Mr.
Dewdney outlined the development of the electoral system and proposed
various important subjects for legislation. During the recess copies of
a school bill, submitted but later withdrawn by Mr. Oliver during the
preceding session, had been distributed and Governor Dewdney expressed
the hope that during the present session it would be possible to pass a
School Ordinance acceptable to the people.
In view of the startling event
occurring eight months later, the following quotation from the
Governor's comments 011 the Indian situation is especially interesting:
"The exaggerated reports of Indian
difficulties which have lately appeared in some of the newspapers and
which must do the country harm, induce me to say a few words to you on
that subject. From what I have seen myself during my travels in the
spring, and from what I gather from the correspondence which reaches me
as Indian Commissioner, I can confidently say that our Indians are
generally more contented than they have been since the treaty was made,
and the progress they are making in agriculture is most gratifying.
"It cannot be expected that with a
population of some twenty thousand Indians, scattered on reserves in
bands all over the territory, we can escape without a little trouble and
at times excitement. This is inevitable where Indians fresh from the
plains are first brought on their reserves and come in contact with
white settlers. It has been so with those who are now comparatively well
off, and will be so until the new arrivals recognize the fact that they
must settle down, and work to make a living; but that there is any cause
for alarm I deny. I am sure the general feeling is one of security, and
the exaggerated reports that have been circulated are to be regretted."
In the preceding year, with the advice
of his Council, Governor Dewdney had imposed a fee of fifty cents per
gallon upon spirituous liquors brought into the country under Government
permits. The Governor called attention to the fact that a large amount
of liquor was being smuggled into the country without permits and that
many illicit stills were in operation. However, he was "glad to be able
to inform" the Council "that very little abuse" of the permit system had
occurred. Against this dictum Messrs. Oliver and Turriff protested. They
considered the enforcement of the law at present to be most
unsatisfactory and disagreed with the Governor and the majority of the
Council, who thought that the establishment of local breweries would
improve conditions by discouraging smuggling and illicit distilling.
From this time on for many years the control of the liquor traffic
provided themes for ever recurring debates. It is, of course, to be
understood that as yet the North West was theoretically under a
prohibitory system, so far as the legal sale of intoxicants was
A very large proportion of the session
under review was devoted to Mr. Oliver's School Bill. Already under the
Governor-General's Orders in Council the Lieutenant-Governor was paying
out of the appropriation for the North West Government half the salaries
of the teachers engaged in ten Protestant and one Roman Catholic
Schools. The regulations, however, required that a school must have an
attendance of fifteen before it was eligible for assistance, and the
Council were unanimously of the opinion that this number should be
reduced to ten. Mr. Oliver's School Bill was read a first time and
referred to a special committee. As a result of its deliberations a
second School Bill was introduced by Mr. Rouleau and ultimately passed,
August 6, 1884.
The other chief topics of debate in
this session was the Lieutenant-Governor's Municipal Ordinance, which,
after vigorous scrutiny in committee and numerous amendments, duly
became a law. Mr. Jackson was a special champion of the Bill. The
measure, however, did not prove very popular in practice. It was an
attempt practically to transplant Ontario Institutions into a sparsely
settled territory, where local conditions differed widely from those of
The Council of 1884 devoted attention
to many other topics. In all forty-three Bills were introduced, and
thirty-six were passed. Recommendations were made in accordance with
which the elective members were to be paid $400 and travelling expenses.
On July 9 the Council was visited by
Crowfoot, Red Crow, Eagle Tail, and Three Bulls—distinguished Blackfeet
chiefs. They were duly welcomed by a formal resolution, to which
Crowfoot returned thanks.
Evidence of friction between the
elective and appointive elements in the Council sometimes manifested
itself. Messrs. Oliver and Ross were particularly emphatic in
maintaining that no person not directly responsible to the people in the
North West should be allowed a voice in local legislation, or a scat in
the Council. The majority of the Council were, however, peaceably
inclined, and when Messrs. Oliver and Ross introduced this and other
grievances in a fiery resolution we find Messrs. Jackson and Turriff
presenting a substitute, which all the other members supported. In it
they expressed the belief that the feeling of the country was strongly
against "any action of the Council being taken in such a way that cither
political party in the Dominion Parliament could use it for political
purposes." One seems to see the hand of the party politician even in
this rebuke to Messrs. Oliver and Ross, though it manifestly was not
seen by some who supported the amendment.
The Council reaffirmed the statements
contained in the Memorial of the preceding session, but protests against
the continuance of many of the grievances complained of were referred
from the Committee of the Whole to the Council in Executive Session.
Consequently we have no further record of the matter in the Journals of
However, the North West grievances had
already been brought prominently before the attention of Parliament by
Air. M. C. Cameron, member for Huron, Ontario. He introduced a Pill for
the representation of the Territories in Parliament, but it did not
reach the later stages. Again on November 27 Air. Cameron moved in
amendment to a motion that the House go into Committee on Supply, "that
the House should resolve itself into Committee to consider the
conditions, complaints and demands of Manitoba, and the North West
Territory, with a view to devise some means of remedying any well
founded grievances and complying with any reasonable demands." Air.
Cameron referred to the Memorial of the North West Council, and, while
admitting that some of the grievances complaince of had been remedied,
declared that still others were deserving of serious consideration. He
also called attention to the Bill of Rights which had been adopted by
the Fariners' Union of Manitoba and the North West complaining chiefly
of the land laws and tariff. However, he found only fifty-seven
supporters, and the Government's policy was endorsed by a majority of
During the year Mr. W. Pearee visited
Prince Albert, Battleford and other points on behalf of the Dominion
Authorities to investigate the claims advanced by old settlers on the
grounds of long occupation. A considerable number of these claims were
satisfactorily disposed of. but Mr. Pearce could not speak French, and
as the employment of an interpreter would have entailed expense, no
enquiry was made into the special grievances of the French Halfbreeds.
Comment is unnecessary.
Mr. A. Al. Burgess, Deputy Minister of
the Interior, also made an official tour along the lines of the Canadian
Pacific Railway. He met with a serious accident, however, and was
obliged to cut his visit short. Put for this untoward incident other
grievances which ultimately helped to bring about the North West
Rebellion of the following year might have been remedied in time. As it
was, the breaking of an official's arm seemed to involve that of the
Government in inevitable and incurable paralysis. The events leading up
to the rising and consequent thereupon will be discussed al length in
other chapters. The rebellion was over when the Council again met on
November 5, 1885.
In that year the electoral districts of
the Territories were rearranged, and on the 17th of September elections
were held. Mr. Oliver, of Edmonton, was defeated by Dr. Herbert C.
Wilson by a narrow majority. Captain Macdowall, of Lorne, did not
contest his seat, and Owen T. Hughes was elected to represent it. Air.
Hamilton also retired in Broadview and was succeeded by Mr. Charles
Marchallsay. Regina district was given two members, and in the new
Council it was represented by Messrs. David E. Jelly and John Second in
place of Air. W. White. Thus apart from the appointed and officio'
members, the only gentlemen who had sat in the Council of 1884 and
retained their seats in that of 1885 were Messrs. J. H. Ross. F. W.
Jackson, J. G. Turriff, and J. D. Geddes. Mr. W. D. Perley was elected a
second member for Qu'Appelle district. Spencer A. Bedford was elected by
acclamation in Mossomin district, and Samuel Cunningham in South
Alberta. Richard Henry (Viscount Boyle) was elected as member for
The Council met November 5 and remained
in session until December 18. In the Speech from the Throne the Governor
announced that since the last session sixty-five applications—including
only one for the establishment of a Separate School—had been received
for the creation of school districts. Certain provisions of the School
Act of the preceding session had in practice proved unworkable and would
require amendment. As an evidence of the opening up of the Territories
it was pointed out that local receipts had more than doubled during the
last year, and that numerous flourishing agricultural societies had been
established. The Governor also hinted at the necessity of some means
being devised by which he could be assisted by and kept in touch with
his Council during recess. This was a tentative suggestion pointing
toward the creation of a permanent Executive Committee. The recent
rebellion was but very slightly touched upon in the Governor's speech.
The reply to the speech from the throne
involved the Council in a prolonged and exciting discussion, and when
finally adopted it constituted something very like a vote of
non-confidence in the Dominion Government's policy in the Territories.
It reads in part as follows:
"While congratulating ourselves and the
country on the increased representation afforded, we cannot omit to
point out to your Honor the still greater rights of representation which
we feel we are entitled to, but have not yet received. Settled as these
territories in a large measure are, by men who have been accustomed to
the constitutional rights and privileges of the British Empire, and its
colonies, it is inevitable that a feeling of distress and uneasiness
should be prevalent owing to our not enjoying the same. . . . We
confidently look forward to the next session of the Federal Parliament
granting our requests and calling to their councils representatives of
these territories. . . .
"The position of several townsites in
which the Government and the Canadian Pacific Railway are interested is
very unsatisfactory. It was never intended, we believe, that the
exemption from taxation for twenty years granted to the Canadian Pacific
Railway should apply to sections of lauds subdivided into town lots, and
it is highly unsatisfactory to have the Crown claim exemption from
taxation in towns allowed to be incorporated by it. The effect is to
retard the growth of these centres of trade, and to create distrust, and
besides, the resident owners are compelled to pay the municipal taxes
which are expended in improving the property of the Crown, which in this
instance reaps the benefits of speculation without bearing the burdens.
"Knowing as we do the great influence
always had over the Indians by the Halfbreeds, we have to regret that
the repeated representations made to the Government of Canada by the
North West Council on behalf of the Halfbreeds and their claims did not
receive more immediate attention. We trust Your Honor will give this
Council your help in bringing the matter of the many existing unsettled
claims to the notice of the Dominion Government by a memorial or
Much time was spent by the Council in
the discussion of rebellion claims and in the registration of formal
protests against unjust, inadequate or unnecessarily delayed
settlements. However, the Council expressed the belief that the
Government's policy faithfully carried out would prevent future Indian
outbreaks and endorsed the action of the Dominion Authorities in
allowing the law to take its course in the case of Riel, the rebel
leader. The Halfbreed political prisoners, however, were recommended to
A very lengthy memorial was presented
to the Dominion Government by the North West Council involving
twenty-seven distinct grievances and requests. This course was rendered
necessary by the fact that the Territories had no official
representatives at Ottawa to present their views before Parliament.
Messrs. Perley, Wilson and Ross were chosen as delegates to present the
memorial at the capital, which they did in February of the following
year. While many of their requests were not fully complied with at the
time, the delegates expressed the view that much good would accrue from
the Council's action.
During this session the North West
School System was formally established with provisions for separate
schools as required by Section 14 of the North West Territories Act. As
school legislation will be given a separate chapter, we need not here
further discuss this most important reform.
Territorial affairs were very prominent
in the Dominion Parliament of 1885, though the debates resulted in but
little good. Partisan feeling ran so high that the opposition was
frequently unreasonable and the Government Party blindly subservient to
its leaders. "Altogether," as Alexander Begg very truly says (Volume
III, page 166), "the record of the session of 18S5 might profitably be
expunged from the pages of Canadian history. It contains nothing that
can redound to the credit or prestige of the Dominion, and much that is
In the Council of 1S86, Calgary had two
representatives, Messrs. John D. Lauder and Hugh S. Cayley, Air. Geddes
thus disappearing from the House. Air. Jackson had resigned his seat for
Qu'Appelle and been succeeded by Air. Robert Crawford. Otherwise the
membership was the same as in the preceding year. The Governor commented
upon the drought of the summer, but reported that, upon the whole,
marked progress' had been made by the Territories, especially as regards
the cattle industry. The Canadian Pacific Railway had been completed and
the Long Lake Railway was running as far as the Qu'Appelle Valley. Other
railway developments, actual or prospective, were also mentioned with
approval, including a "not improbable Hudson Bay Railway" with its
"initial point at Regina."
Out of the twenty-seven subjects upon
which the Council of 1S85 had memorialized the Dominion Government,
seventeen were reported as agreed to, and others as having been dealt
with in a manner which the Lieutenant-Governor believed would prove
satisfactory. The Governor congratulated the Council upon the present
condition of Indian affairs, offering his assurance that there never was
a time when the Indians were more contented, more cheerful or better
disposed toward their white brethren. A few of the leading Indian chiefs
of the North West had been sent to attend the unveiling of the Brant
Memorial in the City of Brantford, Ontario, a step that would doubtless
have a beneficial effect. Indeed, the general outlook of the North West
was hopeful, and a large increase in immigration was in evidence.
This year the reply to the Speech from
the Throne was much more pacific than it had been in the preceding
session. The members of the Council, however, united in believing that
the time had come when it should assume the character of a legislative
assembly. A Committee of the Council reported at length upon the matter
of pensions to numerous rebellion sufferers or their heirs who had not
yet received proper recognition, and the details were transmitted in due
course to Ottawa. The annual Memorial to the Federal Government this
year included twelve items. Twenty-one bills were passed by the Council
and three others fell by the way. It is perhaps not without significance
that much of the Council's time was devoted to legalizing defective
The Council sat from October 13 to
November 17, and evidently worked very steadily. On Wednesday, the 18th,
however, a quorum was not present and the Governor adjourned the Council
until the following Friday. On that occasion only two members presented
themselves. Mr Honor expressed special regret at the somewhat cavalier
desertion of their posts by the other weary legislators, as important
matters were still pending. However, as the great majority of the
members had already left for their homes, he bowed to the inevitable and
prorogued the Council.
The time had at last arrived when
representation of the Territories in the Parliament of the Dominion
could no longer be delayed. The Territories were given two
representatives in the Senate, and four electoral districts for Dominion
purposes were also created in the North West. In the Alberta
constituency D. W. Davis was elected; in Saskatchewan the candidates
were D. H. Macdowall and the Honorable David Laird, of whom the former
was successful. The first member for East Assiniboia was W. D. Perley,
and the first member for West Assiniboia was Nicholas Flood Davin, who
defeated James H. Ross. The latter gentleman, however, retained his
place in the local Council as member for Moose Jaw.
The treatment of the Territories in the
framing of the Dominion estimates-was distinctly more favorable this
year than hitherto.
In this same year the Territories were
sub-divided into five judicial districts. A Supreme Court was
constituted, consisting of the Honorable Hugh Richardson, the Honorable
James F. Macleod, the Honorable Charles B. Rouleau, and the Honorable
Edward W. Wetmore, who was the Lieutenant-Governor carry on his
executive functions by and with the advice of an Executive Council of
three persons who should be summoned to office by the
Lieutenant-Governor and must hold seats in the North West Council; that
the Council should have power to amend its own constitution from time to
time and should be subject as regards money bills, disallowance, and
similar matters, to the provisions of the British North America Act
applicable in the case of Provinces. This Memorial was presented in the
Council by Air. Ross, but all the elected members of the Council, and
Air. Hayter Reed as well, had places in the Special Committee appointed
to draft it.
Every year had seen the old Liquor
Permit Law failing more conspicuously than hitherto. Between January I.
1882, and October 20, 1887, the fines for the violations of the
Territorial Liquor Laws amounted to $r5, 631.50, and it was notorious
that but a small fraction of the total number of instances in which the
law was infringed were ever punished. The Council placed on record its
disapproval of the system as unsatisfactory and ineffective either as a
temperance or prohibitory measure. After much debate on the subject, it
was unanimously resolved that the Council should be given the same
powers in dealing with the liquor question as those exercised by the
Provinces, and that the provisions of the Scott Act should be extended
to the Territories.
This ninth and final session of the
North West Council closed on Saturday, November 19, 1887. When the
Dominion Parliament met early in 1888 the North West Territories Act was
passed abolishing the Council, and creating a Legislative Assembly. Of
the twenty-five members, twenty-two were to be elected and three others
were to be chosen from the Territorial judiciary as legal experts. These
latter, however, were to have no vote. The Assembly was given, by the
statute, powers analogous to those of Provincial Legislatures, but
substantially the same as those latterly exercised by the North West
Council under Orders in Council issued by the Governor-General. A1
embers were to be elected for three years, but the Assembly was to be
subject to dissolution at the discretion of the Lieutenant-Governor.
Provision was also made for an Advisory Council of four members, who,
with the Lieutenant-Governor, would constitute an Executive Committee in
all matters of finance. The Assembly would henceforth conduct the
proceedings under the presidency of the Speaker, elected from among its
In his report for 1888 the Commissioner
of the Royal North West .Mounted Police commented on an almost entire
absence of crime in the Territory during the preceding year. In all
quarters of the Territories, except the southwest, the Indians were
making rapid strides toward self-support and some of their chiefs
rendered very valuable assistance to the police in the enforcement of
the law and the capture of criminals. This year considerable treaty
money had been paid to the rebel Indian tribes upon the recommendation
of the Indian agents. In speaking of the numerous Indians in the Prince
Albert district, the Superintendent was able for the third time to
comment in his annual report upon the excellent conduct of the Indian
population. Not a single crime had been committed among them.
For several years after the Rebellion
it was necessary to issue relief to large numbers of the Halfbreeds who
had been ruined in the rising.
The Honorable Mr. Dewdney's term of
office as Lieutenant-Governor of the Territories expired in July, 1888.
The seven years during which he held this important appointment were a
period of unrest and transition and the difficulties of his office had
been very great. In those days a Governor really governed. It was his
duty to preside over and direct the proceedings of his Advisory Council,
and personally to superintend the administration of public affairs in
all parts of his enormous domain. In this, moreover, lie was far from
exercising a free hand. He was subject, in important regards, to the
control of ill-informed officials two thousand miles away. True, it was
his duty to render them well informed, and in this he-can scarcely be
said to have succeeded. Indeed, the opinion has been very prevalent that
the responsibility lies at his door for the notorious ignorance
prevailing in official circles at Ottawa regarding the actual needs and
wishes of the West. An impartial study of available records, however,
leads one to the conclusion that he habitually and earnestly labored in
the interests of the Territories, where he has always had warm
supporters in the best informed circles. The Councils in whose
deliberations he took so prominent a part left behind them a very
creditable legislative record. Their recommendations to the Federal
Authorities were, upon the whole, surprisingly free from political
animus and in almost all instances characterized by shrewd insight into
and familiarity with conditions throughout the Territories. Had the
Memorials of the Council, transmitted to the Dominion Government by Mr.
Dewdney, been given the prompt and decisive attention they merited.
Lieutenant-Governor Dewdney's regime would have been marked by still
greater development of the Territories, and by such an increase in
prosperity and contentment as would have rendered impossible the
deplorable rebellion of 1885.
Mr. Dewdney presently entered the
Dominion Cabinet as Minister of the Interior, being elected for the
constituency of East Assiniboia. The seat was vacated by Mr. Perley. who
was shortly afterwards created a Senator. Four years later Mr. Dewdney
became Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, holding that
distinguished post from 1892 to 1897.