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History of Saskatchewan and The Old North West
Chapter XII - The First Settlements in Saskatchewan; Preliminary Outline of the Period 1870-1876


Earliest Settlements in What Is Now Saskatchewan—Sources of Information—Effect of Red River Rising on the Indians— Influence of Settlers; and of Indian Wars in the United Statics—Prestige of the Missionaries—Smallpox Epidemic, 1870—Christie's Report—Father Lacomre's Report—Organization of Board of Health, 1871—Boundary Commission, 1872 to 1874—Danger of Western Canada from the Fenians— Attitude of French Halfbreeds in Manitoba—Cypress Hilll Massacre—Creation of Mounted Police Force, 1873—Provisional Government at Batoche, 1875—Necessity for Resident Governor and Council—Spread of Information Regarding 'the West.

When, in 1870, a little district, approximately one hundred miles wide and one hundred and forty miles long, was organized into the Province of Manitoba, the remainder of the enormous Territories just ceded to Canada by the Hudson's Bay Company was almost entirely without settlers. The following quotation is from Palliser's famous report of his explorations, 1858-1861 :

"The Qu'Appelle lakes may be considered the most western part of the territory east of the Rocky mountains to which the Hudson Bay Company trade; westward of this 1 may say is unknown, and tbe whole country in this latitude is untravelled by the white man."

Tiny settlements were, of course, to be found at the various "torts." The most important trading posts, apart from those in the Red River settlement, were Fort Ellice. at the junction of the Qu'Appelle and Assiniboin Rivers; Fort Telly, on the Assiniboin; Norway House, at the north end of Lake Winnipeg; Cumberland House, on the Saskatchewan; Fort A la Come, near the junction of the North and South Saskatchewan; Fort Carlton, and Forts Pitt and Edmonton. On the north branch; Fort Touchwood, among the Touchwood Hills; and Fort Qu'Appelle. Captain Palliser reported in 1862 that the Hudson's Bay Company had long since given up all posts in the Blackfeet country. Edmonton in Palliser's time was a trading post, quite as large as Fort Garry. It was built of wood and furnished with strong bastions and palisades. Near it was a farm attached to the establishment, the only one in Saskatchewan, some thirty acres in extent. The population of the fort was one hundred fifty, one-third of these being the Company's employees. Fort Qu'Appelle was then situated sixteen or eighteen miles south of the present place of that name. As the facts in this connection have been disputed by some, it may be worth while to quote the following extracts from the journal of Doctor Hecctor, who accompanied Captain Palliser.

"The country all around this lake (i.e., Qu'Appelle) is extremely irregular, rising into high hills without any covering but a scanty growth of grass: boulders arc also very abundant. . . . At one o'clock we readied our destination, a small trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company, which from having first been situated at the Qu'Appelle Lakes, is known by that name. . . . As this was the place we were to remain at to await Captain Palliser's joining us, I employed the time in making a visit to the Qu'Appelle Lakes, lying about eighteen miles to the north. Having procured a guide and a note from the gentleman in charge to a missionary who lives there, we departed after dinner, intending to return next day. For the first four miles the track, which is almost due north, passes through open woods, . . . making a considerable descent. .After that, with the exception of a few clumps, we saw no wood, but crossed a level open plain. We again commenced to descend steadily. It was sunset before we readied the Qu'Appelle River, and descended into its profound valley by a dim twilight, which greatly exaggerated its proportions. Riding along the river we soon came to the house of the missionary, guided by the baying of the dogs. We were very hospitably received by Air. Pratt, who is a missionary of the Church of England from Red River settlement, and a pure Stoney Indian by birth. lie has a very comfortable little house and cultivates an excellent garden, in which he rears, among other things, hops and Indian corn."

When the North West was annexed to Canada, Halfbreed settlements were gradually being established in various parts of what is now Saskatchewan, notably about Princc Albert, Batoche, and Wood Mountain (Willow Bunch). Practically all the whites and Halfbreeds in the country lived by the chase and agricultural settlement can scarcely be said yet to have begun.

Almost our only means of information regarding this wilderness empire in the early days is derived from the writings of missionaries, such as Father Lacombe, the Reverend John McDougall and the Reverend Mr. Nisbet; the fatuous report made to Lieutenant-Governor Archibald by Captain W. E. Butler and that made to the Federal authorities by Col. Robt. Ross; the personal correspondence of Hudson Bay factors and traders; the reports of explorers and wandering adventurers; and the reminiscences of the very few other Old Timers who had already penetrated through the Western wilderness and arc yet living.

The institutions of law and order as understood in civilized communities were as yet wholly unknown in what is now Saskatchewan and Alberta. Serious crimes were committed from time to time without any vindication of the law being possible. The Hudson's Bay Company, itself being a commercial corporation dependent for its profits on the goodwill of the inhabitants, hesitated to exercise even the slight repressive powers within its grasp. Free trade in furs, which really meant-uncontrolled trade in whisky, had further demoralized the natives. The rumors of the so-called rebellion, which had marked the establishment of Canadian authority, had most dangerously disturbed tbe tradition of relative peace that had characterized Western and Central British America, as far as the relation between the whites and the Indians were concerned. The native tribes of the Far West were still involved in ceaseless bloody feuds among themselves.

Moreover, the Indians viewed with the greatest anxiety the gradual inroad of white and Halfbreed settlers. The promiscuous use, by settlers and hunters, of poisons for the destruction of wolves and foxes, was causing the death of numerous dogs and horses belonging to the Indians. Worst of all, the extinction of the buffalo was already a calamity within sight; and for this and all their other misfortunes, the aborigines held the new-comers responsible.

South of the American border a war of extermination was in progress, directed against the Sioux, Blackfeet and Piegans. In the Spring of 1870 an encampment of the last-named tribe, dwelling close to the International boundary line, was surprised at daybreak by American soldiers. The tribe attacked was suffering severely from smallpox, and unable to offer any real resistance. In consequence one hundred and seventy men. women and children were massacred within a few moments. The extreme bitterness of the Indians against the American traders was the further aggravated by the belief general throughout Saskatchewan that the Blackfeet had been deliberately subjected to infection from smallpox by Missouri traders,— an opinion which, says Butler, "monstrous though it may appear, has been somewhat verified by the western press."

The Halfbreed element in the population was chiefly of French extraction, and largely made up of former employees of the Hudson's Bay Company. They had established scattered settlements along the Saskatchewan at Batoche. Prince Albert, Battleford. Willow Bunch, Wood Mountain, and in the neighbourhood of various Hudson Bay trading posts, notably Qu'Appelle. As a general rule they devoted little attention to agriculture. Most of the summer they spent upon the plains, buffalo hunting, and in the winter they traded with and freighted for the Hudson's Bay Company. Says Butler, "They are gay, idle, dissipated, unreliable and ungrateful; in a measure brave; hasty to form conclusions and quick to act upon them; possessingextraordinary power of endurance and capable of undergoing immense fatigue, yet scarcely ever to be depended on in critical moments; superstitious and ignorant, having a very deep rooted distaste to any fixed employment; opposed to the Indian, yet widely separated from the white man." Politically, Butler found among them "an exact counter-part of French political feeling in Manitoba . . . kept in abeyance by the isolation of the various settlements, as well as by the dread of Indian attack."

Along the North Saskatchewan and various other rivers in what is now Alberta, gold had been discovered, but it was only in the neighbourhood of the forts of the Hudson's Bay Company that continued washing for the precious metal could be carried on. This was owing to the hostility of the Indians and to the practical impossibility of procuring supplies. Nevertheless there was a very strong belief among the best informed that the gold fields of the upper Saskatchewan would presently be the scenes of tumultuous activity akin to that of American mining settlements in the early days. The reader need hardly be told that the prospect of the approaching ingress of large numbers of lawless miners greatly added to the anxieties of thoughtful men.

The famous missionary pioneer, John McDougall, in his book entitled Western Trails in the Early Seventies, gives a vivid picture of these chaotic times. By virtue of their personal force of character and superior intelligence, the missionaries came to be looked upon somewhat as were the Judges in Israel in those far-away times, when, as we are told, "every man did that which was right in his own eyes."

"At this time," says Mr. McDougall, "there was not a bona fide settler south of the North Saskatchewan. We were there by ourselves, a few English-speaking men and women amongst thousands of natives, and these speaking different languages, and out of the long past still at enmity and in a condition of war with each other.

Under these circumstances it was a serious problem to keep the peace. In each camp were those who desired it: but the crowd who did not .care, and those who had personal grievances to be adjusted and revenge to be gratified, these kept our friends and myself on the move. We had to be on guard day and night. Many a time I was called upon to pass judgment between parties of the same tribe, and often between those of distinct nationality. Horses and women were, almost in every case, the reason given for the trouble.

"I made it a rule to listen to the quality of evidence rather than the quantity thereof; but to arbitrate or give judgment with all parties before you fully armed, and their several constituencies behind them ready to fight, made me feel somewhat nervous. However, we knew we were preparing the people for the Government, which we now hoped would soon come upon the scene. In the meantime "John's' ruling prevailed, at any rate in the vicinity of our fort."

The year 1870 was marked by one of the most devastating epidemics of smallpox that ever cursed the West. It was about fifty years since it had first appeared among the Indians and already among the British tribes the Stoneys of the Qu'Appelle plains had been almost exterminated by it. In 1869 and 1870 reports reached the Saskatchewan of the prevalence of smallpox of a very malignant type among the Blackfeet, from whom it spread to other Indians of the Southwestern plains. Nevertheless, in April, 1870, a small band of Crees visited the infected country on a war excursion. Coming upon a deserted Black foot camp they mutilated some corpses found there and carried away the scalps and clothing as trophies. Upon this act a terrible penalty followed. The pillaged camp had belonged to victims of the plague. On their return home the disease, carried thither by the exulting warriors, spread throughout the whole Cree nation. The terrified Indians scattered and the infection was thus spread broadcast.

From a letter from Chief 1Factor W. J. Christie, of Carlton House, to Donald A. Smith, under date of September 30, 1870. we learn that in the plains whole bands of the aborigines were being obliterated and that the deadly malady was at work among the whites as well as the Indians. Mr. Christie begged earnestly for medical assistance and for military or police protection against the frantic and superstitious Indians, who unreasonably blamed the whites for the pestilence.

"At Fort Pitt," he says, "two hundred Indians died, and they brought their dead and threw them against the stockades to try and give the infection to the Whites. In all cases, we have to go and bury their dead, and 1 am told the stench is awful. In the plains, the air for miles from a dead camp is infected from the dead lying uuburicd. From the Rocky Mountains to this place it rages, and by report it is in Peace River, but this is not confirmed by any letters I have received from Slave Lake. . . . We trade nothing with the Indians; we do all we can to save them, scattering them in the woods, and giving them ammunition, etc., gratis, and after all they blame us for the malady. At Fort Pitt, a party came in. thinking to find Chief Trader W. H. Wall there, and were to murder hint and Traill if they found them. They say they sent the malady among them,—poor deluded creatures."

On the terrors of this fearful year still more lurid light is cast by letters from the heroic missionaries, such as Father Lacombe. The reader will be interested in perusing the following extracts from a letter from that great Indian apostle to Bishop Tache.

". . . Y'on are aware, My Lord, that I spent all last winter amidst the Crees and Blackfeet. Having left the Reverend Father Dupin and Brother Scandon with the Crees, I came hack here for the passage of Monseigncnr Grandin. After taking leave of His Lordship, I set out for the camp of the Blackfeet, where 1 arrived after a journey of twenty days, and remained until Spring. It was then that I first became acquainted with the terrible epidemic disease of which we still continue to suffer. At that time the contagion was not so dangerous as it is now, particularly in the camp in which I was stationed, but information reached me that at 'Riviere des Ventres' and near the Missouri, a great number of the Piegans and Blood Indians were cut off by it.

"After a long and trying journey to Little Slave Lake and Peace River. I arrived at Lac la niche in the middle of July, and considered myself entitled to a few days' rest, but the time had not yet come. I received intelligence that the Indians were on the eve of arriving at St. Paul stricken by the disease. Bidding farewell to rest, I hastened to the relief of my dear eophytes. En1 route, I met Reverend Father Dupin on his way to Lac la Biche, to be attended,—he was dangerously ill. I got here on the 18th July. None but those who witnessed it can form an idea of the spectacle offered to my view. Upwards of one hundred and thirty families were busily occupied pitching their tents around my dwelling. Hardly alighted from my horse, I had to respond to the cries of the poor sufferers, calling on me with all their might. When I now recall to mind the two months I passed, exposed to the plague, and worn out with fatigue, I most gratefully acknowledge the visible and special protection of Providence. Poor Indians! What a pitiful sight they then offered, and still offer, as a great number still labour under the painful disease. Every one implored my aid and charity,—some for medicine, others for the benefit of the last sacraments. Day and night I was constantly occupied. Scarcely had I time to say Mass. I had to instruct and baptize dying infidels, confess and anoint our neophytes, at the point of death, minister to different wants, give a drink to one and food to another, and kindle the fire during the cold nights. This dreadful epidemic has taken all compassion from the hearts of the Indians. The lepers of a new kind arc removed to a distance from the others and sheltered with branches. There they witness the decomposition and putrefaction of their bodies several days before death. I cannot define the nature of the contagion; some say it is smallpox, other scarlatina. For my part, I am led to believe that it is a complication of several diseases and putrid fever. The patient is at first very feverish, the skin becomes red and covered with pimples, these blotches in a few days form scabs filled with infectious matter, then the flesh begins to decompose and fall off in fragments. Worms swarm in the parts most affected. Inflammation of tiie throat impedes all passage for meal or drink. While enduring the torments of this cruel agony, the sufferer ceases to breathe, alone in a poor shed with no other assistance than what I can afford. The hideous corpses must be buried, a grave must be dug. and the bodies carried to the burial ground. All this devolves on me. and I am alone with Indians, disheartened and terrified to such a degree that the}' hardly dare approach even their own relatives. God alone knows what I have had to endure merely to prevent their mortal remains being devoured by dogs. On the other hand, my toils are amply repaid by the consolation I experience in witnessing the happy dispositions of the poor Indians at the hour of death. This tacit teaching of the "Master of Life' has done more among the Savage Tribes than all our sermons. While I was thus employed an Indian arrived from Victoria, sent by the Chief of his Camp. The messenger eagerly besought me to come and visit his people. With difficulty I escaped from the grasp of my own Indians, and the same day, before sunset, I was in the midst of the Indians of Victoria. They also were afflicted by the epidemic and thought themselves entirely forsaken.

"I baptized several at that place and did all I could to relieve the sufferers, during the two nights and a day that I devoted to them. I then came back to my Indians, many of whom had expired during my absence, but they had all received the sacraments before I had left.

"At last the news of my situation reached St. Alberta; immediately two lay brothers were sent to my aid, and were of the greatest service to me. The plague having become less intense. 1 anticipated a little rest. Suddenly a courier from St. Albert conveyed to me the doleful news that the epidemic had just reached that station; the only missionaries left there, being the first infected with the disease, were then dangerously ill. and owing to this, several of their people had died without religious assistance. You. kind and Reverend Pastor, can readily imagine with what speed I flew to assist my dear and afflicted brethren. I rejoiced on finding them out of danger on my arrival, and during two days 1 was constantly occupied in assisting the dying. The Orphanage of the Sisters of Charity had become an hospital. All their orphans were laid up at once, and reduced to extremity. Seeing that the Fathers were recovering, and somewhat able to assist the sick of their mission. I came back to those I had left at mine. Reverend Father Dupin arrived yesterday. He is better, but still very weak, and unable to bear much exertion. Nevertheless, he willingly consents to remain alone, and benefit the poor sufferers that are still close to our habitation. I am therefore enabled to rejoin the camp of Indians in the Plains to afford them assistance, and profit of the good dispositions produced by the hand of God.

"Your Lordship is undoubtedly aware that the same contagion is cruelly ravaging at Carlton. Mons. Grandin arrived there at the moment of most painful emergency. You know enough of his zeal and self-sacrifice to form a just idea of the prodigious acts of charity he has accomplished. As soon as he heard of the illness of the missionaries of St. Albeit, he decided to leave Carlton and start for Edmonton. The venerable Prelate passed this way a few clays ago, and appeared excessively fatigued. lie cannot be otherwise, for amidst the horrors of his situation he has had as much to endure from his tender-heartedness, as from his delicate constitution. How could we spare ourselves when we behold such a Chief!

"P. S., 20th Sept.—My Lord, what a melancholy sight in all our Missions of the Saskatchewan ; our poor population is more than decimated, as many as six burials in the day at some of our Stations. What a trial! This evening I received heartrending letters from St. Albert. Our best families are entirely cut off by the pestilence. Bishop Grandin having found the missionaries of St. Albert and Lake St. Anne sufficiently recovered to attend the sick, has already gone to the plains to succor the hunters who are dying in great numbers. May God have pity on us.

To cope with this fearful plague a Saskatchewan Board of Health was organized in 1871, with the following gentlemen as members:

Rev. George McDougall.
Rev. Father Luduc.
Rev. Father Andre.
Richard Hardisty, Chief Factor, Hudson's Bay Company.
Father Lacombe.
Bishop Grandin. St. Albert.
Bishop Farrant, La Biche.
Father Fourmond.
Rev. Henry Steinheur.
Rev. Peter Campbell.
Rev. John McDougall.
John Bunn, Edmonton, Secretary.

This body forbade the sending of furs out of the Saskatchewan region during the current session, reported the sanitary conditions of the territory to the Winnipeg authorities, and took all other precautionary measures possible under the circumstances, and gradually the pestilence was stayed.

Meantime, as a first provision for the coming development and settlement of the Far West, the task of determining the boundary between Canada and the United States was undertaken (1872) by a commission representing the Governments of America. Great Britain and Canada. Two years later the line had been marked as far west as Milk River in Southern Alberta.

Had certain plotters had their will there would have been no need of surveying any international boundary in North Western America. The story of the Fenian raids which threatened the Canadian West in the early seventies belongs in a special sense to the History of Manitoba, but as events-connected with it subsequently had an important bearing upon the treatment of Louis Riel and are of much intrinsic interest, the whole disgraceful episode will here bear review. .Moreover, it is manifest that if Manitoba had been wrenched from the Empire, as the insane, filibusters desired, then what is now Saskatchewan would certainly not be under the British Hag today.

The following extract is from a memorandum accompanying a report of a committee of the Privy Council printed in the sessional papers in 1872.

"January 25, 1871.

"In the month of November, 1803, a congress of persons styling themselves the Fenian Brotherhood, and consisting chiefly of natural born and naturalized citizens of the United States of America, was convened at Chicago, in the State of Illinois. Since that time there has been a regularly organized body, styling itself the Fenian Brotherhood. Its headquarters have been in the City of New York. It has had a President. Senate, and House of Delegates, and has occupied buildings on which the Fenian flag has been openly displayed. The Fenian Government has collected a revenue, and has issued bonds and notes; it has a regularly organized army with prescribed uniforms, and officers regularly commissioned, and sworn. There has been no secrecy about this organization, and no attempt to conceal its objects, one of the principal of which has been the conquest of Canada, against the people of which, it is not pretended it has had any cause of complaint. The drilling of the Fenian troops has been carried 011 in the most open manner, sometimes in the open air, and at other times in halls procured for the purpose.

"In the month of August, 1865, the Canadian Government received confidential information that a Fenian expedition against Canada was being organized in the Western States, and from that time forward preparations for an invasion by a large force were active and increasing, and contributions were levied from American citizens to a very large amount. As an instance of the publicity of the proceedings, reference may be made to a meeting held on September 27, 1865, in Mozart Hall, in Cincinnati, at which Judge Woodruff presided. On that occasion one of the speakers said, according to a report in the Cincinnati Daily Engineer, of the 28th September, 1865, 250,000 men with bristling bayonets will be seen battling for the cause of Irish freedom before the snow of next December.'

"The same paper reported that after the speaking 'it was announced that committees would be appointed in the various wards who would visit citizens during the coming week for purpose of raising funds for the purchase of rides to be used by an Irish army.' The same proceedings which took place in Cincinnati were adopted in many other cities and towns of the United States during the Autumn of 1865 and Winter of 1866.

"As early as March 14. 1865. Her .Majesty's .Minister at Washington called the attention of the Government of the United States to the fact of the existence of an extensive conspiracy on the part of the so-called Fenian Brotherhood, and pointed out that officers in the service of the United States had taken part in the proceedings of that body. There can be no doubt-whatever that the Government of the United States were fully cognizant of the preparations made for the invasion of Canada, which culminated in the raid of June. 1867. The loss of life and property consequent on that outrage constitute one of the claims for reparation. Although the Government of the United Stales had been warned of the danger to be apprehended from the Fenians, it took no active measures until Canada had been actually invaded, when it is admitted it displayed considerable activity.

"The leader of the invading force was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment, together with other ringleaders, and large quantities of arms were seized by the Government of the United Stales. Unfortunately a very short time elapsed before the Fenian leaders were unconditionally released from prison, and the arms which had been seized restored to them. A Fenian Congress was held in September, 1867, little more than three months after the raid in Canada, and on that occasion it was publicly announced that the Fenians would not be content until Canada was invaded again.

"From that time forth numerous meetings were held, as well as halls, picnics and other demonstrations, all avowedly with the object of raising funds for the invasion of Canada. At some of these meetings there were imposing military displays of masses of men in Fenian uniforms, officered, armed and equipped. Gentlemen in high positions in the United States attended these meetings, as will appear in the following instance:

"In Chicago, in August, 1866, a picnic was held and it was announced in placards and hand bills that General Logan. Governor Oglesbv and Speaker Colfax would attend as speakers, and that the Fenian soldiers would parade the grounds. In the course of a speech, delivered on the occasion by Speaker Colfax, Speaker of the House of Representatives, he said, as reported: 'I confess I was humiliated when our army was sent to act as police officers on the Canadian line. I was humiliated when our army was sent to do the dirty work of spies and detectives against the Fenians."

"On the 28th May. 1868. it was stated in the announcement of a 'Grand Civil and Military Picnic, to take place in New York, that the 4th Regiment Irish Revolutionary Army will parade, and be reviewed by General O'Neill." Drilling was openly carried on in Buffalo, on the Terrace, and in Chicago. On Wabash Avenue.

"In November, 1868, a Fenian Congress was held at Philadelphia, at which three regiments of the Irish Republican Arm}-, numbering fully 2,000, were paraded in line, commanded by Colonel William Clingen. There were likewise present General O'Neill, President of the Fenian Brotherhood, and the following: Staff-General Smolenski, Chief of Staff; Colonel John W. Byron, Adjutant-General; Colonel J. J. Donnelly, Engineers; Major I. O'Leary, of Ordnance; and others.

"In 1867, General Barry, of the United States Army, commanding on the frontier, bis headquarters being at Buffalo, had a number of his men tried and convicted of a breach of military discipline by leaving their quarters and joining a Fenian military display. In a very short time after their sentence, and when their term of imprisonment had scarcely begun, a pardon was granted to the soldiers from headquarters, at Washington, and soon after General Barry was removed from his command. It has been positively asserted by the Fenians themselves that they had received assurances from very high quarters that if a demand should be made on the State authorities for troops to aid the regular troops, they need not fear that this would be speedily given. In April, 1870, arrangements which were well known to the authorities of the United States, had been made for an invasion, but no steps whatever were taken to prevent it. Fortunately, the Canadian Government ascertained that a raid was in contemplation, and called out a large force at considerable expense, which deterred the leaders for a time. So soon as the Canadian volunteers had been disbanded, the preparations for invasion were renewed, and the raid of May, 1870, took place at a time when it was supposed that Canada was completely off her guard. Great stress is laid on the fact of General O'Neill's arrest by the United States' Marshal, but it must be borne in mind that no attempt was made by the Marshal to prevent the invasion, and that it was after the complete defeat and dispersion of the Fenians, by the Canadian volunteers, that General O'Neill was arrested, as lie had been in 1866, to be again tried, convicted, and again pardoned unconditionally."

To meet the raiders expected in Manitoba in 1870 Lieutenant-Governor Archibald felt compelled to accept the services of Riel himself. Mr. Archibald reported to the Ottawa authorities that the French halfbreeds loyally rallied to the support of the government irrespective of the troubles of 1869 and 1870, and that in the ranks of the raiders there was only one French Metis. The capture of O'Donogline, the Fenian leader, was made by a number of French halfbreeds. As in this episode the Lieutenant-Governor officially and publicly recognized the loyal services of the leaders of the late so-called rebellion, the central authorities very properly felt that the subsequent enforcement of capital sentences would be grossly improper. These facts accounted for the Government's attitude in connection with the prosecution of Lepine for his share in the murder of Scott and for the official connivance, and indeed the official financial assistance, by which Kiel's second escape to the United States was brought about.

In 1873 occurred the infamous Cypress Hills Massacre, which convinced even the most careless of our Canadian politicians of the pressing necessity of establishing a Mounted Police Force of adequate size in the North West. The white desperadoes engaged in this affair were a group of American whiskey traders of whom Philander Yogel was one of the ringleaders. Various pretexts for the outrage were subsequently offered, but it seems evident that the white renegades were simply bent upon acquiring the glory of having wiped out an Indian village. One evening at a time when the Indian encampment was devoted to hilarity, and the Indians were more or less under the influence of liquor, the traders advanced into a river bed, the banks of which gave them complete cover. From this position they had the village, which lay near Massacre or Paltle Creek, entirely at their mercy, as the Indians were gathered round their camp fires in open view. The Americans murdered thirty-odd, wounded probably twice as many, and drove the others into the hills.

The whiskey traders after this horrid affair burned their fort and retreated into .American territory. The outrage was brought to the attention of the President of the United States, as at that time it was supposed that the massacre had occurred south of the unmarked International Poundary. When the American authorities learned that this was not the case, the matter was referred to Ottawa. In 1875, Major Irvine succeeded in effecting the arrest of some of the outlaws concerned. This in itself produced a most salutary effect upon the lawless inclined, and especially upon the Canadian Indians, who began to sec that the Dominion authorities were intent upon protecting them from the impositions and violence even of white men. No convictions were secured, but the energy shown by the authorities made this the last event of its kind to occur on Canadian soil.

At best, however, a government operating from Fort Garry could exercise but little influence in the far away settlements of the West, consequently in 1875 we find the halfbreeds of Patoehe and Carlton district establishing among themselves a provisional government, generally unmentioned in the histories and now all but forgotten except by a handful of our oldest inhabitants. The head of the movement was the famous hunter and warrior, Gabriel Dumont, who had come to the Saskatchewan from the Red River settlement in 1868. Under his presidency the Metis organized themselves upon the basis of the laws of the buffalo hunt. Xow, however, these laws were no longer to depend upon mere voluntary acquiescence; Dumont and his associates arrested various hunters who declined to join the Halfbreed Confederacy, and issued orders forbidding all others to approach his territory. One cannot but sympathize with the unlettered Metis in this sporadic attempt to establish something approaching an effective government, but of course the proceedings were illegal and Lieutenant-Governor Morris was obliged to interfere. To avoid arrest and prosecution, Dumont released his prisoners, gave them back their confiscated property and the fines which had been collected from them, and made his peace with the police.

Towards the end of the period to which this portion of our treatise is devoted the settlements in Saskatchewan and elsewhere through the West had so increased in population that it was manifestly impossible longer to entrust their government to a non-resident official whose hands were already more than full as Lieutenant-Governor for the Province of Manitoba. How the duties of government had been fulfilled, and how the new order of affairs was introduced we shall see in later chapters.

Apart from the events to which we have already alluded, the most noteworthy occurrences of the period of 1870 to 1876 are connected with the surrender of their lands by the Indians from the South. The stories of these events, however, are so interesting and important as to require treatment in separate chapters.

In 1875 the Earl of Southesk published a work entitled Saskatchewan and the Rocky Mountains, in which he gave an excellent account of his journey and observations the preceding year through the North West. About this same period Milton and Cheadle's gossipy narrative also appeared, and somewhat later, Doctor G. M. Grant published his work entitled From Ocean to Ocean. These and other similar books of travel and reports of exploration did much to make the far West better known, and to attract the attention of the Federal Government to the needs of the country.


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