Manitoba Given the Administration of the Territory—Butler's
Report—Archibald's Successors—Superintendents General of Indian
Affairs—Ignorance of Canadian Statesmen Regarding the West—North West
Council, 1873— First Speech from the Throne—First Legislation and
Recommendations of North West Council—Remonstrances Regarding
Inefficient Administration of Justice and Delay in Ratification of
Indian Treaties—Cypress Hills Massacre—Lieutenant-Governor Morris'
Review of the Work of the Old North West Council—North West Territories
Act of 1S75—Provision-Relating to Separate Schools—Failure to Provide
for Representation 1st Parliament—Proclamation of October 7, 1876.
On the 30th day of
July, 1870, there was transmitted from the Governor-General to the
Honorable Adams G. Archibald, Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of
Manitoba, a commission appointing him also Lieutenant-Governor of the
North West Territories. Five days later, detailed instructions were
issued informing Mr. Archibald of the duties he was expected to perform.
These were to include, among other things, the perfecting of plans for
the establishment for the friendliest possible relations between the
Dominion Government and the Indian tribes, and reports upon such lands
in the Territories as it might be desirable to open up at once for
settlement. The Lieutenant-Governor presently issued to Captain W. F.
Butler, F. R. G. S., the well-known soldier, traveller, explorer and
author to whom references were made in the preceding chapter, a
commission instructing him to make an extended tour of the North West
with a view to collecting information of value to the authorities. On
returning from this journey of 2,700 miles, Captain Butler submitted a
lengthy report which now constitutes an historical document of the very
greatest value. To it the present writer is indebted for much of his
information regarding conditions at this time.
ended in 1872. For a few months the position of Lieutenant-Governor was
held by Mr. Francis G. Johnson. On December 2nd of the same year,
Lieutenant-Governor Morris assumed the reins, which he held until the
inauguration of the North West Council, with the Honorable David Laird
as resident Lieutenant-Governor of the Territories, October, 1876.
In view of the
importance of Indian affairs during this epoch, it may be well to
mention the Superintendents General of this department. The Honorable
Mr. Howe held the office from 1872 to 1873. Mr. Gibbs succeeded him in
June of that year, but on the first of the following month he gave place
to Air. Campbell, and he. four months later, to Mr. Laird. The services
performed by the last named gentleman were of the highest value to the
people of Canada and to the Indians and western settlers in particular.
The office of Indian Commissioner for the North West was for a time held
by Mr. Wemyss Simpson, who was succeeded in 1872 by Mr. J. A. N.
During the session of
the Dominion House in 1871, the Government was interpolated by Donald A.
Smith, member for Selkirk (now more familiarly known as Lord Strathcona),
as to the steps it intended to take for the regulation of trade in the
Territories and for the control of the traffic in intoxicating liquors.
However, very few Canadian statesmen really knew anything about western
conditions and it was not until the following year that any provision
was made for the establishment of a real government in the far West.
A curious illustration
of the extraordinary uncertainty regarding the West and how it was to be
governed occurred a couple of months after the arrival of Air. Archibald
and upon his assumption of duties as Lieutenant-Governor of the North
West Territories. The Act of June 22, 1869, entitled "An Act for the
temporary Government of Rupert's Land, and the North Western Territory
when united with Canada" authorized the Governor-General in Council to
appoint a North West Council of seven to fifteen members. This
arrangement, as regards the Territories proper, was left undisturbed by
the Act defining the provincial constitution of Manitoba. When
confronted by a smallpox epidemic in his distant territories, the new
Lieutenant-Governor felt the necessity of the immediate creation of a.
North West Council to deal with Territorial interests. Astonishing to
relate, he had no copy of the Rupert's Land Act of 1869 in his
possession, and indeed there was none in the Colony! Now, As Archibald's
memory played him the scurvy trick of deluding him into the belief that
the appointment of the Council lay in his own hands. Consequently, on
October 21, 1870, he appointed the Honorable Francis G. Johnson.
Ex-Governor of Assiniboia; Donald A. Smith, Chief resident Executive
Officer of the Hudson's Cay Company; and Pascal Breland. a leading
French Halfbreed. They were sworn in the following day and promptly
entered upon their supposed duties. The most urgent of these had to do
with the passing of Ordinances for the suppression of smallpox and of
illicit sale of intoxicants in the Territories. Whether valid or not
from a legal standpoint this pseudo-legislation had all the force and
effect of law in the Territories. Air. Archibald promptly reported these
transactions to the Secretary of State for the Provinces, who in reply
called his attention to the provisions of the Act of 1869 bearing on the
constitution of the Council. Air. Archibald's explanation of the part he
had played in this amusing political burlesque reads in part as follows:
I had been in the province from September 3rd, nearly eight weeks, my
books and paper despatched from Ottawa on August 6th bad never reached
this place, and in all Alanitoba not a single copy of the Acts of 1869
to be found.
"I had but a vague
recollection of the terms of the Rupert's Land Act, but I assumed that
substantially it would be the same as the Alanitoba Act so far as my
power of appointment was concerned. Judge Johnson, with whom I
conferred, could not add to my information. Air. Donald A. Smith, who
was the Commissioner of the Government of Canada during the time the Act
was applicable to the whole North West, could give 110 particulars.
Accordingly, I did the best I could in the emergency."
A long time elapsed
before any properly constituted Council was created. On December 9,
1870, Air. Archibald submitted to tbe Federal Government the names of
ten gentlemen suitable for appointment, and on November 23. 1871, he
sent in additional names. On December 28th of the following year the
Canada Gazette announced at last the appointment of the North West
Council to which eleven members were named. In the meantime
Lieutenant-Governor Archibald had retired from office, so the first
legally constituted North West Council was organized under the
presidency of Lieutenant-Governor Morris.
At the first meeting of
this body, March 8, 1S73, the Honorable Messrs. Girard. H. J. Clark, D.
A. Smith, Pascal Breland. Alfred Boyd, Jos. Dubuc. and A. G. B.
Bannatyne assembled. Other members of the Council were Messrs. John
Schultz, William Fraser, Robert Hamilton and William J. Christie. The
last named gentleman was the Hudson Bay Company's chief factor from Fort
Simpson. To attend the Council a journey of two thousand miles by dog
train was necessary, requiring almost two months of actual travel.
The special feature of
the first meeting was the following interesting address to the Council
delivered by Lieutenant-Governor Morris:
of the Council of the North West, I have much pleasure in calling you
around me to assist me in the administration of the affairs of the North
West Territories. The duties which devolve upon you are of a highly
important character. A country of vast extent which is in possession of
abundant resources is entrusted to your keeping; a country, which though
as yet but sparsely settled, is destined. I believe, to become the home
of thousands of persons, by means of whose industry and energy that
which is now almost a wilderness will he quickly transformed into a
fruitful land, where civilization and the arts ol peace will flourish.
It is for us to labour to the utmost of our power, in order to bring-
about, as speedily as possible, the settlement of the North West
Territories and the development and maintenance of peace and order, and
the welfare and happiness of all classes of Her Majesty's subjects
resident in the Territories. The scope and nature of your authority are
set forth in the Act of the Dominion Parliament where the formation of
this Council is authorised, and in the Order of the Governor General in
Council, copies of which will be laid before you.
"Among other matters
which should claim your immediate attention will be the taking of means
for ascertaining in what portions of the North West Territories
settlements have been formed, and suggesting to the Dominion Government
the propriety of surveying and dealing with the lands in those
districts. It will also be advisable to ascertain the numbers of the
various native tribes, with the localities in which they reside, and to
suggest measures for concluding satisfactory treaties with them. Means
must be devised for the proper administration of Justice, the prevention
of trade in intoxicating liquors, and the vigorous assertion of the law
in all eases of crime and disorder.
"I will also take your
counsel as to the most appropriate locality in which the band of Sioux
now resident in Manitoba should be placed for permanent residence.
"1 now invite you to
enter upon the duties of your office, well assured, as I am, of your
sincere desire to assist me loyally and faithfully in the administration
of the affairs of the North West and in the development of that mighty
region whose future I believe to be so full of promise."
The powers of this
Council were narrowly circumscribed, but it passed much important
legislation and made many valuable recommendations to the Dominion
authorities. An invitation was extended to the new Governor-General to
visit the West. The appointment of Stipendary Magistrates, Justices of
the Peace, and a resident Judge, was recommended. The use of poison by
the settlers was prohibited, and attempts were made to prevent the
traffic in intoxicating liquors, the ordinance of Lieutenant-Governor
Archibald and his still-born Council of 1870 being re-enacted. A
resolution looking to the establishment of the North West Mounted Police
was also carried.
When the Council met
again in September, the Dominion Government had passed acts dealing with
the creation of a police force and administration of justice in the
North West, but, to the chagrin of the Council it had not given effect
to its act with reference to the appointment of Justices of the Peace.
The Council again, therefore, directed the attention of the Government
to this matter, and petitioned for a still larger military force. They
commented upon gross outrages committed upon the native population and
Her Majesty's subjects generally by American desperadoes in the
and upon murders
committed by Indians and halfbreeds, which had been allowed to go
unpunished because there were no means at band to enforce the law.
Much of the time of the
Council was devoted to debates and resolutions upon the urgent necessity
of the consummation of treaties with the Indians. Repeated
representations in this connection were necessary before the wise advice
of the Western officials was acted upon by the Dominion authorities.
Indeed in this and other connections the Council found it necessary time
and again to protest in the most vigorous language against the dilatory
proceedings of the Ottawa authorities. A typical resolution in this
regard closes as follows:
"Sensible as they are
of the great importance of the duties which they are called upon to
perform, and earnestly desirous as they arc to discharge those duties
loyally and efficiently, the Council feel that they will be unable to do
so if matters which they believe to be of urgent importance, and which
they have taken occasion to represent as such, be permitted to remain
altogether unnoticed for a period of months. They therefore deem it
their duty most respectfully to call the attention of His Excellency in
Council to this important subject."
Such protests occur
continually throughout the minutes of the Council. Still another may be
"That this Council
deeply regret that the Envy Council has not been pleased to communicate
their approval or disapproval of the legislation and many resolutions
adopted by Council at their meetings held on the 4th, 8th, nth and 13th
September, 1873, March 11th. 12th, 14th, 16th, 1874. and June 1st and
2nd, 1874, and they respectfully represent that such long delay has
paralyzed the action of the Council."
The Council was also
seriously hampered by entire lack of funds, a circumstance which it is
hard to recall without mingled amusement and indignation.
Among the important
resolutions in 1873 was one calling attention to the fact that there was
at present no public provision for postal communication in the North
West Territories. In another interesting and suggestive resolution the
thanks of the Council were voted to the Rev. Mr. McKay of Stanley
Mission for translating, printing and publishing in the Cree language
certain Manitoba Ordinances, the provisions of which had been extended
to the North West Territories.
[In introducing the
North West Territories Act of 1875 Premier Mackenzie stated that the
Government had ascertained from the most authentic sources that within
the preceding year and a half there had been nearly one hundred and
fifty murders committed in the North West Territories, chiefly in lights
between Indians and American traders—for which no person had been
brought to trial.]
On May 3. 1873,
provision was made for raising the maximum number of Councillors from
fifteen lo twenty-two and on October 22, 1873, the names of the
Honorable Messrs. Joseph Royal, Pierre Delorme, Walter R. Brown, James
McKay and William X. Kenney were added to the roll of the North West
Council. Serious attention was given during Ibis session to the Cypress
Hills massacre and "the danger of an Indian war and of international
complications which might embroil at any moment the British and American
It is of course
impossible to report here in any detail the various proceedings of this
industrious and intelligent group of Western Councillors. Perhaps the
best way to review their work will be by reproducing an address
delivered by the Lieutenant-Governor in the Council's last session,
referred to his speech when Council first met after its formation (March
8, 1873), and continued as follows:
"I think this is a
fitting occasion to review the work the Council has accomplished, and to
place on record the result of its legislation and of its suggestions.
The present Council are now only acting provisionally and a new Council
is to be organized, partly nominated by the Crown, and partly elected by
the people, with a view to exercising its functions under the presidency
of a resident Governor within the Territories themselves. I am confident
the Council will take up the work you began and have so zealously
endeavoured to carry out, and I trust that they will prove successful in
their efforts to develop the Territories and attract to them a large
"Though yon had many
difficulties to contend with, yon surmounted most of them, and will have
the gratification of knowing that you in a large measure contributed to
shape the policy which will prevail in the Government of the Territories
and the administration of its affairs.
"At your first meeting
you passed an Act to prohibit, under certain restrictions, the
importation of spirituous liquors into the Territories, and the
Parliament of the Dominion has since adopted your views, and given
effect to them by the passing of a law of similar import to that you
framed. 1 am glad to say this measure has proved effective and will, I
believe, contribute largely to the promotion of the well-being of the
population of the Territories, and to the prevention of disorder and
"You also made
provision for the appointment of Justices of the Peace, and in
connection therewith you represented to the Government of the Dominion
that certain legislation, effective elsewhere, should be extended to the
Territories, and that a Mounted Police force under military discipline
should be established in the Territories for the maintenance of order
therein, and the enforcement of the laws. You have had the satisfaction
of seeing these suggestions adopted, and of knowing that the Police
Force which yon proposed has proved, and is proving, of the greatest
service in the Territories.
"Such were some of the
results of your first meeting, and your subsequent sessions were not
unproductive of good. I will only mention generally some of the more
important subjects you dealt with.
"You were and are of
opinion that the Militia battalion should be maintained and should be so
increased that an effective force should be available in the
"You proposed that
treaties should be made with the Indians of the plains, at Forts
Carlton, Pitt and Qu'Appelle. and you suggested that schools should be
provided for, that agricultural implements and cattle should be given to
the Indians, and that teachers should be furnished to teach them the
arts of agriculture.
"You have seen a treaty
concluded at Qu'Appelle, and I am glad to inform you that treaties will
be made next year at the other (joints indicated.
"You urged that
Stipendiary Magistrates should be appointed, resident in various
portions of the territory, clothed with powers to deal with certain
classes of criminal offences, and also with a limited jurisdiction as
regards civil cases, and that a resident Judge, with Queen's Pench
powers, should be appointed to deal with graver matters, with an appeal
to the Court of Queen's Pench in the Province of Manitoba, in certain
"Your recommendation as
to Magistrates has been adopted by the Dominion, and though power has
been given to Judges of the Manitoba Courts in the Territories, this can
only be regarded as a provisional measure, so that I doubt not your
proposal will be eventually carried into effect.
"You called attention
to the necessity of steps being taken to punish the actors in the
Cypress Hills tragedy and your recommendation has been acted upon by the
Privy Council with the best effect as regards the Indian population.
"You proposed that a
monthly mail should be established between Fort Garry and Fort Edmonton
for the convenience of the public, and it is to be hoped that the
private mail now carried for the use of the police and the Pacific
Railway service may prove the precursor of a much-needed boon to the
people of the North West.
"You urged that
measures should be adopted to collect duties in the region of the West
known as the Belly and Bow River country, and your representations were
"You passed laws for
the appointment of Coroners, for caring for orphan children, for
regulating the relations of Masters and Servants, for the prohibition of
the importation of poisons in the territories, and of their use in
"You asked that the
existing highways, portages and watering places in the Territories
should be set apart for public use. and that as soon as treaties with
the Indians were completed surveys should be taken, and some of these
subjects have been dealt with by the Privy Council, but others still
remain for their action.
"Such then is a brief
review of the work yon have accomplished, and I need scarcely tell you
that you have reason to be well satisfied with the results of your
executive and legislative action, for during your regime, most important
steps have been taken towards the establishment of law and order in the
Territories, and towards the creation of respect among the people for
the authority of the Crown.
"The foundation has now
been laid for peace, security and the advancement of the settlement of
the vast region you have ruled over, and for the securing of the
good-will of the Indian tribes, and I can only express my confident
trust that those who follow you will rear wisely and well a noble
superstructure on the basis that you have established.
"1 will now, in
conclusion, ask you to enter upon the ordinary work of the session, and
will suggest that you should, before you separately down some mode of
dealing with a subject which is of the utmost importance, as respects
the relation of the Government of the Queen with the Indian tribes and
as regards their means of livelihood, while they are passing through the
transition process of being prepared to earn a living from the soil. I
mean the regulation of the buffalo hunt in such a way as to prolong the
subsistence afforded to the native tribes by the wild cattle of the
North West, and thus to give time for their gradual civilization and
accustomment to practise the arts of agriculture. 1 would also suggest
that you should adopt measures to prevent the spread of prairie and
"You will now proceed
to the discharge of your duties, and I am confident that harmony will
prevail amongst you, and that you will exhibit the same desire to
advance the best interests of the Dominion which has hitherto actuated
The hopes and plans of
the Governor with regard to this last session were amply fulfilled.
In 1875 the Honorable
Alexander Mackenzie introduced in live Parliament of Canada, and passed,
his North West Territories Act under which the affairs of the
Territories were conducted for the next thirteen years. This Act
separated the office of Lieutenant-Governor of the Territories from that
of Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba and provided for an appointed Council
to consist at first of five members. The Governor-General in Council was
given authority to authorize the Lieutenant-Governor by and with the
consent of his own Council to make provisions for the administration of
justice, and the framing of ordinances on many matters of local concern.
When any portion of the Territories not exceeding one thousand square
miles in area should contain at least a thousand adult white British
subjects, the Lieutenant-Governor was by proclamation to erect such a
district into an electoral division, and should the population of the
district increase to two thousand, it would be entitled to elect a
second representative to the North West Council. At such time as the
elective members would be twenty-one in number the then existing Council
would cease and determine, and the elected members would constitute the
first Legislative Assembly of the North West Territories. Elective
members were to hold office for two years.
Clause ii of the Act
related to schools, and as its provisions subsequently proved the cause
of much debate and agitation, the reader will be interested in examining
"When and so soon as
any system of taxation shall be adopted in any district or portion of
the North West Territories, the Lieutenant-Governor, by and with the
consent of the Council or Assembly, as the case may be. shall pass all
necessary ordinances in respect to education; but it shall therein be
always provided that a majority of the rate-payers of any district or
portion of the North West Territories, and any lesser portion or
subdivision thereof, by whatever name the same may be known, may
establish such schools therein as they may think fit, and make the
necessary assessment and collection of rates therefor; and further, that
the minority of the rate-payers herein, whether Protestant or Roman
Catholic, may establish separate schools therein, and that, in such
latter case, the rate-payers establishing such Protestant or Roman
Catholic separate schools shall be liable only to assessments of such
rates as they may impose upon themselves in respect thereto."
An important omission
from the new Territorial Constitution was that of any provision for
representation in the Dominion Parliament.
On the 7th of October,
1876, the North West Territories Act was brought into force by
proclamation. With this event the era to which Part II of our History is
devoted came to an end. Before leaving it, however, it will be our duty
to discuss in some detail the Indian situation and certain important
events associated therewith.