"To the lands in this
Province acquired by conquest, the British Crown has invariably waived its
right until what the Crown has been pleased to recognize as the Indian
title has been extinguished by a treaty of surrender." —Mr. Justice
During the period which has
elapsed since the red man of this continent came first in contact with his
pale-faced brother, he has experienced at the hands of the latter a
process whose general trend has been toward the extinction of his race and
the spoliation of his territories. To-day we find that his numbers are
largely reduced, and his lands, both forest and prairie, have passed from
his possession. At times it has been the bloody hand of war that snatched
from the Indians their ancestral inheritance. At others this process of
divestment was as effectively, but more peacefully, accomplished while
sitting in conference at the council fire, smoking the pipe of peace with
white men sent to treat with them; there, yielding to plausible and
beguiling arguments, the simple-minded Indians have by treaty surrendered
their territories for a comparative trifle. Four centuries ago, from the
Atlantic to the Pacific, this continent formed the hunting ground of large
numbers of Indian tribes. To-day, owing to the causes above recited,
supplemented by the ravages of disease and "firewater," the Indians have
been dispossessed of their lands, while their reduced numbers find ample
accommodation and provision in the reservations that have been set apart
for them by the governments of Canada and the United States. The British
Government in its dealings with the Indians has always manifested a
liberal and honorable spirit, as well as a fair regard for their treaty
rights. -The result of this has been that Canada has known no merciless
and bloody Indian wars, and the Indians who live under the British flag,
although diminished in numbers, have made fair progress in the path of
civilization, entertaining meanwhile friendly feelings toward the whites.
Our knowledge of the Indian
tribes who have resided in the territory now comprised in the county of
Bruce and adjacent thereto commences with the advent of the French
explorers and the Jesuit missionaries in the early part of the seventeenth
century. At that time a branch of the great Algonquin family of Indians
inhabited the Manitoulin Islands, with scattered bands to be found in what
is now known as the Saugeen peninsula; these bore the tribal name of the
Ottawas. To the south and east there dwelt the Tobacco nation, or
Wyandottes, whose territories extended from the Blue Hills, near
Nottawasaga Bay, to the mouth of the Menesetung, or Maitland River. Yet
further east dwelt the Hurons, in the district north of Lake Simcoe, a
tribe whose memory is perpetuated by the broad lake which bears their
name, but who as a nation were almost exterminated by their inveterate
foes, the Iroquois. This nation, after their victory over the Hurons,
proceeded to occupy all the lands in the peninsula between Lake Ontario
and Lake Huron. How the Iroquois were in turn dispossessed by the Ojibways,
["Ojibway" is the correct name of this tribe, but "Chippawa" is that most
generally used. It is of this tribe that Longfellow writes in "
Hiawatha."] or Chippawas, is here given, in the form of a condensed
extract, from a book written by one of that nation: ["The Traditional
History of the Ojibway Nation." By George Copway, or Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh,
Chief of the Ojibway nation. Published in 1850. See also " History of the
Ojibway Indians," by Rev. Peter Jones, for statements substantiating
"The Ojibways, who, prior
to the extirpation of the Hurons and Wyandottes, dwelt in the Lake
Superior country, annually sent some of their number to trade with the
French at Quebec or Montreal. A party of these were waylaid and killed by
the Iroquois. Threats of reprisals were treated by the latter with scorn.
After a second party had been similarly attacked and slain, a council of
the nation was held, resulting in some of their chiefs being sent to
confer with the Iroquois. The meeting was held at Saugeen, and resulted in
the Iroquois agreeing to pay a bale of furs for each man that had been
killed, and in addition granted permission to the Ojibways to pass
peaceably on trading trips to Montreal. This treaty held good for three
years, when bands of Iroquois waylaid simultaneously several parties of
Ojibways, returning from a trading journey. This happened in the fall of
the year, too late in the season to commence warlike operations; so the
war decided upon was put off until the following spring. In the meantime,
runners were sent to the various allies of the nation, dwelling in the
region between the west end of Lake Erie and the head-waters of the
Mississippi, to join them in the coming war. In the month of May
following, the combined forces gathered in two parties, one at Lake St
Clair and the other at Sault Ste. Marie, seven hundred canoes being there
assembled. This latter party divided into two bands. One advanced on the
enemy by way of the Ottawa valley, while the other proceeded to
Penetanguishene. The Lake St. Clair division at the same time came up the
east coast of Lake Huron to the mouth of the Saugeen River, where a fierce
battle was fought with the Iroquois, who ultimately gave way and fled
before the savage onslaught of the Ojibways."
Further details of the
conflict carried on between these two Indian nations would be foreign to
our subject. Suffice it to say, that the Ojibways succeeded, after several
fiercely fought battles, in driving the Iroquois south of Lake Ontario,
and retained possession of the territories obtained by their victories
until surrendered by treaty to the Crown.
The treaty by which the
Indian title was surrendered to that tract of land comprising the original
county of Bruce, viz., the townships of Saugeen, Arran, Bruce, Elderslie,
Kincardine, Greenock, Brant, Huron, Kinloss, Culross and Carrick, was
concluded by Sir Francis Bond Head, at Manitowaning, on August 9th, 1836,
the consideration given to the treating tribes being "twelve hundred and
fifty pounds per annum, as long as grass grows or water runs." The treaty
itself is such an interesting document that it is here given in full:
"Seventy snow seasons have
now passed away since we met in Council at the crooked place (Niagara), at
which time and place your Great Father, the King, and the Indians of North
America tied their hands together by the wampum of friendship.
"Since that period various
circumstances have occurred to separate from your Great Father many of his
red children, and as an unavoidable increase of white population, as well
as the progress of cultivation, have had the natural effect of
impoverishing your hunting grounds it has become necessary that new
arrangements should be entered into for the purpose of protecting you from
the encroachments of the whites.
"In all parts of the world
farmers seek for uncultivated land as eagerly as you, my red children,
hunt in your forest for game. If you would cultivate your land it would
then be considered your own property, in the same way as your dogs are
considered among yourselves to belong to those who have reared them; but
uncultivated land is like wild animals, and your Great Father, who has
hitherto protected you, has now great difficulty in securing it for you
from the whites, who are hunting to cultivate it.
"Under these circumstances,
I have been obliged to consider what is best to be done for the red
children of the forest, and I now tell you my thoughts.
"It appears that these
islands on which we are now assembled in Council are, as well as all those
on the north shore of Lake Huron, alike claimed by the English, the
Ottawas and the Chippewas.
"I consider that from their
facilities and from their being surrounded by innumerable fishing islands,
they might be made a most desirable place of residence for many Indians
who wish to be civilized, as well as to be totally separated from the
whites; and I now tell you that your Great Father will withdraw his claim
to these islands and allow them to be applied for that purpose.
"Are you, therefore, the
Ottawas and Chippewas, willing to relinquish your respective claims to
these Islands and make them the property (under your Great Father's
control) for all Indians whom he shall allow to reside on them: if so,
affix your marks to this my proposal.
"F. B. Head.
"J. B. ASSEKINACK.
"NAINAWMUTTEBE (totem ) .
"Manitowaning, 9th August,
Note - "Totem: Some natural
object, usually an animal with which the members of a clan or family
connect themselves. Thus, among the Algonquin Indians, the name Bear,
Wolf, Tortoise, Deer or Rabbit serves to designate each of a number of
clans into which the race is divided. A man belonging to such a clan being
himself actually spoken of as a Bear, a Wolf, etc., and the figure of
these animals indicate the clan in the native picture writing." (Ency.
"To the Saukings:
"You have heard the
proposal I have just made to the Chippewas and Ottawas, by which it has
been agreed between them and your Great Father that these Islands (Manitoulin),
on which we are now assembled, should be made, in Council, the property
(under your Great Father's control) of all Indians whom he shall allow to
reside on them.
"I now propose to you that
you should surrender to your Great Father the Sauking (Saugeen) Territory
['" The hunting grounds in those days belonging to the Saugeen and Newash
Indians, extended from Meaford to the Maitland River, and in-eluded all
the watershed to the Caledon Mountains, as well as the Indian Peninsula."
So says Fred. Lamorandiere, Chief Interpreter at Cape Crocker, an
authority elsewhere quoted.] you at present occupy, and that you shall
repair either to this Island or to that part of your territory which lies
on the North of Owen Sound, upon which proper houses shall be built for
you, and proper assistance to enable you to become civilized and to
cultivate land, which your Great Father engages forever to protect for you
from the encroachments of the whites.
"Are you, therefore, the
Sauking Indians, willing to accede to this arrangement; if so, affix your
marks to this my proposal.
" Manitowaning, 9th August,
"T. G. Anderson, S.I.A.
"F. B. Head.
"Joseph Stinson, Genl. Supt. of Wesleyan Missions.
"F. L. Ingall, Lieut. 15th Regt., Commanding Detacht.
"Talfourd W. Field, Distrt. Agent."
The Indians who after the
Manitowaning treaty located permanently on the Bruce peninsula were
largely of the Ojibway tribe, incorporated with whom were some
Pottawatamies, Tawas, and a few stragglers from other tribes.
By a "Royal Deed of
Declaration," dated 29th June, 1847, it is provided for these— "That the
said Ojibway Indians and their posterity for ever, shall possess and enjoy
and at all times hereafter continue to possess and enjoy the said above
tract of land (the Bruce peninsula), or the proceeds of the sale thereof —
for the use and benefit of the said Ojibway Indians and their posterity."
As a result of the provisions of this deed, when the lands in the
peninsula ultimately came into the market, the sale was under the control
of the Indian Department, the proceeds of the sales being funded and the
interest thereon paid to the Indians, instead of a fixed annuity, as it
otherwise would have been, according to the generality of Indian treaties.
In many ways the settlers who took up lands in the peninsula would have
preferred that the lands had been sold by the Crown Lands Department, as
were the other lands in the county of Bruce. The method adopted has,
however, been a source of benefit, to those wards of the government, the
Indians interested. All the lands in the peninsula and adjacent islands,
being those mentioned in the deed above referred to, have gradually been
surrendered to the Crown, with the exception of the Indian reserves. Of
these reserves there is one at the mouth of the Saugeen River, one at
Chief's Point on Lake Huron, one at Cape Croker on the Georgian Bay, and a
reserve for hunting purposes in the township of St. Edmunds. The process
of surrender has been effected under various treaties, which will be
briefly referred to.
The first land to be
surrendered was that part of the "Half-mile Strip" now included in the
townships of Arran and Derby. This was on September 2nd, 1851. It was made
for the purpose of obtaining a direct road, which the government agreed to
open, between the Saugeen and the Newash (Owen Sound) reservations. The
negotiations for the ceding of this small strip took a long time, four
years or so. Long after the surrender the Indians complained of not
receiving satisfactory compensation for the lands sold, inasmuch as a
direct road was not opened until 1866.
The next, and by far the
largest surrender made of lands, was that of the Saugeen peninsula,
effected by a treaty bearing date October 12th, 1854. [See Appendix A for
a copy of this treaty.] This was negotiated by Laurence Oliphant, a man
whose reputation as an author is widely and well known, who at that time
was Secretary to Lord Elgin, the Governor-General, and also
Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs. Assisting him on this occasion
were James Ross, M.P.P., of Belleville; Charles Rankin, P.L.S., of Owen
Sound, and Alexander McNabb, Crown Lands Agent, of Southampton. The
negotiations were conducted in the church of the Saugeen band of Indians.
As an inducement to the Indians to make the surrender, Mr. Oliphant
offered, "That the lands when surveyed should be sold by auction, and that
separate titles to farm lots should be granted to the Indians within their
own reserves." The non-fulfilment of this last clause was a cause of
complaint for many years by the Indians. This was not the only trouble and
dispute over this treaty. A more serious one arose regarding the boundary
between the Saugeen Reserve and the village of Southampton. The Indians
claimed that "Copway's Road" was the boundary agreed upon, while the
treaty describes it as "a straight line running due north from the river
Saugeen," starting at a given point. This disagreement, the result of a
misunderstanding, issued as follows: The survey of the town-plot of
Southampton, north of the river, was commenced early in May, 1855, Charles
Rankin, P.L.S., having the contract therefor. He sent on a party under Mr.
George Gould, [Afterwards, an for many years, clerk of the county of
Bruce.] who had no difficulty with the Indians until the survey entered on
the lands lying north of the Copway Road, the wording of the treaty
warranting the survey of these lands. The Indians, thinking otherwise,
manifested opposition. The stakes and posts set up to mark the survey were
removed and threats were freely uttered. Mr. Gould, of course, stopped the
survey, and the matter was reported to the Government. The Indians
meanwhile called a council, which appointed a deputation consisting of
four chiefs, to be accompanied by the Rev. C. Van Dusen, a minister of the
Methodist Church, to wait upon the Governor-General, to lay their version
of the dispute before him. On the arrival of the deputation at Quebec,
they were informed by Lord Bury, at that time Superintendent-General of
Indian Affairs, that they must first obtain a letter from their local
superintendent, Capt. T. G. Anderson (who resided at Cobourg), before they
could see and interview His Excellency. The deputation, not having such a
letter, failed to obtain a hearing, and returned home much disappointed.
Throughout the tribe feeling ran high at the insult— for so they
interpreted the reception given their chiefs in Quebec. The more
hot-headed were for donning their war paint and proceeding to extremes.
Mr. Fredk. Lamorandiere, Indian Secretary at Cape Croker, has furnished
the writer with a description of the conference by which an amicable
settlement was arrived at, which is here given in his own words, as
follows: "Without loss of time Lord Bury came to Owen Sound (June, 1855)
with a staff of officers, cited the Saugeen Indian chiefs to appear before
him there, sending a special courier to personally deliver the message.
The chiefs, however, not being in good humor, flatly refused. A second
message more conciliatory in tone was dispatched, but to no effect. At
last, after long parleying, it was agreed that each party come half way,
to the 'Flood-wood Crossing,' as the place was then called, now Allenford,
where a regular Pow-wow was held in full Indian style, commencing with a
feast. After this was disposed of, Capt. T. G. Anderson, [Capt. Thos. G.
Anderson was connected with the Indian Department for over forty years,
retiring on a pension in 1858. In the War of 1812-13 he specially
distinguished himself. An interesting account of his life is to be found
in " Papers and Records," Vol. VI., of the Ontario Historical Society.]
the Indian Superintendent of the District, an old, wily Indian trader, who
knew the Indian character and the means to please them, conducted the
proceedings by dancing the pow-wow in a circle around the Council-fire. A
lot of young braves followed. Immediately after this exhibition the
conference began, that led to the 'pipe of peace' being smoked by
everyone, by which good feeling and friendship were restored where a few
days before discord reigned supreme." The conference dissolved upon Lord
Bury promising the Indians that justice should be done and their
grievances redressed. [See Appendix B.] On this they consented that the
surveyors might proceed and complete the surveys.
The Colpoy's Bay Reserve of
six thousand acres was surrendered to the Crown, August 16th, 1861. This
surrender affects the county of Bruce, however, only as regards that part
of the town-plot of Wiarton, lying toward the south-east, the rest of the
reserve being now included within the county of Grey.
The Saugeen Pishing
Islands, along with those lying adjacent to Cape Hurd, were surrendered
October 7th and 15th, 1885. This, with the later surrender of the large
islands at the entrance to Colpoy's Bay, has placed in the hands of the
Crown all lands not included in the reservations, and extinguished the
"Indian title" thereto. One more treaty of surrender, and that but a small
one, has to be recorded. It is as follows: The interests of the public
required the making into public highways of two trails or roads lying
within the Saugeen Reserve. One was that which connects the village of
Southampton with what is known as the Owen Sound Road. The other, going
north, is called the French Bay Road. These required road allowances were
surrendered September 30th, 1899.
As it may interest some of
my readers to know the present condition of the Indians residing in the
reservations within the county of Bruce, a Schedule (see Appendix C) has
been compiled by the author from Government Reports, for the year ending
the 30th June, 1900. It shows a highly satisfactory state of affairs,
complimentary to all who have worked for the uplifting and civilization of
our native tribes on these reservations.