Document 5: Document for the 1914–15 Rainy River Amalgamation
This is a timeline of the events between 1873 and 1914/15. This document contains historical information, but students will need to make their own inferences by comparing this information to what they know about the terms of Treaty 3.
After the Signing of Treaty 3:
- In 1874 Treaty Commissioner Dawson and Indian Agent J.N Pither went to Treaty 3 territory at Rainy River to survey (map) the reserves selected by the Ojibwe nations. The nations chose land close to their hunting, fishing, and wild rice harvesting areas in consultation with Dawson and Pither, who were working on behalf of the federal (Canadian) government. The reserves spanned from the Lake of the Woods to Fort Frances, and they were known as: Paskonkin (also known as Hungry Hall No.2); The Bishop (also known as Hungry Hall No.1); Wildlands, Long Sault Rapids No. 1; Long Sault Rapids No.2; Manitou Rapids; and Little Forks. Each group of people living on the reserves were a distinct nation, with their own leadership roles and each nation used its lands to hunt, fish, and grow food.
- In the 1880s, there was conflict between the federal government of Canada and the provincial government of Ontario over the Ontario border. In 1889 an act called “The Canada Ontario Boundary Act” was passed. It transferred almost all of Treaty 3 territory to Ontario, including the Rainy River area and the seven approved First Nation reserves.
- In 1891 a law was passed declaring that the water between two pieces of reserve land that extended into the water (also called a headland) should only be for the use of the Indigenous people living on that reserve, and not the public. This law was important, as it ensured protection of Indigenous fishing areas.
- Ontario argued that it too had to approve the reserve selection, even though Treaty 3 reserves had been previously approved by the federal government. In 1894, the governments signed an agreement that stated that Ontario had to be a part of the reserve selection process.
- Ontario argued that the seven First Nations at Rainy River had been given too much land. Ontario determined that 20, 672 acres of land were “superfluous” (unnecessary).
- In 1913, the provincial and federal governments came together again to reach a settlement about what they said were all matters related to Indigenous people, including the reserve dispute. At a meeting attended only by representatives of the federal and provincial governments, they came to a decision. A memo from that meeting is below:
“They [Department of Indian Affairs] [are] to take a surrender of all Reserves on Rainy River including Wild Land Reserve and they are to be opened for settlers. We reserve the right to object to the percentage of Reserves taken in Ontario—which may be too large . . . We [are] to confirm such percentage of Reserves as we may think reasonable in Ontario.”Aubry White, December 1913 in McNabb, 1983
- The Indian Agent at Rainy River told the Anishinaabek that if they moved to Manitou Rapids reserve, they would receive money for houses, cattle, horses, a schoolhouse, and eighty acres of land for each family. The Anishinaabek did not believe him and resisted the move. Despite this, in March of 1915, the government forced all six reserves onto the Manitou Rapids Reserve (5,760 acres) without consultation. Further, in 1915 the Ontario government changed the 1891 headland law that gave Indigenous people control of the water around their reserves, which freed up the waters to the public.
- When the Ontario government sold the land from the other six reserves, the First Nations living at Manitou Rapids did not receive the profit.
Blackburde, Gordon Lyle. “Community Development in Rainy River First Nations: A Study of Self-Sufficiency and Land Culture.” MA Thesis. University of Manitoba, 2013.
Dacey, Alison.“Treaty 3: The Failure of the Canadian Government to Protect Native Treaty Rights, 1905–20.” MA Thesis. Lakehead University, 1993.
Kinew, Kathi Avery. “Manito Gitigaan: Governing in the Great Spirit’s Garden: Wild Rice in Treaty 3.” PhD Dissertation. University of Manitoba, 1995.
McNab, David T. “The Administration of Treaty 3: The Location of the Boundaries of Treaty 3 Indian Reserves in Ontario, 1873–1915” in As long as the sun shines and water flows: a reader in Canadian native Studies. Vancouver; UBC Press, 1983: 145–158.