Canadian History/Macdonald Era

The Prairies


Rupert's Land, now called Manitoba and North Dakota, was a 300,000 square kilometer designation. This land was given to Lord Selkirk by the H.B.C. to supply food. However, the Scottish settlers had many conflicts with the Metis. The Metis felt that the settlers were on their land. In order to keep the Métis at bay, the John A. McDonald government decided that Manitoba would be allowed to be a province under specific conditions. Manitoba was founded as a province with the heavy influence of Louis Riel. He proposed Manitoba be created for the Métis, and the government obliged with the Manitoba act in 1870. The Métis were to receive title to all the land they had already farmed and an additional 5,700Km2 so their children could live on the same soil. However, McDonald then laid the foundation for a military expedition to the new founded “province” of Manitoba to control the Métis. This allowed white settlers to displace the Métis who were still waiting for the deeds to their land grants. In the same year, Riel was exiled from Canada and fled to the United States. This left the Métis without a leader. After much abuse and being subject to discrimination, the Métis fled westward into what is now Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The few Métis that stayed in Manitoba, were subject to oppression and deception. the province of Manitoba was settled by Europeans more who relied heavily on the land for their food and meager economy. When Europeans saw the vast areas of fertile land in Manitoba, they were committed to finding a way to get this land for their farms and towns. The process of negotiating the numbered treaties began in 1871 and continued until the eleventh treaty was negotiated in 1921. The Indian Act was passed in 1867. The Indian Act described an official way of trading with the native populous of Canada. Under the conditions of the Indian Act, Europeans were banned from taking land that natives owned and told to plan meetings between the natives and the European settlers if there was any trading or selling to be done. Unfortunately ,the rules set out by the treaties were rarely followed. This left the native peoples in an unfavorable state as they had little choice but to honor treaties as they had no resources to fight the Europeans with.